How to Get Rid of Fleas (Without Paying for an Exterminator)

First, if you are one of my regular readers…this post will be rather boring. If you have fleas in your home, this post is for you!

 

A little over 3 weeks ago, we arrived home from a vacation to find that the fleas had taken up residence in our home.

It has taken a good three weeks for me to feel like we have won the battle against fleas in our home and on our pets. Almost every day of that time, I have desperately wanted to hire an exterminator so that I can know once and for all that these pesky buggers are GONE. However, that has not been in the budget, and so we have done our best to get rid of the fleas without spending an arm and a leg. Here is how we did it…

1. Get rid of your pets. Ok, ok…for many of us, our pets are very much a part of the family, and that is not an option. If you are going to keep your pets, however…the FIRST step in getting rid of fleas is to make sure that they are treated. You won’t get rid of the flea problem until that happens.

Here is what we did with our pets:

-quartined them in the garage. They hated it. They even looked really, really depressed. But until we could get the issue under control in the house and on them, they were not coming into my house!

– bathe and comb them frequently. Like, every day if you can. You may think you have killed all the adult fleas on your pet, but there are still those nasty eggs and larva, so keep on going even when you think they are flea-free.

– know that the vet can’t really do much. They will give you some frontline, which costs about $80 a pet (plus the vet fee), and then will send you home. There is no magic vaccine or lotion or anything that you can’t buy at the store.

– flea collars. These are cheaper than frontline. They seem to work, although they made one of our cats seem very lethargic and have no appetite, so we took it off him.

– shave their fur. Guys, it’s ridiculous, having shaven cats. But we figured it would be easier to see an attack those fleas if there wasn’t mountains of fur in the way! So Theo shaved both cats…and it made them cooler, anyways. This is a little extreme, but we were on one mission: get rid of the fleas. Keeping the dignity of the cats didn’t really mesh with that one.

2. Be informed. I didn’t know a thing about fleas until they infested our house. I didn’t know that they have a life cycle, that they need to bite in order to lay eggs and continue the life cycle. I also didn’t know that flea bites itch like the dickens (worse than poison ivy for me), and that if you so much as TOUCH them, they itch even more. *shudder*. I also didn’t know that fleas are practically harmless, except for their awful bites. Fleas might carry a disease that your pets can catch, but they do not carry diseases that are harmful to humans.

Just do your research. Know what you are dealing with.

3. When you think they are gone, keep fighting. Like, for a few weeks. The thing about fleas is that they have a life cycle. They aren’t just grown-up hopping fleas. They are also eggs, larva, pupa and then an adult. You have to get rid of the entire life cycle in your home before you will be rid of them. So if you don’t see any adult fleas…rejoice! You have the upper hand! But your work is not done. You MUST get rid of all of the life cycles, otherwise you will begin fighting the battle again in several days or weeks.

And after a week or two, you may see what seems like an uprising of fleas. It is very likely that the first batch of flea eggs have hatched. Just keep right on truckin’. I know…it can be really discouraging to see MORE after all the work you have done, but if you just stay consistent with fighting them, you will eventually get rid of ALL of them.

3. Chemicals. Yuck. I do not really enjoy chemicals in my home. Burning candles is as close as I come to releasing nasty chemicals in my home. But in order to really kill the fleas, you are probably going to have to use some chemicals. We used foggers, house spray, and flea spray for the pets. All of these contain nasty chemicals that are not good for anyone to breath or be around…including the fleas. Honestly, we just had to suck it up and use it all. I don’t know for sure which thing worked best, as we used all of these chemicals within a few days of each other…but they all seemed to work.

4. Natural remedies. After telling you that you will probably have to use chemicals, I am now going to tell you that there are some natural remedies that will help to get rid of the fleas. Baking soda has become my best friend. If you sprinkle it on the carpet, they will come out of it, and then you can suck those suckers right up with a vacuum cleaner. I have heard that DE has the same purpose. If you rub yeast onto your pets, the fleas will not be pleased and many will jump off. If you boil lemons and spray lemon water around the house, the fleas also hate this. Put out pans of water with soap, and if the fleas jump into them, they will immediately drown. Plus, if you catch one, you can just plunge it into the water and it’s a goner. Flea traps DO work, and have caught many fleas for us- but these can only be used at night as they have a very bright light that attracts the fleas.

Along with this, you will need to vacuum and sweep- every day. Multiple times a day.  The thing with vacuuming that you have to know, though..is that the vibrations can cause the eggs to hatch. So if you vacuum, you have just made a bunch of fleas come alive, and I highly recommend vacuuming again a few hours later. Vacuum multiple times a day to ensure that you are getting all those eggs and the hatchlings.

Note- if all of the above just seems like TOO much work for you- now is the time to hire an exterminator. It’s not going to get easier than that. Thankfully, I was free most of the day to fight the fleas- but I have probably spent hours every day for the past three weeks making sure that they are going, going, GONE!

5. The Dryer. You may be tempted to immediately throw all your clothes, linens and couch covers in the washing machine, but this is actually not the best idea. While the wash cycle may kill or rid the linens of some of the fleas, it will not get rid of all of them, and may spread them to other linens that didn’t actually have fleas eggs/larva/adults in the first place. Instead, throw all linens directly into the dryer and put on HIGH heat for at least 20 minutes. This will kill ALL the stages of flea-dom. Hallelujah! So my laundry cycle went: dry, wash, dry.

-quartined them in the garage. They hated it. They even looked really, really depressed. But until we could get the issue under control in the house and on them, they were not coming into my house!

– bathe and comb them frequently. Like, every day if you can. You may think you have killed all the adult fleas on your pet, but there are still those nasty eggs and larva, so keep on going even when you think they are flea-free.

– know that the vet can’t really do much. They will give you some frontline, which costs about $80 a pet (plus the vet fee), and then will send you home. There is no magic vaccine or lotion or anything that you can’t buy at the store.

– flea collars. These are cheaper than frontline. They seem to work, although they made one of our cats seem very lethargic and have no appetite, so we took it off him.

– shave their fur. Guys, it’s ridiculous, having shaven cats. But we figured it would be easier to see an attack those fleas if there wasn’t mountains of fur in the way! So Theo shaved both cats…and it made them cooler, anyways. This is a little extreme, but we were on one mission: get rid of the fleas. Keeping the dignity of the cats didn’t really mesh with that one.

– when you let them back in the house, don’t let them in the bedroom. We finally decided that the cats were flea-free enough to come back in the house. It took an hour or two of going back and forth about it. We knew that they still had fleas, but we also knew that keeping them out in the garage was not going to rid of the fleas. But I really, really needed a spot in my house that I knew I wouldn’t find any fleas (as long as we are staying on top of the vacuuming, etc). So no pets in the bedroom. That way I can have a safe haven when it feels like there are still too many fleas to win the battle.

 

Has anyone else ever struggled with fleas on their pets or in their homes? I am guessing that many people have, because I had to hit up three stores before I found one that wasn’t sold out of flea combs and flea treatments. The heat and humidity is bad this summer, and it is the perfect conditions for those fleas to be hatching away.

Good luck fighting off the fleas! Remember…don’t give up!!! It is possible to keep them at bay, and even to get rid of them, but it may take several weeks and even months of constant fighting. The important thing is to not give up!

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