Do Dreadlocks Smell

Do Dreads Smell: How to Stop Dreadlocks From Smelling?

After asking around and doing my research, here’s the truth: dreadlocks can have a lot of stereotypes attached to them, Like the idea that do dreads smell?

Dreadlocks always smell neutral, but they do have a scent that is slightly reminiscent of hair.Sure, the condition of your dreads can influence how they smell.

For example, if they’re not maintained correctly and you don’t wash them in a while, or sometimes if certain types of products are used on them – or even in their turban – that can change the smell.  But ultimately it’s up to each individual to decide how they maintain their dreads.

Caring and maintaining dreadlocks is the responsibility of the wearer and so is the odor that can be formed if the proper steps are not taken. However, knowing what causes a bad odor in dreads could be the first step to avoiding it, so let’s jump right in!

7 Reasons why your dreads smell

Not all dread smells are bad. There are actually a few factors that lead to the smell of dreads, so it’s important to identify the underlying problem and whether or not it’s serious enough to warrant a visit from your stylist. In this section, we’ll fill you in on these 7 most common culprits.

1. The climate is really bad.

Many people may never have thought about how the climate affects the pH of your hair. Your scalp is naturally acidic and as such, has a distinctive odor.

This is because sweat glands evaporate onto the surface of your skin and other organic compounds of various acids will produce a mist that affects the pH. If you stay in a humid area, this may be why your dreads smell.

When it is humid outside, some people sweat a lot more than they usually would. If these clumps of sweat remain on the scalp, they can be the reason why your dreadlocks have an unpleasant odor.

2. Your dreadlocks have retained smoke.

If you have been around places with a lot of smoke, like bars or cookouts, this may be why your dreads smell funky.

Smoke can linger for hours and cause your hair to smell like smoke. One of the first signs of this problem would be the dark streaks that tend to appear in your roots, especially those with lighter blonde or white hair.

Dreadlocks are also good at retaining smells because they twist around, however they can also be bad in some cases.

3. Your accessories could be the reason.

Some dreadlock wearers find that their hairstyle retains a lot of natural scent. In order to keep your hair as fresh as possible, think about using accessories like scented oils, diffusers or sprays.

If you’re tying up your dreads or wrapping them before going to bed, make sure the accessories you use are not emitting a bad smell. Dirty dreadlocks will only serve to attract acne and breakouts.

Because when you’re using them directly on your dreadlocks, they can retain the scent of whatever is currently smeared on the tools.

4. You are using the wrong products.

When it comes to dreadlocks, make sure they are dried properly to avoid odor. Products that retain moisture on them are not the way to go. For instance, avoid using any type of hair wax on your hair as these are well known for leaving an oder in your hair

Another reason behind bad-smelling dreads could be an inaccurate mix of products. Most hair care products are scented, and when using scented products it’s important to make sure that the scents match up with each other. Mismatching scents could definitely cause this issue & need to be fixed ASAP!

5. Your wash day routine could be the cause.

Dreadlocks, like your hair in its natural state, require regular washing. Many people have somehow started to assume that they can just wash out smelly dreadlocks.

Your dreadlocks may build up sweat over time and present a smelly appearance. However, this should not concern you too much.

The residue from your body odor can be easily removed by washing your dreads in cool water and shampoo only a few times per month.

6. Moldy dreads are smelly dreads.

With wash day comes drying your dreads. Dreadlocks are able to retain moisture better because of their twisted structure. This is one of the reasons that it’s necessary to dry them properly.

If you don’t dry your dreads properly, mold can form on the inside. Stored moisture leads to an unpleasant smell.

It’s been seen before – people will notice even if they have just commented on how handsome you smell.

7. Bacteria and infections

A downside to dreadlocks is that they often cause discomfort, but this can be averted if you’re careful about it. When possible, wash your hair with a natural dreadlocks soap or shampoo and try to keep it hydrated by moisturizing your scalp once a week.

If you have to wear dreadlocks for religious purposes and you can’t maintain it, it can be challenging. Make sure you know the proper techniques, like how to achieve a tight, secure bun or braids.

If you come across a bad infection, you will know how these offenses can smell and that they only worsen when left untreated.

Most infections are the result of an illness, and some have a distinctive smell that can be difficult to describe accurately.

One common example for this is the smell of bad gas, which can leave your home smelling like a garbage bin.

You never know what is rotting, but the smell is definitely distinctive and really isn’t a smell you want to walk around with.

How do I know if my dreads smell?

There are quite a few causes of bad smells in dreadlocks. However, if you’re experiencing a really bad smell from your dreads and you still don’t know what’s causing it, I recommend that you take follow my advise to find the cause of your problem.

Here is a step by step guide to figuring out why your dreads have a bad smell and how to treat it:

1. Figure out: Where the smell is coming from.

The first step to getting rid of a bad smell from your hair is to find out where it’s coming from.

Check out what you have on and make sure that none of it is giving off a bad smell. Not to mention, if you can’t figure it out yourself, then go over your scalp with a wet towel or something else like that.

Sometimes no matter how much we try to find the cause and treatment, it is impossible. In that case, the most important step is to discover where the smell is coming from

2. Figure out: When it began

Being able to understand when a specific odor began could be quite helpful for figuring out the source of this problem and its severity.

Think back to when you first realized there was a bad odor and when it stopped. This will make taking notes for your timeline easier.

3. Figure out: The Cause of the smell

This is the most important step, as it determines how your dreads would be treated. There are various causes for the smell in each location, so here is a breakdown of what to look for and treat depending on where the smell was coming from:

4. Treatment

This step is also dependent on the location and complexity of the problem.

  • Infections/bacteria on your scalp: For the best way to treat scalp infections, go see a doctor. Antibiotics can help cure them & you can also try some home remedies that include apple cider vinegar, olive oil, & lemo which may be found at your nearest drugstore.
  • Product build-up: People with dreadlocks are often seen wearing a lot of product. This is indication that they need to wash their dreads more often. It could also mean that you’re using too much product, so minimizing the usage might solve your problem.
  • Mold: Click here for a video on how to treat moldy locks.
  • Smoke/other retained odors: An Expert says it’s essential to wash your dreads regularly to prevent build up of smoke and unnecessary odors. The loctician says washing your dreads is a must because it helps keep them clean and gives them a natural look.
  • Smelly Accessories:It is super important to clean your accessories and get rid of any old, unneeded accessories that are in your possession. The smell that some old accessories have can be one of the first signs that they are in need of replacing, so don’t put off this essential task.

How do I stop my dreads from smelling?

There are a few common reasons for why locs can have an offensive odor and to help combat it, here are some great solutions.

Here are a few things, that you could do regularly, to keep your dreadlocks smelling good:

  • Routinely washing dreads will avoid the build-up that can cause unwelcomed smells.
  • Check your skin scalp for any abrasions and treat them to prevent infection.
  • It’s important to dry dreads properly, especially to avoid mold.
  • Never wrap or sleep with wet dreadlocks. If you do, you will definitely get mold.
  • What products do you use when it comes to scents? Match them accordingly
  • It’s important that you use light-weight products on your dreads.
  • Don’t use moisture-locking products on your dreads so they don’t get too sticky, and dry out quickly.
  • You should also make sure that you’re washing your hair accessories on a regular basis.


When you notice an odor coming from your dreads, it’s worth noting that there’s not much to worry about.

The smell generally comes from a buildup of oils and a cleaning solution in the hair. Making sure you aim to remove these is what will help neutralize the smell.

Dreadlocks are wonderfully thick, gorgeous twists of hair that seem to ask for compliments. They are also incredibly hard to keep clean and maintain looking beautiful.

Here at Jamaica hairstyles, we recommend simple prevention methods that can help your dreadlocks stay healthy and prevent them from becoming smelly or uncomfortable in the first place.


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