Does Steam Cleaning Kill Lice?

You discover lice in your homes; spend several hours or days treating them but only see good results for a few days. After a week or two, you experience yet another infestation. The problem doesn’t lie in the fact that lice are stubborn but in your cleaning method.

Lice have developed resistance to chemical treatments like powders and sprays. Therefore, everyone is asking about the best way to get rid of lice from their homes.

One of the methods that most homeowners have in mind is steam cleaning. It uses steam under pressure to dislodge dirt, kill bacteria, and get rid of dust.

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But can steam cleaning kill lice? If yes, how can it be used to effectively remove all lice from any home? We answer all these questions and more in this article.

So, Does Steam Cleaning Kill Lice?

Yes, it does. While lice are used to hot water, they can’t survive at or above 130°F. Subject them to heat at 130°F for five minutes and they will surely die. Increase the temperature and they’ll die within a shorter period.

How To Steam Clean Carpets To Kill Lice

Although lice live on people’s bodies, they can jump onto your carpets when the affected person sleeps or sits on them. This is common in the case of an infestation. When you notice lice on your carpets, it’s wise to get rid of them to avoid further infestation. And steam cleaning is the best way to do so.

Start by vacuuming the carpet. Concentrate more on the areas where the affected individual was sitting or sleeping. Also, vacuum all furniture around the carpet to prevent these pesky parasites from jumping back to the carpet; you don’t want a re-infestation.

After vacuuming, ensure that you empty the vacuum cleaner bag into an airtight plastic bag, seal it, and take it to the trash. Then, use the following steps to steam-clean your carpet and kill all the lice:

Step 1: Fill the Steam Cleaner With Water And Heat It

Add distilled water to your machine’s water tank. Ensure that you don’t overfill the tank to avoid any damage. Then, plug it in and turn it on so that the water can heat up. We recommend hearing up to not less than 140°F. At this temperature, all lice, plus their eggs, will die.

Step 2: Move The Machine Slowly and Cover The Whole Surface of The Carpet

Start steaming your carpet slowly but thoroughly. Let the machine stay over affected areas for longer periods so that the lice are properly exposed to heat.

We recommend that you start steaming from a corner and do it in distinct lines to avoid confusion about covered and uncovered areas. Check your machine’s user manual to pull/push it correctly as recommended.

Step 3: Vacuum Again

We recommend that you vacuum your carpet get again after steam cleaning. Our experts have observed that steam cleaning usually leaves some dirt deposits and vacuuming is a perfect way to get rid of them.

Step 4: Allow The Carpet To Dry

Carpets take about 8 hours to dry completely after steam cleaning. You can make it better by turning ceiling fans and air conditioners on, opening your windows (if it’s hot and dry outside), and using standing fans. Avoid walking on the carpet before it dries completely. If you must, cover your legs properly.

How Do You Disinfect Your House From Lice?

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Carpets aren’t the only surfaces onto which lice can jump from the human body. They can also be found on upholstery, furniture, pillows, blankets, walls, and other areas.

Wherever you discover them, it’s not impossible to get rid of the pesky parasites. Below are hacks for disinfecting various areas of your house from lice.

For machine-washable materials, use hot water above 130°F. Take all clothing, beddings, towels, and other washable fabrics, add them to your washing machine and turn it on under the hot water cycle. Then, dry the fabrics under high heat for about 20 minutes. All the lice shall die if done correctly.

Vacuum and steam clean your floors, carpets, and mattresses regularly. You should vacuum twice each week and remember to steam clean quarterly.

Follow the steps described above for effective steam cleaning. Ensure that vacuuming comes regularly, especially after steam cleaning, to prevent a re-infestation.

Hair lice are mostly found on hair combs, brushes, and other accessories. They can also be cleaned effectively to eliminate these parasites. Then, bring half a bucket of water to a boil at about 140°F.

Soak the brushes, combs, etc. in the bucket for around 10 minutes. At this point, all the lice should be dead.

For other materials that may not be cleaned using hot water, steam, or vacuuming, you can place them in a dryer or seal them in an airtight bag for about 14 days. The heat inside the dryer will kill the lice after some minutes, and the airtight bag will suffocate and starve them to death.

Frequently Asked Questions about Lice and How to Get Rid of Them From Home

How Long Do Lice Stay in Carpet?

Lice have been found to live for a maximum of 48 hours under various conditions. They can stay on your carpet for the same period if left untreated. However, they’re likely to live longer if they’re on the human body.

Does Borax Kill Lice?

The straightforward answer to this is no. Sprinkling borax onto your carpet and letting it settle for 12 hours then vacuuming it seems to yield results but only the vacuuming part yields the results. Borax alone can’t kill lice.

Can Lice Eggs Hatch On Carpet?

Lice eggs need heat to hatch. That’s why they’re mostly laid around the human scalp. Meanwhile, lice can lay eggs on your carpet but the eggs will never hatch due to unfavorable temperature conditions. Plus, head lice eggs are unlikely to fall off onto your carpet.

Does Steam Cleaning Kill Lice Eggs?

Yes, steam cleaning destroys lice eggs at a minimum temperature of 130°F, too. If you have noticed lice eggs somewhere and wish to get rid of them, use a steam cleaner at slightly above 130°F and enjoy great results.

How Can I Remove Lice From Helmets?

Head lice are known to spread pretty easily and quickly. You’ll often find them on brushes, clothing, and helmets. To get rid of lice and nits (lice eggs) from your helmet, use the following tricks:

  • Remove any liners and pads and wash them under hot water settings in your washing machine.
  • If some of the padding and liners aren’t machine washable, wash them with hot water. You can add some detergent and perhaps, bleach.
  • Dry fabric liners inside a dryer while allowing foam materials to dry in the air. 
  • You can also add the liners and pads to an airtight bag and suffocate them for at least two weeks.

The Bottom Line

So, does Steam cleaning get rid of lice? Yes, it does. In fact, the best way to get rid of lice from your home is by using high heat above 130°F. A steam cleaner will yield the best results if used correctly. We’ve described the best tips on how to use a steam cleaner to kill lice above.

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