Head Lice Cleaning Tips
Take a deep breath, this may not be as exhausting as you imagine. Let’s retrace, where have heads touched in the last 24 hours:
- Bedding (pillows, sheets, bedspreads and blankets)
- Brushes, combs, hair accessories
- Carpets and floors
- Car seats (child and adults)
Head lice are spread most commonly by direct head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact. Less frequently they are spread by sharing clothing or belongings which lice have crawled onto or by shedding hairs that have fallen with a louse still attached. The risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a carpet or furniture is very small, less than a 5% chance. Lice do not survive long if they detach from their host & cannot feed. Head lice cannot survive more than 24 hours without a blood meal (humans only) & nits cannot hatch. They will die when not kept at the same temperature & humidity levels as that found close to the scalp. You don't need to spend a lot of time or money on housecleaning activities.
Sensible Cleaning Tips for Lice
Keep in mind that head lice do not behave like bed bugs, wood ticks or fleas. Nothing must be done to your mattress or pillow so long as you use a pillow case & fitted sheet. A louse will not crawl under your fitted sheet or pillow case, hangout & wait there, only to reattach itself to you the next night. If you do not use a fitted sheet or pillow case, a cleaning method must be used. To help avoid re–infestation by lice that may have recently detached from the hair, items that have had direct contact with individual(s) having an active case of head lice such as: Clothing, Bed Linens, Stuffed Animals, Backpacks, Coats, Hats, Brushes, Combs, Furniture (even if leather), Car Seats, Helmets, Hair Accessories, Head Phones, Ear Buds & other items that the affected person wore or used during the 24 hours before treatment must be cleaned. One of the following methods may be used:
- Using the hot water (at least 130°F) laundry cycle & the high heat drying cycle for 20 minutes. Clothing & items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned.
For 24 hours, seal in a plastic bag if you’d like or simply leave alone.
Place in a freezer for 12 hours. OR Soak in scalding hot water (at least 130°F) for 10 minutes.
Put in the dishwasher on the hottest (pots & pans) cycle.
- Vacuum the floor & furniture (a lint roller works nicely).
- Do not use fumigant sprays; they can be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin.
Prevent & Control Spreading of Lice
- If using a bag-less vacuum to clean your environment, wait 24 hours before emptying.
- After treatment wear clean clothing or pajamas. Use a clean towel after showering or bathing.
- Avoid head-to-head (hair-to-hair) contact during play & other activities at home, school, & elsewhere (sports activities, playground, slumber parties, & camp).
- Do not share items such as hats, scarves, coats, sports uniforms, hair accessories, head phones, ear buds, combs, brushes, or towels. Do not lie on beds, couches, pillows, carpets, or stuffed animals that have been in contact with a person having head lice for 24 hours or until it’s been cleaned.
- Keep hair in braids or buns during social activities & gatherings.
- Using shampoos or repelling sprays having peppermint essential oil as its main ingredient have been shown to repel 90% of lice. Tea tree & lavender essential oils have been found to help minimize the odds of contacting head lice as well.