Step by Step Guide to Removing Lice from Your Home

Here is a step by step guide in ensuring your home is totally free from lice and nits that may have been left to linger from an infected human head. After all members of your family have been effectively treated for head lice, ensuring your home is clean is the only way to prevent further infestation.


Step 1. Remove all linens such as towels, mattress covers, pillows, pillowcases, blankets, sheets, and comforters. Also, any clothing that has been worn in the past 48 hours of anyone who had head lice. Thoroughly soak, wash, and dry all items in water that reaches at least 130 degrees. Dry cleaning will also kill head lice and eggs. Either option is a good approach to warding off infection.


Step 2. Gather all personal items that could possibly be harboring lice or nits. Stuffed animals, plush toys, throw blankets, decorative pillows, rugs, or anything else that could be a problem. These items can be stored in a garbage bag for a week or two to suffocate and kill eggs or lice. They can also be thrown in a hot setting on a dryer for thirty minutes. In extreme cases, bagging is recommended as lice and eggs are unable to survive without a host to live off of. Adult lice will die without the heat source and food a scalp offers within a day or two. Any eggs that are not incubated will most likely never hatch. If they do hatch, nymphs will not have a food source and will die shortly after.


Step 3. Sanitize all hair brushes, hair combs, or accessories. Be sure to remove all hair strands from items. Instead of throwing everything away and purchasing all new supplies there are several options for sanitizing them. Boil water and soak items in it for at least five minutes to kill any eggs. Soak them in rubbing alcohol, fully immersed overnight. Or, another option is to throw items on the top shelf of a dishwasher. Use a regular cycle so plastic pieces do not melt. All approaches will be effective in killing any remaining lice or eggs.


Step 4. Vacuum all carpeted areas. Make sure to vacuum anything that has fabric for lice or eggs to attach themselves to. Remember rugs, chairs, couches, even car seats need to be vacuumed. When someone with lice places their head against the back of a couch or chair, or lies down on a rug, nits or live lice can be knocked off of the scalp and fall onto the carpet or fabric. Nits give off a sticky residue that makes them stick to things and can be difficult to remove.  As quickly as you can remove the vacuum bag or empty the vacuum to an outside trash can.  Use hot water and rags to wipe down any leather or vinyl.


Things to Avoid

Fumigation or fog insecticides are not necessary. They are often harmful if inhaled and can be toxic if absorbed into the skin. Avoid them as vacuuming is an easier, reliable method of removing lice and eggs.

Skip calling an exterminator as their methods are also not the safest, most sensitive way to remove the risk. A deep house cleaning is a much less invasive way to rid your home of lice.

Do not stress over your pets being a carrier. Pets do not transmit head lice and do not pose a problem in catching it or spreading it.

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1 comment
Olivia Smart says May 31, 2023

Thank you for pointing out how it’s important to sanitize things like brushes, combs, and other accessories. My daughter has lice, so I’ve been wondering what to do to make sure that everything is okay after removing what’s on her head. I’ll be sure to do this to everything she has so that we can prevent this from happening to the other kids.

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