How To Kill Fleas And Get Rid Of Them Forever (From Your House, Dogs & Cats)

dog-pet-fleasHow did fleas get into my house?

Most people only encounter fleas in their homes if they have pets. They could be dogs or cats, it doesn’t matter.

But.. I don’t even have pets!

Even if you do not have pets, it is more than likely that a rat, a ferret or some kind of mammal host had also resided in your home at some point in time. Wild ferrets or rodents are known to settle in attics or ceiling areas and the fleas on them could fall or crawl in through the tiniest gaps in your ceilings, walls or even light fixtures, thus infesting your house.

Even after these pests or rodents have left or have been removed, the fleas will continue to feed on other hosts in the house i.e you and your family!

How did my pet get fleas?

Essentially, any type of pets is likely to carry fleas with them if they’re exposed to other pets or animals. They could’ve been infested when you drop them off in a pet grooming salon, pet hotels or even when they hang out with other pets in a park.

Once exposed, your pets could carry these fleas back into your home, where they’ll start breeding and infesting your whole house.

dog and flea illustrationOk, so I have a flea problem, how do I get rid of them?

First of all, you have to understand that most flea problems aren’t usually concentrated at just one particular location of your house. If you have pets at home, it is more than likely that they’ve “spread” these fleas everywhere they’ve gone to. A dog or a cat is basically a 24/7 operating shuttle for these fleas to hop on and off wherever they want to. Wherever your dog or cat has been to, it is more than likely you have fleas there as well.

Because of this, it is very important that you get rid of the fleas and eggs in your whole house and on your dogs or cats simultaneously.

My Story

I move around a lot, and I’ve had my fair share of stories about combating pests. I tend to live in ‘lower-end/cheaper’ properties, so pest problems are very common to me (this is probably why the places I’ve lived in are cheap in the first place).

But, among the pests that I’ve raged war on, I would have to say that fleas are the most resilient ones, by far. It’s not so much that they’re as unsightly as say, cockroaches. It’s the fact that they cause itches and angry red spots all over my body that annoys me to no end.

Before my first successful elimination of these pests, I had spent weeks trying to kill these fleas and I had trouble sleeping simply because it was so itchy all over that I had to wake up to scratch.

I’ve had to kill fleas and exterminate them (successfully) on more than one occasion in different locations so I’d say my experience counts for quite a bit.

You’ll be glad to know that it actually only takes about 1-2 days of diligence to completely rid your house of fleas (for even the worst infestations), as long as you do it right.

I’ve tried out a ton of methods, both individually and in different combinations. Some didn’t work, some worked, albeit to a very limited extent, while a couple worked so effectively that your flea problem can be eliminated completely in as little as a single day. I’ve listed all the best ways to kill fleas and get rid of them permanently here, so you can see for yourself.

Methods to get rid of fleas that didn't work: Salt
saltSprinkle fine salt over carpets or affected areas. This is supposed to work by sapping out the moisture from the fleas as they walk over it. They’ll chafe and bleed to death over time.

If the salt is sprinkled over the eggs, they’ll supposedly dry up and perish as well.

Didn’t really work in my case. Flea carcasses were few and far in between, and fleas continued to persist in my home.

Methods to get rid of fleas that worked to a limited extent:

homemade flea trap

A quick, homemade flea trap

For minor flea infestations: Water + dish detergent + night light

The idea here is that dish detergent mixed with water is toxic to fleas and if they hop into it, they’ll die. The night light helps attracts these fleas.

Make sure you use a bowl or basin that has a shallow edge though, so that fleas can jump over it into the mixture.

You’ll have to place this “trap” near the ground too, so that it’s more accessible to the fleas.

TIP: This works with a normal desk lamp too. Just set it up on the ground and place the mixture in the spotlight. The fleas will jump towards the spotlight and into the mixture.

dead fleas

See how many of those little bloodsuckers we caught!

In my case, I had woken up every night to a ton of their carcasses floating in the basin.

As satisfying as this felt to me, apparently it wasn’t enough because it didn’t fix the problem.

This trap only killed adult fleas and at a very small area. The flea cycle continued as the eggs hatched and more fleas returned to pester me!

Methods to get rid of fleas that worked:

For extensive flea infestations (multiple areas in the house)

Best all-round combination: Pest control services + flea spray + flea tablets*

Most cost-effective combination (do-it-yourself): Fogging + flea spray + flea tablets*

For minor flea infestations (an isolated location)

Ideal combination for minor flea infestation: Vacuuming + flea spray + flea tablets*

Personally, we suggest trying out this method first since it’s the least intrusive and can be done in a single day.

*tablets are needed only if you have pets

Pest Control Services – Works best for extensive infestations. Cost can go up to $100 or more if multiple sessions are required over a few days. Complete eradication of fleas in your house. Pest control services do not offer long-term protection if you have pets, as they’ll tend to attract fleas over time, so make sure you use flea sprays and tablets as well. After a pest control session is over, use some flea spray and flea tablets for your pets right away before letting them back into the house.

For pest control services, click here.

vet's best flea home sprayFlea Sprays – Flea sprays can be used on both pets and furniture (carpets, rugs, couch, bedding – both your pet and yours, blankets, pillows). These sprays will kill most types of fleas, including their eggs, upon contact.

TIP: For sensitive areas of your pets i.e near its face, spray on a comb and brush it.
Use this in combination with flea tablets so that any new adult fleas that hop onto your pet will die off almost immediately too. If you kill off all the eggs and adult fleas simultaneously, the flea cycle will be broken.

If you have pets, you can use this on them in addition to flea tablets for optimal results.

This is the flea spray I used and personally recommend: Vet’s Best Flea Home Spray. It costs a mere 9 bucks and is apparently made of natural ingredients, which is great for those averse to chemical products.

Novartis Capstar Flea TabletsFlea Tablets – Flea tablets are pills fed to your dogs or cats. Any fleas that are biting your pets will start dropping like flies. Results are quick and extremely effective, often within 30 minutes. Please note however that flea tablets only last for a day, only kills adult fleas and is not a long-term preventative measure. So, if you feed your dog one of these pills today and decide to bring it to the dog park tomorrow, you’ll have to feed it another pill once you’re back from the park.

Once you have a controlled flea-free environment, you really only need to use flea tablets, if and when needed, such as when your pet returns from a vet clinic, a pet grooming salon, a pet hotel or a pet park.

Use this in combination with flea sprays to kill off eggs too, since tablets only kill off adult fleas.

These are the flea tablets I used and personally recommend: Novartis Capstar Flea Tablets. A 6-dose package for small dogs costs around $25, while for bigger dogs, it costs around $30. Make sure you pick the appropriate dosage based on the size of your dogs or cats.

flea foggingFogging – Fogging is very effective because even the hard-to-reach places will be cleared of fleas. This technique is often used by pest exterminators themselves too, but only for really bad infestations because of the inconvenience it puts you in. You might have to do this more than once too.

You’ll have to cover up exposed food, utensils and dishes, disable your smoke alarms temporarily, shut all the windows and doors, and leave your house together with your pet (if any) for a couple of hours. After the fogging is over, you’ll have to re-open all the windows and doors and air your house for about 2 hours before going in again. You’ll tend to see many other dead bugs all around your house as they leave their nests in their attempts to escape the fog and die.

IMPORTANT: After fogging, you MUST remember to also treat your pet before letting it into the house. Spray your pet down with a flea spray and feed it a flea tablet to be safe.

This is the fogger I’ve used and recommend: Hot Shot No-Mess Fogger. It should only cost around $10 for a 3-can fogger. If you live in a bigger house, you’ll probably need more than that. Although 1 can supposedly covers 2000 cubic feet, I used 1 can per room just to be safe. Be prepared to come back to a looooooot more dead bugs than just fleas.

vacuumingVacuuming – If fogging sounds like too much of a hassle, vacuuming works to a certain extent as well.

If you have a strong enough vacuum, you can actually vacuum up even the eggs wherever it passes over. Just make sure you cover as much space as is possible. Vacuum the carpets, curtains, under your furniture, beds and also any cracks or crevices in the floorboards and baseboards. Attach a vacuum nozzle for areas that are harder to reach into.

IMPORTANT: If you have a pet, make sure you feed it a flea tablet about 30 minutes before you start vacuuming your house. Also, make sure you use some flea spray on your pet as well. This is so that any adult fleas that hopped onto your pet while you’re vacuuming will simply die off (from the tablets), and any eggs residing on it will be eliminated (from the spray).

After vacuuming, carefully detach the vacuum cleaner bag and discard it, preferably into a bin outside your house to prevent any risk of re-infestation.

After the vacuum session, use flea spray on all the vacuumed areas just in case you missed some of these bugs and their eggs.

That’s it! Feel free to try out some of the less intrusive flea killing combinations first before going all out and fogging your entire house or calling up a flea treatment/pest control service. Unless of course you feel that your infestation is out of control or if you’re feeling lazy to do it yourself!