It would be unfair to judge fleas by their size since they're only less than an inch long. But the irritation and discomfort they can cause, to people as well as the pets they latch onto, cannot be measured. Fleas are known as pests for a reason, and the best approach to eradicate them involves a three-fold approach: treat your pet first with a flea-control product after consulting your veterinarian; then turn your attention to your home -- and especially your pet's favorite resting places -- by learning how to vacuum with a vengeance and pressing some safe and natural remedies into action.
Vacuum and Then Spray
Create a clear zone in all the rooms in which your pet has frequented so that you have full access to vacuum the floors or carpets thoroughly. Remove all items from the floors -- including inside closets and underneath beds. Remove your pet's food and water dishes and replenish them when you're finished.
Wash your pet's bedding in hot, soapy water; have it dry-cleaned or – if you can afford to do so – throw it out and replace it. Dry the bedding on the dryer's hottest setting.
Unleash the power of a strong vacuum cleaner on bare floors, carpets, cushions, throw rugs and anywhere else your pet likes to rest. Adult fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day on your pet, but they fall off and land wherever he spent time. Focus your efforts on his favorite places, and vacuum along the edges of rooms as well. Use the crevice tool and roller brush to remove the greatest number of fleas, eggs and larvae.
Protect your hands from flea bites by putting on gloves before removing the vacuum bag after each cleaning. Place the bag in a heavy plastic garbage bag, close it tightly and then place it in an outdoor garbage bin. Leave the bin outdoors until garbage pickup day.
Make a batch of homemade flea spray by mixing 1 gallon of vinegar, 1/2 gallon water, 16 ounces of lemon juice and 8 ounces of witch hazel in a large garden sprayer. Follow up a thorough vacuuming job by spraying floors, furniture, pet bedding, counters and every surface of your house with the mixture. Repeat this procedure -- vacuuming and then spraying -- once a day for up to seven days during the height of the flea infestation and then once every three or four days after the infestation subsides. The good news: the back-and-forth motions and suction power of the vacuum will prompt preadult fleas to emerge sooner, thereby allowing you to capture them in the vacuum.
Add Natural Remedies to the House
Fill a bowl with warm water. Pour 1 tablespoon of dish soap into the bowl. Place the bowl on the floor in the middle of a room where fleas are present. Before going to bed, place a tea-light candle in the water -- so that it floats -- and light the candle. Overnight, the fleas will be drawn to the light and will become trapped in the soapy water. Empty the bowl in the morning and repeat as long as your flea infestation continues.
Pour enough table salt into a large shaker or spice bottle to cover the carpets in your home. Sprinkle the salt liberally and evenly atop your carpets. Leave it sit there for between 12 and 48 hours, during which time the salt will cause the fleas to dehydrate. Vacuum the residue thoroughly.
Pour boric acid powder into a large shaker or spice bottle -- again using enough to cover your carpets. Sprinkle the boric acid over your carpets and then work it into a pile with a soft brush. Let it sit there for between 12 and 48 hours before vacuuming thoroughly. Like salt, boric acid causes severe dehydration in fleas. While it is low in toxicity, it's best to keep it away from children and pets and to refrain from using it where you prepare food, such as countertops.