Lice are parasites that need human blood to survive. They therefore cannot live long without a human host. On furniture or carpet, they usually die within a day or two.

Lice are tiny insects that can live on the human body. There are three main types:

Head lice: Experts also call head lice pediculus humanus capitis. Adults are about 2.1 to 3.3 millimeters long and tend to live in the hairs of their heads.

Body lice: They are also known as pediculus humanus corporis. Adults are about 2.3 to 3.6 mm long. They live in clothes and move on the body to feed. However, body lice are rare.

Pubic lice: Also known as crab lice, they are called pthirus pubis. Adults are about 1.1-1.8mm long and tend to live in pubic hair.

Adult lice can live up to 30 days on a human. Although they are mainly spread by direct contact, people can sometimes get head lice from sharing clothes or other personal effects with someone who already has them. However, lice cannot live very long without a human host. Read on to find out how long lice can live on carpets, furniture, and other household items.

How long can lice live?

Lice feed on human blood and need human hosts to survive. Once separated from their host, the lice usually die within a few days. The nits, or eggs, of head and pubic lice cannot hatch unless they are on a human body. They usually die within a week.

How long can lice live on different household objects

Furniture and carpets

The chances of getting lice from carpets or furniture are very low. Adult lice usually die on furniture or carpets within a few days. Regularly vacuuming furniture and carpets helps eliminate lice and nits.

Pillows and sheets

You can sometimes get head lice from sharing pillows and sheets with someone who has head lice. As with furniture and carpets, adult lice usually live for about two days on pillows and sheets without human contact. The nits do not hatch and die within a week. Pillows or sheets used by a person with head lice should be machine washed in hot water over 55°C.


Head lice can be caught by sharing clothes, including:

ribbons or hair clips

To kill lice or nits on washable clothes, they can be put in a hot washing machine with water over 55° C. If the garment is not washable, it can be placed in a bag plastic and keep it for two weeks before using it again. Lice will die without a human host within this time frame.

Hair brushes

It is also not recommended to share hairbrushes.

Adult lice can survive for two days, and nits for about a week on a hairbrush. To kill lice and nits, simply soak combs or hairbrushes in 55 hot water for 5-10 minutes.

How are lice transmitted?

The most common way people get head lice is through head-to-hair or hair-to-hair contact. When there is direct contact, the insects crawl from head to head and begin to lay eggs. Sometimes lice can pass from person to person through shared clothing or other personal belongings. However, it is rare to get lice from furniture or carpets.

Body lice tend to be transmitted

by direct contact with a person with lice
sharing clothes, beds, linens or towels with someone who has head lice.
Pubic lice are passed from person to person through sexual contact.

Lice prevention

To prevent head lice infestations:

avoid face-to-face contact
refrain from sharing hats, scarves, coats, hairbrushes or hair ribbons
refrain from lying on furniture, pillows, rugs or stuffed animals that have recently been in contact with someone who has head lice.


Lice are parasitic insects that feed on human blood and must live close to the body to maintain their temperature. Without a host, the lice die within a few days. Lice cannot live long on household items such as carpets and furniture, and people are unlikely to catch them on these surfaces.

* criptom strives to transmit health knowledge in a language accessible to all. In NO CASE, the information given can not replace the opinion of a health professional.