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How can I Eliminate Fleas from my Home?

By J. Beam
Updated Feb 02, 2024
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Fleas are a bothersome pest if they appear in your home. They are parasitic insects that affect people and animals alike, and removing them from your home can be a tedious and difficult process. The only way to eliminate fleas from your home is first to eliminate them from your pet. To treat your pet, provide him or her with either topical or oral flea prevention medication. Once your pet no longer has fleas, you'll need to clean your house thoroughly to remove the pests from bedding, carpeting, and other furnishings.

If your dog or cat has fleas, you can generally tell because they scratch excessively. Pets that spend time outside should be treated with a flea collar and flea prevention topical medication. If the pet is an indoor animal and you suspect fleas, inspect your animal and home carefully.

Odds are, if your dog or cat has fleas, they will be in your home as well. The best place to look for fleas on an animal is behind the ears and on the abdomen, especially in the crooks around their hind legs. Fleas are jumping insects, and though they may have found a suitable host in your pet, they will often jump off into bedding and carpet in search of new ones.

Whether sold by a veterinarian or a pet store, medication should be used to break the life cycle of the fleas. Not all treatments kill eggs and larvae; some only kill the adult flea. If you need help figuring out what to give your pet, ask your veterinarian.

Once you have treated your pet, you can begin to eliminate fleas from your home. You can try any number of practical ideas, but diligence is necessary for success. You should first wash all of your pet’s bedding in hot water, using bleach if possible.

Treat furniture and carpet by thoroughly vacuuming and then dumping the collection bag or container outdoors to get rid of any living fleas hiding in the bag. If you are comfortable using flea spray in your home, there are many different types that can be used on furniture and carpet. Though not as effective as repeated and thorough vacuuming, flea spray may help kill any insects that are hiding in the home.

Keep in mind that, if you have not successfully treated your pet, you will be fighting a vicious cycle. Many people mistakenly believe that fleas are prevalent only in the spring and summer, but your pet can get them in the fall, too. If you prevent your pet from becoming a host to the bugs with oral or topical medication, you may not ever have to eliminate them from your home. As the saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and nothing could be truer when it comes to fleas.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By JoeWas — On Jan 24, 2015

Modern Cat Flea Control

Unfortunately, the promising agrochemical corporations' most effective toxins for insect control, over the last seventy years of production has proven to be too toxic to be used indoor in dwellings, on pets and where humans or their food are.

Currently, the most effective of these old-style insecticides are banned and outlawed for consumer use (most of which came out of World War II nerve gas technology). The few, of the currently and generally available agrochemical insecticides for consumer use are variants of a few similar but different formulations of synthetic pyrethrin -- insecticides that have currently proven ineffective for rapid reproducing insect pests.

Most synthetic pyrethrins are patentable replacements for the less effective tincture from the natural pyrethrin plant. These insecticides are used as an ineffective contact poison rather than the more effective use on crops for killing chewing insects that eat the poison on plants.

Basically, insects like fleas out-breed poisons by becoming immune to them through rapid reproduction by the low dose survivors. It is to the point now that synthetic pyrethrins and other older insecticides are having no effect or only weakening some of the insect populations for a few days, at most.

Luckily, a new group of insecticides that do not approach insect control the way older poisons did from the agrochemical crop pesticide age of insecticides are becoming available. These new pesticides are products that offer metabolic insect control rather than act, as direct poisons.

Insect Growth Regulator is basically birth-control for insects or more precisely, an insect hormone that prevents larval insects from transforming into adult insects. And, since only adult insects like fleas bite and feed off blood, larva [very small, nearly impossible to see with the human eye, transparent micro slug-like animals] never cause any notable harm. IGR’s have no effect on non-insect animals and to these, it is as if it was not even there.

Or, the new metabolic wunderkind insecticide on the block is “Spinosad, ” which is a corn fungus derived insect control that kills any animal with an exoskeleton, such as insects, spiders and scorpions along with others, including fleas. The fungus feeds off corn and to protect itself from the corn and fungus feeding insects, it evolved this chemical strategy that prevents animals with exoskeletons from replacing their exoskeleton as they grow and consequently prevents breathing. It is so safe for non-exoskeleton animals that they can safely eat the substance -- and in rather absurdly high amounts -- with no effects whatsoever. It's one drawback is after exposure to light, the chemical is destroyed, so if it is used as a surface applied contact insect control or as an ingested insect control. it can lose its kill power. The good part is an unbelievably small amount kills most insects within its photo-sensitive twenty-four hour effective window.

“Spinosad” comes in two forms: an oral drug and a contact spray or spray concentrate. The oral form is for pets also, and generally comes with a month-long oral repellent/insecticide and in one formulation comes combined with an added heart-worm medication , as well.

The oral pet capsules are in a tuna or beef flavored powder base that you sprinkle into a cat or dog’s feed. It is recommended that it is a fatty wet pet food feed, since this helps it get into the cat's system quickly) which contains both “Spinoside” and the other active ingredient “Lufenuron” which is also used in flea collars and other oral or squeeze-on flea drops. The oral version of “Spinosad” is called “Nitenpyram” and lasts a day, but kills all the active fleas that live off or on your cat during that twenty-four hours. The second ingredient lasts a month and helps to prevent re-infestation.

The spray Spinosad comes, as a concentrate or pre-mix application spray. This is a great product for quick knock-downs of flea populations, as it takes a few life cycles for the “IGR” to completely keep all hatching flea eggs from becoming adult fleas. The spray, like the oral version, is completely harmless to mammals and other animals without exoskeletons, but deadly to animals with exoskeletons. Extremely low doses of the nearly odorless spray kills all insects.

Together, this combination of modern insect control is the most effective and least toxic to humans and pets system available. And, if the idea of flea larva living in your carpets, baseboards and furniture bothers you, a good kill for these is to spray your house with straight rubbing alcohol. It's a smelly and possibly flammable process. If you cut 70 percent rubbing alcohol with an equal amount of water and apply with a pump garden sprayer indoors you can cut risks without cutting the kill power. You will only need to do the alcohol twice, about a week apart to break the cycle. It helps to combine the IGR with the alcohol to save a step. Do not spray wood finishes though, as some wood furniture is sensitive to alcohol. It is best to lock the pets in a room not sprayed, if you go the alcohol route, and spray at night or when you are going to be out, as a rubbing alcohol mixture, will smell for twelve to twenty hours.

The “Spinoside” and water sprays have little to no smell and will not harm your pets even if they walk on the wet spray. You can add perfume, fragrance oil or other sent to any spray, if you want. We add Lysol concentrate, flagrance oils and such with the IGR spray mix. The one ounce to two gallons of water IGR concentrate is in in a kerosene like oil base and even that little bit does have an insecticide odor, for a few days.

By anon278892 — On Jul 09, 2012

Years ago I had one infestation and in my case I have systemic lupus which the flea bite reactions really aggravated. I have a disabled kitty and in that time I did not notice her scratching at all. The landlord who lived under me was, however, a pig, and kept hunting dogs, which I assume were the source since he also had roaches and other insect issues.

I did everything I could think of to seal my apartment from contamination but the problem grew progressively. At one point, I was invited to go overseas with a friend and asked another to care for my kitty and treat her well before leaving. I used the raid bombs and set off the appropriate number for rooms I had then left for a three-week vacation. I had hard wood floors and when I came home, it literally looked like someone dumped coffee grounds all over the floor. I looked closely at what it was and they were all fleas and a few other bugs I couldn't identify. That did, however, cure the problem at that time.

So, here we go again. Someone visited me and their pet had fleas so I now have them again. I just treated my disabled kitty and my other kitty with advantage and I can't find walking fleas on them. I used citrocide spray on the furniture and vacuumed and bombed the house while keeping the cats elsewhere for a few days. There are still some residual fleas, so I plan to try bombing once more and also to vacuum again multiple times.

My current place is huge and all carpet so this is a nightmare for me since again I have medical issues from this current episode. I am tempted to just vacate the house again for weeks and bomb and seal the house, but all this concerns me greatly since I have an autoimmune disorder, given what I am hearing about extermination management.

By anon213893 — On Sep 12, 2011

Use Dawn dishwashing soap to bathe the dog. It will kill the fleas. Try it! The little suckers float to the top of the water dead as a doornail every time!

By anon210755 — On Aug 31, 2011

does comfortis work for fleas? what should i do?

By anon208167 — On Aug 22, 2011

Our cats/dogs are members of our family, but sometimes pets innocently invite an annoying guest to take up residence in our carpets, couches, and corners. Fleas are one of the most irritating pest infestations that can occur in a home. Find out more how to get rid of fleas and keep them from coming back to home.

Follow the steps:

1) Rid pets of fleas first

2) Vacuum

3) Wash linens

4) Vacuum again

5) Consider commercial help

By anon177571 — On May 18, 2011

To number 5. These little black dots are the poo from the fleas. So either you have killed them all and haven't washed and combed your pet's fur and they are shaking it out or you still have them and they are pooping around your home.

By anon174867 — On May 11, 2011

Frontline, Advantage, Advantage II, K9 Advantix II, none of them work any more. Guess they became immune over the years. Can't find anything that works any more. I love my dogs but I'm afraid at the rate I'm going they will end up dead instead of the fleas. Any new ideas out there? Tried garlic, brewers yeast, Diamtamasceous earth, Bio Spot and Adams also. no help there either.

By anon166806 — On Apr 10, 2011

I use Capstar flea tablets which are available for dogs and cats kills all live fleas on the pet. After 3 days give your dog or cat program tablets these sterilizes all live fleas that latch on later and stops them from reproducing. Administer this treatment every three months and you will have gotten rid of all flea infestation. We are a dog breeder and have used all sorts of flea dips/washes in the market but have found this the most effective.

By anon158021 — On Mar 05, 2011

I've had this problem before and the best method i found was the 4fleas tablets. They kill them within half hour. also lots of vacuuming to get rid of them. hope this helps.

By anon139534 — On Jan 05, 2011

get a flea trap. they sell them online. it's a light with sticky paper and works like a charm. no chemicals, just sticky paper and light.

By anon138160 — On Dec 30, 2010

forget frontline. it doesn't work anymore. Use advantage on your pets. Then vacuum every day after some baking soda sprinkled on the carpet. And I don't work for them.

By anon125878 — On Nov 10, 2010

Once I got rid of my cat, I noticed bites on my ankles and did a little research and found out,they were flea bites.

I sprayed my couches with raid, and even bombed my house. What do I do next? I have tile floor, no carpet at all. And what do I do about my couches?

By anon124147 — On Nov 04, 2010

what about furniture such as couches and beds? We've treated our dog with Neem shampoo, Capstar tablets and Frontline (all over a period of a week). We've put Zodiac powder on the carpets and spray on the couches and bed. But I am still getting bit every night, waking up with more and more bites. Is there a better way to kill fleas on furniture?

By anon123401 — On Nov 01, 2010

I don't think Frontline works anymore. The fleas must be immune to it. I have been applying Frontline religiously on the first of the month. I bought it straight from my vet. I have never had a problem until now. After reading all the posts, I'm pretty worried!

By anon92537 — On Jun 28, 2010

Raid for fleas has done wonders for me and my Jasmine. My ex decided to bring a girl by I did not want over and she bought some guests with her. Too bad they didn't leave when she did. So i have been fighting fleas for a good week and a half.

First thing, definitely treat your pet with shampoo or topical. I use Frontline and a flea collar. I run a flea comb over her every day and no more fleas. Maybe some flea dirt but no fleas.

And vacuum. I vacuum every other day (went through two vacuum belts) and then use Raid for fleas. I only got bit one day. Oh and if you pull any off your pet drown them in warm soapy water and dry off the comb before you use it on your pet. They are such sensitive members of our family lol.

Oh and Adams flea and tick spray is great for furniture and bedding. Heat and extreme cold will kill them. Hope I have helped someone. I know my pet is happier now without fleas.

By anon76038 — On Apr 08, 2010

I have found that the Zodiac line of flea products work very well. I have also tried seven dust, but don't use it in your house, only outside. Trust me, I learned the hard way about that.

If you have a big problem with fleas treat your yard and your house. If you have pets, treat them as well all at the same time. Your pets treat them with Frontline or Advantix or similar product only from the vet is your best bet.

By leilani — On Jan 13, 2010

After you vacuum you have to get rid of the vacuum bag right away otherwise the fleas will come out and infest the house again.

By anon57244 — On Dec 21, 2009

I have been battling fleas for almost a year. I have two cats, one ragdoll, and one tabby. Everything seemed OK until I bought the tabby. When I bought him, because he was a shorthair, I noticed the fleas even more. I used to always vacuum every day, but since injuring my spine, I have only been able to do it about twice to three times a week.

I believe that's when they started to bug me and the kids, not just the cats. I have used multiple flea treatments. Biospot powder and foaming spray are great, but don't waste it. Apply and leave on the carpets/upholstery under furniture indefinitely, and then leave where you are going to vacuum for about two hours (or as long as you can!) then vacuum, and discard whatever is picked up. Do this bi-weekly, and it will really help.

With hardwood or tile floors, the foam is awesome, just clean with bleach first (1/2 cup per gallon) because the flea dirt is actually dried blood, either from humans or animals. Usually animals, as fleas may hitch a ride on you, but cannot live on you. Human blood has proteins in it they cannot digest properly, so they bite your scalp, or hang out, and make you itchy. However, the likeliness of bloodborne pathogens is great if you have children. Bleach your floors and baseboards, then take your area rugs, (or buy some from the dollar store) and spray them down to the point of soaking. allow them to dry, and then place them (at least one per room) around the house.

If you have children, place the treated rug under their bed, as this will help also keep fleas from jumping onto the mattress. You may also lightly spray mattresses, couches and the like as long as it is covered with a mattress pad, or cover of some sort in one way or another.

Christmas trees may be sprayed at the base, bed skirts must be sprayed, the bottom of couches, and carpeted porches must be treated, as well.

If your animal has a favorite rug or spot to lay down, treat it once per week. Cats may be bathed once weekly if terribly bad, but after a month, only bi-weekly, as your animal will develop a rash where the flea bites are from the dryness. Flea collars are very good to have on your animal, as they really work. I wear one on my ankle when there is an outbreak in the house, as it keeps me from getting bit.

My youngest has eczema, and her skin is severely affected by the flea dirt, bites and even the crawling, so I use Aquaphor as a thin coat on her skin before bed, and when she wakes up, as to keep her from getting bit, and it really helps. Also, vacuum your couch, your chairs, and any cushions in your house. Curtains that drop to the floor should be treated on the bottom three feet, as fleas can jump very high. (Up to 18" at a time.)

By masarati — On Dec 11, 2009

Most insects die with heat, among them fleas and dust mites. Today the pest control: "Clark" came to my house and it is not likely that what I have are fleas nor ticks, because you could see those two kind of pests.

Probably what I have is what 90-plus percent of houses have: dust mites. These are not insects, but more closely related to the spiders, and you cannot see them. They are microscopic, and do die with heat of 130 - 140 F degrees.

I called another pest company and they told me that the way to kill them is with "Dry steam vapor heat", which is a machine that gives a temperature in excess of 300 F degrees, more than enough to kill the dust mites and all kinds of insects. The machine costs a minimum of $550. They couldn't come and do the job themselves, because I live too far from where they are (they do not cover my area). I guess that is the reason that they gave me all kinds of good information. Otherwise they would have wanted to take the business for themselves and rightfully so.

Have you shopped around for a Dry steam vapor machine? Once you get the machine, you have to steam everywhere: carpets, furniture, draperies, etc. etc., but specially the bedding: mattress, pillows, box springs. And maybe repeat the operation in six months. It is a big job. I guess for fleas it requires even more treatment.

By anon55893 — On Dec 10, 2009

I live in South Carolina and I now have fleas that I think came from stray cats coming to stay under our carport at night. I have been getting bit from them on my ankles. It is driving me crazy!

I too also have hardwood floors throughout my home. I thought about buying one of those steam vacuum cleaners. Will that kill the eggs and fleas also?

By masarati — On Dec 02, 2009

Fleas: What pests! There are 3700 different varieties. Sometimes very difficult to get rid of. A friend brought me fleas to my house. I have used different products: Bayer for fleas, Enforcer for fleas, Pyrethrum, citrasolve (with limonene), Neem oil, vinegar and soap, a cocktail of several substances, borax in the carpets, plus different flea killers.

It has been four months with the big war against the fleas. I think they are fleas, although I cannot see them until they are dead, and then they appear like tiny specks of pepper (eggs?) and tiny elongated specks.

Could someone tell me how could I know what they are and how to get rid of them? I heard good things about Precor Plus.

By anon51214 — On Nov 04, 2009

hey people with fleas, use kerosene on the floor and it kill them all. plus try to use some flea killer on your peats.

By anon47264 — On Oct 03, 2009

I do not have any pets, but my babysitter does. She does not bring her pets to my house, but I noticed a flea today in my house. How can I get rid of the fleas in my house and prevent them from coming back?

By anon45614 — On Sep 18, 2009

We are having the same problem here. We used frontline on our two cats. We never had a flea problem before this year. I also had the vet give the cats pills, but I did make a startling discovery. The Frontline I ordered online, thinking it was a great price, was a scam. The vet showed me pictures of the real box versus the box I bought online. Wow! I couldn't believe it. So my guess is, the Frontline I purchased online was probably just water. I would report them but they are located in Australia. We now have fleas in every room of our home, for the first time ever. If anyone knows how to really get rid of them, please post here.

By cocodog — On Aug 26, 2008

Hello. I live in Ohio and we are having a very tough time controlling fleas on our pets this summer. I have lived on this farm all my life and have never had this much trouble with fleas on the cats and dog. We keep Frontline on them religiously and apply it every 4 weeks. I have had to resort to giving the dog an oral medication called Capstar that the vet gave me to kill the fleas in between Frontline applications. I am now finding fleas in my house. I have a clean house and it gets vacuumed frequently, as well as the fact we have hardwood floors throughout except for bedrooms. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

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