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How to Get Burrs Out of Human Hair (In 3 Simple Steps)

How to Get Burrs Out of Human Hair (In 3 Simple Steps)

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Washing your clothes and gear after hiking is always a hassle, but it’s a new level of challenge when there’s a bunch of burrs clinging to your clothes and hair. These sticky seed pods are a force to be reckoned with!

Their hook-like barb design looks exactly like Velcro and sticks to your hair like it. They’re not designed like this to get on your nerves, though!

Burrs are just innocent hitchhikers trying to spread their seeds around, and you happen to be a convenient means of transport.

Because I know it’s not fun discussing the wonders of nature when you’re covered with a clump of clingy seeds, I’ll tell you the secret of how to get burrs out of your hair. I’ll also give you some handy pointers to keep in mind!

How to Get Burrs Out of Human Hair

Here’s our easy step-by-step burr removal guide:

Step 1: Break The Burrs Into Smaller Pieces

Close Up Of Burrs

Burrs are typically only an inch in size, so their size doesn’t pose a problem. It’s their stiff, spiked spines that are the main issue.

One way around this problem is to break the burrs apart. When you do this, the burrs will multiply in your hair, but don’t panic.

Getting smaller pieces of burrs out is much easier than trying to remove whole burrs. They’ll have less surface area, which reduces their grasp and clinginess.

Step 2: Apply a Detangler to the Hair

A detangler works its magic by reducing friction between your hair strands, so it’s a nice, effective solution for burrs stuck in your hair.

Here’s a list of different types of detanglers to choose from:

  • Conditioner: Any type will do. Just don’t use expensive brands because you’ll probably end up using an entire bottle of conditioner. Look for something affordable that comes in a cost-effective size.
  • Mineral Oil: This could be baby oil or any type of petroleum-based product. The good news is that mineral oil can help moisturize and nourish hair follicles. So, it’s a win-win!
  • Glycerine: Glycerine is one of the slipperiest materials you can put on your hair. Hopefully, it’ll work its magic on those sticky burrs and get them out quickly.
  • Vegetable Oil: Olive and coconut oils are great for detangling your hair. If you don’t have either, you can use any other type of vegetable oil you have. However, it’s worth noting that vegetable oil is a pain to wash out, so I’d go for one of the other options first.
  • WD-40: This lubricant will work wonders for getting burrs out, but you should only use it as a last resort. It’s flammable and has a strong smell, so it’s easy to see why it’s not my first option. Rest assured, though, the smell goes away after a couple of washes.

Step 3: Use a Metal Comb

Metal Comb For Removing Knots

Metal combs usually come with a side of wide teeth and another side of narrower teeth. Start with the wide-toothed side to gently detangle your hair before using the other side for the burrs stuck inside.

The metallic surface of metal combs reduces the risk of snagging, so they flow more smoothly through the hair and make for an easier pull.

Important reminder: the harder you pull, the more inseparable those spiky balls become. So, you need to work the comb gently between the strands bit by bit rather than going at it with force.

How to Get Burrs Out of Clothes

If you have burrs stuck in your hair, there’s a high chance there are some stuck to your clothes as well. While getting these pesky clingers out of your clothes is challenging, luckily you can get the help of machines, unlike with hair:

Wash Your Clothes

The first thing you should do is shed all clothes that have burrs and throw them into the washer. Choose a delicate setting and keep the temperature warm or hot.

When the washer is done, the burrs should be softer and easier to take out, but before you attempt anything, put your clothes in the dryer and wait until it’s done.

Grab a Fine-Tooth Comb

If the washer and dryer don’t get rid of all burrs, you’ll grab a fine-tooth comb and start working delicately on your clothes. Keep in mind that you don’t want to tear the material, so be as patient as you can.

Go over the strands of the fabric gently, taking as many burrs with you as possible.

Remember to use a plastic comb to avoid tearing the fabric.

Last Resort: Duct Tape

No one wants to use duct tape on their clothes, especially if the material is delicate. However, if the burrs are being stubborn, there’s no other option. 

All you have to do is wrap a piece of duct tape over your hand and start tapping it gently over your clothes. Keep removing the burrs and throw them aside using a pair of forceps, then repeat the process until all the burrs are gone. 

Some Dos and Don’ts to Protect Your Hair from Burrs

Here are a few dos and don’ts to help you get rid of those little spiky pests:

Do Start at the Tips and Work Your Way Up

You may be tempted to start with the burrs closest to your scalp. However, the best way to go is to work at an even pace with the burrs closest to the tips. Then, move upwards until you get closer to the scalp.

Once you’ve loosened the knots at the tips, you can start removing the burrs that are deeply entangled. Keep in mind that these may be a bit painful to remove, and they may take a hair or two with them.

Sometimes, you’ll find some extra stubborn burrs that’ll refuse to get out. When this happens, use the sharp end of a wooden skewer or a toothpick to pull the hair off the hook-like barbs.

Don’t Wet Your Hair

You probably think that if your hair is wet, the burrs will slide out easier. However, the truth is that wet hair seems to bind the burrs tighter.

Wetting your hair will push the burrs closer to your scalp. Subsequently, they become harder and more painful to remove.

Do Wear Protective Gear

Pair Of Protective Work Gloves

Burrs don’t only get stuck in hair, but they also grip onto clothes and hands. That’s why you need to take the necessary precautions when removing burrs from your hair or someone else’s.

Gloves are vital to prevent burrs from digging into your skin. Opt for leather or gardening gloves, even if they’re an old pair lying around.

On top of that, you should protect your clothes by covering them with anything. Otherwise, you’ll have to go through the hassle of getting the burrs out of them. If you think removing burrs from your hair is hard, try removing them out of your clothes!

You can opt for a plastic poncho or a disposable long-sleeved plastic apron. Another option is to use a large-sized plastic garbage bag and cut out holes for your head and arms.

Don’t Remove Burrs Over a Rug

Just like burrs can become attached to your clothes, they can just as easily adhere to rugs and carpets. If they fall on your rugs, you’ll have to clean them up the old-fashioned way: wear your gloves, get a garbage bag, and start picking each one by hand. 

I know you’re probably thinking about vacuuming the rug and going about your day, but the burrs are sharp and may damage the dust bag.

To prevent this in the first place, lay a wide plastic sheet on the floor under you before you begin. Then, once you’re done, roll up the whole thing and throw it away.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: my step-by-step guide on how to get burrs out of human hair! Though these pesky clingers are hard to get rid of, following my tips above should be enough to get rid of them.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, remember to be patient and take your time. By working slowly, you’ll be able to free every last one of the burrs with as little damage as possible.


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Diane Ludy

Tuesday 10th of May 2022

Worked great, thanks for saving my hair!