37 Home Remedies for Lice - Find Out Which Ones REALLY Work!
Discover the top home remedies for head lice and find out which remedies kill lice and which home remedies can actually make lice worse!
Something terrible has happened. You’ve discovered head lice in your home, and now you want to get rid of it--FAST!
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.
Your next thought might be to try your hand at a home remedy, and with today’s technology, hundreds of home remedies are only a Google search away. Home remedies can be a good alternative, but it’s important to be careful.
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!
So before trying just any home remedy, take some time to learn which ones work and which to avoid altogether.
Meet your worst enemy...the “new” head lice!
If you have head lice, chances are you have the new, stronger strain of head lice, termed by many researchers as “super lice.”
Studies show that about 99% of lice in the US today are this newer, stronger strain and most other countries around the world face the same problem.
Today’s lice are different than the head lice from twenty years ago in that they are immune to lice treatments that worked in the past.
Even the strongest pesticide treatments that used to kill lice only “cure” a small percentage of head lice infestations today, even after repeated treatments.
It’s Not Your Fault…
This is the story I hear every day from desperate parents.
This is the cycle that millions of people around the world are finding themselves in.
If you’re just getting started on your lice journey, then act fast and act smart so this doesn’t become your story as well!
Home Remedies: The Good, The Bad, and The Dangerous
There are only 7 good home remedies compared to hundreds of bad home remedies for head lice. And you’d be surprised that some of the most “popular” home remedies can actually make head lice worse!
In this article, I’ll cover every popular home remedy out there, highlighting the good and debunking the bad!
Make sure you don’t settle for mediocre treatments. Keep reading and scroll slowly so you don’t miss the #1 The Very Best Home Remedy.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Best Home Remedy #6: Nitpicking = Good
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 be sure to check the head every day for two weeks to make sure you didn’t miss anything.
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.
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:
- It takes about a month, and many people still end up having lice at the end of that month
- The process is complicated and easy to “mess up”
- 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.
Best Home Remedy #5: Jamaican Castor Oil = Good
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 miraculously on head lice it isn’t going to kill nits or prevent them from hatching.
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!)
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.
Best Home Remedy #4: Coconut Oil = Good
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.
Coconut oil alone kills about 80% of head lice, studies show.
The main downside about coconut oil is that you have to leave it on the head for a long time. I recommend leaving it for at least eight hours.
Additionally, just like every home remedy and professional lice treatment, coconut oil has no effect on lice eggs, so you’ll need to remove them from the head.
Read my full article and tutorial on using this home remedy at Coconut Oil For Head Lice Tutorial.
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.
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.
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!
Best Home Remedy #3: Tea Tree Oil = Good
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 tons 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 with other treatments and home remedies, tea tree oil is not going to kill lice eggs. Lice eggs WILL hatch after a tea tree treatment, unless they are manually removed from the head.
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.
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.
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.
Best Home Remedy #2: Coconut Oil and Tea Tree Oil Combo = Better
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 won’t kill lice eggs (as I’ve said before, you need to manually remove those), but it’ll kill most adult lice.
How much tea tree should you add to coconut oil?
Check out my article Tea Tree Oil to Kill Lice Tutorial to learn how.
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.
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.
Best Home Remedy #1: Don’t Just Kill Lice; CURE Lice!
The sole purpose of My Lice Advice is to teach you how to cure yourself of lice, not just kill lice.
Cure Lice vs Kill Lice. What’s the Difference?
Killing lice on Friday does not mean that you won’t have lice on Saturday. When you have a lice infestation, you face two big problems:
Problem #1: Your head is crawling with blood-sucking lice.
Problem #2: Your head is full of teeny tiny lice eggs that will hatch in a few days, creating more blood-sucking lice.
Many get really intense about “killing these suckers,” and once they think they’ve killed them, they think their work is done.
Let’s say you use a home remedy and kill the lice on your head…
Your head will stop itching for a few days (ah... sweet relief). You’re thinking to yourself, “Finally, I’ve gotten rid of them.”
But you’re wrong.
Within minutes of killing lice bugs on your head, lice eggs are hatching. You don’t notice the little baby lice at first, but just wait a few weeks…
All those little baby lice will be grown ups, and you’ll be back to having lice again and wondering what you did wrong.
Get those lice eggs out of your hair!
Lice eggs removed from the head and thrown in the trash have no chance of reinfesting your head. Nits have to have the heat of the head to hatch, so removing them from the head solves your problem.
How do you do it?
First, buy a professional lice comb.
The very best lice comb on the market today 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 hair.
I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve tried lice combs and they don’t work.”
That's because you’re using a bad comb.
Combine an effective home remedy with a professional lice comb, and you can get rid of lice--PERMANENTLY.
This is going to require some work on your part. If your child has had lice for a long time, then it’s going to require even more work.
Here are some tips on how to get those lice and nits out of your child’s hair for good.
Tip #1: Start by killing lice with a home remedy like the (good) ones in this article.
Tip #2: Lubricate the hair, either with water and conditioner or with oil.
Tip #3: Comb, comb, comb! Use your lice comb every day for at least two weeks.
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.
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 salt water 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.
Neem Oil = Bad
Firstly, NEEM OIL SMELLS AWFUL!
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 is enough to keep an infestation going, so neem oil has made it to the bad list.
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.
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...)
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.
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.
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.
This DOES NOT KILL LICE!
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.
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, 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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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’ve made it to the end of this VERY long article, you must be serious about home remedies. So am I! Throw all your pesticide lice treatments in the trash because they are useless. Instead, pick one of these proven lice home remedies, buy a Nit-Free Terminator Comb, and get to work.
Here’s a list of all of the home remedies: the good the bad and the dangerous
Home Remedies for Lice
- Cure Lice (Don’t Just Kill Lice)
- Tea Tree Oil and Coconut Oil Comb
- Tea Tree Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Jamaican Castor Oil
- Dawn Dishsoap
- Listerine Mouthwash
- Olive Oil
- Flat Ironing
- Neem Oil
- Cetaphil Cleanser
- Hair Dye
- Hair Bleach
- Cutting Your Hair
- Shaving Your Head
- Salt or Salt Water
- Baking Soda
- Drowning Lice
- Rubbing alcohol
- Hand Sanitizer
- Dandruff Shampoo: Selsun Blue, Head and Shoulders, Denorex, T-gel
- Beer, Wine, or Vodka
- Peanut Butter
- Garlic/Garlic Oil
- Cedar Oil
- Hair Gel
- Combing with Rubbing Alcohol
- Raid Bug Spray