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How to get rid of an indoor flea infestation

Updated on March 13, 2015

Cheap and easy ways to control household fleas

This is a detailed article on different ways to control in home flea populations if you are a cat or dog owner like myself. I recently came into a new found flea infestation after a three week vacation from home. Our pets went on vacation with us and when we came home we found ourselves immediately attacked by a massive swarm of fleas.

Due to the great time we had on vacation we were low on funds when we returned so calling in the professionals was out of the question. After some research and testing we found cheap and almost free ways to rid us of these menacing monsters.

The Common Flea
The Common Flea

Let's start from the basics.

What are fleas?

Fleas are extremely resilient wingless insects that are parasites and feed off of the blood of humans, cats, and dogs. They also feed on many other animals but we are focusing on household fleas which mainly effect us and our pets. There are over 2000 known species of fleas across the world. They grow to about three millimeters long with specialized hind legs made for jumping. Fleas can jump over six inches high and more then a foot in length. Fleas have an extremely tough body and under normal circumstances are nearly uncrushable.

Female fleas are said to lay about fifty eggs per day. The eggs can hatch in two days and fledgling fleas can grow to maturity in two weeks depending on the temperature, humidity, and food supply. With that being said and indoor temperatures usually staying around room temperature it is easy for an uncontrolled flea population to get out of hand. It is estimated that one female flea can spawn nearly one trillion fledgling fleas in her lifetime.

Flea pupils survive in cocoons during the winter months. Heavy snow and moist springs causes them to thrive and leads to exploding populations in the summer. Adult fleas can live for up to a year without feeding on a host and must feed before laying eggs.

Flea Bites on lower leg
Flea Bites on lower leg

Flea Bites

What harmful effect can a flea bite have?

Some people are allergic to flea bites and will suffer from irritations and unsightly rashes. Fleas can also transmit diseases like murine typhus fever and my also pass stomach flu. In some cases fleas have been known to pass severe infestations of tapeworms to humans. People can also suffer related rashes and sores due to scratching. Fleas are also known to spread various other bacteria and viral ailments, however they are NOT known to spread HIV or AIDS.

Industrial Flea Growth Regulator - Click here
Industrial Flea Growth Regulator - Click here

Removing the Pest

How Do I Eliminate Fleas in the Home?

Eliminating flea population in the home is a tedious task. Do not go into it half heartily. You must have a military mindset and the war is not over until no fleas remain. One female flea can repopulate the entire lot in less then six months.

There are two primary steps to take when trying to rid yourself of a flea infestation. The first step is kill the adult fleas and the second is to prevent newborns from being hatched. Most pesticides can be used to kill adult fleas but they generally have no effect on pupil larvae. In conjunction with pesticides you must use a growth regulator which halts the reproductive system of the fleas. Without using a growth regulator eradicating a flea population is nearly impossible.

You must attack fleas in all areas of the home and pay special attention to areas where you pets like to frequent. Vacuuming and carpet cleaning also play a big part in flea control. When attempting to get rid of the pests vacuum thoroughly and often as fleas like to hide inside your carpet. Most people believe that fleas live on their pets. This is false. Most fleas spend less then 10% of the time actually on your pets. Most household fleas are in random paces throughout the house not just on your pets.

Pest Control - Guaranteed Flea Control Products

Here are some pest control products that will aid you in trying to eliminate your flea infestation.

Home Flea Remedies

Getting Rid of Fleas Using Items You Have at Home

After looking around and trying to find natural non-invasive treatments for fleas I discovered fleas don't do well in soapy water. Using one of the techniques described in several articles I placed white bowls with soapy water under night lights throughout the house. By the next morning each bowl was filled with drowned fleas. This technique is guaranteed to work with no effort on your part in helping to reduce your household flea population. After I noticed how well the bowls with soapy water was working, I then did a few personal experiments with soapy water.

I purchased a bottle of Dawn dish liquid and a spray bottle with a misting effect on the nozzle. I filled it half and half with water and dish liquid and shook it up. I wanted to test it on fleas to see the effects so I put on long white knee socks and walked through the house. Fleas are highly attracted to white materials. Soon my socks were nearly covered with fleas. I walked outside thinking that even if nothing did happen there would at least be less fleas inside the house. When I sprayed the fleas with the 50/50 dish liquid I instantly noticed the fleas dying on contact. This seemed to be working even better then traditional bug sprays.

I also started washing the dogs with dish liquid since it was much cheaper then "dog shampoo" and it seemed to be just as effective if not more and had absolutely no adverse effects on the dogs. Now I use dish liquid exclusively when bathing my dogs. I then used the spray bottles on upholstery, the carpet, and everywhere my dogs liked to frequent along with vacuuming and carpet cleanings.

After about two or three weeks of this the fleas were nearly non-existent. I was still not satisfied that they were completely eliminated so I purchased Raid insect foggers and placed them throughout the house. I wanted to be sure they were gone so I probably used twice as many as necessary. ~War Mentality~

After I bombed the house then I purchased an industrial flea growth regulator and sprayed it in all areas of the house that the foggers appeared not to reach. These areas included under couches, chairs, tables, and appliances. I also bought food grade diatomaceous earth which is pet safe and you can find at your local Home Depot and spread it liberally on the carpet and outside in the front and back yard.

Diatomaceous earth is an abrasive which is very fine to the touch and highly deadly to fleas and other insects. Food grade diatomaceous earth is human and pet safe. If you are using it indoors be sure what type you are using to ensure your pets will not be harmed.

If anyone has any other effective home remedies please leave them in the comments to help other who may be facing the same problem.

Amazon Pet Supplies - These may be helpful in flea control

Please leave a comment and let me know how you won your battle against household fleas.

Please Comment - How to Get Rid of Household Fleas

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    • profile image

      Rae 2 years ago

      Looks like I am "late" to the party! We missed our flea and tick treatment last month and are paying the price this month! First time for this and it is awful! Our pest company has been out twice so far, and a third visit may be in the future! YUCK! Diatomaceous Earth didn't seem to work very well for us. And we are big believers in it- my dad is the state rep for a company specializing in it! The main hub of the infestation was our master bedroom, where the offending dog slept several nights before we realized what was happening. We ripped out the carpet (we are planning new flooring soon anyway) and I burned the bedding. I couldn't handle it- I found a couple in the bed even though the dog sleeps on the floor! Dog beds were trashed too. I am going to try the dawn in a spray bottle thing. They are relentless pests! There are still a few hanging on to life, even after a second spraying. Our pest company uses a growth regulator (pest birth control as our pest guy calls it). So I hope that things settle down soon. Or I might burn my house down. ;(

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 3 years ago

      @jackie1963: Hi Jackie1963 to answer your question an insect growth regulator is a chemical that blocks a flea's reproductive system. Some pest controls have it included in their formula but all of them do not. Here is a link for an industrial brand http://goo.gl/T2WzpX. You may also see other cheaper alternatives as low as $9.00 round about.

      Growth regulators are necessary as fleas reproduce at a highly rapid pace. I hope all goes well with your fight!

    • profile image

      jackie1963 3 years ago

      @GhettoStyles: I've tried a few times with different items but still have fleas.What exactly is a growth regulator and what's the cost for this?

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 3 years ago

      @anonymous: It sounds like you have a good handle on the dogs. Maybe you could try using a spray bottle on the cats. I would imagine they are the bigger problem.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Help..We have tried everything..I've bombed every week for two months..spread Diatomaceous earth everywhere(what a mess to get up afterwards) I've tried the Essential oils..lavender, rosemary and fennel oils mixed with water and sprayed on my animals. I use the dawn at night in the bowls..at first there were 80 to 90..then we got down to 5 or 6 a night and then the nightmare would start over. I can't let anyone come in the house or they will leave with unwanted guests and I would feel guilty for giving them to my friends. Frontline is of no use...dawn for shampoo for the dog..but the 2 cats will not let me put them in water..tried and got clawed up real bad..very unpleasant for me and my pets..I just read about the 50% dawn and 50% water and will try that..I vacuum 3 times a day..please any help will be so greatly appreciated..

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Okay well we have a server flea infestion ... this is about our second week with this issue. But most of all I am concered because my 4 year old son is being attacked non stop. We have already dropped flea bombs but it dI'd not clear up the problem. I feel hopeless and mainly concerned for my son. He looks like he has chicken pox from how serverly he has been attacked. Tomorrow we plan on dropping more bombs. The more advice the better. I can feel them on me all the time. It's a horrible feeling they are winning!!! :(

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      The anti-dandruff shampoo (I used the "Equate" version, much cheaper), and it must be the kind with coal tar, is the perfect shampoo to rid a pet of both fleas and ticks. Now, with an infestation (and the cat has stayed outdoors for the last three months now, March, April, and May) that's driving me crazy I'm thinking very keenly on using a carpet shampooer and in place of the cleaner, use a heavy-handed dose of the coal tar anti-dandruff shampoo. Our cat has two homes, and she's getting treated but it's not working. Both of us (houses side-by-side) whose homes are "owned" by our beloved, rescued feline, has had to, alas, move OUT. Am also going to try DE. Any other suggestions will be greatly appreciated. We've both treated with sprays and vacs, I've also used the shake and vac (never get it all up, really) and I've tried steaming. Does steaming work? My steamer is an Oreck that reaches any height and any angle. Thanks!

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      My house would be infested with fleas during and only the summer. This is my second year living in this home. I don't have any pet. But my front yard, back yard, driveway, and the inside of my house would be infested. I can't even go out side without being cover all over my body from head to toe with these nasty little bugs. I try almost everything and it didn't work.. I don't know where its coming. Is it because my yards has only dirt? Or what? I my newborn living in the home now. So what's the best way to get rid of them?

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @nanafisher: How goes the fight?

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Have you tried diatomaceous earth in your front and back yard? It will greatly decrease the flea population in your yard and any other insects for that matter. If you do not own any pets there should be nothing to worry about. It is relatively cheap and you can order it here Diatomaceous Earth-Food Grade-10 Pounds

      or find it in Home Depot.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Garlic is bad for dogs like onion and chocolate

    • nanafisher profile image

      nanafisher 4 years ago

      We had an undetected flea problem with my 3 cats recently. Only two of them are allowed outside early am for a short time and the one that stays in the house got the most fleas. I noticed a tremendous amount of grooming going on the Saturday prior to Christmas, scratching, paceing and so on. I gave the indoor all the time cat a bath, found over 2 dozen fleas on him. I didn't have the time ti bath all three due to holiday events and work so, I used my never-fail standby in emergencies, capstar pills. They are expensive but works 100%. You must treat the sleeping areas with flea killer or just place the bedding outside and you must retreat each animal 10 days later for new egg hatches. So far, so good. I retreated the cats last night and today they are all sleeping like normal, no scratching and baths will come tomarrow to remove dead fleas and unhatched eggs. I have hardwood floors, no carpet so I am keeping my fingers crossed. The bowl of soap water works good too but the pills save the animals misery...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @GhettoStyles: Thank you very much. We are trying the soap and water in a bowl underneath a night light so far it has killed about 10 fleas. Hopefully when I wake up in the morning it will be full of fleas. I will let you know if we get rid of them and how we did. I am going to try using adams flea mist with IGR.

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Yes it posted and the fleas probably came back because of how rapidly they lay eggs. I personally don't feel flea collars work but Frontline and Advantage does.

      What you need is a growth regulator. It will cause the fleas to lay sterile eggs. You are winning the battle if you have been getting rid of the fleas for 3 to 4 days. Your infestation would probably be returning because of the eggs being laid. Female fleas lay eggs after each time they eat. Keep that in mind.

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Did my comment post?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have two male indoor cats. We recently have been flea infested. I use the flea powder for the carpets. I bathe my cats once a week with the flea shampoo. We have tried the adams spot on which is just like advantage and the fleas came back after 3 days. They have flea collars. They do not go away. I really don't want to bomb the house cause I have a 3 year old but I don't know what else to do. Especially cause advantage and frontline is way too expensive. Any advice?

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      When you sprayed with the dawn mixture do you need to back and rinse the furniture off? Or can you just vacuum over it?

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: If you use a misting effect it should dry leaving no visible traces, however, I would take care if your furniture is of suede or any other delicate materials. Vaccuuming should be no problem at all.

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      greatgifts4u 4 years ago

      I use Advantage religiously during the warm months and haven't had an indoor problem since. Flea bombs seem to be effective though.

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Do you have any great solutions to get rid of pet lice?

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      AB: its probably pet lice, not like human lice...but its probably just pet lice. they are short little small worm looking things

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Scabies does not go away in just one day. It takes up to one to two weeks for Scabies to actually die off. I have done one treatment already and I have to do it again because my Boyfriend, who gave the scabies to me (who got it from his kids), was not treated. So now we both need to do the cream treatment again, and note that the cream is a pesticide and can only be done twice...TOTAL! If you do it twice and redo it a third time, it can kill you.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: it sounds like you have scabies,go to your doctor or chemist and they will give you a lotion to put all over your body.i had that problem for a year till i went doctors.i used the lotion once i was cured the next day

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Both flea and bedbug populations can grow rather quickly. Fleas are absolutely not as sneaky as bedbugs. You can usually see and feel fleas when they land on you unless you are sleeping. Bedbugs are much more evasive and usually will not move if they think you are awake. I hope you discover what the problem is and can take care of it as soon as possible. Try walking around in long white socks. If it is fleas I guarantee they will cling to your socks and you will at least know it is fleas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @GhettoStyles: Thanks for your reply.

      But I am sure its not bed bugs as I inspected the bed and other areas.

      Also we get this feeling of crawling bugs on our legs only where skin is exposed and not covered with any clothing. This happens all over the home wherever we sit like in living area, dining area.

      My mom is now getting skin rash which skin care people are saying is from bites.

      I am thinking of using industrial growth regulator and diatomaceous earth now.

      This is getting worse day by day.

      I hope this will be over soon.

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: This sounds like a possible bed bug infestation. They may have came from the used couch you purchased. Bed bugs usually bite in the area of the legs and arms when you are sleeping. They are extremely difficult to find and get rid of. They usually hide around the edges of mattresses or inside the bed or couch where you often rest. They also produce many eggs. Females lay eggs every time they eat. Most bed bug populations are not easily found until you are overrun. The bed bug larvae are barely visible. They are white looking and almost clear. All bed bugs can be killed on contact within seconds with at least 70% household rubbing alcohol. 100% is even better. I would first start by looking around the edges and under the mattress with a flashlight. When they are spotted they will not move so you have to take a good look. Also check in around and under the arms and pillows of your furniture specially if you sleep in that area. Last thing you need to remember is bed bugs are great travelers and they only come out when you are motionless or they "think" you are sleeping.

      "If" it is bed bugs, they are not invisible, they just hide extremely well.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      We are having invisible, crawling bugs on our legs. They are not visible on glue traps as well. I am not sure whether it is flea or ticks or anything else. We have tried foggers couple of times, used Dawn, used Comet bleach, Boric Acid powder, Salt and RAID indoor and carpet flea spray.

      But nothing is working out. This is going on for more than 2 weeks.

      We don't have any pets at home. We have called pest control guys for inspection but they are saying without visible traces of any bugs or pest they wont treat.

      All this started with getting a used couch from craigslist. I got rid of the couch but our carpet is now badly affected.

      Anyone in similar situation? Or anyone know any remedy?

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Sorry but I forgot to mention that you can use an industrial growth regulator which is listed above to prevent the female fleas from laying fertile eggs. This will also help in your quest to remove the pests.

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Leaving the house for a prolonged period of time might be the worse thing you could do. The adults will die but they will nest their eggs before they do. The eggs are nearly impossible to kill and will remain dormant until they detect a blood source. When you return home you could possibly have thousands of newborn fleas attacking you at the same time.

      I would suggest heavy vacuuming and try to lay a talcum type powder in the carpet which will damage their casing and dry them out. Heavy carpet cleaning will help as well. If you do not have carpets mop with soapy water.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I'm in the same boat!!!! Ugh... About to book a hotel room!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      i still have not won the battle after cleaning my carpets, washing everything that could be washed in hot water and detergent, numerous cans of fog spray and i am at my wits end. i don't even own a dog, my daughter's dog left us this little gift from hell!

    • profile image

      amyrechar 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Be very careful with that idea...if given to much it could make your pets sick.

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: I have been told that fleas don't like garlic but I have not tried it personally. I do know that Frontline works wonders but it is a bit expensive.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      can you give your pets garlic pills to kill fleas

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 4 years ago

      @anonymous: If you have a bad flea problem I would suggest at least once per week focusing on areas your pets frequent until you have the situation under control. Flea eggs in carpet can be hard to remove and the eggs themselves can withstand harsh conditions.

      Remember that female fleas lay eggs almost immediately after eating so it is important to thoroughly vacuum or clean you pets favorite areas.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Used the blue dawn dish soap it work wonderful, killed the flees in about 1 hour. The next day combed the cats and found a lot or dead flees and eggs. How often should I use the dawn/ water spray to prevent the flees on the cats and the carpets?.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      @anonymous: Put garlic powder on your animals' food, they will not get fleas or ticks

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      @GhettoStyles: I just wanted to add that Cottonseed Meal you get from your local farmers co-op or farm store works well in the yard as a flea, tick and chigger deterrent. It is safe for animals and pretty inexpensive, I think I paid 16 bucks for a 50 pound bag. It also works as a natural fertilizer for your garden so that's a plus also. I only needed to apply it once to my yard around June and all is well still and it's Aug. I have 4 indoor/outdoor dogs and I can tell the difference. .

    • GhettoStyles profile image
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      GhettoStyles 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Outside fleas are a real problem. It is nearly impossible to rid your yard completely of fleas. I would suggest treating the areas of the yard your pets most often frequent. I also understand cats tend to hate water. Try flea powder on the cats or talcum powder which will dry the fleas out and cause their casing to crack.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I also use dawn,it works! The problem i have is my dogs and cats are in and out of the house all day,it almost kills me to see my animals itch them self and scratch.I treated my yard,still have fleas.I try to give my dogs a bath every week,vacuum until my hands hurt! well the cats won't let me even get them near water.What should i do?

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      Bangladeshi 5 years ago

      We should Kill fleas.You can choose Natural or Medicine Treatment for Control Fleas

      How To Get Rid of fleas