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All Natural Head Lice Remedies

by Tiffany in Beauty, Health & Healing

All Natural Head Lice RemediespinA few months back now my family had its first ever bout with the big bad…head lice. I managed to go through my entire life without ever having had lice or even having it in my house. Luckily, I can still say I have never personally had lice but one of my kids did get a visit from these little guys and I was at a loss about what to do since I have zero experience with this issue. As the digital mom that I am, I sought advice from Facebook about natural – pesticide free – ways to get rid of these scary goobers. I say scary because they managed to reduce my child’s head to a bloody mass of scabs from biting and my child’s scratching. To make matters worse, we actually got the lice from a neighbor kid who had them, spent the night at our house (in my child’s bed), and never bothered to inform us. Ugh!

Anyway, from Facebook I was able to figure out that tea tree oil, peppermint oil, and vinegar would be my go-to resources for this adventure. The oils are hated by lice and they are also helpful in killing them. Vinegar would help dissolve the glue that the lice use to “stick” their nits on your hair shafts. I ended up making a list of all the stuff I found helpful…

Natural Ways to Remedy Head Lice

  • Peppermint Oil
  • Tea tree Oil
  • Oregano Oil
  • Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Coconut oil, another vegetable oil, or mayo – smothers lice – apply to hair and wrap with plastic wrap
  • Flat Iron – To melt the nits “glue”
  • A nit comb – or as I prefer, a metal flea comb from the pet store

We wanted to avoid conventional lice treatments for obvious reasons. They are pesticide based and if we work so hard to eat foods without pesticides and wear clothing grown from cotton without pesticides then it only goes to follow that putting it on our children’s heads will just not do. We also found that the tiny plastic combs sold as lice combs were nearly useless. The metal flea combs found online or at pet stores are more durable, the spaces between slats are smaller, and the one we chose actually has a double row of teeth. We compared it to the plastic lice comb from the drugstore and it was so much more effective with pulling lice and nits from the hair.

Once armed with our flea comb I made my own lice shampoo and guessed on the proportions.

All Natural Head Lice Shampoo Treatment

  • 1 Quart size ball jar
  • 1 Tablespoon (1 squirt) Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap
  • 8-10 Drops tea tree oil (we use Trader Joe’s brand)
  • Fill jar to top with water, shake before each use.
  • Rinse with vinegar and let sit in hair for 5 minutes. Plastic wrap is optional (we didn’t use it)
  • Comb hair with flea comb or lice comb

We spent 1-2 hours each night doing this whole process and we did it every night for about 2 weeks. Getting that pesticide lice treatment would have been a whole lot easier, I will grant you that. It is not necessary though. Suzanne at Mommy Footprint shared on Facebook a theory that perhaps kids whose hair was washed less frequently and with non-conventional shampoos (no poo) were better safe guarded from lice. Smart Mama kind of confirmed by saying that lice cannot stick as well to hair that is “dirty” or containing the natural oils it is meant to be coated with. Very interesting! Perhaps my kiddo’s no poo hair may have helped us avoid lice until now but when the infestation is on your pillow (thanks to the aforementioned sleepover) I think the deck is stacked against you.

For bedding and stuffed toys we simply washed in hot water with a few drops of tea oil thrown in. We also dried everything on hot. We could have also dried them with a washcloth containing a few drops of tea tree oil or peppermint oil but I did not think of it at the time. If there is a next time though, we will be set!

** A reader also recommended Lice Shield Leave in Spray. It is supposedly made up of natural essential oils but I cannot find a full ingredients list so you may or may not want to check that out. LiceMD is also highly recommended and it is pesticide free.

Have you experienced head lice? Do you have any tips to share?

learn more about essential oils

  • annie

    Mayonnaise. Put it on your head/hair, and let it sit for a bit. Then, wash it out. Once when I was younger I had some sort of super lice that I got from my friend. Her parents used all the over the counter chemicals to try to get rid of them to no avail. My mom used mayonnaise, and they were gone. :)

  • Momie2ten

    All stuffed animals & difficult to wash items can be put into plastic bags & sealed for 2 weeks, safe after that. To avaoid the nightly routine, on the advice of our pediatrician used hair gel ~ no pesticide shampoos! Slather a generous amount of el on the entire head (saturate all hair) and place a baggie or swim cap over & sleep in it. Wash as usual in the morning. Done every other night for 2 weeks it smothers all living lice & those that may hatch. We now wash hair in shampoo with rosemary & pepper oil as a preventative! (Plus it smells great!)

    • I like your idea to use oils in the shampoo from then on to prevent. We do this too!

  • We’ve been SO lucky not to have to deal with this with my kiddo thus far. It’s great to know there are other options besides the OTC poison… just in case. 

  • Good Girl Gone Green

    Do yo think using Dr.bronners tea tree soap and peppermint oil would work as well? Great post! :)

    • Probably. I was using what I had on hand. ;)

  • Jill Hart

    Great advice! Vinegar is also a natural remedy for dandruff. One of my sons had it really bad with sores all over his head. He started rinsing his head with vinegar and letting it sit for a few minutes before rinsing. It took a few weeks but did the trick. Vinegar is the wonder drug of this century in my opinion.

  • Nan

    In addition to treatment you almost have to go in a remove all nits! If one is left and is active in 2 weeks they hatch to an all new infestation! Hence the old term nit picking! 

  • I had a friend who lived in Malaysia and her daughter got lice. She googled the stuff available to her and it was not good! So she did mayo and salt. She said her daughter wouldn’t eat mayo for years after that.

  • Lanie

    Really useful advice for a problem that can happen to anyone these days.  Super post!

  • Rishellg

    Since Head lice are becomming immune to chemical treatments, we may as well use natural ones. We put tea tree oil in a bowl of olive oil. Saturate the hair, cover with a shower cap, and leave on overnight (or at least several hours.) The olive oil makes the hair slick so that the nits slide off easier. It also seems to suffocate the lice. A local doctor also reccomended doing the same treatment (shower cap/overnight) after slathering hair with mayonaise. (but NOT the low-fat kind) and it also worked.

  • Jay in Austin

    Use hair dryer – up close – and do it for about 30 minutes – et voila – no lice, no nits, all gone – same thing with bed-bugs – run your clothes through the drier & they won’t make it out alive.  

  • Maggie Owens

    great post. very informative. luckily I did not have to deal with this when my daughter was growing up but a few of her classmates had a bout with them. Not fun.

  • we’ve never dealt with this, and if we did, I would just shave my boy’s head :)

  • Lauren

    That’s a lot of work! the LouseBuster if FDA-Cleared, NO chemicals or pesticides, just heated air, and kills lice AND nits in 30 minutes. Done and done! Most areas have a LouseBuster operator in the area. There are a few states that still do not, but you should check it out at or at

    THANK YOU for not using chemicals!!!!

    • Yikes $185 per treatment!

      • lauren

        I was charged 125/treatment.
        For some who don’t have the time you do, if it’s between 28 hours (like you mentioned) or 100 plus dollars, it’s good to have this chemical free alternative. Combing does work, but we don’t want those without the time to fall back to chemical shampoos. There’s another answer, and it’s the LouseBuster. Some schools offer it.

      • lauren

        I was charged 125/treatment.
        For some who don’t have the time you do, if it’s between 28 hours (like you mentioned) or 100 plus dollars, it’s good to have this chemical free alternative. Combing does work, but we don’t want those without the time to fall back to chemical shampoos. There’s another answer, and it’s the LouseBuster. Some schools offer it.

  • lauren

    Another reason I am grateful you didn’t use chemicals.
    This is a heartbreaking story off of

  • Unfortunately I’ve had way too many experiences with head lice. I’ve shared my adventures on my blog. I have found that there really aren’t many deterrents- keeping girls hair in a pony tail helps. The oils really don’t seem to work, although I continue to use them! The comb is your best friend when lice arrive. That’s the only way to get rid of them aside from buzz cuts (must be very short buzz cuts). I have used a nit picker, but they are cost prohibitive. The other thing to remember is that lice can’t survive without a scalp. So don’t spend too much time vacuuming and washing stuffed animals. Focus on combing through the hair -it takes hours! One more tip: sleep with olive oil on your head for at least 8 hours. Lice can hold their breath for up to 8 hours and the oil will suffocate them. No need for plastic caps either. Hopefully there won’t be a next time!

  • Titus2fam

    We did the mayo and then just blow dried our hair every day.  VOILA!  :)  I have heard of other only using the hairdryer a couple times a day for a few weeks and getting rid of lice.

    • Titus2fam

      OH yeah~we did nit comb with conditioner every washing though….

  • Jawee

    For anyone wanting an all natural remedy for head lice you are in luck. Na-Na’s Naturals will launch an online store May 7. Plant & oil derived formulas but the best part is the LOW COST. Anyone wanting to try the products FREE w/s&h just let us know.

  • DragonsisterMomma

    We’ve been dealing with head lice for a couple of years now :( The combination of only seeing my step daughter every second weekend, and her mum not taking the infestation seriously has been a challenge! With both she and I having waist lenght hair it’s been even more of an adventure trying to eradicate the little pests.

    Here are some things that worked for us:

    Top of the list is Wild Child Family Lice kit. Unfortunately I think the buisness has gone under, or stopped producing the product, I can’t find it anywhere any more :( It was however the MOST effective treatmetnt, showing about 95% improvement in less than 24 hours.

    Second on the list is simply patience, a good metal lice comb (we found ours just at the local pharmacy for under $15, and a good shampoo/condition/comb routine every 3 days or so.

    I chose to go with a deep moisturizing conditioner to try and minimize the damage of such fine coming so often. Combing through on my girl’s head takes a solid three hours, but it makes a huge difference.

    Lavender Oil has been our saviour when it comes to the itchy spots, the weeping bites and the lice themselves… a few drops rubbed into each trouble area, and then combed through the hair has made a huge difference.

    Hope that helps others out there with the longer haired children… :)

  • Louiseivers26

    We have head lice in QLD all the time because of the warm climate so I put on my daughters hair as prevention few drops peppermint few drops tea trea and olive oil in her hair everyday neadless to say now never has a problem with headline

  • Nicole Rose

    We use Fairy Tales Hair Care prevention products to help repel against head lice.

  • =guest

    My mom used to put lampoil on in my long and very thick hair. Not ideal but it did work!

  • I am writing a book on natural alternatives to chemical health and beauty as well as cleaning products and would love your feedback.

  • Pingback: Amazing Uses for Apple Cider Vinegar | Nature Moms Blog()

  • Selina

    Your friend is right, less washed, tied back hair is better to prevent the spread of lice