Does salt kill fleas?

Summary

Salt doesn’t kill fleas. Few credible sources mention using salt for flea control. They state to apply it outdoors and subsequently spray it down with water. This method wouldn’t work inside homes. Despite the lack of evidence, some unreliable sources claim sprinkling salt on carpets will kill fleas. This claim is doubtful.

Details

Salt for Killing Fleas

A handful of reliable sources mention using salt to kill fleas. These documents date back to the early 1900s, a time well before modern insecticides. They suggest applying salt to the ground, and then thoroughly spraying it down with water. Alternatively, sea water can be used. As the saltwater dries, moisture is removed from the area, which ultimately desiccates and kills any fleas.

This method is only done outdoors, often inside the pens of horses, hogs, or poultry. It can also be done on dirt-floor basements.

Using Salt within Homes

There’s no literature, nor any studies, that mention using salt to kill fleas indoors. Uncited books, websites, and YouTube videos sometimes recommend using salt on carpets to kill fleas. However, these suggestions are unfounded. They’re most likely pandering to the recent trend of “natural” control solutions, with little evidence backing up their claims.

Adult fleas permanently live on their host. Thus, attempting to kill adult fleas by applying salt to the environment isn’t feasible. Plus, adults make up less than 5% of an infestation. Immature stages must be targeted to end an infestation.

Eggs and larvae develop in the environment, primarily carpeting in homes. Based on the literature, salt would need to be sprinkled in the environment and then thoroughly soaked with water. Obviously this is a poor control method indoors, as wet carpets will lead to other problems, such as mold. Furthermore, the carpet canopy creates a micro-habitat within fibers. Humidity and temperature and kept relatively high and stable. Salt probably won’t alter the flea environment much, unfortunately.

Salt’s Crystalline Structure

Salt is sometimes compared to diatomaceous earth (DE) in regards to flea control. This is a poor comparison, as these substances have completely different structures. Salt has a crystalline structure, while DE is a powder (amorphous silica). In fact, DE used for pool filters (crystalline silica) doesn’t work for pest control precisely because it’s heated to the point of becoming crystalline. As a result, it loses its absorptive powers and ability to desiccate insects.

References

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Discussion

  • Shawn November 5, 2016, 5:06 pm

    Salt most Certainly Does kill fleas! I have been on the search for natural remedies for quite a few weeks now, as I have read plenty of horror stories of the chemical medicines sold by veterinarians and over the counter causing seizures and even death of dogs and cats it has been given to. So for $5, I went and bought a huge container of salt. I mopped the hardwood floors with salt water, vacuumed the rugs and carpet thoroughly, then applied a thick amount of salt over the entire area of all rugs and carpeted rooms.

    Sure enough, it has only been a few hours later and I see dead fleas everywhere! THIS WORKS! As a side note, get a flea comb and dip it into water mixed with Apple Cider Vinegar, then comb your dog/cat. Fleas do not like ACV. It was repel and cause them to unknowingly jump to their awaiting death in the salt flats below!

    • Carmen Perez February 23, 2017, 7:04 am

      Thank you Shawn. I’m battling fleas as we speak. I’ve been all over the Internet looking for natural remedies. These greedy companies don’t care if they kill our pets so they’re trying to persuade us chemicals are the only solution. I heard after putting the salt down, then put baking soda on top and rake or sweep it in, then vacuum 12 to 24 hours later. Did you use salt alone and how long did it take you? Thanks for your input

    • Buffy September 21, 2017, 2:48 am

      I’ve been battling carpet fleas for three weeks and I just finally got rid of them by using salt and baking soda in the carpets I put it all over the place pretty thick left at 12 hours and then rented a Rug Doctor and steam cleaned them without seeing up the salt. I haven’t seen a flea since. I mopped the linoleum floor with saltwater also.

      • Adam Retzer September 29, 2017, 11:07 am

        Thanks Buffy. The information in my article is purely based on scientific research. I hope I am not deterring anyone from sharing their own experiences.

  • Sierra Ellison April 22, 2017, 3:30 am

    Please DO NOT base anything you know about fleas off of this site. I have seen so many flaws in this article that I am disgusted and I hope pet owners STAY AWAY. Salt DOES work. If you want proof, grab one, put it in a container and sprinkle a little salt. This is not magic. It’s science since the salt reacts negatively with a flea body. Also, you don’t use DE that is used for pools!!! That’s why they have FOOD GRADE that you can buy on Amazon for less than $20 and it also works wonderfully. If anyone wants a completely holistic approach that WORKS I suggest looking on Pinterest for an article with a mason jar filled with a light green powder. OR….just use salt! 🙂

    • Adam Retzer April 23, 2017, 6:17 pm

      Sierra,

      Normally I don’t respond to comments unless they specifically ask a question, but you saying “I have seen so many flaws in this article that I am disgusted and I hope pet owners STAY AWAY” provoked a response. I try my best to provide the most accurate information possible. I’ve scoured every journal article I could find to unveil the desired information. The reason I cite everything is so people can do further research on their own. If you’ve found an error in my research, please point it out and provide the source for correction.

      The site’s focus is to provide scientifically-backed information, which a lot of people are seeking. I understand there are many anecdotal claims that salt (or other methods) work. However, from what I can find, there have been no legitimate studies to back this up. And my understanding of flea’s life cycle, population dynamics, and habitat make me doubtful of this claim. Still, I like to leave the comments open so people can discuss their anecdotal evidence. I definitely don’t know everything and unstudied methods may be effective.

      Also, I’ve stated in the article not to use pool DE, because it won’t work. I think you may have misread that part.

      • HelloKitty August 12, 2017, 8:23 am

        I’ve used salt to help subdue adult fleas but since I’ve never actually seen the other life stages, can’t comment on those. If you’re able to spot a live one resting somewhere, throw some salt on it, and it soon stops moving. Not sure what the role of baking soda is, and since it cost twice as much as salt, stopped using it. Caveat – if you sprinkle salt on your carpets and have non-carpeted areas, they appear to just jump out of your carpet onto other areas, spreading the problem, so be prepared for that, i.e., by putting salt literally everywhere.

        What definitely helps kill the adult ones that jump onto you? A lint roller and a tray – run lint roller over your light colored (so you can see fleas) clothing and socks a little aggressively, so they stick and not jump off before you slam the lint roller onto a tray (not painted/varnished surfaces) and roll aggressively to squash them. It’s great fun.

  • Destraut to the fullest! October 14, 2017, 7:45 am

    I have a small home with hard wood flooring and one area rug its a short material not shaggy, anyways, Ive tried bombs (hotshot flea bombs, Raid fumigators just recently, even vinegar (my house stinks so bad, yuck), not to mention the floors are sticky. None of these products worked. Not one. Also baby power does not work tried this too all over my carpets and flooring them buggers just laughed at it. Someone told me Ortho home defense works after flea bombing twice and fumigating im not willing to use anymore chemicals ive spent 200 bucks on flea killers im done. I really hope someone out there can find a proven way to get rid of fleas it is very dissapointing and destrauting to flea bomb a home and come back 3 hours past the only recommended 4 to see as many fleas before you bomb as after. Needless to say all three companies will be getting nasty grams and my money back. I didnt try Salt yet throughout the whole house im really not liking the idea of having to vacuum up tons of salt and hope it works. I got rid of my cat because Im just done. And im not sure it was all her fault i live in the country so they are everywhere outside too. Just wanted to share my story hope everyone believes my experience is true no bull when I say the bombs and fumigators do not work so dont kill your selves or waste ur money on them. Thanks for reading

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