Can you treat lice with vinegar?

One of the age-old lice treatment tips is to treat lice with vinegar.

However, our recommendation is that you don't use vinegar for licebecause it's not very effective and because there are two much better methods:

Of course, the vinegar home remedy dates back to a time when there were no particularly effective lice remedies and you had to use what you had at your disposal.


What types of vinegar are used?

The types of vinegar traditionally recommended for lice treatment are:

  • Storage vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Sabadilla vinegar
  • Kvass vinegar

Vinegar should not be used against lice


How is the vinegar used?

The idea behind vinegar's effectiveness against lice is that it should be able to dissolve the chitin in the lice eggs (chitin is a component of the skeletons of lice and other insects), killing the eggs.

In practice, there are three ways to use vinegar against lice:

  • washing your hair in vinegar
  • leaving the vinegar in your hair for longer
  • mixing the vinegar with e.g. oil and applying the mixture to your hair

Using vinegar is probably better than not treating at all, but because there are now many effective lice remedies and you can also lice combing with conditionerthere is no need to use vinegar or other home remedies for lice treatment.


Recommended remedies for treating lice

Lice (head lice) is most effectively treated with a lice repellent. You can also comb with conditioner, but this is time-consuming.

We recommend the lice comb set above in combination with lice repellent or conditioner


What does science say?

There is no scientific evidence that vinegar can be used to treat lice, but there are several studies where it has been tested as a lice repellent:


Oil and vinegar

In a French study Quassia vinegar (from the plant Quassia amara) in combination with andiroba oil (from trees in the genus Carapa) was used on 30 patients with head lice. Patients were treated 1-3 times at 5-day intervals.

The results of the survey were as follows:

  • After 5 days 20% was lice-free (1 treatment)
  • After 10 days, 37% was lice-free (2 treatments)
  • After 14 days, 90% was lice-free (3 treatments)

It was also observed that the symptoms of lice (such as itching, dry scalp, redness and dandruff) quickly subsided.


6 tips

In a American study six different home remedies were studied for their effect on lice. The remedies were: Vinegar, white spirit (isopropyl alcohol), olive oil, mayonnaise, melted butter and petroleum jelly. 

The result of the study was that Vaseline was the best of the tested home remedies for lice, but none of the remedies prevented the adult lice from laying eggs. In conclusion, none of the home remedies tested were effective at controlling lice.