Six Steps to Eliminate Fleas in Your Home
By: Alicia Lawrence
Has your family pet been a little itchier than usual? Do you find your fury loved one constantly scratching or biting their foot? If so, you might have a flea infestation on your hands.
While the best way to keep fleas out of your home is prevention, if fleas have hitchhiked their way in already follow these steps to remove fleas quickly from your home.
Step #1: Identify the Extent of Your Flea Problem
First, make sure it really is fleas you’re dealing with, and not bed bugs or mites. Fleas are generally easy to identify once you know how.
On your pets, check for tell-tale flea dirt. It will look like dirt attached to their skin, and it’s often on their hindquarters and stomach.
If you have a female who’s had pups, don’t be surprised to see a concentration around the nipples. Unlike regular dirt, it won’t be on their fur but on the actual skin.
If you don’t have pets, it’s much less likely you’ll have fleas in the first place, but you can still do an easy check. Fleas jump, and they’re attracted to light colors, so put on the whitest socks you can find and walk through your home.
If you do have fleas, they should hop on. The more fleas you have, the more you’ll see. If you use the sock method and find fleas, walk directly outside and get rid of them.
Step #2: Eliminating Fleas on Pets
Treating your pets for fleas must happen pretty much in concert with treating the house. Otherwise, the fleas will just latch onto your furry friend and hang out until your house is safe for them to invade again. Then you’ll be stuck repeating the entire process.
You have a few options for getting rid of fleas, but some can be dangerous for pets that have compromised immune systems, so check with your vet first before giving your pet any of these treatments.
Pet flea treatment options include:
- Flea Bath: You can use flea treatment shampoo or make your own using apple cider vinegar and essential oils.
- Homemade Flea Collar: Add three to four drops of cedar or lavender essential oil to two tablespoons of water. Mix well and then add at five to ten drops of the mixture to your pet’s collar or bandana.
- Natural Flea Spray: In a spray bottle add one cup white distilled vinegar, one quart water, and three drops of cedar or lavender essential oil. Use this mixture to spray on your pet’s bedding. You can also spray on a cloth and use it to wipe on your dog’s feet and neck area.
- Internal Flea Treatments: Edible internal flea treatments are very powerful and usually only available by prescription. Some are taken regularly once a month, while others are once-and-done and work only for a short time.
Step #3: Vacuuming Away Fleas
Your entire home should be vacuumed on a very regular basis when you have fleas. This will pick up the eggs and some of the larvae and adults. The vacuum won’t kill the eggs, though, so you’ll need to take the bag out of your house and dispose of it after each time.
It’s important to continue to vacuum regularly for a minimum of two weeks. The flea life cycle is short, so if you stop vacuuming before completing the entire round, you’ll see fleas reemerging in short order. Try to vacuum every two to three days for at least a two-week period.
Step #4: Natural Ways to Kill Fleas
There are plenty of natural ways to kill and discourage fleas. The method you use will depend on a few factors, including who lives in your home and the extent of the flea infestation.
Natural flea treatment options include:
- Flea Traps: In each room, place a flea trap or at least a small water dish with a few drops of dish soap.
- Essential Oils: Use the natural essential oil sprays mentioned previously with cedar, lemongrass, eucalyptus, or lavender on couches and beds.
- Diatomaceous Earth: Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic, natural product that kills fleas within 48 hours. Sprinkle it on your floor, pet’s bedding, and even outdoors where you believe your pet first caught the fleas.
Step #5: Treat the Yard for Fleas
Your pet has probably brought the fleas not only into your home but also into your yard. It’s important to remove them so they don’t come into the house.
Fleas are often found in warm, shady and moist areas. Keep your lawn free of debris like grass clippings and leaf piles. Since fleas hate the smell of cedar, cover areas you found fleas with cedar chips.
Nematodes are small roundworms that are considered a “biological insecticide” and will infect and kill flea larvae. They’ll also take out other nuisance larvae, all without harming any of the beneficial insects, larger plants or animals.
Step #6: Maintenance and Flea Prevention
Once you’ve gotten rid of fleas, the last thing you want is for them to come back. Prevention is vital now—since you got fleas once, you can get them again!
To keep your pet from bringing in fleas again, set up a perimeter around your yard. It’s especially helpful if it keeps other animals out, in addition to keeping your pet in.
Wash your pet regularly, and make sure to apply a monthly, topical flea treatment that has been approved by your vet.
Fleas aren’t fun, but if you follow the six steps above you can quickly regain an itch-free home and happy pet.