Listerine Mouthwash: Does it Kill Lice?

If you’re struggling with lice, you know how difficult it is to get rid of it. Most lice today are immune to the over the counter treatments that worked in the past. Many parents are turning to home remedies for relief.

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 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.” They aren’t SUPER because they can fly, they’re called SUPER LICE, because they can’t be eliminated with treatments that used to work. 

That’s why lice experts like myself DO NOT use lice treatments. I’ve cured thousands of people of lice without lice treatments and instead of retreating a million times, they get rid of lice permanently in ONE DAY! You can learn more about the technique 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!

Sound familiar? This cycle will repeat over and over again until you change what you’re doing.

You may have heard that Listerine mouthwash kills lice, is it true?

This article answers the following:

Does Listerine Kill Lice?
Listerine and Lice: The Experiment
Other Home Remedies vs. Listerine
Vinegar and Listerine

Super Lice

lice face

Multiple studies have proven that the current strain of head lice are immune to pesticides found in over the counter treatments and most prescriptions. So, it doesn’t matter the strength or how long you leave those treatments on; they won’t kill lice!

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.

Before talking about whether or not Listerine 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!

There’s no lice treatment or home remedy out there that kills lice eggs, except the technique I use.

It’s the only thing guaranteed to get rid of lice in ONE DAY, without any retreatments, because it kills all of the lice bugs and lice eggs. If you plan on using a home remedy and store-bought lice treatment you can get rid of lice, but you should plan on it taking about 3 weeks and multiple treatments.

Does Listerine Mouthwash Kill Lice?

listerine 3

You may have heard that Listerine kills lice, is it true?

Some people claim that the high amount of alcohol in Listerine kills lice.

The first thing to understand is that there are many types of alcohol, and they are very different from one another. Here are the most common types:

Ethanol Alcohol (liquor)
Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
Benzyl Alcohol (used in prescription medicines)

listerine cup

Listerine contains mint, thyme), wintergreen, and eucalyptus, and large amounts of alcohol.

Mint, thyme, wintergreen, and eucalyptus do not kill lice, so the only thing left to kill lice in Listerine is alcohol.

Listerine contains 26.9% ethanol alcohol, the only form of edible alcohol.

Many pesticides use ethanol alcohol as an additive, so this type of alcohol has been studied extensively against head lice, here’s what the studies show...

scratch head

100% ethanol alcohol it can penetrate lice (study).

But, in a study immersing lice in 70% ethanol alcohol, they did not see the same results...

“A low proportion of lice were the 10-min exposure test but recovered completely after 5 min.

Different proportions of lice were affected between 2 and 7 hours after immersion in ethanol... However, a high proportion of lice recovered after 22 hours.”

How to Get Rid of Lice Fast! 

Many people struggle with lice for a very long time before finally getting rid of it, if you want to speed up the process then take some advice from others who have been in your situation. Here’s what Sarah did that finally helped her get rid of lice for good.

The How to Get Rid of Lice Like a Pro! Online Course promises 3 things:

  1. You’ll get rid of lice fast! (In ONE DAY)
  2. You’ll get rid of lice permanently (meaning it’s not going to come back a few weeks later)
  3. And, you’ll gain all of the knowledge and skills you need to prevent a lice infestation like this from happening ever again!

What Does This Mean About Listerine?

Alcohol, oil, and other liquids can make lice immobile and go into a “coma-type” state for a while, but not kill lice. 

When you submerge lice in liquid, they automatically close up their “breathing holes” so that nothing can penetrate them.

Lice submerged for long periods go into a “hibernation- state” to conserve energy. One study terms this as “playing dead."

When people use Listerine on the head for prolonged periods, they may see lice in hibernation-mode and assume that lice are dead.

The studies show that lice can remain in this hibernation state for a very long time (up to 22 hrs).

But lice “resurrect” back to life after being rinsed. 

Lice are soon at full strength and capable of breeding just as they did before the treatment.

Listerine and Lice: The Experiment

Listerine vs lice

Because I own my own lice salon, I am in a unique position to test something like this out, so I went ahead and did my own experiment before posting this article.

lice near the jar

Several live lice were collected and immersed in Listerine for 15 minutes. Then the lice were removed and placed on a white paper towel in an empty mason jar.

Initially, the lice were immobile and looked dead, but I set a timer and waited...

90 minutes later… all of the lice came back to life. And all but one louse stayed alive until I finally threw them away 24 hours later.

Why Do Some People Claim Listerine Got Rid of Lice?

For every person that claims Listerine as a miracle, there is one thing in common,

“I combed the hair with a lice comb every day…”

Listerine didn’t get rid of lice; their combing got rid of lice!

It’s no big secret that combing with a lice comb gets rid of head lice.

Regardless of if Listerine kills some of the lice or not, alcohol does NOTHING for lice eggs. Lice eggs left in the hair WILL hatch if you don’t remove them from the head. And then you’ll be starting all over again.

Listerine may help immobilize lice while you’re combing, but there are better and more effective treatments and home remedies that can do that (keep reading to find out which ones).

Can Other Types of Alcohol Kill Lice?

rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) has also been tested against lice, and it did very poorly. 

Isopropyl alcohol only killed 10% of head lice.

Of home remedies, alcohol performed as one of the worst.

Prescription Alcohol Treatment


The only alcohol treatment that effectively kills lice is benzyl alcohol found in the prescription lice treatment, Ulesfia™. One bottle of Ulesfia™ can cost upwards of $500. It kills lice, but the hair needs to be completely saturated (which may require more than one bottle), and you need to repeat treatments because it does nothing to kill lice eggs or prevent them from hatching. 

I know you’re seeing the dollars add up...

Dangers of Listerine as a Lice Treatment

If you go ahead and decide to put mouthwash or whatever type of alcohol on your child’s head, you should know there are some serious risks. 

red eye

Putting a liquid form of alcohol on your child’s head is very likely to end up in their eyes. Have you ever gotten hand sanitizer in your eye? Ouch!!

In addition to being very painful, getting ethanol in your eye is very dangerous.

study of alcohol’s effects if it gets in the eyes reports alcohol 

“can cause corneal abrasions and scarring... thereby cause loss of vision and increase the risk for ocular [eye] infections.”

Considering Listerine isn’t even an effective treatment, is it worth the risk of blindness to your child?

Alcohol Poisoning


Alcohol can be toxic to children and is very absorbent through the skin. The body can usually fight off and excrete small doses of alcohol, but in large doses, it can lead to poisoning.

Your scalp is one of the most absorbent areas of the body. Saturating the scalp with alcohol puts your child at risk of poisoning, which can lead to dizziness, vomiting, liver damage, and coma.

Children are at exceptionally high risk because their scalp is even more absorbent than adults.

Have you read the back of a Listerine bottle?

“Do not use on children under 12 years of age. Keep out of reach of children...get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away”

Chemical Burn

skin burn

Alcohol causes severe chemical burns on the very young. 

study reporting burns on a baby related to alcohol states, 

“toxic for infants and children” should appear on mass consumption products... Moreover, health workers may individually inform parents about possible hazards of poisoning through skin absorption.”

Catching on Fire!

on fire

Alcohol is extremely flammable. If your child has alcohol on their body, any exposure to any spark, they will go up in flames. 

As evidenced in a news story involving an 11-year-old boy and rubbing alcohol, it can be tragic.

“An 11-year-old North Georgia boy is recovering after an accident sent him to the hospital with severe burns on 30 percent of his body…

“No one thinks that the rubbing alcohol in your medicine cabinet could possibly take the life of your child,” 

“Ray is now in the burn intensive care unit...”

Vinegar and Listerine Lice Treatment

apple cider vinegar

For those of you that are still planning on doing a vinegar and Listerine lice treatment, I’d love to save you some time, energy, and sanity.

Vinegar does nothing for lice or lice eggs!

Did you see which home remedy performed worse than Listerine in studies? It was vinegar, killing only 2% of head lice.

Some people claim that the acidity of apple cider vinegar eats away at the glue that holds lice into place on the hair strand, which makes them easier to remove.

It’s just simply not true. Tests of vinegar on lice eggs, and it doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t loosen them, kill them, or prevent them from hatching.

As someone who removes lice and lice eggs from people’s hair every day, I have not seen a difference in vinegar, easing the removal of lice eggs. 

I think more likely people are looking for a “cure” against lice eggs, and they want to believe apple cider vinegar makes a difference, but it doesn’t.

Severe head lice infestation commons, no rights reserved

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 (Listerine 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.

This is what my treatment plan looks like:

Today: Kill all lice and lice eggs

No retreatments.

Never get lice again for the rest of your life.

Learn how my treatment plan works in this article.

Listerine for Lice Prevention

listerine spray

I’ve read some things on the web suggesting spraying Listerine in your child’s hair to help with lice prevention.

Some of the ingredients in Listerine (mint, spearmint, and eucalyptus) have some repelling properties in them, but Listerine will not prevent lice.

Plus, your child will smell like...well, mouthwash! And alcohol! No, thank you!

Putting certain fragrances in the hair can keep lice away, but Listerine is nowhere on the list. If you want to prevent head lice, these are the scents to do it with:

If you want to make your own lice prevention spray, check out my DIY Lice Spray Tutorial.

Tried and True Lice Prevention Sprays

There are some very effective lice prevention sprays already on the market. These sprays are a combination of all of the best prevention essential oils. Instead of making one yourself, you can buy one. I review all lice prevention sprays in this article but below are the best.

Listerine Mouthwash on Furniture


Please don’t put Listerine on your furniture in an attempt to kill head lice. Your house will smell terrible for months! I outline everything you need to do to clean your home in the article House Cleaning Checklist to Get Rid of Lice in Your House.

Summing it Up…

Listerine does not kill head lice. Although lice may “play dead” if submerged in alcohol for long periods, they “resurrect” back to life.

The only form of alcohol that kills lice effectively is a prescription treatment of Benzyl alcohol, Ulesfia™. Benzyl alcohol is not the same alcohol as alcohol in Listerine.

Using Listerine mouthwash as a lice treatment is very dangerous. It can cause eye injury, blindness, skin burns, poisoning, and your child can easily catch on fire. Since Listerine is not a good lice treatment, it’s not worth the risk.

If you plan to use a home remedy for lice then I DO NOT recommend you use Listerine. 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 get rid of it in ONE DAY.

Best of luck on your lice journey! (1)

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