Last Updated on May 3, 2021
Today’s synthetic wigs are far stronger, more beautiful and more resilient than ever before. Even when they begin to show signs of wear, they can easily be salvaged and returned to like-new condition with a simple washing.
However, washing a synthetic wig is nothing like washing your natural hair or even a natural hair wig. Following the steps below will ensure that you do not ruin the synthetic fibers and that the original shape and texture revives.
What You Will Need
Start the wig-washing process by gathering the supplies that you will need. Having all supplies at your fingertips will save you from running frantically around the house while your wig is a soggy mess.
Be sure that you have the following items on hand soon after you purchase your wig because you will need to wash it regularly and frequently.
How to Wash a Synthetic Wig (Step-by-Step)
Now that you have all the supplies, you are ready to begin. If synthetic wigs are new to you, this will be unfamiliar territory, and you may feel scared the first time you dip your wig into water. However, by following these steps carefully, you can breathe some fresh life into your wig and ensure that it lasts far longer than you may have imagined.
1. Brush the Wig
Before you get the wig wet, you will definitely want to brush out the wig to loosen any tangles or knots. This is important because you never want to brush a synthetic wig while it is wet. Plus, if you wait to brush out snarls after your freshly-washed wig dries, you will probably make the strands frizzy again.
Always brush the wig from the bottom to the top. Work slowly and gently so that you do not rip any of the fibers out of the wig cap. In addition, always use a paddle brush designed for wigs rather than a normal hairbrush or comb.
2. Soak in Wig Shampoo and Water
Once all of the snarls are gone, it is time to wash the wig. Fill your large basin or sink with cool water. You should never use hot water as this can seriously damage the synthetic fibers.
Add a tablespoon or two of specialty wig shampoo depending on the length of the synthetic hair. One good option is Awesome Synthetic Wig Shampoo, which is designed to replenish the strands. Another good choice is Jon Renau Fiber Love Shampoo, which is sulfate-free and paraben-free. Swirl this around in the water to create some suds.
Once the basin is prepared, place the wig in the water and let it soak on its own. You do not have to worry about scrubbing out the hair because the shampoo will do the work for you.
3. Clean the Synthetic Fibers and Cap
After no more than five minutes, it is time to finish the washing. Lift your wig up and down in the water to lather the strands thoroughly. You can scrub with your fingers a bit over the edge of the cap where makeup and facial oils tend to collect.
If the stains are particularly tough, you can use a soft toothbrush. However, watch out for hand-tied spots on the cap because these areas can unravel with hard scrubbing.
4. Rinse Out the Shampoo
Now it is time to rinse out the wig. Once again, use cool water to rinse all of the soap suds out of the strands. Be sure to rinse the underside of the cap thoroughly so that soap will not irritate your scalp once the wig is dry.
5. Condition the Wig
Just like your natural hair, synthetic hair needs to be conditioned whenever it is shampooed so that it can remain lustrous and manageable. Plus, conditioner will return the strands to their original style. Once again, it is important that you only use special wig conditioner that contains a unique blend of oils designed for synthetic fibers so that they will soften without becoming greasy.
To condition the wig, dump out the shampoo water from your sink or basin, and refill it with clean water along with a capful or two of wig conditioner. After swirling the water around with your fingers, dip the wig into the water, gently rubbing the conditioner into all strands on the wig.
If you prefer, you could instead invest in a wig conditioning spray that you can apply while the wig is still wet, such as Awesome Synthetic Wig Leave-in Conditioning Spray.
6. Rinse Out the Conditioner
After conditioning, you must rinse out the product so that it does not weigh down the strands. Pay special attention to rinsing the wig cap because leftover conditioner can make the cap band slippery from the oils.
7. Dry the Wig
It is vital that you dry your synthetic wig correctly because some methods could leave the fibers fried and frizzy or could stretch out the cap.
Begin by towel-drying the wig. Lay it gently on a clean, dry bath towel. Pat the wig dry, but be sure you do not rub it excessively. If you skip this step, excessive water in the wig could stretch out the synthetic fibers, completely destroying the original style.
Once the wig is no longer dripping, place it on a wig stand. Keep in mind that a wig stand is different from a styrofoam head, which could be too big and could stretch out the cap.
Although you may be able to apply low heat or cool air from your hair dryer to speed up the drying process, it is best to let the wig air dry. Although this could take a few hours, it is your best bet for getting your wig to last as long as possible.
How often should you wash a wig?
Your synthetic wig should be washed after every few uses. Although the exact number of times you can wear it before washing varies based on how tangled the strands become and how much makeup, dirt and oils the cap picks up, you should aim to wash it after 15 to 20 wears.
Depending on how frequently you wear your wig, this could be anywhere from three to six weeks.
If the strands on your wig are merely shiny, you could just apply a few spritzes of a dry shampoo designed especially for wigs. Use a regular dry shampoo for blonde wigs and one created for dark-colored strands on brown, black or colored wig shades.
Related: How to Use Dry Shampoo
How long do synthetic wigs last?
Washing your wig carefully as described above can help it last far longer than you may have imagined. In fact, a high-quality wig could last from three to six months.
However, most synthetic wigs only hold up for three to four washes before they completely lose their original styles and the strands are too frizzy to save.
Can you use regular shampoo?
While wig shampoo is the best option because it is formulated especially for synthetic wigs, you could use certain types of regular shampoo in a pinch. However, never use a shampoo that is designed to moisturize natural hair or that is advertised as being clarifying. Instead, opt for a neutral shampoo blend.
Another option if you do not have wig shampoo on hand is baking soda, which you most likely have in your kitchen cabinet. Use no more than half a cup in a basin of cool water for soaking your wig.
Can you wash a wig with fabric softener?
Although many wig-wearers swear by fabric softener to cleanse and condition their synthetic wigs, this solution is not at all good for your wig. Instead of softening the fibers, fabric softeners merely coats the strands, quickly leading to build-up.
Wigs washed in fabric softener tend to attract dirt and grime and are also highly flammable. In the same vein, never put your synthetic wig in a washing machine.
Does conditioner work on synthetic wigs?
Conditioners designed for natural hair do not work on synthetic wigs because they will only coat the strands, much as fabric softener does. However, specialty wig conditioners are formulated with the best blend of ingredients to tame the wig fibers and restore the wig’s original style.
What is the best way to dry your wig?
The best way to dry a synthetic wig is to let it air dry on a wig stand. However, if you want to add more volume to the style, you could put in basic rollers as the wig is drying.
Never apply high heat from a hair dryer, straightener or curling iron to help it dry faster or to restyle it.