Are you fed up with head lice? We hear you! While head lice aren't a health hazard or a sign of bad hygiene, they are blood-sucking parasites that no one wants to welcome into their home and onto their head!
We’ll get right to dishing up the dirt— over-the-counter lice treatments and prescription lice medications are no longer effective against super lice. What are super lice? Super lice are normal lice that have genetically adapted to be resistant to the chemicals regular lice treatment products contain. Super lice are widely pervasive, a pestilence that has blanketed the United States and whose numbers are only rising. In fact, a recent scientific study of lice in the United States, executed by pesticide toxicologist John Marshall Clark from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, discovered that "two thirds to three-quarters of lice are immune to the effects of these insecticides."
So not only are over-the-counter and prescription lice treatments rendered ineffective, but they also contain hazardous chemicals and pesticides which are potentially carcinogenic and neurotoxic— linked with seizures and even death with improper use. More on the effects of these chemicals HERE.
The high likelihood of resistance paired with the scary side effects of the usual lice treatment products lead people to ask the question— what kills lice that is both safe and effective? Many parents are turning to natural lice remedies to try to get rid of lice. So just what is the best home remedy for head lice? We have sorted through all the clinical evidence and scientific research and are prepared to share all our findings about natural ways to get rid of lice.
Prepare yourself; we’re about to dish up some serious dirt on the most popular home remedies and treatments for lice. Ready to find out the answers to all your lice questions? Let’s go.
In This Article:
- #1: Lice Home Remedy - Mayonnaise
- #2: Lice Home Remedy - Listerine
- #3: Lice Home Remedy - Alcohol
- #4: Lice Home Remedy - Chlorine
- #5: Lice Home Remedy - Lysol
- #6: Lice Home Remedy - Apple Cider Vinegar
- #7: Lice Home Remedy - Dawn Dish Soap
#1 - Lice Home Remedy - Mayonnaise
While your child may or may not like mayonnaise on a sandwich, does mayonnaise kill lice? Perhaps this comes as a surprise to you, hearing that using mayo for lice has become a trend in an effort to find a safe lice remedy. However, people are trying it and are unfortunately finding that it does not work. Mayonnaise is a mixture of vinegar, vegetable oils, and egg yolks, with a few other things thrown in like preservatives and stabilizers. None of these ingredients is designed to kill or treat head lice.
The theory for using mayonnaise for lice removal was that this thick, greasy product could suffocate lice. After all, what tiny insect could survive a slather of mayonnaise? Lice are the size of sesame seeds, and their eggs (which are called nits) are smaller than a pinhead. Since lice and nits are minuscule, this home treatment for lice must work— right?
Unfortunately, no. Mayonnaise hair treatment for lice is ineffective for many scientifically proven reasons. Mainly, lice are not adversely affected by the ingredients in mayonnaise. Secondly, it is nearly impossible to suffocate lice and mayonnaise certainly won't do the trick. Ready for the research? Ian F. Burgess, the director of the Medical Entomology Centre and reported in the BioMed Central Pharmacology Journal that lice have the capacity to shut down their respiration system at will and can survive without oxygen for hours and hours. It was also documented in this study that “it has long been recorded that lice are able to survive immersion in water for several hours, presumably tolerating long periods without oxygen…[thus] suffocation by various preparations has not been shown to be currently feasible.”
There is only one chemical that has been clinically proven to effectively suffocate lice—dimethicone. This chemical doesn’t actually suffocate lice in terms of oxygen deprivation to their respiratory system; it instead clogs the external and internal organs causing distress, which often leads to death. In terms of natural home treatment, dimethicone is a chemical and therefore is not officially included on our home remedies for lice list.
So, can mayonnaise kill lice? The scientific evidence is clear— the answer is no. Mayonnaise lice treatments are ineffective at eliminating lice, and certainly are harmless to nits. Moreover, mayonnaise may provide more heat and insulation for their incubation period, which would only make them more cozy and comfortable before they hatch.
Lastly, please note that since mayonnaise contains eggs, it will trigger an allergic reaction in those who have egg allergies.
Are you curious if other oil-based products like coconut oil and olive oil are viable home remedies for head lice or work as a natural lice prevention? Read all about it here.
#2 - Lice Home Remedy - Listerine
We all want fresher smelling breath and gingivitis prevention, but is there another secret use for mouthwash? Does listerine kill head lice? This listerine for lice home remedy popped up years ago with the theory that just as alcohol kills germs and bacteria, the alcohol in listerine could annihilate lice as well.
Nits have a protective coating around their eggshell that functions as a waterproofing agent. And it’s not just nits — “head lice, like all insects, have a protective waxy covering on the epicuticle (outer layer of the cuticle on their exoskeletons) that acts as waterproofing for the insect”. Listerine does not penetrate this waxy coating; it just slides right off their bodies as if it was water. Using listerine to kill lice is like using Gatorade to get rid of birds - it just doesn’t make sense! It isn’t harmful to lice in any way, shape, or form.
The other argument for home remedies for lice using listerine is that listerine could potentially suffocate lice. Listerine’s active ingredient is alcohol, which has been mixed with other ingredients like Menthol, Eucalyptol, Thymol, Salicylate, and Methyl. There is only one chemical out there that can suffocate lice— dimethicone. Using listerine for head lice certainly doesn’t suffocate them.
Listerine and lice don’t go together like peanut butter and jelly, but they sure don’t cause each other any problems. They play together just fine!
#3 - Lice Home Remedy - Alcohol
The theory behind the question, does alcohol kill lice, is that applying alcohol to the scalp and therefore saturating lice with alcohol will make them drunk. The idea is that “drunk” lice will then fall off the head. Just as people stumble and fumble with too much alcohol, do lice let go of all inhibitions and hair shafts once they get drunk?
Personally, we find this whole idea quite comedic. We hope that perhaps you’ll get a little laugh out of it too. Lice do not become drunk on alcohol and will not simply let go and abandon ship once doused in it. What about rubbing alcohol? Does rubbing alcohol kill lice? All alcohol products do not kill lice, nor do they harm or treat lice.
There have been numerous studies on the effects of rubbing alcohol on lice. Even after eight hours of rubbing alcohol saturation, lice were alive and active, and nits were safe and sound in their eggshells. Keep in mind the risks of burning the scalp with alcohol, as well as damaging hair follicles and causing inflammation with this extremely abrasive and dehydrating substance.
We do want to mention that Benzyl Alcohol is a prescription lice treatment product that does involve alcohol to kill lice but is ineffective against nits. However, Poison Control advises that this chemical pediculicide “may be ineffective” and “might cause skin irritation.” Moreover, the data from scientific studies suggest that Benzyl Alcohol "may be better than a placebo" however there is "insufficient evidence" which deems benzyl alcohol as having a level of “unknown effectiveness.” Lastly, Benzyl Alcohol is a chemical-based prescription product and not a natural lice remedy.
#4 - Lice Home Remedy - Chlorine
If you’re wondering how to get rid of lice in your home, maybe you’re also wondering how to get rid of lice in your pool? Or maybe you see the pool as a solution for killing lice? We’re not exactly sure how this home remedy to get rid of lice came to be, but there are people out there who have tried to use chlorine as a way to quell their lice problem. Does chlorine kill lice? The Center for Disease Control clearly states that the “chlorine levels found in pool water do not kill head lice.”
It’s also very unlikely that a louse will come loose from an infested head in a pool, or when submerged in any kind of water. Lice will instinctively hold on even tighter to hair shafts to stay close to their source of food and shelter. Moreover, nits are “glued” to the hair follicle with a substance so strong that it takes an acute force— a nit comb— to dislodge them from hair. If for some reason a louse does come off a head, it can float to the surface and wait for another person to swim by. Lice can even survive submerged in water for hours. To be precise, a 2018 scientific study revealed that “100% percent of tested lice survived 8 hours without oxygen, and 6 hours immersed in water. Many were able to survive under those conditions for much longer.”
Are you still questioning that maybe with high-enough levels of concentrated chlorine, will chlorine kill lice? We want to be clear— this is not a question to consider. If you apply chlorine directly to a child’s scalp, that child will immediately need to go to the hospital and will likely suffer severe burns. Do not under any circumstance attempt to apply chlorine directly to a person’s scalp! Chlorine is a hazardous chemical— not a natural remedy.
#5 - Lice Home Remedy - Lysol
It is also worth discussing the question—does Lysol kill lice? Believe it or not, this question has actually been answered in the previous section about the effectiveness of chlorine for head lice home remedies. Lysol, a popular household cleaner, has three ingredients— water, salt, and hypochlorous acid. Hypochlorous acid is actually just a weak acid that forms when chlorine dissolves in water, or when salt water is electrolyzed. So, will Lysol kill lice? Just as we covered in the previous section, Lysol is equally ineffective against lice.
Be advised— the similar question, does Clorox kill head lice, should never be considered. Clorox is extremely unsafe. Clorox bleach is highly corrosive and potentially deadly. In fact, The American Academy of Pediatrics attests “that bleach causes more injuries and illnesses to children than any other household cleaner.” Do not attempt to use Clorox to kill lice.
#6 - Lice Home Remedy - Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar for lice is one of the most popular home remedies for lice prevention, treatment, and eradication. Some even go so far as to say that it is one of the best home remedies to get rid of lice fast! Also, the use of all vinegar, including apple cider vinegar for lice, is actually claimed to be highly effective against lice eggs. The theory behind this was that vinegar dissolves nit’s outer-skeletal shell. However, the University of Sydney’s medical entomologist and clinical lecturer, Cameron Webb, stated that “eggs get attached by almost a superglue-like substance by the louse, and this becomes incredibly difficult to dislodge. There seems to be an endless stream of urban myths about what works and what doesn’t, this [vinegar] claim is a step too far.”
Moreover, the most popular “how to remove lice eggs from hair home remedies” usually mentions a vinegar rinse. Unfortunately, as reported by numerous scientific and educational groups, such as the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences, “a vinegar rinse is not effective.” Only a high-quality, specialized fine-toothed comb can be used to remove nits, with teeth 0.1mm apart.
So to answer your question— does vinegar kill lice? The answer is a strong and resounding—NO. Vinegar does not kill lice, nor does it harm lice eggs.
#7 - Lice Home Remedy - Dawn Dish Soap
Dawn dish soap is one of the most ubiquitous household products on the market for keeping your dishes squeaky clean. Parents out there are wondering does Dawn kill lice? Dawn dish soap has quite a long list of ingredients; however, none of them are proven to harm or kill lice or nits.
Dawn dish soap has been qualified as moderately toxic to humans, as it contains methylisothiazolinone, which is known to cause skin irritation, allergies, and damage to skin. Therefore, keep in mind that if you are applying Dawn dish soap as a lice treatment it is quite likely that you will cause skin irritation and inflammation on the scalp.
Moreover, there has been no scientific evidence or studies that have shown using Dawn for lice is an effective lice treatment. Perhaps the only effect of using Dawn on the scalp is that hair will be a little bit cleaner. Clean hair or dirty hair— lice and nits will be left behind, not wiped out.
Final Conclusion: The Lice Home Remedy that Actually Works!
Head lice have tortured and tormented human beings for thousands of years. And with the use of the same over-the-counter and prescription lice treatments for decades, lice have adapted and developed resistance. While we have covered all of the natural remedies for head lice that are ineffective, it’s time that we reveal what is the best home remedy for lice actually is.
Lice Choice! We don't mean to toot our own horn, but when it comes to at-home lice treatment, there really is no better product on the market than ours. Lice Choice is non-toxic, non-GMO, organic, all-natural and has been clinically proven to get rid of lice. Our signature products have been tested on thousands of heads; time and time again, lice have been successfully, efficiently, and effectively eradicated. How to get rid of lice naturally at home? Truly, there is no better lice treatment at home than Lice Choice. Our products are also backed by a hassle-free 100% satisfaction guarantee. So if you even have the shadow of a doubt, don't reach for the mayonnaise or the listerine. If Lice Choice doesn't work for you, you will get 100% of your money back, and your family won't face any negative physical side effects, as there are no harmful ingredients to humans in our all-natural, hypoallergenic products. That’s right! No burns. No skin irritation. No fear.
Lastly, don’t underestimate the value of a nit comb. A scientific study published by the British Medical Journal showed that combing hair with a fine-toothed comb worked better than one single treatment of an over-the-counter lice treatment insecticide. Our Nit Free Terminator lice comb will help you get the job done.