How to Avoid Head Lice


I used to take special care of my hairbrushes, painstakingly removing all the hair and that grey fuzz that wraps around the bristles.  If it was an eco-friendly brush with a wooden handle (read:  >$20), I would wash and rinse the bristles alone, taking care not to get the handle wet.

But now, post kid-lice outbreak, I’m the Mad King.  I say, “Burn them all!”

(One day I will have to stop with the Game of Thrones references and that day I will cry.)

If you’ve been through this, you know that nothing else, this side of actual tragedy, brings home life to a complete halt more than finding lice in your kid’s hair.

You might also realize, it is anything but Zero Waste.

The special shampoos (re:  topical pesticides), the special combs, hair clips, toothpicks, tissues, plastic baggies (oh the plastic bags we used!), the 18 loads of laundry and the hours and hours you’ll never get back.

Some imagery:

My girls got head lice from a movie theater and that was pretty unavoidable, but as we approach the fall, here are some tips on how to avoid lice once the kids head back to school:

1.  For the love of God, don’t share hair brushes.

This was our undoing.  The oldest contracted the lice, but since we were on vacation I thought I’d pack light and only brought one brush.  Such…a bad…idea.  I’m not sure what’s worse – delicing your kids or delicing yourself.

2.  While you’re at it, teach your kids not to share hats, barrettes, scarves, coats and even helmets or headphones.

(Of course, then we need to re-teach them, that any helmet is better than no helmet)

3.  Keep long hair up.

Long hair asunder provides lice more paved roads to your scalp.  My kids immediately got severe haircuts because I couldn’t get the nit comb through their tangles, but once it grows back, they are getting braids and buns.  Keep the hair tied back and you reduce the chances of getting lice from head-to-head contact with an infected kid.

Bonus:  by doing their hair every morning, you are also incidentally “checking” for lice.

 4.  Teach your kids to put their coats in their backpacks at school.

See all these coats a-touching?

This can be a louse Meet-N-Greet.  Same goes for coats placed on the back of chairs in preschool and younger grades.

So unless you’ve seen first hand your kid’s learning space, I would teach them to avoid the lice buffet and keep their coats and hats inside their backpacks.

(stock image from this place)

5.  Learn to love Tea Tree oil.
Hippie-types looking for natural prevention might tip a few drops of tea tree oil into the kids’ shampoo or even their detangler.  It’s like offering lice raw broccoli at a potluck.  They take one whiff and avoid that end of the table.
(For those of you looking for just lice prevention tips, and not necessarily Zero Waste techniques, there are kid-safe natural Tea Tree oil shampoos you can buy online.  Though I totally encourage you to recycle the bottles when you’ve used them all up!)
6.  Inspect your kids’ hair from time to time.
Especially now that school is starting, sit down and have a look-see around your kids’ head.  If I had been more diligent about this and checked my oldest daughter, I could have possibly kept this from spreading to my youngest.
Check out the the bottom of this link here on how to check your kids for lice.
7.  Sterilize stuff from time to time.
Throw the pillowcases in the dishcloth-SANITIZE load and boil the crap out of hair brushes and combs.
8.  Police slumber parties.
Insist that all slumber parties take place where they did when was a kid:  on the frickin’ floor.

And I’m not sure how or when it became normal for elementary school kids to have their own queen-sized beds, but I’m keeping mine in twins.  When the friends come over toting sleeping bags, it’s down in the basement and down on the floor.  Sorry, kids.  Momma ain’t got time for lice.

9.  Limit contact with other kids if you get the Lice Memo from school.

Don’t freak out on me here.  I’m probably the most lenient mom out there when it comes to playing it safe.  I’m not suggesting you tell your kid to “limit head-to-head contact during recess” because seriously, we can’t live in fear.  But….if you do get the Lice Memo, maybe be proactive with other moms and have a game plan.

Likewise, if your child HAS lice,  please, please tell their teacher immediately.

We’re a team,  here.  Let’s work together and maybe postpone Brownie Troop 2535’s fall camping trip because no one wants anyone else to go through this:

August 23, 2016

About Me

About Me

I’ve been passionate about combatting blind consumerism since 2008 and joined the Zero Waste movement by starting this blog in 2013, soon after my second child was born. I think it might have been trying to unwrap a toy or someone’s attempt to sell me a butt-wipe warmer that put me over the edge… read more



  1. DAB

    Very helpful, thanks for going through this so HOPEFULLY we don't have to…

  2. zerowastemommy

    Oh goodness, it is not pleasant. Though…it is also not fatal. But it's hard to keep that in mind when you know bugs are feeding off your kids. 🙂

  3. jamiesteal

    OH MY GOSH! Sorry you went through this. but thanks for the advice!

  4. zerowastemommy

    I'm just thankful I was on vacation (I think?) and had the 'free time' to deal with it. 🙂

  5. Skip The Bag

    I'm so sorry you had to go through this! When I was a kid I got lice and it was awful. Thanks for sharing on the #sustainablesunday!

  6. zerowastemommy

    So welcome – and remember – keep those brushes and hats separated!


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