A common misconception about treating people and homes that have had contact with lice is that the only way to get them out of the house is to put everything in the home that is made of any type of fabric in plastic bags for two weeks and have the furniture and carpets cleaned. Not necessary!
Here is what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says about home cleaning when lice are found: “Head lice do not survive long if they fall off a person and cannot feed. You don’t need to spend a lot of time or money on housecleaning activities.”
Here is the CDC’s recommended procedure: “Machine wash and dry clothing, bed linens, and other items that the infested person wore or used during the 2 days before treatment using the hot water (130°F) laundry cycle and the high heat drying cycle. Clothing and items that are not washable can be dry–cleaned,” OR “store in a plastic bag for two weeks.”
Also, “Soak combs and brushes in hot water (at least 130°F) for 5–10 minutes.”
The CDC recommends vacuuming the floor where the person with lice has been, “However, the risk of getting infested by a louse that has fallen onto a rug or carpet or furniture is very low. Head lice survive less than 1–2 days if they fall off a person and cannot feed; nits cannot hatch and usually die within a week if they are not kept at the same temperature as that found close to the human scalp.”
Now you know. “Spending much time and money on housecleaning activities is not necessary to avoid reinfestation by lice or nits that may have fallen off the head or crawled onto furniture or clothing.” Phew!