5 Proven Ways to Clean Your Clothes after You’ve Had Head Lice

Learn 5 proven ways to clean your clothes after lice and how long lice can live on your clothes.


How long can lice live on clothes? What are the best ways to clean my clothes and my kids clothes when dealing with lice?

clothes line of clothing infested with lice needing cleaning

Answer from a Lice Expert:

After spending hours treating your child with lice the last thing you want is to get it back from your clothes!


Before going into the specifics, you should know that there is a FREE, all-inclusive LICE CLEANING CHECKLIST available for you to take with you from room to room as you clean and it covers clothing as well.


In this article let's dive specifically into how to clean hats, helmets, and headphones after lice.

Let me introduce myself...

Lice nurse helping others

Hi there! I'm Theresa, I'm a lice expert, lice coach, and Registered Nurse. I help people with lice every day! You can get rid of lice in ONE DAY at home by using the same proven professional technique that I use in my lice center.

Just follow the step-by-step videos and be done with lice by the end of the day.

How to Clean Your Clothes After Lice

clothing with lice on the floor
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Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Lice?

Now that you know what you're looking for I want to talk briefly about your biggest worry (that your child actually has lice) and the question I get asked by parents around the world that have been battling lice….

picture of lice bug under a magnifying glass

Lice bugs are immune!

Parents around the world are all asking me the same question…. "Why is it so much harder to get rid of lice now?"

Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment or mayonnaise and that doing the trick. The new strain of head lice is no longer killed by those treatments, that’s why lice today are termed by people, “super lice,” because they are immune to those treatments. 

I’ve cured thousands of people of lice in my lice center and let me tell you, I don't do it with over-the-counter lice treatments. 

magnifying glass looking at lice eggs and nits in brown hair

Lice eggs hatch!

Most people struggle with lice because they focus all of their attention on killing lice bugs and not enough attention on GETTING RID OF LICE!

If you want to get rid of lice you have to address all 3 of the problems of lice:

  1. Lice Bugs
  2. Lice Eggs
  3. Getting Lice Back

The best way to get rid of lice is to tackle all 3 of these problems at the same time, which is what I teach in my step-by-step video system.

So, if you discover your child HAS lice, don't panic. Just head over to the video system. Follow along with the videos and you'll be done with lice by the end of the day.

lice bug under a magnifying glass

Head Lice and Clothing

4 shirts are clean after having lice

Head lice are called head lice for a reason. Generally speaking, head lice stick to the hair and scalp of humans, because they need to feed frequently on human blood to survive.

But, what if lice comes off of the head and onto clothes, then what? 

Before going into the 5 proven ways to clean your clothes after head lice, here are a few frequently asked questions:

Can Lice Live on Clothing?

Yes, lice can live on clothes, but their ultimate goal is to be on your head. If lice come off of your hair and onto your shirt, they will make their way back up to your head. 

How Long Can Lice Live on Clothes?

black clock

48 hours. Lice can not live off the head for more than 2 days. If a shirt was worn by someone with head lice a few hours ago, then yes, there can be lice on it. But, a shirt worn a week ago has no chance of head lice being alive on it. 

How Likely is it for Head Lice to be on Clothes?

It is unlikely to have head lice lingering on clothes, but it is possible. The risk of head lice on clothes of someone with lice lies somewhere between 0-4%. One study examined hats of 1,000 children with head lice and did not find any lice. Another study examined the pillowcases of 48 people with head lice and found 2 live lice on pillowcases- 4%. 

Can Clothing Transfer Lice?

Head lice transfer from person to person by direct head to head (or hair to hair) contact, not by clothing. However, if people are “swapping” clothes, sharing hats, or jackets, then yes, there is a risk of getting lice through clothing.

Can Lice Jump on Clothing?

Head lice do not jump or fly; they crawl. Lice usually move directly head to head, not from one person’s head to another person’s shirt.

Am I Getting Lice Back from My Clothing?

A girl with a braid scratches her hair.

Many people struggle with lice for a very long time. Parents spend hours and hundreds of dollars treating their children and cleaning their homes and clothing, only to discover it is back again in a week or two.

In most cases having recurring lice is not a matter of housecleaning, but the use of an ineffective lice treatment. The latest stats show that more than 98% of lice today have some level of immunity to the pesticides in lice kits.

Can I use lice sprays on my clothing?

the word no

Do not waste your time, money, or health on pesticide lice sprays or lice bombs. If you have tried a bunch of pesticide treatments that have failed, you are not alone, and it’s not your fault. The latest stats say that most parents that use over-the-counter kits still have lice even after multiple treatments!

Just like pesticides are an ineffective treatment on the head, they are even more worthless when sprayed in the air or on your couches or on your clothing.

Additionally, they are EXTREMELY toxic and dangerous to you, your children, and your pets. If they actually killed lice, maybe you could rationalize the risk of breathing problems, sickness, or even cancer, but they don’t actually kill lice! The chemicals in lice sprays and bombs are the same pesticides that 98% of lice are resistant to, so you end up just spraying poison all over your clothing for no reason.


Over 98% of lice have some immunity to pesticides!

5 Proven Ways to Clean Your Clothes after Head Lice

clothes line with clothes infested with lice

Remember, lice can’t live off the head for more than 48 hours, so only clean cloths worn in the last 2 days!

#1- Sanitize Cycle

A washing machine

Some people assume that washing clothes in the washing machine will kill lice, but it doesn’t. Lice are regularly submerged in hot water and soap every day (you wash your hair, right?). Most cycles of the washing machine are not hot enough to kill lice. Even the “hot” cycle of a washing machine can vary significantly from washer to washer.

Don’t assume lice will drown in the wash; lice can hold their breath for hours.

They also don’t “fall off” in the wash because they have strong claws that grip clothing.

Is there a way to wash clothes after head lice and kill them?

The only cycle on the washing machine that will kill lice is the sanitize cycle. Lice need to be subjected to temperatures of greater than 130° F to die. The sanitize cycle of most washing machine reaches 165° F, which is more than adequate to kill lice.

Does Dry Cleaning Kill Lice?

There is no evidence that dry cleaning kills lice. If you don’t want to wash/dry your clothes, read Tip #3.

#2- Dryer

man placing clothes and carseat cover in dryer

Remember lice die at temperatures higher than 130° F. The average dryer gets to 135° F on the high cycle. Still, it takes some time for the dryer to get to that temperature and to stay at that temperature, especially if it is full of wet clothes. 

How long do I put clothes in the dryer to kill lice?

In a study specifically designed to test lice and dryers, all lice were dead after 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer.

close up of the "eco-dry" button of the dryer

TIP: If you have a newer energy-efficient dryer, be sure to turn off the “eco sensor.” The “eco sensor” on dryers is designed to help save energy by automatically turning off the dryer once the clothes are dry enough. In a lice situation, most people care much more about killing lice than about saving money on their electric bill. So, make sure your “eco-sensor” is off, and the stuffed animals go the full 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer.

#3- Lint Roller

persons hand lint rolling a couch with lice

For those clothes that you do not want to wash or dry, but you want to wear within 48 hours, I recommend cleaning them with a Scotch Brite Lint Roller. The adhesive of most lint rollers is powerful enough to pull any lice that may be lingering on a special jacket or blouse.

#4- Bag It!

multiple garbage bags with toys, clothing and stuffed animals after a lice infestation

No lice can survive away from a human head for 2 days. If you were to leave all of your dirty clothes untouched and away from your head for 2 days, then any lice that may be lingering on them will die.

#5- Keep Out

clothing with lice in a closet

Often people get worried because they hang things back up after wearing them instead of cleaning them. Such as a jacket. Can that infest the whole closet with lice? 


But, if you are worried about it, then a straightforward solution is to take out the clothing and jackets you want to wear for the next two days and run them through the dryer. These will be your clean clothes for the next two days.

Then place a sign on the closet that says, “Do not open for two days.” For a dresser, you can tape the drawers shut. After your 48 hours is up, then remove the sign and feel assured that your clothing s free of lice.

 The Never-Ending Cycle

Most people that use lice kits and home remedies get caught in the horrible "Never-Ending Cycle of Lice"

Three arrows pointing down

First- You Have Lice

lice eggs, baby lice, and adult lice with arrows labeling them

When you first discover lice you have adult lice bugs, baby lice bugs, and lice eggs (also known as nits)

You Think You've Gotten Rid of It.

arrows pointing to lice eggs left in hair

After using an over-the-counter treatment or a home remedy, people think they've taken care of the problem because they aren't finding lice bugs for a while.

But the bigger problem is the lice eggs that are left in the hair. Lice kits and home remedies don't kill eggs, and each of those little lice eggs has a bug inside just waiting to hatch and re-infest your child again.

Then- Those Eggs HATCH!

baby lice bugs with arrows labeling them

Just like lice eggs are tiny, when lice first hatch they are teeny-tiny. In fact, they are almost invisible to the naked eye! So, it typically takes a few weeks for them to grow big enough for you to see them.

And by the time you notice your head is infested all over again!

And Lice Is Back Again!

full lice infestation representation with lice eggs, baby lice bugs, and adult lice bugs

How to Avoid the Never-Ending Cycle

If you want to avoid this never-ending cycle and get rid of lice fast then check out my Step-by-Step Video System. Follow along with the videos and you can be completely done with lice in ONE DAY, no retreatments necessary.

If you choose to go another route...

discouraged mother dealing with head lice

Lice is horrible, and no one should have to endure it for long. And I hope you don't.

Most people go from lice kit to lice kit and then from home remedy to home remedy. They think it's gone for a week or two, and then it comes back again. That's likely to be your story as well.

I created the My Lice Advice Video System so you can avoid struggling with lice for months, instead, just follow along with the videos and be done with lice by the end of the day!

How to be lice-free by the end of the day...



Get rid of lice the same way the experts do. Your personal lice coach walks you through each step of doing a professional lice treatment at home in a series of videos.



Follow along with the videos on your child in your home. No lice kits or toxic chemicals involved!



When you're done with the videos, you're done with lice. And it's gone permanently!

Summing It Up…

If your child has lice and you are in “lice cleaning” mode, then be sure to grab the LICE CLEANING CHECKLIST. You can take that checklist room to room with you and know exactly what to clean and how to clean it.

But remember, the most important thing about getting rid of lice isn’t cleaning inanimate objects--it’s making sure you’ve gotten rid of lice! If you want to get rid of lice quickly then follow along with my Step-by-Step Video System and get rid of it in ONE DAY.

All the best,

lice expert

Theresa is a Registered Nurse and lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She owns a lice treatment center in the US which is where she perfected the Step-by-Step Video System proven to get rid of lice. She also works with government agencies and schools helping those with the worst head lice cases in America.

Her greatest passion is empowering parents by teaching parents online how to do a professional lice treatment on their child at home. She is the Lice Coach for the My Lice Advice Step-by-Step Video System.

Discover how long lice can live on your clothes and 7 proven ways to clean your clothes after lice so you don’t get it back!
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