DIY: Getting Rid of Fleas

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If you’ve ever had dogs or cats, you might know the horrible experience of a flea infestation.  The little buggers come in on anything, even your clothes.  Once nestled in, they are hard to get rid of, despite all the chemicals available on the market.  After trying them all, and washing everything in the house to get the smell out, I went in search of some chemical-lite or even chemical-free ways of getting rid of fleas, without having to leave the house for hours on end or wash everything.  Here are a few things that I found that have helped get rid of the flea infestation in our home.

Vacuuming

While this seems like a “duh” step, most people don’t know why they need to vacuum, or some of the things you need to know when you are vacuuming.  Flea eggs hatch, feed on organic materials, then weave a cocoon around themselves.  They “hatch” from this stage of life when there are signs of food around them, such as vibrations.  Vibrations from a vacuum cleaner will cause this stage to happen.  Vacuuming frequently, even every day, will help cause the pupae to emerge, while pulling eggs and adults up into the vacuum.  The biggest thing to remember is to empty your vacuum cleaner every time you vacuum and remove the sweepings from your home.  In the fall and winter, putting them in trash can outside is perfect because it causes the fleas to hibernate and then your trash collector can take them away.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a fine grey powder, made from the fossilized remains of diatoms, which are a type of hard shelled algae.  You can purchase it in organic markets, online, and in home repair stores.  Diatomaceous earth is found in many products as a gentle abrasive, such as toothpaste, or in filtration systems.  Its tiny particle size is amazing as a chemical-free insecticide.  Essentially, the powder absorbs the waxy coating of the flea, dehydrating and killing it.

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The easiest way I’ve found to use this fantastic powder is to mix it, 50/50, with baking soda and add a few drops of lavender and cedarwood essential oils, both scents that fleas seem to hate.  Mix it up gently as the diatomaceous earth is very fine and tends to make a cloud.  Pour it into an old Parmesan container, label it clearly, and sprinkle on the carpets and furniture.  I’ll sprinkle it on the carpets and leave it for a day or two.  If y’all are using it on furniture, make sure you don’t sit on it until you vacuum it well!

Don’t forget to get it in the edge of the wall, where the carpet meets the baseboards.  Scrub it in with your feet a bit, and leave the room while it settles.  Once settled, you can use the room as usual, with the exception of the furniture.  Vacuum as usual, remembering to empty the canister when you’re done.   The essential oils and baking soda make the room smell amazing and the diatomaceous earth does it’s job on the fleas.

Wash Bedding

This one is really important.  If you are doing the other two things, washing the bedding, both human and pet, is a MUST!  Wash it in the hottest water your washer and fabric will handle, and add a bit of white vinegar in the rinse cycle to get all the eggs and fleas killed.  Dry on the hottest setting possible for the fabric.  It’s best to wash everything every few days, and not let the fleas get a foothold on the fabrics again.

Wash the Pets

While this isn’t easy if it’s a cat, it is highly recommended that you try.  Dogs are usually a bit easier.  The shampoo doesn’t really matter, so don’t worry about getting the expensive flea shampoos.  Any shampoo or bar soap that lathers will kill fleas, as the lather itself asphyxiates them.  I use a natural bar soap that has citronella and clary sage essential oils in them.  They both repel insects, so going outside they don’t pick up new fleas or are bitten by skeeters, and the clary sage seems to heal their skin well.  Get their fur really wet, then rub the bar on them to get them good and lathered.  Scratch the suds in, paying close attention around their tail and neck, places fleas love.  Let the soap work for about 5 minutes.  You might see fleas come to the surface or in the suds.  This is a great thing.  After waiting the 5 minutes, rinse well.  If you have a hand held shower, get it right down into the skin and rinse, rinse, rinse!

Once they are dry, for extra help, dust your pets with diatomaceous earth mixed with a few drops of lavender and cedarwood essential oils (skip the baking soda).  Rub it down to their skin and they are all set!

No matter what you do, keeping on top of it and going until you are flea free for a couple of weeks is needed if you want to get rid of them once and for all.  And if you get reinfested, don’t ignore it.  They won’t go away on their own.  Good luck!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips, flea bites makes me swell and I have 2 pets in the home, a cat and dog. I also use a lot of lavender products that is also know to repel fleas really well :D

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