I remember the first time I discovered that a few of my dreads had an awful smell to them. It was pungent and quite repulsive. As I sat wondering what could've caused such a smell, I soon realized the mistake I made. I discovered one reason why my dreadlocks smelled bad. Some reasons why your dreadlocks might smell bad are because you went to sleep with wet hair, the combination of products you're using do not mix well, or you aren't getting your hair as clean as you thought you were. Why You Shouldn't Sleep With Wet Dreadlocks Imagine buying a brand new sponge. You decide to use that sponge to wash your dishes and afterward you leave the sponge in your sink with no fresh air. You decide not to squeeze out the excess water. Overnight, the bacteria that naturally built-up within that sponge begins to fester and thrive in the warm, moist environment of the sponge. Mildew and bacteria begin to multiply rapidly while releasing odors. You come back to the sponge the very next day, pick it up, and realize how terrible it smells! This is exactly what happens to your dreads when you sleep with wet hair. Dreadlocks Can Grow Mildew And Mold Unfortunately, there is a stigma that dreadlocks are dirty and smelly. This stigma arose from the idea that in order to achieve dreads, a person must not wash their hair for several weeks or months. Many of the hippies in the early 70s also went without bathing or washing their hair while rocking the dreadlock style. Mass media began to portray anyone who had dreads as being a "dirty hippie" and so the idea stuck. Today, there are still many people who believe that all dreadlocks are dirty. However, this is not the case. Dreadlocks Are Like Sponges As you go about your day, your locs take in everything you do. The bacteria and molds in the air, smoke, dust, pollen, dirt, and more are slowly absorbed by your hair. Even when you wash your hair, there are still different forms of molds and bacterias lurking around in there. This is natural, of course. However, when you wet your hair and wrap it up or sleep on it, this prevents your hair from fully drying which gives these molds and bacteria the perfect environment to begin multiplying. As your hair sits in an almost air-free environment for a prolonged amount of time, these bacteria and molds continue to grow causing a horrid stench from the center of your locks, outward. Dry Your Hair Thoroughly Before Wrapping Or Going To Sleep The most common reason why dreadlocks tend to smell is that people do not properly dry them before wrapping them up or going to sleep. So what's the easiest solution? Ensure that your locs are completely dry before laying down or wrapping them up. This way your hair can properly ventilate and prevent unwanted growths within your locs. The Combination Of Products You're Using Do Not Mix Well Another reason why your dreads may have a weird smell is that the combination of products you're using do not mix well together. This is especially true if you're using many products that are heavily scented. While the product on its own may smell great, mixing one scented product with another scented product could create an odd concoction of smells. Over time, through daily activity, not only will your scalp sweat, but it will also mix and mingle with the products that are on it causing an odor to arise. To avoid this, simply use products that are not heavily scented or perfume-free. This way you can prevent smelly dreadlocks from the start. Also, avoid using products that are particularly heavy such as creams, gels, and butters as they cause build-up much quicker which can result in awful smells. You Are Not Washing Your Locs Thoroughly It is extremely important to make sure your dreadlocks are cleaned on a regular basis. Many people think that they are getting their dreads completely clean only to find out months or years later that there is a ton of buildup inside of their locs. Eventually, many dread heads resort to cutting off their locs because they feel defeated. While it is easy to wash loose natural hair in the shower, dreadlocks tend to be a bit different. Since locked hair is like a sponge, some people do not realize that they are not completely cleaning their hair from the inside out when shampooing them in the shower. This can result in buildup over time which may result in weird smelling locs and stiff hair. The best way to prevent and resolve buildup and awful smells is to make sure you're cleaning your hair properly. Use a shampoo that is residue-free and soak your dreads in a mixture of water and diluted shampoo to ensure your hair gets squeaky clean. Check out this article "How To Properly Wash Dreadlocks In 2020" to find the best ways to remove deeply embedded buildup.