Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: doo rags versus bandanas ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: doo rags versus bandanas
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: richardjahillary-ga
List Price: $3.00
Posted: 06 Nov 2005 19:30 PST
Expires: 06 Dec 2005 19:30 PST
Question ID: 589939
Is there any real difference between a doo rag and a bandana?

Clarification of Question by richardjahillary-ga on 07 Nov 2005 15:37 PST
What I mean to ask here is:

Is a doo rag just a way to tie a bandana?  Or would a doo rag be
classified as an entirely different sort of headwear, entirely
separate from a bandana?
Subject: Re: doo rags versus bandanas
Answered By: byrd-ga on 09 Nov 2005 19:58 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi richardjahillary-ga, 

What a great question! As a matter of fact, I happen to know the
answer because, as a biker, I wear them both. And the short answer to
your question is yes, there IS a difference between a "doo rag" and a
bandanna. Let me explain:

First of all, bikers (and others) began tying bandanas over their
heads for a couple of reasons. First of all, because it ties down the
hair, an important detail especially if one's hair is long. It keeps
it from getting in your face and eyes, and from getting so tangled the
only way to deal with it later is to cut/shave it off - not a pleasant
prospect for someone who likes their hair long. In addition, in cool
or cold weather, a bandana is a practical head covering for warmth,
especially for bikers who choose not to wear helmets. Besides,
bandanas do indeed cover up your hair, which is definitely a boon,
even if you do wear a helmet, giving you a great way to conceal that
awful "helmet hair." Some people, like my husband, can ride all day
and have their hair look freshly brushed no matter what travails of
helmet or wind they encounter. Not me. I definitely rely on my trusty
bandanas/do-rags to hide the evidence of a less than cooperative head
of hair!

Ok, enter the do-rag (or do rag, which is normally how it's spelled).
This is merely a form-fitting version of the tied bandana. The
standard design conforms to the shape of the head more closely, has a
flap down the back, and ties to customize the fit and hold it on. It
fits better, stays put better and is easier to put on and off than a
bandana, which must be folded and formed and doesn't always stay where
you want it.

Some people use both, though. I have, mainly for variety and if I
can't find a do-rag to match my shirt, or whatever. But I greatly
prefer a do-rag. Now those stretchy polyester numbers googlenut-ga is
talking about below are really a somewhat different animal, generally
called "skullcaps," though do-rags are also sometimes called skullcaps
and vice versa. It gets a little confusing, but sorts out better if
you understand that the terms are sort of interchangeable. These
headwraps (yet another term) can and do come in a variety of
materials, ranging from very thin mesh for summer wear to heavy
leather for cold weather, with most being made of lightweight printed
or solid cotton fabric.

Also, as this type of headgear has become more popular among bikers
and other, along have come numerous makers and sellers, and various
variations on the standard do-rags have appeared. Some have bills, or
visors like baseball caps, some have long tails that cover the whole
neck, some come in sizes, some have cooling "crystals," others have
velcro closures, still others have ome have fancy names like
"Fly-danna" or "Doo Rag" (as your example), or other creative plays on
words. But again, just remember, the bandana came first, then the
do-rag, and now there are both choices, with a lot of variations.

Another thing to keep in mind is that bandanas serve(d) other purposes
than just head/hair covering. For one thing, you can soak a bandana in
water and tie it around your neck to help keep you cool in summer, not
easy to do with a do-rag. You can use it to wipe off your seat if your
bike gets rained on, or to wipe the dipstick to check your oil, to
clean your mirror or polish a smudge off the chrome. It can insulate
your hand if you need to reach down near the hot pipes for any reason,
and warm your neck if the wind turns cool. Some bikers still keep a
bandana on their bike even if they're wearing a do-rag on their head.
I'm one of 'em.

And one tidbit: although bikers have really popularized this form of
headgear in recent years, they're certainly not the only ones who wear
it, or something similar. For instance, young urban youths, as
mentioned below, often wear their own styles of skullcaps. Cancer
patients frequently use colorful bandanas or do-rags to hide their
bald heads. Even certain religions use a form of skullcaps. For
example, observant Jewish men wear a yarmulke, and young Mulsim women
often wear a form of skullcap under their veils. Fireman and others
who must wear helmets often choose to wear some type of head covering
underneath for comfort. Construction workers, landscapers and others
who work outdoors frequently wear bandanas under hats for protection
from the sun, but I've also seen do-rags, with their signature tails
sticking out in back.

Here are a few interesting links for you:

"What is a Do Rag?" Short explanation w/comments and a bit of trivia:

Biker Headwear - a retailer with hundreds of types and styles of
do-rags and bandanas:

Do Rag sewing pattern:

Paper: "My Kingdom for a Crown: An Around-the-World History of the
Skullcap and its Modern Socio-Political Significance," by Rev. Antonio

Note: You'll need Adobe Acrobat Reader to read the above file, so if
you don't already have it, you can download a free copy here:

Or, here's a link to an html version of the paper:

I hope this fully answers your question, but if anything still isn't
clear, please do use the "Request Clarification" feature to ask before
rating and closing your question, so I can be sure you're happy with
the information provided.

Best regards,

In answering this question, I relied mostly on my own knowledge of
this useful and practical headgear, supplemented with links found by
using the following search terms:
[biker do-rag]
[sewing pattern do rag]
[biker do rag history OR trivia]

Clarification of Answer by byrd-ga on 10 Nov 2005 06:01 PST
Dear richardjahillary-ga,

Well shoot, I'm sorry about your bet. On the other hand, I'm really
happy you were pleased with the answer! So thank you very much for the
kind words, five stars and nice tip!

Best wishes,
richardjahillary-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
Dammit.  Now I just lost a bet to a teenaged girl!

But that was a truly excellent answer.

Subject: Re: doo rags versus bandanas
From: googlenut-ga on 09 Nov 2005 18:43 PST
Hello richardjahillary-ga,

I think a "Do-Rag" (as in hair-do, I believe) is different from a
bandana.  See the description provided here:
The Case Against Do-Rags
"It's the do-rags that do me in. Bandannas I can tolerate. I'm talking
about the nylon-polyester jobs that look like restitched discards from
a hosiery factory. They serve no apparent purpose and look foolish
instead of stylish.
Do-rag defenders cite its usefulness as a cover-up on bad-hair days.
I've got an answer for that. It's called a brush."

Here's an example:

Subject: Re: doo rags versus bandanas
From: googlenut-ga on 09 Nov 2005 18:45 PST
Here's another try at the Washington Post link.

Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy