How to disinfect a lice comb?

how to disinfect a lice comb
Do you regularly disinfect your lice comb?

Head lice are a common contagious disease, especially among children and adolescents, and can easily spread among the population as they are often in close contact on school grounds and at home. While head lice do not cause serious health problems, they can cause itching, redness, and swelling of the scalp, and may even lead to infections. Head lice combs are an important tool for dealing with head lice infestations, helping us to detect and remove head lice and their eggs. However, used head lice combs may retain eggs and dead lice, and if not thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, these residues may retrigger the infection. Therefore, knowing how to clean and disinfect a head lice comb properly is crucial to preventing and controlling the spread of head lice. So, how to disinfect a lice comb?

Steps for how to disinfect a lice comb

1. Prepare the cleaning tools

Before you start cleaning your head lice comb, you need to prepare the following tools:

  • Soap: Choose a mild detergent or soap that will effectively remove grease and dirt without causing damage to the comb material.
  • Toothbrush: An old toothbrush is ideal for cleaning the small spaces between the teeth of the comb. Its stiff bristles penetrate deep into the teeth of the comb to help remove stubborn dirt and nits.
  • Hot water: Hot water can help dissolve grease and improve cleaning results, as well as help sterilize the comb. Make sure the hot water is at a moderate temperature so you don’t burn yourself or damage the comb.
  • Towel: A clean towel is used to wipe down the cleaned comb and to ensure that the comb is completely dry before use.

Once you have these tools ready, you can begin the cleaning of your head lice comb.

2. Washing the comb with soap and water

When cleaning the head lice comb, the comb first needs to be cleaned with soap and water.

  • Place the comb in a basin with an appropriate amount of warm water and soap. You can use liquid hand soap or a mild detergent, which is effective in breaking down grease and dirt.
  • Gently agitate the comb in the water with your hands so that the soap fully touches every part of the comb, especially the teeth and back of the comb. The soap will create a lather that will help suspend and remove dirt.
  • Allow the comb to soak in the soapy water for a few minutes so that the soap can penetrate the tiny pores of the comb to help soften and break down dirt.
  • Gently rub the comb, especially the roots of the teeth, which will remove any remaining dandruff, grease, and other dirt.

3. Use a toothbrush to clean between the teeth of the comb.

After the initial cleaning with soap and water, use a toothbrush to remove the dirt between the teeth of the comb thoroughly.

  • Choose a toothbrush with hard bristles, preferably an old one, as the bristles of a new toothbrush may be too soft to effectively clean the small crevices between the teeth of the comb.
  • Wet the toothbrush and dip it in a small amount of soap to better clean the comb.
  • Starting at the end of the comb, use the stiff bristles of the toothbrush to gently but firmly brush each side of the teeth. Be sure to brush the top and bottom of the teeth, as well as the sides of the comb.
  • Focus on brushing the spaces between the teeth of the comb, as these are the areas that are most likely to harbor lice eggs and dirt.
  • Apply appropriate pressure during the cleaning process, but be careful not to be too rough as this may damage the comb.
  • During the cleaning process, you can change the water several times to make sure that you rinse the dirt off the toothbrush and comb.

With these two cleaning steps, you can ensure that the head lice comb is thoroughly cleaned and ready for the subsequent disinfection step.

4. Rinse well with hot water

After thoroughly cleaning the comb with soap and a toothbrush, the next step is to rinse it in hot water to remove all soap residue and loose dirt.

  • Take the cleaned comb under the tap and rinse it with running hot water. It is best to keep the temperature of the hot water between 40°C and 60°C, as this is a temperature that effectively removes grease and soap residue without burning your hands or damaging the comb.
  • Gently rub the comb with your hands to ensure that the hot water rinses into every corner of the comb, especially the spaces between the teeth.
  • During the rinsing process, you can gently shake the comb to allow the water to flow through the teeth and help dislodge hidden dirt and nits.
  • Keep rinsing for a few minutes until you are sure that all soap and loose dirt have been thoroughly rinsed away.
  • At the end of the rinse, gently wipe the comb with a clean towel to remove excess moisture and prepare it for the disinfecting step.

To sterilize a head lice comb

1. Use a household disinfectant

After the hot water rinse, to ensure that bacteria and viruses are eliminated from the comb, you can disinfect it using a household disinfectant.

  • Choose a household disinfectant that is suitable for use in cleaning and personal hygiene. There are many different types of disinfectants available on the market, such as chlorine disinfectants, alcohol disinfectants, etc. Choose a suitable one according to the product instructions.
  • Read the instructions of the disinfectant carefully to know the correct dilution ratio and method of use. For most disinfectants, it is necessary to dilute according to the recommended concentration.
  • Pour the diluted disinfectant into a container, making sure it is large enough to completely submerge the head lice comb.
  • Place the cleaned and rinsed head lice comb into the disinfectant, making sure that every part of the comb is immersed in the disinfectant solution.
  • Allow the comb to soak in the disinfectant solution for the recommended time according to the disinfectant instructions. Typically, the sanitization time may be between 5 and 10 minutes.
  • At the end of the soaking time, remove the comb and rinse it with plenty of water to remove any residue of the disinfectant.
  • Finally, dry the comb with a clean towel and place it in a well-ventilated area to dry naturally.

The use of disinfectant is one of the most effective ways to ensure that head lice combs are sterile and can greatly reduce the risk of re-transmission of head lice and other bacterial viruses.

2. Use of Bleach

When using bleach to sterilize head lice combs, special attention needs to be paid to the procedure and safety as bleach is a strong oxidizing agent which is corrosive and irritating.

  • Prepare a mixture of bleach and water at a concentration of 1:10. This means adding 10 ml of bleach per liter of water. Use household bleach, not industrial grade.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area and wear gloves and a mask to prevent respiratory and skin irritation from bleach vapors.
  • Place a clean and rinsed head lice comb into the bleach mixture. Make sure the comb is completely submerged in the liquid and not partially exposed.
  • Let the comb soak in the bleach for 10-15 minutes. This time is enough to kill most bacteria and viruses, as well as break down the lice eggs.
  • After the soaking time is over, carefully remove the comb from the bleach mixture and immediately rinse it with plenty of water to remove all bleach residue.
  • Dry the comb with a clean towel and place it in a well-ventilated area to dry. Make sure the comb is completely dry before using it again.

Please note that bleach should not be mixed with other cleaning agents or disinfectants as this may produce toxic fumes.

3. Use of alcohol

Using alcohol to sterilize head lice combs is a gentler and more common method as it not only kills bacteria and viruses but also evaporates quickly and reduces damage to the material of the comb.

  • Prepare alcohol at a concentration of 70 percent. This concentration of alcohol will effectively sterilize without evaporating too quickly.
  • Pour the alcohol into a container large enough to completely submerge the head lice comb.
  • In a well-ventilated environment, place the cleaned and rinsed head lice comb in the alcohol.
  • Allow the comb to soak in the alcohol for at least 30 minutes to ensure sterilization.
  • At the end of the soaking time, remove the comb place it on a clean towel, and allow the alcohol to evaporate and dry naturally.
  • If you need to speed up the drying process, you can use a hair dryer on a low-temperature setting to dry the comb, but please be careful not to overheat it as this may damage it.

When sterilizing with alcohol, the same safety precautions need to be taken to avoid the alcohol coming into contact with fire or high temperatures, as alcohol is flammable.

Precautions when sterilizing

1. Wear gloves during disinfection

During the disinfection of head lice combs, it is very important to wear the correct personal protective equipment (PPE) to avoid skin contact with the disinfectant.

  • Choose suitable gloves: Choose a pair of suitable protective gloves, they should be made of chemical-resistant material such as rubber, latex PVC, etc. This will effectively prevent the disinfectant from penetrating the skin.
  • Wear them correctly: Before starting the disinfection operation, clean your hands and then wear the gloves correctly, making sure that they fit snugly on your hands with no slack, which prevents the disinfectant from coming into contact with the skin.
  • Avoid breakage: During the operation, pay attention to the integrity of the gloves. If you find any breakage in the gloves, stop the operation immediately and replace them with new ones.
  • Protection: Gloves protect the skin from direct contact with disinfectants and reduce the risk of skin irritation, sensitization, or injury. It is especially important to wear gloves when working with corrosive or irritating disinfectants, such as bleach.
  • End-of-operation handling: After the disinfection operation, the gloves should be removed carefully to avoid contact with the outer surface of the gloves with the skin. After removing the gloves, they should be washed immediately or disposed of as hazardous waste.

2. Drying the comb after disinfection

Ensuring that combs are thoroughly dried after the disinfection process is complete is a critical step in preventing recontamination.

  • Choose a well-ventilated area for drying: Place sterilized combs in a well-ventilated, dry environment. This will speed up the evaporation of water and avoid humidity.
  • Avoid direct sunlight: Although ventilation is important, avoid placing combs directly under strong sunlight as the heat may damage the material of the comb.
  • Use a clean towel: If quick drying is required, gently wipe the comb with a clean towel to absorb excess moisture.
  • Ensure complete drying: Do not store or use your comb until it is completely dry. Humid conditions are conducive to the growth of bacteria and mold, which may lead to re-contamination of the comb.
  • Check regularly: Before storing, check regularly that the comb is completely dry, especially in the spaces between the teeth, to ensure that no moisture remains.

This will ensure that the sterilized head lice comb remains clean and dry, thus effectively preventing recontamination and maintaining the effectiveness of disinfection.

3. Regular disinfection of head lice combs

Regular disinfection of head lice combs is an important measure to maintain personal hygiene and prevent the spread of head lice.

  • Develop a disinfection program: A reasonable disinfection program should be developed based on the frequency of use of head lice combs in the household and the local head lice prevalence. In general, disinfection at least once a week is recommended. If someone in the household is infected with head lice, more frequent disinfection may be required during treatment.
  • Choose a suitable disinfection method: Depending on the disinfectants and tools available, choose a disinfection method that is suitable for home use. Household disinfectants, bleach, or alcohol can be used. Each method has its advantages and limitations and should be chosen with safety and effectiveness in mind.
  • Combination of cleaning and disinfection: Before disinfecting, first ensure that the head lice comb has been thoroughly cleaned. Dirt and grease may impede the effectiveness of the disinfectant, so cleaning is a prerequisite for disinfection.
  • Strictly follow the instructions: During the disinfection process, strictly follow the instructions of the disinfectant and follow the recommended concentration and soaking time to ensure the disinfection effect.
  • Checking the disinfection effect: Regularly check the cleaning and disinfection effect of the comb. If lice eggs or dirt are found remaining on the comb, it needs to be re-cleaned and disinfected.
  • Storage environment: Disinfected combs should be stored in a dry, clean environment free from moisture and dust, which will help prolong the life of the comb and maintain the disinfection effect.
  • Education of family members: Educate family members about head lice and preventive measures, emphasizing the importance of personal hygiene practices and the need for regular disinfection of head lice combs.
  • Surveillance and prevention: Maintain surveillance of head lice activities, especially when head lice transmission is detected in schools or the community, and step up preventive measures such as regular hair inspection and avoidance of sharing of personal items.

By disinfecting head lice combs regularly, the breeding and spread of head lice can be effectively reduced, providing a healthier and safer living environment for family members. This simple preventive measure not only protects individuals and families from head lice but also helps to improve the public health of the community as a whole.


Cleaning and disinfection of head lice combs is an important part of preventing and controlling the spread of head lice. Through proper cleaning and disinfecting methods, dirt, lice eggs, and pathogens can be effectively removed from combs to safeguard individual and family health.

Regular cleaning and disinfecting of head lice combs not only reduces the risk of head lice infestation but also improves personal hygiene. By taking these simple preventive measures, we can create a healthier living environment for our families. We are also reminded that when facing the problem of head lice, apart from cleaning and disinfecting the tools, we should also take comprehensive preventive and curative measures, including improvement of personal hygiene habits and regular physical checkups. Are you, ready?

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