How to Get Rid of Fleas

A flea infestation can be a massive inconvenience. Not only is your furry friend biting and scratching, but the pests will quickly spread throughout your home. Even if your pet isn’t allowed on furniture, you could find your bed, sofa, chairs, and floors are covered in fleas, forcing you to take quick measures to reclaim your home. If you woke up to a dog or cat covered in fleas, here are a few steps you can take to make sure your home is pest free.

1. Treat Your Pet

Before you get started, make sure fleas are indeed the problem. If you don’t see the tiny insects crawling around on your pet, look for black specks, which signal that fleas have left feces behind. Those specks can be found on your pet, on items throughout your home, or both.

By the time you realize your pet has fleas, chances are it’s already spread to the rest of your house. That means you’ll need to treat both the pet and your home. Focus on your pet first, and treat any other pets you have living with you, as well, even if you don’t think they have fleas yet. If you aren’t already using a monthly flea and tick preventive, that’s your best course of action, but if you are, check with your veterinarian to see if there’s a shampoo or spray you can use for immediate relief.

2. Clean Your Floors

Once you’ve treated your pets, it’s time to begin eliminating fleas from your home. If you have carpets, your vacuum cleaner is the best weapon. Pick up stray items scattered around the house and wash anything you can in hot water. You may also need to move furniture out of the way to ensure you get every square inch of flooring. Once you’re finished, empty out your vacuum cleaner bag, sealing its contents in a trash bag and taking it outside to get rid of all traces of fleas.

But even your hardwoods and vinyl flooring can be breeding ground for fleas. Vacuum and mop every area of your home, then spray your flooring with a flea and tick killer. Spray your carpeted areas, as well.

3. Wash All Bedding

While you’re vacuuming, make sure you get your pet’s bedding, as well. Then pick up those beds and soak them in hot, soapy water for at least 15 minutes before laundering them in hot water in the washing machine. If there are any other washable items that regularly come into contact with your pet, make sure you wash those in hot water, too.

Whether your pets sleep in your bed or not, you’ll also need to launder your own bedding in hot water. This includes all sheets, comforters, and mattress covers, even in your guest bedrooms. Use your favorite laundry detergent and dry your items using the hottest cycle.

4. Treat Your Furniture

Fleas can make their way to your furniture whether your pets spend any time on it or not. Unfortunately, you can’t just toss your sofa into the washer. You can, however, sometimes remove cushion coverings and wash those. For everything you can’t wash, use your vacuum’s hose to remove all signs of fleas from every piece of upholstered furniture in your house. Make sure you pull out each cushion and vacuum every side.

Once you’ve done that, use the spray you used for your floors as a final measure. Make sure the treatment you buy is pet safe since your dog or cat will probably be coming into contact with your floors and furniture in the days that follow.

5. Find Long-Term Flea Treatment

Once you’ve treated this infestation, you’ll want to make sure it doesn’t recur. The best way to keep fleas out of your home is to ensure your pet is on a flea and tick preventive. Some of these require a prescription from your vet, but even if you choose an over-the-counter option, you should check with your vet to make sure it’s safe for your own animal.

There are several major types of flea preventives, each with its own benefits:

  • Topical treatments: Taken once a month, these treatments typically come in the form of a gel applied between the pet’s shoulder blades. When applied correctly, this type of treatment can be just as effective as other treatments, according to vets.
  • Oral medication: This type of preventive is provided as either a chewable or a pill. You can tuck it inside a pill pocket if your pet is averse to taking medicine. Some oral preventives only kill adult fleas, though, so it’s important to research various options before buying.
  • Collars: This type of preventive is worn as a collar and designed to either kill fleas on contact or after they’ve taken that first bite. The downside of this option is that it often has to be used in conjunction with another preventive medication.

A flea infestation can be a huge inconvenience, but the faster you act, the more likely you’ll clear your home of insects before they start to bite you. If your pet is on a preventive and still occasionally getting fleas, check with your vet to see if there might be a medicine that will work better on your own pet.