Fleas aren’t just a nuisance. They can cause skin irritation, anemia from blood loss, and even be deadly to badly attacked puppies and kittens. When you spot a pesky flea on your beloved pet or in your home, you’ll want to get rid of it (and any others nearby) immediately.
You may have heard that Dawn dish soap can help you get rid of fleas and one of several potential natural flea prevention methods that are safe for pets. After all, many commercials show wildlife animals being bathed with Dawn when being rescued from oil spills.
But is Dawn safe? And does it truly work as a flea treatment? We’ll break down the facts about Dawn, what it does to fleas, and whether it’s an effective at-home treatment to get rid of these annoying pests.
What You'll Learn
- 1 Tell Me About Dawn Dish Soap
- 2 What Does Dawn Do to Fleas?
- 3 Can Dawn Kill Flea Eggs?
- 4 Is Dawn Safe for a Pet’s Skin and Fur?
- 5 Is Dawn Safe for Puppies and Kittens?
- 6 When Should You Use Dawn on Pets?
- 7 How to Use Dawn to Kill Fleas
- 8 Wrap Up
Tell Me About Dawn Dish Soap
Dawn dish soap is a famous American brand of dishwashing liquid that was introduced in 1973. It happens to be the top-selling brand of dish liquid in the United States and is well-known for its ability to remove grease easily and for being safe and effective in removing oil from the fur and feathers of wildlife animals.
Proctor and Gamble, the company that owns Dawn, has donated generously over time to wildlife organizations that work to rescue wildlife affected by oil pollution. Dawn is a versatile cleaner and has many multi-purpose uses, from cleaning up messes in the kitchen to getting tough stains out of clothes and upholstery.
Dawn is non-allergenic and tolerated well by most people, as long as they don’t have a perfume allergy. This brand of soap gets its superior cleaning power from the surfactants in its formula. Surfactants break down the barrier between oils or dirt and water. This action keeps targeted dirt in suspension, making it easier to detach the dirt from surfaces like dishes or clothes.
Surfactants also reduce the surface tension of water. Water naturally has a high surface tension that allows things like dirt (or fleas) to float on the surface rather than sink. The inclusion of surfactants and the chemical reaction they create when mixed with water is what makes Dawn practical and useful both for cleaning and for killing fleas.
What Does Dawn Do to Fleas?
Detergents work well for killing many types of insects, especially ones with soft outer bodies. However, fleas are incredibly lightweight and have a tough exoskeleton that prevents water from penetrating. These characteristics allow them to float easily with the high surface tension of water. The combination of surfactants and detergents in Dawn compromise these exoskeletons and reduce the surface tension causing the fleas to sink to the bottom and drown.
Fleas also have a sort of waxy coating or cuticle that helps them repel water. Their bodies also come equipped with little combs that allow them to get a good grip on your pet’s fur.
The detergents in Dawn remove this waxy cuticle and enable the water to get into the flea’s respiratory system to drown them effectively. Removing the waxy coating can also cause fleas to dehydrate quickly, even if they make it out of the water.
Aside from the fact that fleas typically float, they’re challenging to drown, even when submerged. Fleas can survive submersion in water for up to 24 hours. They may appear dead during this time, but they can recover once out of the water within about 4 to 5 hours.
Dawn’s rich suds help to prevent this recovery and speed up the drowning. Fleas breathe through tiny openings in the exoskeleton. The suds from Dawn block these openings and inhibit oxygen intake.
Can Dawn Kill Flea Eggs?
If your pet has any flea eggs on them, they will easily be washed off and rinsed down the drain because flea eggs are entirely smooth and don’t stick to the skin or fur very well. However, any eggs that fleas may have laid have likely already fallen off your pet and into your environment.
While treating your pet, it’s critical also to treat your environment at the same time. Eggs will typically hatch anywhere between one to ten days, and when they do, the new fleas will hop right back onto your pet as soon as they mature. Eggs can also survive water, so any eggs that aren’t thoroughly washed down the drain will not be destroyed by merely bathing. Bathing your pet with Dawn cannot be your only weapon against a flea infestation.
In addition to treating your pet with Dawn, you’ll want to vacuum your home thoroughly and wash bedding and other soft materials in hot water with your detergent choice. To effectively rid your house and pet of fleas, extensive cleaning is necessary. It only takes a few eggs in your environment to start an infestation. You’ll want to wash your own bedding as well if your dog gets up on your bed frequently.
The best way to treat flea eggs is to prevent them in the first place. If your infestation is severe, it’s best to speak to a vet to get it under control and develop a preventative plan.
Is Dawn Safe for a Pet’s Skin and Fur?
In general, Dawn is safe to use on most pets as long as they don’t have any pre-existing skin conditions. In pets with skin conditions, the detergents in Dawn may make the irritation worse. Dawn is not specifically designed for pet’s skin. Humans can generally withstand harsh detergents much better than pets do.
The human epidermis (top layer of skin) tends to be thicker than that of our pets because we don’t have fur to protect us as they do. The epidermis of animals is usually much thinner and more sensitive to irritants. Strong detergents that aren’t a problem for us can cause problems for our pets’ more delicate skin, especially if they already suffer from any skin conditions.
If you see just a few stray fleas on your pet, Dawn is a perfectly acceptable option for taking care of the problem as a short-term solution. But if fleas are a recurrent problem, it’s not a good idea to repeatedly bathe your pet with Dawn on a regular basis. Doing so can dry their skin out considerably and create a new problem.
Fleas are also likely to keep jumping onto your pet if you don’t eliminate the entire infestation in your environment. If your pet has a lot of flea bites, Dawn may irritate the skin further, and it also shouldn’t be used during an active bacterial infection.
Is Dawn Safe for Puppies and Kittens?
Most medicated flea preventatives and treatments aren’t safe for use on kittens and puppies, so Dawn can be an excellent option for treating fleas as a temporary solution for some infestations. The rules for using Dawn of puppies and kittens are the same as for adult pets.
If your young pet’s skin is already very irritated from flea bites or active bacterial infection, proceed with caution. It’s best to contact a vet to be sure you won’t irritate the skin further. In general, though, Dawn is safe for young puppies and kittens with healthy skin and can be a great tool in your belt as a temporary solution.
When Should You Use Dawn on Pets?
So when should you reach for Dawn to kill fleas on your pets? In young puppies and kittens who are too young for preventative flea medications, you should consider Dawn. Dawn is a great temporary solution if your puppy or kitten is covered in fleas, and you need to remove the fleas immediately to help them.
For puppies and kittens, it’s best to use a small amount of Dawn diluted with plenty of water. Aim to use the smallest amount possible that will get the job done to avoid irritation.
For adult pets, Dawn is an excellent choice for the random stray flea now and then. Dawn is also a good choice when used in combination with other treatments to halt a bad infestation. You should use it sparingly, and it’s best to use preventative medications whenever possible to avoid an infestation in the first place.
How to Use Dawn to Kill Fleas
Dawn dish soap is relatively safe and effective for killing fleas on your pet, and you can also use it to kill fleas in other ways. Here are our tips for using Dawn to rid your pet and your environment of fleas.
Bathe Your Pet
- Start by mixing a small amount of Dawn dish soap with plenty of water.
- About two to three teaspoons in a liter of water work well.
- Mix well to work up a lather.
- Wet your pet’s coat thoroughly.
- Pour the Dawn and water solution over your pet’s body.
- Lather the solution on your pet’s head, being careful around the eyes.
- The fleas will immediately migrate to this area to avoid the solution.
- Work your way down from the head.
- Make sure to scrub well in areas where fleas may run to hide.
- These areas include under the ears, legs, and tail.
- Allow the solution to sit for about five to ten minutes.
- Use a flea comb or other fine-tooth comb to remove dead fleas.
- Rinse your pet thoroughly with warm water.
- Repeat the process once if there are fleas still present.
Clean Your Environment
Wash all bedding and soft toys in hot water with your regular clothes detergent and one tablespoon of Dawn. Dry afterward on the hottest setting. You can also use Dawn to reduce the number of fleas in your carpet. The Dawn will weaken the fleas’ exoskeletons and cause them to dehydrate.
- Mix one tablespoon of Dawn with two cups of water in a spray bottle.
- Spray thoroughly over the surface of your carpets.
- Allow the solution to sit on the carpet for at least five to ten minutes.
- Use a towel to blot the carpet dry.
- Vacuum the carpet to pick up dead and dying fleas.
- Be sure to dispose of the fleas in a contained bag or container.
- Don’t leave any surviving fleas to re-infest the area.
Make a Flea Trap
Dawn also makes an excellent tool for creating a homemade flea trap to place in your environment. Fleas are attracted to heat and light, so they’ll go straight to the trap and then drown in the Dawn solution. Make sure to keep your flea trap out of reach of children, so it doesn’t get knocked over or played with.
- Get a shallow pan and fill it with water and several drops of Dawn dish soap.
- Place the trap near the area where your pet spends a lot of time sleeping.
- At night, turn off all lights and place a lamp pointing directly over your trap.
- This will draw in the fleas and drown them.
Use as a Lawn Treatment
Dawn dish soap can also help treat your lawn for fleas. For this to be effective, make sure to cut down your yard so that the sunlight and Dawn solution can reach them.
To treat your yard, fill a yard sprayer with one ounce of Dawn dish liquid and water, then spray your entire yard. It’s best to do this in the evening so the solution can get to work before the sun dries it out.
Dawn is a safe and effective way to kill fleas and flea eggs on your pet, but if you don’t properly treat your environment at the same time, it won’t be effective at keeping them away. Dish soap is best for one-off situations or as a tool along with other measures when attempting to get an infestation under control.
Dish soap is safe for your pet when used sparingly, but it can cause dryness and skin irritation if used too often. The best thing you can do for your beloved pet is to have a strategy in place to prevent fleas, but if you find a stray flea from time to time, Dawn is useful for washing it down the drain so you can get back to enjoying time with your furry friend.