Lice, pesky parasites that infest human hair and clothing, have prompted discussions about their susceptibility to washing machine cycles.

So, you may be wondering: do washing machines kill lice? As carriers of cleanliness and hygiene, washing machines are presumed to eradicate germs and pests alike. Yet, the resilience of lice prompts contemplation about the effectiveness of such machines.

To help you, I will unravel the complex relationship between technology and pest control to understand whether washing machines can exterminate lice.

Do Washing Machines Kill Lice?

Yes, lice may be eliminated by both hot and cold water.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend using hot water to clean items that may come in contact with the scalp because it can cause “scalp irritation and other skin problems”.

Furthermore, while washing machines may eliminate various pathogens and insects through the combination of water, detergent, and mechanical agitation, lice present a challenge due to their ability to cling to hair and fabric fibers.

Factors such as water temperature, detergent type, and cycle duration play roles in determining whether lice are eradicated. Some studies suggest that washing machines can indeed eliminate lice, especially when using hot water and appropriate detergents.

However, complete eradication might not always be guaranteed. It’s essential to consider these factors and additional measures in a comprehensive approach to lice treatment.

Do Washing Machines Kill Lice?

What Should You Use to Kill Lice?

The best way to kill lice is with a chemical known as pyrethrum. Pyrethrum is derived from the dried flowers of Chrysanthemum cineraria folium and is a natural insecticide. It works by disrupting the neural function of the louse, causing paralysis and death.

Other than pyrethrum, there are several other chemical insecticides that can be used to kill lice, including permethrin, malathion, and Dimethicone. However, these chemicals can also be toxic to humans, so they should only be used as a last resort.

If you do choose to use a chemical insecticide, always follow the instructions on the label carefully and take all necessary safety precautions.

Can Lice Live on Clothes After Washing?

Yes, lice can live on clothes after washing. Lice are parasites that feed on human blood, so they can live for a while off of a human host.

Washing clothes will not kill all of the lice, and they may be able to lay eggs on the clothes that hatch after being washed.

The best way to remove lice is to use a hot wash cycle (at least 266 degrees Fahrenheit) and then dry the clothes for at least 20 minutes.

Can a Dryer Kill Lice?

Yes. A dryer can kill lice, but it’s not as effective as using a special lice comb.

Most of the time, when people use a dryer to try to get rid of lice, they end up with frustrated hair and still have lice.

The best way to get rid of lice is to use a special lice comb and conditioner.

Also read: Can You Get Bed Bugs From A Washing Machine?

How Long Can Lice Live?

You may have heard that lice can live for weeks or even months on clothes, bedding, and other fabrics. But how long can they really survive?

Lice are tiny insects that feed on human blood. They’re most commonly found on the head, but they can also live on other parts of the body, like the eyelashes, eyebrows, and pubic area.

Head lice are relatively easy to spot because they’re usually visible to the naked eye. If you suspect you have head lice, look for small white eggs (nits) attached to your hair shafts. The nits are usually located close to the scalp.

Lice can’t fly or jump, so they spread primarily through close physical contact and by sharing personal items.

Lice can survive for about a day without human blood, but on laundry or other fabrics, they may be able to live for several days or even weeks. The exact length of time depends on the temperature, humidity, and exposure to sunlight.

To kill lice on clothing and other fabrics, it’s best to launder the items in hot water (at least 266 degrees Fahrenheit) and then dry them at a high heat setting.

This will help ensure that all lice are killed quickly, so they won’t be able to lay eggs or cause an infestation.


Do washing machines kill lice? In the quest to determine whether washing machines effectively eradicate lice, we’ve uncovered a nuanced picture.

While these machines can potentially eliminate various pathogens and pests through water, detergents, and mechanical action, the resilience of lice presents a unique challenge.

As you saw, scientific studies suggest that with the right conditions—higher water temperatures, appropriate detergents, and thorough cycles—washing machines can indeed play a role in lice elimination.

However, complete assurance might not be guaranteed, and additional measures might be necessary for comprehensive treatment.