Once everyone with lice in the household has been treated, many parents want to clean the home to help prevent re-infestation. This may seem like a daunting task, but scrubbing the house from top to bottom isn’t necessary, as lice only survive one to two days after separation from their host. Focus your cleaning time on four key areas:
- Machine-washable items. Wash all clothing, bedding, towels and any other washable items the infested person was in contact with the two days prior to treatment. Use the hot water cycle of your washing machine (at least 130⁰F) and dry all items in a clothes dryer on the high heat cycle for at least 20 minutes. Don’t let family members lie on pillows, beds, furniture, carpets or stuffed animals with which the infested person has been in contact until they’ve been properly cleaned.
- Items you can vacuum. Furniture, carpets, rugs, floors, car seats, headrests and other places the infested person may have sat or laid should be thoroughly vacuumed. Vamousse Lice Elimination is a powder designed to kill lice on these non-washable household items. Apply the powder and allow to sit for 60 minutes prior vacuuming. Empty the vacuum canister or dispose of the bag immediately.
- Items worn or used on the head. Soak the infested person’s brushes, combs and recently worn clips and hair bands in hot (at least 130⁰F) soapy water for at least 10 minutes to disinfect them.
- Other exposed items. Dry-clean items that can’t be washed, such as headphones, or seal them in an air-tight plastic bag and store them for two weeks. While lice will starve in less than two days and eggs will die within a week of separation from the host, this is an extra precaution to ensure they’re killed.
It’s not necessary to use household sprays or fogs after a lice infestation – in fact, it could be dangerous. The CDC recommends you avoid such treatments as the products could be toxic if inhaled or absorbed through the skin. By focusing your cleaning efforts on routine vacuuming, laundering and the other tips described above, you’ll clear your home of lingering lice and eggs, and help prevent a re-infestation.