Lice and Carpets: Proven Ways to Treat Carpet after Head Lice

If you have head lice in your house, then you are in a hurry to get it out as quickly as possible. Discover the truth about lice and carpets and proven ways to get lice out of your carpet.

How much energy should I put into cleaning my carpets?

When people get reinfested with lice, it’s rarely because of a lack of house cleaning. Many people are stuck in the endless cycle of lice (discovering lice, then painstakingly trying to kill it, only to find it again a few weeks later) because they are using an ineffective lice shampoo. 

The most recent studies show that 98% of lice are resistant to the most “popular” pesticide lice treatments at the store. So, before you do any housecleaning, be sure that you’ve used an effective lice product first. The article 7 Best Lice Shampoos has a list of the few lice treatments that work to get rid of lice.

Can head lice live in carpet?

Yes, head lice can live in carpet for a short time; however, it is unlikely. Head lice are called head lice for a reason. Generally speaking, head lice stick solely to the hair and scalp of humans. 

Lice must feed on human blood multiple times a day to survive. Without a human, head lice will die of dehydration relatively quickly.

How long do lice live in carpet?

48 hours. Most lice die within 24 hours of being off the head away from a human blood meal. But, when studied in a laboratory under precise temperatures, the longest lice were able to survive was two days.

How likely is it that head lice will be in the carpet?

Not likely. A group of researchers tested this using the classrooms of over 2,000 children. After a full day of school, the researchers examined the children’s heads for lice and the floors of the classrooms for lice. Researchers found that over 450 children in the school had lice, but the floors of the classrooms did not have any lice on them: zero, nada, nothing. Researchers found no lice in the carpets of the entire school.

Can lice lay eggs in carpet?

Fleas lay eggs that fall off and hatch in the carpet. Whereas when lice lay eggs, they cement those eggs directly to hair shafts. Once lice glue their eggs in place, they will not fall off the hair strand-EVER. The only way to remove lice eggs from a hair strand, other than a high-quality lice comb, is by performing a tedious manual removal process known as nitpicking.

If lice fall off your head, they can lay eggs on carpet. But those eggs will never hatch because lice eggs need exact temperatures to hatch. On a human, lice lay eggs very close to the scalp, so they have constant heat (similar to a chicken who will sit on their eggs because they need warmth to grow). If eggs do not have continuous heat, they will never hatch.

What if lice eggs (nits) falls off into the carpet, can they hatch?

No. The chance of lice eggs falling off your head and into the carpet is extremely rare because lice eggs are super-glued onto the hair shaft. But, in the off-chance that lice eggs fall into the carpet, they will not hatch because they will not have a constant heat source.

What’s the best way to get head lice out of carpet?

Simple vacuuming is the best and most proven way to get head lice out of the carpet. The suctioning power of the vacuum has been proven to be effective at picking up lice.

How to kill lice in carpet?

The most effective way to kill lice in carpet is vacuuming. Once lice are vacuumed up, place them in a garbage bag, and take the garbage out. Lice without a human host will soon dehydrate and die.

Should I shampoo the carpet after lice?

Shampooing the carpet will get you no closer to getting lice out of your carpet. Head lice are use to being covered in soap and water daily (you wash your hair, right?). There is no amount of washing you can do to kill lice. Lice can hold their breath for a very long time in water (up to 16 hours!). Vacuuming is sufficient and more effective.

Does a steam cleaner kill lice in carpet? 

Head lice are used to hot water (you use hot water when you wash your hair, right?). To kill lice, the temperature of the water would need to be higher than 130° for 5 minutes. Most steam cleaners do not have a precise temperature gauge on them, so it is hard to determine how hot they get. If you would like to use a steam cleaner on your carpets, then use the highest heat setting and vacuum them first. Vacuuming is sufficient and more precise.

Should I hire a professional carpet cleaner to get rid of lice?

No, vacuuming your floors is sufficient, don’t waste your precious resources on a professional carpet cleaner.

Does borax kill lice in carpet?

The “borax plan” includes sprinkling borax all over the carpets of the house, leaving it overnight, and vacuuming the next morning. Why? Borax does not kill lice, and inhalation of borax can cause respiratory problems. The vacuuming part of the “borax plan” works, but you do not need to spread borax all over the carpets, simply vacuum- skip the borax. 

Is there a carpet powder for lice?

When it comes to head lice, no carpet powder is necessary. Head lice are resistant to most pesticides, including powdered pesticides. Additionally, the risk of inhaling these poisons is very high when working in powder form, which can lead to significant respiratory issues. Just simple vacuuming is sufficient.

Final Thoughts

Many people spend hours and hundreds of dollars on cleaning their home and carpets. Instead of wasting precious resources on unnecessary cleaning, go to the article Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist that explains what to clean and how to clean it.

Remember that when people can’t get rid of lice, it’s not a result of improper housecleaning, its a result of ineffective lice treatment of the head. No matter how meticulous you are in your house cleaning, you will never escape the endless cycle of lice until you use an effective lice treatment and remove lice eggs from the hair. Check out the article Best Lice Treatment Shampoos for  Head Lice and Super Lice to be sure you are using a treatment that works.

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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”.