Many of us have pets and we love to share our homes with them. However, one downside of this can be the occasional flea infestation. Pets tend to be the main source of fleas found in the home, and it’s important to rid your home of the problem as soon as you can to prevent bites and other health issues.
The good news is that it’s usually possible to rid your home of fleas without needing professional help.
How can I tell if my home has a flea infestation?
Before taking action to get rid of fleas, it’s best to be certain that you have in fact got a flea infestation.
Often the first sign of a problem is being bitten. However, how you can tell if there are just a few stray fleas on your pet or a full infestation? It’s a good idea to take a two-step approach to determine this:
- Check your pet. Using a flea comb, comb through your pet’s fur close to the skin to trap any fleas. Drop the contents of the flea comb onto white paper, then fold and flatten the paper. Open the paper, and if no blood appears on the paper then there are no fleas present, however if streaks of blood appear then your pet is likely to have fleas.
- Check your home. One way to do this is by attracting fleas with heat. Fill a bowl with warm water and add some washing up liquid. Put the bowl on the floor and shine a lamp above the water. As the fleas become attracted to the light they will jump and land in the bowl. The washing up liquid kills the fleas, so you’ll be able to check for any dead ones floating in the water.
Once you’ve determined that your home has a flea problem, it’s time to take positive action to remove the fleas from your home.
How to remove fleas from your home
If you want to successfully remove fleas from your house, there are three stages you should follow:
1. Treating your pet
Use a flea comb all over your pet, particularly in areas where fleas tend to prefer, such as the neck and tail. Make sure you repeat for all of your pets if you have more than one. Kill any fleas you find in soapy water. You may also wish to bath your pet using a flea shampoo. Always be careful that you use products that are suitable for your pet and which don’t cause irritation.
Once you have removed the fleas, you should treat all pets in your household with a good quality flea treatment from your vet. Cheaper supermarket alternatives may not be as effective so it’s worth spending more on a high quality product. Always make sure you use the right treatment for your pet (dog treatments may be dangerous to cats or other animals).
2. Treating yourself
It’s a good idea to wash any of your clothes that may have come into contact with your pet whilst they had fleas. If you are worried about fleas in your hair, you can use a lice control shampoo to clean it. You can repel any remaining fleas in your house by making a natural DIY flea repelling spray in an old spray bottle, consisting of 90% boiled water and 10% essential oils such as tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, or citronella oil.
3. Treating your home
The first step in treating your home is to clean all pet bedding, human bedding and soft furnishings. Wash your bedding at the highest recommended temperature that will not damage the fabric. Wash any cushion covers or throws that may be infected too. When your beds are stripped back, vacuum the mattress, on all sides if you can.
Vacuum your carpets thoroughly, using a nozzle attachment where possible. It’s also worth considering steam cleaning your carpets.
To be extra sure that all fleas are killed, you could try using a flea bomb – a smoke treatment that kills any fleas in the area once activated. All humans, animals, fish and plants should be excluded from the home while the flea bomb works and always follow the instructions carefully.
Alternatively, you could try using a special pesticide spray bought from your vets or online. Once again, any children, animals and plants should be excluded from the area and the house should be well aired after treatment. It’s often worth spending a bit more money on professional products recommended by vets or specialists if you want to be sure that all fleas have been removed.
If you would rather try a more natural solution for removing fleas before resorting to harsher chemical treatments, you could try using diatomaceous earth – a fine powder consisting of the fossilized remains of algae, which can be safely used without excluding children and pets. Mix with baking soda and keep dry, and then apply to your carpet and other soft furnishings. Leave for 24 hours to make sure all fleas, eggs and larva are eliminated, and then vacuum up the powder.
Preventing fleas returning to your home
Once you’ve successfully removed all the fleas from your house, you’ll want to prevent them returning if you can. The best way to do this is to treat your pets regularly with good quality flea treatments as recommended by your vet. It’s also a good idea to treat your house once or twice a year as a preventative measure.