How to Disinfect a Vehicle of Head Lice

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The Mayo Clinic notes that it's rare to get infested with head lice in any other way than direct head-to-head contact. Head lice can't live very long without a blood meal from a human host–only around two days. The louse's eggs (nits) die when removed from a temperature that's similar to that of the human head in about a week. But it's still possible to become infested–or reinfested–with head lice if you come into contact with contaminated belongings and environments where live lice can linger. Disinfecting a vehicle of head lice errs on the side of safety.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum with hand-held attachment
  • Washer/dryer
  • Laundry detergent
  • Plastic bins that can be sealed

Removing Head Lice from Cars

Remove all personal belongings from the vehicle that might have become infested with head lice, such as clothing, scarves, caps, brushes, and combs. Launderable items should be machine-washed in soapy water at at least 130 degrees F and dried on high heat, notes the Centers for Disease Control. Anything that cannot be washed and dried (such as stuffed animals and pillows) may be stored in plastic bins for up to two weeks. Soak items in hot water of at least 130 degrees F for between five and 10 minutes.

Vacuum the vehicle well using a hand-held attachment, and pay close attention to the area where the lice-infested person sat. Otherwise, the CDC notes there's no need to spend exorbitant amounts of money on cleaning products or services to avoid reinfestation.

Alternately, simply don't enter the vehicle for at least two days, at which point live lice will have expired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Handle clothing, bedding and other soft items in the home in a similar manner as described in Step 1.
  • The CDC advises vacuuming if a person infested with head lice has had contact with your home environment.
  • Don't use fogs or spray fumigants to kill head lice in any environment, warns the CDC. These can cause serious side effects when inhaled or absorbed through the skin.

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