Just writing the title of this post made my skin crawl.
Fleas are no fun. They’re invasive and they’re totally gross.
But, recently, we had a little problem with them. My homemade flea repellent works great, but with the flooding we had a few months ago and the moisture that has stayed in my yard, in combination with our unusual warm weather this winter, it created the perfect conditions for fleas to move in.
First, I noticed my dogs were a little more itchy than usual. My lab had some hot spots. I thought it was just dry skin, since I was also suffering from dry skin as winter finally rolled in. We hadn’t had fleas in…forever. Ever since my lab was a puppy six years ago. The thought didn’t even cross my mind! And because I wasn’t on this quickly, it allowed the fleas to breed and take over.
They were outside.
They were on my dog.
And then they were in my house.
Dun, dun, dun.
I started noticing a few bites on my feet and ankles. And that’s when I wondered if it could be fleas. I searched my lab and found nothing. But she has long black fur, so they are harder to spot on her. Upon inspecting my short-haired, white pit bull – I found a flea. A friggin’ flea!
This was the first question that ran through my mind.
Experts say that only 5% of the flea population is on your dog at any given moment.
Fleas thrive in damp, warm conditions, but they can really live anywhere. Our flea problem was primarily because of damp ground and pine needles to hide in around our deck area. Of course, that’s exactly the area that my dogs enjoyed to frequent. Fleas love any place to hide like yard decor and bushes, and any kind of filler around your flower beds – except for cedar chips which can repel them.
They can also find many hiding places in your home. Your dog’s bed, your mattress, your furniture, your curtains, dog toys…those suckers can be any and everywhere.
How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally
Of course, the best thing to do is prevent a flea infestation. But when it has gotten past that point, you need to take several steps to get rid of the problem.
(If you’re curious as to why you should take the natural route – read this super informative link on the dangers of pesticides.)
- Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum.
Once a day for a couple weeks, be very diligent about vacuuming your carpets, floors, and furniture. Even if your dog doesn’t lay on the couches, fleas can still make their way there. Flea eggs don’t stick to your pet’s fur and will just fall right off.
Fun fact: Fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day. Agh!
A few times a week, you will also want to vacuum your mattresses and any other upholstery.
Vacuuming sucks up the adult fleas, larvae, and the eggs. Empty out the canister each time and put in your outdoor garbage container.
Continue vacuuming at least every other day for three-four months, as rogue fleas will still be laying eggs and eggs will still be hatching.
2. Make use of the washer and dryer.
While I recommend washing your pet’s bed in hot water every few days, throw it in the dryer daily while you are battling fleas. A 30 minute run through the dryer on high heat will kill fleas and larvae and possibly some eggs. Running the bed through the washer with detergent will kill the eggs. Do the same with your bedding, throw blankets, stuffed toys, and anything else you can think of that can be washed and dried.
Continue washing and drying these items frequently for a couple of months.
3. Flood your yard.
While fleas love moisture, they can’t survive a flood. I targeted the area I suspected that they were in (the pine needles) and enlisted the help of my toddler to water down the area with a hose. He was more than happy to help! Make sure the water pools up and sits and doesn’t just saturate the ground. If you have a heavily infested yard, this can be done once a week or so.
(How adorable is my little helper?!)
4. Treat your pets.
Your poor animals – how miserable they must be. To get them off your pets quickly, give them a good, soapy scrub in a bath. Castile soap is an effective natural option. Eucalyptus castile soap is even better, as it repels fleas. It is safe for dogs, however, eucalyptus is toxic to cats. Add some neem oil (safe for cats) to the soap for extra flea-repelling properties. Don’t be stingy with the soap. The lather will suffocate the fleas and the suds will move them and the eggs out. You can get a flea comb to help them along.
Castile soap may be drying to your pet’s skin, so don’t bathe them more than once a week. Supplement some fish oil or extra water into their diet to keep their skin in good condition. If you notice any hot spots, coconut oil or hemp oil can provide some relief.
Other Recommendations for Flea Control
Doing “too much” to get rid of fleas isn’t a thing. You have to be super diligent and persistent! Aside from the four main recommendations above, here are some products I recommend:
- This natural flea and tick home spray can be sprayed all over your carpets, furniture, bedding, and even your dogs! They also carry an outdoor spray. If you have cats, I would do some research on the ingredients in this spray – some information I have looked over suggests it may be toxic to cats.
3. Another helpful product is food grade diatomaceous earth. You can brush this into your pet’s fur or sprinkle it over problem areas in your home to dry out the fleas, larvae and eggs. You can also spread it around your yard. A word of caution though: diatomaceous earth can really irritate your and your pet’s lungs. Make sure your pets do not inhale the dust when you are brushing it onto them. Also, I only recommend using DE sparingly on your carpets because vacuuming it up will kick up the dust and you will breathe it in. Wearing a mask is helpful. It’s great stuff, but be safe! (And make sure it is food grade!)