After you have been dealing with head lice in your home, the last thing you want is a repeat of the problem! Dealing with weeks of stress and struggle and now, everyone in your family is officially head lice free. The next steps you take are just as important! Make sure your home is head lice free.
Sometimes the initial reaction can be dramatic. Throw away the bedding! Remove the mattress! Put the furniture outside! Or even, fumigate the entire house!
Is Fumigation The Best Approach to Protecting Your Home?
No. Using fumigation or chemical insecticides to treat your home for head lice is not necessary. In fact, it is NOT recommended. Pest control products that would kill head lice or nits contain chemical insecticides that can be potentially harmful to family members and pets if inhaled or absorbed into the skin. They are not necessary for removing lice from homes. The best approach to take is basic cleaning of carpets, bedding, tapestries, and furniture where fabrics could be harboring lice. Use bleach water or Lysol to clean surfaces and wipe off any traces of lice. Laundering of bed linens, clothing, and towels is also important to eliminate lice and nits. Make sure to use hot water and high dryer settings.
Would I be Better Off Calling Pest Control?
Pest control companies are not necessary for removing head lice and their nits from your home. Again, harmful pesticides and toxins can be damaging to your family and any pets living within the home. These extreme measures are not recommended as simple cleaning methods such as washing and vacuuming will effectively eliminate lice that could be lingering around your home.
Should I Bag items for Two Weeks?
Head lice need a human scalp to survive, period. Head lice will only live up to two days if they have fallen off of a scalp and do not have a host to provide heat and food. Nits or lice eggs will also die without the constant warmth and moisture from a human host. Nits that fall off or leave a scalp will die within a few day’s time. Therefore, the bagging of items is not necessarily the most effective approach in removing lice from personal items as long as appropriate cleansing steps are taken. Another alternative is placing items such as stuffed animals, plush toys or throw pillows into a hot setting on the dryer for 30 minutes. Don’t forget the bathroom towels! Towels touch hair often and are usually overlooked when you think about preventing head lice.
Dry Cleaning vs. Laundering at Home
You simply can’t go wrong with either option. Washing clothing, bedding, towels, or anything with fabric that would possibly be carrying lice or nits in hot temperatures of at least 130 degrees will eliminate the risk. Dry cleaning of items is also just as effective. However, you have to consider the best option for you as it is more costly and can be more difficult to remove all items and take them to a dry cleaning facility. If you have an effective washing machine at home to soak, wash and dry the items it is an excellent option.
Do My Pets Need to be Treated for Lice?
No. Pets do not pose any risk of carrying or infecting people with lice. Head lice are carried through human contact and are not a problem that involved cats or dogs in any way.