5 Ways to Stamp Out House Fleas Naturally
Fleas can hibernate for extended periods of time, so it's important to continue your regimen to keep them at bay and nip re-infestations in the bud. Nontoxic flea treatments take time and a multi-pronged approach, but the reward for your diligence is a flea-free home without the risk of pesticides to your family, including your furry friends.
Washing Your Pet
Before eliminating the fleas in your home, start at the source by treating your pet. A hot bath with soapy water kills the fleas living on your pet without resorting to harsh synthetic pesticides. After the bath, apply a lemon rinse to your pet's fur to discourage new arrivals. You can make your own lemon rinse at home by steeping lemon slices overnight in hot water. Let your pet's fur dry, then brush with a fine-toothed flea comb to catch any stragglers. Repeat the bath every week and brush every day.
Laundering Pet Bedding
The majority of fleas aren't on your pet, but rather close by on the animal's bedding, favorite blankets and mats. Start by washing all of it, preferably in hot water. Next, dry the items in the dryer on the highest temperature setting that's possible without damaging the fabric. The heat of the dryer is key to killing live fleas and eggs that have not hatched. Let the items dry fully, then add 15 minutes to the dry time to ensure maximum effectiveness.
The household vacuum is your greatest ally in the war against fleas. Vacuum thoroughly every several days, paying attention to hidden areas and damp spots where fleas might be, including rugs, curtains, upholstery, in floor cracks and under baseboards. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to the vacuum bag to kill any live fleas that get sucked up, and dispose of the bag after each cleaning in an outdoor receptacle.
Sprinkling Diatomaceous Earth
Known as nature's insecticide, this fine white dust kills fleas by sticking to their waxy exoskeletons, causing them to dry out and desiccate. Diatomaceous earth is made up mostly of silica, the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms and is completely harmless to pets and kids. Sprinkle it wherever you suspect fleas, including near pet bedding, carpets and in between floor cracks. Work the dust into the surface with a broom. You can purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth at garden shops, but avoid the type sold at pool supply stores, which is treated with heat and may be dangerous if inhaled.
If your infestation is large or you're losing the battle, consider hiring a professional to steam clean your home. The hot steam kills adult fleas and larvae on contact and may cause eggs to hatch faster, allowing you to stop the flea life cycle. Steam cleaning also cleans upholstery and furniture much more thoroughly than vacuuming alone.
You don't need to resort to synthetic chemicals and pesticides to stamp out house fleas. A strategic plan that includes diligent cleaning and non-toxic agents is just as effective. Keeping potent chemicals out of the home also reduces the risk of accidents and is gentler on your pet's skin and overall health.