Reviewed for accuracy on June 24, 2019, by Dr. Katie Grzyb, DVM
Even by parasite standards, fleas are annoying. But adult fleas that you see on your pet are only a small part of the problem.
“Adult fleas only make up 5 percent of the flea infestation population,” says Dr. Andrea Peda, DVM, assistant professor at the Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. “The other 95 percent is invisible to the naked eye.”
And guess where that 95 percent of the population lives? That’s right—in addition to causing serious discomfort and harm to our pets, these little freeloaders can invade our homes. And, like true pests, fleas don’t heed your eviction notices.
The best flea treatment for your home is launching a multi-pronged attack against fleas not only in your home, but also on your pet and in your yard.
5 Steps for Removing Fleas From Your Home
Here are five steps you can take to successfully regain a flea-free home.
1. Treat Your Pets for Fleas
“There are many ways to keep your house flea-free,” says Dr. Sara Ochoa, veterinary advisor for Dog Lab. “First, you want to make sure that your pets—both inside only and inside/outside—are on monthly flea medications.”
Treating your pet should be the first step in resolving a flea problem in the home. Without a suitable host, new adult fleas can’t enter the home, and newly hatched fleas that are scattered around your home won’t have a food source.
Before treating your pets for an active infestation or beginning monthly preventives, check in with your veterinarian. They can help you find flea treatment options that are best suited to your pet’s health and lifestyle.
“It is very important to never use a product without consulting your veterinarian first,” says Dr. Peda. “Some products can be toxic to different species of animals and can harm your pet if used improperly.”
2. Do a Special Deep-Cleaning for Flea Control
Whether you have an active flea infestation or are in process or eradicating an infestation, cleaning plays a big part in keeping your home flea-free.
Since flea eggs fall off of their hosts, they can end up all over your home. That means that even if you are treating your pet, you still have developing fleas hidden around your house.
In the pupal stage, fleas are impervious to insecticides, so any good elimination strategy is going to include lots of cleaning. You will need to consistently and thoroughly clean your house, especially the places that your pet frequents.
“Wash all linens and clothing in hot soapy water,” instructs Chad Henley, cofounder of Houston-based Naturalcare Pest Control. “This includes your bedding and any items on the floor. If you have washable rugs, wash those too.”
Frequent, thorough vacuuming—of both carpets and all upholstered furniture—also plays a large role in flea eradication. A study has shown that vacuuming can kill fleas in every stage of life.
“If you have a problem already with fleas and they are in your house, vacuuming daily is best,” says Dr. Ochoa. “The life cycle of the flea can take weeks for all the eggs to hatch. Daily vacuuming can help eliminate this problem.”
3. Treat Your Yard and Outdoor Areas
It’s also important to keep your yard tidy and uninviting to fleas hoping to hitch a ride inside on your pets.
“Fleas develop in moist, shady areas,” says Natasha Wright, a board-certified entomologist and technical director for Braman Termite & Pest Elimination. “Prune vegetation and keep your grass cut short to allow more sunlight to shine through. Do not overwater your lawn. Dry areas will hinder their development.”
4. Try out the Best Flea Treatments for Your Home
After ensuring that your pets are on flea treatment, your house is properly cleaned and your yard is not a flea sanctuary, you may want to explore additional flea treatments, such as sprays and powders.
“There are many products out there used to treat home environments, but it is important to confer with your veterinarian to choose a safe product for use around pets,” says Dr. Peda.
Dr. Peda suggests the following commonly recommended products:
Fleabusters RX for Fleas Plus Powder: This professional-strength powder is finely milled so that it clings tightly to carpets and furniture, withstanding frequent vacuuming and providing flea protection for up to a year. Once in the fibers, it dehydrates flea larvae and breaks the flea life cycle. Although tough on fleas, it’s safe for both pets and people.
Virbac Knockout Area Treatment Spray: This aerosol spray quickly kills adult fleas, flea larvae and ticks hiding in carpets, upholstery and floorboards. One spray provides up to four months of protection and is safe for pets and people.
5. Know When to Call a Professional
In many cases, home remedies can be effective. However, more advanced infestations may require the help of a professional who can properly identify problem areas and treat the fleas.
“If the infestation grows and fleas start biting you, or you see them grouping together near your pet's bed or carpet, my advice is to call a professional pest control service to take care of the pest once and for all,” says Matteo Grader, a pest control expert at Panther Pest Control. “Otherwise, you are risking your pet's health.”
Always consult with your veterinarian before using a pest control company, and be sure to carefully follow all safety instructions provided by the exterminator.
By: Monica Weymouth
Featured Image: iStock.com/simpson33