Treating Your Home For Fleas Without Toxic Chemicals

If you have pets, you might have the experience of having a flea infestation in your home. Even if your pets stay in your home and yard, you can carry flea eggs in on your clothing or shoes, or the fleas can be brought to your doorstep by stray cats, raccoons and other animals that live outdoors. If you want to avoid using potentially toxic chemicals on your pets and in your house, here are some ways you can treat your home for fleas using natural or less-toxic products.

Give Your Pet a Bath

While flea shampoos will kill fleas on contact, so will dishwashing liquid (the kind used for hand-washing, not the kind that goes in the dishwasher!). In fact, any type of shampoo, including baby shampoo, will smother fleas and remove eggs. The important thing is to rub the soap into their fur and to rinse it very well. You also don't want to bathe them more than necessary, as dishwashing soap in particular is very drying.

While you likely lather up your dog once in a while anyway, bathing a cat can be a potentially dangerous undertaking. Have someone help you and keep an extra towel in the bottom of the sink or tub to reduce your kitty's flailing. You can read more tips on washing a cat here.

Treat Your Soft Surfaces

The first thing you need to do is vacuum every inch of carpet and upholstery in your home. It's best to do one room at a time, and to move the furniture around so you can get to each corner. What you are trying to do is remove as many fleas and eggs from these areas as you can. Even once your pet is flea-free, the pests can live in your rugs, carpets, couches and bedding.

Next, sprinkle all of these surfaces liberally with borax powder. You can find this near the laundry detergent at your grocery or discount store. One caveat: Borax powder can be toxic to cats and dogs if they lick it off their feet, so keep Fluffy and Rover out of the room you are working in. Use a broom to push down the powder into the carpet and upholstery.

Wait a few hours if possible, then vacuum again. If you can't wait that long, that's okay; you will still be making a sizable dent in the number of fleas and flea eggs present.

Dump out the vacuum bag or clean the canister to remove any fleas that are still alive inside. Then vacuum once more to be sure you got all of the powder out of the carpet or furniture before letting your pets back into the room. Repeat this in every room of your home with upholstery, carpet or other soft surfaces.

Keeping Fleas at Bay

After your initial flea treatment, it's important to vacuum each day. After you vacuum, be sure to empty the canister or vacuum bag immediately.

You can check to make sure your flea population is decreasing by placing a shallow white plate on the floor under an electrical outlet. Put a few tablespoons of water in the plate, as well as several drops of dishwashing liquid. Plug a nightlight into the outlet and leave the plate undisturbed overnight. In the morning, check to see how many fleas have jumped into the solution. You should have fewer and fewer fleas each morning.

Dissuade fleas from taking up residence on your pet and in your home by prophylactically treating your pets. Ask your veterinarian for a safe and effective way to keep fleas away. There are natural methods available as well, but it's important to double check these with your veterinarian.

Fleas are annoying pests to cats, dogs and humans alike, so it's best to prevent them if at all possible. If you do get an infestation, following the above tips will help you get rid of them relatively quickly. If you are still having trouble, an exterminator or carpet-cleaning company such as Southwest Chem-Dry can help rid your home of these pests.