A question people often ask during a lice outbreak is, “Does Lysol Kill Lice?”
Let’s find out!
What is Lysol?
According to the manufacturer, Lysol is a disinfectant spray that is formulated to eliminate 99.9% of common household bacteria and viruses. Lysol ready-to-use disinfectant spray is designed to be used on hard and soft surfaces that are commonly touched. For example, your kitchen countertop or kitchen trash can.
One important fact to note is that Lysol is not marketed as an insecticide or insect repellent.
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The active ingredient contained in most Lysol products is benzalkonium chloride.
Benzalkonium chloride is used in many pharmaceutical and personal care products, including eye drops, hand sanitizers, shampoos, wet wipes, and cosmetics. You’ll also find it in antiseptic skin products, mouthwashes, surgical disinfectant, and over-the-counter treatments for cold-sores, burns, and ulcers. The primary use of the chemical in these products is as a preservative and a biocide.
You may also find benzalkonium in cleaning products designed to shift algae from stonework and tiles.
So, although the main active ingredient in most Lysol products kills bacteria and certain algal plant forms, it does not kill or repel insects, including lice.
Can Lysol be effective in treating carpets and upholstery for lice infestation?
The short answer to this question is, “no.”
Head lice survive for a day or so if they fall off a person and land on your carpets or upholstery. Lice cannot jump or fly, so if they’re dislodged from their host (and source of food), they will quickly starve. Nits (lice eggs) must remain at the ideal temperature, i.e. the temperature close to your scalp, or they will die within a week.
So, you can see that it’s highly unlikely that you would pick up lice from carpets or upholstery.
If anyone in your household contracts lice, the easiest way to sanitize your carpets and furniture is to vacuum thoroughly. You should also dissuade affected children from placing their heads on cushions or head-rests until you’re sure they’re lice-free.
What about pillows and bedding?
The same principle applies to pillows and bedding. All you need to do to get rid of any lice or nits that may be hiding in your sheets or pillowcases is to put your bedding through a hot wash cycle.
Lysol can be harmful if inhaled, so do not spray it onto bedding, especially pillows and cushions.
Can you use Lysol to kill lice in your hair?
No! You absolutely cannot!
Even though the Lysol “Power and Free” range of cleaning products do contain hydrogen peroxide that can kill lice, you should never apply the product to your hair or skin. Doing so could cause damage and irritation to your skin.
If you or anyone in your home has head lice, always use a proven lice treatment such as a lice-killing shampoo. Your pharmacist or doctor will recommend an effective lice-killing product for you to use.
How to sanitize your household against lice
If someone in your household has a lice infestation, there are some ways in which you can protect your home against reinfestation or the spread of the parasites to other family members.
- Wash all clothing, especially hats, scarves, etc., and bed linens that the person with lice has come into contact with during the two days before their anti-lice treatment. Use the hot wash (1300F) program on your washing machine. After washing, dry the laundry in a tumble dryer or direct sunlight for at least 20 minutes.
- If any of the clothing or bedding items are not machine-washable, have them dry cleaned.
- Clothing, comforters, stuffed toys, etc. that can’t be dry-cleaned or washed should be placed in plastic bags. Seal the bags with tape and store for two weeks. That will be long enough to kill any lice or nits that might be present. After the two-week period, remove the items from the plastic bags and shake them over some newspaper. Bag the paper and dispose of it in your outside garbage bins or burn it.
- Combs and brushes should be soaked in Lysol or very hot water (130°F) for a minimum of one hour. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Preventing a lice infestation from spreading throughout your household is possible if care is taken and few simple rules are applied to family members and caregivers:
- Avoid head-to-head contact during play and when taking part in sports.
- Never share items that have been in direct contact with someone else’s head. For example, discourage kids from sharing hats, hair ornaments, scarves, hoodies, or sports uniforms.
- Do not share combs and brushes. Make it a habit of soaking combs and brushes in Lysol or very hot water once a week as a precautionary measure.
- If one of your family has a lice infestation, make sure that no-one else lies on the same beds, pillows, carpets, stuffed toys, or couches that they have been in contact with.
Wrapping it up:
So, does standard Lysol kill lice? No, it doesn’t. Lysol is a disinfectant, not an insecticide.
However, Lysol “Power and Free” formula does contain hydrogen peroxide that can potentially kill lice, but it’s not suitable for use on hair or skin, or on pillows or bedding where it could be inhaled. Use Lysol “Power and Free” to disinfect and sanitize combs and brushes, and remember to rinse them thoroughly afterwards.