Creating spiral curls with rags gives you an alternative to heat styling. This old-school method works well if your hair does not generally hold a wave, because rag curls typically maintain their bounce better than heat styled curls. However, there are drawbacks to using rags to curl your hair. Some people have trouble sleeping on rag curlers, and if you have thick hair, it will take trial and remaining damp the next morning.
Gather rags made of soft fabric. You can use strips of old towels or T-shirts. Cut or rip each one so it's approximately 1 inch wide and 12 to 15 inches long. Use the materials that you have on hand; there is no reason to purchase special supplies. If you have thick or very long hair, you may want to choose T-shirt material; it is unlikely that towel fabric will allow your hair to completely dry by morning.
Start with wet hair. The key to getting smooth, bouncy spiral curls is in the wrapping. Comb your hair so it's smooth and tangle free. For hair that is very thick or long, blow-dry it lightly. Wet hair that dries wrapped in hair rags will hold curl much longer than hair that was partially dry when wrapped. Hair that's too wet will still be wet the next morning when it is unrolled, and these damp curls will not hold.
Divide hair into sections. The smaller the section, the tighter he curl. For bouncy waves, divide hair into 4- to 6-inch sections. For ringlets, 1-inch sections are ideal. Keep in mind that the larger the section, the longer it will take your hair to dry.
Start at the front of your head to help prevent you from tangling the curled rags in with loose hair. Start at the top and work your way down to your ears. Move back to the next sections, and start at the top once again and work your way down. Working in this way keeps the loose hair out of your way.
Start rolling. Hold the section loosely in one hand and twist it several times. This creates the spiral curl. Place the rag at the ends of the hair and begin rolling toward the scalp. Make sure the ends of the hair stay tucked under as you roll the hair up. Allowing the ends to stick up will result in straight bits of hair that will stick out when you unwind your curls. Once you reach your scalp, bring the ends of the rag to the top and tie them in a knot. Now you're ready to move on to the next section.
Unwrap carefully the next morning. Untie each rag, starting at the back and working in the reverse order of the way you wrapped them. Keep your fingers out of the curls until you have them all unrolled. After all the curls are unrolled, gently work your fingers down the hair from roots to ends.