Vacuum at least every other day to control fleas. Vacuuming is most effective against the egg stage. The eggs hatch into larvae within 2-3 days of being laid. Thus, vacuuming every other day helps eliminates the eggs before they can develop into a new generation.
Vacuum Removal of Fleas
Eggs are the easiest stage to remove by vacuuming, because they rest on the carpet’s surface. Eggs are laid on the host, but they aren’t sticky and fall off into the environment within a few hours. A beater-bar vacuum can eliminate up to 90% of flea eggs from carpets. Though, in one study, only 32-59% were sucked up. Vacuuming becomes less effective as carpet density increases.
Once the eggs hatch, vacuum removal becomes more difficult. Flea larvae hide from light (negative phototaxis). Most live at the base of carpets. When disturbed, the larvae coil and flip their bristled bodies around. This behavior causes them to cling to carpet fibers and prevents removal. Vacuum cleaners can remove about 50% of larvae from carpets. In one study, vacuuming only removed 15-27% of larvae.
Mature larvae spin cocoons to pupate within. The silk-like strands get tightly bound into carpet fibers, further limiting the efficacy of vacuuming. Only the cocoons located near carpet’s canopy will be removed. The depth fleas pupate at largely depends upon carpet type. At most, vacuuming can remove 63.8% of cocooned stages.
How Often to Vacuum for Fleas
Since eggs are the easiest stage to remove, it’s best to vacuum often enough to eliminate them before they hatch. In homes, flea eggs hatch 2-3 days after being laid. Thus, it’s recommended to vacuum at least every other day. A large portion of the new generation will be eliminated before they can get a foothold.
How Long to Vacuum for Fleas
In homes, fleas mature from egg to adult in 17-26 days. However, even after proper treatment, it usually takes 3-8 weeks to end an infestation. One source states total eradication often takes 2-4 months.
The problem is cocooned adults can go quiescent for up to 5 months. This potential for delayed emergence causes many control issues. However, pre-emerged adults quickly wake up and emerge upon sensing heat and pressure. These stimuli indicate that a host is resting on a cocoon. Vacuuming can simulate these same host cues and forces adults to emerge early.
Vacuum every other day for at least 3-8 weeks. After pets and the environment are treated, there shouldn’t be any new eggs. 3 weeks after treatment, the fleas in the environment should all have matured into cocooned stages. At this point, vacuuming can be dialed back to 2-3 times per week. Still, continued vacuuming is important for triggering pre-emerged adults to exit their cocoons. Return to a normal vacuuming schedule 5 months after the first treatment (unless control wasn’t attained).
Vacuuming & Carpet Treatments
It’s best to vacuum carpets before spraying an insecticide. Vacuuming will raise the carpet fibers, so the treatment penetrates deeper into the matrix.
After spraying, don’t vacuum until the carpet is completely dry. Some sources suggest waiting a week. Exterminators may recommend waiting even longer. However, this is an unnecessary precaution. Studies show that vacuuming treated carpets doesn’t significantly reduce insecticide activity. It may actually be helpful, as adults are triggered to emerge and then get exposed to the insecticide.