Spotting a flea is an instant day-ruiner. The invasive parasite typically comes from your dog hanging out in close proximity to other animals, whether that’s at a kennel or the park, or from your cat roaming outside without anti-flea treatment. The worst part? They cause painful, itchy bites by feeding on your pet’s blood (and sometimes yours!), and since your pup or kitty can’t verbally communicate, they could end up wallowing in discomfort for a long time. It’s enough to make a pet parent wonder how to get rid of fleas, once and for all.
Once these creepy critters are in your home, prepare yourself: eradicating them isn’t easy by any means, especially since they can jump more than a foot and love hiding in anything and everything, from carpets to bedding to even piles of clothing. It’s a daunting task, but not an impossible one. By deploying a few tried-and-true tricks—and engaging in some preemptive measures—you’ll never have to deal with them again. If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of fleas for good, read on, because we’ve compiled the most effective, expert-backed tricks and measures below.
Shampoo Your Pet—ASAP
One of the first things you should do after spotting fleas in your home or on your pet is bathe your furry friend with a flea shampoo. Next, the Montgomery County Humane Society says to use a flea comb on your dog on a daily basis, dipping it in soapy water with every stroke. By combing along with shampooing according to the product’s instructions, you’ll be able to kill the fleas and their different stages, too—whether that’s eggs, larva, or pupa—so they don’t spread around your home.
Vacuum Your Home
It can take a long time to completely rid your home of fleas since their egg-to-adult life cycle can last months. To start, grab the vacuum and don’t just focus on rugs, carpets, and floors. “Vacuum everywhere—upholstery, drapes, corners, crevices,” says the Montgomery County Humane Society. “Seal the vacuum cleaner bag immediately in a plastic bag. Once you start, don’t let up or you’ll lose ground! Vacuum and clean once a week until you begin to see results.” Don’t worry: eventually, you won’t have to vacuum as often.
Bring on the Steam
Another way to say sayonara to fleas is to bring out the steamer and use it on everything from your carpets and furniture to bedding. “The hot temperature of the steam will kill all fleas, including fleas in egg or larvae form,” say the folks at Organic Lesson. “Vacuum the area once you’re done with the steam cleaning.”
Do a Thorough Cleaning
If cleaning isn’t your thing, sorry in advance. One of the best ways to get rid of any fleas at all stages of their life is to thoroughly clean all areas of your home—especially any areas your pet commonly sleeps or rests in to ensure any eggs or larvae that fell off them is taken care of, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual.
Mow the Lawn
For those curious about how to get rid of fleas, start by keeping your lawn nice and trim, since fleas love lurking in tall grass. Organic Lesson recommends getting out the mower on the regular to ensure the pesky critters don’t have anywhere to hide and pounce right back on your dog (or cat, if it’s an outdoor one).
Buy Some Food-Grade Diatomaceous Earth
If you really want to learn how to get rid of fleas, invest in some unconventional product: Food-grade diatomaceous earth—or DE. It’s made of naturally occurring sedimentary rock that’s so non-toxic you can eat it. Fleas, on the other hand, will become dehydrated if they come into contact with it. After sprinkling it over areas of your home you’ve spotted fleas in thin layers, leave it for two days before vacuuming it up. Just be careful: it’s not good for you or your dog to breathe in or get in your eyes. “Always use the food-grade option. Although it is non-toxic, the nature of the powder can get messy and irritate your eyes and throat. When treating your home, it’s advised that you wear a face mask,” say the experts at Ehrlich Pest Control.
Get Some Topical Treatments
After shampooing your pup, it’s a good idea to also give them a topical treatment for even more flea-killing power. The products you can buy at the store are applied right on your pet’s skin, so chat with your vet to make sure you’re choosing an option that’s safe—especially if your furry friend is very young or old, says the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Wash All the Bedding
Not just your bedding, but also your pet’s. The American Kennel Club recommends gathering up all the pet beds and your own blankets and washing the whole lot in hot, soapy water. If you use a pet carrier or any padding in kennels, be sure to wash those items too.
Make a Lemon Spray
Lemon has many uses around the home, including repelling fleas. Making a homemade spray is a simple way to send them packing. “To make this flea spray, slice a lemon thinly and add it to a pint of water, then bring to the boil. Let the citrus solution sit overnight and pour it into a spray bottle,” says Ehrlich Pest Control. “The next day, take the citrus solution and spray it on the infested areas in your home, like sofas, pet bedding, and chairs. Don’t soak; only dampen.”
It doesn’t take much to create a flea trap. All you need to do is grab a common household product. “Add a few drops of dish soap into a bowl of water and mix. Next, place the bowl close to areas of the house where fleas are frequently spotted. Place a desk lamp right above the bowl to attract the fleas,” says Organic Lesson. For those who’ve been wondering how to get rid of fleas for a long time, this solution could be the clincher.