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.

Before getting started on cleaning, let’s address the bigger question that I get asked all the time. 

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 lice treatment and that doing the trick. Those treatments no longer kill the new strain of head lice, that’s why lice today are termed by people, “super lice.” 

They are called SUPER LICE, because they can’t be eliminated with treatments that used to work. Lice treatments only kill the weakest lice and these SUPER LICE keep getting stronger and stronger. 

Also, lice treatments don’t kill lice eggs, so if you miss just a few lice eggs on the head then they hatch, and lice start all over again.

That’s why, as a lice expert, I DO NOT use lice treatments to cure lice. With my technique, you can be completely CURED of head lice in ONE DAY. No lice treatments or re-treatments required. You can learn more about the method I use here.

Most people with lice are stuck in what I term the “never-ending lice cycle” that looks like this…

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

You think it’s gone for a few weeks…

But then it’s back again!

Many people think that they’re in this cycle because they’ve missed something in their cleaning. Let me assure you it’s not because you missed something in your cleaning. It’s because you never really got rid of lice. Lice are immune to lice treatments.

If you want to be confident that you’ve eliminated lice from your life permanently then check out the page How to Get Rid of Lice in One Day.

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)

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.

#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. 

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.

The most important thing about getting rid of lice isn’t cleaning inanimate objects--it’s making sure you’ve gotten rid of lice! If you want to get rid of lice fast, then check out the technique I use on the How to Get Rid of Lice in One Day article.

Best of luck on your lice journey! (1)

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