How to Get Rid of Fleas

By: Kealia Reynolds

If you’re a pet owner, there is a high probability that you will end up dealing with fleas at some point—even the cleanest pets in the cleanest homes face this reality.. Flea bites cause severe itching on both animals and people and can even cause serious skin diseases like flea allergy dermatitis. Even if you don’t have pets, you could still be susceptible to a flea infestation in your home due to animals walking through your yard and bringing fleas with them.

Here’s how to identify fleas, the best way to get rid of them, and tips on how to keep them out of your home.

How to identify a flea

Fleas are very small. It can be difficult to tell them apart from other small bugs like like mites, ticks, or bed bugs. Here’s how to tell them apart.

  • Fleas—These ovular flightless insects are 3 mm long and are multiple shades of brown. They travel by using powerful hind legs that allow them to leap up to 50 times their body length. Fleas are most prevalent in the summer and in warmer, humid climates. Fleas live by consuming blood from other living creatures, and prefer other mammals to humans.
Closeup of mite and fleas infected on dog fur, sucking its blood
  • Mites—These arthropods are tiny—only 0.25–1 mm long—and have an unsegmented body.  Most mites have four pairs of legs for eight total and appear velvety. Mites live in a wide variety of habitats including in soil, on plants, as predators, or as parasites feeding on other animals. Mites are often not visible to the naked eye, but their presence can be identified by the skin rash they cause, known as scabies.
  • Ticks—In the same order (Parasitiformes) and subclass (Acari) as mites, ticks are external parasites that live by feeding on the blood of mammals and birds. As adults, ticks are pear-shaped or ovular and are roughly the size of a sesame seed, about 2–3 mm. Ticks are the carriers of at least 12 known diseases that affect humans and animals.
  • Bed bugs—The common bed bug is 4–5 mm long and cannot fly or jump. They’re reddish-brown in color and have flat, seed-shaped bodies and are found most often in beds, upholstered furniture, and blankets. Bed bugs survive by feeding on human blood. They aren’t exclusively nocturnal by nature but do feed primarily on humans—often without detection—at night.

How to get rid of fleas in your home

If you spot a flea in your home or on your pet, take action immediately to prevent further problems.

Begin by treating your pet for fleas

The primary objective is to get rid of fleas on your pet to relieve any itching or discomfort and prevent the population from growing.

  1. Wash—Give your pet a thorough bath using lukewarm water and a pet shampoo with natural insecticides. Follow the instructions carefully—many pet shampoos require a waiting period of 5–10 minutes. Dry your pet with a towel.
  2. Clean—In addition to washing your pet, you’ll need to wash any toys or bedding to remove any flea eggs. Place all toys, bedding, and any towels used to dry your pet into the washer and run it using the hot/cold cycle with ample laundry detergent.
  3. BrushAfter bathing your pet, use a fine-tooth flea comb to brush your pet’s fur to dislodge any remaining fleas. Remove the fleas from the comb promptly and dispose of them in soapy water.
  4. Apply spot treatment—Use prescription-strength spot treatments or similar products to treat emerging adult fleas and prevent future infestations from occurring. Products to consider:
    • Once-a-month topical creams (consult your veterinarian for recommendations)
    • Oral products recommended by your veterinarian

Flea collar—we recommend the Serestro flea and tick collar (be sure to check the weight standards before buying a flea collar for your pet)

Cleaning the inside of your home to get rid of fleas

To exterminate fleas and clear your home of eggs, larvae, and pupa, try these easy solutions:

Cleaning your yard to get rid of and prevent fleas

Fleas can also live outside of your home. A simple test to determine if fleas are present in your yard is to wear brand new white high socks or long white pants and walk slowly around your yard. Fleas will stand out against the white material.

Should you spot any fleas, here are three simple tips to remove fleas from your yard and prevent them from entering your home:

  1. Do yard work—Remove any debris piles or downed trees. Trim hedges and shrubbery. Cut away any low-hanging tree branches. Take steps to ensure your yard receives as much direct sunlight as possible as fleas prefer shaded areas.
  2. Consider chemical solutions—Use insecticide or growth regulators to kill any remaining fleas. Follow instructions carefully, as many chemical solutions are toxic to pets and children and dangerous for adults. Consult a veterinarian if you’re uncertain about chemical remedies.
  3. Call a professional—Large yard with a lot of potential places for fleas to survive? It may be worth calling a professional to save you time and ensure the job is complete.

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