Does Bleach Kill Lice? The Truth

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Discover if bleach can get rid of lice on your head and in your home with this article and experiment.

If you’re researching struggling with lice, you know how difficult it is to get rid of it.

Parents around the world are all asking me the same question….

Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Lice? 

Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment or home remedy and that doing the trick. But 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 can’t be eliminated with treatments that used to work. 

That's why many people with lice are stuck in  the “never-ending lice cycle” that looks like this…

You discover lice, you spend hours treating, nit-picking, house cleaning

You think it’s gone for a few weeks…

But, then it’s back again!

Sound familiar? This cycle will repeat over and over again until you change what you’re doing. Perhaps that’s why you’re researching if bleach kills lice.

This article answers the following (feel free to click a hyperlink to go to any section of the article):

Does Clorox Bleach Kill Lice?

Does Bleaching Your Hair Kill Lice?

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WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW SO YOU CAN BE SUCCESSFUL

THERE ARE 5 THINGS YOU MUST KNOW IF YOU WANT TO GET RID OF LICE WITH A HOME REMEDY!

Before reading this article you should WATCH THE VIDEO above so that you can learn these 5 things and be successful.

Here are a few of the key points covered in the video:

  1. Some home remedies help with lice and some make lice way WORSE (find out which ones in the video).
  2. Lice can play dead (learn what I mean in the video)
  3. What's DANGEROUS?
  4. Lice eggs/nits and home remedies
  5. Home remedy treatment plan

 

Here are the links to the two articles I talk about in the video...

37 Home Remedies- The Good, the Bad, The Dangerous

How to Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! (ONE DAY, NO RE-TREATMENTS)

Super Lice

Up close image of a super lice bug. Lice have six legs attached to their abdomen. The lice appears golden brown/translucent in color. Its dark stomach can be seen through its shell. The lice is attached to a blonde hairstrand.

Lice today are called “super lice” because they have genetic mutations that make them extremely difficult to kill. 

A recent study shows that almost all lice today have the super lice mutation. So things that may have killed lice in the past no longer kill lice.

If you’ve tried several rounds of over the counter lice treatments and home remedies without success, you are not alone.

Millions of parents around the world are struggling just like you, looking for a more effective way to kill lice.

Before talking about whether or not Bleach kills lice, you should ask yourself a critical question...

Do you want to KILL LICE or GET RID OF LICE???

Because there’s a big difference! Killing lice today, does NOT get rid of lice. If you focus all of your energy on killing lice bugs, you will NEVER get rid of lice! 

Here’s why...

When you have lice you have 2 problems, lice bugs, and lice eggs. Often people focus all of their attention on lice bugs, but neglect the much bigger problem- LICE EGGS! Those eggs are full of little lice bugs, just waiting to hatch and start this whole lice cycle all over again! That’s why you keep getting lice back!

So, be sure that you address both problems: Lice bugs AND LICE EGGS (NITS).

Let's dig into all things bleach and see if it helps get rid of lice.

Does Bleach Kill Lice?

bleach jar

People online say that all sorts of things kill lice that don’t, and I’ve proved it in multiple experiments and videos on this website.

Because I help people with head lice every day, I’m able to test out different products on lice, including bleach.

lysol, bleach, rubbing alcohol

I’ve tested all sorts of things against head lice: Lysol, rubbing alcohol, Listerine, etc.

Most claims online of something killing lice are entirely false. Lysol doesn’t kill lice; hydrogen peroxide doesn’t kill lice; Listerine doesn’t kill lice etc.

lice near the jar

Following the 15 minutes, lice were placed in an empty jar, on top of a dry white paper towel, and observed for any signs of life for the next 24 hours.

100% Clorox Bleach kills head lice.

Clorox bleach is one of the only household cleaners that I have found that can kill head lice (Besides hot water and enzyme sprays).

If you are looking to use bleach for lice cleaning, go to the “housecleaning” section of this article by clicking here.

Don’t EVER use Clorox Bleach on the head!

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  • Bleach applied to the scalp can be absorbed through the skin and cause poisoning, especially if there are sores/scabs on the scalp.
  • Bleach can cause chemical burns- nasty chemical burns! 
  • If bleach gets in your child’s eye, it can cause eye injury, eye damage, and blindness.

What About Bleaching Your Hair?

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While 100% of Clorox bleach can kill head lice, it SHOULD NOT be used directly on the head! It is extremely dangerous!

Let me be clear. Using Clorox bleach directly on your child’s head could severely burn her and cause other major health issues. Don’t do it.

Products designed to bleach hair do not use Clorox bleach.

Most “bleaching” products contain hydrogen peroxide and ammonium persulfate. Both hydrogen peroxide and ammonium may kill some of the weakest lice on the head, but they WILL NOT get rid of head lice.

I have helped hundreds of people that have attempted to get rid of head lice by bleaching their hair.

One of these situations is especially drilled into my brain because the little girl had struggled with lice for a year, and her parents had attempted to get rid of it by bleaching her hair multiple times.

white lice

By the time I got involved, this little brunette had ridiculously bright white hair with loads of lice. Most of the lice were this translucent white color. Imagine trying to find these translucent bugs in white hair!

The new super lice today are very strong and resistant to almost all treatments, including bleaching your hair.

If you try to bleach your hair to get rid of lice, this is the cycle you will find yourself in:

hair dye cycle (1)

What's the FASTEST Way To Get Rid of Lice?

The purpose of My Lice Advice is to help parents get rid of lice as fast as possible. And the fastest way to get rid of lice is to get rid of lice in one day, no re-treatments. This is how lice professionals like myself get rid of lice in lice centers. Most people assume that lice professionals use some kind of crazy strong lice product or something. But the truth is that's not how lice professionals get rid of lice so fast....

When I treat lice in my lice center I don't use any toxic chemicals or special treatments. In fact, you can do a professional lice treatment at home without buying any lice products. I teach parents how to do this professional technique on their children at home, on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

In Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro! you learn how to get rid of lice in less than a day by doing what the pro's do. And it's gone permanently- there are no re-treatments, and no messing around with lice kits. You do the professional  technique on your child at home, you kill all of the lice and the lice eggs in one session and then you're done with lice. 

That's the FASTEST and MOST EFFECTIVE way to get rid of lice. You can learn how to do it by clicking here.

Does Bleach Kill Lice Eggs/Nits?

Not Hatched vs hatched

The next barrier for using bleach or hair bleach (hydrogen peroxide and ammonium persulfate) to get rid of lice is that no form of bleach (including Clorox) has any effect on killing lice eggs.

When one has an infestation of head lice, they have lice of all ages and stages on the head, including lice eggs, baby lice (nymphs), and adult lice.

Let’s say that one used hair bleach and it did kill lice on the head (my experience is that it won’t but let’s say it did), this would not get rid of head lice.

Lice lay 6-10 eggs per day, and the average person with a head lice infestation has hundreds of lice eggs in their hair. Eggs usually hatch in 7-10 days.

severe infestation

Some people get an idea that they can bleach the hair multiple times, and that will get rid of head lice. If that is your plan, then you will be very disappointed.

Some lice eggs will hatch within just hours after the bleach treatment, and others will hatch up to 15 days later. And in all of this time in between and after you will have head lice.

Those that use a bleach-type treatment for head lice usually find themselves in a never-ending lice cycle like this, where the strongest lice live past the bleach treatment, and the lice eggs continue to hatch.

Better Home Remedies Than Bleach

If you are looking for an all-natural way to get rid of lice then the very best and FASTEST way to do that is by learning how to do a professional lice treatment on your child at home. You don't need to buy any lice kits or lice products, and you can be done with lice in less than a day. That's what I teach on my page Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro!

If you're set on doing it on your own and you want to hunt around for a home remedy then you can find a list of much better home remedies in my article 37 Home Remedies for Lice. In that article I evaluate every home remedy for lice and let you know how many lice and lice eggs they kill.

You should know that even the best home remedies only kill 80% of lice bugs and no home remedies kill lice eggs. If you decide to go that route then plan on retreating and nit-picking for about 3 weeks.

You can find the Home Remedies article here.

3 Week Plan To Get Rid of Lice

Obviously this is not the regime I use, because I get rid of lice in one day, but it is possible to get rid of lice without my technique, but  prepare for it taking you a VERY LONG TIME. But, many people struggle with lice for weeks, months, or years, trying one lice treatment and home remedy after another and I don’t want that to be your story, so let me get you on the right track...

If you're going to get rid of lice using a home remedy, then plan on being extremely disciplined and focused on retreating, combing, and nit-picking for at least 3 weeks. 

Even the best home remedies and lice treatments do not kill all lice. They only kill the weakest lice, leaving the strongest lice live on, breed with one another, and create even stronger lice! (Gross I know). Also, although many lice eggs hatch in 1-2 weeks, different studies have shown that lice eggs can hatch anywhere between 4 days and 21 days, depending on the temperature and other factors. So, you'll need to keep retreating every 5 days to ensure that you kill lice bugs as they hatch, before they can start laying eggs of their own.

To give yourself the best chances of getting rid of lice you need to be obsessive for 3 weeks.

Here's what you'd do:

Today: Treat with a home remedy that kills some of the lice like the ones in this article (Bleach is NOT one of them!). Comb with a lice comb or nit-pick, and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 5: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 10: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 15: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Day 20: Retreat with a home remedy or treatment that kills most lice and comb with a lice comb or nit-pick and try to remove as many lice eggs as possible. Do house cleaning that I recommend in the House Cleaning - Everything You Need to Know to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

These are the biggest reasons why I'm not a fan of doing any treatment that doesn't kill lice eggs and requires a bunch ofre-treatments and why I encourage people to get rid of lice in one day in Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro.

Reason #1- You’ll have lice for AT LEAST 3 weeks. I’m not a fan of any idea of living with lice for weeks on end, and that’s what you’ll be doing. Lice eggs will be hatching on your child’s head every day, which means she will have head lice crawling on her head until you do another treatment.

Reason #2- Eggs hatch at variable times. Eggs will not hatch all at once. Many lice eggs hatch in about 7-10 days, but some hatch in 4 days, others in 15 days. So, you’ll need to do these treatments for AT LEAST 3 weeks to ensure they’re effective.

Reason #3- Lice eggs are your first sign of lice. Early in an infestation, you don’t usually see lice bugs; you see lice eggs. If you do not remove lice eggs from previous outbreaks you won’t figure out your child has lice until she’s had it for a very long time because you’ll assume the eggs in the hair are “old eggs.”

Reason #4- Having lice for weeks can spread it. The longer your child has lice, the more likely she is to spread it to others in the home. Let’s say a few lice hatch the day after the treatment. What’s to keep lice from spreading to her siblings and friends?

If you choose the “repeat treatments” method, your child will have lice for several weeks, because every day new baby lice will hatch from the eggs left in the hair.

If you want to get rid of lice fast, skip the re-treatments, and move on with your life then learn how to do the professional technique I teach on the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro page.

Household Products That Kill Lice 

lysol, bleach, rubbing alcohol

Head lice are tough to kill; people claim that a wide variety of household products can kill lice, but they don’t. I’ve tested them all in similar experiments. Feel free to read any of my articles below if you want to learn more about them:

Listerine Mouthwash: Does it Kill Lice?
Does Alcohol Kill Lice?

I’ll give you a hint...bleach is the only one on the list that kills lice.

Should You Soak Your Brushes in Bleach?

hair brush

You can soak your hairbrushes in bleach; it will kill head lice. But, I don’t recommend it, because it’s likely to ruin your brushes. It also won’t kill lice eggs, which I think is essential when it comes to brushes. Here are some better ways to clean your hairbrushes after head lice:

#1 -Soak in Hot Water-Do Not Boil

hot water

Lice and lice eggs die in temperatures higher than 130° F.

Be careful not to boil brushes, or they will melt and be unusable.

Heat water on the stove until it just begins to boil and then remove it from the heat. Soak your brushes in hot water for 10 minutes. Hot coffee or hot tea temperature is enough to kill lice.

#2 - Dishwasher

dishwasher

The Sanitization setting of a dishwasher gets to a minimum of 155° F (also called SaniWash, Sanitize, or Anti-Bacterial cycle). The Heated Dry setting of a dishwasher gets to 180° F. Any of these settings will kill lice and lice eggs.

#3 - Freeze Lice

freezer

How cold does your freezer need to be to freeze lice?

Your freezer needs to be below 0° F; most freezers are -10° F to -20° F, but if your freezer is cold enough to freeze meat, then it is cold enough to freeze lice. The precise amount of time it takes to freeze lice will depend on your freezer, but 12 hours is plenty.

Should You Use Bleach to Clean Furniture with Lice?

couch

This one seems like a no brainer. Unless your couch is white, using bleach on your furniture will ruin it. Here are some alternatives:

#1 - Vacuum

vacuum furniture

The most effective way to treat your furniture for lice is by vacuuming your furniture with either a handheld vacuum or your vacuum’s hand tool. Most vacuums come with this tool specifically designed to clean things such as furniture. Although lice are very good at gripping cloth surfaces, vacuums provide enough suction power to remove them. Vacuuming lice and throwing them into the garbage outside will ensure that they do not survive.

Be sure to focus your vacuuming on the surfaces of the couch that people put their heads on.

#2-Sticky Lint Roller

sticky lint roller

For those without a vacuum, the next best thing is a sticky lint roller. The lint roller’s adhesive tape is strong enough to pick up lice off surfaces.

Roll each surface of the couch, replacing the roller sheet as the stickiness wears off.

#3 - Enzyme Lice Spray! (Non-pesticide)

Most sprays these days do not work to kill lice because lice are immune to them.

There are lots of other household lice sprays out there that profess to kill lice, but they don’t.

#4 - Pillows

pillows

If you have a lot of pillows on your furniture, it will be extremely time-consuming for you to vacuum each pillow individually. Another alternative to vacuuming pillows is to place them in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes in the dryer, your pillows will be safe and can return to your clean couch.

Another option for your pillows is to bag them up for 2 days and keep them away from the family. Lice dehydrate and die after 2 days off the head.

Can I Use Bleach to Clean My Leather Couch?

leather couch

You don’t need to use bleach on your leather; it will likely ruin it! For those with vinyl-leather furniture, you can wipe down the leather with anything. Use a wet cloth, a leather wipe, or a Lysol wipe. None of these things will kill lice, but it will remove them from your furniture. (Just be sure to vacuum your carpet).

House Cleaning for Lice

This article only covers a few items about house cleaning, but you can find everything you need to know about exactly what to clean and how to clean it at the article The Ultimate Lice House Cleaning Checklist

Don’t EVER use Clorox Bleach on the head!

ambulance
  • Bleach applied to the scalp can be absorbed through the skin and cause poisoning, especially if there are sores/scabs on the scalp.
  • Bleach can cause chemical burns, nasty chemical burns. 
  • If bleach gets in your child’s eye, it can cause eye injury, eye damage, and blindness.

Summing It Up…

Soaking items in 100% Clorox bleach will kill head lice, however lower concentrations of bleach will not kill lice. There are better ways to clean your items than bleach, such as soaking your brushes in hot water, vacuuming your couches, and putting items in the dryer.

Bleaching hair is not an effective way to kill lice. Lice today are resistant to most chemicals, so it’s more likely that bleaching the hair will kill some of the weakest lice, but the stronger lice will survive and breed, making even stronger lice. Additionally, lice eggs are completely unphased by harsh chemicals and bleach, so you will continue to go around and around in an endless cycle of head lice.

If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then I DO NOT recommend you use Bleach. Instead I’d recommend you use a more effective home remedy like the ones I cover in this article. But, 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 to get rid of lice using a method like that.  If you want to get rid of lice quickly, you should check out the How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course and get rid of it in ONE DAY.

All the best,

Theresa, My Lice Advice

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa is a lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She currently works with government agencies and non-profit organizations to help children with the most severe head lice infestations in the US.

Originally trained as a Registered Nurse, she changed specialties to study lice. Later, she opened a lice treatment center where she perfected the PRO technique she teaches in the Get Rid of Lice Like A Pro online course. She now works helping those struggling with lice around the world.

She is the creator of MyLiceAdvice.com, one of the top lice informational websites in the world and she teaches parents around the world how to get rid of lice in less than a day in the Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro online course.

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