The Fast Lane to a Flea-Free Home: Tips to Get Rid of Fleas Fast

If your pet has brought fleas into the home, you'll soon find out that they love to infest carpets, furniture, and your other mammalian pets. Can you get rid of fleas fast? Yes, you should be able to eliminate them within about two weeks with these tips.

By Pest Advisor Editors (Updated on Sep 15, 2023)

Fact Checked by Jason Chapman

The Fast Lane to a Flea-Free Home: Tips to Get Rid of Fleas Fast photo

Fleas are unwelcome guests that can turn your home into an itchy, uncomfortable problem. Time is of the essence when you want to eliminate these jumpy little critters; if you don’t kill them off quickly, they’ll just multiply and cause even more issues. Here are some of the topics we’ll cover in this primer on how to get rid of fleas fast:

  • How to identify fleas
  • How to clean up as many fleas as you can
  • How to de-flea your pets

Let’s get started so you can eliminate your flea problem ASAP!

Flea Frenzy: Identifying a Flea Infestation

Fleas usually come in on furry pets, like cats and dogs, so the telltale sign that you’ve got fleas in your house is seeing your pets scratching. They might also be biting themselves, chewing at their fur, or grooming themselves excessively.

If you look around your pet’s neck, you might see tiny, dark brown fleas moving quickly through the fur. In addition to the fleas themselves, you might see flea dirt, which is their feces. That’s tiny, gritty black specks that looks a lot like black pepper.

Fleas don’t live on humans, but they’ll certainly take the opportunity to bite humans. Another sign of a flea infestation is small, itchy red bumps. They’re smaller than mosquito bites, and they’re usually found on the ankles, feet, and lower legs, since often the fleas are jumping from the floor onto you to take a bite.

If you have any doubt whether or not you have flea problem, you can set flea traps. Set up a nightlight in an outlet a foot or so above the floor. Place a shallow dish on the floor directly under the nightlight, and fill the dish with soapy water. Shut off all of the lights (except for the nightlight) when you go to bed. The next morning, you’ll be able to see whether fleas were attracted to the light and fell into the water and drowned.

The Great Cleanup: How to De-Flea Your Home

Once you’ve determined that you have fleas, you have two missions: One is to de-flea your home, and the other is to de-flea your pet(s). Let’s talk about your house first, though both have to be done at the same time for it to be effective.

First, vacuum all of the carpets, rugs, and upholstered furniture in your home. You’re going to want to do this a few times. First, simply vacuum. Dump out the canister outdoors into a sealed bag, then put the sealed bag into your outside garbage can.

Then, sprinkle the carpets and furniture with borax, which is in the laundry section of your local grocery store. (Keep your pets and small children out of the area during this process.) Work that into the surfaces with a broom, then vacuum again. Empty the canister outdoors as before.

Now you’re going to need to vacuum several times until all traces of the borax are gone. Again, don’t forget to dump out the canister outside. If you were to leave it inside, you’d just be giving the fleas a comfortable place to breed. You’ll need to vacuum thoroughly every day for at least two weeks. You don’t need to repeat the borax application, however, unless the problem isn’t improving.

Next, wash all of your linens, pet blankets, pet beds, and washable throw rugs on high heat. Anything that can be safely tried should be dried on a high heat setting; otherwise hang it outside in the sun for several hours.

You can also try more in-depth measures like steam-cleaning carpets and upholstered furniture.

Flea-foggers and powders are also options, but follow the directions carefully for cleaning afterward, since these chemicals can be hazardous to your health and to the health of your pets.

Fast Flea Removal: How to Get the Fleas Off of Your Pet

While you’re treating your home, you’ll also need to treat your pet. The way you do this will depend on the type of pet you have as well as his or her age and general health. To be safe, contact your veterinarian, who will advise you as to the best and safest way to address the issue. Here are some strategies you might consider:

  • Give your pet a flea bath. Note that flea bath formulas are made for either dogs or cats much of the time; you cannot use a product for dogs on a cat. Some are made for both types of animal. Read the instructions carefully and don’t use on baby animals.
  • Use blue Dawn dish soap. If you have a young kitten or puppy, flea bath shampoo might not be safe. Instead, try blue Dawn dish liquid, the type you’d use for washing dishes. This will dry out your pet’s skin, so you shouldn’t repeat this more than once per week and shouldn’t do it more than twice total unless your vet recommends otherwise.
  • Consider oral medications. There are both quick-acting flea medications and those that you use each month on a preventative basis. Talk to your vet about which type to use. Remember, only give your pet the type of medication formulated for their species and weight.
  • Avoid flea collars. These are ineffective and have been known to make pets very ill.
  • Treat all of your pet mammals. Even if only one dog or cat is showing signs of fleas, they’ll all get them, even if you keep them separated. If you have rabbits or rodents, talk to your veterinarian about how to best treat them. Reptiles and birds are not affected by fleas, so there’s no need to treat them.

Most of the time, a mild to moderate flea infestation is manageable at home. In some cases, however, the infestation will become severe and a professional exterminator might need to be called in. By identifying the issue quickly and working promptly to remove the fleas from both your home and your pets, you should be able to get rid of fleas within two weeks.

Citations and Credits

Featured image by CDC / Unsplash

Article image by Noelle / Unsplash

Article image by angel1238812 / Pixabay

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