Disclaimer – always verify medical information with your doctor or a professional and follow all laws for your location.
If you have ever had to deal with lice or any tiny critter infestation, you know how grossed out you can feel. And the first thing you will want to do is get rid of those disgusting little bugs. I’ve never felt grossed out as much and below will discuss the steps I took to rid our hair and home of these pests.
OK, I know that having your house invaded by lice is not really like Armageddon or a pandemic but at the beginning of 2020, lice had invaded our house and it felt like end times. BLECH!!! If you aren’t grossed out, let me give you this microscope visual of the evil little bugs. 🙁
According to the CDC, “Head lice nits(eggs) usually take about 8–9 days to hatch. Eggs that are likely to hatch are usually located no more than ¼ inch from the base of the hair shaft.” So we had no idea that this could have been an issue until our daughter started complaining that her head was itchy. Well, it was January and she had a hat on for a while so we assumed her head had gotten hot and made her head itchy. SIGH! I so wish I would have checked her hair at that point.
The symptoms of lice are itchiness, feeling tickling in hair, sores and/or allergy with soars on scalp from bites, difficulty sleeping due to louse being active at night. If you or a family member are experiencing any of these feelings then now is the time to check for active lice and nits.
Here’s what you’ll need:
A strong stomach
Reading glasses or magnifying glass (if you have trouble seeing up close)
Here’s what you’ll hopefully not see:
OK, this is an extreme case and I’m assuming this was staged for this Giphy. When I eventually looked in my daughter’s hair, there were about 10 live lice and lots of nits. UGH. At least it wasn’t as bad as the person above!
I’m not sure if this is the best way to treat the infestation but here’s what I did – I went straight to Walgreens to get the Nix Ultra 2-in-1 Lice Elimination System. People can be allergic or sensitive to this so check if that can affect you. It’s important to make sure to get the treatment that can kill “super lice.” Yep, that’s right. You thought normal lice is bad. I had a friend whose little girls got infected with super lice and it was a year long battle clearing them and their home from lice. I didn’t mess around with eliminating these critters and our entire household (all 5 of us) used the shampoo treatments. Follow the directions for the elimination treatment system that you pick to use.
Not only does hair need to be treated but also any fabrics or pillows or carpets or curtains. Some people will tell you that I was going overboard but after hearing the crazy year my friend had, I wasn’t taking any chances. According to HeadLice.org eggs can remain viable for up to 12 days. Also according to CDC.org lice can live for up to 30 days with the capability of laying 6 eggs a day and able to survive 2 days off scalp. EEW.
Here is the treatment I followed to get rid of lice from our heads and home: (*NOTE: This worked for us but may not work for you.)
1. I got a pair of cloths for each person in my house and put them in the washer on high heat and then in the dryer in high heat. The CDC says “Washing, soaking, or drying items at a temperature greater than 130°F can kill both head lice and nits.” Then I clorox wiped a laundry basket and put the clean cloths in it.
2. I threw away all hair brushes and combs.
3. One towel and 2 wash cloths were left out per person was taken to the laundry room and washed in hot water and dried on high heat.
4. While the clothes were washing, I took off all the bedding from everyone’s beds including pillows. I bagged up everything except one bottom sheet, one blanket, one pillow case, and one pillow(I took these to the laundry room) and all the bagged items went to the attic.
5. I picked out 5 outfits (including undies & socks & shoes) and a couple PJs for each person in our house and took these to the laundry room to wash in hot water and dried on high heat. All the other clothes were bagged and put in the attic.
6. Next, I bagged all remaining fabric items in our house including any extra clothing, backpacks, bags, shoes, stuffed animals, bean bags(we actually just put these in the attic without bagging them), throw pillows, bath mats, extra towels. These were put in the attic where no one was allow to go into for weeks because I’m craycray like that!
7. For furniture and any rugs/carpet and even the seats in my car, I vacuumed everything. You may also want to use a lint roller to make sure to pick up stray hairs. I also used Lysol on everything even though I know that won’t kill any of the stinking critters. It just made me feel better. LOL Another thing to do is put sheets or towels over all the chairs and couches for 2 weeks. Then be sure to wash and dry these on high heat. (Even though I know that the viability of nits is 12 days I still don’t take chances!)
8. Remember the pair of cloths and towels for each person that I had started washing/drying at the beginning? I got these out to get ready to treat everyone’s hair.
9. Now that everything that might have had lice or nits was either in the laundry room or in bags in the attic, it was time to treat our hair. My kids hated this the most. We basically just followed the directions and changed clothes. We took the dirty infested disgusting clothes to the laundry room to be washed. At this point my tiny laundry room was busting at the seams and it took about two days of straight washing to get everything that we were keeping out washed.
10. Ok, even though we had treated our hair there was one last step for the day(I think we stayed up until 2am that night). We had clean clothes on. The bedding was all clean and put back on beds(even put the pillow in the dryer on high heat for 40 minutes). The house and furniture was vacuumed. I still spent time drying everyone’s hair with a hair dryer and started the last step of picking out dead lice and nits. BLECH! For my boys this took like 10 minutes each; their short hair only had a couple lice each and not a ton of eggs. For my poor long haired daughter, it took much much longer. I think we had to have a breather after 30 minutes because of a major stress and tired induced breakdown(by mom & daughter) and then took about another 30 minutes.
11. Every morning after the treatment, I washed and dried all the clothes worn the day before and all bedding including pillows. I also made sure to wash any towels/sheets covering furniture each night before bedtime so furniture would be covered before everyone woke up in the morning.
12. Continually Check for Lice & Nits. You need to physically removed them. Get a paper towel and squish the bugs and eggs onto the towel. (I know eew) I kept doing this for several weeks. I did find a couple live critters on my daughters hair and she found one or two on mine a couple days after our first treatment.
13. I retreated the hair. All of our hair. It was another night up until 2am or more but I couldn’t figure out if the new live lice were just from eggs that didn’t die from the original treatment or if they had been hiding somewhere in our house. SIGH! I went back through the steps above again and washed all the clothes and bedding that was left out. I really didn’t want to take any chances.
14. Continually Check for Lice & Nits again. Thankfully for the next two weeks there was not any more live lice and eggs all were pulled out. This is no fun but it must be done. I had to pick these out and kill them between the paper towels. I also had to look for the eggs and pick those out one by one. They can kind of “stick” to the hair follicles and hard to get them off of the hair.
15. After 6 weeks, we brought things back out of the attic. Supposedly, lice should not be viable after 30 days while on the scalp and just a couple days off scalp and nits should only be able to hatch only 10-12 days but again I didn’t want to take the risk of having lice in my house any more. EVER. So after 6 weeks I started to pull stuff out of the attic. Before I did this I had started to realize some positive things that came out of having lice. I realized that we didn’t need all these things stuffing up our house. Our kids were more interested in getting rid of clothes and toys they they had outgrown or had stains. Before sorting through all this stuff, I spend several days washing and drying it all in high heat. Even though I was hopeful to get ride of at least 15 of the 35+ garbage bags full of junk, I didn’t feel right donating things that might have remnants of liceaggedon on them.
This was an ordeal for my nerves throughout February and March. The first week after finding out we all had lice I was on the edge of the sanity abyss. (Too dramatic?) But with everything in life, there were some really good things that came out of a not fun time…
I realized we could all live happily with just 5 outfits and 2 pair of shoes and it was actually easier. We ended up getting rid of over 20+ garbage bags of stuff. This stuff was stealing time and joy from our home because it was either in the way of things we really wanted to use or took time to move from here to there or to spend time cleaning. I realized that I would probably love a tiny house or having a more minimalist lifestyle but have too much stuff still to do this. Since then I’ve condensed my dresser storage a bit and have gotten rid of half of what was hanging in my closet and about 10 pairs of shoes I really never used. I also donated a couple purses and am looking to go through my clothes hoard and all the junk in the attic and garage again.
Who knew lice could be a blessing in their own crawly creepy way? LOL
If you are feeling down or depressed for more days than not, please seek medical attention. If you are feeling like you cannot go on, please call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or chat here>>> https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat/ Or visit the suicide prevention lifeline at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/