If your pet has fleas, chances are your house does too. You can get rid of them without resorting to pricey commercial treatments and toxic substances. The trick is to understand a flea’s life cycle and attack every stage of the reproductive process. Here’s how to do it.
1. Of course you have to get the fleas off your pet, and you’ll have to do it daily until the infestation is over (which will take a week to 10 days with these methods). Buy a fine-toothed flea comb. Then put some water into a plastic tub or large bowl. Add a tiny squirt of liquid soap (such as dish cleaner or laundry detergent) to break the surface tension.
Sit down with your pet and use the comb to find the fleas. Shake them into the water, where they’ll sink to the bottom and drown. (If you don’t use that little bit of soap, the fleas will bounce right off.)
2. Now you have to get rid of the larvae (worm-like early stages of a flea’s short life). Take a dustpan and broom into any room that has a non-carpeted floor. Optional: Take a flashlight with you. Carefully sweep all along the walls and corners. This is where fleas gravitate right after they hatch. You can see the wiggling larvae after you’ve swept them up if the light is good.
Empty your dustpan into a sturdy bag and take it outside immediately to discard it in a covered trash container. Repeat daily.
3. Carpets are a flea’s best friend. This is where most eggs are laid and most larvae spend the early part of their lives. Use a two-part approach for getting the fleas out of your carpets.
First, use washing soda to interrupt the early stages of the fleas’ life cycle. Buy a box of washing soda (you’ll find it in the laundry section of your grocery store) and toss handfuls of the powder all over your carpets. Then use a broom to spread the washing soda and work it into the carpet. Commercial carpet-treatment companies use a machine to do this, but a broom works just fine.
If you don’t like the appearance of the white dust on the surface of your carpet, use your vacuum cleaner to get rid of it. Most of the washing soda will remain in the carpet to do its work.
Fleas need moisture to live (that’s why they gravitate toward a pet’s head and tail). The washing soda absorbs moisture and dries out the eggs and larvae.
Second, make a flea trap to catch the adult fleas already living in your carpet. Put some water and a small squirt of liquid soap into a low bowl or other container. (The black plastic trays that come with frozen entrees are ideal.) Place the bowl on the carpet and put a small light over it–a desk lamp, for example. Turn off the other lights and go to bed.
In the morning the container will have 20 or 30 dead fleas in it. They’re attracted to the light, dive into the water, and can’t get out because the soap breaks the surface tension. Repeat for 7 to 10 days, until all fleas are gone.
These methods work, and they won’t bust your budget. Try them today!