Can Head Lice Live On Pillows And Sheets?

Written by Arshiya Syeda

It has been considered for a long that head lice commonly affect children. However, a head lice infestation is extremely contagious and can affect every member of the family if not treated soon. Not only will they make your scalp itch, but they can also crawl onto your towels, hats, pillows, and bedsheets.

Therefore, it is important to disinfect your home properly to keep it lice-free. If you are struggling to get rid of head lice on your bedding, try the tips mentioned in this article. Read on for more information.

What Are Head Lice?

Head lice are tiny insects that live in the hair and survive by ingesting blood from the scalp. Since they are wingless, lice cannot fly or hop to infect others. They can crawl and spread only when combs, hats, or other accessories are shared between an infected and non-infected person.

Let us now explore whether these insects can survive on your pillows and sheets.

Can Head Lice Live On Pillows?

Yes. But it is not likely for head lice to live in bedding for very long. As lice need scalp blood and warmth to stay alive, they do not survive long on any non-living surface like pillows and beddings for more than 24 hours (1).

Head lice may crawl from one person’s head to another through hair-to-hair contact or sharing combs, towels, and hats.

Although it is a relief that bedding and pillows cannot spread head lice, they still need to be cleaned. The following section lists some useful tips to get rid of lice on your bed.

How To Get Rid Of Lice On Bedding

The most common way to clean your bedding is to leave it for a day. The insects will die on their own without food and warmth. Here’s what you need to do to get rid of head lice on your pillows and mattresses:

  1. Strip all the bed items – pillow covers, bed linens, and blankets.
  2. Machine wash the linens with hot water. Even a hot clothes dryer can disinfect your beddings and pillows.
  3. Isolate the things that cannot be washed in plastic bags for at least a week.
  4. Lay the infested items under sunlight for a few days.
  5. Vacuum over the bedding to get rid of any leftover lice.

If you feel treating lice on pillows and bedding with hot water or a hot dryer is not enough to kill the pests completely, try these methods instead.

What To Do If You Are Still Worried About Lice

1. Eliminate Lice From The Source

To stop the recurrence of lice infestation on your bedding, remove them from the source – your head. You can try over-the-counter medicated creams, oils, and shampoos to remove lice from your hair. Use a nit comb while brushing your hair to eliminate any dead lice and nits. If these head lice treatments do not work, consult a dermatologist for a better solution.

2. Homemade Bedding Sprays

If you feel that thoroughly cleaning the beddings or vacuuming is not enough to get rid of the lice, you can try a few lice bedding sprays to be safe. Here are two recipes that can help:

(a) DIY Bleach Lice Spray

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of bleach
  • 1 cup of water
  • Spray bottle


  1. Mix the bleach and water in the spray bottle.
  2. Spray this solution on your bedding, blankets, and pillow covers.
  3. Wait until the solution dries and wash the bedding in hot water.

(b) DIY Essential Oil Spray

If you do not want to use bleach due to its corrosive nature and strong smell, add essential oils to your spray.

You Will Need

  • 10 drops of essential oil
  • 1 cup of water
  • Spray bottle


  1. Mix the essential oil and water in the spray bottle.
  2. Spray this solution generously over your bedding.
  3. Let it dry and wash or vacuum the bedding.

Although you can get rid of head lice infestations painlessly, the best thing is to act before getting infected. If you have been in close contact with an infected person, take the steps mentioned below to prevent getting infected yourself.

Steps You Can Take To Prevent Lice Infestation

  1. Avoid head contact, i.e., do not bump your head into an infected person.
  2. Do not use the same brushes, hats, towels, or other hair accessories as the infected person.
  3. Wash all your hair accessories in hot water to prevent the spread of lice. The CDC recommends a water temperature of at least 130°F to kill lice (2).


An infestation of head lice is scary, and anyone can get it despite maintaining personal hygiene. Not only does it itch continuously, but also the probability of spreading lice is relatively high.

Thus, if you have the merest suspicion of lice, act immediately to eliminate them. Disinfect your pillows, mattresses, linen, and clothes thoroughly to reduce the spread of head lice. Follow the tips mentioned above to keep your surroundings clean and your family safe from these scalp feeders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to wash pillows after lice infestation?

Yes. Wash your pillows and bed linens in hot water after lice infestation to prevent any recurrence.

Can my pillows have lice eggs?

No. Nits or lice eggs need a human host to survive.

Can I use a hair dryer to kill lice?

Yes. Use your hair dryer on the lowest temperature setting to kill lice on the head. However, this is not the ideal method to treat head lice. It is advisable to opt for over-the-counter hair care products to remove lice.

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  1. Head Lice Infestations: The Agent
  2. Head Lice – Prevention and Control
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