How to Clean Hair Brushes & Lice

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Adult lice are about the size and color of a sesame seed. Lice do not spread disease and they do not cause infections or other serious health concerns. However, their bites can cause scalp sores and itching, which can be a painful nuisance. Lice are highly contagious and will attach themselves to anything they come in contact with—including hair brushes. It is important to treat all of your hair brushes if any family member is found to have head lice.

How to Clean Hair Brushes & Lice
(Jessica Cook/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Large pot
  • Hot water
  • Stove top
  • Tongs
  • Clean towels
  • Head lice treatment shampoo
Step 1

Fill a large pot with water and heat it on the stove top. Blue Shield of California recommends soaking brushes that have come in contact with lice in water that is at least 130 degrees F.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media
Step 2

Turn off the burner and carefully place the brushes in the hot water. Allow the brushes to soak in the hot water for approximately ten minutes. A ten minute soak in hot water is usually enough to kill any lice that are attached to the brushes.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media
Step 3

Use a pair of tongs to remove the brushes from the hot water after ten minutes. Place the brushes on a clean towel and allow them to air dry.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media
Step 4

Fill your bathroom sink halfway with hot water and add a teaspoon of hair shampoo that is recommended to kill head lice. The shampoo method is an alternative to soaking the brushes in hot water.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media
Step 5

Place the brushes in the shampoo solution and agitate the water to make it sudsy.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media
Step 6

Allow the brushes to soak in the shampoo solution for the manufacturer’s recommended amount of time.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media
Step 7

Rinse the brushes with clear water and place them on a clean towel to air dry.

Jessica Cook/Demand Media

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the same process to destroy any lice that may have attached to combs.
  • It is important to note that other objects in your home should be treated, besides hair brushes. This includes bed linens and cloth toys which can be cleaned in the washing machine and dried in the dryer for at least 30 minutes on high heat. Mattresses, carpets and fabric furniture should all be vacuumed thoroughly, and the entire family should be treated with a head lice shampoo.
  • The best way to prevent head lice is not to share combs or brushes with anyone. Hats, scarves and coats should not be shared either.
  • Do not remove any tangled or attached hair from the hairbrushes until they are soaked in the hot water or lice shampoo solution. Once the lice have been killed by the hot water, the brushes can be dried and the hair removed later.

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