DIY Guides How to Get Rid of Fleas: Advice, Tips & More

How to Get Rid of Fleas: Advice, Tips & More

Looking for the best way to get rid of fleas from your home and pet for good? In this comprehensive guide, we look at all the methods you can use to ensure these pesky pests stay clear of your home for good.

There are few places more unwelcoming than flea-infested homes. Fleas bring with them plenty of bites and nuisance. Unfortunately, homes with dogs and cats in them are prone to getting fleas. These pests can make the home look and feel dirty, but they can also negatively impact the health of the pets living inside.

The worst part of having a flea infestation is trying to get rid of them once they’ve setup shop. They can be extremely hardy pests, and are difficult to get rid of. The good news is that most times, DIY solutions will do the trick. This means you can save money by not paying a pest control professional.

In this article, we walk through some of our top tips and solutions for permanently getting rid of household fleas. And, while we’re on the subject, we will touch on a few of the less-than-effective “solutions” and “miracle treatments” that you shouldn’t waste your time on.

What Doesn’t Work

Before we discuss how to get rid of fleas, let’s touch on some of the most common alleged solutions that, in practice, don’t actually work. If you want to get rid of fleas in your house, you should stay clear of these bogus techniques. They will do nothing to kill your fleas (but might make a big mess in your living room).

Essential Oils

Essential oils on table
Natural essential oils have many pest control uses, but fleas aren’t one of them.

Essential oils have been touted as a home remedy for just about anything you can think of. There are some essential oils that do have a place in preventing certain insects. But in most circumstances, fleas do not fall into this threshold. Once you are dealing with a flea infestation, essential oils will not remove them.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple Cider Vinegar
Touted as a flea remedy by many, Apple Cider Vinegar hasn’t been proven effective against fleas.

Apple cider vinegar does not kill fleas at any stage of their life. Many people like to recommend Apple Cider Vinegar as a health solution for just about any malady. Unfortunately, fleas are not one of the ailments that ACV will work for. You are better off saving money and investing in a different solution that’s proven results.

What Might Work

Below, we’ve listed a couple of options that might work to a limited extent. Although these methods are far from guaranteed to work, they will help manage your infestation and can provide some relief for your pets (and houseguests). There are plenty of natural options, like Borax and Diatomaceous earth. But these are not 100% guaranteed to be effective. The options below may help remove fleas from your home, but people report varying levels of success.

Citronella and Lemon Sprays

Lemon Spray
Lemon and citronella sprays can be successful flea prevention methods for some dogs.

Citronella and Lemon sprays work for many different types of bugs. They also can be effective in managing small flea infestations, or pet prevention. You’ll want to make a spray that’s gentle enough to put near your pet’s resting areas. Natural lemon spray can be used on your dog’s coat, and this scent will help keep fleas away.

Not all fleas will respond to this though, which is why it “may” work. Ideally you’d consider an actual flea collar, or treat your home with a professional. If that’s not an option, both Lemon and Citronella sprays become a viable alternative to test.

Detergent or Dish Soap, Water, and a Nightlight

Dish soap and water
Dish soap or laundry detergent and water is one of the oldest methods out there for flea management.

One of the oldest tricks in the book is to lay out small dishes of laundry detergent or dish soap and water (in equal parts). Then shine a night light next to it. Fleas aren’t naturally attracted to water and detergent. So the nightlight is a crucial element in bringing the fleas to the dish. Once they touch the water, they will become stuck and won’t be able to fly away.

The detergent-infused water is toxic to fleas, so they will quickly die once they contact the water. It’s important that you use a small dish with a shallow edge so fleas can easily hop into the water. It’s also crucial that you place the dishes close to the ground. Otherwise, there’s no chance that the fleas will reach the water.

If you don’t have a nightlight handy, you can try using a simple desk lamp. Make sure you shine the bulb to the ground on top of the detergent water. Try to create a spotlight with the lamp to bring the fleas to the illuminated water.

This solution won’t solve your flea problem. However, it’s a great management tool if you want to get rid of some of the fleas in your home. However, I’ve heard stories about minor flea problems being solved using this method alone.

What Does Work

Now, let’s touch on the tried-and-true methods of removing fleas from your household. Although the methods listed above might have some effect on getting rid of fleas, those mentioned below are guaranteed to make a significant difference in managing your flea infestation.

Hiring an Exterminator or Pest Control Services

Hiring a professional for pest control services is always preferred if you can afford it.

Pest control services work exceptionally well for removing fleas and other unwanted pests from household surfaces and fabrics. No matter how many other tricks you try, nothing will work quite like hiring a professional.

Although pest control professionals might cost more than other options, it’s by far the most effective. It may take several sessions with a pest control service to completely rid your home of fleas. However, it can be well worth the investment if you want to truly exterminate the problem.

Unfortunately, your pets are bound to attract fleas even once the exterminator finishes the job. That’s why it’s so important that you take a proactive approach to manage fleas into the future. Once the pest control team has killed the fleas in your home, it’s your responsibility to use flea sprays and tablets. This will help ensure that they don’t return in the future.

Using Flea Tablets and Chewables

Dog Eating Flea Tablet
Flea tablets and chewables make great prevention tools.

Flea tablets are small oral insecticides that kill fleas and other unwanted insects once they are consumed by the fleas. Best of all, there’s no need to worry about your dog or cat getting sick from eating a flea tablet. They are non-toxic in pets.

To use a flea tablet, simply feed them to your pet per your veterinarian’s instructions. Common medicinal flea tablets include the chemical nitenpyram. This is safe for consumption in all pets between two and 25 pounds.

The best part about using flea tablets is that they are very fast-acting. Flea tablets often kick in within 30 minutes and are highly effective in repelling fleas and killing them. Pet owners should note that each flea tablet lasts only one day, which makes them a bad long-term solution. Instead, flea tablets should be thought of as a purely short-term reactive measure.

For the best results, consider combining flea tablets with flea sprays. This will help to kill the eggs that fleas lay in the hair of your pets. Flea tablets are only effective in killing fully-grown adult fleas, so it’s important that you take other measures to kill infant fleas and eggs before they hatch.

Flea tablets should only be used as needed. If the fleas in your home are controlled, you can lay off the flea tablets until you notice they return. Feeding your dogs a flea tablet after they return home from a potentially flea-infested area, such as a dog park or pet salon, is an especially effective measure for controlling fleas as a preventative measure.

Using Flea Sprays

Dog Flea Spray
Flea Sprays are effective flea deterrents in pets.

The awesome thing about flea sprays is that they can be used on your pet’s skin or hair as well as household surfaces such as couch cushions, curtains, rugs, carpets, and more. These flea sprays are effective in killing many types of fleas (both adult and infant) and it kills their eggs after contact.

Flea sprays are one of the most effective options in exterminating fleas without professional assistance.

It’s important to note that it’s not advised that you spray your pets with a flea spray in their facial region. Instead, if you must treat their face with flea spray, spray a comb and brush the hair around their face with the sprayed comb. This way, you can treat their flea problem without getting any spray in their eyes or nose, which can cause serious irritation and discomfort.

Most pet owners use flea sprays in tandem with flea tablets. This is an excellent strategy for curbing a flea infestation as a preventative and reactionary approach. The tablets will kill the adult fleas that live on your dog or cat’s hair or skin, and the flea spray kills the eggs that have yet to hatch on your pet’s skin.

One of the best aspects of flea sprays is that they are economical solutions. Often, flea sprays only cost about 10 bucks and a single bottle can last months. As a budget-friendly option, we recommend flea sprays to virtually every pet owner who wants to curb their flea problem.

Vacuuming or Steam Cleaning Surfaces

Steam cleaning couch for fleas.
Vacuuming is effective, and so is steam cleaning with heat, when it comes to flea removal.

If you want a low maintenance solution for ridding your home of fleas, all you need is a vacuum. Although this method isn’t perfect, it’s a great solution if you need instant relief and can’t run out to the store to buy sprays or tablets. You can also use a steam cleaner with some heat if you really want to double your efforts.

The trick is to use a strong vacuum. Lower-end models might not work as effectively for scooping up all the little eggs that lay about on your carpets, rugs, or sofa cushions. If you’re stuck using a cheaper vacuum cleaner, stick on a nozzle that can help you reach deeper into the surfaces and potentially get underneath objects or into hard-to-reach corners.

If you enjoy vacuuming, you will love this solution for how to get rid of fleas. This is because you get to vacuum a lot. To truly rid your household of fleas, make sure that you vacuum every surface possible, including your bedding, your rugs, your curtains, and any other surface that your vacuum cleaner can reach.

One important thing about vacuuming to get rid of fleas is that you must carefully discard the bag after filling it. Once you have finished vacuuming, detach the vacuum bag and throw it directly into the garbage bin outside your home. For optimal results, feed your pet a flea tablet before you start vacuuming and spray every vacuumed area with flea spray once you’re finished.

Fogging the Room

Using a fogger spray can help clear a room of fleas properly.

The problem with vacuuming is that you can’t vacuum every inch of your home. Therefore, there’s bound to be nooks and crannies in your home that still have eggs no matter how long you use your vacuum cleaner. That’s where the beauty of fogging comes into play.

Fogging is highly effective when it comes to removing fleas from your entire household because fog can reach every square inch of your home. Chances are that if you hire professional pest exterminators, they too will use foggers to eliminate eggs and insects in extreme cases.

This is a disruptive and inconvenient technique, which is why we only recommend it for highly infested households.

The fogging process is relatively simple. First, cover all food items, dishes, cutlery, and smoke alarms before releasing the fog. Then, close all windows and doors and leave the house (with your pets in tow) while the fog releases over a couple of hours.

After the fogging is complete, open all windows and doors and air out every room for about two hours. Once the home is aired out, it will be safe to re-enter again.

Foggers are not an expensive solution, as many fog canister packages cost less than ten or 15 dollars and can treat a room between 1,500 and 3,000 cubic feet. However, they cost a lot in cleanup because once finished there will be many dead bugs (not just fleas) that you will have to clean off the ground.

Dealing With A Major Infestation

If you are dealing with a major infestation like the video above, there are several steps you’ll need to take. There are different strategies that should be employed based on the severity of the infestation. In extreme cases, a combination of measures should be taken to eliminate the total presence of fleas as well as all eggs that might currently exist on your pet’s skin.

If you’re wondering what constitutes a major infestation, a good rule of thumb is to consider any multi-room outbreak to be indicative of a significant outbreak. Sometimes, fleas are contained to only one location within a house. However, bad cases of household fleas can spread through every room in one’s home. In these extreme cases, combine the following treatment techniques:

  • Hire a professional exterminator or a pest control team
  • Feed your pets flea tablets as needed
  • Use flea spray on surfaces and pet hair

The combination of methods listed above is virtually guaranteed to kill your flea outbreak at the source. If you regularly feed your pet flea tablets under the supervision of a veterinarian, you should be able to keep the fleas away in the long term.

Dealing With A Minor Infestation

Let’s say the fleas are held to only one room or location within your house. If this is the case, there’s no need to hire a professional team of exterminators. Instead, you can take the do-it-yourself (DIY) approach by following these steps:

  • Vacuum every surface within affected areas
  • Use flea spray on every surfaced after vacuuming
  • Feed your pet flea tablets as needed

Under this protocol, fogging or hiring a professional pest control team is not required. If the problem is limited to only one room in the house, you can likely save yourself a lot of time, money, and inconvenience by sticking to the vacuum and spray solution.

However, if the problem arises again and fleas return to your home after vacuuming, then it may be time to seek professional assistance in containing the outbreak. Before making the call, try this method first to see if it successfully manages to get rid of your fleas.

If they come back after a couple of rounds of vacuuming and spraying, then pick up the phone and call your local pest control team.

Wrap Up

There are many solutions available to help you get rid of fleas in your home. If left untreated, these pesky critters can cause serious disturbances in your home and lead to nasty health problems in your pets. That’s why it’s so important that you act quickly to get rid of the source of the flea problem before it turns into something hazardous to your or your pet’s health.

Unfortunately, there are many false solutions and myths surrounding flea control. Fake solutions, such as feeding your dog garlic or laying vinegar traps, will not cut it. Instead, vacuuming, flea spray, insecticide flea tablets, and, in the worst cases, professional exterminators, are the only proven methods of ridding a household of fleas.

Managing Editor & CEO Jack has been writing as a contractor and for businesses for over 10 years. He owns his own home, and has been doing his own pest control since he bought his first house.

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