Can You Wash Box Braids? See the Best Way to Care For Braids

Box braids are easy to wear low-maintenance hairstyles that last up to 8 weeks if you properly wash and care for them.

To enjoy beautiful braids for as long as they last, you should create a cleansing routine for your braided hair. Braids come with an itchy scalp which if you cave in to might shorten the lifespan of your braids.

Just like you wash, moisturize, and generally care for your hair, you should do the same for your braids. Besides, when you wash box braids, your scalp enjoys this benefit and is naturally balanced. It keeps away frizz and the foul smell that may be a result of heat.

Furthermore, it is the only way to get rid of oil, dirt, and any natural buildup that may have accumulated on your scalp. This relieves your hair cuticles and ensures healthy and steady hair growth.

To help you properly wash and care for your box braids, I have put together a detailed guide on how you can wash box braids at home.

How to Wash Box Braids at Home

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Washing your braids at home is no herculean task. If you have the right products, you can cleanse your scalp and enjoy fresh-looking box braids for up to 8 weeks. Follow this step-by-step procedure to wash your box braids at home.

1. Section your braids

Box braids are bulkier than your natural hair. To cleanse your scalp effectively, you’ll need to section the box braids. Use rubber bands to tie them into smaller sections; tie as few as would be best for you. Remember, you need to expose your scalp for better results.

2. Dilute shampoo

Because of the nature of your hair, you’ll be using a shampoo that does not contain sulfate, paraben, or any harsh chemicals. Choose a clarifying shampoo that will cleanse your scalp of excess oil, dirt, and natural buildup.

Get a clean spray bottle and pour in shampoo that will be enough to wash your box braids. Then, double it with clean tepid water. The extensions on your braids will make your hair thicker. Consequently, the undiluted shampoo will lather so much and become difficult to rinse out.

Diluted shampoo, on the other hand, is lighter and easier to work with and rinse out.

3. Spitz diluted shampoo over your scalp

Hold the spray bottle directly over your scalp and spritz. Spritz generously until your whole scalp and hairline are saturated with shampoo. Use your fingers to gently massage your scalp until the shampoo lathers. Do this in circular motions and be mindful to not pull at the root of your hair.

Most importantly, if you have long nails, use the pads of your finger or trim down the nails. This way, you’ll not be hurting your scalp in any way. To help your shoulders, you can do this in an inverted position.

SEE: Best Sulfate-Free Shampoo to Protect Your Hair’s Natural Oil

4. Rinse the shampoo out of your hair

When you are sure that you have covered everywhere, proceed to rinse off the shampoo with clean, cool water while the faucet or shower runs over your scalp, continue massaging your scalp with your fingers. Make sure your fingers and the water reach every section.

Do not use hot water to rinse your scalp. If you feel the water is cold, make it lukewarm water. Otherwise, you’ll be opening your cuticles and altering their shapes. Consequently, this leads to frizz.

Feel your scalp to check it’s still greasy. If it is, use more shampoo and rinse afterward.

5. Apply conditioner to restore moisture

After shampooing and rinsing, move on to conditioning. Choose a conditioner that will balance your scalp’s moisture. During the early days of your braids, when it was tight and made your scalp dry and itchy; natural moisture was lost. A shea butter-based conditioner will be very appropriate for the purpose.

Moreover, you should use sulfate and paraben-free conditioner to protect your scalp and hair cuticles against damage. Just like you did with your shampoo, dilute the conditioner in a clean spray bottle and spritz all over your scalp and sectioned box braids.

Afterward, leave the conditioner to sit for up to 10 minutes. You may wear a shower cap over your head.

6. Rinse out the conditioner from your scalp and braids

Run clean water over your scalp and braids to rinse out the conditioner. It’ll be better you work with one section at a time. Make sure that you thoroughly rinse out the product. Gently rub your scalp and braids to get rid of any residue.

7. Dry your hair

Use your hands to wring out water from each section. However, you should squeeze gently. Try not to put any pressure on the root of the braids and your scalp.  After that, take a soft towel that won’t shed lint and wrap your hair in it, allow the towel to absorb the remaining water for some minutes.

Unwrap your box braids and use a hairdryer to completely dry them. Before this, apply a heat protectant to protect your scalp and hair from damage. If you don’t dry your box braids well, they might develop mildew and a foul smell; a result of which is a need to wash again.

8. Restore moisture with hydrating hair products

When you wash your box braids, it’s hygienic and good for your fashion lifestyle. However, the process and products alter your hair and scalp’s natural moisture. Treat your scalp and roots to hydrating and moisturizing hair care products to restore the lost moisture and balance sebum.

Apply these products when your scalp and roots are dry but not crispy dry. They’ll need a little dampness to penetrate and work well.  Ensure the products are suitable for your hair type and are evenly distributed.

Haircare products you can use are hair oils, leave-in conditioners, and hair sprays.

SEE: Helpful Tricks to Help You Relieve the Pain of Tight Braids

Why Should You Wash Box Braids?

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While you enjoy the versatility of your box braids; products, oil, and dirt build-up. Moreover, when the braids are tight, your scalp becomes dry and itchy. This may lead to fungi invasion and dandruff thereafter. The way to get rid of these things is to wash your box braids.

In addition, a clean scalp supports longevity. So, if your natural hair stays wrapped up to 8 weeks, it means there is no pressure whatsoever on your scalp and strands. That is to say, washing your braids equals overall hair health and growth.

A clean scalp guarantees moisturized, dandruff-free scalp. Also, it gets rid of the foul smell that is characteristic of sweat and dirt buildup on your scalp.

How Often Should You Wash Box Braids?

Wash your box braids every two to three weeks for longevity. After the week you got the braids; natural oils, buildup, and dirt must have accumulated on your scalp. It will begin to itch and washing your box braids is the only way to solve this problem.

In between washes, you can alternate with dry shampoo which cleanses your scalp without using water. Also, you can wet a clean wet washcloth with warm water and use it to rub your scalp clean of oil and dirt.

Furthermore, your lifestyle pattern and the needs of your hair can determine how often you wash your box braids. For instance, the frequency with which an athlete washes their hair will not be the same as that of a person who lives a sedentary lifestyle.

SEE: How to Style Box Braids: Revive Your Braids With Any of These Styles

How to Care for Box Braids

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Do not get your box braids wet too often

Regardless of the thickness or texture of the extensions used to braid, if you wash your box braids too often, you might ruin them. It exposes them to frizz, and they may loosen earlier than expected.

So, you’ll want to go gentle with washing when you do and keep to once in two weeks. If you’re an athlete, you can make it once a week.

Easy on the dry shampoo

Skins and scalps differ with individuals. If your hair gets greasy quickly, you’ll need more scalp cleansing than others. Rather than washing your box braids too often, you may alternate with dry shampoo.

However, the nature of dry shampoo fosters build-up and residue accumulation. So, you should go easy with it. Instead of using dry shampoo, you can wet a washcloth with warm water and use it to clean your scalp.

Do not style box braids when they are wet

It may be tempting or seem appropriate but box braids on your head are not the same as your naturally curly hair. Allow your box braids to fully dry before you style them; before you gather them into an innocent ponytail or bun.

Otherwise, you’ll be leaving them to the hands of mildew and foul smells. As a result, you’ll need to wash them sooner than you should.

SEE: Best Professional Hair Dryer

Shower your scalp with TLC

The longevity of your box braids depends so much on your scalp. Clean it as regularly as you should and protect it from elements that can cause itchiness and dandruff. When you wash your box braids, gently massage your scalp rather than scratching it.

After washing, treat your scalp to hydrating and moisturizing oils to balance the sebum levels. Most importantly, flow according to the rhythm of your scalp. It tells you when it’s time to let the braids go. When it does, oblige for the overall health of your hair.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you wash your hair with box braids in them?

Yes, you can. Use a clarifying and sulfate-free shampoo to wash your box braids for longevity and to protect your scalp. If you do not wash your braids, you’re giving room to products and dry skin cells build-up which can cause itchy scalp.

How often should you wash box braids?

Wash your box braids one week after getting them done. After that, wash them once every two to three weeks. For an athletic lifestyle, you may wash them once every week.

Above all, cleanse your scalp according to the demands of your scalp. If your scalp always feels greasy, you can alternate shampooing with cleaning your scalp with a wet washcloth or dry shampoo.

Can you swim with box braids?

Yes, you can. Before you go into the pool with box braids, get the braids wet and moisturized. After swimming, use a clarifying shampoo to wash away sand, chlorine, and seawater from your box braids.

How can you dry your box braids quickly?

When you wash your box braids, they inevitably become wet and heavy with water. This makes them take a longer time to dry. To get it done quickly, you can use a hairdryer after towel drying. But you should protect your hair with a heat protectant before blow-drying.


Box braids are called protective hairstyles because of how they keep your natural wrapped in extensions for weeks. During this period, your hair and scalp are free from the tension and stress of frequent styling. This creates the right environment for your hair to grow healthily.

Moreover, the fact that it is a low-maintenance hairstyle does not mean it can skip regular and proper maintenance. Washing your box braids becomes essential if you want to enjoy its durability and protective nature. Make a regular care routine for your box braids and you’ll escape its downsides.

Wash and care for your box braids properly to keep them looking their best. This will surely reflect on you.

Thanks for reading.

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