No ‘Poo for Dreadlocks

dread bun - 15 months

I’m sure there are all of two of you with dreads that read my blog, but when I was curious about this and searched my booty off for info, I found zilch. So, I’m filling a gap. :)

What is no ‘poo you ask?

It’s a method of washing you hair based off the belief that shampoo is a conspiracy; actually causing our scalp to create more oil, thus perpetuating the false idea that we need to buy massive amounts of expensive, highly-scented shampoo to fix our greasy, smelly, embarassing problem and be forever scalp-beholden to “the man”. ;) (kidding! …..mostly)

Okay, anti-consumerism tendencies aside, shampoo is a completely useless product that does cause us to produce more oils. No ‘poo uses baking soda and apple cider vinegar to wash instead and break the cycle. Read more about it here.

I’ve heard of no ‘poo from so. many. bloggers. but everyone seemed to wash their hair several times a week and I wasn’t sure if washing once-a-week was feasible. But seeing as how dread shampoos either left me greasy, gave me dandruff, cost too much or include ingrediants I don’t want to use, what were my options? Still, I was a bit unnerved about playing guinea pig with my precious’s.

Silly me. I’ve been doing it for two months now and am here to tell (both of) you, it’s great!


1 TB of baking soda
1:3 or 1:4 ratio of apple cider vinegar (ACV) to water
Essential oil of your choice (no, I don’t use patchouli!)
A jar or squeeze bottle or whatever

I dissolved the baking soda in a smallish recycled glass jar and filled it with water (about 1-1.5 cups of *warm* water unless you’d like a shock). I just pour small amounts over my scalp and scrub as usual. I don’t rinse yet.

I have a squeeze bottle – similar to the beauty store type – that I fill 1/4 of the way with ACV, then the rest of the way with water. I add about 10-15 drops of essential oil to the bottle and shake it really well. I like the squeeze bottle because it makes it easy to apply the ACV. This I apply to my scalp and dreads. (I only use about half of it so it last at least 2 washes.)

Oh, then I rinse. And wait an insane amount of time for them to dry. :sigh:

The Verdict:

Since I’ve been washing my hair once a week since before I had dreadlocks, I noticed no difference in the amount of oil my scalp produced. I’ve had no “adustment period” that others have. And my husband *promises* the essential oil leaves me smelling lovely.

Do you no ‘poo? Do you have dreads? Do you still think I’m crazy?

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54 Comments. Leave new

awesomeness. you may have just answered my prayers! I have had dreads now since the beginning of this year. I have been using the DreadHead HQ shampooo and it FREAKS my scalp out really bad by causing the itchy scalp/dandruff blues. I think i will try this no poo method that you so graciously shared on your blog here. Hopefully this will help my scalp stabilize and keep my dreads nice a clean.
Thanks so much for the heads up!

well, here I am.. the second reader with dreads… :P
I have heard many times about the no poo but never tried it. The reason is that I just use Dr Bronner’s (diluted) and never had any issues with it. I use it for my body already so it just makes sense to me to use it for my hair. (we all do, the kids and husband) I wash my hair when I think of it and I think it is anywhere between 1 and 2 weeks. Again, no problem.

I hear you about the drying part though. do you have a particular method for that? I sling them in the shower until they do not drip anymore, put a towel around them and wear it for at about 10 minutes. I take it off, sling some more and squeeze them with the towel… and then air dry for the rest of the day. It seems to work pretty well but if you have any tips on that… I am all ears!

If I ever have any problems with Dr Bronner’s I will definitely do the no poo thing in a heart beat…

August 18, 2009 2:02 pm

Natalia, Dr Bs – even diluted – didn’t agree with me. But I know it works for lots of dreadheads so I’m glad you’re one of them. :)

As for drying, I have no idea although I just read someone’s comment on Flickr that they use a micro-fiber towel. I might look into it. But other than a blow dryer or sitting in the sun, I’ve got nothing.

Jasie VanGesen
August 18, 2009 2:08 pm

I don’t have dreads, BUT… you know how in one of my recent posts I said I was growing out my hair as an exercise in patience? Well… that was 100% inspired by you and your journey through your dreads. And I haven’t told Seth yet, because he’ll probably think I’m insane, but part of WHY I’m growing it out is so I can maybe do dreads. You totally made them seem accessible to me. They weren’t before. There’s about half a dozen people here in Port Townsend w/dreads and I always was in such awe and couldn’t find the right words to fully express why. I want to be a part of that.

And by the way… I DO use patchouli. ;)

My husband no ‘poo’s. Well, for the most part, anyway. He and another friend of ours will only us it, I don’t know, once a week or so. Otherwise, when they shower, they just scrub their scalp real well and rinse it with water. They don’t use anything else on the days when they dont poo. Ive never noticed his head stinking and he says its easier to style his hair without washing it as much.

I’ve been thinking of doing the no ‘poo thing for a long time but admit that I always keep chickening out. I just keep caving when I get to the end of a bottle of shampoo and got out and buy another (I am a total cheapskate and will not throw out a product that is not finished).

Question about the dreads: Do they ever get musty after you wash them. I often time put my hair up after I shower and then my hair can get a stink. How do avoid that from happening with the dreads?

Brittney Harmon
April 1, 2011 11:30 am

make sure your hair is dry before you tie it or put it up.

I don’t have dreads. But I have REALLY long hair. I’d been washing with baking soda and apple cider vinegar for ages. I LOVED it. It was cheap. Easy. And I do love the smell of apple cider vinegar.

I ended up switching back at one point to a natural shampoo to get some manageability back. I want to go back to the bs and acv.

My problem… my hair is long and insanely thick. I wasn’t happy with how unmanageable my hair was. If my hair isn’t soft… it’s TANGLED. Ha. Maybe it’s a sign?

Ha! I don’t think you’re crazy at all and I lol at the patchouli joke.

I tried to no poo this past winter and went three weeks. I looked like a drowned rat! Everyone swears by it, but I notice most of the ppl with great results have curly/wavy/textured hair. Mine is just dead straight. I only wash my hair once or twice a week, but would love to eliminate expensive shampoos.

I remember the first time I went to a festival when I was a teen it was the first time I went 5 days without shampooing. The first few days I felt gross, but on the ride home I remember marveling that somehow my hair looked better than ever. huh, I just don’t know.

I have board straight hair. It took me 6 weeks before my body got use to no poo. Don’t give up!

Thank you! From like, what. the third? fourth? dread-headed reader. Mine are a couple months old, and I’m still finding my washing groove. My friend sent me the link to this post–how thoughtful. :)

Doesn’t the vinegar stAnk, though?

Great post!! I have dreads and I don’t use shampoo. I haven’t come accross this method before so I will be SURE to give it a try. I use the bucket of hot water with baking soda, lemon juice, teatree oil, and sea salt. And I too only wash once a week. Oh and according to the comments, you have more than two dreadhead readers!! That should win you something don’t you think?

August 18, 2009 7:58 pm

Jennifer, mine don’t get musty but this is a HUGE fear of mine. I feel that the ACV helps to avoid that. I also make sure not to put them up until they are completely dry and I do what I can to help them dry as quickly as possible. If it ever does happen (knock on wood) an ACV soak is suppose to get rid of it. I really hope I never have to deal with it though.
Heather, I think it is a sign. In fact, next time I see you I’ll have my dread comb and will be stalking your head. ;)
Hillary, Jasie above has straight hair and uses it. And ask Miranda. She said it took three weeks to adjust. You could have been at the brink and quit too soon! lol
Terri, the ACV takes a minute to get used to but the odor evaporates quickly and the essential oil helps in the meantime.
Steph, I haven’t heard of what you use but I hope you like the bs and acv. And yes, I’ll take a prize. Should I send you my address? ;)

Look at that chunky dreaded loveliness! Could I just add that baking soda can be death for some hair types – notably frizzy porous hair, like mine. I blogged here:

I am defiantly going to have to try this!

I’ve been no ‘poo for awhile and LOVE IT! Wish I had dreads. My organization would freak, though they did adjust well to my nose pin. *shrugs* Is 42 too old to grow dreads? Will they look good when I am 50?

August 19, 2009 8:02 am

Annette, I think dreads would look great one any person! I hope to have them when I’m 70 and grey. ;)
Mon, you could wash with just water too. That’s what Justin does. Of course his hair is short but Jasie ( washing with water and conditioner. Maybe that would work?

I don’t have dreads and have medium length straight hair. I’ve been doing the no-poo thing for about 10 months. It took several weeks to get through the transitions, but I stepped-down from my organic shampoo slowly. First every other day for awhile, then every third day. Then I started using baking soda and water (1/5 ratio) to wash, and ACV and water (1/6) to rinse once a week, and one shampoo a week. And finally just the baking soda and ACV. My hair looks great! Shiny and a wider range of color in my natural browns. I do tend to shower every day, but use the baking soda and ACV every third or fourth day. Otherwise just water.

Oh, and I added a cinnamon stick to the bottle I keep the ACV in as well as a teaspoon of natural vanilla. Once your hair dries, the ACV smell is mostly gone and you have a nice faint hint of cinnamon and vanilla. Nice!

My husband with shoulder-length curly hair uses this method as well and loves it.

Jasie VanGesen
August 19, 2009 8:17 am

Tara – Actually, my hair is crazy wavy, kinky, and thick… I flat iron it to get it straight… so you may not want to use me a reference for straight-haired care. :P

Marie – I’ve also noticed a much wider range of color!! Lots more light reds and copper penny reds… I’m loving it. And the cinnamon stick sounds like a fantastic idea!

August 19, 2009 10:44 am

oh well :P then!

Ha ha! I think there are four or five of us at least! Whoo hoo for the dready mamas!!!

I w0uld so like to no poo .. however I have super straight , very fine and kinda thin hair , so I don’t know how well it would work as the oil ickys show up pretty fast for me.

well, i’m a dready reader too :P
and I’m also no-poo since 1998 :D
But I don’t do the BC/ACV thing. I just give my scalp a good, long rub under the shower for several minutes and that’s it. no nothing at all goes onto my hair, or has for over 10 years. Never had any dandruff, or itchies or problems :D
My partner has really bad dandruff and he does a routine of olive oil soaked / massaged into the scalp for a while, then scrubbed out with a soft bristled brush, followed by the BC/ ACV treatment.

I LOVE reading about your dreads. I don’t know why – I don’t even have dreads – but it seems like such a fun hair adventure! Who knows, maybe I will try them someday. Anyway, I have been on no-poo for a year now, and love it. I still haven’t found the perfect balance for my hair, and I struggle a lot with static electricity, which really annoys me, but I wouldn’t go back!

I have always rinsed after the baking soda and I’m curious now to try adding the vinegar FIRST…

I used organic plain soap for a while and my hair was fine. :) Will definitely try no poo once my organic poo is finished. :)

Excellent!!! Thanks so much for this! hehe, love it, no poo.

Hey Tara, we made it back down under! I’ve been doing no poo for 14 months now and love it. I just sprinkle the BS dry into my hand, massage it into wet hair then I rinse. After the ACV I do a cold water rinse. Last summer here when I was swimming in the ocean and out in the sun a lot, the ends of my long hair got very dry so I’d just rub some coconut oil into it. When I was in Vegas recently though, the sun and the chlorine from the pools had me washing my hair 1-2 x/ week (usually I only wash 1-2 x / month).

I was just going to tweet you about hair stuff, but thought I’d come stalk your blog first. :) Bravo, & I like the idea of still having nice smelling hair! :) I think I am going to make this switch soon, but a few question: -where is the best place to get essential oils? -Will this do anything to help dandruff, and/or itching? I have a little bit of both these days (mostly since having longer hair again) and it’s driving me nuts!
Thanks! :D

I’m a reader with dreads! So it looks like you totally have more than 2! I’ve been using Bronners, but used to no poo before i dreaded, i may just give it a shot again. I’ve been loving the lather though, but feel like no pooing could help out my dreads more…..
I love your blog btw!

I’ve got dreads! How many does that make now? I lost count.

I’ve been using Burt’s Bees rosemary mint shampoo bar. I like how it tightens my dreads. But it’s hard to find in stores now, so I think I’ll try this when it’s all used up.

And, no, 42 is not too old to start dreads. I started mine this past February, shortly after I turned 47. They’ve shrunk sooooo much though. My hair is half the length it was before I started them. Eeek! I’m not used to not having hair past my collarbones.

I just henna’d them yesterday. I love, love, love it. I forgot how much better I look as a redhead than as my natural dark ash blonde.

Stacy (Mama-Om)
August 21, 2009 7:44 pm

Yeah, I’m no poo, too.
I have been on and off for a few years. The first time, I didn’t use anything. This time around I am using the baking soda and cider vinegar method… though I tend to think of it as “poo-lite,” as the more I do it, the more I need to do it (just like shampoo).
When I was no poo before (and didn’t use anything on my hair), the natural balance of my hair seemed better. I gave myself major scalp massages every once in a while to get the dander out, but my hair was not any less “clean” than it is now.
But I do like the silkiness the cider vinegar gives my hair!

August 22, 2009 9:26 am

I can’t believe how many of you have dreads! Yay! Loving reading all the no ‘poo experiences too. I really like the idea of using only water. Make me nervous to try though. lol
Anna, Essential oils can be purchased from most health food stores or online. I like Aura Acacia (I think I’m spelling that wrong). Just make sure you don’t get anyhing that has the word “perfume” on it. Rosemary, lavendar, and tea tree oil are suppose to be good for dandruff/itchies. Of course, don’t apply directly, only diluted. I like rosemary the best for itchies, personally.

Wow, I can’t believe how many readers you have that have dreadlocks! I’ve been trying to go “no poo” and have been following Top Hat’s experiment. I think I may have a hard water problem like her. But I wasn’t using the ACV every time and I think I needed to. I’ll have to give it another go.

And I want to add that even though I think Aura Cacia essential oils are totally fine, I think that Young Living Essential Oils are way better. They are more expensive, but smell amazing and probably have better therapeutic effects.

August 22, 2009 12:27 pm

Lisa, I have really hard water too. What problem has it been giving you?

Hey you! Been away for a week on hols. Just wanted to say that last night I just washed my hair with conditioner as I had ran out of shampoo, and today I woke up to find my hair looks gorgeous! It’s like taking a leap of faith and I’m so glad I did! :D

Well, apparently baking soda reacts with the minerals in hard water (or whatever it is that makes the water hard) and it leaves a residue (kinda like soap scum). For me it basically felt like I had product in my hair, and it weighed it down. But I didn’t always use the ACV so I wonder if it would help to use it more. Dunno. I’m wondering about the water-only washing.

I´m No Poo to, it is about week 5 and I´m not going back to shampoo. Well I´m not trhough the detox yet i think, but my hair is so much better now when it was before with shampoo :D. And I do not have dreads, but they are cool so I maybe will have dreads in the near future :)

Simply Mother
August 25, 2009 6:10 pm

Just wanted to chime in as one more no-poo-er. (That sounds REALLY weird.) My hair is average all around I guess–not too straight or curly, not to dry or greasy. Before I stopped shampooing, I would wash every other day. Now I maybe wet it with cold water 2-3 times a week and only use the BS & ACV about once a week and I love the texture of my hair now, and how it is so much easier to style. Glad you found that it works with your dreads too!

Word. I just found your blog because I’ve been no-pooing for a few weeks now and recently decided to dread my hair, which lead to me searching for a no-poo dreadlock recipe. Now that I’ve found this, I’m going full force ahead! Much thanks

Hey Sister,

Had to chime in on this one…..I’m a natty girl TOO :) Had them back when my oldest was a baby for years- now he’s 11…and I’m into the second set. I use Dr.Bronner’s hemp peppermint- always love it! I’ll give your rinse a go….usually do a once a week. I’m the one who told you about the el cheapo’ earthship…


I just now saw this from dreaded together. I’ve been a horrible blog reader lately.

Dr. Bronners does not work for me, and I’ve been so frustrated with dandruff and scalp issues since getting my dreads. I never had scalp issues before dreads.

I am going to start doing what you wrote once a week and hopefully it will help! Thanks!!




I used the No Poo today and I’m liking the results. I added 15 drops of lavender oil and wish now that I’d put more in.

My locks are lovely and soft, but locked up nicely. It was so much easier than lathering up with my bar of dread soap too!

Thanks for your help…you’ve saved me A LOT of money too!

Thank you!!! I had gone no ‘pooing last year for a while, and I did not have dreads then. About 6 weeks ago, I had them put in by a loctitian. I am dying to go all natural with this process and cut out all of the gels, etc. I’m seriously considering winging it. Thanks for posting this valuable info!!!

Hey, I have had my dreads for just over a year now. I keep trying different things, like bronners, which is horrible for my scalp, aloe shampoo from the health food store(although I’m not sure if its completely residue free), glycerin bar soap, and ultimately keep coming back to no poo. Its the most friendliest on my scalp. Glad to hear of others who do it too, and not just as a deep cleanse.

I just re-dreaded my hair at 40 and just started the no-poo method. Normally I have very oily hair and lots of dandruff. Which can be annoying to deal with with dreads. However what I do is use straight baking soda applied to the scalp and rub it around a bit and rinse. I follow with the apple cider vinegar rinse with the Young Living EO’s added. I love the result! My hair is not oily nor does it have dandruff… in fact my scalp is even squeaky clean I also rub it on my face as a cleanser too. Good stuff!! :)

I have dreads to! Have had them for 10years now, hard to believe. I wash my hair maybe 1 time a month, and my hair is “clean” no poo necessary.

I do not have dreads but, do have long hair. My hair is rather thick and coarse. I worked as a salon manager for a few years where I learned that my philosophies on hair aren’t just mine alone. I learned the phrase “Clean hair is bad hair..”. I wash my hair about once a week with vegan, organic shampoo. Would your recipe work just as well for hair that is not dreaded? I am the cheapest…er..most frugal..person on the planet and would much prefer to use things I already have rather than spend the $8 it costs for shampoo per bottle. Even if it does last me a long time. :)


Brittney Harmon
April 1, 2011 11:29 am

I’ve been a no pooer for a while now… but I have to say I wash my hair a lot less than most dread heads and I like it that way (like maybe twice a month? slightly more in the summer). When I do wash it I wash it with a baking soda paste. I just like it thicker so I can really feel the scrub. Then of coarse diluted apple cider vinegar for the rinse. If my dreads are seeming brittle I mix a little coconut oil in some water and give it a quick rinse.

I have a lot of friends that are no poo and don’t have dreads, I think it works just as well as shampoo. There is a bit of adjusting that you have to do if your hair is supper oily, though.

Hi! I’m a new reader growing dreads with the neglect method. I’ve been using knottyboy’s shampoo bar since the very start…but I have dandruff problem so I will be trying your method!

As for drying….oh well the sun and a lot of patience.

I am a new reader, mother of three, introduced to your blog by researching an “unschooled” approach to educating my brilliant babies:)
I have wavy/curly hair that I LOVED soooooo( <– visual aid) in the 80's, but was looking a bit "bad cover band" since the whole age, mother thing hit. After some reading and trial and error, I started washing my scalp and hair with condition only. I was a regular oily by morning gal, but after two months of ponytails, I use no products and my hair is as shiny and healthy as it did in the 80's minus the bangs and braces:)

I didn’t do so well with Dr. B’s either. I just ordered an organic dread shampoo because no poo is too drying for my hair, but I was looking for the site to show someone else and, Ms. Tara, you came up as site number four under “organic dread bar” LOVE IT! (Have followed you for a while, so found this wonderfully coincidental) Just thought you might like to know. :)

Im another with dreads :)

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