Few things are more frustrating than dealing with itchy, scratchy fleas, especially during the hot summer months. If you're dealing with a flea problem inside, this guide will help you know exactly what to do without overcomplicating things.
To adequately address an indoor flea problem, you'll need to come prepared to investigate, do some cleaning, and maybe even hop on a ladder or enter the crawlspace. Things could get dirty, so dress accordingly.
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Before You Begin
You'll need to gather some tools and supplies if you're going to have success tackling a flea problem.
The first step will be identifying where the flea issue is coming from. We'll go into more detail about this below, but start by asking yourself if fleas are a once-in-a-while issue in your house, or if they are a serious and recurring problem. Naturally, fleas come and go with the seasons—and you're likely to see them here and there if you have pets that go outside—but there are certain flea problems that are much worse than others.
If the fleas in your home are not severe, you probably won't need to go into the attic or crawlspace, and you can skip grabbing a ladder. A bright flashlight or headlamp (300+ lumens) is always a great tool to have around, though, and you can use it for lots of different jobs, not just pest control. If you're shopping for a good flashlight, consider getting one that has a clip on it. This way, you can clip it to the bill of your hat and keep your hands free.
Equipment / Tools
- 1 bright flashlight or headlamp (300+ lumens)
- 1 drill
- 1 ladder
- 1 vacuum
- 1 bucket or large jug
- 1 1/4 inch mesh screen
- 2 screws
- 1 bottle 'Skin-So-Soft' bath oil
- 1 bottle of flea medication (optional)
How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
Identify the Source of the Fleas
This step could be as simple as, "The source is my pet, of course!" If that's the case, you can skip this part for now, but if you've realized that fleas are causing serious issues in your house, it's time to start thinking outside the box.
Pets often bring fleas in from outside. If your yard has a recurring wildlife issue, this could create a recurring flea issue. Look for areas where pests like rodents might hang out, and start by removing any items from along the foundation of your house, including pallets, woodpiles, and dense vegetation. These areas provide cover for rodents right up against the foundation of your home and let's not forget: rodents carry fleas that could spread to your dog or cat.
Screen Off Gaps and Vents
Around your home's foundation and along the roofline, there are various vents and screens. These screens aren't designed to keep fleas out, but they are designed to keep wildlife out. When damaged, these areas can become entry points for flea-carrying wildlife like:
Under your home is an area that is especially appealing to wildlife. When it's hot out, this space provides shade and when it's cold, it provides shelter and warmth. In the summer when fleas are at their peak, accumulations of them can build up in your crawlspace where wildlife could be hanging out in the shade. If your pet is able to access this shade as well, they are likely to pick up fleas while they're at it.
Use your flashlight or headlamp to illuminate vents and screening that might be difficult to see otherwise. Look for knocked-out corners and other holes or damage. These should be repaired or screened off by screwing pieces of 1/4" mesh cut down to size.
Clean Pet Resting Areas
Fleas lay their eggs on their host (your pet), but their eggs do not stick to your pet's hair. Instead, the eggs easily fall off and will pile up most where your pet spends time resting and relaxing.
Wash and dry your pet's bedding regularly and vacuum your pet's resting areas on a frequent basis. Often, dog houses are forgotten, but if you're working hard to get rid of fleas inside and your dog goes out and picks up more flea eggs in their doghouse, that will be a problem when it comes to your flea control efforts.
Flea eggs are especially prone to piling up inside the cracks of sofas. If your dog or cat is allowed on the furniture, it is very important that you vacuum the cushions of your couch, remove them, and then vacuum all the cracks and crevices of your sofa as well.
Vacuum Thoroughly and Frequently
For flea control, it can't be said enough: vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
Don't just focus on pet resting areas, either. While these areas should be addressed regularly, flea eggs can fall off your pet and into all kinds of places, especially between the baseboard and the floorboard.
Flea eggs can lie dormant for a long time if a host is not present, meaning eggs can hide out in discreet places until the movement of a new host triggers them to come out and start feeding. The vacuum will help solve this problem, so leave no nook or cranny unvacuumed. Just be sure to dispose of your vacuum bag when you're finished.
Wash Your Pet with Bath Oil
Bathing your pet should be a regular event if you're trying to get rid of fleas inside. While there are medicated shampoos that can be used for fleas, you could also try other products like Skin-So-Soft bath oil.
To use Skin-So-Soft to get rid of fleas on your pet:
- Mix 1.5 oz of Skin-So-Soft with 1 gallon of water.
- Use this solution on your pet during baths.
- Bathe your pet frequently while you are trying to get rid of fleas.
Certain studies showed a 31-62% reduction in fleas when animals were bathed with this solution, but the key is bathing them frequently enough that the fleas are not allowed time to repopulate on your pet. This step will not work well if pet resting areas are not being cleaned and flea sources addressed, too.
Treat Your Pet For Fleas
Many pet owners want to avoid this step when possible, but in certain cases it's unavoidable and flea treatment will be necessary.
A good quality over-the-counter flea treatment can work wonders if you're comfortable treating your furry friend on your own, or there are flea treatment options your vet can provide. Some of these treatments involve topical application, where others are ingestible and cover a variety of pests including ticks and worms. Talk to your vet about the best options for your pets.
When to Call a Professional
Whether you call a professional or not, you will want to follow the six steps above if you're dealing with fleas.
A pest professional can help when you cannot identify the source of your flea issue or if you're doing everything right and still can't get rid of them. Avoid companies that are too eager to sell a chemical application. While targeted chemical treatment can be necessary to get rid of severe flea problems, it's a band-aid solution if the source of the fleas isn't addressed.
Fleas. UMN Extension.
Mallis, Arnold. Handbook of Pest Control. 1982.