How to Get Rid of Lice on Mattress? 3 Removal Methods

by Max S
How To Get Rid Of Lice In Mattress

Have you got the all-clear from head lice in your child’s, or your hair? Maybe now you’re wondering how to get rid of lice on mattress to make sure they don’t come back?

Lice are parasitic insects that live close to the human scalp, as they feed on human blood for survival.

Even with the pandemic, a survey conducted with 2000 parents last June 2021 in the UK revealed that almost 70% used a head lice treatment in the past year.

Situations like this can cause emotional distress. The constant itch on the head, anxiety that you might infest the whole family. And, of course, you’ll want to make sure that you don’t get a lice infestation all over again.

We’ll answer your questions and help you eliminate lice on your mattress, so that not a single louse doesn’t exist in your house!

How to Get Rid of Lice on Your Mattress?

mother and daughter removing white bed sheets
Image source: Pexels

To start getting rid of lice on your mattress, we should know first how lice can be killed. Lice can be killed in multiple ways:

  • Depriving lice of a food source
  • High temperature
  • Over-the-counter medications (for getting rid of lice on hair)

Let’s start getting rid of lice on your mattress step by step. First, prepare the materials you’ll be needing:

  • Vacuum
  • Washing machine with a hot cycle
  • Big plastic bag
  • Spray bottle (optional)
  • Essential oils (optional)

Steps in Getting Rid of Lice on Mattress

Wash your beddings with high temperature

According to CDC, lice can be killed by subjecting them to a high temperature of at least 130°F for 5 to 10 minutes. Considering this, once you’ve taken all of your beddings, including

  • Pillowcases
  • Blankets
  • Duvet
  • Bedsheet
  • Mattress cover

Machine wash them using the hot cycle (130°F) for more than 10 minutes. It would also be beneficial to use the high heat drying cycle.

For items that cannot be machine washed, gather them and seal them in a big plastic bag. Leave it sealed for at least 10 days. When lice are deprived of blood or food sources, they will be dead in 2 days.

But considering that some nits have fallen on these beddings, we’ll need 10 days to ensure that newly hatched nits also die.

Vacuum your pillows and mattress

To get lice out of pillows and mattresses, vacuum them and make sure to cover the entire surface. Don’t forget the creases of the mattress as lice can fall on these spaces and hide.

Try some repellent spray.

CDC discourages the use of fumigant sprays or fogs since they can be toxic when inhaled by humans. Although lice can be killed using the first two methods alone, sometimes we just want to add an extra step to make sure.

So, for this method, we will be using natural essential oils. While these won’t really kill lice, they will help repel lice.

In a study conducted, it was found that the tea tree showed promising results in getting rid of lice. Although some people might recommend other essentials oils also like

  • lavender
  • eucalyptus
  • nutmeg
  • peppermint
  • red thyme
  • cinnamon leaf
  • aniseed
  • clove
  • neem

To make a DIY spray,

  • Combine 2 cups of water and 20 drops of your essential oil choice. Some people mix essential oils just to maximise possible effectiveness.
  • Use the empty spray bottle for the container.
  • Spray on your pillows, mattress, and other household items that may have some lice, like the couch and clothes.

How Long do Lice Live on Mattresses?

head lice life cycle
Lifecycle of lice – Verywell – To include an emphasis on what stage is infectious

Before we can answer how long lice can live on mattresses, let’s take a look first at the lifecycle of lice.

Lifecycle of Lice

The lice lifecycle has three stages: egg/nits, nymph, and adult stage.

Stage 1: Egg/Nits

Eggs or nits are oval-shaped and are often white to yellowish in colour. Being less than a millimetre in size, they are hard to see and sometimes mistaken as dandruff.

Eggs are laid by adult females and are attached near the base of the hair shaft. They take about 6 to 9 days to hatch.

Stage 2: Nymph

After hatching, nymphs are released. The shell that eggs came from remains attached to the hair. A nymph is about the size of a pinhead and looks similar to an adult louse. After 7 days, nymphs become an adult and are now ready to breed.

Stage 3: Adult

An adult louse has 6 legs, is about the size of a sesame seed and is tan or grey in colour. A female louse is usually larger than a male louse and can lay up to 8 nits per day!

Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a person’s head with enough blood supply.

To live, an adult louse needs to feed on blood, and without regular blood intake, the louse will die within 1 to 2 days.

Only at this adult stage are lice considered infectious as they can lay eggs and breed.

Can lice live in/on a mattress?

Not that we know that lice need blood to live, we can say that lice cannot live in a mattress alone. Lice need a host to suck blood onto.

So, how long can lice live on a mattress? Without food supply, a.k.a. your yummy blood, lice won’t survive past 2 days.

This also applied to other everyday household items. So if you have questions such as:

  • Can lice live in pillows?
  • Can lice live on bedding?
  • How long can lice live on clothes?
  • How long can lice live on a hairbrush?

The answer is no, lice cannot live on household items, and they will only last up to 2 days without access to a blood host.

FAQ: Will Lysol kill lice on mattresses?

No matter how much Lysol can be great at disinfection, unfortunately, it can’t kill a single louse. Yes, it can somehow immobilise them for a while. Still, the ingredients in Lysol are not enough to kill lice on mattresses or on any other household surfaces.

FAQ: How to get rid of lice with vinegar?

Vinegar is widely used as an ingredient in cleaning a memory foam mattress or even in cleaning a latex mattress. But is it effective in getting rid of lice?

Vinegar, more specifically apple cider vinegar, can be beneficial as a lice remedy. While it cannot kill a louse, apple cider vinegar can eliminate lice eggs in hair by aiding in the easier removal of nits. To do this,

  • Combine equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Apply onto hair.
  • Use a fine-tooth comb to remove lice and nits on your hair.

While this may not be effective for other people, it is worth having a shot.

FAQ: How to disinfect furniture from lice?

You can do the same method we did for the mattress in getting rid of and disinfecting your furniture from lice. While you cannot wash your furniture as it can ruin it, you can naturally get rid of lice on furniture by sealing them with plastic and not using them for at least 10 days.

This will deprive lice of food sources, and they will naturally die.

FAQ: Can you get lice from sleeping in the same bed?

Lice can only move by crawling; they cannot hop nor fly. Therefore, lice can only be transmitted by direct contact with the hair of a lice-infested person.

If you’re sharing a bed with a lice-infested person, there’s a high chance that lice can crawl to your head while sleeping.

Considering that lice can crawl, here are also some other precautions you must take:

  • Avoid sharing hats, scarves, and coats where lice can crawl back to another person’s head.
  • Avoid sharing combs, brushes, or towels where lice are directly accessed if used by an infected person.
  • Do not lie on beds, couches, or pillows recently used by a person with a lice infestation.

What happens if you have head lice for too long?

In Europe, the percentage of people affected with head lice went up to 22.4%. This is a large number but not all people affected know how to deal with this.

Addressing the source of the head lice and the possible infestations in your household is crucial to ensure that none of your family members will experience having lice again.

Suffering from head lice infestation has physical, mental, and social consequences.


Untreated head lice can damage the scalp and the overall health of the hair. If the hair follicles become clogged, hair loss can occur. Because of the constant itching, there is also a risk of damaging the scalp and introducing infection.


The constant tickling sensation of something moving in the hair can be distracting and annoying. This causes irritability and will affect the overall mood of a person. In addition, an infected person might also experience sleeplessness because of the itching.


Aside from the health and emotional implications of having lice infestation, there will also be social consequences when people avoid someone with a lice infestation. They may be socially shunned, which can have lasting psychological results, especially among children.

There are “no-nit policy” policies in other schools prohibiting infected children from going to school or joining other children.

How To Get Rid Of Lice On Mattress? – Summary

If not addressed immediately, lice infestation causes physical, mental, and social consequences.

While you may successfully get rid of lice on your hair, making sure that no louse is left in your house is the next step to ensure there won’t be further and future infestation.

Lice can be killed by depriving them of food sources and subjecting them to high temperatures of 130°F.


Di Campli, E., Di Bartolomeo, S., Delli Pizzi, P., Di Giulio, M., Grande, R., Nostro, A., & Cellini, L. (2012). Activity of tea tree oil and nerolidol alone or in combination against Pediculus capitis (head lice) and its eggs. Parasitology research111(5), 1985–1992.

Falagas, M. E., Matthaiou, D. K., Rafailidis, P. I., Panos, G., & Pappas, G. (2008). Worldwide prevalence of head lice. Emerging infectious diseases14(9), 1493–1494.

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Photo of author


Max S

Chief Editor here at The Sleep Checklist. Suffered from a seemingly infinite knot in my thoracic area (between the spine and shoulder blade) due to my lifelong side sleeping habits. With my girlfriend, we look to provide the most relevant and best mattress advice.