The tools and techniques you use to get rid of lice can make a big difference in the effectiveness of combing.

Along with using medicated shampoos and rinses, wet-combing your hair with a lice comb is considered the most effective way to get rid of lice and their eggs (called nits) from your hair.

Wet-combing is the practice of running a lice comb through hair that you have already moistened. This allows you to more easily separate the hair and spot lice and nits.

Read on to learn what supplies you’ll need to get the most out of your lice comb, get a step-by-step guide for wet-combing to remove lice, and what not to do so that you get the best results.

Here are the supplies you need to wet-comb hair with a lice comb:

  • Spray bottle or bowl: with clean, room-temperature water
  • Towel: to drape around your shoulders
  • Comb or brush: to get tangles or knots out of your hair
  • Hair clips or pins: to help you section off areas of hair
  • Lice comb: with long, thin teeth that are close together
  • Tissues: to wipe off the lice comb
  • Trash can or bag: to throw away used tissues
  • Pediculicide treatment (shampoo or rinse): to use afterward

Optional supplies include:

  • regular shampoo and conditioner to wash your hair first
  • bright lamp or lighting to see lice more easily
  • mirror to look at your head for lice
  • magnifying glass to examine sections of hair

It’s recommended to have someone else comb the hair of the person with lice. If this is you, ask a friend or relative. If you’re helping someone else, here’s a step-by-step guide for removing lice and eggs with a comb:

  1. Wet the hair using the spray bottle or bowl to see lice and eggs more easily.
  2. Comb or brush the hair to remove tangles or knots. This makes it easier to run the lice comb through hair.
  3. Have the person sit down in a brightly lit room. Put the towel around their shoulders.
  4. Use hair clips and pins to create several 1-inch sections of hair. This helps you to focus on specific areas and can keep lice from spreading from one section to another.
  5. Slowly run the lice comb up through each 1-inch section of hair. Start at the scalp and work outward to the end of the section of hair. You should see lice and eggs building up on the comb teeth.
  6. Wipe off the comb after each combing.Once you comb out a piece of hair, use tissues to remove all lice and eggs from the comb before you put it back in the hair. Throw tissues away in a sealed trash bag after one use.
  7. Comb each section of hair at least twice to make sure that you comb out most lice and eggs.
  8. Once done with combing, rinse out the hair with water or apply pediculicide shampoo or rinse to help kill any remaining lice or eggs that may have been missed.
  9. Soak your lice comb in water hotter than 130°F for 10 minutes to effectively kill any lice or eggs left on the comb. You can also soak the lice comb in a pediculicide treatment for 1 hour.
  10. Throw away used tissues in a separate trash can or in outdoor bins to make sure lice don’t spread inside your home.

Try to avoid these common mistakes during wet-combing that can do more harm than good:

  • Do not let hair dry until you’re done wet-combing.
  • Do not use your lice comb between sections of hair until you’ve wiped it off.
  • Do not re-use tissues after wiping off your lice comb.
  • Do not throw used tissues into a common trash can.
  • Do not use your lice comb again until you’ve soaked it in hot water.
  • Do not re-wear any clothes you’ve worn during wet-combing.
  • Do not wash your hair for at least 2 days after using a pediculicide treatment.

Here are some frequently asked questions about combing lice from hair.

Can you get rid of lice just by combing them out?

Using a regular comb for lice isn’t very effective. It’s too easy for the wide gaps between comb teeth to miss lice and their eggs.

Using a lice comb on wet hair is much more effective. Use a pediculicide treatment for even better results.

Is it better to comb lice out of wet or dry hair?

It’s better to comb lice out of wet hair than dry hair. Wet hair sticks together and is easier to comb in sections. It’s also easier to see lice and their eggs in wet hair.

How long does it take to comb out lice?

If you’re dealing with short hair, wet-combing can take about 1 hour or less. For long or very thick hair, wet-combing can take 2–3 hours or longer.

How often should you comb for lice?

Comb for lice every 2–3 days for up to 3 weeks, until you don’t see any lice or eggs. Any lice or eggs left behind on hair can reproduce and start a new infestation.

Using a lice comb on wet hair along with a pediculicide treatment is the most effective way to remove lice and their eggs from hair.

Repeat the wet-combing process regularly until you don’t see any lice or eggs.