If you have ever experienced a flea infestation in your home, then you’ll be nodding your head when I say, getting rid of fleas once they make your home theirs, is perhaps one of the most frustrating and time-consuming endeavors of pet ownership.
You often want to dive right in and buy the entire flea product aisle at your local pet store at the first sighting of a gnarly flea – however, hold your horses.
Before you waste your money and your time – your first "port" of call should be your veterinarian. Your pet needs to be treated before you start trying to get rid of the fleas in your home. Your vet can guide you in the right direction by recommending effective preventatives, which can also act as a treatment, along with environmental management!
If You Just Treated Your Pet and Not Your Home – What Would Happen?
The presence of fleas on your cat or dog is, unfortunately, just the tip of the iceberg. There are actually many more flea eggs, larvae, and pupa just waiting to become adults, and these are typically hiding in carpets, cracks in wood floors, gaps in baseboards, bedding, blankets, couches, pillows, etc.
Therefore, treating the fleas on your pet is not an effective strategy on its own. Yes, you may get rid of the flea at that moment in time; however, what will happen is new fleas will hatch, grow, develop, and ultimately jump back onto your dog or cat, and the cycle will continue.
10 female fleas can turn into 250,000 fleas in just 30 days!
See more flea facts below
Cleaning Your Home and Eliminating Fleas
In order to live flea-free, you need to clean your home while simultaneously ridding fleas from your pet.
Step 1: See your veterinarian.
All pets in the home need to be treated, not just the one you found fleas on. If one pet is infected, they likely all are.
Step 2: Wash ALL fabrics.
Wash your pet’s bedding and any other fabric they sleep or rest on in HOT water after you shake them out outside to get rid of as much flea dirt and debris as possible.
Do the same for your bed, pillows, couch, and chair cushion covers, as well as any area rugs and mats. Fleas love to make homes in fibers.
Ideally, once your washing cycle is done, if you can hang everything outside in the sun, this is ideal, as the sunshine helps kill flea eggs. Alternatively, drying your washing on the HOT heat cycle is the next best option.
Step 3: Clean carpets, rugs, and furniture.
If it can’t be picked up and washed in HOT water, then you need to vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
Shake and “punch out” your couch and chair cushions outside or over the carpet before vacuuming – this will aid in ridding any fleas, flea eggs, larva, and/or flea dirt that may be present on your cushions or couch covers.
Alternatively, steam cleaning works well also. Fleas aren’t likely to survive the heat and soap of a steam cleaner!
When we say vacuum, we mean vacuum EVERYTHING. Not just carpets, even if you don’t have carpets! Fleas can and do exist in homes that don’t have carpets, as they like crevices, such as baseboards, gaps between floorboards, as well as carpet flooring, ventilators, under furniture, and anywhere else, fur and lint accumulate. And don’t forget to vacuum the rest of the couch that can’t be washed, as well as all those sneaky corners where food crumbs like to hide.
Pre-treating carpet and upholstery with flea-eliminating powders:
You may wish to pre-treat with flea-treatment for carpets, such as FleaBustersRx. You need to let the powder sit for 24 to 48 hours BEFORE vacuuming it up. However, you should comb the powder into carpets and seems of upholstery so that you don't visibly see it. Any excess powder should be vacuumed. After 24 to 48 hours, vacuum everywhere thoroughly, then dispose of the sealed vacuum bag, ideally outside.
Why Borax shouldn't be used:
You may notice on the list of active ingredients in the FleaBusters product that there is an item named ‘orthoboric acid’ – also called hydrogen borate.
This is not to be confused with the toxic compound commonly known as Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate. These ingredients have previously been used in many flea-treatment powders. Borax is known to be toxic to pets, however, orthoboric acid is not.
You will want to be doing ALL of this washing and cleaning while your pets are, ideally, out of the home, as if they are part of the problem, you are going to be fighting an uphill battle. So typically. I recommend, if possible, that one person take your pet to the veterinarian for treatment while another stays home and cleans.
Step 4: Clean the vacuum.
If you have a bagless vacuum, you need to empty it into a trash bag when you’re done, seal the trash bag and throw it OUTSIDE. Then clean the canister with hot soap and water. Vacuuming will cause the flea eggs to WAKE up and they’ll hatch and crawl out of your vacuum if you don't empty and clean it properly. If you have a vacuum with a bag, then you need to take the bag out to the trash right away.
- 10 female fleas can turn into 250,000 fleas in just 30 days!
- It only takes one flea to cause an infestation. And that is because one single female adult flea can lay up to 40 eggs in one day! And, for every single flea seen, it is estimated that approximately 50 adult fleas are actually present!! That’s 300 fleas that are in existence in your home or on your pet for every 6 fleas you count!
- Although small in stature, adult fleas are capable of jumping approximately 6–8 inches upwards and 13 inches horizontally! Making the transition from one location to another – such as to your pet's fur – easy.
- In order to survive, fleas require a blood meal, meaning they use the animals that they bite as their food source. In addition to dogs and cats, fleas feed off of squirrels, raccoons, mice, and other wild warm-blooded mammals outdoors – some of which come indoors.
- Fleas don’t particularly like biting or feeding on people, so if you or your family members are being bitten, then that means there is a particularly high flea population present inside your home!
- Fleas can carry several diseases that can affect your pet AND your family. For humans, while rare, a flea bite can transmit, typhus, cat scratch fever, and even bubonic plague.
- For cats, flea bites can transmit cat scratch fever. Then if the cat scratches or bites a human, they can then become infected with the bacteria.
- Pets and children that live in homes with fleas can accidentally ingest them, resulting in tapeworms as well.
The Flea Life Cycle
There are four flea life cycle stages: the egg, then the larvae, the pupa (where they are in a cocoon), and finally, the adult. And, depending on the environment, including the temperature and humidity, this lifecycle can take several weeks to months to complete. Hence, fleas are more active in the summer/warmer months as they prefer warmer, humid climates. However, with indoor heating, fleas can be a nuisance all year long.
The pupal stage is often when the flea lifecycle remains dormant, waiting for more favorable conditions as this stage is protected by a cocoon. So, if you didn't clean your home environment well, you will end up with more fleas in approximately 1–2 weeks and the cycle will continue.
Keeping all this in mind, treating a flea infestation requires a multipronged approach in order to tackle every stage of their lifecycle and break the cycle. Treating all the pets in your home, as well as cleaning well is paramount to getting an infestation behind you.