Natural Lice Prevention & Treatment

"Don't Let Lice Make a Monkey out of You^...

It is a subject that parents avoid at all costs.  No one wants to even think about the sheer possibility of their children getting head lice, much less talk about it with other people.  Plus, bugs are icky!  Especially bugs that live and breed on your scalp.

Feeling itchy yet?

I will bravely admit that we have had head lice in our house.  Twice.  Matthew, Isabella and Noah have all had it.  Bella had it twice.  It is a myth that lice like dirty, unclean hair.  Quite the opposite.  They like nice, clean hair to lay their eggs on and chill out in.  That’s not very comforting, is it?

Signs of lice on your child would be a suddenly very itchy head, and small, red little bumps on the nape of their neck and/or behind their ears.

The first time the kids got lice, we went with the heavy duty chemicals.  You know, those crazy overpriced cans of poison that you are supposed to let sit on your child’s scalp as it supposedly fries the bugs and their eggs?  The crazy thing was, even with they heavy duty poison, the bugs were still happily crawling around the head.  It was the actual individual hand removal of each bug and egg that finally ended the lice reign.

The second time the kids were infected, it was just Bella and Noah.  I say “just”, but the second time was equally as horrifying to me.

I decided to look online for less toxic ways to rid the growing bug populations on my kids cabezas.  There are tons of home remedies, anything from smothering the head with mayonaise, hair color, or even blow drying the critters to death.  I decided not to color my kids hair or scald their heads with the blow dryer, and the mayo, well, that just sounded disgusting to me.

I read that you could use Listerine.  Yes, the mouth wash.  As I researched more about this method, I learned a nifty hint about using the Listerine.  If your kids have light hair, do not use blue or green Listerine!  It will dye their hair!  I went with the yellow, stinky, original Listerine for my blonde babies.

The treatment consisted of soaking the hair and scalp with the Listerine for about 30 minutes.  Then rinse and begin the nit picking.  That’s where you have to literally go through your child’s head of hair, one strand at a time, inspecting for the bugs or the eggs.  It is time consuming, but necessary.  We had a nit comb from the previous infestation, but a flea comb would also work well.

You know what I noticed with the Listerine?  The lice stopped moving right away, where as with the “poison” treatments, they were still happliy frolicking around even after the thirty minutes had passed.  We found no live bugs.

You can use the Listerine as a preventive spray as well, but I’ll tell you, it stinks.  Like, p-u.  And every time the hair gets wet again, the smell is freshened, for quite awhile.  It fades, once it’s dry, but I don’t dig that funky smell.

What I like to use for a preventive spray is a few drops of lavender oil in a small spray bottle filled with water.  Before the kids head out the door to school in the morning, they get their heads and necks sprayed with the lavender oil mixture.  It smells nice, and so far, knock wood, there have been no recurrences.  Another thing that is supposed to prevent lice is coconut scented shampoo/conditioner.  The scent is not so yummy to the creepy crawlies, and they tend to move on to a differently scented head.

Lice are gross.  If you have kids, they will probably get it at least once in their lives.  As totally grody as that is, it is pretty easily treatable.  And you do not have to use that crazy, expensive poison.  The heebie jeebies last longer than the outbreak.  Seriously, is your head as itchy as mine is right now?

46 thoughts on “Natural Lice Prevention & Treatment

  1. i’m afraid to type it out loud, but (knock on wood) we haven’t experienced lice yet. that listerine tip is really interesting, i will definitely file that one away!! have you heard of fairy tales hair care for kids? it supposedly repells lice. i buy the commercial size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, detangler and hair shield for during the school year. so, basically i spend hundreds of dollars on organic haircare products for my six year old while i stick with .99 cent suave for myself o_O

  2. Hi, im kimberly and ive suffered from head lice for over two months, I hate it, I was perfectly find a year ago, no itching, no stress, NOW I am embarrased of always scratching, I feel hopeless of scratching every second! I hate to see other girls with beautiful hair and im thw only one with lice :/ , I want to know can you use to any conditioner for that home remedie? PLEASE REPLY, IM HOPELESS:(.

    • Hi Kimberly!

      I am so sorry to hear about your suffering! 😦 I can tell you that using the Listerine treatment that I mentioned above works wonders!! Soak your head really well with it and repeat as needed. The important thing to remember is to really be diligent in the treatment and to definitely invest in either a nit comb or a flea comb and comb through every single strand of hair to get every single egg and live (or dying) bug out of your hair. It is a lot of work, but it works!! For further prevention, once you have removed all of the live bugs and eggs, you can add some listerine to a spray bottle and spray your head daily for protection. As far as conditioner, it will not work alone, but you can use a coconut shampoo and conditioner to also help prevent another outbreak. (The little buggers hate the smell.)

      It takes a lot of time and dedication to get rid of them, but once they are gone, it should be much easier to prevent a further outbreak.

      Best of luck to you!


      • I apologize for the late response! I realized that I have to get a specific color for my hair, I have dark brown hair, what color listerine should I buy? If you dont mind me asking how often do I use this? How should I put it on my hair? How long? I also want to know if you 100 percent guarantee me that this will work? Please response ASAP!

  3. If you have dark brown hair, the color of Listerine should not matter. It would only matter if you had light hair, as the darker dyes could discolor the hair. I cannot 100% guarantee anything, I’m only sharing a home remedy that I found to work well for my family. I wish you the best of luck!

  4. For at least 3 weeks my head had been an itchy mess. I had asked my mom to look at my scalp, but she didn’t see any lice. Less than half an hour ago I was scratching my head and looked at my hand to find a bug. I screamed and killed it. Had mom look again and she found another and some nits. Right away she put me in the shower and doused my head with listerine. I’ve been sitting here for 10 minutes looking at different remedies and permanent solutions. This is so gross And I want the buggers gone. Idk how all it’s gonna work but I’m going to let this sit for another 20 minutes then dry them to death. Moms going to go through with a comb after and pick them out. Thanks for the article. Awesome tips. But cannot wait to get rid of these.

    • Hi Sarah!

      I’m sorry to hear that you are dealing with this right now, I know how nasty these little bugs are! It definitely takes a lot of time and patience to get rid of them, but I’m sure you’ll be itch free before you know it!

      Best of luck!


    • I have 4 daughters (I always treat everyone because when the lice first hatch they can be mistaken for a speck of dirt on the scalp…take no chances and get it all the first time) and treating head lice is a nightmare. I use 50/50 Listerine and vinegar with shower cap for 2 hours, then comb keeping the hair damp using a spray bottle with water and a bit of conditioner so the hair isn’t pulled out or broken off. I think the hardest part of dealing with lice is informing relatives and friends (anyone your children spend a lot of time with, staying the night etc. otherwise they will pass it back and forth and it will become a constant battle. I also use 1/2 tsp tea tree oil in their bottle of (cheap) conditioner to help repel lice…..careful not to use too much as it has a very strong smell. Since I started using this treatment I only have to treat once, maybe twice a year. I hope this is helpful.

  5. We used this method last year for our daughter. First try was a round of RID and the dreaded comb. All pillows and bedding bagged up, etc. We did not get rid of it. We tried the RID again and the lice was still there! Someone at work told me about using Listerine. I was very hesitant but I had already treated my daughter twice with “the recommended” approach and was back to where we started. I reluctantly tried it. We used the brown Listerine and completely soaked her head. Shower cap went on for 1 hour and then used the lice comb after washing and rinsing hair. This time when we did find a bug, it was dead unlike when we used RID. Another shampoo and condition and we were finished. The lice did not come back and her hair was a little smelly for a couple of days but only if you stuck your nose right up to it. You can’t smell the Listerine just by standing beside of the person. No matter how unconventional or crazy this sounds, it worked when we were at the end of our rope on what to do!

    • It does sound crazy, but just as you have testified, it works like magic!! I feel better using the Listerine on my babies heads than all the poisons anyway, not to mention how expensive and ineffective they were!

      Glad to hear the Listerine trick worked for you! Here’s hoping you never have to use it again!

      Have an awesome week!


      • I’ve recently discovered i have lice. I actually found it myself. I’m only 15 but I’ve been researching for hours and realized that most people who have used listerine say it worked like a charm! My hair’s about 3 inches shy of being to my waist so this is very hard to deal with, and it’s so disgusting! I washed all of my bedding and clothes today and pretty much cleaned out everything that was possible. So now I’m going to stay out of my room and try this listerine method.

        I actually don’t have any listerine, but I have an off brand called antiseptic mouthwash. I saw another site that talked about the ingredients in listerine that killed lice and this off brand has them all! So I’m going to try this and if it doesn’t work ill go buy some real listerine.

        Thank you so much for this and I’m praying it works, as I have an appointment to get my hair dyed and cut on Monday and there’s no way I’m going to go in there with lice!

        One question, do you think I will be rid of it by then? I have time to do the mouthwash treatment 3 times before the appointment to make sure theyre dead and was wondering if that would be enough to make sure all of the litter buggers and their eggs were gone (meaning ill make sure things are clean and comb, comb, comb)!

        Thanks again (and sorry for the long reply)! 🙂


      • Hi Brooke!

        So sorry that you are dealing with these nasty little buggers right now! The most important thing is to get every single bug and egg, it is meticulous work, but if you keep with it, they’ll be gone in no time!

        We have always used the store brand version of Listerine with no problems, just as potent as the name brand.

        Wishing you best of luck!


  6. I stumbled across this post and had to ask, we discovered a week ago that I have lice and upon more investigation so does my 2 year old toddler who in turn infested my 3 month old infant. I will definitely try the Listerine remedy, I was wondering if it was safe to use on the two kids? PLEASE HELP! Because my husband wants to shave the boys head and im desperately seeking another alternative.

    • Hello!

      So sorry to hear about your nasty bug situation! I used the listerine on my 1 year old with no problem whatsoever, just be careful not to get it in his eyes. With the infant, it would probably be easy enough to literally pick off every bug and egg you see, since the hair would be so short and fine, it shouldn’t be difficult.

      Best of luck to you!


  7. Here is something even better and easier! I haven’t gone back to or changed to anything else. Go to your local beauty supply store. Ask for/buy this conditioner called Cholesterol. You may have seen it as a hot oil treatment. While you’re there buy some disposable shower caps. Myth says mayo or vaseliene can be used, but they are gross and the vaselene may damage the hair. The cholesterol works on the same basis. Apply it to the hair and assure the hair is completely saturated (yes, on dry hair). Place the shower cap and let sit for 24 hours. Not only will it smother and kill the live bugs immediately, but it will condition the hair as well. Leaving it on for 24 hours will kill the eggs as well as it breaks down the egg casing. Wash out. I shampoo after rinsing because it leaves its smell behind. There’s no need to comb the hair after unless it makes you feel better, because EVERYTHING is dead! There’s also no need to retreat later, because EVERYTHING is dead. Of course, you should treat all hair accessories and bedding. Bonus; you get a free conditioning treatment with it!

  8. My kids had lice about 2 months ago. I wash and dry our bedding daily. Today I did a head check I saw a few nits. Can it be old nits I missed before? I put mouse,gel and hairspray in their hair everyday as prevention. Help

    • It is definitely possible that it’s old nits, and if they were successfully treated, they could be dead, no worries. If you see no signs of bites or live bugs, I think you are clear. This is where a good flea comb comes in handy, it can really get even the stubborn ones off the hair shaft. Also notice where it is on the hair follicle. If it’s not right against the scalp, then it is definitely an old one.


  9. Hi! I’ve had lice for a very long time now and it keeps coming back because I have thick hair and it’s stress picking out all the nits. Will the Listerine kill both the bugs and the nits? Thanks!

    • Yes, the Listerine should kill both the bugs and the nits. Invest in a good lice or flea comb and commit to combing out your hair for those lingering nits, but after the Listerine treatment, they should be dead. If in doubt, continue the Listerine treatments on a regular basis until you are sure there are no survivors. Good luck!

  10. Just treated myself and my almost 3 year old daughter with the original Listerine. No more creepy crawlies, the ones we saw were dead. Let it sit for 30 minutes under a shower cap, rinsed, then applied some conditioner to our damp hair and combed and combed. Seems to have worked like a charm!

  11. We just had our first go round with Lice this week. All three of my kids and myself had them. While at the store looking at the costly chemicals I called someone who mentioned Listerine. I was told to use the original because the others have sugar which may make the hair sticky. I soaked us all in listerine and put caps on for about an hour just to be sure. Found two dead bugs after and the nits combed out very easily. I am so relieved to have found them early and also to have found what really works the first time. I can definitely say Listerine has wiped out the lice in our family. Try it! It does smell a little but who cares! The thought of bugs crawling in my hair and many more hatching in 7-9 days made my skin crawl. I’ll take the smell any day!! Hope this helps those who are unsure. Good luck!

    • Joy, I hope it was your last go round with lice as well! I am so glad to hear that the Listerine worked for you, and I completely agree, I’d rather smell like funky Listerine than have bugs crawling around on me! o.O

      Have an awesome, bug free weekend! 🙂


  12. My daughter just had a go around with the nasty buggers and I was also fooled by the expensive lice shampoos. We did 2 treatments with the expensive stuff and still found live ones on her head a day later. So, I started looking feverishly for a better solution and found the listerine idea. I had also heard that listerine keeps mosquitos off your lawn, so I figured I’d try it. Another idea was alcohol, but I felt that would be too hard on her skin. So we tried tthe isterin and so far so good. I actually left it on over night. I wanted to make sure they were good and dead. In the mornng I took the cap off, risned her head and combed through.

    • You would think for what they charge, the expensive poisons would nuke the buggers as soon as it was applied! We know better now! So glad to hear it worked well for you, and thank you for stopping by! 🙂

  13. THANK YOU for publishing this. My 7 year-old daughter’s head was itching and after examining her head I saw was I assumed to be nits. I took a chance on looking for a remedy online– I am SOOO GLAD I DID. The regular lice removal products were almost $20 a package at Walmart. I wanted a product that would be less “toxic” and more “household friendly.”
    I used the original formula Listerine, at $6.99 for the large family bottle. After giving my daughter a bath and washing her hair, i towel dried it… then I saturated her dark brown hair in Listerine (5 capfuls for past-shoulder length hair)… Put it up in a loose hair tie and shower cap for an hour.
    Rinsed it then combed it out with a $3.99 lice comb I bought at Sally’s Beauty Supply.
    I don’t mind the Listerine smell- it’s like working next to someone with a fresh clean mouth!
    FYI before I started combing her hair out, I set her up by sitting her on the floor and leaned her head up against me on a white towel- the one dead lice bug just fell right out of her head before I even started!!! UNBELIEVABLE! I combed out all the nits.
    Then on the suggestion of another mom, I saturated her hair in Cholesterol hair conditioner ($3.99 at Sally’s)… Tied her hair up again loose and in a shower cap for overnight.
    RESULT- the Listerine cleaned her hair THOROUGHLY- no grease (I think I want to do this treatment a few times a year just for thorough cleaning!)
    The Cholesterol softened it a little (still a little stiff though because of the stripping the Listerine did-) but the Cholesterol seemed to take away some of the Listerine scent. It’ll still take a few cleanings to rid of all the smell, but it’s not emanating.

  14. Found your site as my daughter brought home a note about lice in the class room. Well turns out we did not escape this time round. I tried your Listerine method and it worked. I went through her hair this again morning and it looked fine. Just wondering, if you have any advice on how long I should continue treatment.

    • Hi Robin!

      Sorry you had to find my site for such an unpleasant pest! I am so happy to hear that the Listerine method worked for you!! I’ll be honest, in our house I keep a little travel sized spray bottle filled with Listerine and I spritz my daughter’s hair with it every single morning once we finish styling it. She has brought home at least 12 letters from school this year, warning about possible lice outbreaks, and not once has she been a host to the little buggers!

      It may be overkill, but that’s what we do in our house with great results. I think once you are certain the kids at school have been treated, and you are certain everything has been treated in your home, it’s probably safe to carry on like normal.

      Good luck and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

      • We have had 4 letters home so far this year. Guess we couldn’t avoid it. So far I have kept up with the listerine and combing and eveything looks good. Spritzing her hair in the mornings before I send her off to school is a good idea and will keep a bottle at the ready. Thanks.

  15. My daughter found out she had lice 3 weeks ago. At first it was about 10 bugs and about 20 nits. It was awful. Retreated a week later to find maybe 4 nymphs and some more eggs (looks like we were in the clear).

    But I did notice after the first treatment of the chemical based shampoo at walmart, they were still crawling. Research shows they can live up to 12 hours after the poison to die. But the messed up thing is they can still lay eggs and those eggs/nymphs that hatch are RESISTENT to the chemical based product.

    The most frustrating thing about lice is the time line. Because lice can lay up to so many eggs per day, but they have 7-10 days after, then reach maturity between that 7-10 days to lay more eggs. You have a 3 day period that is off that you need to make sure you treat during. Most products kill the bug but not the egg. So what if an egg hatches the 8th day? or 9th day?

    Anyways, I thought we were in the clear. She comes back from daddy’s on Saturday (we split up and there is a duel household exposure which actually makes eradicating lice ALOT harder when two parents are NOT on the same page. You have the overly concerned mom that is constantly nit picking and the dad that just brushes her hair back and glances at it). However, I am constantly cleaning my house. Bedding changed every day and sprayed. House being vacuumed, cleaned, sprayed. Laundry, toys in the garbage bags! The time period that lice can live up to off a human host is actually a 3 day period. So what if you miss a creepy crawler that decided to pop out of the shadows? or worst. You sprayed her bedding with the cheap stuff from walmart but didn’t vacuum? you’re doing nothing to help the situation! Think about where your child goes, school…. hugs friends… YOUR CAR. Hello? Plus school policies for lice are so out dated that nothing is effective anymore that is WHY there is still CONSTANT outbreaks in school. They can’t check our kids head? Please. There should be some type of procedure at schools because then the staff get it!!!

    So Saturday she had about 10-15 actual bugs in her hair. There were NO nits. Which is the most frustrating thing. 1 or 2 possible scenarios. Either she is coming into a severely infested person at school or maybe its her dads house? Maybe he isn’t vacuuming her bed ? and here they are 3 days later waiting for her to come to bed for the night to crawl around!! Ugh, my head itches.

    I tried Listerine. By all my research this looked like by far the best. It scares me how much alcohol is in the bottle and I worry that it will burn her scalp (since we’ve done so much to it already) and her skin. She was treated Saturday where the bugs were literally WASHING OUT of her head DEAD. Hello?!?? I just did the Rix treatment and the buggers were still crawling after the fact. I used my terminator comb (best gift from god) and combed for an hour… That makes me at 11 hours total for combing in 3 weeks. But it breaks my heart that she came home 3 days later with that many bugs. But it only makes sense that she is going somewhere HERSELF and getting BUGS with no EGGS.. Me and her 7 year old sister are bug free. (checking daily and we did some treatments in addition to gel every day and tea tree shamp.cond)

    I left the Listerine on for 2 hours. But here you say 30 mins? If its 30 minutes then that would be so much easier to do this on a daily or every other day basis for about a week until there is nothing left.

    But everyone do your self a favor and triple check your kids at the beginning of the week AND THE END of the week. Lice don’t carry diseases but they are becoming more immune to chemical based products and if you send your kid off to the doctor they are going to prescribe something that is along the lines of a pesticide that can actually KILL YOUR KID MONTHS LATER (research the drug Kwell).

    Listerine bloats the buggers and they die instantly.. 30 mins to 2 hours later? I’m not sure. I hope its 30 minutes. That makes my life easier.

    Should I be doing this daily? every other day? Nit picking salons are so expensive but I’ve thought about it. I promised myself after 4 weeks I would spend the $150.

    • Good morning, Ginny! I can feel the frustration from your post, and please believe me, I completely understand! Lice, while not dangerous, are a huge pain, and the creepy crawly factor is through the roof! It is amazing how well educated we become, once our poor kids are infected. I know way more about them than I ever cared to, but knowledge is power!

      I will never buy the poison again, as you said, it does nothing to the bugs except help make them more resistant. It’s also POISON!!! Not something I want to knowingly use on my babies.

      The Listerine is just magic. And yes, 30 minutes should be plenty long enough to treat your daughter’s head. The most important thing, is to make sure you get all of the nits, which as you know, is easier said than done. It sounds like you have been very diligent in treating her environment, it’s unfortunate that her dad doesn’t seem as invested.

      I regularly spray my daughter’s hair with Listerine, every single day that she goes to school or is in an environment where lice would love to party. (scouts, kids museums, theaters, etc) Just a few sprays and I feel confident that we are doing well to help deter the little creeps. Coconut shampoo, tea tree oil shampoo, keeping hair pulled up, using hairspray, gel, anything that will help make your daughter’s hair seem less inviting are all good ideas. We have not had any unwanted visitors since implementing this new defense, so I have no plans on changing anything!

      Stay strong, Ginny. You can overcome this!!

      Wishing you all the best!


  16. We are currently treating my 14 year old my 6 year old and my self with Listerine… its been on for an hour.. thinking about leaving it just a lil bit longer. It has been a non stop battle for months now. We’ve tried over the counter to Dr Prescribed and nothing works… wish me luck… its embarrassing sitting at the office itching lime a crazy woman all day.

  17. Hi, my nieces had a sleepover weeks ago and we found out they had lice right after. I checked our heads often and found nothing. Then my son started scratching his head a lot so i figured we would treat any way. I treated our family tonight and found dead bugs and nits in my sons shower cap and combed them all out of his hair. I was so surprised that I never saw any of this in his hair. I searched with a magnifying glass and flashlight. I am so glad I did it anyway. I also added tea tree oil to all of our shampoo bottles as a preventative. I will probably treat our hair again in a week as precaution.

    • Sounds like you got it all under control before it got bad, good job, mama!! I spritz a little Listerine on my school age kids hair every single day as a preventative, and am happy to say we haven’t had any breakouts since! Here’s to staying bug free! 🙂

  18. Hello, I really appreciate all these tips as I am allergic to the lice treatment and to tea tree oil as well. I found out my little cousins had recently gotten lice and as I cut their hair I get at risk to get it. So to be safe I just treat myself. I like the cholesterol treatment but I generally only do it for a couple of hours however I always take a hair straightener to my hair first and kill anything that may or may not be there with the high heat. It works well because you are hitting every strand of hair from end to end then afterwards you smother in the heavy conditioner. And if you really want to you could do this daily. Also as you are straightening your hair you do comb through your hair layer by layer.

  19. I have head lice and I Tried the Listerine . I have been dealing with it for 2 Yrs all the itching I been buying head & shoulder I thought it was dandruff . I must say I now know and the Listerine definitely work . Thanks to website for home remedies .

  20. I must say I had lice for 2 Yrs and Listerine Definitely works . I had been treating my hair for Dandruff because I thought that what is was but Ohhh ! Know the little creepy crawlers was envading my Scalp Good luck who ever els is dealing Best of LUCK !

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