How to Get Rid of Fleas

Last Editorial Review: 9/25/2017

Ask the experts

We live in a rural area, and so many fleas and ticks on our outdoor dogs end up in the house. Are there home remedies for fleas?

Doctor's response

There are some natural solutions that may help repel fleas, however, if you have an infestation it's probably best to consult a pest-removal specialist to thoroughly rid your home of fleas, and also consult your veterinarian to ensure your pets are flea-free.

Once you have gotten rid of fleas, you can use some natural remedies to prevent them from returning.

  • Treat areas of the home with antimicrobial solutions such as tea tree oil, garlic spray, or diatomaceous earth powder.
  • A few drops of tea tree oil may be added to bath products, or it may be used as a spray on bedding, upholstery, carpets, and other fabrics.
  • Essential oils can be used to make a homemade flea repellant spray. Common oils used include eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, rosewood, cedar, citrus, or lemongrass. Mix with water and put in a spray bottle.
  • Use homemade flea traps to help get rid of fleas. In a bowl, add equal amounts of hot water and liquid hand soap, and place the bowl at the foot of your bed with a small lamp on nearby. The fleas are attracted to the warmth of the light and will fall into the trap and drown.
  • Before you vacuum, sprinkle diatomaceous earth powder and Borax powder on carpets, rugs, and flooring. Borax can be irritating to the skin and eyes, so keep away from children.
  • Eucalyptus trees are known to be flea-repellent, and can be planted in the yard.

Some natural remedies that may help repel fleas in pets include:

  • Brewer's yeast and apple cider vinegar can help repel fleas and can be added in small amounts to your pet's drinking water.
  • Diluted apple cider vinegar may also be used a final rinse for pets after bathing.
  • Herbal shampoos that are formulated for pets and include eucalyptus, lavender, germanium, lemon, or tea tree can be used to bathe pets.
  • Garlic added to a pet's food may help repel fleas.
  • Put some fennel by your dog's sleeping areas or dried chamomile herbs near your cat's sleeping areas to repel fleas from these areas.

Talk to your vet about ways to keep your dogs and cats free from fleas. Before using any home or natural flea preventive/repellant remedy on your pets, consult with your vet. Some remedies work well for some pets and not others, and some pets may have unwanted reactions to these items. The amount of any herb or oil or other product used for a pet may vary depending on their size, weight, age, breed, and overall health. It is always best to consult with your veterinarian to make sure the products and amounts you use are safe for your cats and dogs.

For more information, read our full medical article on fleas and flea bites.

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