Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home, Step by Step

Your dog or cat has been scratching lately. Something small and black jumps from the sofa onto your arm. Don’t freak out. Take control with these steps.

Call the Vet

Is your pet on a flea control program? If he is, it must not be working. Ask your vet what she recommends. You want a product that treats fleas at every stage -- from egg to adult bug -- and that works well in your climate. Most flea treatments take only one dose a month to keep fleas from making you and your pets itch.

If your pet is already on a flea treatment product, ask your vet about switching to something else. And make sure you treat every pet in the house.

Crank Up the Vacuum Cleaner

If you rarely vacuum, fleas should inspire a change of habit.

Regular vacuuming lowers the number of fleas and their eggs from carpeting, cracks in wood floors, and on curtains and upholstered furniture. It also catches them under furniture. Don’t forget to vacuum the areas where your pet sleeps and eats. Empty the vacuum cleaner bin or throw away bags in a garbage can outside right away so the fleas can’t sneak back in.

For the parts of your home where you and your pets hang out the most, like the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms, vacuum every day. For everywhere else, do it once a week.

If you have a serious flea invasion, have your carpets steam-cleaned. The heat will kill the fleas, but it may not kill all the eggs. They may hatch later, and you may have to steam-clean again.

For very bad cases, you might consider treating your house with a flea "bomb" or calling an exterminator. Just make sure whatever you do is safe for you and your pets.

Wash Bedding in Hot, Soapy Water

Hot, soapy water kills fleas, so wash your cat or dog’s bed every week. And if your pets sleep in your bed or with your kids, make sure to wash everyone else’s bedding, too.

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Use a Flea Comb

It may seem old school, but a flea comb with tiny teeth can do a good job of removing fleas from your pet. Do it outside, and focus on the neck area and the base of the tail. Keep a cup of soapy water beside you. Use it to dip the comb so you can drown the fleas.

Regular flea combing will also let you know how your flea control efforts are working.

Give Him a Bath

Once the house is vacuumed and the bedding is washed, give your dog a bath. Bathing your pet regularly will also help rid your home of fleas. Any soap will kill them, so you don’t have to use a flea bath. But make sure that the soap you use is safe for a cat or dog.

Some people like to finish the bath with a nice-smelling essential oil that may also help keep fleas away.

Before you do, know that some dogs and cats may have problems with oils with:

  • Citrus
  • Cinnamon
  • Clove
  • D-limonene
  • Geranium
  • Tea tree
  • Lavender
  • Linalool
  • Bay
  • Eucalyptus
  • Pennyroyal
  • Rue

These essential oils are less likely to cause problems if you use only a little bit:

  • Lemongrass
  • Cedar wood
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Amy Flowers, DVM on February 18, 2018

Sources

SOURCES:

ASPCA: "Pet Care: Fleas."

Government of Western Australia Department of Health: "Fleas."

Natural Resources Defense Council: "Control Fleas Without Chemicals," "Chemical Culprits: Flea-Control Chemicals."

PawRescue.org: "Bathing and Shampooing Your Dog."

University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program: "How to Manage Pests."

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