How to Wash Box Braids (5 Expert Tips)

Ladesha NaluleBox Braids, Hair CareLeave a Comment

How to wash box braids

A lot of us love box braids and sometimes we tend to keep them on for too long without washing, eek!

Can we grab a coffee and talk about how to wash box braids? Really, we need to take care of our hair even when it’s braided.

When you have your box braids, you CAN and should wash the braided hair to eliminate build-up and keep the scalp clean. Washing your braids helps to keep the hair and scalp healthy while your hair is still in a protective style.

In this article, we will focus on:

  • A step-by-step guide on how to wash box braids
  • How often to wash box braids
  • Things to watch out for so you don’t ruin your braids when washing

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How to wash box braids

Here is a step by step guide on how to wash box braids

What you will need

Before we get into the details on how to wash, here is what you will need:

  1. Clarifying Shampoo
  2. Conditioner
  3. A towel/t-shirt
  4. A spray bottle (optional)


  1. Soak your hair in warm water for a minute or two. This will help the shampoo to lather well.
  2. Using the spray bottle, spray in a good amount of diluted shampoo on your scalp.
  3. Gently massage and rub the product on scalp and hair roots using your fingertips. Ensure you do this on every partition on your head to remove all build-up.
  4. Get into your braids and wash them too by running your fingers through them. You can add more shampoo as needed
  5. Rinse off the shampoo with warm water. Ensure you have rinsed off all the product from your braids and scalp. You can also soak your braids in warm water in a tub or basin for a two minutes to help with rinsing off the product.
  6. Proceed to condition using a generous amount of conditioner on your scalp and braids.
  7. Massage the conditioner into your scalp and braids then leave it on for 5-10 minutes.
  8. Rinse off the conditioner completely with warm water. You can also soak your braids for two minutes as you did when you were rinsing off the shampoo.

Dry, Moisturize & Style

  1. Using your towel, dry off the excess water from your braids.
  2. Air dry, or blow dry your braids (to dry faster).  Ensure that your braids are completely dry to avoid the growth of mildew.
  3. When completely dry, apply any oil of preference onto your scalp and roots of your braids. Gently massage in the product for it to penetrate your scalp and roots. Massaging also helps with blood flow.

Dilute shampoo and conditioner is preferred as it easy to rinse off from braids. You can dilute them in the ratio of 1:1.

Things to watch out for so you don’t ruin your braids when washing

When it comes to washing box braids, you have to be careful not to run them. Here are 5 things to take note of:

1. Do not rub the braids against each other as you wash them

Rubbing your braids against each other will leave your hair frizzy. To avoid this, wash your braids from your scalp to the ends of your braids by running your fingers through your braids gently.

2. Be gentle when drying your box braids

After you wash your braids, dry them gently using your towel. You can squeeze out the excess water from your braids and then wrap a towel around your braids to absorb the excess moisture.

Avoid rubbing your braids against each other as you dry them. This helps prevent frizz.  

3. Use dilute shampoo and conditioner

As mentioned earlier, using shampoo or conditioner as they are may be difficult to rinse off completely. Undiluted shampoo gets stuck in between the plaits on your braids.

Equally,  using shampoo as it is completely dries off your hair. As a result, your hair is left dry and frizzy.

4. Dry your braids completely

Leaving your braids damp encourages the growth of mildew. Other than that, it also leaves your hair smelling bad. Ensure your dry your braids out completely to avoid this.

Also, avoid styling your braids when they are still damp to avoid the growth of mildew.

5. Have the ends of your hair tucked in the braids

Sometimes during braid installation, your hair is left sticking out on the braids and when you wash your braids, you hair ends up frizzy.

To avoid this, ask your hair stylist to tuck in your hair into the braids during installation.

How often should you wash box braids?

If you are intending to have the braids on for more than four weeks, hair professionals advise that you should wash your braids after every 1-2 weeks.

Cleaning the braids helps prevent itchiness, bacteria and flakes that may accumulate because of build-up of products and dead skin cells.

Can I wash my box braids in the shower?

Yes you can. There is no harm in washing braids in the shower. The process of washing braids will still be the same.

The only challenge is that your braids may end up feeling heavy due to absorption of water and your neck may strain to stay in position. The other challenge is that you are not sure if you will manage to rinse off all products from all parts of your hair equally. 

Washing your braids can be tasking but trust me, it is all worth it in the end.

Before you leave, you may find this recommended products page useful. Here you will find the natural hair products that my friends & I have found to be very good for natural hair.

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