Looking around for an effective home remedy for head lice, I found people recommending all sorts of options! I put them all into a comprehensive list. Before we get to the list, read this page to make sure you understand how any home remedy is supposed to work.
The steps necessary to remove head lice are the same whether you use store-bought products or a home remedy for head lice.
Let’s address those three steps in reverse order:
To comb out the bugs and nits, make sure you use a really good lice comb. A poorly designed lice comb is worse than useless. (Putting your child through nit-combing is not something you want to do if you’re not actually going to get all the nits.)
Loosening the nit glue will make the combing much easier. After loosening, some of the nits should wash out without combing, and the ones that remain will detach more easily so that combing is smoother and quicker.
Many people swear by a white vinegar rinse as a way to dissolve nit glue. One way to use it is to saturate the scalp and hair with vinegar, and then simply rinse it out. Other people leave the vinegar on the head for one or two hours, covered with a towel, and then rinse it out.
I’ve never used vinegar against lice myself. I used an enzyme shampoo on my kids’ hair to loosen the nit glue. But vinegar is recommended widely for this purpose. And loosening nits is well worth it, because combing is such a pain. If I didn’t have access to an enzyme shampoo, I’d try white vinegar.
Sometimes in the “leave it in one or two hours” method, the vinegar is combined with another substance intended to kill the bugs. This combined method (soaking the head for a time in vinegar mixed with another agent, usually an oil) is one of the most common home remedies for head lice.
Killing/injuring/slowing the bugs – Wow, there are so many home remedies intended for this purpose! It blew me away to find so many when I started looking for them.
(Though when many doctors routinely recommend toxic pesticides to treat head lice in children, I guess it’s to be expected that parents will keep experimenting, trying to find an acceptable alternative!)
I put together an extensive list of home remedies for head lice gathered from various sources. Most of them call for applying the remedy, covering the head in a snug disposable shower cap for a period of time, and then washing the hair thoroughly. Some of the oil-based remedies can be hard to wash out.
I have not tried ANY of these remedies. (Because enzyme shampoo worked like a charm for my kids the first time they got lice; and Licefreee worked even faster when they got it again a few years later. I keep both in my medicine cabinet at the ready.)
I also have not researched these remedies for safety information. CHECK WITH YOUR DOCTOR to make sure there’s no danger before trying any home remedy for head lice on your kids.
After using a remedy to kill/injure the bugs, and/or using white vinegar to loosen the nits, you still need to carefully comb out remaining bugs and nits. Check out our guidelines for the comb-out process and successfully removing nits.
Head lice can be removed safely and successfully. Just stay calm, follow through, make sure all lice and viable nits are gone.