How to Wash Laundry Infested With Lice

Dealing with a lice infestation in your laundry can feel incredibly overwhelming. However, with the right approach, you can eliminate lice and their eggs from your clothing, sheets, towels and other items. This comprehensive guide provides step-by-step instructions for effectively washing laundry infested with lice.

Identify Items That Need Treatment

The first step is to identify which items have been exposed to lice and require treatment. Carefully inspect the following:

  • Clothing, hats, scarves, coats and other items worn by anyone diagnosed with lice. Focus especially on coats/hats/scarves worn at school/daycare.
  • Bedding, including sheets, pillowcases, blankets and stuffed animals/toys from the bedrooms of infected individuals.
  • Towels, hairbrushes, hair accessories or other personal items that had contact with heads/hair of those with lice.
  • Furniture or fabric-covered items like car seats used extensively by infected persons.

Place any questionable items in plastic bags to isolate until they can be treated. It’s better to err on the side of caution.

Prepare For Laundry Treatment

Once you’ve identified which laundry items need treatment, follow these steps to prepare:

  • Read all garment labels and separate non-washable items that require dry-cleaning.
  • Sort washable items by color to get loads ready for the washing machine.
  • Clean all hampers, laundry bags, laundry baskets or other containment vessels thoroughly. Use hot soapy water and let dry completely.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture, pillows, even your car seats thoroughly prior to washing the covers. This removes extra lice/eggs.
  • Gather needed laundry supplies: hot water, laundry detergent, large garbage bags, gloves, lint roller, extra bedding/towels.

Thorough preparation gets you ready for effective laundry disinfestation.

Wash Infested Laundry Properly

Washing laundry in hot water is a primary way to kill lice and their eggs. Follow these steps when doing laundry:

Use Extreme Heat

  • Wash laundry in the hottest water possible, at least 130°F if your machine allows it. High temperatures kill lice and eggs on contact.
  • Dry laundry using the hot cycle for at least 20 minutes. Sustained high heat ensures lice and eggs are fully eradicated.
  • Use a laundry sanitizer designed to kill bacteria and parasites in combination with detergent. This provides added protection.

Extra Lint Removal

  • Use a lint roller over clothing before washing. This removes stray eggs or lice from fibers.
  • Add a lint catcher to your washing machine. Check it between loads to dispose of anything collected.
  • Use the high heat drying cycle and clean out the lint filter thoroughly after each load.

Thorough Cleaning

  • Wash items in infested laundry loads separately from regular household laundry.
  • Use extra detergent and wash in small loads for maximum cleaning power.
  • Wash laundry on the longest, hottest cycle possible according to fabric care instructions.
  • Repeat wash cycles if needed until all traces of lice/eggs are gone. Re-dry heated on high as well.
  • Clean the washing machine tub thoroughly after infested laundry using hot water and sanitizing cleaners.

Containment After Washing

  • Transfer washed laundry directly from washer to dryer without contact with other surfaces.
  • Place dryer-hot laundry into new plastic bags. Keep sealed for 2 weeks to ensure any eggs are fully dead.
  • Clean hampers/baskets used after infested laundry washing with hot, soapy water and let dry fully.

Follow these procedures carefully every time you wash lice-exposed laundry. The extra steps and precautions make all the difference.

Apply Additional Treatment Measures

For items that cannot safely be washed in hot water, take these extra steps:

For Non-Washables:

  • Dry-clean coats, suits and other non-washables. Dry cleaning chemicals and heat kill lice/eggs.
  • Place stuffed toys and pillows in a tightly sealed bag for 2 weeks or the freezer for 24 hours. This kills lice/eggs without washing.
  • Use a hand steamer on upholstered furniture, curtains, rugs and other items that cannot be submerged in water. The direct high heat kills lice and eggs on contact.

For Personal Items:

  • Soak hairbrushes, combs and other personal items for 1 hour in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo containing pyrethrins. This destroys lice.
  • Disinfect car seats and child seats with sprays containing permethrins or benzyl alcohol that kill lice on surfaces. Check product labels.
  • Seal items like helmets or headphones in bags for 2 weeks if they can’t be thoroughly washed, cleaned or disinfected. Time isolates any remaining eggs until dead.

Be thorough and patient when using non-laundry methods. This fully removes the infestation from treasured items.

Prevent Reinfestation

To ensure lice do not return once eradicated, be vigilant with these prevention habits:

  • Inspect children’s heads thoroughly for any signs of reinfestation every 2-3 days for 2-3 weeks after initial treatment.
  • Don’t allow sharing of combs, brushes, helmets, headphones or hats even among close family or friends.
  • Remind children to avoid any head-to-head contact during play, hugs or storytime to prevent spreading lice.
  • Know the signs of lice like frequent itching or the appearance of nits. Catching reinfestation early is key.
  • Contact parents or childcare providers if 1+ children are found to be reinfested shortly after delousing. Identifying the source is important.
  • Keep coats/hats/scarves in individual lockers or cubbies at school/daycare and separate from other children’s belongings.

Staying alert prevents a recurrence once the laundry washing process has removed the initial infestation. Vigilance and proper treatment together help ensure the lice are truly gone for good.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about effectively washing laundry exposed to lice:

Can I wash lice-infested laundry with other household laundry?

No, it is advisable to keep laundry exposed to lice separate from regular household laundry. Wash the infected items separately using hot water and extra detergent. This prevents any spread of lice or eggs to other linens and clothing.

How should I clean the washing machine after washing lice laundry?

It is important to thoroughly clean the washing machine tub, gaskets, dispensers and pumps using hot, soapy water. Run the machine through a hot rinse cycle. This removes any lingering traces of lice. Also clean lint traps and filters carefully.

Do I need to wash my laundry a certain number of times to fully kill lice?

Generally, washing items once using hot 130°F+ water and drying on high heat for 20+ minutes will kill all lice and eggs. However, washing laundry in infested loads 2-3 times and re-drying on hot can provide extra assurance that no lice have survived.

How long should laundered items be kept in bags after washing/drying?

It’s recommended to keep freshly laundered items sealed up in bags for 2 full weeks after washing and drying. This ensures any eggs that may have survived are fully dead before items are reintroduced into dresser drawers or linen closets.

Can sunlight disinfect laundry against lice?

Sunlight does not kill lice or eggs. The UV radiation in sunlight has not been found effective for delousing laundry items. Using hot water, detergent and heat drying is still required to fully disinfect laundry after exposure to lice.

The Bottom Line

Lice exposure often means washing and rewashing your laundry repeatedly. But armed with the right information, you can eliminate these pests from your household’s clothing and linens for good. Use extremely hot water, aggressive drying on a heated cycle, and containment of laundered items after treatment to get a handle on the situation. With diligence and thoroughness, you can successfully reclaim your laundry from a lice infestation.

How to Wash Laundry Infested With Lice: An Expert Guide

As an expert in household care and maintenance, I’ve helped many families tackle laundry infested with lice. While washing lice-infested items requires patience and diligence, there are proven techniques that can eliminate these frustrating pests and get your household back to normal. Here is my professional guide to safely and effectively washing laundry exposed to lice.

Act Quickly But Carefully

When lice have invaded your personal items, timely action is important. However, it is critical to take care not to accidentally spread lice further in your efforts to eradicate them. Here are the initial steps I advise:

  • Carefully contain any items that have had contact with heads or hair of anyone diagnosed with lice, including clothing, hats, bedding, towels and brushes. Place in plastic bags and seal tightly.
  • Do not wash potentially infested laundry with the general household wash. Keep it completely separate.
  • Clean laundry containers like baskets and hampers thoroughly using hot, soapy water. Lice/eggs can cling to surfaces.
  • Inspect all washable items closely, looking for live lice and tiny pearl-shaped nits clinging to fibers and seams.
  • Sort lice-exposed items by color for washing, taking note of any stains requiring pretreatment.
  • Have supplies ready – hot water, sanitizing laundry detergent, lint roller and plenty of bags.

This measured approach keeps the infestation contained while laying the groundwork for thorough laundering.

Wash in Hottest Water Possible

Washing with extremely hot water is the number one way to kill lice and their eggs on laundry. Here is how I advise clients to leverage heat:

  • Set your machine to the highest temperature over 130°F. Lice and eggs die rapidly in extreme heat.
  • Use laundry sanitizer or bleach alternative in combination with detergent for amplified disinfecting power.
  • Add extra rinse cycles – the additional heat exposure further destroys lice and eggs.
  • Load the washer only half full so hot water can penetrate fabrics fully.
  • Dry on the hottest setting for a minimum of 20 minutes. Sustained heat is key for total elimination.

The hotter the laundry treatment, the more certain you can be that lice have been eradicated. This heat therapy is at the core of my professional delousing process.

Take Precautions Between Loads

It is important not to contaminate your washing machine or reinfect laundered items between loads. Here are the key steps I advise after each infested load:

  • Clean the washing machine tub and gaskets thoroughly with hot, soapy water before washing regular household laundry again.
  • Transfer washed items directly from washer to dryer without contact with other surfaces.
  • Use a new plastic bag for items once dried, sealing tightly. Leave bagged for a full two weeks.
  • Thoroughly dry washable laundry containers and shelves housing clean linens using a handheld steamer. This disinfects any remaining eggs.
  • Lint roll laundry before washing – stray eggs can cling to fabric fibers.

These precautions ensure lice are killed in the wash and cannot re-contaminate laundry put away clean.

Alternative Treatment Methods

For delicate items that cannot be submerged in hot water, I recommend these professional alternatives for killing lice/eggs:

  • Use a handheld garment steamer all over coats, delicate fabrics, stuffed toys, curtains and other items that cannot be washed. The direct high heat kills lice and eggs while preserving fabrics.
  • Dry clean wool, silk, rayon, and other “dry clean only” garments. Dry cleaning chemicals and processes are effective at delousing without risk of damage.
  • For toys and bedding, tightly seal in bags and freeze overnight. Freezing kills lice and eggs without harming fabrics.
  • Disinfect brushes and combs by soaking for an hour in rubbing alcohol, medicated shampoo or tea tree oil, which act as natural disinfectants.

With some creativity, you can adapt techniques to disinfect even the most delicate and precious items in your home.

Remember Vigilance Against Reinfestation

The final step I always remind families of is vigilance even after laundering is complete. Washing laundry is only effective when combined with monitoring those infected closely over the following weeks to prevent lice from taking hold again on cleaned textiles.

Keeping bedding and clothing tightly sealed after washing, avoiding head-to-head contact or sharing of hats/helmets/hair items, and checking everyone in the household for signs of re-infestation allows you to stay one step ahead. Stopping the cycle of transmission is key for getting lice under control for good.

With the benefit of my years of experience, I hope these professional tips give you confidence in tackling laundry infested by lice and emerging free of these troublesome pests for the long-term. My guidance has helped many families cure laundry infestations that felt hopeless. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need any additional advice or reassurance!

Tackling Lice-Infested Laundry: A Step-By-Step Game Plan

Discovering lice have infested your household’s laundry is frustrating and overwhelming. As someone who has battled lice as a parent myself, I know exactly how you feel. The good news is with the right game plan, you can systematically disinfect your laundry and get back to normalcy. Here are my top tips for conquering laundry infested with lice:

Assemble Your Team

Fight the infestation together as a family following assigned roles:

  • Quartermaster: Round up all laundry possibly exposed to lice and contain in bags, marking as hazardous. No cross-contamination!
  • Heat Specialist: Crank the water heater up high and research laundering in 130°F+ water. Heat kills!
  • Sanitation Crew: Disinfect laundry baskets, shelves, hampers, etc. We need clean surfaces!
  • Inspector: Check every item closely for lice and nits before washing. No parasite can hide!
  • Chemist: Get sanitizing laundry products and mixes ready to amplify cleaning power.

Rally your family to work as a team – it makes the massive laundry task feel manageable when tackled together.

Wage All Out Heat Warfare

Heat is your #1 weapon against lice. Washing and drying at the highest temps possible annihilates them.

  • Wash in 130°F or above water if your machine allows it. Hotter is better!
  • Dry on the highest heat setting, extra time. 20+ minutes minimum to bake them out!
  • Add extra hot rinse cycles and wash loads twice if needed – heat exposure is key!
  • Use a sanitize or bleach laundry product in tandem with detergent for an amplified blast.

Don’t be afraid to turn up the heat as high as possible – this temperature shock destroys lice at all stages.

Containment is Crucial

To avoid reinfestation, keeping laundered items securely contained is critical.

  • Bag up laundered items immediately after drying on hot, only touching clean surfaces.
  • Store sealed laundry bags away from other linens for at least 2 weeks. Quarantine!
  • Disinfect any laundry baskets, shelves and folding tables used with aggressive steam cleaning.
  • Lint roll/shake out clothing before washing – eggs cling!
  • Clean washing machine thoroughly before using for regular household laundry.

Staying vigilant about containment keeps the lice you killed with heat from spreading again.

Call In Reinforcements

Some delicate items may need alternate treatments – bring in the specialists!

  • Dry cleaner for wool, silk and “dry clean only” clothes.
  • Handheld steamer for upholstery, stuffies and other fabric items.
  • Tea tree oil or medicated shampoo soak for brushes, combs, etc.
  • Rubbing alcohol for plastic items like hair clips.
  • Freezer or heating chamber for items that can tolerate extreme temps.

These targeted treatments let you adapt tactics item-by-item for total victory over lice!

Hold The Perimeter!

To secure your success, guard against any remaining lice by:

  • Putting coats/hats in separate cubbies at school, no sharing!
  • Enforcing strict no head-to-head contact among kids.
  • Watching closely for signs of recurrence like itching.
  • Re-treating at first signs of reinfestation.

Staying constantly on alert keeps your laundry free and the lice from repeating their invasion!

Keep Fighting!

I know you can reclaim your household from lice with military-level strategy and determination! It will take patience and many loads of laundry, but you’ve got this. Don’t surrender – keep attacking until every last louse is defeated. Call in back-up from friends/family and professionals if you need it. Your clean laundry will be so rewarding once victory is achieved – fight on!

My Battle Plan For Laundry Infested With Lice

As a mom of three who has done epic battle with head lice more than once, I’ve perfected a proven system for reclaiming lice-infested laundry. This is what works for me:

Identify every item exposed: I scour everywhere lice could have spread – bedrooms, play areas, even the car. I check coats, hats, pillows, stuffed animals, blankets, car seats – you name it. I isolate items in trash bags to wash separately.

Sanitize surfaces: Before I start laundry, I clean any bins, shelves and machines that will contact clean items once washed. All it takes is one stray louse!

Inspect closely: I go over every item, getting my magnifier out even