When a case of head lice is confirmed in a family, the first step is to check the entire household for lice and find an effective treatment to eradicate lice and keep it from spreading.

Once treatment begins, the next important step is home cleanup. Remember that lice live on the head, not in the home, so there is no need to have your house deep cleaned. Lice can only live off the human head for 24-48 hours. Chemical sprays do not affect lice and can be harmful.


Clothing and linens do not need to be washed. Putting the following items in a dryer for 45 minutes on high heat 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. They crawl but cannot travel long distances and cannot move at all on hard surfaces.


Hot water will not kill lice so there is no need to boil or wash anything in 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.