How Long Do Lice Live on a Mattress?

How long do lice live on a mattress? They cannot survive without a blood meal for more than a few days. If a head louse falls off your hair onto the bed, it will only survive 1-2 days. Head lice need to live on your head and feed on blood 2-4 times daily.

On the other hand, if you have body lice, they can live on your mattress and crawl onto your skin to feed. However, they tend to live within your clothing seams and travel to your skin to feed. Beware: if you spend a lot of time in bed, the body lice can easily live on your mattress and crawl to feed throughout the night.

Lice typically live for 30 days, so if you have body lice, you’ll need to do plenty of laundry and steam clean your mattress.

Use the DUPRAY NEAT steamer to sanitize your mattress and bed frame after a lice infestation. You’ll feel so much better after you steam your entire bedroom. Sanitizing with a good steamer will help the itchy scratchies subside too.

Can Lice Live on Your Bed?

Can lice live on your mattress?

Head lice can live on your bed for 1-2 days. However, body lice can live longer on your mattress since they live within your clothing and then crawl toward your skin to feed a few times per day.

Remember that bed bugs rather than lice will live on and infest your bed. Make sure to read up on the differences between lice vs bed bugs.

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Although if you spend a lot of time on your bed and have body lice, you’ll need to vacuum and use the DUPRAY NEAT steamer. Lice leave behind black specks of poop that you’ll want to clean up.

The steamer will sanitize your entire bed after a lice infestation. Once you steam your whole bedroom, you’ll feel a lot better.

One of our clients caught some lice on their mattress and thought they were baby bed bugs. Luckily they sent us this photo, and we were able to help them ID the bug. Here is the photo they texted us:

How Long Do Lice Live on a Mattress? Lice caught on a bed.

Learn the Lifecycle of Lice

Learning how long it takes lice to go from egg to adult will better help you understand how to get rid of them. The timeline below shows averages, each stage can take shorter or longer.

Egg (7-10 days) ➡️ Nymph ➡️ Nymph ➡️ Nymph (9-12 days) ➡️ Adult (30 days)

The lifespan of a louse from egg to death is about 40 – 50 days.

Head lice are spread through direct contact with infested clothing, hair, pillows, mattresses, couches, and more. Once a female head louse gets onto your head, it can begin laying eggs.

In order for lice to mate, you need a male and a female.

However, once a female has become impregnated, she will lay eggs a few days later. Lice are not asexual and cannot reproduce on their own.

So this is how you can get one female head louse, and she can start the whole infestation. She will lay up to 6 – 10 eggs per day.

Eggs take 7-10 days to hatch; the louse will go through three nymph stages before becoming an adult. Remember that the nymphs take 9-12 days before becoming an adult. It’s only the adult lice that can reproduce and make more babies. Similar to how bed bugs are not asexual, neither are lice.

How To Treat A Mattress For Lice?

Before treating your mattress for lice, you should use a comb to remove the nits from your hair. A lice comb is the only way to get rid of the eggs (nits); the head lice treatment won’t kill the eggs.

The nits will be in your clothing and bed sheets if you have body lice. So it’s essential to wash and dry your clothing and bed sheets continually.

Treat The Source

  • First, treat your hair and remove the nits. If you think you have body lice, begin showering and washing your clothes. There are many local lice clinics, like Lice Free Noggins will treat your hair and remove the nits if you can’t handle it on your own.

Wash Bedding

  • Wash all your bedding daily in hot water, then put it through the high-heat dryer. It’s the high heat that will destroy the lice.

Treat Hair Brushes and Other Items

  • Use boiling water to treat hair brushes, hats, or ponytail holders. Basically, anything that comes into contact with your head will need to boil.

Vacuum and Steam

  • Lastly, you can use a vacuum and then a steamer like the Dupray NEAT steamer to steam-treat your bed frame and mattress. The thing is, this is more for your peace of mind. Using a steamer regularly is a great way to sanitize your entire house; I use the NEAT steamer recommended above weekly. Lice are not usually living on your mattress away from the host like bed bugs. Bed bugs can live without food for quite some time before they die. On the other hand, a louse nymph will die within a day if they don’t get a blood meal.

How Long Can Lice Live on Bedding?

Lice will live in your bedding for 1-2 days if they don’t get a blood meal. If these parasites get into your bedding, they will return to your head to feed when you lie down. Lice are nocturnal, which means they are more active in the nighttime.

Remember that nymphs can only live for about a day without a blood meal, and adult lice will only live for a day without a blood meal.

I would err on the side of caution and wash everything. If you have bedding infested with lice, soak it in hot water and put it through the high-heat dryer. If you have lice, you’ll have to go through the motions of washing and drying all of your bedding and clothing.

Final Thoughts for How Long Do Lice Live on a Mattress?

If you are worried about head lice living on your mattress, don’t be. Lice, unlike bed bugs, cannot survive without a blood meal for more than a few days.

If a head louse falls off your hair onto the mattress, it will only survive 1-2 days. Head lice need to live on your head and feed on blood 2-4 times daily. So, if you want to get rid of lice for good, focus on treating your scalp and hair, then move on to treating your bedding and clothes.


Read Up On Other Bugs That Can Get In Your Bed

What is a bed worm? And how to get rid of them.

What are those tiny bugs in the bed, not bed bugs?