Greener Ways to Get Rid of Head Lice

June 16th, 2008 BY Gloria Campos | 17 Comments

To get rid of lice it helps to understand lice and their life cycle. Begin by learning what lice are. They’re different types of lice. Head lice are wingless parasitic insect that lives among human hairs and feeds on extremely small amounts of blood drawn from the scalp. They sound disgusting right? Well other than the nuisance and itching they cause they are not harmful, but they are very contagious.

In fact, lice are a very common problem, especially among kids ages 3 years to 12 years (girls more often than boys because of their long hair). But the fact that a person has head lice does not reflect on the person’s cleanliness or social status. Lice can’t fly or jump, but they do have specially adapted claws that allow them to crawl and cling firmly to hair. They spread mainly through head-to-head contact. So can your pets have it too? Though lice can survive a few days away from their host they require a human host to live.

A louse (lice is plural form) dies about 32-35 days after being laid as a nit (a.k.a an egg). A louse can begin laying eggs about 1 or 2 days after mating and continues laying eggs for up to 16 days after that. “To attach each egg, the adult female secretes a glue from her reproductive organ. This glue hardens into a “nit sheath” that covers the hair shaft and the entire egg except for the operculum — a cap through which the embryo breathes. [8] The glue was previously thought to be chitin-based, but more recent studies have shown it to be made of proteins similar to hair keratin”. (Wikipedia)

This sounds difficult to manage right? I’m not going to lie. It is. But that doesn’t mean you should go out and buy the most toxic chemicals at the drug store to get rid of them quickly. Why? Remember the treatments you will be using will be used on the heads of your loved one. You want to avoid using something that harms them. Also consider that case reports suggest head lice are growing resistant to many of these drugs.

Now that you know what lice are and how they live it is time to take a look at your loved ones’ scalps (everyone who lives with you). Have someone check yours. If you don’t discover any, you are very lucky. If you do, consider the natural solutions below before resorting to store bought drugs:

Natural solutions:

Make your very own lice shampoo with a combination of oils. To view the recipe click on Safe Natural Cures.

Mayonnaise, the ideal solution for me is the new Kraft Mayo made with Olive Oil. Kills two birds with one stone. Since both mayo and olive oil can be used to suffocate and smother the head lice and eggs. How does it work? Grab a handful of mayo and rub it on the hair and massage it through out the scalp. Make sure get it behind the ears and a little down the neck. When the scalp and hair are covered in mayo cover the head with a shower cap if you would like (keeps it from dripping onto everything). After about two hours take the cap off. Rinse the hair out and then shampoo. It helps to use a nit comb in the shower. Use lice combs with metal teeth. Plastic combs tend to bend leaving spaces for the lice to escape.

Vaseline can be used in the place of Mayonnaise but it is much more difficult to take out. Baby oil and dish soap can be used to take it out. I have not tried this method but may resort to it, if lice invade my children again.

If any eggs remain rinse the hair with vinegar. Vinegar helps loosen the glue that helps the egg sticks to the hair. About every two to three days use 50% white vinegar and 50% water after you shampoo will dissolve lice eggs.

Another option is to soak the hair in olive oil and let it set in over night. Repeat the oil treatment every two to three days until not one nit is found.

Anything that may still remain (and they will because nit glue is strong) can be removed by use your fingernails to slide it off the hair strand. This is tedious but necessary.

If you find that the above options are not working or can’t be done in your home for one reason or other I have read suggestions to use a hair dry or hair straightener to burn the lice. I cannot vouch for this method as I have not used it, but it is an interesting idea that may work since Lice can’t take the heat over 110F. Then again neither can you or your kid. Please be careful trying this on children and don’t hurt yourself either. Also remember this amount of heat can damage and dry your hair. To help it recover soak your head in mayonnaise because mayonnaise is also a great way to condition the hair. Just don’t leave it on as long this time.

If these options still don’t help you get rid of the lice try the 21-day lice removal program.

Last but not least check everyone’s hair daily for the next two to three weeks to make sure the lice have not returned. In addition as a preventative measure continue to check everyone’s hair about once a week. Make it your weekly “lice check”. In an odd way it is a good time to take the time to talk as a family while grooming each other. If you’re images of monkeys sitting around eating other’s parasites pop into your head, remember you don’t have to eat your parasites, just kill them.

If the problem still persist call your doctor.

Wondering about the lice house cleaning? Because lice cannot survive without the host it is likely that they are not on clothes furniture or anything else, but just to be on the safe side it might be a good idea to clean and wash all bed sheets, pillows, etc.

Suggestions: Wash the clothes in hot water. Stuffed toys can also be washed in hot water or placed in plastic bags for two weeks to three weeks. Brushes, combs and hair “pretties” can be soaked in vinegar or boiled in hot water. Carpet, furniture, car seats, etc. can be vacuumed. For a natural lice spray for these items visit Safe Natural Cures

Worst-case scenario- if you cleaned your entire house and discovered lice cannot survive anywhere else but on the host, at least your house is sparkling clean. Don’t get mad. Consider it an early spring-cleaning.

More information:
Kids Health
Lice Aren’t Nice!

  1. Stephen Tvedten

    You can safely and effectively kill lice with salt water or a sauna – learn how to kill lice without killing yourself or the earth……

    Pediculicide POISONS do not remove nits and are dangerous. Among the reactions to poison shampoo or lice “treatments” are seizures, mental retardation, many different allergies and respiratory problems, strange tingling, burning, itching, attention deficit disorders, brain tumors, leukemia, cancer and death.

    I have used a sauna and/or salt water to safely and effectiely kill lice (but the nits remain).

    I have also used ½ oz. of Safe Solutions, Inc. Lice R Gone® Enzyme Shampoo and/or their Enzyme Cleaner with Peppermint per shampoo-type application to safely remove both lice and nits.

    Read how to safely control all pests at

  2. Mandy

    I know that the hair straighting idea does not work! I have super curly hair and it takes a lot to get straight. I was using the straightener about three times a day when i found out I had lice so it obviously didn’t stop them!

  3. Sara T

    Ive got to say, how can salt water work when lice is a major problem down in FL? Ive tried olive oil-didnt work-blow dryng-didnt work-nix-didnt work-cocnut cream rinse & denorex-rubbing alchol, vinigar,peroxide, hair dye….

  4. kate

    im only 12 n ive had lice or super lice for 4 years n im tired of it its so gross we have tried everything like mayo n olive oil n rid, nothing works!!!!!!

    • Responses to kate
      Leshaye says:
      April 10

      Use a chemical treatment from the chemist. It’s not the most loved treatment but it gets rid of it in two weeks. I Recommend Mooov.

  5. Teresa

    I’ve tried EVERYTHING! mayo, baby oil, tea tree oil, peanut butter, conditioner, olive oil,using a straighener, curling iron,even to the point of using KAROSINE! OUCH! ( don’t try that it burns TOO bad) I’ve combed, brushed, shampooed, put my hair up in a plastic bag, wrapped it with cling wrap. sprayed lysol EVERY WHERE.Started putting my hair up in a pony tail so it dont fling and fly around so much. I’ve sanitized my home, checked my animals. Even checked the peoples hair that cam into my house..NOTHING WORKS FOR ME..please help!! I’ve had trouble with lice every since I was young,( i had to cut my hair short to even THINK about getting rid of them)now i’m 21 its been awhile since i’ve had them but I’m still having the same problems as before.If anyone could help with any other ( smart) advice please let me know!

    • Responses to Teresa
      shal says:
      September 5

      have you tried using nit quit..use it fro a whole month, weekly and it’s really helpful…after they’re gone use the preventative spray once or twice a month~ it really workz

    • 8
      josh says:
      January 13

      damn girl that sucks u need anything u just tell me.

  6. Sonja.

    My daughter constantly suffers with headlice we do conditioning combing and electric combing twice a week which keeps them to a bare minimum. Sadly I have struggled to keep them clear, treatments do not work, but I used my GHD’s on her hair and they sizzle the lice for today at least she is clear…its great!!

  7. jaime

    i’m suffering from lice right now i’ve put vasaline all over my head still there i can feel it tingling so it killing them plus i used hot water to comb my hair i just rinsed it on the come put jelly on it and they started to come out and quit moving. im gonna leave the rest in over night i combed my hair all day i hoping it wors

  8. gregor

    try some garlic someone told me that a study done in 2006 I think that proved garlic kills lice and eggs 100% apparently it comes out in your pores – give it a go

  9. Maria

    I’ve had lice when I was young, and my mom didn’t have time to pick them out…so I took matters into my own hands. Because I grew up poor, buying treatments was never an option. So, everyday I would take a shower and put extra conditioner on my hair to make it smooth. Once I got out of the shower, I would put my head over the sink and comb out the lice with a very fine lice-comb (metal picks work best)(comb with hair still very wet). I’d comb from bottom(neck) to top(forhead) for a good 10 min or so. I did this non-stop for 2 weeks straight. So, everytime I would have lice, I used this method…and it works. It requires labor and sometimes hurts your neck because of bending, but its worth it.

  10. auyloks

    Two things.

    1. Read up on body lice. As it is very different in eratication methods.

    2. I am NOT saying that this is the case here; however, frequently or regular reinfestion of lice (and the like)in young children is within the TOP 10 indicators of regular sexual abuse. You should be able to easily verify the above statement to be true with a simple internet search.

    I pray that this is not the case but it would nag me for years if I didn’t share that fact, just in case. Remember that no matter how good of parents were are, sadly it happens so frequently its scrary.

    One more thing, if you plan on asking your child if they are being violated, I’d suggested doing some reading on internet regarding approaches and reactions. The better prepared you are the better the impact on the child. Even if they are not being violated, the discussion itself can be traumatic for both parties.

    Hope you are not offended.

    P.S. Worse case senario, there’s nothing wrong with shaving her head, the older she gets the more likely the harder it will be for her to over come the embrassment she may have about it.

  11. sorry cant say

    My step daughter comes to my house everday and has lice she has had the stuff since she was like 9 months old (if she had it before then I don’t know she’s 6 now) but I don’t know what to do I have really long hair and 2 little boys (under the ages of 2) I hate going throught her hair everyday I’m lost on this stuff I can’t get it throught her moms head to clean her self up what now please help any ideas?????

  12. may

    You owe it to your stepdaughter and class mates to report the lice to her school administration. They will keep an eye on the situation. An infestation of lice is hard to win. It requires a plan and understanding of the enemy. When I brought home 8 homeless children to care for they all had lice and apparently for as long as they could remeber. I first was disgusted, scared, then I went into combat mode. I told the kids they had to trust me on this and make the sacrifice in order to be free from lice. First shaved the boys head, then chopped the girls hair super super boy like short but leaving an outer layer of slighly longer hair so they didn’t look so deprived. We washed all their clothings before bringing it home and did a switch at the door of new clothes before entering the house. Tried over the counter and prescribed medicine but neither worked, then after researching online, I tried the mayo thing and it worked. I still have a video of our mayo slumber party, it was hilarious, we wrapped the kids hair in tight suranwrap and washed it with vinegar.

  13. mother of 4 friend of lice infested home

    Unfortunately I have had to test the mayo thing first hand when a friend’s daughter spent the night. I discovered she was badly infested and severely matted after a week swimming in the lake unbrushed. Mortified when i discovered what I thought was sand was in fact lice and nits (she had it that badly, all the way to her forehead) i went into mommy mode and painstakingly combed out her severely matted hair, which was essential to removing the lice/nits. Many hours later I had successfully removed all the lice and tangles, then wrapped each of my children w/ walmart bags mammy style after loading them with mayo too. Washing the bedding, drying the stuffies(as stated in previous posts heat kills em), bagging anything unwashable(for 2 weeks to ensure starvation and death), and spraying all furniture w/ vinegar and eucaliptus oil blend and we never saw another live louse in our home(and we were never infected either).

  14. Sandhi Trivedi

    I am planning to try salt water.

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