Last Updated: December 30, 2016
The vast majority of flea infestations come from pets. Dogs or cats pickup fleas outside or from other pets and bring them into the house. Though it is also possible for fleas to hitch a ride into a residence on a human, the majority of infestations come from pests. Thus, the first step in getting rid of fleas in your house is getting rid of dog fleas, cat fleas, or the fleas of whatever other pets you may have. Once you have done this, you must eradicate the infestation from your house.
This section will explain how to find and eradicate fleas in your house and yard. Getting rid of fleas is a relatively easy process compared to other pests and can be accomplished in a few days if you are thorough. As with all other pests, we will recommend an integrated pest management (IPM) solution, which mixes preventative, natural, and pesticide measures together in order to get rid of fleas in your house. One important general note is that, if you have indoor pets, one treatment is likely enough. If you have outdoor pets you may need to treat your yard and will likely need to do periodical retreatments of your home. After treating your pets, the following steps will help get rid of the flea infestation and keep it away in the future:
- The first step in getting rid of any flea infestation is treating your pets. Check out our pages for getting rid of dog fleas and cat fleas for tips. No matter how much you clean your house, if you haven’t gotten rid of the fleas on your pets, they will just jump off of their backs and re-infest the residence.
- One of fleas’ favorite areas to hide is in bedding. This applies to your bedding, your pets’ bedding, and also linens and furniture covers. Take all of your bedding and linens as well as all of the bedding and furniture covers your pet hangs out around and put them in the washing machine and then the dryer at the hottest settings. Once everything is clean, seal it in plastic bags (sturdy trash bags work well) and leave the bags aside until you finish the rest of the cleaning process. This is essential as, if there are still fleas in the house, they will get right back into the bedding the moment you put it back. If a particular item is seriously infested (covered in flea dirt and flea eggs), it may be best to throw it out.
- Once you have cleaned all of the bedding, vacuum the areas around the bedding and furniture thoroughly. Pay particular attention to carpets, rugs, floorboards, wallboards, and areas where your pet sleeps or rests. Vacuuming is a highly effective way to sweep up fleas, flea dirt, and flea eggs. Make sure to vacuum often throughout the extermination process. It has been suggested that fleas respond to vibrations, causing pupae to emerge and making them vulnerable to insecticides (another step in the process). After vacuuming make sure to immediately discard the vacuum bag in a dumpster far from your home or, in the least, seal the bag in a plastic bag. If you have a vacuum bag that you cannot discard, you can spray the inside of the bag with a flea spray or even throw a flea collar inside the bag before starting to vacuum.
- Sprays are insecticides designed to kill fleas or to stop their ability to grow and, thereby, their life cycle. These sprays can be applied on and around furniture, on pet bedding, in floor cracks, on curtains, and so forth. Some sprays remain effective for up to half a year. Be sure to carefully read the instructions on the label and to not allow pets or people near the areas you have sprayed until the spray has dried. Make sure to read the warnings and the primary ingredients in the spray. Many sprays contain permethrin or pyrethroids, which can be harmful to pets.
- Powders work in one of two ways to kill fleas. Certain powders contain insecticides similar to those in sprays. Other powders work as ‘desiccants,’ attach to the fleas’ bodies, and suck out the moisture, dehydrating and killing them. In addition, Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) stop young fleas from maturing and thereby end the flea life cycle. Powders are highly effective when sprinkled into carpets and rugs – difficult areas to eradicate fleas otherwise.
- Foggers, otherwise known as ‘bug bombs’ release toxic fumes that kill fleas into the air. These can be effective when used along with sprays, powders, and thorough cleaning, but are generally not enough on their own. You may need a fogger for each room and the foggers often miss areas. Make sure to read the label carefully as the fumes are flammable, toxic, and can be harmful and you will need to leave the house until they have been aired out.
- If you have a yard that your pet spends lots of time in, it may be necessary to treat the yard with a special product as well. Flea products for the yard generally come in the form of an attachment for your garden hose. After attaching the product, spray all over the yard but avoid flowers and vegetables. Repeat this treatment as directed. In addition, cedar wood chips and eucalyptus leaves repel fleas. Spreading cedar wood chips around the yard or planting some Eucalyptus bushes are excellent preventative measures in the yard.
- Once you have gotten rid of the fleas in your house, you will want to put in place measures to prevent them coming back. Treating a flea infestation every time it occurs but not doing the follow-up and prevention steps in between can be harmful as it can promote the development of hypersensitivity (allergy) to fleas in pets. Treat your pets regularly with a product such as FrontLine or Advantage to ensure that they don’t get fleas again.