9 Best Ways to Treat Head Lice on Your Mattress, Bed, Pillow and Sheets
These 9 proven ways will have lice out of your house (and your bed) in no time.
How do I clean the mattress, pillows, and all of the bedding when I'm dealing with lice?
Answer from a Lice Expert:
After spending hours treating your child with lice the last thing you want is to get it back from their bed!
Before diving into this article, you should know that there is a FREE, all-inclusive LICE CLEANING CHECKLIST available for you to take with you from room to room as you clean and it covers bedding as well.
In this article let's dive specifically into how to clean your bed after lice, including your mattress, pillow, and sheets!
Let me introduce myself...
Hi there! I'm Theresa, I'm a lice expert, lice coach, and Registered Nurse. I help people with lice every day! You can get rid of lice in ONE DAY at home by using the same proven professional technique that I use in my lice center.
Just follow the step-by-step videos and be done with lice by the end of the day.
How to Clean Your Bed After Lice
How to Clean Your Bed After Lice - Video!
Why Is It So Hard to Get Rid of Lice?
Now that you know what you're looking for I want to talk briefly about your biggest worry (that your child actually has lice) and the question I get asked by parents around the world that have been battling lice….
Lice bugs are immune!
Parents around the world are all asking me the same question…. "Why is it so much harder to get rid of lice now?"
Lice have become immune to everything that used to work in the past. Perhaps you remember your mom using a typical lice treatment or mayonnaise and that doing the trick. 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 are immune to those treatments.
I’ve cured thousands of people of lice in my lice center and let me tell you, I don't do it with over-the-counter lice treatments.
Lice eggs hatch!
Most people struggle with lice because they focus all of their attention on killing lice bugs and not enough attention on GETTING RID OF LICE!
If you want to get rid of lice you have to address all 3 of the problems of lice:
- Lice Bugs
- Lice Eggs
- Getting Lice Back
The best way to get rid of lice is to tackle all 3 of these problems at the same time, which is what I teach in my step-by-step video system.
So, if you discover your child HAS lice, don't panic. Just head over to the video system. Follow along with the videos and you'll be done with lice by the end of the day.
9 Proven Ways to Clean Your Bed After Lice
Can head lice live on pillows, sheets, mattresses, and other bedding?
Yes, absolutely. Of all of the items in your home, your bed is among the most important to clean. One experiment looked at the pillowcases of 48 people with head lice after a night’s rest. Two of the pillowcases (4%) had live head lice on them. While 4% is a small chance, that’s not a risk most people are willing to take.
Washing and drying every item in the house is not necessary to get rid of lice. However, when it comes to bedding, you should clean everything. Since bedding comes in contact with your head much longer than other furniture in the house, it is the most likely place for lice to be in your home.
(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 and the decision to purchase through these links is entirely up to you.)
# 1 - Do Not Use Lice Sprays for Your Bed or Mattress
If you’re looking for lice spray that you spray on your bed and it kills all lice, you will not find it. Many companies will try to sell you the lie that their spray works like that, but multiple lab tests show that lice today are resistant to all pesticides in lice sprays.
A quick but important side note, these same pesticides are inmost over-the-counter and prescription lice treatments. 98% of lice in the US are resistant to them. When people keep getting reinfested with head lice, it is rarely a result of poor house cleaning; it’s because they are using ineffective pesticide treatments like these. Be sure you’re using an effective lice treatment, so you don’t get stuck in the endless cycle of lice as well.
#2 - Sanitize Cycle (Best for Pillowcases, Sheets, and Bedding)
Most people assume that simply putting their blankets, pillows, and sheets in the washing machine kills lice, but it doesn’t. Lice are used to being washed and soaked in water (you wash your hair, right?). Their crab-like claws grip fabric tightly, so they won’t “rinse-off” of your bedding in the washing machine.
Lice can’t be drowned, even on an extra-long wash cycle. A study showed that after 8 hours immersed in water, 100% of lice were still alive (even though they “played dead” when submerged in water).
The only real promise of killing lice in the washing machine is if your washing machine has a sanitize cycle. Lice die after 5 minutes of temperatures greater than 130° F. The sanitize cycle is usually around 165° F, which will kill lice. What if you don’t have a sanitize cycle? That brings us to tip #3, using the dryer.
#3 - Dryer (Best for Pillows & Down Comforters, Sheets and Bedding)
I recommend putting everything through the dryer, especially items that can not go through the sanitizing cycle of the washing machine; this is especially true of pillows and down comforters.
The average dryer gets to 135° F on the high cycle (remember lice die at 130° F). But be aware that it takes some time for the dryer to get to that temperature and stay at it, especially with wet clothes. A study showed that 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 items go the full 40 minutes on high heat in the dryer.
#4 - Laundry Detergent (Best for Pillowcases, Sheets, and Blankets)
A special detergent is not necessary to kill lice on bedding, just use regular laundry detergent and put it in the DRYER. But, if you want to use a lice killing laundry detergent than you can use an enzyme detergent like Kleen Free Naturally.
These kinds of enzyme detergents break down the exoskeleton of lice.
#5 - Vacuum (Best for Mattress and Headboard)
Lice sprays on the mattress and headboards are not effective at killing head lice. Additionally, they are very toxic, and if you spray them on your bed, you will be inhaling those chemicals every night for weeks. The best way to clean your mattress is to vacuum it with a handheld vacuum or the hand attachment of your vacuum.
#6 - Sticky Lint Roller (Best for Mattress and Headboard)
For those that don’t have a handheld vacuum or hose attachment, you can adequately clean your mattress and headboard with a sticky tape lint roller. This is actually my preferred method of cleaning for lice. I use Scotch-Brite Lint Rollers, because they are stickier than the knock-off brands.
#7 - Bag It Up (Best for Decorative Pillows)
In the case of decorative bedding that you don’t sleep on (like decorative pillows), bagging the items in a garbage bag is sufficient. Bagging items and keeping them away from you for 2 days is adequate to kill any lice. Lice can not live off of a human head for more than 48 hours.
#8- Preventative Lice Laundry Detergent (Best for Pillowcases, Sheets, and Blankets)
There are certain scents that lice hate. Using a detergent booster with some of those scents with your laundry can make your bedding less appealing to lice. Launder lice is one of those laundry additives.
The active ingredients in LiceGuards Launder Lice are Tea Tree and Anise. Both of these are fragrances that lice do not like, but not necessarily lice killers. It’ll leave your laundry smelling like tea tree and black licorice.
But, adding any of the following scents to your laundry will help repel lice:
- Tea Tree
#9- Repelling Lice Spray for Mattress and Bedding
f you want a spray for your bedding or mattress, then my top pick for repellent lice sprays for mattresses is Lice Logic Clear and Free Spray in mint.
Pure Repel with pure essential oils that keep lice away, peppermint being the strongest.
Should I use lice sprays on my bed?
Do not waste your time, money, or health on pesticide lice sprays or lice bombs. If you have tried a bunch of pesticide treatments that have failed, you are not alone, and it’s not your fault. The latest stats say that most parents that use over-the-counter kits still have lice even after multiple treatments!
Just like pesticides are an ineffective treatment on the head, they are even more worthless when sprayed in the air or on your couches.
Additionally, they are EXTREMELY toxic and dangerous to you, your children, and your pets. If they actually killed lice, maybe you could rationalize the risk of breathing problems, sickness, or even cancer, but they don’t actually kill lice! The chemicals in lice sprays and bombs are the same pesticides that 98% of lice are resistant to, so you end up just spraying poison all over your bed for no reason.
Frequently Asked Questions About Bedding
How long can head lice live on pillows, sheets, mattresses, and other bedding?
48 hours. In warm-dry climates, lice die within 12-24 hours off the head. However, when studied in precise temperatures, the longest lice can survive is 2 days.
Can you get head lice from a hotel bed?
It’s possible but unlikely. Any reputable hotel changes its bed linens in between each new patron. Washing and drying bed linens on high heat kill head lice.
Does regular laundry detergent kill lice?
No, a study showed head lice could survive regular laundry detergent.
The Never-Ending Cycle
Most people that use lice kits and home remedies get caught in the horrible "Never-Ending Cycle of Lice"
First- You Have Lice
When you first discover lice you have adult lice bugs, baby lice bugs, and lice eggs (also known as nits)
You Think You've Gotten Rid of It.
After using an over-the-counter treatment or a home remedy, people think they've taken care of the problem because they aren't finding lice bugs for a while.
But the bigger problem is the lice eggs that are left in the hair. Lice kits and home remedies don't kill eggs, and each of those little lice eggs has a bug inside just waiting to hatch and re-infest your child again.
Then- Those Eggs HATCH!
Just like lice eggs are tiny, when lice first hatch they are teeny-tiny. In fact, they are almost invisible to the naked eye! So, it typically takes a few weeks for them to grow big enough for you to see them.
And by the time you notice your head is infested all over again!
And Lice Is Back Again!
How to Avoid the Never-Ending Cycle
If you choose to go another route...
Lice is horrible, and no one should have to endure it for months on end. And I hope you don't.
Unfortunately, many people go from lice kit to lice kit and then from home remedy to home remedy. They think it's gone for a week or two, and then it comes back again. And that's because lice are immune to lice kits.
I created the My Lice Advice Video System so you can avoid struggling with lice for months, instead, just follow along with the videos and be done with lice by the end of the day!
How to be lice-free by the end of the day...
GET THE VIDEO SYSTEM
Get rid of lice the same way the experts do. Your personal lice coach walks you through each step of doing a professional lice treatment at home in a series of videos.
Follow along with the videos on your child in your home. No lice kits or toxic chemicals involved!
BE DONE WITH LICE!
When you're done with the videos, you're done with lice. And it's gone permanently!
Summing It Up…
There is about a 4% chance of head lice being on your bedding. Using one of these proven methods will ensure that you will not get lice back from your bed, pillows, or mattress. You should not use any pesticide lice sprays on your bedding or mattress, because they are toxic and do not kill lice. Here's the basics
Head Board: Vacuum or Sticky Tape Lint Roll
Mattress: Vacuum or Sticky Tape Lint Roll
Pillows: Dry for 40 minutes on high heat
Sheets: Sanitize Wash and/or Dry for 40 minutes on high heat
Blankets: Sanitize Wash and/or Dry for 40 minutes on high heat
Decorative Pillows: Bag up for 48 hours
If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then I DO NOT recommend you use Mayonnaise. 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 or months, or even years to get rid of lice using a method like that. If you want to get rid of lice quickly then follow along with my Step-by-Step Video System and get rid of it in ONE DAY.
All the best,
Theresa is a Registered Nurse and lice expert with years of experience curing children of lice. She owns a lice treatment center in the US which is where she perfected the Step-by-Step Video System proven to get rid of lice. She also works with government agencies and schools helping those with the worst head lice cases in America.
Her greatest passion is empowering parents by teaching parents online how to do a professional lice treatment on their child at home. She is the Lice Coach for the My Lice Advice Step-by-Step Video System.