Can fleas live in a vacuum cleaner?

Summary

Vacuuming kills 100% of flea eggs, larvae, and pupae. It kills 96% of adult fleas. The brushes, fans, and strong air currents violently hurl the fleas against the vacuum’s internal surfaces. There’s no need to burn or freeze vacuum bags. Likewise, adding insecticides to the collection chamber is unnecessary.

Details

Vacuuming Kills Fleas

100% of flea larvae and pupae are killed when vacuumed from carpets. Eggs weren’t studied because they’re fragile and the researcher was certain they wouldn’t survive. Adult fleas are the most hardy stage, but vacuuming still kills 96% of them. Those surviving won’t live long.

As fleas are removed from carpets, they’re violently slammed around the vacuum’s internal surfaces by fans, beater-bars, brushes, and strong air currents. Death occurs by the time they reach the collection chamber. Pupae aren’t even recognizable when the vacuum’s bag is cut apart. The study’s author stated, “No matter what vacuum a flea gets sucked into, it’s probably a one-way trip.”

Surviving Adults

Adult fleas in the environment likely haven’t fed yet. Once they’re on a suitable host, the adults stay there. The fleas feed, mate, and lay eggs on the host’s body. Fleas that haven’t fed aren’t able to lay eggs. Thus, any surviving fleas in the vacuum won’t lay eggs.

Vacuums cause considerable physical trauma to fleas. Surviving adults are likely critically damaged and unable to move well. Escaping the vacuum and acquiring a host is improbable. These adults will soon starve to death. After emerging from cocoons, fleas must feed within a week in home environments. They’ll starve even sooner, in around 4 days, if vacuumed off of a pet. After feeding, fleas become dependent on a constant supply of blood.

Sanitizing is Unnecessary

Concerns about fleas surviving in vacuums are unfounded. There’s no need to take further steps to sanitize the vacuum’s bag or bagless canister. For example, freezing or burning the vacuum bag. Or throwing away the bag after every vacuuming. Or adding insecticides to the collection chamber (e.g. moth balls, flea collars, or diatomaceous earth). It’s also potentially dangerous to use insecticides in a manner inconsistent with their labeling.

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