How to Untangle a Dreadlock

Updated February 21, 2017

Creating dreadlocks is a time-intensive project, and dreadlocks often stay in for years. Sometimes, though, a new job or other life change means that it's time for a new look. Untangling dreadlocks also requires an investment of time and patience, and it is possible to do without sacrificing hair length or damaging the scalp. It might require several hours to completely untangle your dreadlocks, but the end result is worth the effort.

Soak your hair in hot water for at least 10 minutes, then wash your hair with shampoo and hot water. Work the lather into each dreadlock. Hot water melts the build-up of wax and oil. Rinse the shampoo from your hair.

Saturate your dreadlocks and the roots of your hair thoroughly with dreadlock-removal cream or conditioner. The cream or conditioner prevents damage to the hair as you remove the dreadlocks. Untangling dreadlocks might require two to four containers of removal cream or conditioner, depending on their length.

Use your fingers and the tip of a rattail comb to gently loosen the dreadlocks. Start at the bottom of the lock and work up to your scalp. Work slowly without pulling or tugging. Work on one dreadlock at a time, and be sure the lock is completely untangled before moving to the next dreadlock.

Massage a generous amount of hair conditioner gently into your hair and scalp once all dreadlocks are untangled. Allow the conditioner to remain for at least five minutes, as conditioner helps to repair damage caused by untangling your dreadlocks. Shampoo your hair a final time. Dry your hair gently by patting it with a towel.

Things You'll Need

  • Shampoo
  • 2 to 4 bottles of hair conditioner or dreadlock-removal cream
  • Rat-tail comb
  • Towel
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About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.