The most important first step after discovering a family member or loved one has head lice is to get it treated right away. Head lice is very contagious and prompt treatment reduces the chances of it spreading.
Next, it’s important to properly clean your home environment. Cleaning should be done on Day One and only needs to be done once. Head lice cannot live off the human host for more than 48 hours.
Clothing and linens do not need to be washed. Putting the following items in a dryer for 30-40 minutes on high head will kill the live bugs.
- Special stuffed animals, blankets or other cloth items they sleep with
- Bed linens, pillows, comforters, blankets, pillow shams
- Backpacks, jackets, scarves
- Any clothes worn or towels used in the last 48 hours
Anything that cannot withstand the hot dryer cycle or be vacuumed needs to be bagged for 48 hours.
Vacuum common areas where there has been contact within 48 hours of lice detection.
- Carpet, rugs, cloth sofas and chairs (use damp cloth for leather)
- Cloth car seats and safety seats (or use a lint roller)
- Any large pillows that can’t go in the dryer
Lice have claws, not sticky feet and can’t easily get around. They crawl quickly but cannot travel long distances.
Hot water will not kill lice so there is no need to boil anything, put anything in the dishwasher or clean with hot, soapy water. Instead, it’s best to freeze items. Place items in a baggie and then in the freezer and keep it there for 2 days.
- Hair brushes, hair ties, scrunchies
- Helmets and hats
Lice infestations only occur on the head, not in the home, so there is no need to have your house deep cleaned by a cleaning service or yourself. Do not use a pesticide spray in the house or on furniture. Lice are resistant to toxins and the use of pesticides can have harmful side effects.