Dreadlock Maintenance

The cool thing about dreadlocks is that you can do as little or as much maintenance on them as you want. Everyone’s preferences are different and only you can decide what feels right to you. However, no matter what method of placement you have chosen for your locks, the one thing everyone must do to care for their locks is separate them!The second thing that EVERY dreadhead must (or at least should) do is wash their locks! There is a lot of misinformation out there not only about how often to wash, but (more importantly) WHAT to wash with! So please, if you read nothing else on my website, please check out the page about wash your dreadlocks.

There are a few different maintenance methods that are out there. Some of them work really great for some people, and not so well for others. Some of them are even downright DANGEROUS for use on dreadlocks, so please explore this section of the website thoroughly. Just a note here: everything on our website, while well-researched and based on personal experience, is STILL just our opinion. We encourage all readers to take the time to research and discover some things for themselves. But some things just AREN’T worth the risk, in our opinion. Those things are marked with an asterisk.

How to Care for “Partial” Dreadlocks

Even if you only have one dread, you need to at the very least keep them CLEAN and keep them SEPARATE! Dreadlocks, whether you have one or one hundred, always have a tendency to want to “eat”/suck in any loose hair around them. Unless you want to end up with mega-dreads you need to regularly run your fingers through your hair around the dreads to make sure none of the hair you want left loose is getting tangled into the locks.

Needle & Thread

Using a needle and thread to maintain your dreadlocks is very similar in theory to the way a latch hook is used to maintain dreadlocks. However, unlike the latch hook where you are often utlizing the long metal shaft of the tool to pull the loose hair down through the length of the lock, the … Read more


Cotton, being an organic material, WILL rot over time and can cause mold growth. However, when a string is tied tightly around the dreadlock, it can cause weak spots in the dreadlock from holding the lock too tightly. Additionally, the string often “chokes” the dreadlocks causing the dreadlock above the string the hold excess moisture where it cannot as easily wick down the lock and out the end to dry properly after washing/getting wet. (See photo below for example.) For these reasons, we do NOT recommend threading and far prefer rubber bands in a situation where a client wants something placed at their roots to encourage locking.

Clock-wise Rubbing

Clockwise rubbing is a maintenance method often used to tigthen up new hair growth at the roots. There is some slight controversy in the dreadlock community because it is not really 100% necessary as new growth will eventually lock in its own time. So, the first thing I have to say is that clockwise rubbing … Read more

Rubber Bands

Many sources recommend rubber bands at the roots and tips of new dreadlocks to help things lock up at the root and to help to prevent knots from migrating out the end of your baby dreads at the tips, and suggest they be worn for at least four weeks. However, there is a right (see … Read more


Backcombing, in additiong to being one of the methods of putting dreads in, is used in some situations to maintain dreads. However, re-backcombing is only recommended in hair that is COMPLETELY straight, unknotted hair at the END of a dreadlock. We also use it on particularly large strands of loose hair at the roots to … Read more


We DO NOT recommend felting. Although, it can be used relatively safely on MATURE dreads VERY sparingly and only to remove un-wanted bumps, loops, and zig-zags. You should NOT, however, in any case EVER be used to TIGHTEN your dreadlocks. The barbs on felting needles inevitably break quite a few hairs while being inserted in and pulled out of the dread, and extensive use can cause SERIOUS breakage, i.e. losing whole dreads. Felting should be totally avoided if possible.


Of all the techniques for maintenance that there are out there, separating is one of two of the most important things you can (and should!) be doing for your locks! It is also referred to as ‘ripping’, ‘popping’, or ‘tearing’. As you should, by now, know dreadlocks are really just purposefully knotted hair. Over time, … Read more


Crocheting has become very popular in the dreadlock community as a way to tighten up all your dreads and pull in most of the loose hairs on the surface of the dread. To the untrained eye, crocheted dreads have the appearance of being mature. So dreads that are only weeks old may appear years older. … Read more

Loose Hair Tool

The loose hair tool, appropriately given its name, is for helping dreadheads pull loose hairs into their dreads. We also use, and prefer in most cases except where the amount of hair that needs to be pulled in is too large, a “micro-latch hook”. Micro latch hooks are typically made for putting “fusion” extensions in normal hair, but has great applications as it comes to the maintenance of dreadlocks. We find latch hooks to be an invaluable tool if you are especially into the neat and tidy look in your own dreadlocks. We use it QUITE a bit in our own dread work and on others.