Can Lice Survive the Washing Machine?

A closeup view of the laundry inside of a wasching machine.

The discovery of head lice can send anyone into a cleaning frenzy, including tossing bedding and clothing into the washing machine. But can lice survive the washing machine cycle? In this article, we'll explore the truth behind this common misconception and discover the key to effectively eliminating lice.

Understanding Lice Survival

Contrary to popular belief, lice are surprisingly resilient creatures. They have adapted to survive in various environments, including on human hair and fabrics. Lice can hold their breath for up to six hours, allowing them to endure temporary disruptions to their habitat, such as being submerged in water during a washing machine cycle.

The Role of the Washing Machine

While the washing machine may seem like a formidable opponent against lice, the truth is that it's not the washing but the drying process that poses a threat to these pests. Lice are capable of surviving a trip through the washing machine unscathed, but exposure to heat in the dryer is what ultimately kills them.

The Heat Factor

Research has shown that lice and their eggs are susceptible to heat. According to a study published in Clinical Infectious Diseases, exposure to temperatures above 130°F (54°C) for 5 minutes or more is sufficient to kill both lice and their eggs. This means that the heat generated by the dryer during a typical drying cycle effectively eliminates lice infestations on clothing, bedding, and other fabrics.

How to Protect Your Home Against Lice

After a lice infestation, cleaning your home to prevent reinfestation thoroughly is crucial. Wash all bedding, clothing, and linens in hot water and dry them on the hottest setting to kill any remaining lice or eggs. Vacuum carpets, upholstery, and any other fabric surfaces, paying close attention to areas where the infested individual spends time.

Consider using a lice treatment product like Licefreee Home to complement your cleaning efforts. Our non-toxic, pesticide-free formula kills lice and their eggs on contact, providing an extra layer of protection for your home’s upholstery and carpet.

While washing and drying clothing and bedding can help eliminate lice, it's also essential to address other potential sources of infestation, such as combs, brushes, and hats. Be sure to thoroughly clean and disinfect these items to prevent the spread of lice. Additionally, educating yourself and your family about lice prevention techniques, such as avoiding head-to-head contact and sharing personal items, can help reduce the risk of future infestations.

While the washing machine may not kill lice on its own, the heat from the dryer is a powerful weapon against these pesky parasites. By understanding the science behind lice survival and utilizing the right tools and techniques, you can eliminate lice infestations and prevent their recurrence. With proper cleaning and the use of products like Licefreee Home, you can protect your home and family from lice infestations.


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This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.
Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, medical evidence not accepted. Not evaluated by the FDA.
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