5 Best Ways to Clean Hats, Helmets, and Headphones After Lice

After struggling to get rid of head lice, the last thing you want is to get it back from a hat or helmet. Discover the 5 best ways to clean hats, helmets, and headphones after lice.

Hats and helmets are blamed by many as the chief culprits for spreading head lice. Is it true? Before getting to the 5 Best Ways to treat your hat, helmet, and headphones, let's answer some of the most commonly asked questions. 

How long can lice live on a hat, helmet, or headphones?

48 hours. Lice can live on hats, helmets, and headphones for up to 2 days. Most lice die within 24 hours of being off the head away from a human blood meal. But, when studied in labs under precise temperatures, lice were able to survive 2 days.

Can you get lice from a hat, helmet, or headphones?

Yes, you can, but it's not as likely as you might think. A study examined the hats of 1,000 people with head lice to see how many lice would transfer to the hat. How many lice do you think they found out of 1,000 hats? 

The researchers found ZERO lice in the 1,000 hats.

However, there have been other studies that indicate the chance of lice transferring to a hat is a little higher, closer to 4%. But still, that is a pretty small risk.

Most lice are passed directly from head-to-head (or hair-to-hair) contact with someone else with lice.

Most don't want to take even a small risk like that, so here are the 5 best ways to treat and kill lice on hats, helmets, and headphones.

5 Best Ways to Treat and Kill Lice on Hats, Helmets, and Headphones


#1- Don't Wear Them For 2 Days (Hats, Helmets, Headphones)

Lice can't survive off the head for more than 2 days. If you don't wear the hat, helmet, or headphones for two days then all lice on them will die, it's as simple as that. Putting the item in a bag labeled "Do not use" can help everyone remember not to use them as well. I know that isn't going to work for every situation, so read on...

#2- Dryer (Hats)

Lice die at temperatures higher than 130° F. The average dryer gets to 135° F on the high cycle, but it does take some time for the dryer to get to that temperature and to stay at that temperature. 

How long do I put my hat in the dryer to kill lice?

Many will debate the number of how long to put things in the dryer. In a study specifically designed to test lice and dryers, all lice were dead after 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer, so that's the timeframe I recommend.

One word of caution before you put things in the dryer. If you have a newer energy-efficient dryer, be sure to turn off the "eco sensor." The "eco sensor" on dryers is designed to help save energy by automatically turning off the dryer once the clothes are dry enough. In a lice situation, most people care much more about killing lice than about saving money on their energy bills. So, make sure your "eco-sensor" is off, and the hat goes the full 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer. See the picture below.

#3- Wipe Them (Helmets)

The best thing to wipe down headphones and helmets are alcohol-based wipes. Rubbing alcohol has been proven to kill lice in studies. If alcohol-based wipes are not available, then any cleaning wipe will suffice. When wiping the inside of a helmet, it's not about killing lice inside the helmet, it's about wiping out any lice that may be hiding inside.

#4- Lice Spray (Helmets and Headphones)

A quick disclosure: these are affiliate links, and I do earn a commission from qualifying purchases; however, all of my reviews are based on the quality of the product.

Unfortunately, most lice sprays on the market today are pesticides that are no longer effective at killing lice on the head or items like helmets and headphones.

One spray that kills lice is LiceLogic Clear & Free All Purpose Spray.

LiceLogic's spray is different than others because the solution contains enzymes (not pesticides) that break down the exoskeleton of lice and kills them. Lice can not become immune to these enzymes as they do to pesticides.

#5- Lice Repellent Spray (Hats and Headphones)

There are certain essential oil scents that lice hate. When those fragrances are sprayed on furniture, lice flee the scene. Spraying this kind of repellant spray on your items won't kill lice, but it'll make them less likely to come to you. My top pick for best repellant lice sprays is, Lice Clinics of America Lice Prevention Household Spray, Pure Repel.

What should I do if my child has to share a helmet for sports?

You can provide your own helmet and ask that it not be shared with the other people on the team. Another way to help protect her head is to wear a hat underneath the helmet. The hat will act as a barrier between your child's head and the lice that may be in the helmet.

Can I get lice from trying on hats at the store?

It's possible but highly unlikely. Three very unlikely things would have to happen: Someone with head lice would have to have tried on the hat within the last 2 days, lice would have had to have left their head to be inside the hat (very unlikely), and the lice would still need to be inside the hat (not crawled out) when you try the hat on.


The risk of getting lice from hats, helmets, and headphones is smaller than many people think. Most lice are spread from head to head contact with someone else with head lice.

If you keep "getting lice back" every few weeks, it's usually not because you are sharing items, its because you are using an ineffective treatment and aren't getting rid of lice. Check out the article Best Lice Treatment Shampoos for  Head Lice and Super Lice to be sure you are using effective treatment. 

If you are in "lice cleaning" mode, you'll want to check out the Ultimate Lice Cleaning Checklist article next. That article goes over everything in the house that should be cleaned after head lice and exactly how to clean it.


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”.