How to Prepare for Flea Control Service

Adult cat flea

Alastair Macewen / Getty Images

No one wants fleas in their home, but once your dog or cat carries them in, it can be difficult to get rid of them. Your pet can get fleas from the outdoors or from being around other animals that have fleas. Whether deciding to attempt control yourself, or work with a pest control company, it is crucial that the home, pet(s), and yard—if applicable, all be treated at the same time.

If you have chosen to contract with a pest control provider for service, there are steps that you will need to take to prepare. Before performing this, or any service, professional pest control operators (PCOs) will generally provide you with a specific list of preparation activities, "prep," to be completed before they arrive. However, the following lists some of the most common requests or recommendations made by PCOs—and should also be followed before using any over-the-counter pest control products yourself. (When using any pesticide, read and follow all label directions and safe-use guidelines before purchase and use.)

Because a lack of preparation could make treatment unsafe or cause reinfestation of the entire home or building, many PCOs will not treat areas that are not prepared to specifications.

Preparation Steps

You can help your PCO rid your home of a flea problem by doing the following things:

Before Service

  • Be prepared to leave your home or apartment during treatment and until insecticide is thoroughly dried. This will be approximately 3 to 5 hours, or the time advised by your pest control operator.
  • Wash all pet bedding in hot water or destroy it.
  • Vacuum all carpeting and mop wood and tile floors, including along walls and inside closets.
  • Clean or vacuum furniture, especially between and under cushions.
  • Dispose of vacuum cleaner bag in a trash container outside your home, close tightly. If using a vacuum with a reusable bag, empty contents into a container outside your home, close it tightly and discard. Wash reusable bag in hot water.
  • Remove all pets and have them treated for fleas by a veterinarian. If you plan to treat the animal yourself, it is essential that all label directions be followed and that you use only products specified for the species of animal on which the product is to be used. It is critical, however, that pets be treated at the same time as the home so that neither reinfests the other afterward. Also, consider using a flea repellent to help prevent the problem from reoccurring.
  • Cover fish tanks with wet towels and turn off pumps until reoccupying home.
  • Pick up all toys and items off the floor. This includes picking up items from floors inside closets and under beds.
  • Strip all bed linens and wash in hot water.
  • Remove all caged pets (birds, reptiles, hamsters) before service is rendered.
  • Cover and store any open food products, dishes or utensils before service is rendered.
  • If the yard also is to be treated, the same steps as directed for in the home must be followed—that is, wash all pet bedding in hot water or destroy it, pick up all toys and items from the lawn and areas to be treated.

After Service

  • Remain out of the home until insecticide has dried thoroughly (3 to 5 hours, or as advised by your PCO). It is essential to allow this time and ensure that the home is completely aired out before allowing sensitive individuals, such as small children, or vulnerable pets back into the home.
  • To give the treatment time to work, do not clean carpet or floors for at least two weeks after treatment.
  • Your PCO will most likely shut down the air system during service. This should be turned back on upon reoccupation.
  • If your stove has a pilot light, the PCO will also likely turn off the pilot light during service. Relight pilot upon returning home.