How to get rid of fleas at home

August 12th, 2013

Appliance Talk Small Appliances

Do you have a furry friend in your life?  Someone who’s adorable, friendly and much-loved, even if they do sometimes get underfoot, leave little surprises around the house, or turn up in the fridge?

cat 17PS: As cute as it looks, please don’t put your cat in the fridge.

If you’ve got a pet, there’s a decent chance that your house may have fleas. And I don’t mean the kind of Flea that plays bass in a band that has far too many songs about California…

flea rhcp

I mean the “bloodsucking parasite” kind of flea:

flea illo

All it takes is for your pooch or pusskins to meet up with another animal that’s carrying these flightless insects, and the little freeloaders will hitch a ride home.


Once they’ve made it inside your home, the fleas will set about transforming you pet’s back into their own personal circus.

flea circus sand sculpture

Next thing you know, they’ve spread themselves and their offspring all through your house, treating it as their little summer home all through the winter and beyond.

And while you may think this doesn’t sound too bad, the occasional irritating itch notwithstanding, fleas can spread germs and diseases, leading to seriously bad news for you and your pets – just ask this doctor from the times of the Bubonic Plague:

plague doctor

So here’s our guide to getting your home free from fleas, using appliances to make sure it stays that way:

Start with your pet

When it comes to fleas, your pet is going to suffer the most if a real infestation sets up shop in your home.

flea dog

Make sure your little friend is kept well-groomed and receives regular flea treatments in addition to their worming.  Bathe them, even if they hate it.

grumpy cat flea

One of our favourite ways to manage pet hair in dogs it to use the Dyson Groom Tool, which lets you vacuum the loose and stray hairs right off the animal’s back before they have a chance to drop them off on your favourite cardigan.

If problems persist, consult your vet – as appliance bloggers, we’re only able to really qualified to comment on proper pet care as it relates to grumpy cats (i.e. don’t antagonise them, or you’ll be on the receiving end of a memetic death glare).

Clean yourself

You may not think you have fleas.  After all, only unwashed gross people get infested with parasites, right?

pigpen peanuts

But if you find yourself absent-mindedly scratching, or discover tiny red itchy marks around your socks and ankles, your own blood may be supplementing the diet of the fleas in your household.

Fortunately, because humans are relatively hairless in comparison to pets and other animals, there are not many places for fleas to hide on our bodies, meaning that they’re more likely to treat our blood as an occasional snack rather than a regular main course.

To keep all of your blood where it belongs and out of local flea stomachs, practice some basic personal hygiene and make sure that your clothes and bedding are well-cleaned and looked after.

Speaking of which…


While certain super-powerful vacuum cleaners are especially useful for getting pet hair and more out of carpets and other soft surfaces, when it comes to fleas, discipline is just as important as power.  After all, even if you have the world’s most intense cyclonic suction in your vacuum cleaner, and a powerbrush designed to dig pet hair out of carpets and more, if you do a half-arsed job cleaning the house, the fleas will flock to anywhere you didn’t clean and get right back to multiplying.

Dyson dc34animal pet hair vacuum cleanerA Dyson Animal pet hair vacuum cleaner in action

So clean every surface in your home you even remotely suspect could be harbouring fleas, from carpets to couches and bedding.  Fleas will make a home anywhere that’s warm and has an easily-accessed food supply, so pay particular attention to anywhere in which living creatures, whether pets or humans, like to regularly sit or sleep.

Cat helps with vacuumingWe believe this kitty is using an Electrolux Rapido to help out with the housework.

Fleas, as well as their eggs and young, can be tougher than you might expect, and could potentially survive a ride on the storm of your vacuum cleaner’s suction.  That’s why it’s important to empty the vacuum bag or drum regularly, so they don’t get a chance to escape and make their way back into your home.


Gather up the sheets, your clothes, anything else that could have gotten into contact with your pet, and stick the lot of it into the washing machine.  Take the covers and pillowcases off your cushions and pillows, and throw them in too.

cats are greatDon’t ever put your cat in the washing machine!  We’re serious!  Don’t!

If you’re doing this all in one go, you’ll probably need a decent-sized washing machine to accommodate such a load.  And if your has an antibacterial or anti-allergy wash mode (such as that on the Asko W6888ALLERGY) available, this would be ideal for completely annihilating any parasitic hangers-on, as well as the germs they can carry.

Wash the carpets

When a simple vacuuming isn’t enough, it’s time to bring out the big guns.  In this case, we mean a carpet washer, which uses a potent combination of steam, soap and water to get rid of any dirt and germs still clinging to your carpets after the vacuuming is complete.

bissell carpet cleaner

If any fleas, flea eggs or young managed to escape the initial barrage of vacuuming, when the steam cleaner comes barrelling along, they’re gonna have a bad time.  Plus, the germs carried by fleas should also be eliminated by a properly-used carpet washer, especially when using a disinfectant/antibacterial detergent.

Set traps

flea ripley

Ripley may be a overreacting a little bit, but her general point remains sound – while thoroughly cleaning your house should greatly discourage fleas, there comes a time when you have to go on the offensive, leaving no survivors.

flea spray

There’s a wide variety of different sprays, powders, and other traps available for removing fleas from the home, each working in a different way and using different chemicals.  The trick to using these is making sure they only affect fleas, and won’t harm your pets – talk to your vet if you have any concerns.

flea trap

There are a few other homespun ways to get rid of fleas that we’ve heard about.  One is to fill a shallow dish with water and detergent and leave it out at night next to a light source such as a desk lamp or night light.  In the dark, the fleas should be attracted to the light/heat of the lamp and leap into the water, where they become trapped, thanks to the detergent breaking the surface tension.  If you use this technique, you’ll want to keep your pet out of the room where the trap is set up – drinking soapy water would not be good for them.

Certain other household substances are understood to be effective flea deterrents, as much like ants and roaches, fleas rely heavily on their sense of smell.  These include:

  • Citrus
  • Yeast
  • Garlic (don’t let your pets eat garlic!  It’s not good for many animals)
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Cedar (including oils)
  • Salt (this is less about the smell and more about salt’s dehydrating properties – rub it into your vacuumed carpet to render it uninhabitable to flea-kind)
  • Eucalyptus
  • Lavender
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree Oil
  • Cloves
  • Rosemary

Waft a few of these scents throughout the most flea-ridden areas of your home, and the little blighters may think twice about remaining there.

Constant vigilance

constant vigilance

More than just a catchphrase of Mad-Eye Moody, this is the attitude you must adopt if you’d like to keep your house flea-free.  Keep those carpets clean; stay on top of the laundry; and always treat your pets with plenty of love, attention, and natural insecticide shampoo.

Feeling itchy?  Got a trick for dealing with fleas you’d like to share?  Please let us know!

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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