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

      • Kristin Nama July 2, 2018, 9:28 am

        We used salt alone but it didn’t work when we left it only 24 hrs. We heard someone had luck by leaving it down “forever. ” We were desperate so we put it down and left it. A couple of weeks later, the fleas were dead and we vacuumed up the salt. Got to wash the filters in your vacuum or the salt will kill that too.

    • 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.

    • s February 19, 2018, 7:25 pm

      It was probably the vacuuming and not the salt that removed your fleas.

    • N/a September 18, 2018, 1:30 pm

      I’ve done everything , I first used bombs then spray then powder it a new house move with hard flooring laminated but the fleas are everywhere I had only fish was so upset , I had a company in twice now and last one yesterday I still got bit twice last night it’s me there eating kids getting away with it so today I’ve salted the whole house I’ve not bin bit yet this evening but found loads of black dot everywhere Yayy so hope this works …xx ty

  • 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.

        • Erik November 1, 2018, 7:24 pm

          This is my favorite post, everyone seems to leave out the bright side of having fleas……The catching of fleas, and then drowning them in soap water are a welcome distraction to the constant landing and biting of fleas on your ankles. Although I will say, feeling them wiggle under your body in bed does tip the scale toward full elimination.

  • 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

    • Sheila Harper June 9, 2018, 6:30 pm

      I was just wandering how you finally won the battle with the fleas. Ive done everything i can. Im now battling chest pain over this.
      Signed, desperet

  • Spider December 8, 2017, 1:27 am

    Salt is poisonous to dogs and cats. It can cause diarrhea, vomiting, seizures, and death. DO NOT allow dogs and cats to consume any salt if you are going to use this method.

    http://www.petpoisonhelpline.com/poison/salt/

    • Kvan December 20, 2017, 8:57 pm

      I also have to disagree. This artical states that adult fleas live only on the animal is totally incorrect. We moved into a rental house that had been VACANT for over a year! One whole year!.Not only were the fleas active outside but there were hoards of them inside the home especially in the carpet areas from the previous occupants. They were so bad that we couldn’t move in till we got rid of them. You could walk into the house and your legs would be covered in fleas. The only thing that worked was the mass amounts of salt treatments followed by steam cleaning. Did this twice and poof …no more fleas.

      • Joe DiDonna February 2, 2018, 12:50 am

        Thank you Adam Retzer. I’ve been very heart broken n, upset over these motherfuckers. I don’t have pets, though I did have a person I hung with that did. They were severely infested. It’s been since July, I been trying too get rid of them. I’m go in too try, a mixture of. Salt, borax acid, and baking soda all at once mixing it together.

      • Charlie May 24, 2018, 5:03 pm

        Yeah fleas everywhere after 1 year probably cos your home had rats or mice living in it. Duh! Fleas are spread by rodents also. People are literally so lame. Using salt? Complete idiocy. But you think you’re so smart using salt. Snort it. Makes you smarter too. I promise. And since you don’t need science I’m sure you’ll just believe me. No? That’s how we feel when we hear all this BS about salt for fleas. Spreading wrong information for what purpose?

        • Alan Wade September 2, 2018, 10:51 pm

          Has ur pride been damaged by simple comments, cause it sure seems that way. Science doesn’t necessarily always give us the right answers, and just because someone has some ‘science’ behind their suggestions doesn’t mean a damned thing, and certainly doesn’t guarantee ‘its’ method will work better than the suggestion from some dumb ass that has zero science behind his ideas. Ur a fool for taking that stance. That n itself goes ‘against’ science…the idea of taking note of the way something n the natural world works…repeatedly…when this happens ‘this’ proceeds to happen afterwards. Just because I haven’t seen a ‘study’ that proves someone’s claim, again, doesn’t mean the claim isn’t completely valid, whether u understand the claim or not. Ur actually calling an enormous amount of people ‘liars’ and ‘idiots’ for even repeating something that actually worked for them. Last thing, I’m sure there have never been companies that have not only omitted inexpensive solutions to problems that their own ‘products’ will work on, or even suppressed that sort of information…because they wouldn’t care that their dangerous chemicals that make massive profits for them would eventually b written off for the safer, cheaper solutions…would they?

  • Cami June 21, 2018, 12:15 pm

    I am.laughing…it is so funny. My sweet wonderful cat (Persian, white, with blue eyes) has fleas. Imagine…in the morning, on my white bed sheets…I was seeing fleas jumping up and down. How disgusting..Anyway, I bought 2 bags of ice..and spread it everywhere the whole basement, and I am waiting to collect the dead fleas. It works believe me. My cat is going to be ok. I gave her plenty of water in case she picks her paws. I did this before and I got rid of fleas. Salt works for aunts too. I can’t wait to wash the hard floor with salt. And they will be gone too. These greedy companies don’t want us to know ..simple cheap salt does the trick. They will be out of business pretty soon with their expensive chemicals.

  • Kristin Nama July 2, 2018, 9:24 am

    We were desperate for relief from fleas! The strongest poison from the feed store didn’t work. Neither did salt, borax, or any other natural remedy when left on only 24 hrs like most recommended.
    We dumped a bunch of salt on the carpet in a badly infested room and left it there. Weeks later we noticed the room was no longer hopping with fleas. We also treated the pets with commercial flea treatment.
    Don’t know anything about the science but salt seemed to knock down our infestation.

  • Brandon September 21, 2018, 7:23 am

    I’m doing a test of how long it takes to kill a flea with salt. This test is done with a teaspoon of iodized salt and one medium size flea. In a completely cleaned and dried clear glass jar with pin holes so lack of oxygen isnt affecting the test and in full light. This test is also being done with the flea being able to excape the salt, as well.
    1st hour: introduced flea to the salt and immediately excaped the salt and active.
    2nd hour: no change still active
    3rd hour: no change still active
    10th hour: no change still active
    11th hour: no change still active
    12th hour: no change still active
    After 12 hours it seems iodized salt has no affect on the medium size flea. This is one remedy my mother gave me and I truly thought this works. Next I’ll be adding 3 drops of water to the salt for another 12 hours. I’ll be back thanks for reading.

  • Peter October 29, 2018, 10:20 pm

    A bunch of malarkey. Salt does kill fleas. Here’s the true science you can see for yourself (unless you’re blind): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dzND6-P4Lqw&frags=pl%2Cwn

    • Adam Retzer November 11, 2018, 5:00 pm

      I hope salt does turn out to end flea infestations, and that there is science to back it up.

      It’s important to remember that only 1-5% of infestations are adult fleas, and they live on pets. 95-99% of infestations consist of eggs, larvae, and pupae in the environment. The larvae move away from light when they hatch. They move deep into carpets or other substrates, where they are hidden and protected. Vacuums and sprays can’t reach many of them. The reason sprays with insect growth regulators (IGR) work is because they remain active for 7 months. So any new eggs that fall onto the treated floors won’t reach adulthood. Immature stages already in the environment often have to mature and emerge from the carpets before they die.

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