Dreadlocks can be started in hair that is at least 3 inches long in a few hours. According to Dreadlocks.com, the "backcombing method" is the fastest of the five generally-accepted dread creation methodologies. Experts agree that while it is possible to start dreads in a few hours, it takes from four months to a year for dreadlocks to fully "lock up" or reach maturity.
Clean, well-maintained dreads reach maturity faster than neglected locks. Dreads need to be washed at least once per week. Key maintenance products include a dread comb, dread wax and a good soap that does not leave residue on the hair.