Listerine Mouthwash: Does it Kill Lice?

Is Listerine mouthwash a good alternative lice treatment? Does Listerine kill lice?


I have tried LOADS of lice kits and lice keeps coming back! I've heard that you can use Listerine mouthwash for lice, is it true?

Answer from a lice expert:

If you have tried other 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! 


After no success with lice kits, some turn to home remedies. Listerine is one that I see a lot of people turn to in desperation, but before going down the Listerine route there are a few things you should know. 


So, let's talk about exactly what Listerine can do and cannot do when it comes to helping with head lice in this article and video. 

Let me introduce myself...

Lice nurse helping others

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.

Listerine for Head Lice

bottle of gold listerine surrounded by head lice, presumably to be used as a listerine lice treatment

Listerine for Lice Video Tutorial

It's explained best in video!
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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….

picture of lice bug under a magnifying glass

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. 

magnifying glass looking at lice eggs and nits in brown hair

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:

  1. Lice Bugs
  2. Lice Eggs
  3. 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.

lice bug under a magnifying glass
listerine cup

Is Listerine A Good Lice Treatment?

the words yes or no


There are loads of random people claiming different home remedies "cure" lice circulating the internet. 

The purpose of My Lice Advice is to give you the undiluted facts about home remedies and other lice treatmentsso that you can make good decisions and get rid of lice as fast as possible. 

This article focuses on the facts about Listerine and head lice.

Does Listerine Mouthwash Kill Lice?

the word no


In the studies, the alcohol in Listerine (ethanol alcohol) does not kill head lice.

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...

In a study immersing lice in 70% ethanol alcohol, they did not these are the 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.”

What Does This Mean About Listerine?


Listerine makes lice "play dead" which can often fool people.

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.

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My Listerine and Lice Experiment

Listerine vs lice

Because I own my own lice center, 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.

Experiment Results

The lice "played dead"  but they came back to life and stayed alive!

Which kills lice bugs?

Listerine = No!

Step-by-Step Video System = Yes!

Listerine does NOT kill lice bugs. Whereas, doing a professional lice treatment using the Step-by-Step Video System kills 100% of lice bugs in one session without toxic chemicals, pesticides, or lice kits.

A woman's hair (brown) with white lice eggs in the hair. This woman has a serious infestation and has had lice for 3 years.

Does Listerine Kill Lice Eggs and Nits?

the word no

Alcohol in all of it’s forms has little to no effect on killing lice eggs or preventing them from hatching. In the study of rubbing alcohol, lice eggs were exposed to isopropyl alcohol for 10 days straight.


Lice eggs have a thick, waxy coating that protects them from just about everything. It is next to impossible to kill them with any chemical.

Vinegar and Listerine Lice Treatment

the word no


Vinegar does not loosen lice eggs, and it does not kill lice.

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. I've tested 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.

Listerine & Never-Ending Cycle

Most people that use lice kits and home remedies get caught in the horrible "Never-Ending Cycle of Lice"

Three arrows pointing down

First- You Have Lice

lice eggs, baby lice, and adult lice with arrows labeling them

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.

lice eggs (nits) and baby lice bugs

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 what they don't realize is they've missed the lice eggs and the baby bug. 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!

baby lice bugs

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 before you know it you are infested with more baby bugs then you may have started with!

And Lice Is Back Again!

full lice infestation representation with lice eggs, baby lice bugs, and adult lice bugs

How to Avoid the Never-Ending Cycle

If you want to avoid this never-ending cycle and get rid of lice fast then check out my Step-by-Step Video System. Follow along with the videos and you can be completely done with lice in ONE DAY, no retreatments necessary.

Is Listerine for Lice Safe?

the word no

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. 

blood shot eye presumably from lice treatment

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

ambulance with sirens responding to an emergency

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

a child's neck skin burned presumably from home remedy lice treatment

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!

a house on fire with firefighter trying to to put out the 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...”

Listerine for Lice Prevention

the words yes or no

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!

listerine spray

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:

Here are the most lice-repelling essential oils:

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.

These are my top 3 favorite store-bought lice prevention products.

  1. Lice Logic (I prefer Rosemary-Mint)
  2. Ladibugs Detangling Spray
  3. Fairy Tales Rosemary Repel

I have full reviews of lice prevention products in my articles Best Lice Prevention Shampoos and Best Lice Prevention Sprays. If you’re looking to buy an already made and proven lice prevention product, then head to those articles.

For those that are interested in making your own lice repellents, keep reading.


Listerine Mouthwash on Furniture

the word no

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 House Cleaning Checklist 

How to be lice-free by the end of the day...



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!



When you're done with the videos, you're done with lice. And it's gone permanently!

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.

Using Listerine mouthwash as a lice treatment is dangerous. It can cause eye injury, blindness, skin burns, and 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're struggling with lice and you want to get rid of lice permanently then follow along with the My Lice Advice Video System and get rid of lice by the end of the day.

All the best,

lice expert

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.

large bottle of gold listerine, presumably to be used on head lice
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