How To Treat Your Mattress For Lice

Last Updated On April 16th, 2024
How To Treat Your Mattress For Lice

Key Takeaways

  • Thorough Cleaning Process: When treating your mattress for lice, it’s crucial to undertake a thorough cleaning process, including washing all bedding in hot water, vacuuming the mattress, and using lice sprays or insecticides. Additionally, covering your mattress with a lice-proof cover can prevent future infestations.
  • Prompt Action is Crucial: Lice can survive on your mattress for up to 48 hours, allowing them to lay eggs and multiply. Taking immediate action to treat your mattress can help prevent further infestations and ensure a safe sleeping environment. Regular maintenance and cleaning are necessary to minimize potential re-infestation.
  • Preventative Measures for Head Lice: In addition to treating an existing head lice infestation, it’s essential to take preventive measures such as avoiding head-to-head contact, using lice-repellent products, tying hair up, and conducting regular head checks, especially after potential exposure to lice. Educating children about the importance of personal item hygiene is also crucial in preventing the spread of lice.

Dealing with lice infestations and bed bugs can be a real hassle, especially when it comes to your mattress. Lice are stubborn little critters that can stick around in your bedding for quite a while. So, if you’re wondering how to discover lice, where to start, and how to treat your mattress for lice and bed bugs, you’re in the right place. 

In this article, we’ll give you a simple and effective step-by-step guide to tackle the issue and learn how to get rid of lice from your mattress. Whether you have a minor or a severe lice infestation, we’ve got you covered in this treatment process.

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How Do You Treat Your Mattress for Lice?

If you suspect that you have a lice infestation, it’s essential to treat your mattress to prevent the further spread of lice. Getting rid of lice on household surfaces is crucial because it’s just a matter of time before they can infest your entire house, including your car and car seats. Here are some tips and techniques for getting rid of lice:

Remove All Bedding and Wash in Hot Water

Before treating your mattress, ensure that all bedding items, including bed sheets, pillow cases, and bed linens, have been removed, and machine wash them in hot water. This thorough cleaning process is essential for removing lice and nits that may be present.

Consult the laundry care symbols to make sure you’re washing them properly, or see one of our handy washing guides to handle specialty bedding:

After machine washing, dry bedding on a high-heat drying cycle is a must to ensure all lice have been eliminated. Using the best quality products, such as germ-killing detergents can further help in removing lice effectively from your bedding.

Vacuum Your Mattress Thoroughly

To tackle the lice problem, use a vacuum cleaner to thoroughly clean your mattress. Pay close attention to the seams, crevices, and folds. This action helps you remove any lice or nits that might be hiding on your mattress.

For items like stuffed animals or pillows that can’t be washed, here’s what you can do to remove lice and prevent direct contact with them. Simply place these items in sealed plastic bags for a few weeks.

This method deprives live lice of blood meal which is their food source, which eventually causes both live lice and dead bugs to be removed over time. It’s an effective way to mitigate the lice problem and keep you from having direct contact with these items, while still saving any pillows and stuffed animals you don’t want to throw out.

Use a Lice Spray or Insecticide

You have the option to buy a lice spray or insecticide specifically designed to kill lice on surfaces. When using the spray, make sure it is safe for use on mattresses and follow the instructions on the label carefully.

Some products can effectively kill lice, so it’s worth checking if it’s suitable for your mattress. Additionally, consider using a sticky lint roller to further remove any lice or nits from the surface of your mattress, along with its other uses such as removing pet hair from bedding.

Cover Your Mattress

Finally, consider covering your mattress with a lice-proof mattress protector. This will prevent lice from infesting your mattress in the future, and will also make it easier to clean and maintain. Just make sure you get the right mattress protector size to ensure a snug fit.

How Do You Deep Clean a Mattress?

If you find lice on your mattress, you may need to do a thorough cleaning to get rid of them. These days, some lice are called “super lice” because they’re not killed by the usual treatments. This new strain of head lice is resistant to the old treatments.

So, it’s important to deep clean your mattress to tackle the issue. Here are some tips to clean your mattress effectively and deal with those pesky bed bugs.

Apply a Cleaning Solution

Apply a cleaning solution to the mattress to kill any remaining lice and their eggs. You can use a commercial lice treatment spray or make your own solution by mixing equal parts water and rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle. Spray the solution onto the mattress and let it sit for at least 10 minutes.

Vacuum Again

After the cleaning solution has had time to work, vacuum the mattress once again to remove any dead lice or eggs. Be sure to dispose of the vacuum bag or empty the canister outside to prevent any lice from escaping back into your home.

Make sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum your entire mattress, paying special attention to the seams, crevices, and corners. This will help to remove any lice, eggs, or debris that may be present on the surface.

Air Out the Mattress

Let the mattress air out for a few hours before putting the bedding back on. This will help to eliminate any odors and ensure that the mattress is completely dry before being used again. To thoroughly remove odors and freshen up the mattress, try a sprinkling of baking soda.

By following these deep cleaning tips, you can effectively eliminate lice from your mattress and create a clean and safe sleeping environment.

Natural Bedding Sprays for Lice

If you want to find natural ways to get rid of lice from mattresses, making homemade sprays can be a good alternative to commercial treatments. Here are three DIY sprays that can help you learn how to get rid of lice from your mattress effectively.

DIY Tea Tree Oil Spray

To make a homemade bedding spray with tea tree oil, Verified Source National Library of Medicine (NIH) World’s largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible. View source mix eight ounces of water with 10-15 drops of tea tree oil in a spray bottle. Shake well and spray your bedding, mattress, and any other areas where lice may be present. Tea tree oil is a natural insecticide and can help repel and kill lice.

DIY Rosemary Essential Oil Spray 

If you prefer certain essential oils as an alternative to tea tree oil, you can use rosemary essential oil. Just mix five to ten drops of rosemary oil with one cup of water in a spray bottle. Spray this mixture on your bedding, mattress, and any other areas where lice may be present. Rosemary oil is known for its ability to effectively repel and kill lice.

See also essential oils for sleep.

DIY Bleach Spray to Kill Lice

If you prefer a stronger solution, you can make a DIY bleach spray to kill lice. Mix one cup of bleach with one gallon of water in a spray bottle. Spray the mixture on your mattress, bedding, and any other areas where lice may be present. Leave the spray on for at least 30 minutes before wiping it off with a damp cloth.

By using these homemade sprays, along with other methods mentioned in this article, you can effectively treat your mattress for lice and keep it clean and lice-free.

How Long Can Lice Live on a Mattress?

When it comes to treating your mattress for lice, understanding the lifespan of these pesky creatures is crucial. Lice infestations can be difficult to eliminate, making it important to act promptly and efficiently.

The lifespan of lice on a mattress depends on various factors, such as temperature and humidity. In warmer and more humid environments, lice can survive for longer periods. Conversely, colder and drier environments can shorten their lifespan. Humidity is important for good sleep, but you may need to use a dehumidifer to ensure a dry bedroom and fend off lice.

Lice Lifespan on a Mattress

Without a host, lice can survive on your mattress for up to 48 hours, but during this time, they can continue to lay eggs and multiply, which can lead to a more severe infestation. It’s essential to take action to get rid of lice and prevent their multiplication.

Keep in mind that lice typically prefer to stay close to their host, which is you. Therefore, it’s more likely to find lice on your pillow or bedding than on your mattress. To effectively tackle the lice problem, focus on killing lice and preventing their return.

It is vital to treat your mattress regularly if you suspect a lice infestation. By doing so, you can minimize the potential for reinfestation and ensure a safe and healthy sleeping environment.

Dealing with Head Lice Infestation

Head lice infestations Verified Source Medline Plus Online resource offered by the National Library of Medicine and part of the National Institutes of Health. View source can be a common and frustrating issue, especially for families with school-aged children. These tiny insects can quickly spread from person to person, leading to itching and discomfort.

If you’re dealing with a head lice infestation, Verified Source Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Works to control/prevent natural and manmade disasters. View source it’s essential to take prompt action to rid your home of these pesky critters. In this section, we’ll provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to identify, treat, and prevent head lice infestations.

Treating Head Lice

There are various over-the-counter lice treatments available at pharmacies that are safe for a child’s head. To effectively treat head lice, follow the instructions carefully when applying the treatment and combing out the dead lice and nits.

It’s important to remember that without a human scalp as a source of food (blood) for longer than 1-2 days, lice cannot survive.

Use an Over-the-Counter Lice Treatment

There are various over-the-counter lice treatments available at pharmacies. To effectively address head lice, follow the instructions carefully when applying the treatment and combing out the dead lice and nits.

Keep in mind that head lice live on the human scalp, and it’s important to treat every male and female louse to prevent further infestation.

Manual Nit Removal

Manual removal of nits is essential on a human head to ensure they don’t hatch and cause a re-infestation. Use a fine-toothed nit or a lice comb to carefully comb out nits from the hair follicles on a person’s head, helping in effectively killing head lice and preventing further infestations.

Notify Close Contacts

The eggs hatch in 7-10 days. So, if there’s no host around, the lice from those hatched eggs won’t survive for more than 24 hours. But if other people are exposed to the infestation then it’s important to inform close contacts, especially family members or classmates with whom the infested person has had head-to-head contact, to check for lice and take necessary precautions.

Freeze Hairbrushes and Accessories

Gather up all the combs, hair brushes, hair ties, bobby pins, and any other hair accessories that belong to the infected person. Put them neatly inside a plastic bag.

Once they’re all packed up, seal the bag securely and then pop it into the freezer. Leave it in the freezer overnight. This helps ensure that any potential lice or nits on these items are frozen and inactive, making it easier to get rid of them and prevent the spread of lice.

Preventing Head Lice

Preventing head lice infestations is essential, especially in environments where lice may easily spread. Here are some preventive measures:

Avoid Head-to-Head Contact

Encourage family members, especially children, to avoid head-to-head contact with others to reduce the risk of lice transmission.

Use Lice-Repellent Products

Some hair care products contain natural ingredients like tea tree oil or neem oil, which can help repel lice.

Tie Hair Up

If you have long hair, keeping it tied up can reduce the risk of lice transmission. Sleeping with long hair tied up is beneficial when lice aren’t a concern, preventing knots and tangles, but it’s especially important when you’re fending off nits.

Educate Children

Teach children not to share personal items like hats, combs, and hair accessories, which can transfer lice.

Regular Head Checks

Conduct regular head checks, especially after potential lice exposure, to catch and treat infestations early.

By following these guidelines, you can effectively identify, treat, and prevent head lice infestations in your family and home. Remember that acting promptly and thoroughly is key to getting rid of these pesky insects.

More to Watch Out For

Lice aren’t the only bedroom concern when it comes to pests that need to be guarded against. From bed bugs to ants and fleas and even mold spores, it’s important to create a healthy bedroom space that stays clean and free of these invaders:


How do you know if you have lice in your bed?

Identifying the presence of lice in your bed can be determined through several signs. Look for lice eggs, known as nits, on the strands of your hair or on your pillow. These tiny, yellowish-white eggs can be mistaken for dandruff but are difficult to remove from the hair.

Additionally, excessive itching, particularly around the scalp and neck, can be a strong indicator of a lice infestation. Observing lice or their nits directly on your bedding may suggest the need for immediate treatment and thorough cleaning.

How long does lice last on bed?

Lice require human blood to survive and are unable to live for an extended period away from a human host. While lice may temporarily crawl onto bedding, they typically do not survive on the bed for more than 24 to 48 hours. Without a human host to feed on, lice will eventually perish.

However, it is still crucial to address any lice infestations promptly and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of lice to others or to other areas of the home.

What to do with your mattress if you have lice?

If you suspect your mattress has been exposed to lice, we suggest taking appropriate measures to prevent the further spread of these parasites. Vacuuming the mattress thoroughly and using a steamer to treat the surface can help eliminate lice and their nits. Encasing the mattress in a bedbug-proof cover can prevent lice from taking up residence and make it easier to clean.

Don’t just focus on the mattress, too, as washing bedding, linens, and clothing in hot water and drying them on high heat can help kill lice and their eggs.

Do I need to wash bedding every day with lice?

While it may not be necessary to wash your bedding daily to get rid of lice, a rigorous cleaning routine can still be a crucial part of eliminating lice and preventing re-infestation. Wash your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot water and dry them on high heat. Repeat this process every few days to ensure any remaining lice or nits are eliminated.

Additionally, cleaning and vacuuming the surrounding areas and personal items can help prevent the spread of lice to other household members.

Do lice crawl on pillows?

Lice typically do not crawl on pillows or other bedding items when a human host is not present. Lice prefer to feed on the scalp and are not known to survive or thrive on inanimate objects for an extended period. However, it is still wise to wash and clean pillows and bedding regularly, especially if there has been a lice infestation in the household.


Effectively treating your mattress for lice is essential in preventing these pesky parasites from causing further trouble. Our comprehensive guide has covered various aspects of lice infestations, including head lice treatment, natural remedies, and preventive measures. By following these steps and taking prompt action, you can ensure a clean, lice-free mattress and a peaceful night’s sleep.

Don’t forget to address any underlying causes of lice infestations, such as personal hygiene and regular cleaning of bedding and clothing. With diligence and consistency, you can effectively treat and prevent lice infestations in your home.

About the author

Mitchell Tollsen is a graduate student and a freelance writer who’s contributed to the Early Bird blog for three years. Mitchell’s always been fascinated by the science of sleep and the restorative processes our bodies undergo when at rest. The self-titled “Sleep Expert” is always looking for ways to improve his shut-eye, and throughout the years has implemented numerous lifestyle changes and tried dozens of sleep-promoting gadgets to determine the best ways to truly get better rest.

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