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How can I Remove Lice from my Home?

By J.Gunsch
Updated May 16, 2024
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Lice infestations are very common in families that have young children attending daycare, preschool, and grade school. After treating every family member who may have contracted head lice, it is important to remove them from your home by thoroughly cleaning everything so they cannot reinfest anyone. These bugs can live approximately three days away from the human body on clothing, furniture, toys, and bedding. You'll need to vacuum carpets and furnishings and wash all clothing and bedding in hot water.

Once you are sure that there are no more living lice in anyone’s hair, thoroughly vacuum all rugs and furniture. Since they are small, lice can burrow into tiny fibers in your rugs and on upholstered furniture. To be safe, repeat the vacuuming for the next three days. It is a good precaution, when possible, to wash any throw rugs in hot water and to steam clean carpeting and furniture.

The next step is to wash all clothes and towels that have been in recent contact with anyone who had a lice infestation. This includes clothing that has been in contact with the infected person's clothing, such as jackets that hang side by side in a closet. To effectively remove lice from the clothes, wash them in very hot water and dry them in a hot dryer. Clothes that are too delicate for hot water can be placed in a tightly sealed plastic bag for a week or two before being cared for as usual. It is not necessary to wash clothing that hasn’t been worn in a while, since lice cannot live that long without a human host.

It is important to treat bedding in the same way as furniture and clothing, but to do so daily for one week after everyone in the house has been treated. Wash all sheets and pillowcases in hot water and dry them in a hot dryer every day. You should also vacuum the mattress and pillows daily to ensure you get rid of any lice that may be hiding under the sheets and pillowcases. Toys, including stuffed animals and dolls, should also be cleaned thoroughly to remove lice. Anything that cannot be washed in hot water should be vacuumed and stored in tightly sealed plastic bags until all the lice have died from suffocation and starvation.

By taking these precautions, you should not need to use pesticides to get rid of lice. Pesticides are not always effective at getting rid of these insects, and they can be harmful to children and pets.

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Discussion Comments
By anon977037 — On Nov 07, 2014

I used the lice treatment and combed the hair for four hours, then use a vinegar wrap to take care of it and most of nits and lice were gone by that morning. I also used a coconut oil to set and cover the smell of the vinegar.

By anon173137 — On May 06, 2011

My son had beautiful long curly/wavy hair almost past his shoulders. When I discovered lice, I felt helpless. He, however, had wanted a mohawk for like three years, so I gave him one. He looks great. The lice was super easy to remove. Cutting was the last thing I wanted to do but hair always grows back.

By BelugaWhale — On Jul 17, 2010

@baileybear - I've experienced those moments myself and always use home remedies in order to rid the kids of lice. The most successful way in my home is to use mayo and cover the kids' heads in saran wrap. This type of method smothers the lice like previously mentioned in the article above. Conditioner also will work the same way for some people.

By baileybear — On Jul 17, 2010

@leiliahrune - I feel the same way sometimes. My child has had lice only once and you feel like it's somehow your fault when really children can catch it from other children by laying on an "infected" pillow or blanket.

There are several other home remedies like mayonnaise and baby oil, which you most likely end up scrubbing out of their hair with a vigorous passion you've never known.

By leiliahrune — On Jul 17, 2010

As a parent, I can tell you that the discovery of lice is horrifying. While it's true that you can eliminate most bugs from linens and such by washing them and keeping them clean, removing lice from a child's hair can sometimes take extreme measures like cutting hair.

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