Selling a house where pets have lived can have its own unique set of problems without having to deal with fleas, too. A flea infestation can be a time-consuming problem to fix, but don't get stuck thinking you need a professional to handle the job.
Learn more about how you can get rid of fleas in the house yourself.
- Check for fleas on your pets using a flea comb, so you can start eliminating them right at the source.
- Invest in flea control products for your pets, such as collars, sprays and/or powders, or take them to a groomer to have the job done professionally.
- They’ll move right back in on your pets if you don’t get rid of the fleas in your house, too. Try foggers and carpet powder.
- Call a professional as a last resort, and stay on top of the situation after the fleas are gone.
The first place to check for fleas is on your pet, but then you've got to move on to searching yourself.
Using Flea Combs to Find Fleas on Your Pet
Special flea combs are made with the express purpose of flushing the little pests out and capturing them, too. Here's how to use a flea comb.
- Start with your pet's head, near the ears. Also, check near the tail and under the legs.
- Quickly run the comb through the fur in these spots.
- Immediately dip the comb into a bowl containing a solution of liquid dish soap mixed with water. Act quickly before the fleas have a chance to spring loose after getting stuck in the comb.
- Any fleas that were trapped in the teeth will die in the soapy water.
- Repeat, if necessary, after drying the comb.
Concentrate your efforts on the areas where fleas gather most: the neck and the tail.
Spotting Fleas on You
Don't blame your pets entirely for a flea infestation. Humans can track fleas into the house, too. You might have a cat that never goes outdoors, yet you have fleas. In this situation, there's a good chance the fleas came in with you, then perhaps found a comfortable home on your cat.
Here's a tip for finding them: Put on a pair of white knee-highs and walk around in your stocking feet for a while. Fleas will jump from your carpet onto your legs, and they'll be much easier to spot against a white background.
Flea Control for Your Pets
Combing out fleas is just a temporary measure. Your best option is to kill the fleas that are present on your pet and kill those that hop aboard later, too.
Plenty of great products will not only get rid of fleas, but they'll also prevent them from coming back for a few weeks. However, it might take a couple of treatments to kill the remaining fleas as well as those that hatch after the flea infestation is under control.
Products that are effective in controlling and eliminating fleas include:
- "Spot-on" liquids (these are applied to a spot on your pet's back)
You can also bathe your pet with flea shampoo. Take your pet to a vet or a groomer if you think you'll have problems giving it a flea bath.
How to Apply Products to Get Rid of Fleas
Carefully follow all instructions included with your flea-control products. For spot-on applications, puncture the tube of flea control, or bend the applicator tip and squeeze out the contents.
It's best to apply the ointment at the back of your pet's head, near the base of the neck or between the shoulder blades. These are spots your pet can't easily lick or scratch. Part the hair until you can see the skin, and apply all of the treatment in that spot. Make sure the treatment is applied to the skin and not the fur.
Flea Control for the House
Your flea situation may call for more extensive measures. Here are a few ways to eliminate them within your home.
Foggers, or "bug bombs," work well, but you'll probably need one for each room. Foggers are flammable, so be sure to turn off all pilot lights and keep them at least six feet away from appliances with ignitions, such as refrigerators or air conditioners. Remove animals—fish, too—and people from the room you're treating, and exit quickly after you've activated the device. Don't leave any toys or uncovered food in the room, either.
The fog is toxic, so you won't want to breathe the fumes. Leave the house undisturbed for a minimum of two hours, or as directed.
Thoroughly air out the space by opening the doors and windows before allowing people or pets back in. Fans can help with ventilation.
Flea powder can act as an extra measure of defense. First, remove all bedding in the room, and wash it in hot, soapy water, or have it cleaned. Thoroughly vacuum all carpeting and rugs.
Regularly vacuuming and steam-cleaning rugs and carpets is a useful method for keeping fleas under control.
Remove cushions from furniture, and sprinkle the flea powder in the crevices. Sprinkle the powder along the perimeter of all the walls as well, and cover your floor area with it. Brush it into the carpet with a broom until the powder is no longer visible, and wait at least an hour before vacuuming. Don't let your pets back into the room without treating it with a flea-control product.
Flea Control for Your Yard
Many yard products can get rid of fleas outdoors as well, but some are toxic, so read the instructions carefully.
Flea-control sprays attach to your garden hose and can cover thousands of square feet. Attach the product to your hose, and thoroughly spray all affected areas, concentrating on moist and shaded spots, such as under shrubs and decks. Repeat the treatment every two to three weeks for six weeks, or until fleas are under control. Then, you can switch to a maintenance schedule of treating every four to six weeks.
Another option for outdoor control is diatomaceous earth and other desiccants, which act as insecticidew for the fleas, their larvae, and their eggs. These desiccants don't harm dogs, cats, or humans.
It Can Be an Ongoing Project
It might seem like a lot of extra work, but if you regularly apply flea-control products on your pets, and if you aggressively treat the house and yard, your flea problem should disappear—at least for a while. You'll likely need to keep up with your efforts consistently to ensure they don't come back.