From Flea Frenzy to Flea-Free: How Long to Get Rid of Fleas From Your Home

Once you see a flea in your home, how long does it take to eliminate them? With vigilance and daily cleaning, it takes less than a month in most cases. Read on to learn more about the process and what you need to do to say goodbye to these pests.

By Pest Advisor Editors (Updated on Sep 22, 2023)

Fact Checked by Jason Chapman

From Flea Frenzy to Flea-Free: How Long to Get Rid of Fleas From Your Home photo

You see your dog or cat scratching, or maybe you’ve seen tiny insects jump onto your ankles from the carpet. The bad news is that you have fleas in your home. The good news is that fleas are generally not too hard to get rid of on your own. But how long does it take to get rid of fleas?

The answer is usually less than a month. In fact, most of them will be gone within two weeks. We’re going to tell you the considerations to keep in mind as you defeat your tiny archenemies:

  • Learn about the flea life cycle
  • Find out what to do on day one of your elimination strategy
  • Get to know the measure to take throughout the first week
  • Learn about the follow-up you need during week two
  • Gain momentum and keep on keepin’ on throughout the rest of the month

Okay, are you ready to get started! One, two, flea, let’s go.

The Flea Life Cycle: Understanding the Invisible Enemy

In order to eliminate fleas, it’s helpful to understand their life cycle. Since you’ll generally only be able to see (and be bitten by) adult fleas, you might think that getting rid of them will result in no more fleas, but you still have the eggs, larvae and pupae to contend with.

The first stage of flea life is the egg stage. Eggs don’t all hatch on the same timeline; depending on the living conditions, their incubation might take as little as two days or as long as two weeks. One female flea can lay up to 50 eggs per day. While they’re usually laid on your dog or cat, they can tend to fall off around the house, particularly in places your pet spends a lot of time (such as their bed or crate).

The larval and pupal stages are most likely to go unnoticed. Flea larvae and pupae don’t bite or jump or cause any difficulties. They will be in these stages for weeks to months.

The adult phase, however, is when all of the biting and itching happens. Adult fleas emerge from their pupal cocoons when they detect a host (your pets or, in some cases, you). They feed on blood, which is why they start biting, and they can start reproducing within a day or two of hatching. And the cycle continues.

Day One: Your First Leap Toward Victory

So, you’ve discovered fleas on your dog or cat. Maybe they’ve just been scratching a lot and you have found flea dirt or actual live fleas, or perhaps you’ve experienced fleas jumping from the carpet to your ankles. Once you’re sure you have fleas in your home, you need to take quick action.

The first steps will be to clean and vacuum well. Wash your pet, their bedding, and anywhere else they tend to hang out. Vacuum every carpet and every piece of upholstered furniture. Call your veterinarian and get their advice as to which type of flea treatment is right for your pet. Do not use dog products on cats, or vice versa; while some are geared toward either species, using species-specific products on the wrong kind of pet can make them very ill.

The First Week: The Daily Grind Toward Flea Freedom

The first week of flea treatment is going to require daily persistence. Each day, thoroughly clean and vacuum the floors, carpets, and anything upholstered. Also, use your vacuum tool to get into small corners, such as where the baseboards meet the floor.

Wash your pet’s bedding daily. Yes, it’s a pain, and yes, it’s necessary. Use hot water and the hot dry cycle, or you can hang them out in the sun to dry, if you prefer.

Start using flea traps or insecticides. Use caution, and make sure your pets can’t access the traps and that any sprays or powders you use to eliminate fleas are safe for Rover and Fluffy.

Keep using whatever the vet has told you to use on your pet, following the instructions carefully. Some oral medications are given only once per month, while others are given daily during the treatment period. Some products can be used more often than others. Don’t overdose your pet; read the directions and talk to your vet.

The Second Week: Persistence Pays Off

After a full week has passed, you should notice some improvement. You’re still going to have to keep on vacuuming and doing laundry, and you may need to reapply your pet’s treatment (again, follow the instructions!).

Around this time, you can start testing to see if you still have fleas and to what extent your measures are working. Put a little water on a shallow plate (a white salad plate is perfect for this), and add a bit of dishwashing liquid. Put this on the floor under a nightlight. Turn off all lights at night other than this nightlight. Any adult fleas in the room will be attracted to the light and will fall into the water and drown. Make note whether the number of fleas is decreasing over time.

You’ll want to keep up with the plate trick, treating your pet, and vacuuming regularly for the next two weeks, too.

After One Month: Enjoying Your Flea-Free Victory

By the time a month has passed, you should be flea-free. You’ll still need to remain vigilant, as those initial eggs might be in the larval or pupal stage at this point, and if you haven’t yet vacuumed them up, they could still hatch into adults. But by using a flea preventative on your pet and vacuuming several times per week, you should be able to combat any adult fleas that have managed to survive thus far.

Maintain whatever flea prevention your vet has recommended for your pet, and if the fleas come back soon or you aren’t able to get the situation under control within a few weeks, it might be time to call in the experts. Most of the time, though, within a month, you should be flea-free or nearly there.

Citations and Credits

Featured image by Jamie Street / Unsplash

Article image by Anthony Duran / Unsplash

Article image by Dan Gold / Unsplash

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