I am at the stage of my hair journey where the latest products or hair growing techniques no longer pique my interest. I am, however, always on the hunt for tips and tricks that will shorten the time it takes me to wash, detangle or style my hair. Over the past two years I’ve cut out weekly washing and deep conditioning and have opted to wash my hair bi-weekly and deep condition as needed.  Recently, I have found that there are some weeks when I want to cleanse my scalp but don’t have the 90 minutes it requires to apply a pre-shampoo conditioner and detangle.  This becomes especially necessary during weeks when I sweat from my scalp or have product build up. After some thought I figured out at way to get around the full wash day routine, while still giving my hair a mid week cleansing.  Unlike the usual 3-4 hours it takes to do my usual wash routine, I can complete the Quick Cleanse in 30-45 minutes

The Quick Cleanse

  1. 1. First, I will only do a quick cleanse on already stretched hair. Styles like a braid out, twist out or stretched up dos are some examples of styles I consider stretched hair styles. I don’t recommend doing the quick cleanse on hair that is very tangled. If your hair is tangled you should fully detangle with conditioner.
  2. 2. Divide stretched hair into 4 sections, securing each section with a clip.
  3. 3. Jump in the shower and saturate your hair with water. Take one section down and, using a color applicator bottle filled with diluted apple cider vinegar or non sulfate shampoo, squeeze some of the cleanser into section of the hair.
  4. 4. Gently massage scalp in order to break up any residue. You don’t need to worry about your scalp being squeaky clean, however. You need not spend more than 2 minutes on each section. Remember, your full wash day (likely the following week) will allow you to follow through with your wash regimen.
  5. 5. Once each section has been cleansed you are now ready to add a leave in conditioner/detangler to your hair. I like Oyin’s Honey Hemp conditioner.  It detangles as well as a wash out conditioner with the bonus of a leave in.
  6. 6. Here’s the shocker. I don’t do a full detangle. This is why I can finish this process in about 30 minutes. I divide the two sections in the back in two more sections and detangle the ends (about the last 4 inches of hair). I then braid the section, leaving me with 4 large braids in the back. I will leave it like this over night.
  7. 7. With the front I’ll usually style my hair in two large flat twists, separated by a side part. I will then tie my hair down with a satin scarf. That’s it!
  8. 8. In the morning I will take the braids in the back out and usually pin the hair into a bun, roll or large twist up do.

Okay, so about step 6. Some of you will feel that you’ll create a nightmare for yourself when you have to detangle during your full wash the following week.  You know your hair so don’t do something that you think you’ll regret. My hair is waist length when straightened and very tightly coiled, shinking to about 70% of its length. Still, I find that if my hair was in a stretched state before the quick cleanse then when I detangle the following week (with my hair full of oil and conditioner as usual) the process is no more complicated than usual. Detangling the very ends is a trick I use to prevent tangling at the end that might result in knotting or breakage.

So, that’s my quick cleanse. What tips do you have for cleansing your hair in between full washes?


Island girl raised in the most royal of NYC's boroughs. Proud nerd, social scientist, educator and recovering awkward black girl. When not listening to NPR, trying to grow spiritually, or detangling my fro, I'm searching for the best shrimp and grits in the Queen City.

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32 Comments on "How to Cleanse Natural Hair in 30 Minutes"

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Ugonna Wosu

how would you incorporate a prepoo with oils or protein into the above routine?

nappy headed black girl

Nice tips. I’m another one who doesn’t spend a lot of time on wash day. I’m a dread and I wash often, so I don’t have to worry about too much buildup.

Wash, condition, maybe deep condition, and I’m good.


I detangle before i jump into the shower. then section my hair in however many twists i find necessary then i head into the shower to shampoo. I add conditioner to my twisted sections, shower, and lastly rinse the conditioner.
even though i dont pay for my water i do care about how much water im wasting by doing a full detangle in the shower.

i still dont comprehend how much time naturals spend with the water running just to detangle hair in the shower.


I detangle in the shower with the water off after I’ve wet my hair or shampooed my hair.


My actual washing and detangling takes up to 30-45 minutes. So I guess it’s not a big issue for me…


(just wanted to repost so I could receive notification of reply email)

Thank you so much for this article. I’ve had to start using cones but I was wondering if it’s possible to just cleanse with ACV mix once a week and then shampooing every other week while using silicones regularly?


Thank you so much for this article. I’ve had to start using cones but I was wondering if it’s possible to just cleanse with ACV mix once a week and then shampooing every other week while using silicones regularly?


[…] such as curly hair, wavy hair, straight hair, kinky afro curls hair, body waves hair, natural long hair […]


Oh my goodness. I washed my hair not too long ago (shampoo+conditioner), and ignoring my pre-poo, and the hours prior to even this that it took to detangle it, it took around two hours. Such a chore. Definitely won’t be doing this on a weekly basis.

Protective styling is a must for me. I have 4a hair. It now takes me about 30 minutes to twist my apl hair. Secret is to form curls during cleansing and to not disturb the curls while twisting or braiding, just smooth the ends when you get to them. I’m not gonna lie. Wash day is about 2 hours and forty minutes for me. Here are my steps: Detangle in sections with (((metal afro pick)))(holy grail tool!), and a mix of aloe water and conditioner. 30 min. Smooth mayo/aloe/oil/honey through each twisted section.15 minutes. Let sit for 30 minutes under… Read more »
Michelle@Radiant Brown Beauty

I think this is subjective. Hair type and length play a huge rule in being able to wash your hair quickly. Even on stretched hair, some detangling is a must to prevent matting or further tangling and that can take up to 30 mins and more in some cases. Personally, it takes me approximately 40 mins to finger detangle and pre-poo (sometimes I do it overnight though), 30 minutes to wash and condition. Since, we’re talking cleansing I won’t even mention styling time 🙂


4 hours?

i would neva…


My detangling, washing and conditioning process takes about 90 minutes on almost APL hair. This is a huge improvement from when my hair was shorter. Air drying is what makes wash day a kick in the butt for me…
the last two washes I’ve use the tension method on blotted/ damp hair (with leave in, and moisturizer)and can rock elongated twists or a twist out the very next morning.


on medium heat with grape seed oil as a heat protectant


Well I have to moistureize very time I wash my hair, so it takes about 2 hours start to finish because I also lightly blow dry my hair, to relax the curliness of my hair. I can’t just wash and go or my hair locks up tight. maybe as my hair journey keeps going I will be able to get the time done a little quicker, butit goes pretty quick, so it doen’t feel like 2 years.


Tabatha two hours isn’t that bad at all. I section my hair off into big chunks after washing and just let it air dry. Two hours is what my routine would be if I used the blowdryer like yourself. Considering your adding an extra step two hours is decent for wash day.

Lillian Mae

I designate Sundays as beauty day so, I expect that it’ll take a while to complete my hair. The “washing” portion takes about 20 minutes, if that. By the time I get there, my hair has already been pre-poo’d with oil and in sections; all I have to do is either co-wash or cleanse my scalp with my ACV solution.


to me the actual cleansing of the hair takes at most 20-30 minutes…I have eliminated pre-poos and hot oil treatements from my regimen and just do a weekly 10-20 minutes long DC. It is the finger detangling that takes me an eternity!!! But I gotta do it if I want to retain some length this year.

Good tips. My entire wash routine is 45 min to an 1 hour. I break my wash routine up into two days so I don’t have to spend all day on my hair. I finger detangle with oil the day before cause to me that is what takes the longest ( takes me an 1 hour and a half to finger detangle). Washing and conditioning are the easy parts. Infact my routine hasn’t changed much from what I did when I was relaxed. Just no more thermal heat straightening to fool around with after my hair is clean. I think… Read more »

So when does common sense comes into play. Haircare isn’t rocket science


This person sounds like someone who is most definitely NOT a black woman. B/c no black woman permed or natural would say something like that, given the history and culture surrounding our hair. Hair is not rocket science, but when we grow up in a world that tells us our natural hair is “wrong” “nappy” or “unprofessional” then we grow up being trained not to carefully take care of our hair and many of us our learning our real hair for the first time.

I don’t know why I’m explaining, this person is clearly trying to troll.


Why are you visiting this page if that’s how you feel?


pls don’t mind boogee. I had same rude comment from her saying that haircare aint important. I had no idea why she here anyway! She must be scam or something.

I’ve never understood the hours/all day washing routines of those with natural hair. I have 10 year old waist length locs and I don’t spend that much time on my hair. On just wash days 2 hours at most…and that’s giving my hair time the dry under a hood dryer. On tightening and wash days about 4-5 hours. Who in the world has time to wash their hair all day? When I use to go to a stylist she would wash, condition and tighten my hair in 3.5 hours and my hair comes out soft and shiny every single time.… Read more »
my hair is pretty long since bc abt 2 years ago, I spent basically 3-4 hours that seemed all day . The all hard working pay off ‘cuz a lot ppl compliment on how long my hair is growing and how soft it is. Then they ask what I use. I don’t like it when you ask who have time, some ppl like to decidate time to hair if wanna healthy and long hair. If you don’t want to, who cares. Nobody is forced you. Everyone is different by opinion and desire. Sometimes I am willing to invest in a… Read more »

Yea she’s just doing too much


She was clearly exaggerating in saying that it was “all day” given that she said it takes “3-4 hours . . . to do [her] usual wash routine.” I doubt you can compare waist length locs to waist length natural hair. One you have to detangle the other you do not, lol. I think you should read the post more carefully next time.


Hmmm…I see that I should’ve been more clear. I wasn’t referring to the person who wrote the article…just naturals I see in general (youtube, blogs) that spend that much time doing their hair. Hers is actually more efficient compared to the routines of others I’ve seen.


My, bad for not being more clear. It was meant to give her props…as you can see from my last statement in the first post.


I meant waist length loose hair (not natural).


My normal cleanses are only about 30 minutes.