When fleas show up in your home, you want to get rid of them ASAP. They multiply very quickly, and if left untreated can lead to a bigger infestation. Not only are they a nuisance, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), some fleas can carry pathogens that cause disease in humans, so it’s best not to delay tackling a flea problem.
To learn more about fleas and how to get rid of them, the Good Housekeeping Institute Health, Beauty and Sustainability Lab spoke with Michael Bentley, an entomologist and the director of training and education for the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), and Josh Matta, entomologist and senior biologist for Spectrum Garden Brands. Follow the guide below to learn how to get rid of fleas.
How long does it take to get rid of fleas in the house?
Fleas have a life cycle from a few weeks to several months, depending on a variety of factors such as temperature and humidity. Due to this unpredictable life cycle — as well as environmental conditions and the severity of the infestation — it can take weeks to months to eliminate fleas.
How can I get rid of fleas right away?
Unfortunately, getting rid of fleas is not an instantaneous process. The good news is that you can — and should — start tackling the problem right away. To effectively get rid of fleas, Matta suggests a simultaneous multistep approach, which means thoroughly inspecting and treating the home, yard and pets. “Flea prevention and treatment go hand-in-hand, so it is important to tackle both,” he says.
How to get rid of fleas in your home
- Sweep and vacuum furniture, carpeted areas and floors, especially where they meet the walls. Bentley says, “Flea larvae are usually located in undisturbed locations such as along baseboards, in the seams of furniture and inside the cracks of floors.”
- Wash bedding such as blankets and pet beds, especially those placed near those undisturbed areas where fleas frequently breed. If the infestation is severe, you may want to consider throwing out the bedding and replacing it.
- Treat your home. Bentley says it’s critical to work with a pest control professional to get rid of fleas properly and effectively. A commercial pest control professional can also help determine which products are best to treat your home and yard.
- Repeat treatments and cleaning. Fleas have a complex life cycle, which means it can take weeks or even months to completely get rid of them. You’ll want to follow the schedule of treatments given by your pest control professional. You’ll also want to repeat vacuuming and washing bedding frequently to get rid of flea larvae and eggs.
How to get rid of fleas in the bed
If pets have been in or around your bed, there’s a chance fleas may be there as well. In addition to laundering any bedding and pillows that are safe to wash, vacuum the entire bed: the bed frame, mattress and box springs. You’ll also want to thoroughly vacuum the floors underneath.
How to get rid of fleas on dogs, cats and other pets
If you see red bumps or hair loss on your pet or see them scratching frequently, that could be a sign that they have fleas — and that you have fleas in your house. Bathe your pets with a shampoo that your veterinarian would approve of, and use a flea comb, especially around your pet’s face and neck and near the base of the tail. It is best to speak with your veterinarian about flea and tick prevention before having to deal with an infestation. Most flea treatments and shampoos for pets carry insecticides like pyrtherins, which can be dangerous to their health depending on the species and/or if not used properly. If your pet is on a flea shampoo or treatment schedule, please report any unusual side effects to your vet or pet poison hotline immediately.
How to get rid of fleas in the yard
In order to prevent fleas from traveling indoors on pets, it’s best to regularly treat your yard with an insect control product designed to eliminate fleas. Matta recommends the brand he represents, Ecologic’s Lawn & Yard Insect Killer, which uses mint oil and geraniol as actives that are considered minimum-risk pesticides. “I recommend this product because it is safe to use around children and pets,” he says. “It kills ants, fleas, ticks and more, and can be used on lawns, landscapes and around home foundations.”
Can fleas live on humans?
Fleas do not typically live on humans; they prefer animal hosts. However, according to Bentley, they will resort to biting people when animals are unavailable and can then readily return to pets.
Fleas will not go away naturally. “An infestation without any treatment will be a long and ongoing battle for homeowners,” says Bentley. “It is best to work with a pest control professional to eradicate an infestation before it becomes a larger health concern for you, your home and your pets.”