The Best Ways to De-Contaminate Your Home

You've gotten your children treated for lice and had everyone else in the house examined for potential contamination. Now that the humans are in the process of getting rid of those pesky bugs, it's time to take a look at your home. The initial impulse may be to burn everything in a fire, now, but you don't have to go that far. Decontaminating a house after someone has had lice is annoying, but not that complicated.

Disinfect All Head Stuff

Gather barettes, combs, brushes, and anything else that touches the head but that can't be thrown in a washer. Soak these in very hot water for at least 15 minutes, per the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. If you feel better throwing them out, do so after soaking just so you don't let the lice live. The university also advises getting everyone their own comb and brush if they were previously sharing them.

It's Laundry Time

All sheets, pillowcases, pillow protectors, mattress pads, hats, headbands, and any clothing worn in the past few days -- plus any clothing that's come in contact with that clothing in the laundry bin -- should be washed in very hot water now, in the washer. The CDC says 130-degree water will work, while the University of Nebraska (in the same article as its advice about disinfecting) says 140-degree water is needed. Check and adjust the temperature on your water heater.

You don't have to wash everything in the closet if it hasn't been worn for a while. However, if you've just done a wash in colder water, you may want to rewash those items in hot, just to be sure. Do not try to get away with warm water only -- you need hot.

Vacuum Daily and Change Those Vacuum Bags -- There Is a Reason

Lice really don't live that long if they can't acess human blood. Pets, for example, aren't a factor in lice transmission unless you've got one kid rubbing his head against the pet, for whatever reason, and then another doing the same. Even then, the pets aren't going to develop a lice problem because lice are not the same as fleas.

Upholstered furniture that's come in contact with the infested person's head should be vacuumed, and so should car upholstery and car seats.

You'll hear conflicting information on whether the vacuuming should be done daily or not. You may actually want to do it daily, and change those vacuum bags if you have a bag-using model, just for the psychological benefits. Vacuuming and changing the bag are really fast chores compared to others, and doing these daily can give you the impression that the place is clean, clean, clean. Even if there are no more lice in the carpet, the emotional benefits could be worth the few minutes it takes to vacuum.

You can beat lice -- you just need to be vigilant. Contact a lice clinic for more information.