Lice Dos and Don'ts

DON’T: Use pesticide based shampoos.

DO: Shampoo hair with normal shampoo. Use clips to divide wet hair into small sections, and work with one section at a time. Comb from the scalp, depositing lice and eggs in a bowl of soapy water. Some people report using conditioner and leaving it in the hair makes the process easier. Use a fine toothed, good quality metal comb.

DON’T: Use environmental sprays for lice - they are unnecessary and a serious health risk.

Lice infect people, not the home. They are human parasites. Lice cannot live without human blood for more than 24 hours. Nits will not live unless they get a meal of human blood immediately when they hatch.

DO: Vacuum carpets and padded furniture to remove any lice which crawl off the infested person, or hairs with attached nits is enough.

DO: Put bed linens, pillows, stuffed animals and similar items in a dryer for 30 minutes on high heat to kill both live lice and nits.

Lice do not jump or hop. They do crawl and cling. If a louse comes off the head and is left behind on a pillow, head rest, or hat, the louse may infect another person who places their head in that area. Vacuuming will catch these escapees. Experts used to suggest bagging items such as stuffed animals for several weeks to help control infestations, but this is now recognized as unnecessary.

DON’T: Treat family members who don’t have head lice. Treat for head lice ONLY when a person has them.

DO: Check everyone in the family using a good quality lice removal comb.

DON’T: Treat family pets for lice with insecticidal shampoo. Its pointless and potentially harmful (to humans and pets both). Lice cannot live on pets, so there is no reason to fear that lice may be hiding on your dog, cat or guinea pig.

DO: There really is no do for pets and lice. So give your pet an extra hug and be thankful. DO: Consider exploring safe options for flea control for your pets (see

DON’T: Use head lice treatments as a preventative measure. Head lice can’t be safely or effectively prevented by shampooing with either chemical or alternative treatments.

DO: Practice early detection, by making weekly head checks with a good quality comb. Early detection and removing any live lice or nits can keep head lice problems to a minimum. “It only takes a few minutes,” says Bonnie Byers, parent of four. “I check around the ears, the back of the neck, around the bangs and where hair is parted. Lice seem to like these areas best.”

DO: Visit for a wealth of information on non-toxic lice control, including a video on effective combing methods, and pictures of lice and nits.

See also: Head lice: the key is in the comb, What’s wrong with chemical based lice shampoos