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How to Remove Dreadlocks at Home | Step-by-Step Guide

You’re all done with your dreadlocks, but you just saw your local shop’s prices to take them out and had to sit down for a while. Removing dreadlocks takes time, patience, and heaps of moisturizer.

While it’s possible to get dreadlocks removed at some shops, the cost of labor for all those hours of work could start to rival rent. 

However, it may be daunting to figure out how you’re supposed to let down your dreads, especially if they’ve been there for over a year. Don’t worry. Removing dreadlocks at home might take a while, but it’s an easy process you can complete in several sessions. 

Removing Dreadlocks at Home: A Summary

Removing dreadlocks at home can be done in twelve simple steps that can take anywhere from a few hours to a few dozen, depending on the length and age of the dreadlocks.

  1. Gather Materials
  2. Set Aside Time
  3. Get Help
  4. Target Problem Areas
  5. Soak Your Dreadlocks
  6. Shampoo the Hair
  7. Condition the Hair
  8. Moisturize the Hair
  9. Pick out a Single Dreadlock
  10. Comb Out Loose Hair
  11. Keep Going, Working in Sections
  12. Use a Hair Mask to Deep Condition Undone Dreadlocks

When working to remove dreadlocks at home, remember to familiarize yourself with the process ahead of time to be prepared.

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How to Remove Dreadlocks at Home in 12 Steps

Review all steps before beginning to remove your dreadlocks. 

1. Gather Materials

To remove dreadlocks at home, you’ll need the following materials:

  • Access to water and a place to wash hair (Sink, shower, etc.)
  • Spray bottle (empty)
  • Conditioner
  • Detangler
  • Towel
  • Pick
  • Comb
  • Hair mask
  • Cap or bonnet

2. Set Aside Time

Dreadlocks created within the last few months will take most of the day to let down. Depending on their length, young dreadlocks might take four to eight hours to undo. Older dreadlocks, especially those older than eighteen months, will pose much more of a challenge.

Depending on the length, dreadlocks have been known to take an entire month of weekends to undo in severe circumstances. Before setting to work removing dreadlocks, be certain that you are willing to put in the time and effort to try to get your natural hair back.

This is a much better alternative than cutting the dreadlocks off. Remember, dreadlocks can always be partially cut off and then partially removed; this always makes the process easier. 

3. Get Help

Unless you’re a professional weightlifter, you’ll get tired of the awkward angles and long hours necessary to remove your dreadlocks. Grab some friends and run them through the removal process.

We find it helps to promise them an appropriate bribe to make the process much less painful. If you have enough hair and enough friends, consider asking them to work two at a time. This can greatly expedite the process. 

4. Target Problem Areas

Before beginning to remove your dreadlocks, identify any problem areas. These could be spots where the hair has begun to mat, knot, or otherwise warp in a way that does not match the hair around it.

It may make the rest of the process easier to target that area before jumping into the main removal. Sometimes a mat will need to be soaked with a detangler overnight before it can be picked out.

Make sure to examine your hair before you set aside the time you have set aside for your dreadlock removal to ensure that you are ready.

This is where having a friend check your hair over can be especially handy. Oftentimes mats and knots form in places that are hard for someone to reach and thus wind up missed during routine hair care. 

5. Soak Your Dreadlocks

Soak the dreadlocks for at least fifteen minutes. As the day goes on, this may need to be repeated after lunch breaks or other interruptions. Remember, moisturization is key to the success when removing dreadlocks.

6. Shampoo the Hair

Shampoo the hair and scalp thoroughly. This will help to loosen up the hair and start to get rid of the dead hair and skin that has been caught in the dreadlocks. 

7. Condition the Hair

Thoroughly condition the hair. This helps to keep the hair slick and manageable, as well as keeping it healthy.

8. Moisturize the Hair

There are many methods of keeping the hair wet and pliable while removing dreads. Keep the detangler on hand for nasty snarls, but for the most part water and conditioner can do a lot of the work. 

Mix equal parts of water and conditioner into a spray bottle. Before picking or combing a section of hair, drench it in water. Be sure to spray it from underneath to help encourage the moisture to penetrate the dreadlock.

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9. Pick Out a Single Dreadlock

Start with a single dreadlock. Drench the bottom, then use a pick to separate the locked hair. Being rough will not speed up the process, but it can damage the hair and scalp. If any particular piece of hair is resistant, moisturize it thoroughly.

Detangler can convince stubborn sections to relax. In the worst-case scenario, small parts of the hair that seem to be matted can be snipped out. Try to confirm that anything being cut is mostly dead hair. 

10. Comb Out Loose Hair

Once a dreadlock has been partially picked out, comb through the loosened hair. This will begin the healing process and help keep things neat. It may look like a lot of hair is falling out when the freshly unlocked hair is being combed, but that is dead hair that was once trapped in the dreadlocks.

11. Keep Going, Working in Sections

Continue to moisturize, pick, and comb one dreadlock at a time. Work in sections or layers for massive projects that will take lots of time. For example, start from the underside to help make sure that your dreads on top can cover the half-undone hair in between removal sessions. 

12. Use a Hair Mask to Deep Condition Undone Dreadlocks

Despite the work done while untangling to ensure that the hair stays moisturized, the freshly let down is bound to be un-moisturized. Hair that has been locked needs to keep dry to avoid mildewing, which means that well-maintained dreadlocks have been exposed to very little moisture since being done. 

To help begin the process of restoring moisturize, use a hair mask or other intensive conditioning treatment to add lots of rejuvenating moisture back to the hair. This mask can be left on overnight, using a cap or bonnet to help keep the product from spreading to pillowcases.

Removing dreads may take a while, but the effort is worth the result. Keeping as much natural hair as possible is a huge win for those worried that they had to cut their dreads off. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Removing dreads at home can be a daunting prospect. Don’t be afraid to ask follow-up questions and research options before moving forward.

Do Dreadlocks Damage Hair?

Dreadlocks are a protective hairstyle often used to help natural hair reach its full potential. However, just like any hairstyle worn for an extended time, it can cause hair loss if pulled too tight or put up too often.

Be certain to let your scalp rest often and maintain your dreadlocks. Patience and moisture are key to undoing the lock pattern of a dreadlock. Keep going and take breaks for the greatest success.

How Do You Easily Remove Dreads?

Removing dreads is usually made more difficult by improper moisturizing and the dreadlocks going too long without maintenance. To prevent difficulties in the future, maintain dreadlocks appropriately. To minimize the difficulties now, use copious water and conditioner to loosen dreads.

Can You Remove Dreadlocks Without Cutting Them Off?

Dreads can be removed without being cut off. Mats, however, are not always going to detangle. When dreading hair, be sure to avoid mats and other clumps of dead hair that will not be salvageable.

How Do You Untangle Dreads Without Cutting Them?

Be careful and slow when attempting to untangle dreads. Cutting hair should be a last resort; sadly, people often rush to grab scissors before they grab conditioner. Use conditioner and water to wet the locked hair thoroughly. This will help to penetrate the locking pattern and loosen the curls.

How Do You Detangle Dreads?

Detangle dreads slowly, using a pic to help coax the curls out of the locking pattern. Thoroughly wet and condition the hair before any attempts at detangling.

So, How Do You Remove Dreadlocks at Home?

Removing dreadlocks at home is done by working slowly and patiently. Thorough, acidic moisturizing keeps the strands healthy while encouraging them to loosen from one another.

Picking at a single dreadlock at a time may take a while, but it’s the best way to let dreadlocks out at home. After all, the alternative is cutting them off, but we’re guessing that’s not the route you want to go down. Good luck!