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How To Get Rid of Fleas

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Flea Control

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 04/19/2024

Fleas are a problem for more than just dogs and cats. These bloodsucking insects leave behind itchy bites, and in some cases, can carry and transfer disease. Protecting your pets with regular medication is the first step in prevention, but even homes without pets can sometimes become infested with fleas.

Below, we will offer some tips for DIY flea extermination that gets rid of both live adult insects and their eggs. However, if these steps don’t work, or if you’d rather jump straight to a permanent solution, we’ll recommend our picks for the best pest control companies to take care of flea infestations.


Flea Basics

Fleas are parasitic insects that are typically brown in color and smaller than 1/8 of an inch. They need to feed on the blood of a host to survive. When choosing hosts, fleas prefer furry, four-legged animals to humans. However, fleas will sometimes hop onto nearby human hosts, and they can take up residence in your home’s carpets and bedding. 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, the infestation will continue 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

Normally, flea bites are a nuisance, though they can cause a skin condition called flea bite dermatitis in dogs and cats. However, in some cases, fleas can also carry diseases that they transfer to their human hosts by bite. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that fleaborne diseases include murine typhus, cat scratch disease, and the plague. If a pet or a child ingests a flea infected with another parasite like a tapeworm, they can then also become infected.


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. You’ll need to vacuum and do laundry 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, you may ultimately save time and money by disposing of the bedding entirely and replacing it.

Prior to vacuuming, 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 of floor space and using attachments to tackle corners, edges, cracks, and baseboards. It’s also 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 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 or trap many of the adult fleas. The vacuuming also stimulates fleas within their cocoons, forcing them to emerge prematurely. Vacuuming can also interrupt the flea life cycle, as it removes flea feces and dried blood, which developing fleas use as a food source.
If the flea problem is particularly bad, vacuum every day. Each time you finish vacuuming, place the vacuum bag in a Ziploc bag and seal it tightly before taking it outside and putting it in a garbage can. There may be some live fleas remaining in the vacuum bag, and you don’t want them escaping back into the house.
Use a steam cleaner on pet bedding, carpets, and upholstery. Fleas don’t stand a chance against the combination of soap and heat. Many hardware stores and even grocery stores rent steam cleaners by the day.
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.
Do some research or speak to a pest control professional before starting treatment with insecticide. Choose an insecticide that is safe for use inside the home and around pets, if you have them. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before applying it and follow them carefully. There is no benefit to be gained by using more than the recommended amount, and it may be dangerous.
Note, however, that you’ll likely have to apply multiple treatments. At some stages of their life cycles, fleas are immune to insecticide, so you’ll need to re-apply as directed. Continue vacuuming and washing throughout this time, as all of these steps are necessary to get rid of a moderate to severe infestation..

How To Get Rid of Fleas on Your Pets

If you have pets, treating them for fleas is every bit as important as treating your home. This should also 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. We don’t recommend taking the bedding to a dry cleaner. You don’t want to expose other people to the fleas, and the chemicals used in dry cleaning may not be pet-friendly. Well-made pet bedding should be washable.

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. However, many essential oils are not pet-safe, so never use them on or around your pet without first talking to your vet.

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. Some of these treatments kill existing fleas and prevent future infestations. Starting your pet on a flea and tick prevention medication is worth the expense. Talk to your vet about finding the right product for your pet’s size, age, and health..


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 or your pant leg. Fleas like to hide in warm, shaded areas, so follow these tips to make your yard less hospitable to them.

  • Mow regularly—fleas can’t hide as well in low grass.
  • Clear all debris, like twigs and fallen leaves, to reduce hiding spots.
  • Dethatch your turfgrass and avoid overwatering your lawn. Damp thatch can provide the perfect breeding ground for fleas.
  • Use outdoor pesticides selectively. Some flea killers can be harmful to wildlife and beneficial insects like bees.
QUICK Tip
If there are any areas in your yard that are excessively shaded, consider pruning branches and trees back to let in more sunlight.

Professional Flea Control

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

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.


FAQ About How To Get Rid of Fleas

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

The fastest ways to get rid of fleas on your own are treating your pet, vacuuming and steam cleaning floors, washing bedding in hot water and drying it on high heat, and applying indoor-safe pesticides. Or, 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. Eradicating all the fleas in every stage of the life cycle could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months. Continuing to vacuum, wash, and treat is key.

Will vinegar kill fleas?

Vinegar does not kill fleas. You will need to wash and dry infested items, treat pets with medication, and vacuum regularly.

Does baking soda kill fleas on dogs?

Although some say baking soda can dehydrate flea eggs and larvae in carpets, this takes time, and it won’t stay in a dog’s fur long enough. Treat fleas on dogs with a medicated shampoo and preventative medication.


Our Rating Methodology

We back up our pest control recommendations with a detailed rating methodology that we use to objectively score each provider. We review pest control plans, navigate the provider website, speak with customer service representatives by phone and online chat (if available), request quotes, and analyze customer reviews for each provider. We then score the provider against our review standards for plan options, additional benefits and convenience factors, availability, trustworthiness, and customer service to arrive at a final score out of 100.

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