Here’s help to get rid of fleas making you and your pet miserable, including a natural flea control spray and flea shampoo you can make at home.
You don’t have to be a pet owner to find yourself wondering how to get rid of fleas naturally. These parasites bite humans, too. This guide explains how to identify fleabites and what you must clean to get rid of fleas naturally. There is also a natural flea killer spray to protect your pet and your home.
Signs You Have Fleas in Your Home
You can get fleas in your home even if you don’t own pets. Surprised? Many people are, especially after suffering through itchy nights and unexplained rashes.
What Do Fleas Look Like?
Fleas are wingless parasitic insects that are a few millimeters long. (2-3 mm) Their colors range from reddish to dark brown. They have flat bodies with six legs. Their flat bodies enable them to move more easily through animal hair (and carpet fibers). Flea legs feature tiny hairs on their legs that help them hang onto their hosts. Their back legs are longer and stronger, enabling them to jump surprisingly long distances in search of food.
What Do Flea Eggs Look Like?
Fleas are tiny, and their eggs are even smaller — they’re less than 0.5 mm in size! When first laid, flea eggs are transparent though shortly before hatching, they become white. To many people, they look like grains of sugar or salt. This tiny size makes them very difficult to see.
What About Flea “Dirt”?
Flea eggs shouldn’t be confused with “flea dirt” — those patches of black, dusty-looking matter you may see in your pet’s fur. Plainly put, those clumps are flea poop — the digested remnants of blood that makes up the flea’s diet.
What Do Flea Bites Look Like?
Flea bites look like tiny red bumps on dogs and cats, often surrounded by the “flea dirt” described above. On humans, flea bites are typically raised, red dots with a paler halo. Bites often appear in lines on feet, ankles, and legs as fleas jump from the ground or carpet onto their human host and bite as they climb. For hairier individuals, though, they can show up anywhere.
Steps to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home
The process of naturally removing fleas from your home can take anywhere from a couple of hours to an entire day. If you have a pet, you should isolate them in a crate or kennel while you get rid of fleas in your home, then bathe your pet with the natural flea shampoo immediately afterward. Finish by cleaning the crate or kennel where you’d isolated them.
1. Wash Your Pet’s Bedding
Launder pet beds, toys, and blankets using your machine’s hottest, longest setting. Add 2 cups of white vinegar with your preferred detergent. Do not use fabric softener, which can help flea eggs cling to fibers. Use the dryer’s hottest setting. Do not air-dry indoors, or fleas may jump back on it. If you can’t machine wash and dry your pet’s bedding or toy, it needs to be thrown out. Hand-washing and line-drying do not use hot enough temperatures to kill fleas and their eggs.
2. Clean Your Bedding and Mattress, Too
Even if your pet doesn’t sleep on your bed, fleas may still have infested your bedding. Remove and wash your mattress pad, sheets, pillowcases, and bed cover in the hottest setting allowed on the manufacturer’s care label. While your bed is bare, give your mattress a deep cleaning. You should also wash your pillows, including any decorative ones.
3. Vacuum All Floors and Upholstery
Light vacuuming won’t separate the flea larvae in their sticky cocoons from carpet fibers. Vacuum properly, going slowly in overlapping strokes until you’ve finished the room, then turn and repeat at a right angle. You’ll also need to move furniture so that you can clean the floor beneath it.
Vacuuming to kill fleas is even more effective if you first sprinkle soft furnishings and carpets with diatomaceous earth (DE) and then wait several hours. DE works by dehydrating flea eggs, larvae, and pupae and cuts through adult flea exoskeletons before drying them, so the fleas come right up. Once you’re done, clean your vacuum thoroughly.
4. Use this Natural Flea Spray
Use this homemade flea spray daily on soft surfaces throughout your home for two weeks. Do not use it on fabrics like silk, suede, or other materials that might be damaged by water. If in doubt, spot test fabric in an inconspicuous area to find out if it’s water-safe.
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 cup white vinegar
- 1/4 cup table salt
- 5 drops each rosemary and lavender essential oils
- Add the ingredients to a spray bottle and shake until the salt dissolves. Then add the essential oils.
- Shake well and spray on carpets, sofas, and other soft surfaces daily.
- Store any unused portion in a cool, dark spot.
How to Get Rid of Fleas On Your Pet
In addition to getting rid of fleas in your home, you also need to get rid of fleas on your pet. Treat your dog or cat for fleas before releasing it from isolation by using a homemade flea shampoo. Once your pet is dry, use a flea comb and ongoing flea treatments to keep them itch-free.
Homemade Flea Shampoo
Combine 1/2 cup warm water with 1/4 cup white or apple cider vinegar and 1/4 cup castile soap or liquid dish soap. You can add essential oils if you like but stick with oils that are safe to use on pets. Use this to shampoo your dog, then rinse well. The vinegar helps soothe your pet’s itching while the dish soap creates a surface tension that damages the fleas’ exoskeletons, so the water gets into their shells and drowns them. Use this only to remove fleas — stick with your pet’s usual shampoo the rest of the time.
Use a Flea Comb
A fine-toothed flea comb helps remove most fleas and their eggs. Do this in the bathroom over a large plastic trash bag spread on the floor. As you comb fleas out of your pet’s hair, dip the comb into a bowl of water to dislodge the fleas and their eggs. Once you’re done, put that trash bag into another one and tightly seal it then throw it away.