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How to get rid of fleas in your home

how to get rid of fleas in your home, flea treatments

Five steps to help you rid your home (and animals) of fleas.

Last week I had some surprise house guests turn up.

Fleas.

Who would’ve thought 2 indoor cats could catch fleas? Not me.

Who would’ve thought 2 indoor cats who regularly get anti-flea treatments could catch fleas?

Not me.

cats

 

Granted, their treatments aren’t as regular as the packets recommend, but then that’s because they don’t go outside apart from their cat pen. They don’t fraternise with other animals. They’re pretty safe in their own little bubble.

But it didn’t stop them getting fleas.

And the first I knew about this was when the bites started appearing on my ankles… and then my shins… and then my lower back…

ARGH!

Thankfully I knew just what to do – Google the solution! Thanks to some internet searching, as well as speaking to my mum (former cat breeder and font of all animal knowledge) and my vet, I discovered exactly what I needed to do to tackle the problem.

According to practically everyone, there are 5 key things you should be doing if you want to get rid of fleas in your home.

Use ‘spot on’ flea treatments on your pets

The first thing you need to do when you discover you have fleas in your home is to use some flea treatment on any pets you may have.

‘Spot on’ treatments are effective and work by applying some liquid flea treatment onto the back of the neck of your pet. The liquid is absorbed into the skin and its active ingredients are secreted out through the oil glands in your pet’s skin, killing fleas.

There are a number of spot on treatments such as Frontline, Advocate and Advantage. Before starting any of these treatments though, I would recommend that you talk to your vet about which treatment would be best for your pet.

When speaking to my mum and my vet, they both told me that there is some evidence to suggest that fleas might be becoming resistant to Frontline. It’s my usual ‘go to’ flea treatment, but this time around I didn’t find it as effective as I had in the past (although that’s not to say that it won’t work for others – it’s still a very good treatment).

My vet prescribed Advocate, a newer flea treatment, and it seemed to sort out the infestation on Bella and Dave quickly.

How to get rid of fleas in your home: 'spot on' flea treatment

Get hoovering

From everything I’ve read about how to get rid of fleas in your home, there’s been one statistic that’s really stood out –

The fleas that you spot on your pet will only account for about ten% of the infestation. The other 90% will be in your home.

Scary.

I’ve also read that one of the most effective ways to get rid of fleas in your home is to vacuum every day. Hoovering will not only suck up any adult fleas, eggs and larvae, but will also pick up any flea ‘dirt’ (faeces – bleurgh!).

Make sure you hoover everywhere, but there are particular areas you should pay attention to where fleas (and their eggs) tend to collect/hide. These are:

  • skirting boards
  • underneath and behind any radiators
  • behind cabinets
  • if you have wooden floors, cracks in the floorboards
  • upholstered furniture (especially if your cat or dog likes to lie on it)
  • patches of carpet or flooring that don’t get much exposure to sunlight (fleas like humid and cool spots)
  • anywhere that is used regularly and where food gets dropped

The life cycle of a flea is 2 whole months so getting rid of them won’t be as simple as vacuuming once to get the job done. Repeating it day after day will make sure that all eggs, larvae and adult fleas get tackled.

And when emptying your vacuum cleaner, make sure you do it in a sealed bin as far from your house as possible. This will avoid any fleas jumping out of your kitchen bin and back into your home.

I’ve also been told that if you have a flea problem in the summer, you’ll still need to be alert when winter arrives and your central heating goes on.

Fleas love central heating because a cold winter would normally kill them off. So even if you think you’ve successfully dealt with your infestation earlier in the year, be aware that you might get a ‘second hit’ of them as the temperature starts to drop.

Pesky blighters.

How to get rid of fleas in your home: vacuuming carpets

Get a flea collar… but only for your vacuum cleaner

My vet advised me not to bother with flea collars for Bella and Dave because he’s seeing resistance to them developing among fleas.

However, it’s always worth putting one on, I mean in, your vacuum cleaner.

The thing about hoovering up flea eggs, larvae and even adult fleas is that there’s a chance they might still be alive inside your vacuum cleaner.

If you can put a flea collar into your vacuum’s bag or dust chamber, it should hopefully help to kill any fleas that end up in there.

How to get rid of fleas in your home: flea collar for your hoover

Put your washing machine to work

When you have fleas you must wash, wash and wash again! Wash your pet’s bedding, your own bedcovers, cushions, throws and and any other washable substance that your pet is likely to have come into contact with.

Washing them at a higher temperature than normal will help to kill any fleas. Drying them in a tumble dryer is also a good idea – the intense heat will also help to kill these pests.

You’ll need to do this regularly too.

Spray every inch of your home with flea spray

This is my big tip. Flea spray can really help to kill a flea infestation in your home. I used Indorex flea spray and can’t recommend it highly enough – it really made the difference.

My vet was pretty happy when I told him that I had this spray. Since using it in my home, I haven’t had a single flea bite on my body. That’s how I know it works.

It claims to break the 2-month life cycle of the flea, killing eggs and larvae as well as adult fleas. It also says that it provides continuous protection for up to 12 months afterwards.

I’m not sure on the last claim, but I’m convinced that it’s done its first job.

If you do use a flea spray, make sure you always read the instructions first.

How to get rid of fleas in your home: Indorex flea spray

There are other tips and suggestions floating around the internet to help you get rid of fleas in your home. These include spreading salt or baking soda across your carpets and rugs, or making homemade lemon sprays, or other more ‘natural’ flea treatments.

I tried salting my living room carpet (it’s supposed to ‘dry out’ fleas and kill them), but there’s no way of knowing if it worked. I’ve listed the 5 things that, combined together, have worked the best for me and killed off my flea problem.

If they decide to come back again any time soon, I’ll be ready and waiting.

11 Comments

  1. Bad luck getting fleas, I’m amazed too that indoor cats can get them! It seems you dealt with them very efficiently. I don’t have pets (well chickens yes, but they’re outside and only kind of pets) but it reminds me of when the kids have had nits. That’s also such a bore!

  2. Thanks for the tips! Prevention is definitely the best form of defense when it comes to fleas, regular spot-on treatments should do the trick!

  3. This is such important information! Especially about not using flea treatment for dogs on cats. So many people think it’s just fine to do that, and they don’t realize how dangerous it is. The head peep lost one of her childhood cats to pyrethrin toxicity, and we hope that no one ever has to go through a loss like that

  4. Thanks for this great article..I want to try a Natural Flea and Tick product but my Pom, Molly can not wear a collar, she scratches and I have spoiled her and allowed her to go free . Thanks for this great article..I want to try a Natural Flea and Tick product but my Pom, Molly can not wear a collar, she scratches and I have spoiled her and allowed her to go free .

  5. Thank you for such a great post. Having just returned from a relaxing 2 week break I am informed quite snottily told by the cattery “your cats have fleas!” I felt like the worlds worst mum. I was mortified.
    Both cats (plus 2 dogs) are regularly treated with frontline as directed and obtained from our vet -obviously unsuccessfully. The cattery did recommend Advocate which I shall try in future.
    Then on sorting out my holiday washing I saw fleas jumping onto my feet from the carpet. The poor souls having been starved for a fortnight but now apparently dinner is served. Think they have won the lottery and gone into a feeding frenzy.
    Everything that will fit into my washing machine has been boil washed to within an inch of its life and then tumble dried on high heat. Ok so what if my t-shirts now fit Barbie at least she won’t spend half the night awake scratching!
    My crappy Dyson doesn’t know what’s hit it (he’ll soon be sporting his very own flea collar and I say “he” because he seems to perform his household chore with less than the expected oomph) and the pest controller will be £90 richer tomorrow – plus VAT of course.
    I will definitely be putting your suggestions in place.
    Here’s looking at a blood sucking free future!

  6. Information sheet I got from the veterinarian today addresses the problem of fleas developing resistance to the treatment (Frontline, Advantage etc.). Switch the type of treatment! Do not stick with just one brand, no matter how well it works initially. (I read those instructions after I bought a year’s worth of treatment.)
    It did not specify how many months to use one type before switching to another, just said “after a few generations.” To continue with the same treatment is to breed ever more resistant fleas.
    Another thing to do is to use an insect growth regulator along with the primary treatment. It prevents new eggs from hatching, or larvae from emerging from their cocoons. Therefore, new resistant generations are not born. An old type of growth regulator is methoprene. It is not toxic to mammals, nor even directly toxic to fleas- just interrupts their reproductive cycle. (I wonder what it does to helpful insects, but I can’t think of any insects I’d call “helpful” in my home.) Sometimes a growth regulator is included with the primary treatment.

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