Your home is your safe place. When you discover it is infested with head lice you panic! Rest assured, properly cleaning up after head lice is possible! Here’s a quick guide to help you do it properly.
Step 1- Wash Bedding
Remove all bedding. This includes mattress covers, pillows, pillowcases and even stuffed animals that could have come into contact with head lice or nits, eggs. Large items can be taken to a laundry mat to be washed. Or, they can be stuffed into large garbage bags and left for 72 hours.
Head lice and nits need a human host to live. If they wander onto an item, such as a stuffed animal or pillow they will not survive past 24 hours. Eggs as well will dry out and die if not on a human scalp past 24 hours. Some experts recommend bagging items for a week or two to make sure, but honestly, that seems excessive as head lice or nits will be long gone after 24 hours.
Blankets, pillows, sheets, and other washable items should be soaked, washed and dried in high heat temperatures reaching at least 130 degrees. Dry cleaning is also an effective approach that will kill head lice and eggs. It is important to act fast, whichever method you choose.
Step 2 – Wash Clothing
Sometimes the bedding and blankets are obvious to parents to clean, and the clothing of children is overlooked. Items such as hats, coats, jackets, scarves or even towels recently used an harbor head lice or nits. Wash all items properly and dry on high heat for at least 30 minutes to prevent spreading.
Step 3 – Sanitize Hairbrushes and Accessories
All items used on the hair or scalp need to be collected, have all hair strands removed, and disinfected. This includes brushes, combs, hair ties, hair clips, headbands, or accessories. One easy method is to throw everything on the top shelf of a dishwasher. Run it through a normal cycle. But beware, high heat settings can cause plastic items to melt.
Another good option is to boil a pot of hot water and soak items for at least five minutes. Other people use rubbing alcohol, soaking items in it overnight fully immersed will thoroughly disinfect hair items. There is no need to throw them away. These methods will quickly and easily make them safe to reuse.
Step 4- Wipe Down and Sanitize Furniture
Any chairs or couches that could have eggs or head lice should be scrubbed with warm wet cloths. If the surface is hard or leather, we recommend a cleaner such as bleach or Lysol that will not damage the furniture. However, hot water and soap with a little bit of elbow grease should do the trick.
For regular fabric furniture, vacuum the area thoroughly. This is an effective way of killing possible head lice and eggs laying around the couches or chairs.
Step 5- Thoroughly Vacuum Floors
Now that your furniture and bedding are head lice free, carefully and meticulously vacuum the carpet. This is a good way to make sure that any head lice or nits that could’ve been knocked off while cleaning are removed from the home. Remove the vacuumed contents into an outside trashcan.
Can I Just Fumigate My Home Instead?
No. Fumigation, fog insecticides or pesticides of any kind are not recommended in removing lice and eggs from your home. Sometimes harmful toxins from these chemicals can be inhaled or absorbed into the skin posing a health threat to your family and pets. A thorough, deep cleaning is the most effective, safe way to proceed.
Are my pets at risk?
No. Pets do not play any role in carrying or transmitting head lice.