If you have pets, chances are you've been up close and personal with fleas. Getting rid of these pesky, bloodsucking insects can be a real pain. But with time, the right strategies and a whole lot of patience, you can rid your house and yard of fleas, at least until the next time your cat or dog brings them home.
Fleas 101: What You Need to Know
Fleas are a tiny insect that sucks the blood from the victim it bites. A flea can complete its entire life cycle in just 14 days. That means when the conditions are right and a host is nearby, you could be looking at a major problem.While not harmful to humans, these bites are annoying and itchy.
Your dog or cat are probably to blame for most flea infestations. Fleas like warmer temperatures and higher humidity levels. So, when your pets are out socializing with the neighborhood pack during the warm spring days, they could come into contact with an animal that has fleas, and consequently, bring them home to live.
Because your pet is typically the culprit, it makes sense to start the process with them. Getting rid of fleas on your pets includes special topical treatments (both chemical and non-chemical), prescription options as well as combing out their fur and removing the fleas, just like you would with head lice. Once you're free from fleas, don't forget to treat your pets with preventative measures such as a flea collar or liquid applicant. If you have more than one pet, you likely need to treat them too. Due to a fleas life cycle, it can take months to get rid of them for good.
How to Get Rid of Fleas on Your Floor
After you treat your pet, it's time to tackle your home. Start by vacuuming your entire house. This includes carpets, linoleum, tile and hardwood floors. Clean in the corners, crevices, under rugs and floorboards. Vacuuming helps get rid of the adult fleas and eggs, larvae and pupae. Leave no surface undone.
Make sure to dump the vacuum bag when you're done. You will need to vacuum daily until the infestation is gone. You may also need to steam clean your carpets to get rid of fleas.
Once your floors are clean, you may want to use a carpet spray specially made for fleas on rugs and carpeted areas. Flea bombs and sprays are also popular options if you don't mind the chemicals.
How to Get Fid of Fleas on Your Mattress and Bedding
If your pets spend time in your bed, you'll need to treat your mattress, pillows and bedding. Start by washing and drying all sheets, pillowcases and mattress covers in hot water (check manufactures instructions for care). Vacuum the entire surface of the mattress. Use one of the smaller tools to get around to tight spots. Make sure to do both sides of the mattress and get rid of the vacuum bag once you're done.
For extreme cases, it's a good idea to get rid of your sheets and buy new bedding. If you decide to apply any flea treatments to your mattress, make sure they are safe and effective. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations.
How to Get Rid of Fleas From Your Yard
If you are going to treat your home with a flea product, it's a good idea to treat your yard on the same day. Since fleas prefer warm and humid spots, they are likely to hang out in shady areas. Think about where your pet likes to hand out and tackle those areas first. Mow, rake and dispose of piles of yard debris.
Spreading cedar chips around your yard with a focus on the areas your pet sleeps may help keep the fleas away. Other methods to get rid of fleas in your yard include spraying insecticides (make sure they are safe for your pets) and using nematodes (tiny worms that feed on flea larvae).
Other Things to Consider When Treating for Fleas
Make sure to clean your pets bedding and toys just like you would your mattress and bedding. This is something you should do weekly. Plus, make sure to vacuum and treat any furniture you have.
When choosing a flea treatment, it's recommended to use an insecticide that contains adulticide and permethrin, which kills adult fleas. Plus, an insect growth regulator (kills eggs, larvae, and pupae) that contains methoprene or pyriproxyfen.
Flea bombs are often seen as the last resort. If you have exhausted all of the other options and you're still dealing with a flea infestation, you may want to talk to a professional about bombing your house.