As pet owners, we are always aware that our beloved cats or dogs can catch fleas. These blood feeding parasites can quickly become a problem, biting you and your pets. Flea bites are not particularly painful to people and as with all insect bites, irritation, itchiness and swelling will occur around the bitten area. However your pets may develop allergies to the fleas’ saliva over time.
Even if you don’t have pets, fleas can still be an issue if previous owners of your property did have them.
If you’ve seen signs of fleas or have an ongoing problem with fleas in your home you are likely to need the help of qualified flea control experts to completely eliminate the problem.
Top Flea home remedies – what actually works?
There are so many ‘old wives tales’ and ‘home remedies’ shared over the years to help prevent, deter and get rid of fleas. Some of these ‘remedies’ may hold a grain or two of truth, but most are very unlikely to eliminate a flea infestation, once established in your home.
So let’s see how some of these ‘home flea remedies’ measure up to their claims:
Washing up liquid
This home flea remedy involves creating a trap using washing liquid and water. Fill a plate or bowl with a the mixture. Place it in the rooms which receive the most flea activity.
The ‘old wives tale’ says that this solution acts as a glue, trapping the fleas due to its high viscosity. You should repeat this treatment with a fresh batch every day. For this flea remedy to work effectively the ‘old wives tale’ says it should be conducted at night time.
FACT – fleas may accidentally land in the solution and become stuck, but it is pure luck as there is nothing that attracts them to the solution.
For this home remedy to work, you need to put baking soda on your carpets and furniture, take a hard brush and rub it into the fabric. After that, vacuum your home thoroughly and empty the contents of the vacuum into a bag, placing securely in an outside rubbish bin.
Much like baking soda, salt is said to be a flea home remedy when accompanied by vacuuming. Myth says that the salt acts as a dehydration agent, helping to get rid of adult fleas. For this remedy take some finely ground salt, sprinkle over your carpets. Leave for 1-2 days, and then vacuum your home throughout, emptying the contents in an outside rubbish bin.
FACT – with both the baking soda and the salt ‘old wives tales’ the factor that actually does have a positive effect on removing fleas, is thorough and persistent vacuuming throughout your property.
Lemon it is said to be an ‘old wives’ natural home remedy for fleas. To make this flea spray, slice a lemon thinly and add to a pint of water and bring to the boil. Let the citrus solution sit overnight and pour into a spray bottle. Then spray the citrus solution on the infested areas such as – sofas, pet bedding, chairs etc. Do not soak, only dampen.
FACT – it may make your home smell fresh and appealing but it is very unlikely to remove a flea infestation.
There is an ‘old wives tale’ that Rosemary can be used to treat light infestations of fleas, by making a herbal powder – place the herb with some rue, wormwood, fennel and peppermint into a pestle and mortar and grind into a powder. Then sprinkle it on your carpets, furniture, pet bedding, window sills and anywhere else you suspect flea activity. Rosemary is said to be a natural flea repellent.
FACT – another pleasant fragrance for your property, but not an effective solution for getting rid of fleas in your home.
Flea repelling plants
This ‘old wives tale’ to get rid of fleas is enlisting the help of specific plants to help repel these biting insects, as they contain particular oils, compounds, and chemicals which fleas dislike and will try and avoid. Plants that keep fleas away include – Penny Royal, Chrysanthemums, Lavender and Spearmint.
FACT – there may be a grain of truth in this myth, as some of these plants such as Chrysanthemums are used in part in natural insecticides. However, how effective they actually are as flea repellents sat in pots on the patio or in the house are debatable.
Using diatomaceous earth to treat a flea problem is one of the few ‘home remedies’ that has some substance behind it.
Diatomaceous earth is the microscopic remains of fossilized algae, diatoms. It’s a very fine powder, which is non-toxic to people and a natural remedy to get rid of fleas as it causes dehydration. You should sprinkle the powder over areas you suspect have high flea activity, applying thin layers. Leave the diatomaceous earth for 2 days then vacuum promptly, following the necessary flea prevention tips afterwards.
But proceed with caution!
It is important to be aware that if using diatomaceous earth as a natural flea remedy you should use the ‘food grade’ option. Although it is non-toxic, the powder can get messy and irritate your eyes and throat. When using diatomaceous earth to treat your home it is advised that you wear a face mask and gloves.
Vaccum, vaccum, vaccum…
Many of these ‘old wives tales’ include the simple process of vacuuming the affected areas of your property. Careful and persistent vacuuming of carpets, flooring and furniture is likely to be more effective at reducing the level of flea activity than most of these ‘old wives tales and remedies’ put together.
Flea larvae feed on organic matter in carpets, bedding and furnishings. You need to try and remove any potential food supply to help prevent fleas, so a targeted vacuuming regime will help remove food sources as well as adult fleas.
Remember to carefully remove the contents of your Hoover outside of your property and seal it before placing it securely in an outside bin for disposal.
How to get rid of fleas
Although there are many ‘home remedies’ for fleas none are particularly effective. Some can potentially help to manage a small flea problem, but they are unlikely to successfully resolve it. Most home remedies only affect the adult flea species, leaving the larvae and eggs unaffected. This creates a window of opportunity for another flea infestation to occur as the eggs hatch and larvae develop.
Professional flea control
The most effective way to get rid of fleas is with the help of a professional pest controller. A qualified pest exterminator can provide expert services and solutions to completely eliminate a flea infestation.