Before you know it, a tiny army of fleas has invaded your home and is feeding off you and your pets.
Tiny black dots leap from the carpet and rugs and bed, peppering everything they can find. It only takes having fleas once for your skin to start crawling the moment anyone mentions them.
Having fleas can feel overwhelming but don’t give up hope; there are plenty of ways to get rid of fleas.
Here’s how to figure out which method will work best for you.
What to Look For
There are several different types of bugs that like to get inside our homes, but not every tiny bug is a flea.
Fleas are flightless insects that depend on consuming blood from birds and mammals to live.
Their mouthparts are specially adapted to pierce the skin and suck out blood. Fleas are very tiny and very agile, typically 3mm with powerful hind legs that allow them to jump large distances.
Take a close look, and you’ll see a slim brown bug.
Trying to pick them off anything other than a smooth surface is near impossible since their legs sport hook-like structures that latch on tight to whatever they’re on.
Life Cycle and First Contact
Egg, larva, pupa, adult. These are the 4 stages of a flea’s life cycle. It’s very important to remember these stages when getting rid of them.
Within 36 hours after a female flea feeds, they can lay up to 50 eggs. These eggs are typically laid on the skin of the host but often fall off.
The whole lifecycle of a flea is roughly 3 weeks, depending on how warm and humid the environment is.
Choosing the right method of getting rid of fleas comes down to preference. Home remedies or chemical treatment?
The deciding factors are whether or not you have hard floors or carpet. Pets or no pets. The severity of the infestation.
The best strategy is to avoid getting fleas in the first place. Unfortunately, our pets are often the first point of contact, but keeping up with flea medication or using a flea collar can help to prevent potential infestations.
Ask your vet about topical spot-on and chewable flea medications. These medications can last one to three months, depending on the product.
Beware the Eggs
Fleas lay eggs daily, which is why infestations happen so quickly. These eggs are white and nearly microscopic—the size of a grain of salt.
The eggs will typically be laid on the most recently fed-upon host; most of these eggs will fall off.
It takes several different approaches to get rid of flea eggs. Breaking the life cycle of the fleas is ultimately how to get rid of your infestation.
To help this, source your local vet for an insect growth regulator to help regulate any eggs that jump on your pets between baths.
Next, get ready to clean your entire apartment.
Types of Treatment
The first and best option for getting rid of fleas is checking your lease. Better yet, go ahead and call your landlord/property manager.
Ask if they’ll cover getting rid of the fleas. Don’t be afraid to call; this is the perfect example of why you pay pet deposits and fees.
Is contacting your landlord not an option?
What if they refuse to help or you disagree with their methods?
Then, try these alternatives:
Getting Rid Of Fleas With Home Remedies
Fleas need hosts like you or your pet to live. So, show extra attention to areas like bedding and furniture.
Remove the covering from your sofa pads and wash them in hot water, dry on high heat. Wash your bedding frequently and vacuum the mattress.
Once you’ve rid yourself of the fleas, consider new bedding for you and your pet when possible.
Use a strong vacuum cleaner to go over the entire apartment. Get every nook and cranny you can find and do this daily.
Now’s the time to use all those vacuum attachments you thought you’d never use. Go outside to empty the contents of your vacuum into a sealable bag.
Throw out this trash immediately. Take it to the dumpster or an outside trash can.
Don’t forget to clean the vacuum itself to prevent it from potentially getting infested.
If your vacuum’s manufacturer says that its canister is washable, remove and clean with warm soapy water. Use disinfectant wipes or sprays when unable to remove and wash.
This method involves making a flea trap. Adding some dish soap to water creates a high enough viscosity to act as glue against the fleas.
Fill a few bowls with this solution and place them around your home.
Flea traps work best at night and with a light shining directly on the bowl. The light will help attract the fleas to your trap.
DO NOT use candles to illuminate your flea trap. The potential fire hazard of a naked and unattended flame is too dangerous.
A combination of soap and hot water is sure to kill fleas at all stages of their life cycle.
If the majority of your space is carpeted, steam cleaning becomes a must.
If you don’t own a steam cleaner, then rent one from your local hardware store.
These typically go for something like $30 for 4 hours, which is plenty of time to cover most apartments.
The length of a flea’s life depends on how humid the environment is. Because of this, sprinkling salt on carpets, rugs, and furniture helps shorten the lifespan of fleas.
Leave the salt for at most 2 days to properly dehydrate the area. Vacuum the salt up and dispose of it outside into a sealable bag.
Use baking soda or diatomaceous earth as an alternative to salt if you’re worried about any rust issues.
Citrus makes for a great cleaner and flea killer. Grab a cooking pot, fill with a pint of water, then thinly slice a lemon into the pot.
Boil then leave overnight. Pour this solution into a spray bottle and now you’ve got an environmentally friendly flea-killing spray. Use on bedding, sofas, chairs, etc.
This method is great to get at any hard-to-reach areas. No need to soak, just dampen the surfaces.
Chemical Treatment Options
Only choose this option if absolutely nothing else works. Yes, chemical treatments will get rid of your flea problem.
However, the potential negative impact on you, your pets, and the environment are generally not worth it.
You can find flea-killing aerosol sprays at most general and hardware stores. Remember, these sprays are insecticides and should be handled with care.
Wear gloves and a mask while spraying. Focus your efforts on areas that you found difficult to reach using the previously mentioned methods.
Continue to use the other methods in addition to these sprays.
Don’t let insecticides come into contact with you, a child, or a pet.
Thoroughly wash off if any contact is made. Keep children and pets away from any areas sprayed for at least a few hours. Read the instructions carefully before using.
Caring for Your Pets
Fleas love to feed on our pets. Because of this, give your animals the extra attention and care they need to help you get rid of the flea infestation.
If you use shampoos, primarily use the lather to kill the fleas. When caring for your pet, be mindful of their skin and ph. levels.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Citrus Spray Bath: Use lemons or limes for this solution. The ratio is 2 cups of warm water to a half cup of freshly squeezed fruit. Bathe your pets with this solution while using a flea comb to carefully comb through their fur. Use a spray bottle (stream, not mist) or pour directly on. Be mindful not to get it in your pet’s eyes. Leave on for 10 minutes then wash it off with clean water.
- Coconut Oil Rub: Even when your pets don’t have fleas, a coconut oil rub is beneficial. It’s great at making your pet’s coat shiny while also getting rid of odors. Additionally, coconut oil kills fleas and just takes 1 teaspoon of oil rubbed directly into their fur to work. Coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Most dogs can eat small amounts of coconut oil for some added internal benefits as well.
- Apple Cider Vinegar Spray: A cheap, safe, and easy option. You can make your own at home or purchase some from most grocery stores. It will kill fleas and help to balance your pet’s ph levels. Make sure to dilute this acidic solution with water before spraying your animals. Be careful not to get it in your pet’s eyes.
Fleas are a pain to get rid of. However, there are clear paths to getting rid of them.
There are several options and methods to choose from, most of which are environmentally friendly. Getting rid of fleas is more affordable and doable than it appears to be.
Educate yourself. Choose your methods. Stay dedicated until you are sure you’ve rid your entire apartment and pet of fleas.
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