37 Home Remedies for Lice - Find Out Which Ones REALLY Work!

Discover which home remedies kill lice and which home remedies can actually make lice worse!


I've treated my child with lice kits several times and lice keeps coming back!


I've heard of tons of home remedies for lice, but how do I know which ones actually work and which ones are nonsense?

blonde woman using a home remedy for lice

Answer from a Lice Expert

Many parents’ first instinct is to run and buy a popular lice treatment off the shelf... 


but after trying a few rounds of store-bought lice treatments, they discover that these lice treatments from the store don’t work! Perhaps you’ve already discovered this for yourself.


If you have tried other 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! 


After no success with lice kits, some turn to home remedies.


In reality, there are only a few home remedies that actually help with head lice infestations, whereas there are hundreds of home remedies that will be a complete waste of your time. 


There are even some home remedies that can make head lice worse!


In this article let's talk about what home remedies for lice are helpful and what home remedies are harmful.

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.

Home Remedies
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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

Why don't lice kits work anymore?

Do not waste your time, money, or health on pesticide lice kits. 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!

The latest studies show that 98% of lice have grown some level of resistance (immunity) the pesticides in lice kits.


Over 98% of lice have some immunity to pesticides!

multiple home remedies for lice shown, including olive oil, lemon juice, peanut butter and cinnamon

Good Home Remedy

Picture of nits in the hair signaling nit picking as a good home remedy

If you’re new to lice, nits and lice eggs are the same thing in this article the two words will be used interchangeably.

Nit picking is when you grab a lice egg (also called a nit) between two fingers, slide it down the entire hair strand, and throw it into the garbage. Nitpicking can also mean picking lice bugs out of your child’s hair with your hands.

Pulling lice eggs out of your child’s hair will prevent them from hatching and reinfesting your child’s head. Lice eggs MUST have the heat of the head in order to survive, grow, and hatch. Remove a lice egg from the head and throw it in the trash, and you’ve effectively killed it.

If you are a meticulous and patient person, this method might work for you. This is a method you can do without using any other treatment or home remedy. But, man, this is going to take you a very long time. Most parents that “nitpick” spend an average of 6-12 hours nitpicking hundreds of lice eggs out of their child’s hair.

I don’t recommend nitpicking as my primary means for getting rid of head lice, but if that’s what you’d like to do, here are a few tips:

Tip #1: Kill adult lice first. It’s a lot easier to pick dead lice than it is to pick live lice.

Tip #2: Nitpick DRY hair. Nits are easier to see and remove in dry hair.

Tip #3: You’re likely to miss a lot of nits in your first go-around on the head, so plan on nit-picking, checking back and nit-picking some more for a few weeks.

Good Home Remedy
Jamaican Castor Oil

Jamaican castor oil bottle and beans for use as a lice home remedy.

After reading that Jamaican castor oil could “miraculously” kill lice, I was curious to see if it works. Again, this one wasn’t well studied in lab experiments, so I tested it out in my homemade lab. Here’s what I found:

This was one of the more dramatic and quick “lice killing” home remedies I’ve seen. I left the oil on the hair for 30 minutes, and the lice all fell off and appeared to be actually decomposing.

Make sure to apply it to DRY hair because applying oil to wet hair makes it less effective since lice exposed to water go into survival mode.

There are a few disadvantages to Jamaican castor oil, though:

#1: It will stain everything yellow. Really, everything. It also created a dark yellow ring in my sink, which took some serious elbow grease to clean up.

#2: Greasy hair. If you have fine hair, this will be a beast to rinse out.

#3: It’ll dye your hair. If you have light-colored hair, this will give it an orangish hue for a few days. On the flipside, if you have dark hair, this will give it a beautiful glow.

While Jamaican black castor oil works on head lice it isn’t going to kill nits or prevent them from hatching, so plan on repeating this same process every 5 days for 3 weeks.

I'd recommend getting rid of lice in one treatment using the step-by-step videos rather than retreating over and over again with Jamaican castor oil for 3 weeks, but that's your call.

Good Home Remedy
Coconut Oil

A jar of coconut oil with a spoon showing coconut oil as a home remedy for lice

Coconut oil is one of my top picks for home remedies because it is one of the more effective home remedies out there and it’s also great for your hair. 

If I didn’t know my technique to get rid of lice in one day and I had to pick a home remedy, then I’d pick coconut oil, because it is one of the more effective home remedies out there and it’s great for your hair. And, since you’re going to have to retreat every 5 days for 3 weeks, you might as well have healthy hair.

Coconut oil alone kills about 80% of head lice, studies show. 

The main downside of coconut oil is that you must leave it on the head for a long time. I recommend leaving it for at least eight hours and it only kills some of the lice. 

Just like every home remedy and lice treatment, coconut oil has no effect on lice eggs, so you’ll need to try to remove as many from the head as possible and retreat every 5 days for 3 weeks. I never recommend treatments that take a bunch of retreatments like that, because the best way is to get rid of lice in one day instead.

Again, I'd recommend getting rid of lice in one treatment using the step-by-step videos rather than retreating over and over again for 3 weeks with coconut oil, but that's your call. You can find my full article and tutorial on using this home remedy at Coconut Oil For Head Lice Tutorial.

Good Home Remedy
Tea Tree Oil

A bottle of tea tree oil showing tea tree oil as a home remedy for lice

Tea tree oil has a well-documented record of effectively killing lice.  One study compared tea tree oil to traditional pesticide treatments. The study showed tea tree oil killed a lot of lice, whereas the pesticide treatments only cured about 25% of infestations.

Don’t, however, run to your hairdresser and buy tea tree shampoo. That will not kill head lice! Tea tree will only kill lice when used in high concentrations (much higher than tea tree shampoo contains). However, do not apply tea tree oil directly on your child’s scalp. It can cause burns and other dangerous reactions. An essential oil like tea tree oil should always be diluted with a carrier oil. (I review this in detail in my Tea Tree For Lice Tutorial).

Before grabbing tea tree oil, you should know that many people believe that lice are becoming immune to tea tree oil in the same way they have become immune to pesticides. If you’ve tried tea tree oil and it hasn’t worked for you, this might be why. However, this home remedy still nears the top of the list in best treatments because when it does work, it works really well. Most of your head lice will be gone. 

As I’ve stated before tea tree oil is not going to kill lice eggs. Lice eggs WILL hatch after a tea tree treatment, so you’ll need to do the tea tree regime every 5 days for at least 3 weeks.

Again, I'd recommend getting rid of lice in one treatment using the step-by-step videos rather than retreating over and over again for 3 weeks with tea tree oil, but that's your call. I outline how to do a tea tree oil in my article Tea Tree Oil For Lice: How to Kill and Prevent Lice Using Tea Tree Oil.

Good Home Remedy
The Combo

Coconut Oil with Tea Tree Oil being combined as a good home remedy for lice

Hmmm...which should you choose, coconut oil or tea tree oil?

Mix the two together and…

Ta-dah! You have a powerful lice-killing combo that packs a punch! It’ll kill a lof of adult lice. Unfortunately, it won’t kill any lice eggs (as I’ve said before nothing kills lice eggs except my technique), so be sure to re-treat every 5 days for 3 weeks.

Again, I'd recommend getting rid of lice in one treatment using the step-by-step videos rather than retreating over and over again for 3 weeks with tea tree oil and coconut oil, but that's your call. Check out my article Tea Tree Oil to Kill Lice Tutorial to learn how.

Best Lice Treatment
Step-by-Step Video System

lice expert holding sign as a professional lice coach

Getting rid of lice quickly is not just about killing lice; it’s about curing lice. In my technique, you kill all the lice and the lice eggs at the same time, which is the key to getting rid of lice quickly.

My technique gets rid of lice fast and permanently! And the permanent part is the most crucial. Most people that use lice treatments and home remedies go around and around with lice for a very long time. The best way to get rid of lice is to kill every lice egg and every lice bug in one session, which is what I do.

Many 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.

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!

Home Remedies & 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.

Home Remedies:
The BAD, the VERY BAD, and the DANGEROUS

small child closing her eyes presumably fearful of a bad home remedy

Now that you’ve seen all my top effective home remedies, you might be tempted to stop reading the rest of this article. Keep going! There are lots of baseless home remedies left to debunk. The next time someone suggests a ridiculous home remedy to you, you’ll know the truth and save yourself tons of time.

A bottle of apple cide vinegar symbolizing vinegar as a home remedy for lice

Apple Cider Vinegar = VERY BAD

The first home remedy that needs debunking is vinegar.

Vinegar will not help you with lice. It’s going to make your lice problems worse!

Vinegar makes MORE lice eggs hatch, which means MORE lice, not less lice.

One scientific study found that lice eggs immersed in vinegar were actually more likely to hatch! 

A whopping 94% lice eggs soaked in vinegar hatched into baby lice!

In case you’re wondering, that’s MUCH MORE than those not soaked in vinegar.

Vinegar does not make lice eggs easier to remove.

Some claim that vinegar can loosen lice eggs and nits, causing them to “miraculously” fall off the hair strand. I conducted a full experiment of this theory myself, which I detailed in another article. None of the nits “fell off” as some online claim. I had to manually drag each nit down the entire hair strand using two fingers, which is exactly how you would remove a nit not previously soaked in vinegar. 

Vinegar will not kill head lice. 

Head lice submerged in vinegar for eight hours were no more phased than those submerged in water, showed this study. Vinegar does not kill lice…at all!

Vinegar for head lice is harmful, not helpful

You can read my vinegar article with the full experiment here.

A bottle of olive oil symbolizing olive oil as a home remedy for lice. Olive oil is a bad home remedy for lice

Olive Oil = Bad

Olive oil does not kill lice!

There is a rumor that lice can be smothered by olive oil if you leave it on overnight. This is simply not true. In one study, the hair was completely saturated in olive oil and left to sit for a full eight hours. After eight hours, the hair was examined for live lice.

98% of head lice were alive after eight hours in olive oil. That’s almost all of them!

Basically, olive oil will kill two out of every 200 head lice! Not impressive.

Many people are fooled by the olive oil home remedy because when lice are submerged in oil, they go into “survival mode” to conserve energy. This is called “playing dead,” and it doesn’t last long after the oil is rinsed out of the hair.

A puddle of mayonnaise symbolizing mayonnaise as a home remedy for lice. Mayonnaise is a bad home remedy

Mayonnaise = BAD

The good ol’ mayonnaise-in-the-hair-overnight trick that your grandmother used may have worked for her generation of head lice, but it WILL NOT work for you!

Mayonnaise is one of the worst home remedies today!

The claim that you can smother mayonnaise on your head for a long time to kill lice is totally false. 

This theory was tested in a study. Mayonnaise was left in the hair for eight hours and it had almost no effect on head lice. 

Sure, the lice “played dead” while the mayonnaise was in the hair and for a little while after it was rinsed out, but 90% of the head lice came “back” to life and were as busy as ever.

Mayonnaise may have worked for grandma’s generation of lice, but it won’t work on yours!

Children swimming in a chlorinated pool symbolizing chlorine as a home remedy for lice Chlorine is a bad home remedy for lice

Chlorine = Bad

Unfortunately, no amount of chlorine is going to kill head lice. Lice are immune to chlorine, just as they are immune to thousands of other chemicals, including Lysol, hydrogen peroxide, and most household cleaners.

It doesn’t matter how much chlorine is in the pool; you’re just not going to kill the head lice.

In one study, several lice were completely submerged in chlorinated water and not a single bug died. I think that pretty much closes the case on chlorine as a lice treatment. 

A woman flat ironing her hair presumably as a home remedy for lice.. Flat Ironing is a bad home remedy for lice

Flat Ironing = Bad

Flat ironing won’t get you any closer to getting rid of head lice, and it can make your lice journey more difficult. 

Flat ironing is not effective at getting rid of lice for a few reasons.

#1: Lice move quickly in the hair, and it’s practically impossible to catch them all with a flat iron.

#2: Newly-laid nits are placed too close to the scalp to fry with a flat iron without frying your scalp, too.

The worst part is that flat ironing can actually cement old lice eggs to your hair, making them even more difficult to remove!

If your goal is to sizzle a few bugs, then a flat iron is definitely capable of that. But, so what? You might feel good hearing those little pests fry, but it’s not going to get you any closer to getting rid of head lice for good.

A bottle of Cetaphil symbolizing Cetaphil as a home remedy for lice Cetaphil is a bad home remedy for lice

Cetaphil Cleanser or Nuvo Method = Bad

Although some people claim success using Cetaphil cleanser to kill lice, in my experience, Cetaphil does not cure head lice. I do not recommend the Cetaphil treatment regime for the following reasons:

  1. It takes about a month, and many people still end up having lice at the end of that month
  2. The process is complicated and easy to “mess up”
  3. It won’t save you money because you have to repeat the process at least three times over a three-week period, 

I’ve read the studies on Cetaphil, but ultimately the vast majority of people I have met who have tried the Cetaphil treatment say it didn’t work for them. This outcome is pretty defeating to parents when you consider that the treatment takes three weeks of intense labor, yet you still have lice. For that reason, Cetaphil has made it to my bad home remedy list. If you’re interested in learning more about my take on the Cetaphil regime, check out my article here Cetaphil for Lice.

Woman with a bad hair cut presumably as a home remedy for lice. symbolizing as a home remedy for lice.

Cutting Hair = Bad

Cutting hair will NOT get rid of lice, unless you plan to shave it completely bald to the scalp. 

The only thing cutting the hair might do for you is decrease the amount of time and energy it’ll take you to get rid of lice. Very long, thick hair usually requires more product and more time than short hair.

However, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a hairdresser willing to cut hair with lice. Most salons have a strict “no lice'' policy. What’s more, if you try to “sneak” your lice past your hairdresser, she’ll likely find lice in your hair and stop mid-cut. (Everyone knows how much a bad haircut can hurt your confidence, so don’t add this to your list of problems when you’re dealing with lice!)

Child with shaved head, presumably for lice. Shaving Your Child's Head is a Bad Home Remedy for Lice

Shave Your Child’s Head = Bad

Lice move deftly through any amount of hair. They have little claws on each of their six legs, perfectly designed to grip hair, enabling them to transfer from one hair to another quickly and without a chance of falling off. It only requires a tiny strand of hair for lice to grab on with their little claws. 

Additionally, lice eggs are glued right next to the scalp because they need the heat of the head to hatch.

If you are planning on shaving someone completely bald with a razor and leave no hair whatsoever, then yes, that can get rid of head lice. However, if you leave any small amount of hair, you run the risk of keeping the lice.

A bottle of listerine mouthwash, presumably being used as a home remedy for lice. Listerine is a bad home remedy for lice

Listerine Mouthwash = Bad

Some claim that the alcohol in Listerine can kill head lice. This is not true.

People are often fooled by lice because when they apply Listerine to their child’s head, lice quickly go into that “survival mode” we’ve talked so much about. They’ll close up their breathing holes and play dead. Parent’s think to themselves, “It worked!”

However, lice ditch this act after you rinse the Listerine out of your hair. These lice are back at full strength, eating and breeding as before, and you’re no closer to getting rid of head lice.

Multiple studies showing the relationship between alcohol and head lice show that “playing dead” is a common behavior for lice. 

I also personally did an experiment testing whether or not Listerine mouthwash kills lice as others have claimed. My experiments had the exact same results as these scientific studies. The lice looked dead, even after I rinsed them. Within about an hour, though, they were all crawling around and most certainly alive. You can check out my article here.

A jar of vaseline presumably being used as a home remedy for lice. Vaseline is a bad home remedy for lice

Vaseline = Bad

Vaseline only kills about 62% of head lice in these studies. I am not especially impressed; are you?

Some tout Vaseline as a great home remedy because Vaseline can prevent some lice eggs from hatching. The one very important detail that many leave out is that in order for this method to work, you’ll need Vaseline in your hair for 10 days straight!

Who’s gonna do that?!  Are you going to send your kids to school with Vaseline in their hair? I wouldn’t even let my children sit on the couch with that stuff slathered in their hair.

Plus, if it doesn’t kill all the lice bugs, then what’s the point? Those left alive will just keep laying eggs.

The worst part is that Vaseline is EXTREMELY difficult to wash out! I’m not talking a little sticky. I’m talking insanely tacky, greasy stuff.

If when you started reading this article, you had already gone to your cupboard and started smothering your head in Vaseline, there are really only two ways to get it out: dish soap or baby shampoo. Add tons of soap or shampoo to your hair, then lather, rinse, and repeat...and repeat...and repeat again. Good luck, my friend.

A bottle of dawn dishsoap, presumably being used as a home remedy for lice. Dawn dishsoap as a home remedy for lice

 Dawn Dishsoap = Bad

This was a home remedy I had to test out myself because there weren’t many studies out there on Dawn dish soap and lice.

Since being a lice expert is my full-time job, I have to know the truth about every home remedy out there. So if there is a home remedy that hasn’t been tested in a lab experiment, then I test it in my own lab. Here’s what I learned about Dawn dish soap:

Dawn dish soap kills most lice bugs. Using Dawn as a lice treatment will kill  more lice than over-the-counter lice treatments at your local drug store.

However, using Dawn as a lice treatment is not one of my top picks as a home remedy because there are several disadvantages....

Expect Serious Dandruff: With as much Dawn dish soap as you will need to kill lice, it’s going to be insanely hard to wash it all out. If you leave even a trace of dish soap on your child's head, it’s going to cause some major dandruff. 

You’ll Have A Tough Time Finding Lice Eggs: If your child has loads of dandruff related to the Dawn treatment, it is going to be much more difficult to find and remove all those lice eggs from the hair because the eggs will be covered with dandruff. Nits are already fairly tough to spot, which is why I have an article detailing the differences between nits and dandruff (which you can read here). 

Dawn in the Eyes, Ouch! Because Dawn is so difficult to wash out of the hair, it is likely to get in your child’s eyes. Any parent knows that soap in the eyes is no fun!

A bundle of lavendar flowers presumably Lavender is a bad home remedy for lice, but it is good for lice prevention

Lavender = Good Prevention, Bad Treatment

I think a lot of people get confused about Lavender and Tea Tree oil. Lavender can be used as a tool to protect yourself from head lice, but it is not an adequate lice killer, whereas Tea Tree Oil is. If you are looking for an essential oil to kill lice, you will have more success combining tea tree oil and coconut oil (as discussed earlier). Check out my Tea Tree Oil for Lice Tutorial to learn how.

In one study, lavender was tested along with 54 other essential oils in its effects on head lice, and lavender did not kill lice. In fact, lavender was one of the least effective essential oils at killing lice.

Lavender oil by itself is not an effective lice killer, but if mixed with other essential oils, such as tea tree oil, it can still be helpful in the fight against head lice.

A bottle of coca-cola presumably being used as a lice home remedy. Coca Cola is a bad home remedy for lice

Coca-Cola Soda = BAD

Coke is the WORST home remedy I have ever tested!

Lice submerged in Coca-Cola for thirty minutes wind up hyperactive within seconds of being rinsed! I’ve never seen anything that actually seems to make lice more active like Coke does. Whoa! It’s like they’re undergoing their own sugar rush. 

In my experiment, lice submerged in Coca-Cola remained alive and active until I finally threw them away 24 hours later. 

If you want to make your super lice even more super, by all means, pour some Coca-Cola on your head. If your goal is to actually kill lice, though, this is not a good plan.

Hair dye being mixed by a hair dresser, presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Hair Dye is a bad home remedy for lice

Hair Dye = Bad

There are multiple kinds of hair dye, but the type advertised as a lice killer is permanent hair dye (as opposed to temporary or semi-permanent). 

The ammonia in hair dye can kill many head lice.  But you should know that even though hair dye can kill some lice, it won’t get rid of lice.

Nits have a strong, impenetrable shell surrounding them. This shell protects them from any chemicals or toxins. As a result, hair dye has absolutely zero effect on lice eggs. Hair dye does not kill them or prevent them from hatching.

Additionally, I have found that hair dye actually makes it significantly harder to get rid of lice because it dyes all the nits and adult lice the same color as your hair, making them significantly harder to spot and remove. This is why hair dye definitely belongs on the bad home remedies list.

A jar of baking soda, presumably to be used a home remedy for lice. Baking Soda is a bad home remedy for lice

Baking Soda = Bad

Baking soda will not get you any closer to killing or getting rid of head lice. 

Some claim applying baking soda to the hair makes lice and nits easier to see.

Truthfully, though, when you put baking soda on your head, you’ve made the already difficult task of spotting lice and nits next to impossible. Lice are experts at camouflage, often darkening or lightening depending on the color of the hair they’re in. Many adult lice are light in color, or even translucent. The same is true for their eggs. The baking soda won’t make them any easier to find. 

Some claim mixing baking soda with a conditioner will help with combing, but the opposite is true. Adding baking soda is likely to clump in the conditioner and make the job more difficult.

Others claim that baking soda can help lice combs grip the hair better. The only two things proven to make combing easier are 1) using a professional lice comb, like the Nit-Free Terminator Comb, and 2) using a lubricant, like oil or conditioner.

A bottle of salt, presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Salt is a bad home remedy for lice

Salt or Salt and Vinegar = Bad

Using salt to try to kill head lice is not something new. This is a home remedy from way-back-when. 

A study from 1919 debunked the salt myth when the researchers soaked lice in salt water for seven hours. Lice were not killed by the salt water, and the nits submerged in it hatched just like those submerged in tap water.

Another more recent study from 2007 tested multiple salt solutions to see if more or less salt might make a difference in this treatment’s effectiveness. 100% of lice survived saltwater solutions, regardless of the salt concentration.

If you’ve read on the internet that mixing salt and vinegar is going to cure your head lice, you’ll wind up disappointed.

Vinegar does not kill head lice or eggs.

Salt does not kill head lice or eggs.

Clearly, a combination of salt and vinegar isn’t going to get you any closer to getting rid of head lice.

A bottle or neam oil and a neem plant, presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Neem Oil is a bad lice home remedy

Neem Oil = Bad


I’d describe the scent as a cross between onions, garlic, and peanuts. 

Many people gag at the pungent smell of neem oil. Once you put neem oil in your hair, it will smell nasty for a very long time, even if you wash it several times.

The study quoted by those “believers” in neem oil indicates that neem was able to kill lice and their eggs.

However, in a more reputable study regarding neem oil, participants applied neem oil to their lice-infested heads every three days for two weeks! Despite this rigorous regime, the majority of people still had a head full of lice after the two weeks. 

In another thorough study on neem oil and head lice, the results were obvious...Neem oil does not cure lice.

I tested 100% pure neem oil on lice in my own experiment. Neem oil only killed about half of the lice, while the other half survived! Since even two remaining bugs are enough to keep an infestation going, so neem oil has made it to the bad list.

Child soaking his hair in water for long periods of time, presumably as a home remedy for lice. Drowning Lice is a bad home remedy

Drown Lice = Bad

Here’s a fun fact: Lice can live a very long time underwater.

“Drowning” lice was tested in two seperate studies. In one study, lice were submerged in water for prolonged periods of time. After six hours, all the head lice were still alive. 

Crazier still…after 24 hours underwater, half of the lice were still alive!

So, no, you can’t drown them.

A jar of rubbing alcohol. presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Rubbing Alcohol is a bad home remedy for lice

Rubbing Alcohol = Bad

Don’t dump rubbing alcohol on your child’s head, thinking that’ll take care of your problem. It won’t!

In the study where lice are soaked in rubbing alcohol for eight hours, almost all the lice survived. 

Rubbing alcohol is also very dangerous as a lice treatment because it can cause poisoning, chemical burns, or even accidentally light your child on fire! (Which is kinda a big deal...)

A bottle of dandruff shampoo, presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Dandruff shampoo is a bad home remedy for lice

Dandruff Shampoos (Head and Shoulders, Denorex, Selsun Blue, and T-gel Shampoo) = Bad

Head and Shoulders, Denorex Extra Strength, Selsun Blue, and T-gel do not kill head lice. I’ve tested these shampoos against head lice in this article and proven that they do not kill lice or lice eggs. All the lice in my study lice were alive and well after I soaked them for a full thirty minutes in each of these shampoos.

If someone uses one of these dandruff shampoos and it “cures” their lice, it’s most likely that they actually had dandruff all along (not head lice). 

It can be tough to tell the difference between lice and dandruff. Check out my article, Lice vs Dandruff, to learn the seven key differences between lice eggs and dandruff.

A woman with bleached blond hair, presumably resulting from a home remedy for lice involving bleaching her hair. Hair Bleach is a bad home remedy for lice

Hair Bleach = Bad

Most “bleaching” products contain hydrogen peroxide as the bleaching agent. Hydrogen peroxide may kill some of the weakest lice on the head, but it WILL NOT get rid of head lice altogether.

I’ve tested hydrogen peroxide on head lice, and it does nothing to them. All the bugs were alive and well.

Soaking items like hair brushes and accessories in 100% Clorox bleach will kill head lice, but it should never be used on the head! That’s extremely dangerous! 

There are better ways to clean your items than bleaching them, such as soaking your brushes in hot water, vacuuming your couches, and putting items in the dryer. All you need to kill head lice on items is high heat for about forty minutes. Check out my article, Ultimate House Cleaning Checklist, to learn more.

A mother combing her child's hair for head lice with a metal comb, presumably as a home remedy for lice. Combing with rubbing alcohol is a bad home remedy for lice

Lice Combing with Rubbing Alcohol = Bad

Those with limited lice knowledge may advise you to dip a lice comb in rubbing alcohol and comb through your hair.


Combing through the hair with a professional lice comb, like the Nit-Free Terminator Comb, and rinsing lice down the drain will kill lice. This process has NOTHING to do with rubbing alcohol. Rubbing alcohol does not kill lice.

Lice that are removed from the head and rinsed down the sink will die within 48 hours from starvation, regardless of if you dip your comb in rubbing alcohol or not.

If you want to get rid of lice using a lice comb, then instead of dipping it into alcohol between each sweep, just clean out the comb in running water.

A person squeezing hand sanitizer into their palm, presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Hand Sanitizer is a bad home remedy for lice

Hand Sanitizer = Bad

Hand sanitizer is most commonly made with ethanol alcohol or isopropyl alcohol.

Ethanol has been tested for killing head lice, and it’s only effective at concentrations of 100% ethanol. Anything less is not usually effective.

Using hand sanitizer on your child’s head as a lice treatment is pretty dangerous because if it gets in their eyes, it can lead to eye damage and blindness. The scalp is also very absorbent, so the alcohol in the sanitizer can absorb through the scalp and cause alcohol poisoning. Alcohol is also very flammable, so if your child gets near a small spark, they could catch on fire, leading to severe burns or death.

Beer being poured into a glass, presumably as a home remedy for lice. Beer, Wine, and Vodka are bad home remedies for lice

Beer, Wine, or Vodka = Bad

Ethanol alcohol (the type of alcohol in alcoholic beverages) has been studied against head lice. The study tested 70% alcohol against head lice, and showed that most of the bugs completely recovered. 

Beer is 4.5% ethanol, wine is 11% ethanol, and Vodka is 40% ethanol, all of which are significantly less than the percentage of alcohol tested in the study. None of these will kill head lice. 

Alcohol is dangerous as a lice treatment because it is likely to get in your child’s eyes, leading to eye damage or blindness. It is also extremely flammable, so again, your child could catch on fire.

A large bunch of garlic cloves, presumably to be used as a home remedy for lice. Garlic is a bad home remedy for lice

Garlic or Garlic Oil = Bad

This home remedy goes way back for many cultures. The belief is that crushed garlic or garlic oil applied to the head can cure head lice. In a 2018 comparative study of home remedies, garlic oil performed as one of the very worst lice remedies. Garlic oil did not kill head lice, even after being left on the head for 48 hours!

A man with hands in his hair, presumably with hair gel as a home remedy for lice. Hair Gel is a bad home remedy for lice

Hair Gel = Bad

Hair gel will not kill head lice, no matter how much of it you apply. This is a total waste of your time (and money). Some believe that the use of large amounts of hair gel can help prevent head lice because it makes hair more difficult for lice to grip. However, there are no studies indicating that this is true.

An open jar of peanut butter and a spoon, presumably being used as a home remedy for lice. Peanut Butter is a bad home remedy for lice

Butter or Peanut Butter = Bad

Melted butter or peanut butter for treating head lice is a very old home remedy. It operates under the concept of “smothering” lice, where you melt butter and leave it on the head for eight hours. 

It’s been tested, and it’s not effective. Butter killed only a small percentage of head lice and did not prevent lice from laying eggs or prevent those eggs from hatching. Don’t waste your time (or your peanut butter) on this one.

A bottle of cedar oil, presumably being used as a home remedy for head lice. Cedar Oil is a bad home remedy for lice

Cedar = Bad

Some out there claim cedar oil is a lice killer. A study comparing different plants shows that cedar does not have any effect on head lice whatsoever.

Dangerous Home Remedies- DON’T DO THESE!

man in a gas mask directing people to stay away presumably from a dangerous home remedy
Kerosene, Gasoline, and Petrol are DANGEROUS home Remedies for Lice

Kerosene, Gasoline, or Petrol = DANGEROUS

All these extremely flammable compounds have the “potential” to kill lice. However, these are horribly dangerous home remedies. I have seen the effects of these home remedies firsthand on some of my clients.

A desperate mother soaked her child’s hair in kerosene multiple times in an attempt to get rid of head lice. Not only did the kerosene not cure the child’s head lice, but it also burned her scalp terribly. When I was called in to help this little girl after the kerosene treatments, her scalp was coming off in large chunks and she still had a full head of lice.

Bug Spray is a DANGEROUS home remedy for lice

Raid or Other Bug Sprays = DANGEROUS

All Raid sprays are made up of similar pesticides as those found in traditional over-the-counter lice treatments. Lice have grown resistant to all of those pesticide treatments, so they will not get you any closer to getting rid of head lice.

Additionally, spraying Raid or another bug spray directly on your child is very dangerous. Side effects of using these types of sprays on the scalp or skin are burns, poisoning, and severe respiratory problems related to inhaling the pesticide. I have seen this firsthand in my profession as well.

If you choose to go the home another route...

discouraged mother dealing with head lice

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

Many 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. I don't want that to happen to you.

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!

Summing It Up…

Head lice today are extremely difficult to kill because they are immune to the pesticides in traditional lice kits, which has many parents turning to home remedies. 

If you’ve made it to the end of this VERY long article, you must be serious about never using a lice treatment again. So am I! Understand that there is no home remedy or treatment out there that kills all lice bugs or lice eggs, so it’s going to take you several weeks or months, or even years to get rid of lice using a method like that.

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.

Here’s a list of all of the home remedies: the good the bad and the dangerous

Home Remedies for Lice

The Good:

  1. My Lice Advice Step-by-Step Videos
  2. Tea Tree Oil and Coconut Oil Comb
  3. Tea Tree Oil
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Jamaican Castor Oil
  6. Nitpicking

The Bad/Debunked

  1. Vinegar
  2. Listerine Mouthwash
  3. Mayonnaise
  4. Olive Oil
  5. Flat Ironing
  6. Vaseline
  7. Neem Oil
  8. Cetaphil Cleanser
  9. Hair Dye
  10. Hair Bleach
  11. Cutting Your Hair
  12. Shaving Your Head
  13. Salt or Salt Water
  14. Baking Soda
  15. Dawn Dishsoap
  16. Chlorine
  17. Drowning Lice
  18. Rubbing alcohol
  19. Hand Sanitizer
  20. Dandruff Shampoo: Selsun Blue, Head and Shoulders, Denorex, T-gel
  21. Beer, Wine, or Vodka
  22. Lavender
  23. Butter
  24. Peanut Butter
  25. Garlic/Garlic Oil
  26. Cedar Oil
  27. Hair Gel
  28. Combing with Rubbing Alcohol

The Dangerous

  1. Raid Bug Spray
  2. Kerosene
  3. Gasoline/Petrol
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