How to Rid Fleas

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Fleas are small insects that can infest humans, animals and households.
Fleas are small insects that can infest humans, animals and households. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

Fleas are small insects that infest humans and animals (See Reference 1). Most often, they can be found in carpets, bed linens, on pets and in people's body hair. Fleas adapt to different conditions very well and can live in nearly any household when the conditions are right. If they are not killed early enough, fleas can infest large areas of a house, so it is important to find all their living areas and quickly eradicate them.

Things You'll Need

  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Insecticide
  • Liquid soap
  • Hot water
  • Body scrubber or sponge
  • Comb
  • Flea tablets for pets
  • Flea killing creams
  • Flea removing shampoo
  • Gloves
  • Goggles
  • Face mask

Examine pets that may be hosting fleas around their necks, behind their ears, under their armpits and on their tails. People suspecting themselves of having fleas should check their hair, armpits, pubic hair, between their toes and on the back of their neck for any fleas. Check the carpets, pet rugs and any areas where pets sleep or spend time all around the house. Check any bed linens thoroughly for fleas as well.

Vacuum the entire house, paying particular attention to any tight or isolated spaces, corners and carpets, which is where fleas are most likely to reside (See Reference 2). Dispose of the vacuum bag right after vacuuming so that the fleas will not be able to escape back into the house.

Spray the entire house with an insecticide that contains Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), particularly the areas where pets spend most of their time (See Reference 2). Particular attention should be paid to areas under beds, carpets, dark areas, pet rugs and corners.

Do not vacuum for up to two weeks after spraying because doing so would remove the active ingredients in the spray (See Reference 2).

Spray around the garden as well if the house has a backyard or garden. Pay particular attention to areas where pets spend a lot of time. Spray under any porches, around trees, shrubs and walkways. Use the same insecticide as was used inside the house (See Reference 3).

Bathe any pets in warm, soapy water, and scrub the entire surface of the pet's body using a body scrubber or sponge.

Apply a flea-removing cream starting at the pet's shoulder blades and around the pet's neck (See Reference 2). Apply the cream to the pet's entire body, taking care to ensure the cream does not get into the pet's eyes. Ask at a pet pharmacy if necessary for help determining which product to buy.

Feed pets flea tablets orally, once a month during meal times. The tablets release a chemical into a pet's blood that fleas will in turn ingest that prevents flea eggs from hatching. The tablets will not kill fleas, but they will prevent the next generation of fleas from hatching (See Reference 2 and 4). Ask at a pet pharmacy which tablet is recommended for specific pets.

Anyone who finds fleas on their person should take a warm bath in soapy water, scrubbing their entire body and combing their hair in a shower. Additionally, hair should be washed with a flea-removing shampoo. A pharmacy can advise which product is recommended for those needing guidance selecting a shampoo.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check pets' hair regularly for fleas and other bugs to avoid a large-scale infestation.
  • Wear gloves and protective goggles while cleaning a dog with fleas, and wear a face mask while spraying insecticides in a house. Always read the label on any of the products used in the eradication and follow the manufacturer's instructions.

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