How To Remove Lint From your Locs
Lint in locs is unavoidable…it doesn’t mean you did something wrong. But there are some things you can do differently. Here are a few…
Let’s face it…it doesn’t seem to matter how well you try to maintain your locs — lint happens! This is especially the case in dry climates and during the winter months when static electricity can attract those pesky little particles to your hair strands like moths to a flame and then seemingly bind them in place.
There are many ways that lint finds its way into locs, and there are just as many ways of removing lint from locs. Here are a few of the best solutions for those of you who have asked, “Help! How can I get the lint out of my locs?!?”
1. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) Rinse – The classic apple cider vinegar rinse is one of the most popular solutions if you’re looking to find out how to quickly get what may appear to be lint out of your dreadlocks. You can whip up a batch of this DIY rinse easily by combining 2 cups of water with 1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar. The natural hair cleanser is great for removing product buildup and should be applied right after shampooing for best results. Find a big bucket that allows you to dip and immerse your dreads into it. You’ll repeat the process of dipping and squeezing and soon you’ll start to see the residue dissolve into the bucket. When the water in the bucket is sufficiently sullied (or you’re totally grossed out) empty the bucket and do it again. This time the water should be less cloudy. Rinse your hair thoroughly with water afterwards.
2. Clarifying Hair Mask – Bentonite clay is a real wonder for even lint-less locks, as it absorbs all kinds of build-up with ease. Clay has a lot of minerals and nutrients that benefit the body like magnesium, calcium and potassium (is that why little kiddos love to make & eat ‘mud pies?’). But lucky for the loc’d & lovely, clay also has antibacterial properties, drawing out toxins and it is great for getting out stubborn lint and buildup from the multitude of hair products that we try in search of the Holy Grail of hair care (thank goodness).
This natural clay should be mixed with equal parts apple cider vinegar (water works too) in a glass bowl using a wooden or plastic spoon. But don’t use metal! Why?…what’s the big deal? Well, because bentonite clay is a healing clay that carries a negative charge which bonds to the positive charge in most toxins. When it comes into contact with say a toxin, heavy metal or chemical, it’ll absorb the toxin. So using a metal spoon or bowl will lessen its detoxifying properties on your hair. And we want the most bang for our buck, don’t we?
You might see bubbles or hear a little sizzle as you stir if using the ACV, but this is normal. Smooth the clay onto your locs and let it rest for up to 30 minutes. Have a plastic grocery bag handy to wrap your locs in while you wait. Then rinse well. Extremely well. Then the lint will be easy to remove.
3. A Good Shampoo Comb – If you have only a small amount of lint, just using a shampoo comb made especially for dreadlock maintenance when you manicure your dreads can help to remove the fuzz without thinning out your locs. I prefer using the tip of a rat tail comb for this method. And if the lint is trapped at the very tip of the loc, I’ll gently coax it out and and tightly recoil the tip with the comb.
4. Trusty Pair of Tweezers – If even more extensive loc surgery is needed, using tweezers to grab and remove the lint is another option. However, manually plucking out lint can be very time consuming, as well as, damage the integrity of the loc if you’re not careful. So I wouldn’t recommend this technique if patience isn’t one of your virtues;) It’s a good idea to try the other methods first (like the ACV rinse) and then use this method to remove the pesky pieces that linger. Make sure that you work slowly, so as not to damage your locs. You may even want to enlist the help of a friend if the lint is in a hard-to-reach (or hard to see) spot.
You can also use a needle to coax out stubborn lint that’s embedded in your locs. If you have a lot of embedded lint (is it waxy with a grayish tinge?) then that’s a strong indicator that you’re using too much hair product and suffering from a serious case of product build up. Time for an ACV rinse (see above) and a clarifying shampoo.
Right now, I’m really enjoying Jason’s Normalizing Tea Tree Shampoo. It doesn’t have any any harsh chemicals (I purchased it at the health food store and that was all the convincing I needed…lol!) No, but seriously…no parabens, no sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate or phthalates and not tested on animals. I read about it on a dreadlocks forum and sought it out, when I finally found it and saw on the packaging that it’s recommended for itchy scalp (which I have), I was convinced enough to try it and thus far it’s my dreadlock shampoo of choice.
[UPDATE:] In mid-2017, a class action lawsuit was brought against Jason’s for falsely advertising that their products contained no sodium laurel/laureth sulfates. They have agreed to settle the lawsuit with a settlement to it purchasers. Thus, I no longer include this shampoo in my hair care regimen.
If you’re wondering how to keep lint out of your dreadlocks in the first place, always…always…always be sure to wear a scarf at night, when you’re working around the house and anytime you might be pulling on a top that is prone to fuzz-like wool. Choose a lint-free scarf, switch to dark colored towels (microfiber towels are best) and skip petroleum-based styling aids, which are big lint attractors. Are you guilty of using beeswax, pomades and greases? Stop it right now as they are primary lint magnets.
If All Else Fails…Conceal It
When it comes to lint in locs, you have quite a few options on how to get rid of that pesky hair lint. You’ll need to find a method that is the best match for your lifestyle and your natural hair care needs.
By combining one of the methods on how to remove lint from dreadlocks with the prevention tips, you’re sure to have lint-free locks ahead in your future (or at least much less of it).
Again, lint build up happens to the best of us, so don’t feel bad now that it’s happened to you. Just like sugar, it sneaks up on us in the most unexpected places. To find out other cleverly hidden ways that lint can make its way into your locs, check out this post over at Loc’d Glory’s blog…you’d be surprised!
How do you care for your dreadlocks? Leave your best tip over on our Facebook page (click here)…