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How to get rid of fleas

Summary: If you want to get rid of fleas you first must figure out how you got them in the first place. No use going through all the flea removal steps if the source is still in the house.


Here's the scene. You are sitting on your couch watching your favorite CSI show. (I figured it must be CSI since those shows seem to be on every hour on the hour on every channel.) Anyway, you absent-mindedly scratch an itch. Then, you do it again. And, again. Suddenly, you become aware that your itching is out-distancing your CSI-watching. You examine the little red welt on your leg and discover a few more. Something is eating you and whatever it is, it must be fat and happy if the number of bites on your leg is any indication.

Your brain goes into overdrive trying to think how you got these bites. “I wasn't outside on the lawn”, you think. “I don't own a pet and I wasn't around any pets.” Your Sherlock Holmes instincts take over and you decide to do a search and discover mission. You tear the couch apart, look under your bed and walk around trying to find any signs of unwanted inhabitants. Then,


suddenly you discover you have little black dots on your white workout socks.  Low and behold, upon closer examination, it appears to be fleas. “How in the world did this happen?” you ask.

In your effort to get rid of fleas you need to know the enemy. Fleas are great hitchhikers. Let's say you are in the real estate business and you happened to visit a home today. The home was totally empty. The prior residents had moved out months ago. What you did not know was that the former residents owned a dog and that dog had had fleas. When they moved they left flea eggs behind. The eggs hatched into larvae and the larvae formed cocoons. The flea adults remained inside their cocoons until you walked in today. The vibrations caused by you walking across the floor in the vicinity of the flea cocoons caused those fleas to explode from their cocoons and on to your pant legs where they hung on for dear life until you sat down to watch your TV show. Quick as a wink, those hungry fleas moved in for a long-awaited blood meal and you were that meal.

Okay! So, you are not a real estate agent, but maybe a friend fits the profile and the fleas hitchhiked on your friend. You sat next to your friend in the movies and the fleas made the leap. Maybe you were playing in the yard and picked them up. Fleas love tall grass, shaded areas and some moisture. But, regardless of how you managed to pick up the fleas, you need to think about how they made it into your house and make adjustments to get rid of the fleas and resolve that it does not happen again.

Now, it is time to treat and get rid of the fleas. If you have a pet, get it treated by the vet. Ask the vet about additives that go into the pet's diet, shampoos or sprays that keep fleas from establishing a home on your pet. Wash all pet bedding and anyplace else where you allow your pet access. If your pet gets on your bed, off come the linens and blankets and into the wash they must go.

Vacuum, vacuum and do some more vacuuming. Pay special attention to baseboards where pet hairs may accumulate. You might want to consider cleaning with a steam cleaner to kill any eggs that might have fallen into the carpet fibers.

It requires a combination of products to get rid of fleas. You'll need a good Insect Growth Regulator (IGR) product to mix with an adulticide. IGRs prevent fleas from completing their life cycle, stopping them from feeding. If they cannot feed they die. However, IGRs work slowly, so a low-toxicity pesticide will speed the control. A product like Precor 2000 Plus is a combo product. Another good growth regulator is any product containing methoprene. It will get rid of flea populations within fifteen days.

Flea cocoons

Again, an adulticide (pesticide) is required for instant flea kill. I do not recommend foggers. These total release aerosol products are not "seek and destroy" devices. The aerosol mist will not float into every crack and crevice, so there is a lot of hit and miss with foggers.

To apply an even coverage of pesticide you will need some type of pressurized tank sprayer similar to those used by professional pest control companies. I would use a product with low toxicity such as products containing pyrethrins which are derived from the flowers of chrysanthemums. A product called d-Limonene is a non-toxic botanical, as is citronella oil, lavender and tea tree oil.

To get rid of fleas you must  inspect and treat outside, too. Cut down tall grasses around the foundation of the house and along fences. If necessary, these areas may need to be treated with one of those aforementioned products.

The products sold on this website to get rid of fleas are the same as the ones used by pest control pros. If you want to get rid of fleas on your own you need to be willing to read the label fully and follow the label instructions precisely. If you can't do that I suggest you call a professional. I see more instances where treatments have gone bad, ruining expensive carpet, furnishings, harming pets or worse. The cost of a professional service is usually fairly reasonable and you'll get rid of fleas quickly.

For flea control products, click here .

Ask Rick A Question


12 Aug 2009, 12:59
Hello. Thanks for the helpful site. I hope you can give me some hope. One month ago we closed on our first home. Moved our stuff in only to learn it had fleas, thanks to the previous owner's dog. We do not have one stitch of carpet--all hardwood floors, plus some tile in the kitchen and baths. How do you get rid of these buggers in a home with hardwood floors? No matter what we do, they are not going away. After 2 professional sprayings, we just found 15 very alive adult fleas last night! We vacuum every single day. We still are not even unpacked really--although we thought maybe they were in the boxes, so we unpacked and got rid of some boxes. Where on earth can they be living/hatching?? We are not even living in the house because of this problem. We are desperate. The pros are coming to spray today for a THIRD time, this time including the crawl space. We're desperate. All that money for a house we can't even live in!
17 Aug 2009, 15:08
I noticed that we were starting to get bit and noticed that my cat had fleas. Since we discovered this, the cat has stayed outside and we have been treating for fleas. I gave cleaned everything over and over, bombed and then had a professional come two times. We got back from a weekend away and my husband had 2 jump on him in our basement. We just had in sprayed 3 days ago. Why aren't they gone and what else should I do?
18 Aug 2009, 01:16
We live in a raised ranch and dry most of our wash outside from the second floor. We have also been treating our house for a flea infestation for about a week. My question I need to dry in the dryer to eliminate the flea and all of it's various stages or is it ok to dry outside?
Thank you so much for your help.
25 Aug 2009, 19:05
I just got rid of a cat that was flea infested regardless of how much I used frontline and vaccuumed. Now the fleas have a new host: me. I have sprayed flea killer and vaccuumed but without any luck. My vaccuum is bagless so that probably isn't helping. I don't know if I should spend money on more products or just call in a professional...and the cat went nearly EVERYWHERE! I'm wondering if even my car could be infested. Don't know what to do first but I am feeling like an alien in my own home and have very little money.
28 Sep 2009, 13:57
ok i have a 5 month old baby boy and i want something safe enof to use in the house we tried the borac powder and vinager. so please help. i need something now b4 i call someone to come out.
01 Jan 2010, 14:34
we had a cat who had fleas my partner and i were geeting eaten alive so we got rid of the cat it was driving my partner mad we tried sprays bombs carpet shampoo nothing was working so then i just ent mad on cleaning hoovering every day pull every thing out and go mad clean clean clean make sure as soon as u have stoped hoovering put the bag or emtey the tube away from the house now thank god they have gone
18 Jan 2010, 13:15
how long does it take to get rid of fleas and their eggs after proffessional spraying is done?
05 May 2010, 14:47
We used a good flea collar, Hart ProGuard and the ProGuard Drops for our cat. The real miracle worker was 20 Mule team Borax. Safe to use...poured a few cups of it in each room...used a broom to work it in....Initially vacuumed it a few hours later. Then vacuum each day. It took 8 days, but after 8 days, the vacuum showed total annialation for all fleas...It acts as a dessicant to dry them out and kill them...I use a little each month now as a preventive, and the carpets are very fresh...
07 Jul 2011, 21:55
I have been reading about beneficial nematodes to get rid of fleas in the yard. Not supposed to harm plants, pets, or people. I am going to try the borax for inside.
08 Oct 2011, 11:06
Thanks for all this great advice Rick. Much appreciated.
13 Nov 2012, 09:06
I just moved into a home and found out we have fleas.. before we moved are things in I bomed uesd borax on capets then I shampood the carpets with borax.. I used bakeing soda and salt on carpets, I used dawn dish soapand water and sprayed carpets and I also used adams flea spray for capets... but after all that I still have fleas.. I was the only one that was getting bit but now my 2 year old is getting them.. I usually only see one or two a day but we r covered in bites... please help... I don't know what else to do....
28 Jun 2013, 17:24
Rick you have a very nice site.
I have a dog and whenever I forget to buy his monthly flee drops I'll have a problem in no-time. What helps is a bowl with water and few drops of soap close to a small lamp or candle at night. It attracts the fleas and they fall into the water and cannot get out. no chemicals involved and if you can keep it up for a while it does help. Even outside in the yard. Low cost, easy and worth a try...
01 Sep 2013, 22:18
Hi!! I'm currently battling a bad flea infestation. I noticed them about three weeks ago after giving my dogs a bath and can't seem to get rid of them. I have a 1,000 square foot home and have set off a total of 14 bombs 4 different times with bombs containing IGR Had a exterminator come twice spraying outside and inside. Spray the floors nightly. Vacuum EVERYTHING top to bottom twice a day sometimes three times. Nothing other than furniture is Allowed on the floor and everything has been washed in hot water multiply times. I Spray floors at night. Treated our yard. I do not have any carpet in my house and have tried borax and the dish/night light thing at night. My poor dogs have been treated and no longer allowed in the house (poor things) and seem to be flea free. I have a 2 year old and newborn and my 2 year old is getting bites like crazy and have to keep her sprayed while in our home and not let her sit on the floor or carry her beloved blanket around around. I know it takes time but I am out of time and have to return to work next week. Any other suggestions??? Thanks!!!!
21 Oct 2013, 21:01
Nicole--Since yours is the most recent posting, I was wondering what ended up working. I am in a similar situation and I'm having the extermibatr come out for the 3rd time. This time they're finally going to sprays couch and other furniture that by wouldn't touch initially. They said that they would need to follow up one more time but that they're confident that should be it...hopefully!!
25 Aug 2014, 20:20
My mom bought a used car and I drove it. My ankles got all bit up. I think it was fleas. How long can fleas live in a car? She has no pets. How can she get rid of them?


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