7 Proven Ways To Treat Your Furniture To Get Rid of Head Lice

7 Proven Ways To Treat Your Furniture To Get Rid of Head Lice

After treating your child for head lice, the last thing you want is to get it back from your house! Discover the 7 best ways to treat your furniture for head lice.

Many people mistakenly search for a pesticide lice spray, assuming it’ll take care of lice on their furniture. They are unaware that multiple studies show that lice are resistant to these pesticides and that they do not kill most lice.

Here are the 7 proven ways to treat your furniture for head lice.

#1- Vacuum

The most effective way to treat your furniture for lice is by vacuuming your furniture with either a handheld vacuum or your vacuum’s hand tool. Most vacuums come with this tool specifically to clean things such as furniture. Although lice are very good at gripping cloth surfaces, vacuums provide enough suction power to remove them. Vacuuming lice and throwing them into the garbage outside will ensure that they do not survive.

Be sure to focus your vacuuming on the surfaces of the couch that people put their heads on.

#2-Sticky Lint Roller

For those without a vacuum, the next best thing is a sticky lint roller like this. The link roller’s adhesive tape is strong enough to pick up lice off surfaces.

Roll each surface of the couch, replacing the roller sheet as the stickiness wears off.

A quick disclosure: all items in this article are affiliate links, and I do earn a commission from qualifying purchases; however, all of my reviews are based on the quality of the product.

#3- Enzyme Lice Spray! (Non-pesticide)

Most sprays these days do not work to kill lice because they are pesticides. The best household spray that I have found to kill lice is LiceLogic Clear & Free All Purpose Spray.

There are lots of other household lice sprays out there that profess to kill lice, but they don’t. LiceLogic’s spray is different than others because the solution contains enzymes (not pesticides) that break down the exoskeleton of lice and kills them. Lice can not become immune to these enzymes as they can to pesticides. This spray will leave your house smelling like peppermint.

#4 -Repelling Lice Spray

There are several essential oil scents that lice hate. When you spray these fragrances on furniture, lice flee the scene. My top pick for a lice repellent for furniture is Lice Clinics of America Lice Prevention Household Spray.

Unlike other repellents for furniture, this spray is completely honest about what it does, repel-not kill- lice! It is made with pure essential oils, and peppermint is the strongest. It’ll leave your home smelling like candy canes.

#5- Pillows

If you have a lot of pillows on your furniture, it will be extremely time-consuming for you to vacuum each pillow individually. Another alternative to vacuuming pillows is to place them in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes in the dryer, your pillows will be safe and can return to your clean couch.

Another option for your pillows is to bag them up for 2 days and keep them away from the family. Lice dehydrate and die after 2 days off the head.

#6- Leather

For those with leather furniture such as suede or faux suede fabric, either vacuum or lint roll your furniture. For those with vinyl-leather furniture that is not easily vacuumed, wipe down the leather with a wet cloth, this is sufficient to remove lice. Alcohol-based wipes are best at killing lice, but I do not recommend using them on furniture surfaces.

#7- Barrier

Another option for treating your furniture is to place a barrier between your couch and your family. Laying a clean large sheet or blanket over your sofas and chairs for 2 days will ensure that you do not get lice from your couch. You are welcome to use your furniture while the sheet is placed over it because lice are not capable of climbing through the fabric. Lice die after 48 hours off of a human, so after 2 days, you can safely remove the sheet or blanket.

Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist

If you are doing house cleaning after lice, then you must check out the Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist article. It covers exactly what you need to clean and exactly how to clean it to get rid of lice in your house.

If you’ve been down this lice road for a while and you can’t figure out why you are still struggling with lice, you should know that it likely has nothing to do with your furniture. Many people are stuck in the endless cycle of lice (discovering lice, then painstakingly trying to kill it, only to see it again a few weeks later) because they are using a treatment that lice are resistant to.

Just like lice are resistant to pesticide sprays for the couch, they are also resistant to most lice treatment products. All of the details about which lice treatments work and which ones to avoid entirely is in my article Best Lice Treatment Shampoos for Head Lice and Super Lice.

Summary

Head lice prefer to stay on the head and rarely come off. Lice can live up to 2 days on your furniture, before dying of dehydration. It is unlikely for them to be on your couch, but not impossible. Always avoid pesticide lice sprays, because they DO NOT work, if you’re looking for a good lice spray find an enzyme spray or a repelling spray.

Remember, most people are not getting lice back from their furniture, but instead can’t get rid of lice because they are using an ineffective treatment. Be sure you are using an effective treatment by reading my article 7 Best Head Lice Treatments.

Your next stop for cleaning your house should be the Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist to find out what else to clean and how to clean it in your home.

Arezki Izri, Olivier Chosidow, Efficacy of Machine Laundering to Eradicate Head Lice: Recommendations to Decontaminate Washable Clothes, Linens, and Fomites, Clinical Infectious Diseases , Volume 42, Issue 2, 15 January 2006, Pages e9–e10, https://doi.org/10.1086/499105

Candy, K., Brun, S., Nicolas, P., Durand, R., Charrel, R. N., & Izri, A. (2018). Do drowning and anoxia kill head lice? Parasite (Paris, France), 25 , p. 8. doi:10.1051/parasite/2018015.

Canyon, Deon & Speare, Rick. (2010). Indirect Transmission of Head Lice via Inanimate Objects. The Open Dermatology Journal. 4. 72-76. doi:10.2174/1874372201004030072.

See also:  Using Diatomaceous Earth to Worm Pets

Kyle J. Gellatly, Sarah Krim, Daniel J. Palenchar, Katie Shepherd, Kyong Sup Yoon, Christopher J. Rhodes, Si Hyeock Lee, J. Marshall Clark, Expansion of the Knockdown Resistance Frequency Map for Human Head Lice (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae) in the United States Using Quantitative Sequencing, Journal of Medical Entomology , Volume 53, Issue 3, May 2016, Pages 653–659, https://doi.org/10.1093/jme/tjw023

Kyong Sup Yoon, Domenic J. Previte, Hilliary E. Hodgdon, Bryan C. Poole, Deok Ho Kwon, Gamal E. Abo El-Ghar, Si Hyeock Lee, J. Marshall Clark, Knockdown Resistance Allele Frequencies in North American Head Louse (Anoplura: Pediculidae) Populations, Journal of Medical Entomology , Volume 51, Issue 2, 1 March 2014, Pages 450–457, https://doi.org/10.1603/ME13139

Takano ‐ Lee, M. , Edman, J. D., Mullens, B. A. and Clark, J. M. (2005), Transmission potential of the human head louse, Pediculus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae). International Journal of Dermatology, 44: 811-816. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-4632.2005.02418.x

Takano-lee, M., Yoon, K. S., Edman,J. D., Mullens,B. A., Clark, J. M. (2003), In Vivo and In Vitro Rearing of Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae), Journal of Medical Entomology, Volume 40, Issue 5, Pages 628–635, https://doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-40.5.628

Speare, R. , Cahill, C. and Thomas, G. (2003), Head lice on pillows, and strategies to make a small risk even less. International Journal of Dermatology, 42: 626-629. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-4362.2003.01927.x

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Getting Rid Of Lice: Is There Really A Solution That Works?

Of course, when their children have head lice, the first thing many parents do is rush off to the store and buy some lice shampoo or lotion. But then they discover after the treatment that lice are still there. And they don’t really know what to do.

There are many solutions to get rid of lice (more info here), but among all head lice treatments (more details here), only two have been shown to work 100%.

The first one is combing out, and the second one is head shaving. For psychological reasons, of course, head shaving is not recommended and should be avoided.

Combing out is a method that is very time-consuming and not always adapted to our busy way of life. However, a good metal nit comb is rather cheap and 100% safe.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln has very good guidelines on how to comb out lice on its page here. Combing is definitely a method that works, that has no side-effect, that is cheap, and that should not be overlooked.

If you want to use a product, things begin to be more complicated. First, there are OTC and prescription lotions and shampoos, which usually contain chemical products that act on the nervous systems of lice to kill them.

The problem is that a misuse and overuse of these products have caused increased resistance of lice to them, and they are no longer as effective as they used to be. Moreover, they can have dangerous side-effects. Read Jesse’s story here to learn more.

To get rid of lice, you can also use home remedies, which are readily available. Most home remedies have not been proven to work scientifically, however many parents report success using them.

They are harmless in most cases, which is a big advantage compared to chemical products. They work as physical pesticides, or suffocants. What they do is prevent lice from breathing, slowing them down, and killing them in many instances.

Here are the main home remedies you could use:

  • Vinegar to unglue nits from the hair shaft: https://headlicecenter.com/head-lice-vinegar/
  • Olive oil to suffocate and/or slow down adults: https://headlicecenter.com/head-lice-olive-oil-treatment/
  • Petroleum Jelly to kill adults and some eggs: https://headlicecenter.com/vaseline-for-lice/
  • Mayonnaise to suffocate and/or slow down adults: https://headlicecenter.com/head-lice-mayonnaise/

Among all home remedies that have been tested scientifically, olive oil has been shown to suffocate adult lice within 2 hours in a test by the Harvard School of Public Health.

Then, a 2004 study comparing melted butter, vinegar, isopropyl alcohol, olive oil, mayonnaise and petroleum jelly (Vaseline) showed that although these remedies weren’t 100% effective at eliminating head lice, they did have some efficacy.

Among them, petroleum jelly was the most effective, and was the one most likely to kill lice eggs.

Other studies have shown the efficacy of heat in getting rid of lice. In 2006, a study showed that a device called the louse buster with hand piece could eliminate up to 80% of baby lice and adult lice, and up to 98% of eggs.

There are companies and health care centers that will use these devices, and the study recommended this method as an effective mean to get rid of head lice.

To sum up, the only 100% effective way to kill lice is combing them out manually. This requires a good comb, as well as patience and time.

Shampoos, lotions and prescription treatments contain chemicals that can be harmful, and shouldn’t be used without caution.

Home remedies have the advantage of being harmless for most of them (not all), cheap, and can be a good choice when you don’t want to take the time to comb out without using a product.

However, in any case, you should know that combing is and remains an essential step in your battle against lice, even if you are using a product. This combing step cannot be skipped. You need to get rid of all live lice and eggs if you want to be lice free.

10 Comments

Hi. Thanks for these natural remedies! I also read about some over-the-counter brands that contain pesticides…. I definitely wouldn’t want to apply toxic on my kids. I’d really want to try Nit-Nurse coz it has essential oils. They say, it’s not toxic and effective.

I found my son to be free of nits by covering his hair in gel.mousse or hairspray on wet hair then brushed. Not had a nit since he was 3 until recently now 12.

This really worked!! Thank you..

Thank you,
These treatments sound wonderful and i will defenitly try one on my cousins hair thanks for the remedies.

thanks it really work

THANK YOU SO MUCH. YOUVE HELPED ME SO MUCH AND THANKS FOT THE WEBSITE. XD
-Sarah

thank you for the remedies they have helped so much !! i will try them…… thanks again.

Another home remedy that we’ve found helpful is to put Listerine (the original yellow type) all through the hair then put a shower cap on. Make sure all the hair is tucked in, then leave it on for two hours. After that wash the hair and comb with a nit comb while it’s wet. The Listerine isn’t supposed to kill the nits, so we repeat every three days or so until the infestation is gone. Waiting seven days as we were told didn’t seem to be effective.

I tried swamping my hair with natural aloe vera gel, the clear, pure type available for much less than caustic Nix, about $6-8 for a big bottle in Walmart. Worked like a charm! I let it dry completely, rinsed it out, and started combing. Aloe killed 75% of adults, with remaining living ones left dazed and slow. Easy to get rid of much cheaper and safer. I did this every 2-3 days for 3 weeks, finding 1 dead one in the 2nd comb-out and 1 egg case. The next few treatments I found nothing, but remained vigilant. Make sure to wash and/or dry all bedding, pj’s, robes, clothing, hairbrush, coats, hats, etc. each day. Vacuum rugs, floors, stuffed furniture each day. (Can’t hurt!) Always assume you can miss even one egg each time. I even added a 1/4 cup of Aloe to our shampoo, along with a few drops of Dawn. Don’t think they are gone because you are not scratching anymore! My teenage son thought more treatments were no longer necessary because he wasn’t scratching. Was he wrong. Finding 1 live nymph in his hair a week later sure changed his mind about treating regularly for 14 days.

See also:  Controlling Carpenter Ants Without Pesticides

Aloe is a natural anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, and very bitter tasting to lice. Aloe also readily healed small sores on our heads from scratching so much. (Thought it was an inherited skin condition at first! Son got them by borrowing a buddy’s football helmet, so teens CAN get them!)

1. Wash hair with Dawn detergent to dissolve glue nits are attached with, rinse well. 2. Rub head with aloe gel until all hair and scalp are completely saturated, every single bit of it, (even your eyebrows if thick. The CDC states they can live there in severe cases, but why take any chances? Be VERY careful of your eyes, because aloe can really sting them. Don’t do this on children, who rub their eyes without thinking. The CDC suggests handpicking those.) 3. Rinse hair, comb out well. 4. Do this every 2-3 days, not every 7 like some sites suggest. Nits can hatch at any time.

The most important step is to learn how to properly comb them from hair. Combing in all directions only spreads them around. I combed my thankfully short hair forward into a sink onto solid white paper towels, then used straight bleach to clean the sink area afterwards. Don’t “save” bath towels. Wash in hot water each day, along with bedding, etc.

The only good lice are those in photos.

My mom SWEARS by using Aloe Vera. She says when she was a teenager she got them and her mom used a spike of fresh aloe vera and squeezed it all over her head, then put a plastic bag over it and left it like that overnight. The next morning she washed it out and saw all the dead lice and detached nits!

headlicecenter.com

Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist Proven to Get Lice Out of Your House

Dealing with head lice is stressful, and misinformation about house cleaning may have you wanting to burn your house down. If you’ve scoured the Internet looking for concrete answers and are still feeling confused about what to clean and how to clean it, look no further.

In this printable, all-inclusive checklist, I have compiled all methods proven to effectively kill head lice on every last item in your home. This checklist provides a quick view and how-to instructions, and for those interested in additional details, there are descriptions of the research behind the time frames, temperatures, and methods in the article located below the checklist itself.

3 Tips Before Getting Started…

Tip #1- Get Rid of the Lice on Your Head

Make sure to use an effective lice treatment and remove all lice eggs from the head with a professional quality lice comb. Scrubbing your house top to bottom will do you no good if any of these bugs stay in your hair. (Remember, 98% of lice are totally resistant to traditional over-the-counter products. If you need some suggestions on quality lice treatments, you can check out my article here.)

Tip #2- Think 48 Hours

Focus on cleaning items that have been in contact with the lice-infested individual within the last 48 hours. Lice cannot live longer than 48 hours on household items, which makes this the best place to start.

Tip #3- Do Not Use Lice Sprays

Multiple scientific studies have shown that that almost all lice in the US are resistant to the pesticide found in lice sprays. (This fact is explained in detail in our article, Lice Sprays for Furniture). The only lice sprays that work for killing lice are enzyme lice sprays like LiceLogic Clear & Free All Purpose Spray.

HOUSE CLEANING CHECKLIST

Bedrooms

  • Remove all linens from the bed of the person who had lice. Put these linens in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat.
  • Put pillows separately through the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat.
  • Vacuum the mattress with its detachable hose OR use a sticky lint roller and roll the mattress.
  • Place any “fuzzy” items (like stuffed animals) either in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat or temporarily seal them in a garbage bag for 48 hours (so the remaining lice will die). Store this bag somewhere it won’t be disturbed.
  • Either remove rugs and put in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat or vacuum them or place them in a garbage bag for 48 hours. As above, keep this garbage bag somewhere it won’t accidentally be opened.
  • Vacuum the floor if it is carpeted. (For more, read our article Lice and Carpets.)

Clothing

  • Only launder dirty clothing! You DO NOT need to wash every item in your house. Put items that have been worn in the last 48 hours by the person who had lice through the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes or seal them in a bag (and store it away from everyone) for 48 hours. Don’t forget to include any jackets, scarves, or hats.

Bathrooms

  • Remove any towels used in the last 48 hours and dry them in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat.
  • Ensure all hair accessories/combs/etc. are removed from the shower and cleaned per the below instructions, “Hair Brushes and Hair Accessories.”

Hair Brushes and Hair Accessories

  • Remove as much hair from brushes as you can and flush hair down the toilet or seal it in a trash bag.
  • Soak hair brushes, combs, and hair accessories (such as hairbands, clips, and headbands) used by the person with lice in hot water (135° F or greater) for at least 10 minutes. (I do not recommend boiling brushes and combs, however, because they will melt.)
  • You may also place the brushes on the top rack of the dishwasher, then run a cycle on either the Sanitize or Heated Dry settings.
  • For more details on cleaning brushes specifically, read our article, 5 Best Ways to Clean Your Hair Brushes After Head Lice.

Living/Family Room

  • Remove all pillows from the couches and chairs. Throw them in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. If they cannot go through the dryer, either vacuum them with your hose attachment or roll them with a sticky lint roller.
  • If your couch is cloth, vacuum it with the hose attachment or roll with a sticky lint roller.
  • If your couch is leather, wipe it down with Sani-Wipe (alcohol based preferred).
  • Remove any rugs you can and either dry them in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes, vacuum them, or seal them in a garbage bag for 48 hours.
  • Vacuum the floor if carpeted.

Kitchen

  • For chairs with cloth backing, vacuum with a hose attachment or roll with sticky lint roller.
  • For chairs with leather backing, wipe down with Sani-Wipes (alcohol based preferred).

Backpacks and Bags

  • If the backpack can go through the dryer, then empty it of its contents and put it in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes OR if your child can go without a backpack for a couple days, place the backpack in a garbage and store it out of sight for 48 hours.
  • If the backpack cannot go through the dryer, wipe both the inside and outside of the bag with Sani-Wipes (alcohol based preferred).

  • If your car has a cloth interior, vacuum or lint roll all the seats and headrests of whichever vehicle(s) the infested person has been in within the last 48 hours.
  • If your car has a leather interior, wipe everything down with Sani-Wipes.
See also:  How to Kill Moles with Poison or Other Methods

Child Car Seat

  • Vacuum or lint roll car seats, including all the crevices OR remove the car seat cover and place in the dryer for 40 minutes on high heat.

Helmets

  • Place all helmets (e.g. bicycle, sports, etc.) in a bag and do not use for 48 hours OR wipe down the inside and outside of helmets with Sani-Wipes (alcohol based preferred).

Glasses

  • Wipe down the sides of eyeglasses and sunglasses with a Sani-Wipe (alcohol based preferred).

Headphones and Headgear

  • Seal headphones and/or headgear in a bag and do not use them for 48 hours. Alternatively, you may wipe them down with Sani-Wipes (alcohol based preferred).

STEP ONE: Get Rid of Lice on the Head

Science : The most recent studies show that 98% of lice are resistant to the most “popular” lice treatments. Before you do any housecleaning, be sure that you’ve used an effective lice product and have removed every last lice egg from your child’s head. Check out the articles Best Lice Shampoos and Best Lice Combs in order to make sure you have effectively killed lice and removed lice eggs from your child’s head.

If you meticulously clean your home, but neglect to take care of the lice problem on your kid’s head, you will find yourself stuck in the endless lice cycle for potentially months.

Lice House Cleaning 101: Science, Cautious, and Crazy

This article details the basic concepts and proven methods of house cleaning after lice and offers brief descriptions of the research behind each of the timeframes, temperatures, and methods I’ve included in the checklist above. Some folks will want to clean the bare minimum (highly understandable) while others might feel inclined to go above and beyond what is necessary. Typically, there are three kinds of people when it comes to this kind of stuff (you probably know which kind you are):

Science : I trust the experts and I want to do what the scientific studies show is sufficient to kill head lice.

Cautious : I want to go “above and beyond” whatever is shown to be sufficient in my cleaning. No point in risking any comebacks!

Crazy : I may be taking my cleaning way too far, but it makes me feel better.

These three personality types can be easily seen when asked this question: What do I need to clean?

Science says: Most lice is passed from direct head to head contact, not from objects. Most re-infestations with head lice do not occur because of inadequately cleaning household items, but more often from using an ineffective lice product and failing to remove all of the lice eggs from your child’s head.

The Cautious say: There is still a possibility of getting lice back from items around the home. You should clean items that have come in contact with the lice-infested person within the last 48 hours.

The Crazy would say: Cleaning every single item in the house is the only way to be sure lice cannot come back.

Generally speaking, lice stick solely to the head—they don’t hang out on your furniture waiting to crawl on you. Lice must feed frequently on your blood in order to survive (I know… Gross, right?). Their stubby, clawed legs are designed to move deftly in hair and hold on tightly (since their lives literally depend on sticking as close to you as possible).

Usually, the only times lice leave a head are if they are switching to another head or they are dying.

If by chance a single bug does fall off your head and onto your furniture, they will not live long. After too long without a bloody meal, they dehydrate and die. In warm, dry climates, lice die within 12-24 hours off the head. However, in more precise temperatures, lice can live up to 2 days.

Because lice cannot survive off the head for more than a couple days, you may not need to clean every inch of your home, scouring for lice. Instead, you can zero in on where the person with lice has been in the last two days. Where has your child been in the last two days?

Additionally, instead of cleaning every jacket, backpack, and hat, you can ask yourself, What has my child worn in the last two days?

When you use the two day rule as a guide, you will spend your time focusing on the places that count instead of wasting your precious time and energy on areas that don’t.

How Long Should I Keep Things Bagged Up?

Science says: 48 hours

The Cautious say: 2 weeks

The Crazy say: More than 2 weeks—maybe I’ll just throw it away (just to be safe).

The 2 Day rule should also be your guide with how long to keep contaminated items away or sealed in a bag. If an item is something that you cannot run through the dryer, like a favorite stuffed toy or delicate clothing, you can seal it away in a bag for a couple days. Since lice can’t live without blood for very long, anything that could have lice on it will be safe to use again after 48 hours.

Anyone who has spent time trying to remove lice eggs knows that they are stubbornly stuck on the hair strand. Lice eggs are cemented to the hair and cannot fall off onto your furniture. Even if one of these nits did fall off onto your sofa, it would not be able to hatch. Lice eggs need to have the heat of the head in order to grow and hatch out of the egg (just like chicken eggs need to be incubated in order to hatch). If a lice egg is removed or falls off the head, it’s not going to hatch. There have been studies in which lice eggs were kept in an incubator with precise temperatures and these eggs were able to hatch; however, the temperature of your general environment is not exact enough for this to happen in your living room.

This may lead you to wonder, “Why do some people say to bag up items for 2 weeks?”

Those that bag up items for a full 2 weeks are basing this on the idea that lice eggs ON THE HEAD take 7-10 days to hatch. However, as we’ve discussed, lice eggs cannot grow or hatch when they have been removed from the head. There is no harm in keeping your things bagged up for two weeks, but it isn’t necessary.

How Long Do I Put Things in the Dryer to Kill Lice?

Science says : The most accurate study on head lice in the dryer showed all lice were dead after 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer.

The Cautious say : Wash in hot water and then dry on high heat for 40 minutes.

The Crazy say : An hour or so will probably do the trick.

Studies show that lice cannot survive temperatures greater than 130° F for more than 5 minutes. The average dryer gets to 135° F on the high cycle, but just like your oven takes time to preheat, it takes time for your dryer to get to that temperature and to stay there long enough to kill lice, especially with wet clothes in it. One study showed that all lice were dead after 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer.

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