Lice are parasites that live on a person's scalp where they feed on his blood. Although lice live primarily on their host, they sometimes crawl off the host and onto other surfaces with which they come in contact, such as clothing, carpets and bedding. It is important to clean and decontaminate any surfaces the lice may have touched to avoid reinfecting yourself after receiving treatment. Lice and the eggs they lay are difficult to see on clothing, bedding and carpets. Regardless of whether there are any visible signs of lice, these surfaces should be cleaned immediately as a precautionary measure.
Wash all clothing, pillowcases, sheets and bedding in hot water at about 130 degrees Fahrenheit. The hot water will kill the lice and any lice eggs on the fabric. Place the clothing and bedding in the dryer and dry it on the hottest cycle for at least 20 minutes.
Dry clean all clothing that is not machine washable including outwear, hats and gloves. The chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process will also kill the lice just as effectively as hot water.
Seal items in a plastic bag for two weeks. Place all items that cannot be washed, such as stuffed animals, cloth-covered toys or large comforters in a plastic bag and tie or seal the bag shut.
Vacuum the floors, carpets and furniture. This will remove any existing lice and eggs from the surface and prevent the lice from transferring to a person.
Place non-washable items in the dryer on high heat for 20 minutes. The heat from the dryer will also kill any lice or eggs, even if the item has not been washed.
Avoid fumigating infected carpets and furniture. These chemicals are toxic to people and animals and are not effective at removing the lice and eggs. Any remaining lice and eggs not picked up by the vacuum will die within 24 to 36 hours.
Strip mattresses of their bedding. Vacuum the mattress with a hand-held vacuum or a vacuum attachment to pick up any lice or eggs on the fabric.