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Created on 
May 17, 2022
Updated on 
July 26, 2021

Many people who have successfully treated lice at home have home remedies for lice that they recommend. An internet search will provide endless possibilities of home remedies for head lice that people swear by. There are many methods desperate families have tried in an effort to get rid of lice, and when they are successful, those families are eager to share this knowledge in hopes that they may spare someone the difficulties they may have endured while battling lice. Occasionally, if properly completed, some of these home remedies to get rid of lice do work.


The number of home remedies to exterminate lice that are available and recommended can be overwhelming. So what is the best home remedy for lice? We’ll discuss the most common remedies, the method, and if they are effective or not.

Wet Combing

Wet Combing Lice Treatment

One of the best ways to eliminate head lice is by using, not just a fine-tooth comb, but professional lice comb on lubricated, wet hair. This process is called wet combing. Simply start combing at the top of the hair shaft, pulling the professional nit comb through the hair to the end. Repeat until all hair has been combed and all live and dead lice and their eggs are removed. This is one of the best home remedies for lice in hair because it is 100% effective when this process is used to remove all of the lice and bugs from the hair. When considering how to get rid of lice, note that no other treatment is more effective than manual removal of head lice.

Petroleum Jelly or Hair Gel

Petroleum Jelly Lice Treatment

Petroleum jelly or hair gel has been used for years as one of the go-to home remedies for lice removal. It is applied to the hair shaft, starting at the root, in large quantities to smother lice but can be too thick to work with, actually inhibiting the effective use of a nit comb. Oils are not as thick and easier to work with. They are also safer and more effective. Hair gel, while effective to prevent lice, is not an effective treatment for lice.

Salt and Vinegar

Salt and Vinegar Lice Treatment

Vinegar (white, red, or apple cider vinegar) is very acidic and can be effective if left on long enough to dissolve the exoskeletons of the lice. Because of its acidity, it is not recommended and usually not effective because most people will need to wash it off before it can make a difference due to discomfort. Vinegar and salt also will not penetrate lice eggs. This means that these home remedies to get rid of lice alone just won’t do it.


The use of oils to eliminate lice is one of the most common home remedies to get rid of lice quickly. We’ll help you understand which oils are the most effective home remedies to get rid of lice.

Essential Oils

Essential Oils Lice Removal

Essential oils, such as tea tree oil or lavender oil, are some of the more popular alleged home remedies many use when treating head lice. However, essential oils are expensive and there is no solid evidence they are responsible for getting rid of lice. These oils will not kill lice, rather they can repel lice and ward off a lice infestation. For treatment, they are used along with a carrier oil to aid in the removal of lice and eggs. Therefore, it is the actual removal of lice from the hair that will provide relief from head lice. In addition, some people are allergic to these oils.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea Tree Oil Lice Treatment

Tea tree oil lice treatment can suffocate head lice, so may be helpful to kill bugs. However, tea tree oil is not an answer to eradicating lice. It is expensive and may cause skin irritation or other allergic reactions. Tea tree oil will not kill nits.

Olive Oil

Olive Oil Lice Treatment

Olive oil is very effective at killing lice as well as helping with the removal of bugs and nits. In fact, because it is a safe, natural option, we use this as part of our treatment protocol. It works by suffocating head lice when left on long enough, ending the lice life cycle. It is also used to slow down bugs and loosen eggs, making wet combing with a professional nit comb much easier. If you want dead lice, this is the way to go; then you pull them out with a fine-tooth comb. If you use olive oil as part of an aftercare plan, it is an effective way to prevent lice.

Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil Lice Removal

Coconut oil is usually well tolerated by those who use natural remedies for lice. The use of coconut oil helps to suffocate bugs and aids in the removal via a methodical comb-out process. However, coconut oil tends to not be as easy to work with as other oils as it absorbs into the hair shaft and hardens when it is cold out, so using coconut oil for lice smothering isn’t always effective or comfortable.


Lavender oil has many practical uses, one of which is to repel head lice. While lavender oil will not kill the lice eggs or bugs, it is sometimes used in conjunction with a carrier oil to help treat head lice. As with other essential oils, be careful to not use too much and be watchful for any undesirable side effects or allergic reactions.


Garlic Lice Treatment

The use of garlic to treat head lice was a new concept to us. The claim is that the strong smell of garlic will terminate lice, but no research proves this claim. This treatment is said to involve making a paste of garlic with oil, applying it to hair, and washing it off after 30 minutes. In our opinion, this would likely repel people, and its effectiveness against head lice is not convincing.


Mayonnaise Lice Removal

The use of mayonnaise to get rid of lice is a common method many families have tried. The concept behind the use of mayonnaise to treat lice is identical to the use of other oils. When applied correctly, the mayonnaise is thick enough to suffocate bugs, however, it is very difficult to work with and after it dries, it can be especially hard to wash it out of the hair. Using olive oil would be a better option.

Blow Dryer or Hair Straightener

Blow Dryer or Hair Straightener for Lice Removal

Using a blow dryer or hair straightener to treat lice comes with risks of burns; in addition, its effectiveness is not proven, so it is not a home remedy we recommend to treat and get rid of lice. If these tools worked, there would be a lot fewer cases of lice since many families readily use these tools after washing their hair.

Herbal Shampoos

Herbal Shampoos for Lice Treatment

Using herbal shampoos will not get rid of head lice. Some are formulated with specific scents or essential oils that can help to repel lice, like our sulfate-free shampoo and conditioner that are mint-scented. However, this shampoo will not get rid of lice like any other herbal shampoo or conditioner. Some scents do repel head lice, so they may be an effective deterrent to getting a case of lice, but they will not kill lice or treat a lice infestation.

Benzyl Alcohol Lotion

Benzyl Alcohol Lice Treatment

Benzyl Alcohol Lotion is not a home remedy for lice, rather it is a prescription-only head lice treatment that is no longer in use in the United States. Historically, this lotion was used as a topical treatment to get rid of head lice. When applied to the hair as directed, this treatment would kill live bugs on the head, but not all of the adult lice. However, this is not an ovicide, meaning it does not penetrate the shell of the lice eggs to kill the baby lice. So either all of the eggs will need to be removed, or a second, and sometimes third, treatment would be required to ensure a case of lice is completely eradicated. In addition, this treatment option carried a hefty price tag.


Cetaphil Lice Treatment

Cetaphil is a home remedy that can be purchased at any local grocery store. It is a lotion that is used to treat lice in much the same way as oils or mayonnaise is used. The lotion would need to be applied and combed through the hair and left on the hair long enough to suffocate the lice. However, you’ll still need to remove all of the lice eggs, and this lotion can be thick, making it more difficult to comb out with a fine-tooth comb.

Medicines To Kill Lice

There are some medicines available either by prescription or over-the-counter purchase that purport to get rid of lice, however, they have diminished in efficacy.


Pyrethrin for Lice Removal

Pyrethrin is a pesticide treatment used by families to get rid of lice. This is the active ingredient in many OTC lice treatments like RID. By following the instructions included, you can potentially get rid of lice, however, it is losing its effectiveness, as the bugs have become resistant  (look up “super lice”) and it does not kill lice eggs. It can also come with undesirable side effects. We receive many calls from parents who have followed the instructions exactly but have still been unable to find relief from their lice infestation, leading them to seek out alternative head lice solutions like natural treatments or hiring a professional service.


Lindane for Lice Removal

Lindane is a prescription head lice treatment that can be prescribed when there are no other safer options. If this is prescribed to you or a family member to treat head lice, it is important to follow the instructions provided by the prescribing physician. We do not recommend these pesticide treatments because there are safer alternatives available. All pesticide treatments come with potential risks and side effects, but there are some pretty hefty side effects and warnings that come along with this particular treatment. Some of these side effects include seizures and death. Be sure to do research and ask your provider any questions you may have.


Malathion for Lice Removal

Malathion lotion is another prescription pediculicide that can be prescribed by a doctor for the treatment of head lice. This works by killing live baby and adult lice that are in the hair. One or two treatments are typically performed. This treatment is applied thoroughly to dry hair and left on the hair for several hours before being washed out. Again, we do not recommend pesticide treatments because of the potential side effects and the fact that they are losing their effectiveness. In this case, we believe using olive oil or another oil would be a better alternative due to the fact that it can be done without the potential risks that come with this prescription head lice remedy.


Permethrin for Lice

Permethrin is the active pesticidal ingredient in the over-the-counter head lice treatment commonly known as Nix. These OTC treatments should work by killing all of the live bugs on the head. If it is effective, however, all of the eggs still need to be removed from the hair since this treatment is not effective at killing lice eggs. We say “should” work because over time, lice have become increasingly more resistant to these protocols, so the treatment may kill all, some, or none of the live bugs on the hair. If this remedy does not kill lice, then you are most likely dealing with a case of super lice. We don’t recommend pesticide products because of this, especially if you have a case of super lice (which most cases are).

Lice Removal Technique

Lice Removal Technique

No matter what home remedy you choose for your family, it is important that the proper lice removal techniques are used. The best lice removal technique involves a combination of combing live bugs out of the hair, but you must know how to remove lice eggs from hair home remedies. There are no shortcuts. The hair should be lubricated; we recommend olive oil and using a professional-grade nit comb to speed up the process. After you’ve done a thorough comb through, manual removal of any remaining eggs is vital to ensuring your case of head lice is gone for good.


What Not to Use as a Home Remedy

While most of the chemical-free remedies are harmless, a few of these we recommend against, either because they are ineffective, lack solid evidence of their ability to get rid of lice, or that the treatment brings with it undesirable side effects;  a natural process would be more effective without these side effects.

  • Pesticides like OTC treatments Nix and Rid, or prescription treatments Lindane, Benzyl Alcohol, and Malathion;
  • Excessive doses of pesticide treatments;
  • Salt and Vinegar (including apple cider vinegar);
  • Protocols involving essential oils like tea tree oil;
  • Multiple applications using the same method;
  • Medical treatment of head lice using Lindane has potential side effects and we do not recommend it.

The following treatments can be effective if completed correctly, but other treatment options will prove way less troublesome:

  • Mayonnaise;
  • Petroleum Jelly.

Prevention Tips

Lice Prevention Tips

Learning how to prevent lice can save you the headache of having to experiment with various home remedies when dealing with head lice. There are a few practical steps that you can implement to prevent lice, that will help you and your family avoid having to deal with a case of head lice.

  • Keep long hair up in a ponytail, braid, or bun with hair accessories;
  • Avoid head to head contact with others;
  • Keep the hair artificially dirty - like with hair spray, gel, or mousse;
  • Avoid sharing hair accessories and grooming items;
  • Do not share helmets or other headgear when participating in sports;
  • Educate yourself and your family on how head lice is transmitted.

Keep in mind that these suggestions will reduce the chances of contracting head lice, but they are not a guarantee. Head lice are very contagious and prevalent, and the only way to absolutely guarantee that you prevent lice is to remain isolated from other human beings.


When thinking about how to get rid of lice or how to treat lice at home, remember getting rid of head lice doesn’t have to be a headache! Do your best to prevent getting a case of head lice, but if you do encounter a case, don’t panic. Natural remedies will never lose their effectiveness the way that pesticide medications will. If you lack the patience and know-how (it takes a lot of practice!) to deal with home remedies for lice, call LiceDoctors at 800-224-2537 to schedule an appointment for an all-natural, guaranteed treatment option in the comfort of your home.

We provide a friendly in-home lice removal service

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