Flea infestations in the home are incredibly difficult to eradicate, but washing household items on the hot cycle, followed by a spin in the dryer is an effective method of control. Fleas will not survive a trip through the washing machine; they're survivors, but they're not that strong. Washing is by no means the only step necessary to get rid of fleas, but is one of the simplest and should be one of the first.
What to Wash
Wash everything, but more specifically, wash everything in the area around where your dog sleeps. The cat flea -- the flea that infests our dogs, cats and homes -- tends to stay in the area where the pet sleeps. Wash all pet bedding or replace it with new bedding, wash all plush pet toys and any other plush items near the pet's sleeping area that fleas may be living in. Wash all of these items once a week until the problem is under control.
Flea eggs, larvae and pupae fall to the floor and survive in the carpet fibers. Regular vacuuming will remove eggs, larvae and pupae, and quite a lot of them at that. Focus your attention on areas where pets sleep, as well as underneath furniture, around the edges of rooms and large, heavy pieces of furniture that can't easily be moved, as the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture recommends. Don't neglect hardwood or tile floors when vacuuming. Discard the vacuum bag in a sealed garbage bag after use.
In addition to washing and vacuuming, insecticides are necessary to fully control the flea population. Vacuuming is also helpful in this regard as it raises the carpet fibers and allows the insecticide to fully penetrate the carpet. The University of Kentucky recommends aerosol formulations, which are easier to apply for the average homeowner and more accurate, allowing the poison to travel under furniture and in corners. The type of insecticide you choose may depend on its toxicity level, as the Washington Toxics Coalition suggests.
Treating the pets in your home is of the utmost importance in preventing future flea infestations. Your pet's veterinarian will recommend a monthly flea treatment during the months of the year when flea infestations of homes and pets are at their peak. Even the use of a flea comb before your pets come indoors can be effective at reducing the flea population.
Based in Fort Collins, Colo., Dannah Swift has been writing since 2009. She writes about green living, careers and the home garden. Her writing has appeared on various websites. She holds a Master of Arts in English literature from the University of New Hampshire and is currently pursuing a certificate in paralegal studies.