There's no question about it: dreadlocks are not only unique, but they also embody a cool sense of style and personality. If you've ever had dreads, or if you have them now, you can attest to the fact that they require a lot of effort, maintenance, and patience. So, if you ever plan on taking them out, especially if you've maintained dreads for years, you can only imagine how much work it must require to remove them! Luckily, there is a way to do this. Keep reading if you want to know how to get rid of dreadlocks without completely destroying your hair.

What Are Dreadlocks?

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Maybe you're reading this article because you want dreadlocks, but, on the other hand, you're a tad nervous about how on earth you'll remove them in the future. No worries. We'll fill you in on all the details to ensure you are well-informed before getting started.

Let's start with the basics. According to Wikipedia, dreadlocks, also known as locks or dreads, are rope-like strands of hair formed by matting or braiding hair. Dreads have been worn for many different reasons across many cultures. Thus, there are different interpretations as to how they are formed, and why.

Methods of Creating Dreadlocks

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Depending upon style preferences and hair type, there are a few different ways to achieve the traditional dreadlock look. For non-Afro-textured hair, the original way to create dreads is to refrain from brushing, combing, or cutting, which allows the hair to slowly matte together on its own accord. Contrary to popular belief, regular washing is important, since oily, dirty hair will have issues forming the desired knots.


On the flip side, some people will use wax or grease to keep the hair strands matted together; but this method is not recommended. Oftentimes, wax or grease will get stuck within the strands, promoting mildew growth, along with dirty, smelly hair.


While the non-brushing or greasing method is known as "free-form" dreadlocks, since clumps of hair will form in its own size, other methods are known as "salon" or "manicured" dreadlocks. Salon dreadlocks give the person better control over the look, size, and style. Techniques such as the twist and rip, back-combing and palm rolling, or coiling. have proven to work well. For afro-textured hair, it is easiest to evenly section the hair into braids or twists.

How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks Without Destroying Your Hair

And here's the one-million dollar question: is there a way to remove dreadlocks without ruining your hair? The short answer to your question is yes. However, dreadlock removal is no easy task, and it may not be your preferred idea of a fun day,either. We did some research, and there are a few, key ways to go about this:

  • Shaving and/or cutting your hair
  • Picking out the dreads with a strong comb
  • Using a "Knot No More" solution

How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks and Minimize Hair Damage

Based off our research, here are the three, key ways to remove dreadlocks while minimizing hair damage. Please read instructions carefully to ensure an overall, positive experience.

How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks by Shaving and/or Cutting

For many people, shaving or cutting hair is not always the ideal option. It can be kind of scary if you wish to keep your hair. But, if you're prepared for the aftermath, shaving or cutting dreadlocks is the easiest, least time-consuming method. Here's how it's done:

  1. Make sure you wash out any wax or grease that may have been used to maintain your dreadlocks in the first place. 
  2. Next, make sure you have clippers and strong scissors.
  3. Use your scissors to cut the dreadlocks off as close to the scalp as you can. The reason for this is because the hair is less tangled near the roots.
  4. After that, shave clean with a pair of clippers; but this step is optional.
  5. Lastly, thoroughly wash your scalp and any remaining hair with shampoo.

How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks By Picking at Each Strand

For those who wish to keep their hair, slowly picking out the knots from strand to strand is the best option. Even though this is the most time-consuming process (Yes, the rumors are true: it can take up to 15 hours), it is well worth the time.


  1. Make sure to wash out any wax or grease that may have been used to maintain your dreadlocks in the first place. 
  2. Make sure you have strong scissors, a high-quality metal comb, a spray bottle, extremely slippery conditioner, and several bottles of regular conditioner.
  3. Soak your hair in the hottest water you can stand for 10 to 30 minutes. You want your dreads to be as wet as possible.
  4. Fill up a spray bottle with hot water and very slippery conditioner. This substance will be used to wet down and detangle your hair as much as possible throughout the picking process.
  5. Cut off the old part of each dreadlock to make the detangling process easier. As a reminder, the oldest part of your hair is at the bottom of the strand.
  6. Clip back each hair strand and work on combing out one dreadlock at a time as you continuously spray down your hair. 
  7. Do not try to pick at multiple locks at once, and make sure to keep wetting your hair down.
  8. Apply a liberal amount of any conditioner you choose or a special dreadlock cream to the dreadlock you just got done combing. Use a comb to pick at the end of the strand and work your way up to the roots. A crochet hook can work instead of a comb if you so choose.
  9. Once the dreadlock is completely untangled, use a regular comb to brush out your hair.
  10. Follow these steps for each individual strand of hair.

How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks With "Treasured Knots No More" Cream

Besides cutting and clipping, there is another way to make the detangling process go by faster and easier by picking at each strand. Here's how it's done:

  1. Follow step 1 under the "How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks By Picking at Each Strand" section. The "Treasured" website highly advises that you do NOT use shampoo to clean out any grease.
  2. Next, make sure you have at least 2-4 bottles of "Knot No More" cream, a rat tail comb, and a wide tooth comb
  3. Soak your dreads in the "Knot No More" cream for at least a half hour.
  4. Cut off the tip of the lock and follow steps 6-9 in the section above. The only difference is that you will use "Knot No More" cream instead of conditioner.

How to Get Rid of Dreadlocks Once and for All

Yes, there does need to be excessive hair aftercare once the detangling process is complete. This step is very important, as it ensures the health of your scalp and hair. Please take care to follow each of these steps:

  1. After you have unlocked each individual dreadlock, shampoo and condition your hair. If you have been using salon-preferred products, this would be the time to use them.
  2. Throw in some leave-in conditioner after your shower, and brush through your hair one more time to remove any additional tangles.
  3. Last but not least, we would recommend you schedule an appointment at a professional salon to trim off any split ends, and get a fresh, new hairstyle. You can trim the split ends yourself, but it might be helpful to see a professional for any other recommendations.

Seeing a Professional - The Final Option

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Keep in mind that while it is definitely possible to create and get rid of dreadlocks yourself, there is absolutely no shame in seeing a professional to either create or get rid of dreadlocks. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Remember: hair stylists went to beauty school for a reason. It is their job to know what they are doing.
  • It's nice to have a second pair of eyes on untangling and/or forming those locks.
  • Lastly, seeing a stylist regularly helps create a relationship between the professional and the client. As you get to know each other, you will be able to understand the personality and preferences of the other, thus, leading to a positive customer relationship.
  • Stylists also know how to keep your hair extra healthy. They are knowledgeable enough to provide you with expert tips on how to maintain dreads or maintain healthy hair after dreadlocks have been removed.

Whether or not you choose to see a professional, there is nothing wrong with either decision. The point of this post is to educate and provide all of the options so you are able to make a well-informed decision based on your personal preferences. Obviously, you will save a great deal of money removing dreadlocks yourself, so we hope this post will be helpful throughout the process.