There are two ways to wash when in a state of impurity – one that is complete and one that fulfils the basic requirements.
The complete manner is to wash one’s hands and then the private parts. After this, one makes wudoo as they would for prayer. Then, pour water over one’s head three times, if they begin with the right and then left side, this is better. While doing this, rubbing the water over the body as it flows, due to the well-known difference of opinion regarding whether or not rubbing is obligatory (as most of the Maalikiyyah say). In any case, there is no doubt that it is more complete and more assured to rub, but if one does not, it is sufficient.
As for the ghusl that fulfils basic requirements, it is to spread water all over the body.
And as for the difference between the ghusl for greater impurity and the ghusl for after a period, there is none. So if a woman makes the ghusl in the manner in which we have explained, it suffices her.
Some of them [the scholars] differentiate between the two ghusls in the matter of untying the hair, saying that in the ghusl for janaabah, they do not have to untie their hair but in the ghusl after a period, they do. And there are texts that indicate this, as the prophet sall Allaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam ordered ‘A’isha to untie her hair but did not order Umm Salama, so the scholars have said that the order to untie the hair is an order for the most complete fashion of performing the ghusl and shows it is mustahhab. Others say that the hadeeth of ‘A’isha relates to the women who is washing after a period and the hadeeth of Umm Salama is just for janaaba. And some look at this from another angle and it is that ‘A’isha was a young woman while Umm Salama was an old woman and the norm is that the young woman’s hair is thicker than the hair of the old woman.
In any case, untying the hair is Sunnah [not obligatory] as the water reaches the roots of the hair and encompasses it even if the hair is tied up. However, if there is something that prevents water from reaching the scalp, it must be removed. Plaits do not have to be undone [as an obligation] but may be undone in doing what is mustahhab [recommended] and most complete.
Translated by Aqeel Ahmed