Home Notes From Kathy How Do You Get Rid of Fleas in the House?

How Do You Get Rid of Fleas in the House?


fleas-350An On Pasture reader called Monday morning with a problem. Even though they have no indoor pets and his stock dogs aren’t allowed in the yard, somehow fleas got in the house. His wife has cleaned and has been vacuuming almost non-stop. She gave up today after a snake got in the house. She’s headed to town for a break from all the fleas and snakes.

He’s sprayed the house twice with insecticide but isn’t thrilled with that solution. I found the following instructions on line, but have no idea how well they work. If you’ve tried any of them, or have solutions that worked for you, please share. We both imagine that other farmers and ranchers might have encountered this problem and this is a perfect opportunity to put our heads together for the benefit of everyone.


Check out these instructions from Terminex for vacuuming fleas out of your house.

Possible Home Remedies For Getting Rid of and Preventing Fleas in the House

1. Walk Into the Light, Fleas!

Place a plate filled to the brim with warm water and a cap full of dish washing liquid in every room. Light a small candle and place it on the plate. Supposedly the fleas will be attracted to the light and will jump into the dish washing liquid and be trapped.

Down sides – Fleas may have left their larvae behind, so you’ll have to do this for over a week. Open flames on the floor of your house may not be the safest thing to do.

2. Herbal Spray

Mix up the following and use a home and garden sprayer to spray it all over the house after you’ve done a really good job of vacuuming. Repeat for 2 to 7 days until it seems you have fewer fleas and then every 3 to 4 days until the fleas are gone.

  • Vinegar- 1 gallon (a little less than 4 liters)
  • Water- ½ gallon (a little less than 2 liters)
  • Lemon juice- 16 oz. (a little less than 500 ml)
  • Witch hazel- 8 oz. (a little less than 250 ml)

Down sides – This mixture may do nothing. We don’t know.

3. Salt, Boric Acid, Diatomaceous Earth

The idea behind each of these is to do damage to the bodies of fleas. Salt crystals and diatomaceous earth will cut them up and kill them. The Boric Acid is supposed to dry them up.

Down sides: Its recommended that you leave each of things on your carpets and floors for 12 to 48 hours so things are going to be kind of dusty in the house while you wait for them to do their work.

4. Herbal Flea Repellents

We don’t know if any of these work, but if you’ve tried any of these mixtures with success, do let us know!

Grind equal parts of the following in a coffee grinder and then sprinkle it on your carpets and floors:

  • Rosemary
  • Rue
  • Wormwood
  • Fennel
  • Peppermint
  • Coffee grinder or mortar and pestle

Mix up 6 thinly sliced lemons, a handful of rosemary sprigs, a liter of boiling water and 3 to 4 drops of geranium essential oil. Let steep overnight and then strain into a spray bottle and spray around the house where fleas might come in.

Mop your floors with a citronella mixture made up of the following. This is supposed to repel fleas and it seems like it might smell nice too.

  • Citronella oil- 20 drops
  • Tea tree oil- 10 drops
  • Lemongrass oil- 10 drops
  • Geranium oil- 5 drops
  • Warm water- 1 gallon




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Kathy Voth
I am the founder, editor and publisher of On Pasture, now retired. My career spanned 40 years of finding creative solutions to problems, and sharing ideas with people that encouraged them to work together and try new things. From figuring out how to teach livestock to eat weeds, to teaching range management to high schoolers, outdoor ed graduation camping trips with fifty 6th graders at a time, building firebreaks with a 130-goat herd, developing the signs and interpretation for the Storm King Fourteen Memorial trail, receiving the Conservation Service Award for my work building the 150-mile mountain bike trail from Grand Junction, Colorado to Moab, Utah...well, the list is long so I'll stop with, I've had a great time and I'm very grateful.


  1. We had moved many things out of the house and sprayed Tempo on the wood floors, base boards and furniture. Vacuuming sometimes twice a day. This all seemed to help but some still showed up in the pie plate every night.

    finally called a friend who knew an exterminator. He said, people only call me when they have tried everything else and it doesn’t work, and we had. He said to get a growth regulator to kill the pupae, larvae and eggs. He recommended PreCor for that. He said to mix it with Bikor to kill the adults. Tempo being good but this better in his opinion.

    Tracked it down at a lawn care and landscaping supply store. They didn’t carry those brand products but recommended Archer for the insect growth regulator and Cyanara that would kill the adults. We sprayed the yard, barns, shop, pickups and patio. Sprayed Mycodex inside that has the insect growth regulator.

    Things are getting better.

  2. I have had flea infestations in my CA home a few times. I have no pets of my own, but I do get neighborhood cats wandering around my yard and the occasional oppossum. So, fleas get in my yard and I bring them into the house on my legs. My solution has been a combination of chemicals, manual control, and getting rid of the source! It takes persistence and it is easy to get frustrated. I walk around outside in white socks or light colored long pants to find the areas of infestation, then spray those areas with various chemicals, repeating applications. I close off any access to areas under the house or deck after setting live traps to remove any animals (oppossums like to take up residency there). I talk to neighbors with cats to be sure they are being treated for fleas. Inside the house, I vacuum a lot (dump vacuum right away outside), have sprinkled sevin dust on carpets and hardwood floors for a week at a time (that takes time to clean up), and wear white socks. When I see fleas on my socks, I brush the fleas off into the toilet and flush them away. I am very careful about making sure there are no fleas on my ankles before getting into bed and into my car. Getting away from the house and yard to give yourself a break now and then is good, too! Good luck!

  3. As a veterinarian, I have spent over a decade educating clients about this frustrating issue. The bad news is that once a flea infestation is established, there is a stage of the flea called the pupae stage – or cocoon stage – that you just need to let emerge. It is resistant to chemical, physical and thermal intervention. There is no sprays, powders, foam or flamethrower that will kill the flea when it is in the pupae stage in the environment.
    The adult flea emerges from the cocoon when the following for conditions are in the “right” combination: heat, humidity, physical stimulation and exhaled carbon dioxide (in breath). The good news is that under ideal conditions, this can take as little as two weeks; the bad news is that if these conditions are not right, the pupa stage can persist in the environment greater than two years. That’s right… YEARS.
    In addition to frequent vacuuming, using a product on your pet like frontline plus or nexgard will allow your pet to become a flea vacuum cleaner – because when the fleas emerge from the cocoon as adults, they get exposed to the adulticide and die.
    Finally, treating the premises – indoors AND outdoors with an adulticide for adult fleas, as well as an IGR for eggs and larvae is also essential to help break the flea lifecycle. Persistence is key – it is easy to get frustrated, but hang in there! Ask your veterinarian if the premise products you would like to use are pet friendly as there are many options out there. Good luck!

  4. We had a similar infestation in our old south Texas farmhouse. We tried everything I had learned while working for a small animal vet, but everything failed. Until we found Beneficial Nematodes. Available at your better Farm & Garden stores or online. Worked like a miracle!!

  5. When I’ve had flea problems, Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) have done the trick quite well. The active ingredient prevents eggs and larval fleas from becoming adults. The liquid ready-to-use version also has pyrethrins that kill the adults. It works very well and lasts for several months.

  6. We bought an old home that had all the town cats living under the home. We got rid of the cats, but the home was covered with fleas. It was a mess, but we sprinkled DE all over the floors. It took a few days, but the fleas left or died. After that we faithfully sprayed an orange oil spray every month for a few months, then 2-3 times a year. For the snakes, my grandmother said get a cat.

  7. Make sure you have properly identified the insect first. I once helped a hospital that thought they had a flea infestation. They had jumped to this conclusion because the little critters jumped around. The hospital paid a pest control company to control the feas. The pest control company was getting very frustrated because the treatments were not effective. After we helped them with proper pest identification, it turned out that they had an insect called a springtail not fleas. This info helped the pest control company focus on the spingtail life cycle and cleared up the infestation quickly. Sometimes we jump to the solution before we know the problem which can cause frustration.

  8. If they don’t have inside pets but wound up with that many fleas in the house, I’m certain their animals are loaded. Years working for vets and many more having a boarding kennel on our ranch proved you have to kill them. Once you thin them out good, you have to keep them from having another population explosion. While vacuuming will get some fleas and eggs, they move fast and you only get a small percentage with new eggs hatching for weeks. Our solution that worked in a warm California climate was to spray around the outside foundation of the house and kennels with Malathion when an infestation got bad, and about this time of year seemed to be worst. Check with your vets for which pour-on treatments work best there, the good brand name ones always worked better than cheaper ones like Kirkland’s for us. You may not be able to use them on all breeds and have to use collars on some animals, but treat all dogs and cats. While we did not stick to a calendar schedule for applying them, often allowing extra months between treatments especially in winter, we did apply them at the first sign of our dogs or cats scratching. It sounds like he has an extreme infestation and while fleas prefer dogs or cats, depending on the species, people taste just fine if they are hungry. My guess is he needs to get some aerosol flea bombs to put in the house and set off unless he wants to just gradually diminish the problem over a couple weeks. It isn’t hard to keep them under control with the easy pour-on treatments, but once they are out of control, it is a war. Also, if you have a lot of animals to treat, just buy the extra large size pour-on doses and split them between 2-3 smaller dogs to save money. In applying the oily stuff, follow directions and get it down on the skin, not just on top of the hair too.

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