Using Baking Soda for Lice

baking soda lice featured image

If you’ve discovered head lice on your child, then I’m sure you want to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Many parents’ first instinct is to run and get a popular lice treatment off the shelf, but they quickly discover that those treatments have brought them no closer to getting rid of head lice. Those treatments don’t work.

Perhaps you’ve already discovered this for yourself, or you’re just looking for a safe and natural way to treat head lice. 

You’ve heard that baking soda can help with head lice, is it true?

In this article I’ll answer the following questions (feel free to click on any link to go directly to that topic):

Does Baking Soda Kill Lice?

Does Baking Soda Suffocate Lice Eggs?

Does Baking Soda Help with Lice?

First, meet your enemy...Super Lice!

A super lice bug at high magnification.

If you have head lice, it is super lice. Studies show that about 99% of lice in the United States today are super lice, and other countries around the world have similar results.

Today’s super lice are different than the lice of 20 years ago. They get their name, “super lice,” because they have genetic mutations that make them immune to lice treatments, and they are VERY difficult to kill.

The super lice today look the same as they did 20 years ago. They still are tiny, wingless insects that range from nearly invisible as babies to the size of sesame seeds when fully grown. They still feed on human blood and lay eggs in human hair that hatch about 7-10 days later.

Graph showing the rise of super lice acoss the United States

But lice today have two essential qualities that make them “super lice”:

  1. Lice today are immune to pesticide lice treatments that worked in the past.
  2. Lice eggs today are immune to treatments and toxins, so pesticide lice treatments and home remedies can’t kill them or prevent them from hatching!

And, each time you use a lousy treatment, the lice and lice eggs on your head get stronger and become even more immune to treatments. It doesn’t matter how many times you use these lice treatments or how long you leave them on; you will not get rid of head lice, it’ll only get worse.

Studies show that almost all lice today are resistant to treatments that worked in the past! And that even the most potent pesticide treatments only “cure” a small percentage of fortunate people.

Does Baking Soda Kill Lice?

baking soda on person

Now that you know that over the counter treatments don’t work, the big question is ...what does work?!

There are treatments and home remedies that kill lice, but baking soda is not one of them. Those claiming that baking soda makes it so lice and eggs can’t breath have no idea what they are talking about.

First off, baking soda doesn’t even affect lice’s ability to breathe. Second, lice have no problems holding their breath for very long periods.

The latest study shows that most head lice can hold their breath for more than 24 hours! Putting baking soda in your hair for a few hours isn’t going to do anything...at least not to the lice.

Your child might inhale baking soda themselves, which will cause some respiratory issues for your child, but there is no chance that it will hurt lice.

What Works Better?

I think I’ve made it very clear that over the counter and prescription lice treatments aren’t going to help you get any closer to getting rid of head lice. The one exception to this is dimethicone.

Dimethicone is not a home remedy.

It’s not a prescription.

You can’t find dimethicone at your local drug store.

Quick Fact: Dimethicone is one of the only good lice treatments on the market today.

cover hair (1)

Dimethicone is an entirely safe, non-toxic oil that suffocates and kills all lice in about 15 minutes! It outperforms everything else when it comes to killing lice. In studies, dimethicone kills all lice for most people. It does not, however, kill lice eggs, so don’t think you can just do a treatment and walk away.

You’ll need to get a good lice comb like the Nit-Free Terminator and get all of those lice eggs out of the hair or else they’ll hatch. I’ll talk about baking soda and lice eggs in the next section.

For years, the only places you could get dimethicone products were at a professional lice center, but a few lice centers have started selling their products online, and you can purchase them through Amazon. Here are the two best on the market:

(A quick disclosure: these are affiliate links, and I earn a commission from qualifying purchases; however, I base all of my reviews on the quality of the products.)

Best Over All Kit

The Ladibugs Lice Elimination Kit comes with a serum that kills both lice and super lice. It also comes with an enzyme mousse that helps loosen lice eggs, making them much easier to remove. Ladibugs is a one-and-done kit, which means you have everything you need for one person in one kit. The enzyme mousse can be used multiple times over several days to remove lice eggs.

Easiest-to-Use Lice Killer

Lice Clinics Lice Remover Kit comes with an easy dispenser and is probably the easiest treatment to use. It kills all lice within 20 minutes. You’ll need to retreat in about ten days.

Home Remedies That Are Better Than Baking Soda

If you’ll only use a home remedy instead of ordering a dimethicone treatment, then a combination of coconut oil and tea tree oil is your best bet.

Coconut Oil and Tea Tree Oil

coconut featured

Quick Fact: A combination of coconut oil and tea tree oil is one of the only effective home remedies out there. 

In studies, coconut oil alone killed 80% of head lice. Combined with tea tree oil, though, it’s success increases. 

In a study, scientists compared highly concentrated tea tree and lavender essential oils to traditional pesticide treatments. Tea tree oil killed most lice, whereas the pesticide treatments only killed about 25% of lice.

Tea tree shampoo at your local salon will not kill head lice. Tea tree must be used in high concentrations to kill lice, and the levels in tea tree shampoo are not adequate.

Applying tea tree oil directly to the scalp may cause severe reactions, so dilute tea tree with a carrier oil (like coconut oil). 

essential oils coconut

Just like every treatment and home remedy out there, this combination has little to no effect on lice eggs. It neither kills lice eggs nor prevents them from hatching, so you’ll need to get a good lice comb like the Nit-Free Terminator. If you don’t remove lice eggs from the head, they WILL hatch after a tea tree treatment, and you’ll go around and around with lice again.

I outline exactly how to kill lice with tea tree oil in my article, Tea Tree Oil For Lice: How to Kill and Prevent Lice Using Tea Tree Oil.

Can Baking Soda Kill Lice Eggs?

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If you’re new to head lice: Lice eggs and nits are the same things. I use the words interchangeably.

Nits have a strong impenetrable shell on them. This shell protects them from any chemicals or toxins, including chemicals like Lysol, ammonia, and bleach. Do you think that baking soda is going to harm them?

Baking soda has zero effect on lice eggs. It does not suffocate them, kill them, or prevent them from hatching.

What you need is a good lice comb to remove those eggs…

The fastest, easiest, and most effective way to get rid of lice eggs is with a professional-level head lice comb. 

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve tried lice combs, and they don’t work.” 

That’s because you’re using a lousy comb. 

There are only a few good lice combs on the market today, and you can’t find any of them at the drugstore. The very best lice comb out there is the Nit-Free Terminator Comb.

The teeth of this comb are spaced tightly together, but the real secret is that these teeth have small spirals, creating a “barbed wire” effect on lice and nits, catching them and dragging them down the entire hair strand and out of your child’s hair.

Don’t Use Vinegar or Baking Soda and Vinegar for Lice

baking soda and vinegar

If you’re looking to get lice eggs out of your hair, don’t use vinegar, baking soda, and vinegar, or lemon juice to try to “loosen” them. It doesn’t work, and it can make head lice worse! I’ve tested soaking lice eggs in vinegar for 12 hours, and the nits were no easier to remove than before. 

Studies indicate that lice eggs immersed in vinegar are MORE likely to hatch than your average lice eggs, which means MORE lice, not less. 

Does Baking Soda Help With Lice?

No, baking soda does not help kill lice, suffocate lice, remove lice, kill lice eggs, remove lice eggs, etc.

baking soda and spoon

Does applying baking soda make lice and eggs easier to see?

No, putting baking soda on your head will make lice and eggs impossible to see. When you put baking soda on your head, you’ve made an already difficult task of seeing lice and eggs impossible.

What about mixing baking soda with a conditioner to help with combing?

The two main claims here are that baking soda can make your comb grip the hair better. That’s not true. The only two things proven to make combing easier are 1) a professional lice comb like the Nit Free Terminator and 2) Using a lubricant, like oil or conditioner.

Mixing baking soda into conditioner makes things clumpy and more difficult, whereas lice combing with an oil or conditioner makes combing smoother.

Summing it Up…

Using baking soda on head lice is entirely useless and a waste of your time. Baking soda does not harm lice or lice eggs in any way. Baking soda can not suffocate head lice; most head lice can hold their breath longer than 24 hours.  

Better alternatives to baking soda are dimethicone treatments or a home remedy like combining coconut oil and tea tree oil, which you can find on my Tea Tree Oil Tutorial.

No matter what treatment you choose, you must get a good lice comb and remove all lice eggs from the hair. Lice eggs have a strong impenetrable shell that makes them nearly impossible to kill, lice eggs left in the hair will hatch.

My advice… AFTER you’ve used a dimethicone treatment and removed all of the lice eggs from your child’s hair. Then use your baking soda for baking a victory cake for celebrating the fact that you’ve finally gotten rid of head lice.

Best of luck on your lice journey! (1)

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