Listerine bottle

Over the last couple of decades lice have become resistant to some of the most common treatments. This spells frustrations for parents.

There is a new prescription product called Ulesfia Lotion (benzyl alcohol). According to the FDA, this topical treatment eliminated lice completely for 75 percent of those using it in a clinical trial compared to 26 percent using a placebo lotion. It requires two 10-minute treatments a week apart. The active ingredient makes it hard for lice to breathe and they kick the bucket fairly quickly. It does not kill the eggs (nits) though, which is why you need the second treatment. Ulesfia is pricey, though.

Here is one mother’s observation:

“My pediatrician just prescribed Ulesfia for my daughter who’s been battling lice for months. She has long hair and the cost was $600!
I don’t know how they expect anyone to be able to afford this. Hopefully, it won’t be long before someone comes out with a comparable cheaper OTC product.”
WT, Dec. 7, 2010

Parents have been experimenting with old-fashioned amber Listerine on the scalp. We have heard from many that massaging this mouthwash into the hair and leaving it on for awhile can also kill lice. In our Home Remedy Library, 82 people have voted on how well it works. They rated it 4.3 stars out of a possible 5. Here are just a few reports:

 “We discovered this morning that my daughter had lice in her long thick hair, a LOT of lice and nits. After the Listerine treatment all the lice were dead and the gazillion nits got combed out. It really did work!”

JB, Nov. 7, 2010

“House brand generic mouthwash works just as well as Listerine. Soak hair for 2 hours covered in a shower cap. It kills ALL of the bugs so there’s no need to use any other shampoos, mayo, Vaseline, special chants, spells, voodoo, amulets or magic charms ;-)

“Soaking the hair in vinegar for 2 hours gets rid of most of the nits. You will probably have to pick a few eggs out. Check for nits once a week.”

GN, Feb. 21, 2011

Listerine may also do double duty against nail fungus, underarm odor and jock itch. Here is another testimonial:

“I also use Listerine to do foot soaks for my grandma. Did you know it kills toenail fungus? You just put a capful in the tub of water and soak the feet for 10 minutes. No rinsing required. It took a year for the nail to grow out, but now even the doctor is impressed. Voila!”

Dee, Nov. 11, 2010

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  1. sarah

    Does it matter what kind of mouth wash? Does it have to be the regular Listerine?

  2. KH

    I am a hairstylist,turning 54 soon,and I have been doing hair for 35 years,and I got lice ,at age 50! That used to be unheard of,especially in adults!I actually think it was from a cruise, but anyway I tried 3 chemical treatments,I have long hair ,decent amount and my Co worker applied it for me.The lice were super bugs,not so many bugs,but nits. I finally started sleeping with vinegar in my hair,bagged up.took forever not to see am egg.I will recommend clients to try the listeria and I actually think combined with vinegar it would be a good combo! Way better than all those chemicals, and a doctor saying,no more treatment s.glad home remedies work!

  3. Sandra
    calumet , michigan

    I have something to add that can simplify this nightmare. I live in the far north so I put everything (towels, bedding , clothes) in plastic bags and just put them outside in the freezing temp. The nits and bugs will freeze to death fast. Also, I put things in the freezer in my house sometimes. Rather than wash everything…oy vay
    This forum has really helped me. What a relief

  4. Jean

    Lavender oil. Works!

  5. Bee

    Honestly, I feel like listerine is one of the only home remedies for headlice that works, and certainly the cheapest.
    I like with my grandma, who has waist length hair. My little sister comes over and gives her head lice all the damn time. Not only does Listerine kill the adult bugs, but the menthol/minty-ness of it relieves the itching!
    The other home remedy that works to kill adult bugs is tea tree oil, but it’s a bit spendy and my grandma can’t stand the smell of it.
    Now, this stuff doesn’t kill the eggs, so you better believe you have to comb them out and even repeat treatment in a couple weeks for survivors.

  6. James
    houston, tx

    I’m 48 and never had an experience with lice, crazy right? But true. However, my 7 year old daughter was discovered with lice today…really sux! What to do? Called a friend that told me about the listerine treatment. I used the walmart brand (equate) and man did it kill those little boogers dead! My wife was picking those dead bugs out. We searched her hair before the treatment and did not see jack.
    After the mouthwash treatment they came up from the scalp and were easy to see. They were all dead. Doing another treatment in a couple of days to be sure. As for the amount we used, it was about four or five caps full. Enough to soak her hair and then we put a plastic bag from walmart since all we had. Buying nit comb also to get out any we missed. Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.

  7. angie

    Discovered Listerine a couple of years ago when we battled lice in our house. The over the counter treatments were doing NOTHING! Listerine was the trick. I pre treat with some kind of oil to smother them, and also rinse with vinegar. But I believe the Listerine is what does it.

  8. marie

    I have tried Rid, Nix, and even dog shampoo. The chemicals in these products irritated my head badly. This is the first I heard of using listerine. I believe I will try it.

  9. elizabeth m.

    I’m going to try it because I tried everything the mayo, nix, rid, permenthrin (by doctors order), fairy lice mother you name it I use it. We are at our last straw so we will try anything.

  10. Rachel

    I used the listerine and vinegar on my daughters hair as a lice treatment…but my question is how often can I do this..I did this like 2 days ago, could I do this again today?

  11. Angelina

    I did the treatment yesterday can I wash my hair today with my own shampooing & conditioner?

  12. Tracy

    I used the mouthwash on my head and then used vinegar. Any nits that I wasn’t able to initially pick out came sliding off with the vinegar. Would encourage anyone to try this method. Shower cap for an hour with the mouthwash. Rinse then an hour with the vinegar. Use the nit comb and wash them away. So simple, but takes a long time to do. Hair smells like mouthwash but who cares if the lice are gone.

  13. Tiffanie A. M.
    Louisville ohio

    I am using the Listerine on my hair right now. And I have one question are you supposed to wash your hair after you use Listerine?

  14. SusanB
    Charleston, SC

    I just downloaded coupons for the new prescription lice treatment and I found this thread. The coupons can get me the pharmaceutical lotion for the low, low price of 63$ per bottle. Kill me now. I have already spent hundreds and hundreds of $ on this problem to no avail. We even had a professional lice remover come and treat my kids and they got infected again a month later. As I type this, my own head is itching!!! I am going to give the Listerine method a shot and see how it goes. I am at my “nits end” over this.

  15. Wendy

    Can I still use the listerine and vinegar treatment on colored hair?

    • Teri

      Yes. I’ve colored my hair for 25 years and when my daughter had lice, I treated both of us weekly with listerine. I saw no fading or any issues with it. It didn’t even dry the hair out, which was my biggest fear.

  16. LZ

    Do you put the Listerine on dry or wet hair?

  17. Momof3

    I wish I knew about the Listerine method years ago. I have three daughters and my youngest has had the worst time of all three of them. She just finished 1st grade and I’ve been fighting these buggers since she was in PRE-K! Today I went to the store and bought three large bottles of Listerine so I could stock up.
    I soaked her hair for 30 minutes and I CANNOT believe the amount of bugs that fell DEAD out of her hair when I rinsed her hair. I have spent on the upwards of $900 on everything over the years from all natural remedies from companies I’ve seen online, to the chemicals that lice are RESISTANT to and that never worked. Thank goodness for this stuff. I will be telling anyone who will listen not to waste their money. I only spent $20 today and that was on combs and shower caps too!

  18. CB

    I can honestly say I’ve been battling Lice for what seems like forever! I did the lice treatment about 2am and left it on for 1 hour and 15 minutes. When I pulled the shower cap off there was 4 bugs on the cap! It was very startling as I thought I had been lice free since school ended. But I’m glad I found this website and so far I’ve had no more itching. Going to do the vinegar tomorrow and hopefully this god awful battle will be over with!

  19. K

    I have hair that is dyed medium brown. I did not notice any difference in hair color with use of listerine to treat the lice. I used the green kind of listerine because the brown one is not available where I live. It did make my hair feel a little straw like but conditioner fixed that worry.

  20. Marianne Daniels

    A few years ago my Grand daughter had lice she had contacted at school. The best remedy I found was “Oil of Oregano.”
    Put a dropperful in one tablespoon of shampoo. Wet the hair and work into dud’s on the hair. Pile on top of head and let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Then rince and shampoo as usual and condition. Repeat in 7 days just to be sure you killed all eggs. Be sure to comb out with a lice come after treatment to remove all eggs and lice. The treatment is not poison and will not harm the hair. It does not burn and the smell leaves. It also works perfect in long hair which my grand-daughter had. It’s the best treatment I have ever found. Marianne Daniels

  21. MG

    Yes mouthwash works. I have 4 kids and in school have gotten infested. I tried all types of lice shampoos and none worked as effectively as mouthwash. How long to leave it on the hair for I’m still a little confused about, most I’ve seen people say is two hours, maybe it’s most effective if you leave for that long.

  22. mom

    Listerine works like a charm. We also spray Lysol on every surface. This includes the couches, rugs, etc. Many people forget the cars and backpacks. Most of the time that is why you will get nits or lice back. We then use the gel, hairspray and braid routine. My daughter has picked up lice 3 times and every time it only takes one treatment.

  23. GM

    Did Listerine work for you???

  24. LMD

    We use Listerine as a preventative measure as my 10 year (who has beautiful, long, thick, clean, dark hair) has gotten lice every year for years! I spray her head with Listerine every morning after she gets out of the shower. I tie her hair up in a tight bun and hair spray it next. So far so good :)

  25. LS

    My son had a friend who had head lice and we did not find out until he showed up one day to play video games and his head was shaved. I put all things on halt and checked into the allegation and it was true, he had lice. I then checked my little boy who sleeps with mom and dad often and he had head lice. I checked my husband and he had head lice, my husband checked me and yes…I had head lice. First time in our lives!
    Well, I treated my son’s and husband’s head with Rid, combed their hair, picked their hair and cut their hair very short. All is good with them! Me…it is 2 months and one week later and as I type I have olive oil on with a shower cap. My head is sooo tender and I am hitting the stage of anger :-/
    I have seen the Doctor twice, had lice Doctors come to the home, tried real mayo, coconut oil, vinegar, even peanut butter, and including Vaseline. I would see some dead bugs wash out of my hair, but still battle the bug. I comb with a nit comb, I even bought the Robie Electric Nit Comb, I have spent over a thousand dollars and I am ready to cry my eyes out.
    I am going to try the Listerine and pray to goodness that it works! I am sleep deprived, exhausted and just want to feel normal again. I have cleaned my home, stripped my bedding and washed them, threw away the pillows and bought new ones and left the plastic covers on them then I placed my pillow case on them so all I would have to do is strip the pillow cases daily and wipe the plastic off on the pillows. I washed laundry, did a complete cleaning of the home and disinfected down to the floors.
    Threw away hats, got new combs that get boiled a couple of times a day, cut my finger nails short, took my ear rings out of my ears, clean my eye glasses and the list goes on!
    I am praying this Listerine works. I read what you all have written and it makes me smile, I pray this will rid these ugly little pest! Thank you for sharing and i will give an update at a later time ;-)

  26. inawe

    I usually dont post comments about anything anywhere but I just had to say this…i have four beautiful daughters and unfortunately for a long time we tried everything you can think of to get rid of lice and nits. Nothing worked. I followed every advice, you name it, I put it in their hair. Then one day, again “ok ill try that” was told to use listerine so I soaked their heads, left it in for two hours with a shower cap and what I did was shampoo their heads with head n shoulders with almond oil. You see usually with other products I noticed some of the bugs were still alive even though they washed out but for the first time…all were dead!! I used the nit comb and with remainiing nits, I took them out by hand. Well im very very happy to say its been over a month NO BUGS NO NITS of course you moms out there can relate…i get paranoid and do the usual head check. Listerine original formula does work take my word for it…4 girls with long hair with lice was no joke I cried at times I thought theres nothing left to try but I finally found the solution!!

    • adams

      did it work for you? bless your heart

  27. av

    A friend of mine’s daughter came in contact with lice early June 2013. A week later she informed me that the lice was gone… So I really didn’t think anything of it until just a few days ago the little girl and my friend were itchin like crazy.. then Monday morning July 29th I noticed my 3 year old scratching her head for a long period of time… I was so scared I already knew.. right away I googled it.. saw that mouth wash was the most effective .. soaked her hair in it for and hour then washed it out… 8 !! little critters came out .. I parted her hair and picked whatever eggs out that were left.. very few.. put vaseline on it and put it in a bun … 2 days later ..not a critter in sight …

  28. cf

    Totally amazing! My 10 year old and I think we have survived this nasty, disgusting bug!!!
    Found out she was covered in lice Friday………….spent 83$ on pharmacy stuff to no avail……..they still lived! Even tried the mayo thing………I was still getting LIVE ones off her little head so at my wits end went to the computer…….searched home remedies and Listerine came up on a search engine.
    I had some on hand and tried it! Almost instantly all bugs stoped living! Where I was picking the live ones off the comb and putting in a zip lock bag so as not to get in the carpet, I put listerine in the bag and ALL movement stopped!
    We have vacuumed and washed clothes like crazy,but I honestly think this is behind us……..I plan on soaking her in the stuff every day for 10 days and at least once a week………FOR THE REST OF HER LIFE!
    I also switched to coconut shampoo and conditioner as every site I found said the little pesky buggers dont like the smell. I can smell like a coconut the rest of my life if it means I dont have to repeat this last weekend!

  29. sam

    after using original listerine do the lice eggs still stick to hair or are they washed out? Please tell me the exact steps to be followed and also what prevention should be taken while doing so.
    plz reply as soon as possible

    • Dannie
      North Port

      I have Listerine in my hair RIGHT NOW. I have had lice for about 3 months. I CANT get then out. What I’m going to do, is leave this in my hair for a few hours, with my hair wrapped in a towel (I have no shower caps ): ). Until 3, cause I have to get up and leave at 6 for school. When 3am rolls around. I’ll get up and rinse out the mouth wash. Brush my hair out and put olive oil in for about 2 hours. Then comb out all the nits I can. I read that olive oil should release the glue-like substance that holds the nits on like cement. It should come right out. And after I feel I have gotten as many as I can, I’ll wash my hair out with Dawn Dish Soap. It’s the best for getting grease off and its safe enough to use on new born animals. Dawn sponsors oil spill clean ups all the time. It’s pretty neat. Anywho, I hope this helps.

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