7 Proven Ways to Clean Out and Disinfect your Lice Comb

If a lice comb is doing its job, then it will be trapping lots of lice and lice eggs in its teeth. Combs like this are the most effective, but they can also be the most difficult to clean. These are the 7 proven ways to clean and sanitize your lice comb that I use every day in my salon.

High-Quality metal lice combs like the Nit-Free Terminator comb, paired with an effective lice treatment product, are essential to get rid of lice. A comb with tightly spaced spiraled teeth acts like barbed wire that traps lice eggs and drags them out of the hair.

Combs like this are the best at removing head lice and lice eggs but are challenging to clean. Here are the 7 proven ways to clean and sanitize lice combs.

How to Clean Your Lice Comb 

If you’re removing lice eggs with a high-quality metal lice comb then it probably looks something like this:

lice-and-eggs-in-lice-comb

All of the black spots are lice eggs and lice trapped in the comb. When a comb gets stuffed with too many lice and lice eggs, it becomes less effective. There are 4 proven ways to clean out these combs:

#1- Under Running Water

Clean-comb-under-running-water
  • Turn on running water in an empty sink.
  • Place the lice comb under the running water.
  • Use one hand to hold the comb and the other hand to open up each of the tongs one at a time in a fanning motion while the comb is under running water.
  • After opening up each of the tongs multiple times, re-examine the comb by holding the lice comb above you facing a light.
  • Repeat the process of running the comb under running water for those lice eggs that you missed
lice-comb-cleaned

Will this ruin my lice comb and make it less effective?

If you are using a quality metal lice comb, then no. I do this every day in my lice center, and they are still just as effective.

#2- In a Bowl of Water

  • Fill a large bowl with water halfway.
  • Place the lice comb in the bowl of water.
  • Use one hand to hold the comb and the other hand to open up each of the tongs one at a time in a fanning motion while submerged under the water.
  • After opening up each of the tongs multiple times, re-examine the comb by holding the lice comb above you facing a light.
  • Repeat the process for those lice eggs that you missed.
  • Pour lice contents leftover in the bowl down the drain or in the toilet.

#3- Purchase a Comb with a Cleaning Tool

The comb that comes with an excellent cleaning tool is the Lice Meister. Below is a picture of the cleaning tool.

Lice-meister-comb-cleaning-tool

#4- Use Dental Floss or “Flossers”

  • Place dental floss between each tong of the comb and wiggle it up and down to remove lice and nits.

How to Disinfect your Lice Comb

#1-Soak in Hot Water

How hot does water need to be to kill lice?

Lice die after 5 minutes in temperatures higher than 130° F, the temperature of hot tea or hot coffee. 

Be careful not to boil combs with plastic handles.

Plastic’s melting point is 212° F, the temperature of boiling water. 

  • Clean out lice comb with one of the above methods.
  • Set hairbrushes in a large bowl or container.
  • Heat water on the stove, just as it begins to boil, remove the water from the heat.
  • Once water is no longer boiling, pour water over lice combs.
  • Let combs soak for 10 minutes.

#2-Dishwasher

Lice die after 5 minutes in temperatures greater than 130° F. The Sanitization setting of a dishwasher gets to a minimum of 155° F (also called SaniWash, Sanitize, or Anti-Bacterial). The Heated Dry setting gets to 180° F. Any of these settings will kill lice.

  • Clean out lice comb with one of the above methods.
  • Set lice comb on the upper rack of the dishwasher.
  • Set dishwasher to Sanitization or Heated Dry setting.

#3- Rubbing Alcohol

Lice die if soaked in rubbing alcohol for 10 minutes.

  • Clean out lice comb with one of the above methods.
  • Pour rubbing alcohol over lice combs and completely submerge for 10 minutes.
  • If combs are not completely submerged, then flip brushes and soak another 10 minutes.

How often do I need to clean my lice comb?

I see some people trying to clean their comb after every single swipe through their child’s head for fear that they will inadvertently put lice or lice eggs back in their child’s head. That is not necessary. If you are using an effective lice product that kills head lice like one of the ones I recommend in my article 7 Best Lice Shampoos, then you only need to clean out your lice comb when it is full of dead lice or lice eggs. If you are using a less effective treatment like the ones at the store, then I recommend cleaning out your comb anytime you see that you have combed up lice bugs or when your comb is full of lice eggs.

Do I need to worry about accidentally putting live lice back in my child’s hair when I’m combing?

If you are using an ineffective lice treatment, then yes, you need to be worried about putting live lice back in your child’s hair. Clean out lice on your comb frequently. Those treatments don’t kill lice, so you want to make sure you remove them from the head and rinse them down the sink or seal them in the garbage. If you’ve used a good lice treatment, then you don’t need to be as vigilant about rinsing lice off the comb right away, because lice will be dead.

Do I need to worry about accidentally putting lice eggs back in my child’s hair?

You do not need to be concerned about putting lice eggs “back” into the hair. Once lice eggs are pulled off the hair shaft with a lice comb, they cannot be reattached and hatch.

When should I sanitize my lice comb?

Sanitize lice combs in between each use (after the entire treatment not after each sweep through the hair). You should also sanitize combs between each person treat.

Summary

A professional-level comb like the ones in the article 5 Best Lice Combs is most effective at getting lice eggs out of the hair, but they can be tricky to clean. With these 7 proven ways to clean your lice comb, you are well on your way. Here are a couple of other articles I think you’ll be interested in:

Best Head Lice Treatments and Lice Shampoos

Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist to Get Rid of Lice in Your House

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Theresa is a Registered Nurse and lice expert. She owns a top lice treatment salon where she helps families battling lice every day. Disappointed by the false information about lice and lice treatment on the web, Theresa created MyLiceAdvice.com to empower families to get rid of lice on their own--and fast. Read more about Theresa and her lice journey at “From Cardiac Nurse to Lice Expert”.