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How to Get Rid of Fleas

If you want to get rid of fleas for good, you need to be committed to vacuuming, steam cleaning, applying insecticides, and more.

Flea Control iStock

If you’ve seen your dog scratching more than usual, there’s no reason to scratch your head and wonder about what that’s about—most likely, your furry friend has fleas. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for a few stray fleas on your pet to turn into a flea infestation in your home, with the tiny bloodsuckers camping out in cushions and carpets and laying eggs. Unfortunately, getting rid of fleas takes more than a trip to the vet. You’ll have to vacuum extensively, steam clean, wash all pet bedding, and apply insecticides.

If that seems like more than you’re willing to take on, consider hiring a professional pest control company. The This Old House Reviews Team believes Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive are the top pest control companies in the industry and your best bet for eradicating your flea infestation.

Flea Basics

When choosing hosts, fleas prefer furry, four-legged animals to humans. But if your pet has fleas and brings them inside, they can scatter and infest your home. You may think it’s not that big of a deal because fleas can’t fly. Unfortunately, these tiny acrobats are avid jumpers—able to leap 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally.

Females fleas can lay up to 50 eggs per day and fleas’ life cycle is typically two to three months. Perhaps the most difficult part of getting rid of fleas is eliminating them in all stages of the cycle, from adults to eggs to larvae. If you don’t get rid of them all, an infestation could happen all over again with a new generation of fleas.

The most effective method is taking a multi-pronged approach, treating your pet, home, and yard at the same time.

Risks

Fleas aren’t just a nuisance. They can carry parasites and diseases, like typhus. Your pet may even develop a tapeworm or heartworm because of a flea infestation.

How to Get Rid of Fleas in Your House

In order to get rid of the fleas in your home, you must be vigilant about vacuuming, steam cleaning, washing and drying bedding, and more. And it’s not just a one-and-done deal. You’ll need to vacuum several times a week until all the fleas are gone.

Note that some of these steps refer to pet bedding. If the infestation is severe enough, it may be worth it to dispose of the bedding entirely and replace it.

Vacuum

Before you bust out the vacuum cleaner, you want to make sure your carpeted floors are fully accessible. Pick up anything extraneous that may be on your carpeted floors, like piles of paper or clothes, and move your furniture out of the way.

Vacuum the rooms thoroughly, going over every inch and using the corner attachment to tackle corners, edges, cracks, and baseboards. It’s a good idea to use the vacuum brush to go over all furniture fabric, especially areas where your pet likes to nap. Pay extra attention to any areas of your home that have accumulated lots of pet hair. You should also go over linoleum, tile, and hardwood floors with your vacuum.

Vacuuming helps get rid of fleas in a variety of ways. First, the force of the suction will kill the adult fleas. The vacuuming also stimulates fleas within their cocoons, forcing them to emerge prematurely. Another benefit—vacuuming removes flea feces and dried blood, which developing fleas use as a food source. This interrupts their life cycle.

Once you’re finished vacuuming, place the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and seal it tightly before taking it outside and putting it in a garbage can.

Steam clean

Use a steam cleaner on pet bedding, carpets, and upholstery. Fleas don’t stand a chance against the combination of soap and heat.

Do laundry

Even though you’ve already steam cleaned and vacuumed your pet’s bedding, you should still wash it and dry it on the highest heat settings possible. Wash and dry your own bedding as well, just to be safe.

Apply chemicals

For this step, find an aerosol insecticide spray that targets fleas at all stages of their life cycle. That means you’ll need a combination of permethrin to kill mature fleas and an insect growth regulator. Allow the chemicals to dry before letting people and pets into the area.

How to Get Rid of Fleas on Your Pets

There are several measures you can take to eliminate the fleas on your pets and help prevent future infestations.

Take care of bedding

As noted before, steam clean, vacuum, and wash your pet’s bedding. You should wash it every couple of days for the first week to help eradicate any surviving fleas. Some people prefer to take the bedding to a dry cleaner. This is an option, but there are a couple of concerns. You don’t want to expose other people to the fleas, and the chemicals used in dry cleaning may not be pet-friendly.

Use a flea comb

Purchase a fine-toothed flea comb, and comb through your pet’s fur—especially near the neck and tail. After each comb through, dunk the comb into a bowl of warm, soapy water to trap and drown the fleas.

Bathe your pet with flea shampoo

You can purchase flea shampoo from your veterinarian. These shampoos are safe for use on pets.

Use flea medicine

You can ask your veterinarian about any possible treatments, like flea collars, oral tablets, sprays, dusts, dips, or topical gels applied to the back of the neck. These treatments kill existing fleas and prevent future infestations. Some are specially designed for small dogs, while others were made for large dogs. You can also choose between monthly applications and fast-acting options for certain types of treatments.

How To Get Rid of Fleas in Your Yard

Getting rid of the fleas in your home and on your pets is just the beginning. You need to make sure you don’t have fleas lurking in your tall grass, just waiting to hitch a ride on your pet. Fleas like to hide in warm, shaded areas.

To get rid of fleas in your yard, mow regularly. Fleas can’t hide as well in low grass. You should also clear all debris from your yard, like twigs and fallen leaves to reduce hiding spots. If there are any areas in your yard that are excessively shading, consider pruning branches and trees back to let more sunlight in.

Professional Flea Control

The most efficient way to get rid of fleas is hiring a pest control company that can send a trained specialist to assess, treat, and monitor the infestation, as well as place preventative measures in motion.

Our top recommendations are Terminix, Orkin, and Aptive. We always recommend getting multiple quotes before making your final decision. If you'd like to receive a free quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form. To get a free quote from Orkin, call 877-871-4752 or fill out this form. If you're interested in Aptive, call 855-697-0130 or fill out this form.

FAQs

How do I get rid of fleas in my house fast?

The fastest ways to get rid of fleas on your own are vacuuming and steam cleaning, washing bedding in hot water and drying it on hot heat, and applying chemical treatment. For the overall fastest way, consider hiring a professional pest control company.

How long does it take to get rid of fleas?

It will depend on the degree of the infestation. It could be anywhere from a few weeks to eradicate all the fleas in every stage of the life cycle, or it could be a few months. Remaining vigilant is key.

Will vinegar kill fleas?

Vinegar does not kill fleas on contact, but the scent does repel them.

Does baking soda kill fleas on dogs?

There is some debate over whether or not baking soda can help get rid of fleas. It does not kill them on contact, but some say its properties can dehydrate flea eggs and larvae.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.