9 effective ways to get rid of fleas (2024)

Jump to:

  • What do fleas look like?
  • Facts about fleas
  • How common are fleas in the UK?
  • Do fleas bite people?
  • What health issues can fleas cause?
  • How do dogs get fleas?
  • Signs your pet might have fleas:
  • How do I know if my dog has fleas?
  • 1. Treat all pets for fleas
  • 2. Use baking soda
  • 3. Sprinkle salt
  • 4. Lemon spray
  • 5. Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water
  • 6. Use rosemary
  • 7. Hire a steam cleaner
  • 8. Use a powerful vacuum
  • 9. Use a pet-safe flea spray

Seen fleas around the house? If you are looking for simple and effective ways to get rid of fleas in the house, you've come to the right place. Most flea infestations stem from pets, but irritating pests can bite both you and your animals. If your furry friend has fleas, it's likely your home, garden and furniture will be targeted next.

As well as ensuring you comb your dogs and cats with a flea comb regularly, there are plenty of natural ways to help avoid a nasty infestation. Some of the best ways to get rid of fleas at home include cleaning bedding, vacuuming regularly, using flea treatments on pets, and wiping down floors and skirting boards to help destroy fleas at each stage of their lifecycle.

"Many owners only see fleas as being 'a summer thing' and aren't treating their pet for them this time of year. PDSA statistics show that there is a 20% drop in the sale of flea treatments during the winter months," Jamie Walker, an experienced vet and Technical Services Manager at Dechra, says.

"However, with central heating systems typically switched on for a few more weeks, our warm homes become the perfect breeding ground for fleas - their ideal temperature to hatch out is around 21°C.

"Flea eggs can be brought into your home on your cat or dog's coat, and then they can remain undetected for some time."

What do fleas look like?

Fleas are a reddish-brown colour, incredibly thin and have big back legs. They're around an eighth of an inch long, but it's unlikely you'll be able to see them clearly without a microscope.

Adult fleas live on the fur of animals where they will lay their eggs. The average life cycle of a flea is around 100 days, however, they can live indoors for up to a year if the conditions are favourable to them.

They go through four life stages:

  1. Egg
  2. Larva
  3. Pupa
  4. Adult

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Facts about fleas

• There are 2,500 species of flea in the world

• According to the BPCA, the most common species of flea in the UK is the Cat flea Ctenocephalides felis

• Fleas are mainly active in communal rooms, places where pets sleep and wherever there is most activity

• You may see fleas jumping on your carpet and furniture, especially if you have an active infestation

• Flea eggs can survive dormant for a long time, sometimes up to 18 months

• You might notice more fleas during the summer months. They prefer temperatures of 21 degrees and above

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How common are fleas in the UK?

There are 62 species of flea in the UK, the most common being the cat flea or Ctenocephalides felis.

"The flea life cycle has four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult flea. The entire cycle is typically complete in 3-4 weeks, but this can be quicker (12-22 days) if temperatures are ideal," says Jamie. "Each adult female flea can lay up to 20 eggs per day on your pet’s coat – and these eggs fall off wherever your pet lies.

"Flea eggs are almost invisible to the naked eye, while flea larvae are even harder to spot, often hiding in dark and hard-to-reach areas. Fleas are able to jump long distances and they can easily move between your pets and your home."

Do fleas bite people?

Fleas do not live on humans, but they can still bite people around the ankles and legs. Bites from fleas can occasionally trigger allergic reactions, although they will not have a serious impact on someone's health.

Fleabites are itchy bites that appear in small clusters. They are very small with a central red spot, often appearing in groups of three or four.

9 effective ways to get rid of fleas (6)

Flea bite on a person

What health issues can fleas cause?

"Fleas can cause serious health problems for our pets, and irritation to humans too. When fleas bite, they suck out blood and inject saliva into the bloodstream, which is what causes the most common symptom – itchy skin," adds Jamie.

"In some animals, this can become so intense that they end up with skin infections, hair loss and scabs and sores.  In severe cases, smaller animals such as kittens or puppies, can even die from anaemia due to the blood loss caused by the fleas feeding. Fleas can also transmit worm eggs to pets, causing them to have upset tummies and weight loss. "

How do dogs get fleas?

Dogs can get fleas in many ways, but the most common way is from one animal to another. Our furry friends are always socialising, so fleas can easily jump from fur to fur. As well as this, dogs can also catch fleas from the grass outside.

Signs your pet might have fleas:

  • Your pet is scratching
  • Have you noticed areas of hair loss or sore patches?
  • Is their skin red or irritated?
  • Can you see dark specks in their fur? Or small insects scurrying around?
  • Do you have any unaccounted-for insect bites yourself?

How do I know if my dog has fleas?

Fleas and ticks are external parasites that can cause extreme discomfort and serious illness in pets. If your dog has fleas, you may notice them itching, scratching or chewing at themselves. This could lead to hair loss or red irritated skin.

Need some additional advice? Take a look at some of the effective ways you can get rid of them in your home:

1. Treat all pets for fleas

Treat all pets in your home regularly with a suitable flea treatment. Whether you have a dog or cat, you'll want to wash their bedding on a hot wash to get rid of any flea eggs. Using a long-acting household spray is also recommended.

Read our guide on the tell-tale signs your pet has fleas for more information.

2. Use baking soda

    Remove fleas harbouring in the fibres of your carpet by using baking soda. To do this, sprinkle some on your carpet, scrub it and then vacuum it up. Likewise, regularly vacuuming your carpet will also help to keep the pests at bay. Fleas can transmit diseases to humans, so you must give everywhere a thorough clean.

    3. Sprinkle salt

    Much like baking soda, salt works in a similar way. According to Rentokil, if you sprinkle some salt on your carpet, leave for two days and then vacuum up, it will help to get rid of fleas quickly. The salt acts as a dehydration agent, which will quickly and naturally get rid of fleas without the use of chemicals.

    4. Lemon spray

    Thanks to its acidic juice, lemons are also a brilliant all-natural way to remove the presence of fleas in the home. To make your remedy, simply follow the steps below:

    1. Cut a thin slice of lemon and place it in a pan over the hob. Add boiling water and let sit overnight.

    2. The following morning, decant the lemon-infused liquid and pour it into a spray bottle.

    3. Spritz onto any flea-infested areas, such as carpets, sofas, pet beds or chairs. Remember to only light spray and do check against fabrics beforehand. The strong scent will kill the fleas and leave your home smelling fresh.

    9 effective ways to get rid of fleas (8)

    5. Wash all bedding in hot, soapy water

    For mild infestations, wash your bed sheets in hot soapy water. The soap will kill fleas, while also destroying their eggs and larvae. Consider vacuuming your mattress as well. Don't forget to do the same to your pet's bed.

    6. Use rosemary

    Fleas repel rosemary's strong pungent smell, so this technique also works wonders if your dog has fleas. For it to work, boil some rosemary in a pan with water and leave it to cool down overnight. Then, drain the liquid into a spray bottle (make sure you separate the sprigs so none fall in).

    The next time you wash your dog, spray some of the natural solution onto its fur and it will keep the fleas away.

    Fun fact: rosemary's powerful scent also keeps ticks at bay in the garden too.

    9 effective ways to get rid of fleas (10)

    7. Hire a steam cleaner

    Steam cleaning your carpets, furniture and pet bed is a brilliant idea if you have a flea infestation. Thanks to the combination of high heat and soap, the fleas will be gone in no time.

    8. Use a powerful vacuum

    While steam cleaning can be incredibly effective, using a powerful vacuum often will also keep fleas away. Pay close attention to floors, upholstery, mattresses, and those hard-to-reach corners. Once you have finished vacuuming, empty the bag or filter immediately.

    9. Use a pet-safe flea spray

    If your pet has fleas, why not consider using an all-natural flea treatment spray? Simply spray on the required area, re-applying every third day for nine days until they have gone. This will also help to minimise the presence of fleas in your home.

    "Dogs with fleas will scratch, bite and lick themselves to relieve the itching. Dogs that are allergic to fleas will suffer from crusty rashes and hair loss," say Everypaw Pet Insurance.

    "To prevent flea infestations you will need to regularly treat your dog and home. There are tablets, powders, sprays, spot-ons and shampoos available to kill adult and immature fleas. You will need to wash your dog’s bedding and hoover flooring to get rid of eggs."

    Remember: If your flea infestation feels out of hand, it's always best to seek expert advice from your vet on getting proper treatment for your pets.

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    Lisa Joyner

    Senior Digital Writer, House Beautiful and Country Living

    Lisa Joyner is the Senior Digital Writer at and Country Living UK, where she's busy writing about home and interiors, gardening, dog breeds, pets, health and wellbeing, countryside news, small space inspiration, and the hottest properties on the market. Previously, she has written for , and magazine. Lisa studied at University For The Creative Arts, where she completed a BA in Fashion Journalism.

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