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How to Wash Box Braids: A Step-by-Step Guide

One of the most frequently asked questions about box braids is whether they can be washed or not. The answer is very positive, and I will detail how to do it!

Washing your box braided hair is absolutely necessary both for aesthetics and scalp health. Doing it wrong may affect the aspect of your braids, but it may be better than no wash at all.

What Happens if You Don’t Wash Your Braids?

If you don’t wash your head when you wear box braids, you’ll start to feel itchy and scratch your scalp; this can result in hair breakage and husks.

No cleaning would also lead to bad-smelling, dandruff, oily hair, makeup products on the headline, and dirt.

Unfortunately, the synthetic hair we use for braids doesn’t have an auto-cleaning function, so everybody needs to manage their washing process.

How to Wash Box Braids

washed box braids
©Ina Shan ©HairstyleCamp

There are a few methods you can try in order to clean your hair when box braided. The most natural and effective one is very similar to the usual hair wash. It goes like this:

  1. Wet your roots. You can use the shower or bathtub.
  2. Apply shampoo (preferably with natural ingredients) with an applicator or with the pads of your fingers, not with your nails, everywhere on the scalp. If you have silky hair, caucasian type, don’t use shampoo with conditioner as it can make your box braids get loosen. You can also dilute the shampoo with water.
  3. Gently massage the shampoo on your scalp with the pads of your fingers. Be sure you cover and massage all of your scalps. Then go down along your braids and shampoo them with both of your palms (for braids, you can use a cheaper shampoo if you don’t want to waste your favorite one).
  4. Rinse with plenty of water.
  5. Repeat steps 2 & 3 and ensure you do the 4th step right (insist).
  6. A crucial step: squeeze the braids as hard as you can. Group them and take out of them as much water as possible. This is an essential step, as if you don’t do this, it will take forever for box braids to get dried.
  7. Wrap them in a towel.

Optional steps:

  • Put on some rock music and start headbanging.
  • Apply oils/moisturizing solutions or leave-in conditioner (if you don’t have silky hair).
  • Use a hairdryer, mostly on your braids – avoid using it on the scalp so your hair wouldn’t get frizzy.
  • Use mousse if you need them to look better (shiny, newer) and calm down the frizz.

How to Wash Box Braids without Getting Them Wet

How to Wash Box Braids without Getting Them Wet

If you want to wash your scalp but not wet your braids, you can use a water bottle to wet your scalp and then mix the shampoo with water and spray it all over your scalp.

Massage well with the pads of your fingers, tie your box braids in a loosened bun/ponytail, and rinse your scalp with a handheld shower head while hanging your braids up with one of your hands.

If you can squeeze anything after that, do it, then use a towel to absorb water from the roots. Another method to clean your scalp is using a dry shampoo.

Apply it all over your scalp and massage it. Then, take the excess out with a towel. After that, you can apply protective products or mousse if needed.

You can use these methods when you need a refresh, but I recommend the main wash occasionally (approximately every two weeks).

In conclusion, remember to wash your box braids properly and do not avoid them. There is no problem washing them, and the paths on your scalp can be even useful as it is easier to apply products everywhere on the scalp because of the existing sections, so you can even take advantage of that.

Take care of your box braids and enjoy!


Is washing damaging for box braids?

If you use your nails or rub them too vigorously, it might make them messy. Moreover, not squeezing and drying them well could make them stay wet for an eternity, get loose or smell bad.

But anyway, not washing them is not a good idea, and it would only damage them even more.

How often should I wash box braids?

You can wash them as often as you need, generally once per week, or if you do dry cleaning, you can do it once in two weeks.

Should I use conditioner when wearing box braids?

Depending on your hair type, conditioner can help or even harm your braids. If you have a silky caucasian hair type, avoid using conditioner when braided as it can make them get loosen, but it is recommended to be used when you unbraid them, at your first hair wash, before the shampoo.

Can I get my box braids wet?

Yes, but don’t forget to squeeze them well!

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