7 Steps to Cleaning Your Home after a Head Lice Infestation

By Administrator  |  Friday, July 08, 2011  |  ,  |  22 comments

girl vacummingAn estimated 12 million cases of lice will occur this year according to the National Pediculosis Association and chances are your child or someone you know will be affected by a head lice infestation.  Head lice are more of a nuisance than a health hazard but it is important to act quickly to relieve your family of the inconvenience and discomfort of lice infestation.  

Lice cannot survive more than 1-2 days without a human host and they cannot live on pets. Eggs will die within 2 weeks once they are dislodged from the hair shaft and host.  It is not necessary to use pesticide sprays on furniture, rugs or personal items and in many cases, this will cause more harm to your home environment than good. Your time will be much better spent combing nits and lice from the hair and following these steps to kill head lice in infested items.


1. Gather all personal items such as Combs, Brushes, Hats, Hair Clips, Headbands, Headsets, Helmets, Clothing, Stuffed Animals, Costumes, Pillows and Coats for clean up.

2. Soak all hair care items (such as combs, brushes, hair clips, etc.) in hot water (130°F) for 15 minutes.  

3. For items that cannot be soaked in hot water such as headsets or helmets, place them in a tightly sealed plastic bag and put them in a freezer for 10-12 hours to kill the lice and eggs.  

4. Wash all bedding and clothing that your child has used in hot water (at least 130°F) OR run them through your dryer's hottest setting for at least 30 minutes. Be sure to dry clean items that cannot be washed.

5. Place items that cannot be cleaned or run through the dryer (i.e. stuffed animals and toys) in a tightly sealed plastic bag for 10-14 days.

6. Follow up with the vacuum to get rid of any lice dust or egg shells that were left behind. According to the NPA, vacuuming is the safest way to remove lice and fallen hairs with attached nits from upholstered furniture, rugs, stuffed animals, or car seats- wherever someone with head lice may have rested their head.  

7. Conduct a family head check once a week.  You'll need an egg removal comb, a magnifying glass and lots of light.

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22 comments for “7 Steps to Cleaning Your Home after a Head Lice Infestation”

  1. Posted 1/24/2012 at 12:40:27 PM
    Gravatar of DWSupplies

    This is a great piece of useful information and something you don’t thing about. Its obvious treating the lice in the hair but in carpets and bedding is not something most people would think about. The toys in a bag is the best idea.

    Great article

  2. Posted 10/20/2012 at 5:17:11 AM
    Gravatar of crystal stephens

    Its been 2 days since my family and home been treated with headlice, im always drying and washing and keeping all clothes up should i still be cleaning like this my family has no live lice but i have found nits i check everyones hair like 3 times a day since i found out we had lice. i just wanna make sure im doing everythibg right

  3. Posted 10/25/2012 at 9:10:40 AM
    Gravatar of Ves K

    Great article. I like tip 5! "Place items that cannot be cleaned or run through the dryer (i.e. stuffed animals and toys) in a tightly sealed plastic bag for 10-14 days." The natural remedy is to just wait them out! lol

    Ves K
    Founder
    www.cleanpopo.com

  4. Posted 10/29/2012 at 9:26:00 AM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    Sounds like you are doing all the right steps and that you have done a great job cleaning up. If you haven't used a product like Licefreee Spray that kills the nits, I would recommend to keep picking out those nits daily until you don't see them anymore. A second treatment in 7 days can also help prevent a reinfestation since nits hatch within 7-10 days.

  5. Posted 5/24/2013 at 8:15:20 PM
    Gravatar of Maureen

    What do you do with pillowsand feather pillows?

  6. Posted 5/29/2013 at 12:30:20 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    Bag up pillows that can't be washed or dried for 10 days and then vacuum them. The lice will not survive when off a human host for that long.

  7. Posted 8/1/2013 at 7:19:33 PM
    Gravatar of michelle

    What about clothes? Do I need to wash clothing that's clean and hasn't been worn?

  8. Posted 8/2/2013 at 1:59:55 PM
    Gravatar of Lisa

    If you have clothing that is put away and hasn't been worn or in contact with the infested person's head/hair, you shouldn't have to wash them. We suggest washing clothing and sheets that the person who has lice has come in contact with. Hair may fall off with lice still attached or lice can become dislodged while scratching. The goal is to wash them off these items before they can crawl onto a new host.

  9. Posted 4/15/2014 at 9:06:57 AM
    Gravatar of sharon

    I have a problem my grandchildren keep head lice. Every time they come over I have to treat them and me. It has gotten to the point that I check them before they even come in the house. Every time they come over one of them have head lice. I have tried everything. Please help

  10. Posted 4/28/2014 at 11:00:32 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Checking the children regularly is a great way to keep infestations at bay, or to catch them before they become a bigger problem. We would also suggest switching their regular daily shampoo to Licefreee Everyday 2 in 1 conditioning shampoo, to help prevent infestations.

  11. Posted 7/22/2014 at 4:50:40 PM
    Gravatar of Meagan

    What do you do about their beds? We don't have a dryer. So if we keep the clothes in a bag outside for two days would that work? My niece keeps getting them. HELP.

  12. Posted 7/23/2014 at 2:19:16 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Meagan: For beds, it is important to wash all of the linens in warm/hot water, followed by drying on high heat for at least 30 minutes. If you do not have a dryer, you may consider a laundromat. Also, a thorough vacuum cleaning of the mattress will pick up anything that may have fallen off of the head. As for clothing, we recommend the same washing/drying process as we do for bedding. If you are unable to get to a laundromat, it is best to put clothing and/or linens into a plastic bag for 10-14 days. Lice typically perish within 48 hours off of the human head, however, eggs(nits) can live up to 10-14 days off of the human head.

  13. Posted 8/1/2014 at 7:04:47 AM
    Gravatar of Sheryl Gaston

    While on vacation I found that both of my kids had lice. So we went about all the steps you stated above. My question is that a week later we are finally home, I have done all of the above to my home, but my question is, what about the other toys (not soft items) that were laying on the floor when we left. Do I need to bag up items such as notebooks, books, and other hard toys after being away from the house for 7 days? I am not even sure that my kids had it while at home, but I figured better to be safe than sorry.

  14. Posted 8/6/2014 at 8:22:23 PM
    Gravatar of jen

    How is it every second week my daughter has live bugs?? We have ripped out any carpet we have treated her with nix and someone suggested soaking her hair in rubbing alcohol which we have done, but still they keep coming back ....I am exhausted, we live in the country and have month neighbours so its not like they are getting it from somewhere please plese help us .
    Thank you

  15. Posted 8/18/2014 at 10:48:57 AM
    Gravatar of blake

    We have been so frustrated by head lice this summer. They will not go away!! Going to try and find this product and take the advice in the blog....never been so frustrated!!

  16. Posted 8/18/2014 at 10:55:36 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Blake: I am sorry to hear about your struggles with lice this summer! You can find Licefreee Spray! at Wal-mart, Walgreens, and Dollar General. Please let us know if you have any questions, or need more information!

  17. Posted 8/19/2014 at 8:21:39 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Sheryl: It is not necessary to bag hard items such as those you mentioned. A thorough vacuum cleaning of the floors, mattresses, and furniture should pick up anything that may have fallen off.

  18. Posted 8/19/2014 at 8:34:41 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Jen: It sounds as if the eggs have not been killed, and are hatching and starting the infestation over again every couple of weeks. You may consider using Licefreee Spray, our product that kills BOTH lice and nits (eggs). All you have to do is spray (dry hair) to saturate all of the hair and scalp, then let it air dry. Once dried, the treatment in complete. At that time you can wash the hair, or comb out the eggs if desired.

  19. Posted 8/20/2014 at 12:21:42 PM
    Gravatar of Trac

    I have a child that I cannot keep off the floor, as he has special needs and doesn't understand. He tends to touch the carpet or furniture with his head, no matter how hard i have tried. We have been fighting the problem for almost a month. Any suggestions. We have tried borax, salt, and cleaned the carpet ourselves. Should we get the carpet and floors professionally steam cleaned?

  20. Posted 8/26/2014 at 11:38:19 AM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Hi Trac: I am sorry to hear that you have been having such a difficult time with lice! Treating the carpet with the products/cleaners you listed is actually not necessary; a thorough vacuum cleaning will do the trick to pick up anything that may have fallen off of your son's head. Unfortunately, that may mean vacuuming every day for a couple of weeks until you can be sure the problem has ended. You may also consider visiting our Resources page for more helpful hints and tips regarding lice: http://licefreee.com/en/resources/helpful-hints-and-tips/

  21. Posted 8/26/2014 at 6:21:26 PM
    Gravatar of gina johnson

    A friend called to tell us the five children that we had over for the weekend have head lice. We will not have any other guests in those two bedrooms for the next weeks. Can we just let the critters die and vacuum them up rather than washing five beds!! Thank you

  22. Posted 9/3/2014 at 2:58:19 PM
    Gravatar of Caileen

    Gina: Yes. Although, we would recommend washing and drying the bedding on high heat, and thoroughly vacuuming the carpeting and mattresses in those rooms. Your method will suffice, so long as you leave the doors closed, and the rooms remain unoccupied for 14 days.

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