Getting rid of fleas in your home requires a multi-pronged approach that treats your pet and the inside of your home. In some cases it's also necessary to treat your yard. Without a comprehensive attack the flea problem may not be completely eradicated and your flea problem could come back. When it is time to treat the house, you will need to use some type of insecticide. To ensure success, use the proper application methods and chemicals. Proper preparation prior to treatment is equally important.
Best Application Method
The best way to apply to apply interior insecticides is by using an aerosol spray or hand sprayer that you can control. Bug foggers and bombs do not provide adequate coverage when dealing with fleas. Aerosol cans and sprayer bottles give you control, allowing you to aim the insecticide at crucial application areas. One 16-ounce can will treat an area approximately 20 by 22 feet, depending on how heavily you spray.
Important treatment areas include spaces underneath beds and other furniture, behind furniture, under throw rugs and under pet bedding. Flea eggs and larvae tend to hide in places that are rarely disturbed, rather than in places with lots of foot traffic, so remember to treat baseboards, the undersides of furniture and underneath mattresses, as fleas may be hiding there. Bombs and foggers often miss these areas, leaving behind larvae and eggs that will grow into adults and begin your flea problem anew.
When treating fleas, find an insecticide that contains products that will kill adult fleas as well as larvae and eggs. Look for products that contain permethrin, as this chemical kills adult fleas. Choose products that also contain an insect growth regulator, or IGR, to destroy the flea eggs and larvae. Two of the most common IGRs are methoprene and pyriproxyfen. You may find these two chemicals under the following brand names on the insecticide label:
- Precor (methoprene)
- Nylar (pyriproxyfen)
- Archer (pyriproxyfen)
- Biospot (pyriproxyfen)
Some homeowners prefer to use the most natural ingredients possible as insecticides. If you're one of them, opt for a citrus-based pesticide that contains limonene or linalool or choose to sprinkle boric acid in carpets. It is important to note, however, that these options only work on direct contact and have very little residual effect. Re-treatment is often necessary with these products.
To use boric acid, sprinkle the dust onto carpets and gently run a broom over the surface to push the powder into the carpet. Boric acid compounds usually come in a bottle designed to disperse the powder, making application easy. Simply squeeze out a puff of powder where you need it.
Best Preparation and Treatment Practices
Insecticide applications require proper preparation. To ensure a successful treatment, remove any clutter or stored items from carpets and areas under beds so you can easily access all of the areas that need treatment. Put away pet food bowls and water dishes until the treatment is done and wash them thoroughly before giving them back to your pet. Cover fish tanks and turn off their aeration systems during insecticide application.
Vacuum hardwood and vinyl floors before treatment, as well as furniture, and steam clean carpets and fabrics. This will pull fleas, eggs and larvae from the surfaces. Any pupae left behind by the vacuuming and steam cleaning will be disturbed and are likely to leave their protective cocoons early, exposing them to the insecticide treatment.
Best Pet Treatments
You'll need to treat your pet the same day you treat your home, or the fleas will just reenter the home with your pet. The best way to do this is to bathe the animal in basic soap and water. Fleas on your pet will drown in the bath, so there is no need to treat them with flea shampoos that contain harsh chemicals. You can also comb your pet with a flea comb daily, dipping the comb in soapy water to drown any fleas you find. This works well with cats, many of whom don't take kindly to bathing. If you feel the need, talk to your vet about pills and skin applications that can further protect your pet.
Be aware that an overzealous approach to flea problems can be dangerous for your pet. Don't treat your house with one insecticide, your yard with another and then flea dip your pet or bathe him with an insecticidal shampoo. The combination of all of these chemicals can make your pet sick or be poisonous to her. Too much of any one chemical could do the same. Use only what you need to treat the problem and be sure all areas of the home are dry before reentering your home after treatment.