How Long Do Lice Live on Mattress

A female lice can lay 6 to 10 eggs a day and live for up to a month after reaching maturity. So if these insects find their way onto your head, it will be very difficult to get rid of them. Precaution is key! So keep reading. 

This article will go over how long lice can survive, how you can get rid of lice from a mattress as well as ways to protect yourself from getting infected. 

How long do lice live

Head lice can only live for 1 to 2 days once they fall off a host onto a mattress. They rely on human blood to survive and can not feed on anything other than that. Adult lice only lay eggs on a human’s head. So you don’t need to worry about procreation. 

Why can’t lice live on a mattress for more than 2 days

Head lice rely on their host’s blood to survive. They don’t like leaving their host since they have to feed several times a day. Finding a new host is quite difficult for these insects since they can’t fly or jump. 

Head lice can only crawl. So unless a human laid down next to them, they wouldn’t be able to get a new host. Therefore, it is possible to get lice from a mattress. But you won’t get them from a sofa or chair near the bed since these tiny insects can’t move around much. 

How do you clean a mattress after lice?

Since lice can only live for a short period of time off a scalp, you should focus your efforts on washing the times an infested person recently came into contact with and checking your family member’s heads. 

The latter is more important. 

Here are 3 steps to take once you find out that there is a lice problem in your home:

  1. Throw your bedding and linens in the washing machine
  2. Soak all hairbrushes, clips, hair ties, etc.
  3. Check heads every day until you have 5 lice-free days

Let’s explore each in detail so you know exactly what to do. 

Read also: Can you use a carpet cleaner on a mattress?

Throw your bedding and linen in the washing machine

First, take off any bed linen that the infested person recently used. Machine wash them on a hot cycle and dry them. Use fresh sheets on the bed and leave the old ones out to dry. 

Remember to use hot water cycles and high heat drying cycles. Lice can’t survive in such temperatures so it will ensure that they and their eggs die. 

Soak all hairbrushes, clips, hair ties, etc. in hot water

Second, take any hair accessories that the infested person used in the last few days and soak them in hot water. Leave them soaked for at least 10 minutes. 

As for ribbons, bows, scrunchies, etc., it is better to throw them in the washing machine instead of soaking. The machine will give them a thorough clean and ensure that all the lice and their eggs die. 

Check heads every day until you have 5 lice-free days

Lice don’t live very long once they leave their host. However, they procreate a lot. So if you’re worried about having to deal with head lice infestations, procreation is your biggest issue. 

You have to interrupt the lice’s life cycle and make sure that they stop having babies. The best way to do this is by consulting a doctor and asking them for head lice treatment. However, you can also go the longer route which involves cleaning out every head twice a day. 

The second technique is notably harder and requires more effort. 

Keep checking heads regularly till you can go 5 days without seeing any lice or eggs. 

Ways to reduce spreading lice from one head to another

If you or someone you know has lice, you’ll want to ensure that you aren’t spreading them around. As you probably already know, a lice infestation is a a nuisance to deal with. Here are 6 ways to minimize the possibility of spreading lice from one head to another:

  1. Avoid head to head contact 
  2. Don’t share items like hair brushes and ponies 
  3. Separate personal items like clothes and headphones
  4. Vacuum fabrics that have been in contact with the infested person 
  5. Use OTC lice repellents
  6. Check your head immediately after contact with an infested person

Let’s explore each tip in detail. 

  1. Avoid head to head contact 

As explained before, head lice can crawl but they can’t jump or fly. So the only way for them to get from one person to another is if they can do so by crawling. If you can avoid head to head contact with an infested person, there is a very low chance that their lice will find their way to your head. 

Since lice can sometimes fall off a person’s head, it is best that you avoid being super close to people with lice as well. You don’t want to catch any stray insects!

  1. Don’t share items like hair brushes and hair accessories 

While head lice can not survive for long on inanimate objects like hair accessories, they can stay on there for up to 48 hours. So it is best if you avoid sharing scrunchies, headphones, and other such items with an infected person. 

If there are lice on them, you’re basically inviting them onto your head to feed on your blood. 

  1. Separate personal items like clothes and stuffed animals

Sharing clothes and shoes isn’t as bad as sharing hair accessories with a person who has lice. However, it is still best to avoid doing so. Lice may have fallen off their head onto these items. 

And they can always crawl their way up your body. 

It is possible to spread head lice through such items even though the possibility is quite low.

  1. Vacuum fabrics that have been in contact with the infested person 

While you don’t need to fumigate your house once an infested person has come into it, it is a good idea to vacuum any fabrics that they come into contact with. This includes pillows, sheets, stuffed toys, etc.

Of course, you could always just use the hot water technique we suggested before for scrunchies or throw these fabrics into a washing machine like we suggested you do with bed sheets. 

You can use any of these three strategies and it will be quite effective. 

  1. Use OTC lice repellents

OTC lice repellents are quite effective. If you spray them on your head, you can make yourself an unsuitable host for lice.

You can get these products in shampoo and lotion form too. 

  1. Check your head immediately after contact with an infected person

Once you come into contact with a person with lice, you are automatically at a risk of being infested. The risk is quite low. However, it still exists. 

So just to be on the safe side, you should go home and check your hair with a lice comb and remove lice if any are found. Sometimes your head isn’t itchy even if you have lice so waiting for such signs isn’t the best idea. 

Read also: Can you steam clean a memory foam mattress?

Conclusion: How long do lice live on mattress

Lice can live on mattresses for 1 to 2 days after leaving a person’s head. They need to feed on their host’s blood several times a day to survive and don’t live for long after they stop having access to it. 

If you think there may be lice on your mattress, remove the bed sheets and throw them in a washing machine. Run it for at least 10 minutes on a hot cycle. Then put them through a high heat drying cycle. This will make sure any lice and lice eggs on your linens die.