The Best Way to Get Rid of Lice Is Already in Your Pantry

updated Sep 30, 2020
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(Image credit: Aimée Mazzenga)

We’ve received plenty of lice notices from my kids’ schools. Each time I’ve checked their heads diligently, trying very hard not to go to the bad place as I scratch myself into next Tuesday. I’ve never found a thing.

Until, one time, I did.

A few years ago, my daughter woke up in the middle of the night, complaining her head was itchy. I checked her little noggin and found nothing except for a few bites on her neck. I told her (and myself) they were just spider bites and sent her back to bed and off to school the next morning.

Honestly, I had zero experience with lice and wasn’t even sure what I was looking for, but when the school nurse called to tell me that my daughter found a bug in her hair, I was mortified and went out and purchased every de-licing treatment I could find: the spray, the cream rinse, the combing gel, the shampoo. I got the strong stuff, too. It was highly recommended that I also get Nix, because nothing else would kill the eggs like that Nix would.

I sprayed every surface in our house after scrubbing it down. I washed everything I could, I bagged all her stuffed animals that couldn’t be washed. I threw away anything with bristles, and thought about burning the house down. I brought a strong de-licing game and a week later they were back, so I did it all again. Then just to be safe, again six days after that.

But the lice kept coming back. I was at my wits’ end when a friend told me what to do to get rid of the lice once and for all. I had everything I needed right in my pantry: Apple cider vinegar and olive oil was all it took to get rid of those critters.

All you need to get rid of lice: apple cider vinegar and olive oil.

First, you rinse your kid’s whole head with apple cider vinegar — I used the whole bottle. Apparently, the vinegar dissolves the glue that otherwise helps lice eggs nest in the hair shaft. The hardest part of de-licing is taking the time to remove all the eggs, but the vinegar made it much easier.

Then, you cover the whole head in olive oil, put on a shower cap, and leave it on overnight. This suffocates the lice; it takes about five hours for this to happen. And the proof was in the shower cap the next morning as I helped my daughter wash her hair. I could see the dead lice had fallen out and I’d never been so happy to see dead bugs in my life. After washing and conditioning her hair, I didn’t see anything alarming. Just to be sure, we repeated this a week later and the lice were gone for good.

And the fact I wasn’t spending $50 on lice treatments, and putting chemicals on her head (again) was a relief. The bonus was that her hair was soft and smooth from the vinegar and the oil (Note: Nix takes a toll on hair, for sure.)

So if you get the dreaded lice notice and find your child scratching away at their scalp, look in your pantry before you go on a shopping spree at your closest drug store — you might just have everything you need at home.