Fleas are one of the most tenacious endoparasites in the world. Able to live in both the coat of your pet cat or dog as well as bedding, couches, rugs, and carpet, fleas can be incredibly difficult to remove once they’ve infested a house.
The flea life cycle leaves eggs and larvae buried dormant in these regions, ready to re-infest your home after an extermination.
Flea elimination traditionally involves the application of powerful chemical insecticides both on your animal and throughout your home, exposing your family and loved ones to powerful toxins and poisons that can have debilitating long term health effects.
There are, however, a number of home remedies that people from all over the world use to remove fleas, with varying levels of success.
In this article we’ll break down the top 8 most popular methods of removing fleas from a home and rate them to help you decide which is the most efficient.
Method 1: Professional Extermination
For many people, professional extermination is the go-to remedy when confronted with a flea infestation in their home. While over-the-counter pharmaceutical options for pets may suffice if dealing with the earliest stages of an infestation, when fleas take hold in a house the first option many think of is the exterminator.
Professional extermination, while effective, is an incredibly expensive choice. Professional flea elimination typically involves the tenting and fumigation of an entire home, dousing toxic chemicals and poisons throughout the house that carry a risk of lingering, causing health complications at a later date.
Fumigation extermination can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars, requiring families to find alternative accommodation during the process.
This option also often requires homeowners to discard many of their personal belongings and furniture, making it a costly venture. Professional extermination is considered a good choice only in end-game scenarios in which all other options have been exhausted.
Method 2: Bug Bombs
Bug bombs are one of the most economical choices for dealing with fleas, but also one of the most ineffective. Also known as foggers, bug bombs are the “DIY” version of professional fumigation, offering the same disadvantages with few of the advantages.
Bug bombs typically come in the form of an aerosol spray can that is placed in the middle of a room and activated, filling the living area with a mist that contains highly toxic chemicals.
Like professional extermination, bug bombs require homeowners to vacate their property while they are in use, and air the home out extensively afterwards. Unlike professional extermination, there is no way of determining whether the extremely dangerous chemicals have dissipated after use.
The aerosol delivery system of bug bombs is also unable to reach into the cracks, crevices and nooks that fleas like to hide in.
Additionally, bug bombs will kill only the adult and larval stages of the flea life cycle, leaving eggs to hatch later and create a secondary infestation. While bug bombs may be effective for larger insects such as cockroaches, they’re not the best way of dealing with fleas.
Method 3: Herbal Flea Spray Solutions
Many homeowners dislike the idea of exposing their families to lethal poison aerosol sprays, even in small amounts. There are a number of herbal solutions and home remedies that can have a positive effect in reducing the population of fleas in a home, the first of which is a herbal flea spray.
Herbal flea sprays usually leverage the acidic composition of vinegar mixed with lemon juice, water and witch-hazel, a folk remedy insect repellent, in a water bottle.
By spraying this odorous solution around the home it’s possible to deter fleas from entering. None of the ingredients in this mixture are able to actually kill fleas, merely irritate them and cause them to migrate to another region.
In order for these solutions to work effectively homeowners must douse their entire home in vinegar, which while deterring fleas has a number of drawbacks, such as the intense smell. Vinegar also attracts smaller flying insects such as midges. Herbal flea sprays, while chemical free, are ultimately ineffective solutions especially if you are camping outdoors.
Method 4: Salt Distribution
Distributing extremely large amounts of salt around the home is another popular home remedy for flea removal that doesn’t require the use of powerful chemicals. Salt dehydrates fleas, drawing the lipid oils out their bodies and terminating them.
This method is extremely time consuming, requiring homeowners to grind table salt into a fine powder with a mortar and pestle and distribute it by hand around the house.
While salt is able to destroy fleas, this method won’t stop any fleas that are in your bedding, unless you’re willing to sleep on a bed of dehydrating salt. Covering your entire home with salt also makes a large mess that is extremely difficult to clean up.
Method 5: Pennyroyal Herb
Pennyroyal herb is one of the more effective herbal flea treatments. A member of the mint family, pennyroyal has an extremely intense aroma that acts as a powerful flea deterrent. Pennyroyal is typically used either as a flea bath for pets or added to water to mop around the house.
Pennyroyal herb, while effective, generally requires hot water to be effective and is therefore not ideal for treating the carpeted areas in which fleas lay eggs.
Pennyroyal sufferers from the same limitations as the other herbal remedies, and is unable to prevent the hatching of flea eggs that cause a second wave re-infestation.
There are also a number of health concerns that arise from the use of pennyroyal tea. Ingesting even small doses of the oil from this herb can result in death. As a result, we don’t recommend the use of this solution as a flea deterrent.
Method 6: Rosemary Herb
Rosemary offers a wide range of applications outside of simple food preparation, one of which is as a flea deterrent.
Infusing rosemary into water overnight or creating a rosemary tea tincture provides a powerful spray-on flea deterrent that will cause fleas to vacate an area immediately. This solution is a great non-toxic method of ridding your dog or cat of fleas, but unfortunately is unable to kill, leaving fleas alive to reinfest another region of your home.
Rosemary is a great preventative and spot treatment for fleas, but not the best solution for permanent removal.
Method 7: Flea Traps
Flea traps are an effective solution for destroying fleas, but work so slowly that they are barely able to make an impact on a flea population. To make a flea trap, you’ll need dish soap, a candle, and a dinner plate or shallow bowl.
Place the candle in the middle of the plate and surround it with a shallow pool of dishwashing soap. If left throughout the night, fleas will be attracted to the light and warmth emitted by the candle and jump toward it, landing in the dishwashing soap and becoming stuck.
This method has a number of significant drawbacks. Firstly, you should never leave a candle unattended, especially when asleep. This method is extremely dangerous, and is more likely to rid your home of fleas by burning the entire building down instead of trapping them in detergent. We definitely don’t recommend this method.
Method 8: Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth consists of a fine white powder that is 85% silica. Removing fleas from your home with diatomaceous earth involves distributing this powder around bedding, couches and furniture. Fleas travel over the powder, at which point it binds to their exoskeletons and abrades the outer layer, absorbing the lipid oils inside the insect and fatally dehydrating them.
Diatomaceous earth offers a number of advantages over any of the other flea removal methods. Firstly, diatomaceous earth food grade is completely inert and chemical free, safe to use around children, pets, and food.
Diatomaceous earth also has no shelf life and is effective as long as it is in place and dry, killing fleas effectively with no risk of allowing them to build up a resistance. Thirdly, diatomaceous earth is easily cleaned up with a vacuum and has a wide range of applications outside of pest control, making it the ultimate choice for flea removal.
Out of all of the above methods of flea removal, diatomaceous earth offers the most effective treatment. With an average cost of $3 USD to $5 USD per pound, completely safe and non toxic formulation, and easy DIY application method, diatomaceous earth is the standout winner. Before committing to any flea removal process, it’s always best to assess the potential effect it can have on the health of your family. Diatomaceous earth provides peace of mind while quickly eliminating fleas permanently.
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