Four Vinegar-based Remedies to Naturally Combat Head Lice

Despite its strong smell, vinegar may be the perfect ingredient for getting rid of head lice and nits. Find out more!
Four Vinegar-based Remedies to Naturally Combat Head Lice

Last update: 23 May, 2021

Do you want to know how to fight head lice with vinegar? These parasites appear frequently in childhood. In fact, when a child has them, the rest of the children in the home are almost inevitably infected. For this reason, it’s essential to take preventive measures and to have some natural and homemade solutions at hand.

In this article, we’ll share with you folk remedies with vinegar that were used in the past to fight head lice without using chemicals. You can combine vinegar with other proven effective ingredients such as rosemary, tea tree essential oil, garlic, eucalyptus, anise, and coconut oil.

I’ve Got Head Lice!

Head lice are such a common problem in schools because they spread so easily amongst children through physical contact. These small parasites invade the scalp and feed off blood, which causes a lot of itching. As a result, if you know that there’s a child with head lice at your child’s school, you should take some preventative steps.

As pointed out by several researchers at the University of Frankfurt (Germany), there are a great many different products and shampoos to combat head lice. However, the majority contain chemical ingredients and aren’t always as effective.

On the other hand, there are many natural products that can help to get rid of them without any negative side effects for your scalp or your health. Nevertheless, it is important to see a doctor and remember that the most effective natural solution is constant brushing.

Vinegar Remedies to Combat Head Lice

Apples and apple cider vinegar.

The base for all of these remedies is vinegar, a product that can be used for many health problems, as well as in beauty applications and cleaning products. The great thing about vinegar, however, as opposed to many chemical products, is that it stops the eggs from adhering to the scalp.

Several researchers from the University of Arizona explained that vinegar acts as a disinfectant and lowers the pH. For this reason, it was thought that it could also be used to kill these annoying insects.

However, the truth is that research published in 2004 by the Journal of Pediatric Nursing showed that eliminating lice with these remedies was difficult. In fact, petroleum jelly was the one that gave the best results, contrary to what was expected.

For this reason, the information provided here is only indicative and should be approved by a professional to rule out any type of problem. That said, here are some remedies that were used in the past to combat them; mixed with natural ingredients whose effectiveness has been proven.

1. Rosemary Vinegar

The first remedy, and also the most traditional homemade one, is rosemary vinegar. Its effectiveness in getting rid of lice was demonstrated by the following study published by the Journal of Medical Entomology in 2004.

You can make it yourself by macerating some rosemary, a medicinal plant that has antiseptic properties. This way, when you need it you’ll have it to hand.

Ingredients

  • 2 glasses of vinegar (400 ml)
  • 2 to 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

How to Make It

  • Put both ingredients into a glass jar.
  • Seal it well and leave the ingredients to macerate for a month.
  • After this time, it’ll be ready to use.

2. Tea Tree Vinegar

Tea tree oil is a great natural product which you should always have in your cabinet. As a promising study conducted at an Italian university has shown, this essential oil helps to fight head lice effectively.

As a result, it’s the perfect ingredient to add to shampoo as a preventative measure, or even use as an instant remedy by mixing it with vinegar. However, we should warn you that the smell is quite unique and very strong.

Ingredients

  • 1 glass of vinegar (200 ml)
  • 10 drops of tea tree essential oil

How to Make It

  • Mix both ingredients in a spray bottle.
  • Shake well just before use.
Small bottles of tea tree oil.

3. Vinegar, Garlic, and Eucalyptus

One ingredient that would also work is garlic, as it acts to kill bacteria naturally. Both because of its components and its strong odor, garlic is believed to be an excellent lice repellent. In addition, it has the advantage of being found in almost any kitchen.

In this case, you can add some eucalyptus essential oil to reduce the smell a little and boost its effects even more.

Ingredients

  • 1 glass of vinegar (200 ml)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil

How to Make It

  • Beat the vinegar with the garlic.
  • Strain the resulting mixture and pour it into a container. Add the eucalyptus oil.
  • Shake before use.

4. Vinegar and Coconut Oil

Two small bottles of coconut oil inside a coconut half.

Finally, with this homemade remedy, you can mix vinegar with coconut oil, as described in this experiment published in 2009 by the European Journal of Pediatrics.

This combination would be 90% effective. In addition, this vegetable oil (increasingly popular thanks to its multiple properties) has the virtue of protecting the scalp while keeping the hair moisturized.

Ingredients

  • 1 glass of vinegar (200 ml)
  • ½ glass of extra virgin coconut oil (100 ml)

How to Make It

  • Pour both ingredients into a jar. It’s worth mentioning that coconut oil will solidify at anything below 23 ºC.
  • Mix well and shake before use.

Get rid of head lice the natural way

With these remedies created using natural products, people have attempted to combat these parasites without resorting to chemicals. However, as you’ve seen, the effectiveness of vinegar hasn’t yet been proven.

For this reason, consult a specialist to avoid irritation and other hair problems. Also, if you think vinegar may be aggressive, use the other ingredients independently.



  • Meister, L., & Ochsendorf, F. (2016). Head Lice. Deutsches Arzteblatt International. https://doi.org/10.3238/arztebl.2016.0763
  • Sangaré, A. K., Doumbo, O. K., & Raoult, D. (2016). Management and Treatment of Human Lice. BioMed Research International. https://doi.org/10.1155/2016/8962685
  • Chang, P., & Solares, A. (2013). Pediculosis. Dermatologia Revista Mexicana.
  • Johnston CS, Gaas CA. Vinegar: medicinal uses and antiglycemic effect. MedGenMed. 2006;8(2):61. Published 2006 May 30.
  • Takano-Lee M, Edman JD, Mullens BA, Clark JM. Home remedies to control head lice: assessment of home remedies to control the human head louse, Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae). J Pediatr Nurs. 2004;19(6):393-398. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedn.2004.11.002.
  • Young-Cheol Yang, Hoi-Seon Lee, JM Clark, Young-Joon Ahn, Actividad insecticida de aceites vegetales esenciales contra Pediculus humanus capitis (Anoplura: Pediculidae), Journal of Medical Entomology , Volumen 41, Número 4, 1 de julio de 2004, Páginas 699–704, https://doi.org/10.1603/0022-2585-41.4.699.
  • Di Campli, E., Di Bartolomeo, S., Delli Pizzi, P. et al. Actividad del aceite de árbol de té y nerolidol solo o en combinación contra Pediculus capitis (piojos) y sus huevos. Parasitol Res 111, 1985–1992 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00436-012-3045-0.
  • Bayan, L., Koulivand, PH y Gorji, A. (2014). Ajo: una revisión de los posibles efectos terapéuticos. Avicenna journal of phytomedicine , 4 (1), 1–14.
  • González González, Emilio (2013) Aplicación topica del ajo (Allium sativum) en dos presentaciones (tintura y polvo) como tratamiento de pediculosis en gallinas (Gallus gallus) de traspatio en san Lucas Sacatepéquez. Licenciatura thesis, Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.  http://www.repositorio.usac.edu.gt/2089/.
  • Burgess IF, Brunton ER, Burgess NA. Clinical trial showing superiority of a coconut and anise spray over permethrin 0.43% lotion for head louse infestation, ISRCTN96469780. Eur J Pediatr. 2010;169(1):55-62. doi:10.1007/s00431-009-0978-0.