Ridding Your House and Pets of Fleas for the Entire Summer
We all hate fleas. If you own pets then you might be more used to them, and if your neighbor has pets then you might be ready to move if this next summer is as bad as the last one.
Fleas travel from yard to yard, reproducing as they go and eventually making their way into your rug, your clean laundry, and eventually onto you, so it really doesn’t matter if you have pets or not. In light of this, my guide is aimed towards ALL home owners and renters, not only those that have pets. If you don’t have any pets, go ahead and skip step two!
What You’ll Need
- Flea Shampoo. There are too many brands to name for me to make recommendations, but let me just say that there are plenty of natural options that work just as well as the chemical shampoos. Consult your veterinarian to determine your preferred flea and tick shampoo, or just head down to your local pet store and grab a bottle or two.
- A powerful vacuum and some salt, borax or baking soda.
- A strong broom that is clean enough to sweep directly on your rug or carpet, preferably a new one.
- A garlic-based, natural insect repellent known as “Mosquito Barrier”.
- A canister or pump-sprayer, Hudson is one popular brand that sells these and you will likely find multiple kinds at your local Home Depot or other hardware store.
- Depending on the size of your home, you will also need a reasonable amount of time to dedicate to completing all four steps. Consider setting a whole day aside, but you will probably do alright with 3-6 hours of time.
Step One: The Prep
Everyone’s pets and living situation are different, so you are going to have to do a bit of planning before you get this whole thing started. Keep in mind that you don’t want your freshly bathed pets to come into contact with your rug or other areas of your house until after they have been cleansed of fleas (step three), and you definitely don’t want them to go outside until after you’ve completed all four steps below. If you don’t have any pets, don’t worry about it!
The first thing you are going to want to do is take your salt, borax, or baking soda and liberally sprinkle it across the entirety of your carpet – using both salt and baking soda seems to work quite well. After you’ve gotten enough on the carpet, take your broom and start sweeping the grains deep into the carpet. This will help to take care of eggs and larvae that exist deep within your carpet, and the grains will also kill adult fleas as they move through the carpet. Avoid allowing your pets to lay on the carpet while these grains are present, it can irritate their skin.
Don’t forget to move furniture and sprinkle plenty of your salt/baking soda granules into the carpet there.
Ideally, you want to let the grains sit within the carpet for at least 12 hours, but try to let it sit for no less than 3 hours. The third step will involve vacuuming all of this stuff up, so don’t worry about how you are going to get rid of it.
Step Two: The Pets
If you’ve had pets for some time then you probably already know how to give them a proper flea bath. Give your pets a complete flea bath, going through all the processes slowly and thoroughly.
*NOTE* Just giving your pets a flea bath won’t do any good if you don’t get the fleas out of your house and yard.
Leave your pets body dry and apply the flea shampoo around the pets rear-end as well as their ears and neck to keep the fleas from crowding in these areas when the water comes. Make sure to cover all areas of their body, leave the shampoo in only as long as the directions say. If it worked you should see some fleas in the water when you rinse.
Step Three: The House
Every curtain, sheet, towel, couch cover, or linen will need to be washed, along with anything that your pet sleeps on. A good 15 or 20 minutes in a hot dryer is enough to kill the fleas, along with any eggs or larvae that might be present. It’s a good idea to get this started before giving your pet a bath.
Remember to keep everything separate during this process; don’t set your linens down on the couch or the rug that has yet to be treated after they are done as this will entirely defeat the purpose. Once everything is in the washer/dryer, power up your vacuum and slowly vacuum every area of your rug. If you have an attachment, consider vacuuming all over your couches and on anything else with fabric. This should take care of all the salt and baking soda that you applied earlier, and along with it will come dead fleas that the salt and baking soda took care of, along with their eggs and larvae.
The Final Step: The Yard
If you do the steps listed above and skip this last step, the whole process will probably buy you about a week of flea-free living.
If you have a pet, you might have fleas back in your carpet and on your couch that same day.
You have to get the fleas out of your yard and keep them from coming back. There is a product called Mosquito Barrier ( http://www.mosquitobarrier.com ) that is a strong type of liquid garlic used to repel insects like fleas from grassy and dirt areas. This product works great and is very practical, but I love it because it doesn’t damage my grass and I don’t have to worry about breathing it in. This liquid garlic is extremely potent to fleas and ticks, and spraying it will chase them all out and keep them from coming back for 3 to 4 weeks. It also keeps mosquitoes out of your yard, which is a big plus.
Mix 4 to 5 ounces of the Mosquito Barrier product for every gallon of water, and spray liberally in all areas of your lawn, as well as on shrubs, bushes and other plants. Don’t spray if it has just rained or it is going to rain within the next 48 hours, you’ll also want to turn off your sprinkler system and avoid watering your grass or plants for about 48 hours after you apply the mixture.
If you’ve got dirt or sand in your yard, get the dirt wet before you spray to allow the eggs and larvae to rise to the surface, then wait an hour and apply the Mosquito Barrier mixture. Spray all bushes, shrubs, under your porch, etc.
After you do the initial spraying, you are going to want to wait 5 days and then spray the yard again with the same Mosquito Barrier mixture. After that, you should spray once every 3 to 4 weeks as long as the weather remains warm.
Recap and Additional Natural Flea Prevention Methods
If you’ve followed my guide, then you have cleaned your entire property of fleas. I’d like to note that everything used has been natural, no harm done to anyone except maybe a few fleas.
Fleas will be able to detect the powerful garlic in your lawn for a month, but you will only be able to smell it until the liquid dries a few hours later(don’t worry, it actually smells good). Remember to continue spraying the Mosquito Barrier in your yard about once every three weeks, and try to vacuum inside regularly.
In most cases the above steps will take care of the fleas pretty well, but here are a few other natural options that I am aware of that might prove useful in certain situations.
- Cedar Chips: You can find cedar chips in most pet or home-improvement stores. While their scent is quite fresh, fleas despise the smell and will try their best to stay far away from it. You can place cedar in doorways while you are vacuuming single rooms to keep fleas from traveling, or even place a bag of cedar chips in your pillowcase or bedding to keep fleas out of your bed. They can also be placed at doorways or windows – or even between your lawn and your neighbor’s – to keep fleas out.
- Feeding Your Pets Garlic: A meal containing some crushed garlic cloves or garlic juice (my personal favorite is a product called Garlic Valley Farms garlic juice) can be mixed into your pet’s food, the fleas will be able to smell the garlic coming off of their bodies and will stay away. It works just like the Mosquito Barrier garlic spray works for your lawn.
- Keeping Grass Cut: The longer your grass, the more inviting it is to fleas, ticks and other undesirable insects and pests. Keep your grass cut short, especially throughout the spring and summertime.
All of the information in this article is a culmination of my personal experience with animals, animal owners, and those dreaded fleas!!
Photo. Christian Domingues