How to get rid of fleas

The best way to get rid of fleas involves using an integrated approach, attacking the fleas on multiple fronts.



Flea drops for cats


Combiva II

40% cheaper doses than Advantage II

Flea drops for dogs


PetArmor Plus

50% cheaper doses than Frontline Plus

Beater bar vacuum


Shark Navigator

Insect growth regulator


Martin’s IGR

Integrated Flea Control

Integrated flea control (IFC) involves implementing multiple control strategies, targeting all life stages on pets and in the environment. The steps include educating the pet-owner about fleas, treating pets with a modern adulticide, treating the environment with an insect growth regulator (IGR), and regularly sanitizing the environment.


Eradicates Entire Population

Adulticides work best against adults fleas. IGRs work best against flea eggs and larvae, but also sterilize female adults. Adult fleas live on pets, while all other stages live in the environment. Thus, pet treatments often contain adulticides and IGRs, and the environment is controlled with IGRs and vacuuming.

IFC effectively eradicates entire flea populations. No flea control product or method is 100% effective, so combining multiple strategies helps to cover the gaps. For example, when adulticides on pets fall below 100% efficacy, an IGR in the environment can stop newly fallen eggs from developing. Overlapping control measures also reduce the negative effects of poor compliance.

Prevents Re-Infestation

An IFC program eliminates existing fleas on pets, reduces populations of environmental stages, continues killing emerging adults, and inhibits new eggs from developing for an extended duration. Thus, it is effective for lowering the odds of re-infestation.

Delays resistance

Fleas currently show no signs of resistance to modern adulticides. However, resistance may occur in the future with continued use. The natural selection process can be delayed or prevented by combining numerous control measures. The goal is to ensure that all fleas die, so those that resist chemical treatments don’t pass on their genes.

Treating only pets

Flea drops applied to pets can be enough to end an infestation. This sole control measure is most successful with indoor cats. Outdoors, pets are at a greater risk of re-acquiring fleas.

As effective as flea drops are, treating the premises is still advisable. This is especially true when establishing control, when infestations are severe, if there are foreseen compliance issues, or if members of the household are allergic to fleas. Premise treatments also prevent re-infestation from unseen reservoirs. Thoroughly treating carpets and furniture with an IGR result in infestations ending 2-3 weeks sooner. And many failures of flea control are related to incomplete premise treatment or households. It’s surprising that less than 5% of pet owners attempt to control fleas in the environment.

Treating only carpets

IGRs applied to the environment may sufficiently control fleas. These compounds kink the life cycle at the larval stage. However, it takes many weeks before the entire population reaches this stage, and older stages die out. In that time, pets are being constantly bitten. Therefore, concurrent administration of flea drops is strongly recommended. Another source states that only treating the environment while disregarding infested pets won’t lead to effective control.

3 goals of flea control

Relieve pet discomfort

Kill fleas on premises

Prevent re-infestation



  • Grx September 8, 2016, 12:04 pm

    Thank you for the useful information.

    Unfortunately, I have to disagree with your information regarding vacuums and fleas.
    Vacuums do not kill the majority of adult fleas. I know there are multiple studies would say they do. However, I have used different vacuum cleaners and I can see inside the tanks. The fleas Are Not dead. It is very important to get rid of these fleas in the vacuum is soon as possible. I add boric acid or something like comet into the vacuum. Even with that, the fleas will not immediately die. You need to treat the debris coming out of the vacuum like toxic waste.

    • J February 2, 2018, 6:32 pm

      I didn’t see ANYWHERE that says vacuuming *kills* fleas, only that it treats infestations by removing them from carpets

      • Adam Retzer February 6, 2018, 1:47 pm

        There have been studies that show vacuuming does kill the fleas that are sucked up. For those interested, the study can be found here: Vacuuming is lethal to all postembryonic life stages of the cat flea

        • Grx July 9, 2018, 1:06 pm

          Thanks for the reply.
          Yes, I Have Seen These Studies which indicate flea kills. Unfortunately, I must disagree and question how, when and how these “studies” were done. I routinely check vaccum tanks after servicing the target areas. Last time I vacuumed, which happened to be last night, I checked the tank. It contained live fleas just like every other time. I have also seen live larvae in these tanks before. I have no reason to make this up. When I empty these tanks, the debris goes into a black plastic garbage bag which then sits in the sun to kill anything there. I’m fortunate, my vaccums are tanked and bagless so the debris is removed within a few days. Unless you want live fleas/other in a vaccum bag, you’re going to have to dispose of this bag after a couple days unfortunately. I guarantee if you personally vaccum this stuff up in a way you can see it, you will see the live fleas.

          • Grx July 9, 2018, 1:17 pm

            One more comment/observation.
            The live fleas in a vaccum are Stunned after being picked up, wouldn’t you be? It can take about 30 minutes for these stunned fleas to become active and visibly alive. These “researchers” may have mistaken stunned fleas for dead fleas. I am sure some fleas are killed, but certainly not the majority.

  • Dan October 8, 2016, 8:23 pm

    Where are the citations for the idea that flea traps “…will do little to end an infestation on their own.67” ?

    • Adam Retzer October 10, 2016, 5:30 pm

      Thanks for bringing that to my attention Dan. Something is going wrong with the citation software. I am going to have to troubleshoot that when I have time. Looks a like a few references aren’t appearing.

  • mocwos October 9, 2016, 4:54 am

    Unbelievably great site. I may have learned more about fleas than I ever wanted to, but doing so has meant I can more accurately identify what I’m seeing and how well my treatment of a moderate infestation is coming along. The last time I had to deal with an infestation was about 25 years ago and info was limited, we didn’t have the internet then, not as we know it today..

    Wanted to share a bit of a tip with others who may be suffering an infestation: LINT ROLLERS ! Get a shedload of them and use to clean your cats’ beds, hotspots etc. You can use them like sticky tape, taking off a clean strip and really working it into those difficult crevices on window ledges etc. The debris you find on the sticky strips afterwards can be closely examined for all stages of larvae, adult fleas, amount of flea dirt and, perhaps most important, eggs. As time goes on, you can judge the reductions, especially in the amount of eggs. The knowledge that you are removing thousands of eggs, stopping flea larvae from going into their cocoon stage and removing a major food source by removing the flea faeces is very motivating ?
    And another vital role lint rollers play is a massive boon if you get bitten – which I do; A LOT. Carry one with you around the house, keep an eye on your socks and quickly immobilise any flea that hops onto your foot / ankle. No more having to try and pick the little blighter off you using thumb and forefinger ?
    I will disagree with previous post on vacuuming – I have a Dyson Animal and it very much encourages adults to emerge which I then catch with a lint roller after they jump on my feet.
    A week or so on from first detecting an infestation and I seem to be turning the corner. Still got one major hotspot left completely gut and clean, but both cats finally more comfortable and that was my first goal.
    Gawd bless the internet, and gawd bless sites like this.

    • Adam Retzer October 10, 2016, 5:37 pm

      Thanks for the tips, Mocwos. Very useful. I like the lint roller idea. I will add some of your tips into the main content of the site when I get around to doing some edits. Very much appreciated.

  • Nikki November 5, 2016, 7:01 am

    I’ve been reading these articles, & there very helpful, but I have a cat I had taken in when she was just a kitten, (almost 2 year ago) at night I would put her in the basement because she became so attached to my husband, she would sit at my bedroom door and constantly meow. I noticed that she was getting eat up literally with fleas to the point I was bathing her daily. NOW I have gotten her spayed, she’s calmed down with the meowing, and I keep her in the other end of my house at night. SO my problem is that I CANNOT AND WILL NOT GO INTO MY BASEMENT IT IS COMPLETELY DISGUSTINGLY INFECTED!!! I HAVE SPRAYED, VACUMED, MOPPED. I MEAN THEY ABSOLUTELY COVER YOUR LEGS JUST WALKING DOWN THE STAIRS. I LEARNED ABOUT SEVERAL THINGS ABOUT FLEAS LIKE, THEY CAN LAY DORMANT, THE LARVA, ALL OF THIS IS SHAMEFULLY NEW TO ME, BUT DO YOU KNOW OF ANY MORE TRICKS TO ERADICATE THESE DEAMONS, I NEED TO GET IN MY BASEMENT I WORK FROM HOME AND A LOT OF MY ITEMS ARE STORED THERE. HELP PLEASE….THANK YOU

    • Adam Retzer November 7, 2016, 2:45 pm

      Hi Nikki, that does sound quite disgusting in the basement. How long has the cat been absent from the basement? The fleas will eventually die out on their own without a host down there. The last eggs to fall will reach adulthood in 17 to 26 days. Once the adults emerge, they will starve to death in a week or two. This is likely why you’re being attacked so hard when you go down into the basement, as the fleas are starving and coming ravenous. Of course, you will have to deal with the quiescent pre-emerged stage, as you mentioned. Vacuuming can force these cocooned adults to emerge.

      Vacuuming is the best thing you can do to speed up the extinction process. I have a few tips to make it a little less disturbing. Before going into the basement, put on pants and socks (and maybe closed-toe shoes). Then tuck the pant legs into your socks. Flea can’t bite through most fabrics. You can also spray the garments with permethrin insect repellent for clothing. This should help prevent the fleas from jumping onto your legs, and biting you, when you go down into the basement.

      • Donna January 24, 2017, 4:05 am

        Fleas will go through your socks. I’ve had it happen. Wearing white will help see how bad the infestation is. They can also crawl up your body on your clothes and under them. I know…have had that happen…while out grocery shopping too(years ago). In recent months…I realized my dogs had gotten fleas. They are poodle and poodle mix. So their hair grows and grows. I gave them all haircuts….sheared down. Baths adding in neem oil with the shampoo. I washed all their blankets in hot water. I was going away and they to the kennel….so hours before taking them I gave them capstar. I’m not one for sprays, drops….chemicals in general. I have linoleum and carpeting. I have placed their blankets in the linoleum area and put baking soda all over the carpeted area (it was vacuumed a bunch of times before going away). I was dreading coming home a few weeks later to find an infestation. I was the guinea pig to come in first and watch my feet and legs for fleas. I did encounter a few….but days apart. They can’t live in the baking soda because it dries out the exoskeleton system. It’s not harmful to my dogs. A few years ago they got fleas….after returning from the kennel. I tried the borax….diatomaceous earth(too dusty…can’t breathe it in, and clogs the vacuum….better used outside). I don’t care that I have baking soda on the carpets and walking around it grinds it into the fibers too. After vacuuming…I reapply. And it’s in the vacuum to kill any if you do vacuum them up. I also wash their blankets alot.

    • Matt Edholm November 11, 2016, 2:20 pm

      Order this stuff: Vet’s Best Flea Spray

      It does a very good job of killing fleas on contact, it works very well on stairs and landings. I have the same problem as you. I don’t recommend using this on large areas of carpets, like a living room as it does not seem as effective as raid, but It works wonders on stairs and landings, couches, chairs, etc.

  • Ricci November 22, 2016, 5:39 am

    Is there any way to kill fleas naturally without using chemicals I can’t pronounce? I have tried apple cider vinegar and lemon juice. Any other ideas?

    Thank you

    • Adam Retzer November 22, 2016, 1:12 pm

      Unfortunately, natural solutions don’t have a very high efficacy in killing fleas. A big part of the problem is that they don’t take the flea life cycle and habitat into account. There’s a lot of misinformation about natural solutions online, because content creators know many people are searching for this kind of info, so they just make things up to get traffic.

      Adult fleas only make up 1-5% of the infestation and live permanently on pets once acquired. Eggs are laid on the animal, but fall off within a few hours of being laid. 95-99% of the infestation are eggs, larvae, and pupae living in the environment (often deep within carpet fibers). So, in order to end a flea infestation, both the pet and the environment needs to be treated.

      There are numerous reports of people claiming that diatomaceous earth (DE) is effective against fleas. DE does have insecticidal properties, but there haven’t been any studies done with DE against fleas. It works best against the adult stage, by absorbing the protective oil layer on the cuticle, which results in the insect being unable to retain water so it desiccates. DE also has abrasive properties that can be damaging to insects.

      If the infestation is light to moderate, it may be possible to manage it without any control products at all. To remove fleas from pets, a flea comb can be used daily. To remove fleas from the environment, vacuuming can be done every other day. It’s also a good idea to launder pet bedding and rugs weekly.

  • Tim Shanahan January 2, 2017, 10:40 am

    We have fleas living in our cold/dark basement. We used to have a cat, but he passed away in October 2016. We do not have carpeting down in the basement. Every time we go into the basement, we are attacked by fleas. Help!

    • Adam Retzer January 2, 2017, 5:56 pm


      Without pets, the fleas will go away on their own, but it may take a while. They can’t survive or reproduce on human blood. You’ll just have to wait until all the immature stages reach adulthood, emerge, and then die. Emerged adults will starve to death within a week or two.

      If the cat passed away in October, then all of the eggs should have reached adulthood by now (usually takes around 3-4 weeks, but may take longer in cool environments). The problem stage is the pre-emerged adult. After pupating, adults can stay quiescent inside of their cocoons for up to 5 months. They’ll remain in this sleep-like state until they detect a host (heat and pressure). Vacuuming, or slowly walking around, can force these adults to emerge.

      Unfortunately, chemical treatments don’t have much of an effect on pre-emerged adults. Vacuuming is probably the best way to speed up the eradication process. It will force emergence and suck up the fleas as they emerge. To prevent bites, I’d recommend wearing socks and pants, and then tucking the pant legs into the socks.

      • Jane Harris October 3, 2017, 7:40 pm

        I question the human blood thing. There are human fleas as well as cat, dog and other fleas.

        • Adam Retzer October 3, 2017, 11:34 pm

          That’s true, and I try to address that where I can. However, this website is focused on cat fleas (C. felis), because it is the species that accounts for nearly all domestic infestations (on both dogs and cats). Dog fleas (C. canis) is the second most common, but much less than cat fleas. And human fleas (P. irritans) are pretty rare. The only flea species that can survive and reproduce on human blood are P. irritans and T. penetrans (which isn’t found in domestic settings).

          I’ve tried to compile a list of parasite surveys for different geographic regions on this page: Are cat and dog fleas the same. It gives a good idea of how prominent flea species are.

          • A. Hacker July 15, 2018, 3:47 pm

            I have visual, physical, cataloged and medical evidence that T. Penetrans can and will readily infest human living space, and pets. Also I have seen fleas infesting human tonsilar, nasal and larynxal areas; albeit as a last resort and usually after IGR application.
            Also a lot of commercial products actually have more repellant activity than pesticidal activity. The knockdown must be higher than the repellant activity. Simple permethrin or detltamethrin treatments are useless unless synergizd with an incecticide synergist like MGK-264 (n-octyl bicycloheptane dicarboximide). Look for products containing this. It helps poisons stay viable and helps penetrate the life cycle. A lot of organophosphate/organochlorine pesticides like malathion, tetrachlorvinphos are EXTREMELY effective and nearly harmless to pets and humans unless readily INJESTED. The ammount of misinformation and fearmongering about these chemicals is ludicrious. There are also non-systemic (doesn’t effect soduim, calcium or potassium channels in the nervous system ie. permethrin and have easily reversible toxicity effects) like Amitraz (Comes in collars too – liquid is more effective) which is marketed for ticks and spiders but readily kills fleas on contact and doesn’t degrade in UV light as much as others.
            I must disagree on the idea that adult fleas aren’t showing resistance to pesticides. This is also quite ludicrious. Nearly ALL pest grade hexapods and arthropods show at least 25% resistance to the top used chemicals worldwide. Permethrin, Imaclopramid and methoprene are 3 I can think of.
            It’s imperative to not overuse, misuse or underuse pesticides.

            In my XP i highly highly highly recomend PREVENTION rather than treatment. I am a pragmatic realist and I say if you plan to get a pet, PLEASE pretreat your house, and keep encyclopedic ectoparasite knowledge around or memorized because if you don’t and get infested 85% of the time it’s your own fault, sorry. For prevention in dogs I recomend tetrachlorvinphos collars or if sensitivity or unwilling then d-citrenophen (Rolf’s 3D) collars / fipronil for cats. Bayer’s Seresto has been used since the 60s successfully and I know a few GI’s who told me in Vietnam they wore these collars occasionally around arms writst and necks to prevent mosquitos and other pests. The product can be quite toxic however to smaller pets and cats. It’s not the chemical but the concentration that really effects toxicity on hexapods vs mammals. For example TCVP (tetrachlorvinphos) is more toxic to dogs than flumethrin, but much much much more toxic to insects than flumethrin is so more flumethrin must be used which causes more cases of acute toxicity and insect resistance. Besides TCVP, most Collars usually are most effective as a repellant. I’ve never seen DEET (off brand) repellant fully repel fleas or ticks, but with weaker insects it’s highly effective. Instead i recomend Icardin or Picardin repellants. These are much more effective against hardened pests. It’s imperative you maintain control as well. For longterm recomend I recomend Lufenron (can be bought VERY cheaply genericly and is completely non-toxic to humans and animals) which is a chitlin growth inhibitor. It doesn’t kill any life stage of fleas, but the from the very first flea bite your dog gets that flea’s eggs/offspring and the larva that eats its dirt will NOT bet able to grow chitlin which is compared to keratin (fingernails) in humans. It’s what they need to grow a shell and produce wax and silk. It’s morbid, but they will hatch without or be unable to maintain their exoskeleton and writhe, convulse and die within a minute from the air itself. I’ve successfully used this product in humans (MYSELF even.) @ 250mg per 50lbs as well to treat fungal infections to prevent fleas and bed bugs. It is MANDATORY to combine lufenron with an adulticide and IGR in an ACTIVE flea infestation. Otherwise it will not work for several months – but at least you will see a reduced ammount of newly formed adult fleas and cocoons. In active infestations I recomend lamda-cyalothrin/prypoxiphen/tetrachlorvinphos. I’ll be frank – a mistreated or undertreated infestation is almost always likley to re-occur. The $$$ you wil spend and mind lost wil be equivilant to just calling up a simple 350$ professional treatment. The perception that you can 100% treat your active infestation DIY without real evidence based knowledge is like thinking that you can 100% fly a space shuttle without being an astronaut.
            I’ve seen light or pre-infestations 95% of the time successfully treated DIY with digillance – even natural products have worked at this level.
            Once you have been bitten or see a flea in your hair or bed – it’s far too late for much success unless you have encyclopedic knowledge and are willing to use synergized permethrins or organophosphates and willing to make your pet quite unhappy (quarantines, shavings, crating, dippings)

            Uy vey.. Natural stuff huh… okay fine I have a few words to say about this:
            Second ”NATURAL” is nearly an opinion, and often just a name brand. Cyanide is “natural” right? It’s in apple seeds… And I’m sure any 3rd grader can pronounce sy-uh-nyd
            Third No vet will ever recomend natural stuff if they are a competant Dr. I’ve never ever in my experience been told to feed or treat an animal with unstudied diets or products. These people are Dr’s for a reason – and if you want to argue this fact please contact me.

            To be short, here are a few that MAY actually work if USED CORRECTLY and are STUDIED AND APPROVED by the EPA

            1. Cintronella
            2. Boric Acid
            3. Dimethicone
            4. silicon dioxide (DE)
            5. coconut oil extracts
            6. mercury (oh wait i forgot it’s toxic.. but i can pronounce it.. weird?)

            DE works better the larger the bug. Baking POWDER not SODA is great for light i
            There is a lot of misinformation about natural products so please manage your citations and actually look before you leap. Some will WORSEN active infestations and help them spread. Example: Oatmeal baths UNLESS mixed with dish/detergent soap bathed with cold water WILL BURST FEMALE FLEAS spraying and spreading eggs, attractant pheromones and feces all over your pets skin. Also the exfoliating action will help the flea flotsam and jetsam stick to the roughened oil-less skin. This can be very very very detrimental.
            Several “natural” products are actually extremely toxic compared to some synthetic pesticides, I’ve personally dealt with this. Also natural oils and essence tends to penetrate skin much easier and cause irritation or even sickness in animals (My first cat Christopher nearly died from seizures and convlusions when a neighbor put “natural” flea drops on him without my knowledge. I later found out the oil was just regular Clove/Lavendar essencial oils. He suffered a lot from misinformation and fearmongering). Also there aren’t many antidotes to many essencial oil poisonings unlike pesticides which are studied, just symptomatic treatment and prayer (christopher lived till he was 16 thanks to my quick reaction, determination and love for him)!

            VACCUMING::::; this WORKS and is ESSENCIAL to prevention and maintaining control over infestations but won’t kill all fleas. It’s anywhere between 25-97% in reality and it depends on SO MANY factors, the vaccum, filter type, the carpet, the flea, the time of day, the temp. Vaccuming can be also useless, and sometimes only just makes fleas come out or dig deeper in cracks to hide. Ideally like the person said before; use a beater bar with a clear “tank” vaccum. Empty it EVERY TIME you use it OUTSIDE and AWAY from where you live. Leaving the tank in overnight assures the living fleas will find a way out. They are less than a mm long so think about how many places you can squeeze from at that size. Best practice is to pick up and gently but quickly take the whole vaccum outside to a waiting, pesticide sprayed black garbage bag. Put the whole vaccum inside the bag leaving the bag untied. Remove and empty tank into 2nd waiting bag, sealing contents immediately. Unbag vaccum cleaner, and use that 1st bag to double bag your tank contents. You now have a Flea Bag. Toss the flea bag in an incinerator (kidding) garbage dumpster. NEVER empty tank inside house. These surviving fleas are “very angry” and will be jumping madly. Use waiting hose and isopropyl alcohol/ammonia spray aka. windex to clean out tank. Let it dry and replace tank and take a shower. If another room needs to be done, repeat. If not or if finished then clean roller, tubing vents and filter of vaccum OUTSIDE. Spray all HARD PLASTIC INSIDE peices like the roller or tubing with a light water based pesticide or repellant like picardin.
            Yes it’s a lot of work but this is the ideal tactic and in general no method is “the easy way” even strong pesticides. It is the best natural method – along with simply picking up clutter, loving your pet by preventing fleas, and being vigilant

            In this world we live in pesticides are unfortunately tested extensively for safety on animals. This includes dogs (96% of the time beagles), rats, mice, monkeys, rabbits and even a few voulenteer human studies.
            My beagle Merlin is a lab rescue in fact. I hate that we have these pests and I do agree that there needs to be studies.. I even agree they need to be done on these animals. I face that demon every day of my life but the greater good is a must to prevent more animal suffering and more disease. If there was any other proven evidence based way to test saftey of chemicals I would back it so fast I’d be running from the bathroom to petition it without even pulling my pants up.
            If only prevention was taken long ago we wouldn’t need to worry about testing new stuff on poor innocent animals.

            If you’d like any of the above information’s sources or specific details explained – heck even tips or councelling for your particular issue, by all means please contact my email address. Thanks for this website I hope people stay INFORMED. Because if you miss information, you are MISINFORMED.
            – A. Hacker

  • Dallas January 8, 2017, 5:16 pm

    What do you suggest for something you can’t wash in a washing machine? I let a couple of cats in my house when it was extremely cold and they brought a few thousand friends. They infested my pet rabbit. I have treated her. Luckily, I have no carpet in my home and she seems to be symptom free. But the room they were in had a lot of things that can’t be washed, like a recliner, a futon mattress and my luggage which I am using for a trip in about 2 months. I really don’t want to take fleas with me. Anything that’s not going to be toxic to my animals or cause a powdery mess? RThank you!

    • Adam Retzer January 11, 2017, 2:12 pm

      Since it is winter, one chemical-free option would be to place these items outside for a couple days. No flea stage can survive in freezing temperatures. Keep in mind, fleas only develop where eggs fall from infested animals. So some of these items may not be a problem, if the cats didn’t have access to lay on them.

  • kyle June 15, 2017, 9:34 pm

    hi so, i recently visited a friend’s house and they have 3 dogs, 1 of the dogs has fleas and when i came home i noticed i was getting bitten up. it went on for a good week before i realized that i mightve took some fleas home with me. now ive washed all my clothes, and sprayed my mattress down with bed bug and flea spray and left it outside for overnight and i brought everything back in and im still getting bitten around my feet and wrists. how can i permanently get rid of them?? cause i havent been able to sleep in my room for a week

    • Adam Retzer June 19, 2017, 3:04 pm

      The first thing to do is make a positive identification of fleas. Without knowing exactly what pest is the causing bites, you could be wasting your time with ineffective methods. The best ways to find fleas are to check pets with a flea comb, place a flea trap in a suspected room, or walk around the room with long white socks and wait for the fleas to jump onto the socks.

      The information on this page should help you permanently eliminate the fleas. The main steps are treating any pets with flea drops, treating the environment with an insect growth regulator, and vacuuming regularly. I’d recommend re-reading the content on this page and then asking additional specific questions. I’ve tried to make this page as comprehensive as possible.

  • Jessica S August 9, 2017, 5:37 pm

    Last Friday I found two fleas on my dog. They were so fast I was absolutely unable to get them off him and into soapy water. I did give him a bath and put a Seresto collar for small dogs on him. I also washed our bedding and his bedding, vacuumed our carpets and our couch and bed and under the bed. I also bought Sentry Pro home spray and have sprayed that just about everywhere you can think of. We attemped using DE Food Grade but it was so irritating to my lungs after just putting barely a scoop down that it simply wasn’t an option for indoors.
    I also gave him a Capstar on Friday and another one yesterday. Things seemed pretty good until today, I found a flea on him. I very quickly tossed it into the soapy water and killed it. In hindsight, i’m not quite sure if this one was alive because it didn’t put up as much of a fight as the first two, but it all happened so quickly i’ll never know. I’m pretty frustrated because up to this point I felt I was doing everything right.

    My biggest question is… I am supposed to travel to my sister’s this weekend (Friday-Monday morning) and will need to board my dog. Is this a bad idea if I am literally still finding a flea on him (It’s now Tuesday so 3-4 days into our flea dilemna)? I am worried about him bringing fleas to the kennel or vice versa, him bringing more back home somehow. I am perfectly fine with cancelling the trip if need be. Please let me know your thoughts!

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 10:38 am

      First off, I apologize for this late response when a timely response was necessary for your trip.

      Fleas lay their eggs on the animal host. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall into the environment. There, they grow into larvae and pupae, eventually emerging as adults when they detect a host. So, it is not uncommon to find fleas on pets even after all the proper treatment is in place. It will usually be around 8 weeks before they are completely eradicated.

      With the dog treated, you should be fine to bring him with you, since the fleas you found on him were likely new fleas from the environment that just hadn’t succumbed to the insecticide yet.

  • aliciaJ87 August 25, 2017, 2:02 pm

    I have been dealing with an infestation for the last couple months. We’ve fogged twice, I’ve used the sprays, I vacuum almost daily. I have gone as far as unfortunately rehoming our cats. Since the last fogging there have been no animals in my home. Its been a little over a week and I am starting to see what I believe are juvenile fleas, they’re much smaller than the ones I saw before treatment. My question is, should I bomb again because of these new ones? I dont know what I’m doing wrong but I’m slowly losing it. My children are being bitten again, and I am due with a new baby in 3 weeks. Are these new ones hatching from eggs that I haven’t been able to vacuum up? What more can I do? Please help.

    • Adam Retzer September 28, 2017, 12:07 pm

      Alicia, it sounds like you should have this under control soon. The fleas you are seeing are those that are emerging from cocoons. All the eggs and larvae need to mature, emerge, and die before the infestation completely ends. This usually lasts around 8 weeks after treatment or pet removal. Vacuuming is one of the more effective things you can do to speed up the process and remove the emerging fleas. It will just take a little patience.

      • Katie October 15, 2017, 3:33 am

        Your site is a blessings.
        Our 14 year old dog has been going to the vet frequently, each time bringing fleas into our home…I didn’t realize this for 4 months.
        I’ve used knockout on our carpets, floors, etc. Five times now. However I did not vacuum after the application. I am now…daily,.
        I wash our bed linens daily as we are getting eaten alive around midnight. I shower before bed to wash off any fleas that might be on me.
        Can fleas live in a mattress…or in clean clothes?
        Desperately trying to discover the source of these biting fleas as I am a walking flea bite and in a state of sleep deprivation
        Thanks and again, your site is full of valuable information.

        • Adam Retzer October 17, 2017, 10:58 am

          Fleas don’t live in mattresses or clothes. Adult fleas lay their eggs on their animal host. The eggs fall into the environment within a few hours. The fleas hatch and develop where the eggs fall. Eventually adults emerge and are attracted to warm-blooded animals. The only time fleas would develop on clothing or beds is if an infested animal rested on the items, and eggs fell there. So, there could be eggs falling on the surface of sheets, but not in the mattress.

          Are you positive you are dealing with fleas and not bed bugs? I think they can infest mattresses, and bites at night are characteristic.

  • Debbi October 10, 2017, 4:33 pm

    Hi, I am here of course do to fleas. We took our 3 small dogs on vacation with us. We stopped at some rest stops to let them go to the bathroom. I believe this is where my dogs picked up fleas. This went undetected for a week or so. I then began to see the girls itching. I checked and sure enough there were a couple of fleas. I panicked, I ran to the pet store bathed the dogs, there were maybe 5 on the dogs each. I then started vacuuming, all the areas, washing all pet blankets, anything that could be washed I washed. I bought tropiclean natural flea and tick home spray, I sprayed everything. Started the dogs on nexguard chewable monthly control, set off 18 foggers( 1 in every room) put down Diamaceous earth all over, and every night I put out dawn dish soap traps with a light. I don’t catch anything, haven’t seen any on the dogs, but I have seen 1 bounce near the trap!!!!! I am petrified of these things!!!! I’m going to win this war, it has made me nuts!!!!! I called an exterminator because I am just exhausted. Please tell me they are going to die, and go away!!!!! A couple days after treatment I did still see 1 flea on my dog, I drowned it. Haven’t seen any on the dogs in 2 days now. Is there anything else I can do!!! Also my house is a 3600 sq foot home. I can’t do this all myself! my dogs mainly are downstairs, they do not sleep in my bed, only 1 follows me up sometimes. I freaking out there is an egg up there. Please help!!!!

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2017, 10:18 am

      Debbi, it sounds like you’ve taken all the correct steps. Keep in mind, it’s normal to see fleas here or there until the infestation completely ends. This usually takes around 8 weeks. With the treatments you’ve employed, there should be no new generation of eggs. Some patience will just be required until the correct generation all mature, emerge, and die.

  • Katie October 15, 2017, 5:23 am

    Love this site and have some more questions:
    a. how small are the emerging fleas?
    b. I’ve seen some very dark, smallish fleas but we are now being bitten by incredibly small moving ‘dots’
    c. are these inky-dinky emerging fleas?
    d. our beloved pet was treated two months ago with Frontline Plus and is doing great.
    e. are the fleas in the environment moving from our pet onto us because of her treatment?
    f. it appears that there is no quick fix for these blasted parasites, so we must be diligent (vacuuming daily) for 6 months?
    Many thanks for your input!

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2017, 11:10 am

      a. See our page on How big are fleas. Unfed fleas are around half the size of fully engorged fleas. However, adult fleas don’t really grow, it’s just their abdomens that expand as they feed.

      b & c. The small moving ‘dots’ don’t sound characteristic of fleas. I am not sure what those could be, especially without seeing them.

      d & e. The Frontline probably isn’t repelling the fleas and causing them to move to humans. Fleas can bite people when they’re unable to find their primary host. However, if the pet is around, they should jump onto it even if it’s treated.

      f. Unfortunately there isn’t a quick fix. You don’t need to vacuum daily, but continue vacuuming more than usual. See our page on How often to vacuum for fleas.

  • Agou October 16, 2017, 5:38 pm

    How to get rid of fleas from Human’s scalp?
    I’m having issue for over 18 months already, no doctor knows how to treat my issue, may I know where can I buy the medicine for my scalp?
    Appreciated and please help!

    • Adam Retzer October 17, 2017, 11:22 am

      Agou, I’m sorry to hear about your troubles. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to help. It’s not characteristic of fleas to live on human scalps. Perhaps you have some other parasite? It’s unfortunate doctors haven’t been able to help, because this sounds like an issue that needs to be assessed in person.

  • Marie Sessums October 17, 2017, 1:34 pm

    I read that anything you put in the dryer on high heat for 1 hour will kill all life stages of fleas. Is this a recommended method to eradicate the problem? I discovered a few adult fleas on my dog 3 days ago and immediately treated him with Advantix skin drops and Advantus tablets. Since then I have not noticed any adult fleas on him but he continues to scratch. I also had an exterminator two days ago to treat the house and he will be doing a second treatment in a week. I have also vacuumed every nook of my house and will continue to do so for the next month. I have also been washing and drying all of the linens on high heat. For anything that can’t go in the wash (pillows and down comforters for example), I have been putting them in the dryer on high heat for one hour and them immediately stuffing them into a clean trashbag and tying them up tightly. Is this a good method for keeping my linens, pillows, bedding, etc. quarantined until we determine all of the fleas are gone in a few months? Thank you!

    • Adam Retzer October 18, 2017, 12:00 pm

      Yes, this should kill any fleas on these items. However, there shouldn’t be many fleas developing on this things. Eggs only fall where infested pets spend time. So most eggs fall onto pet beds, carpeting, and other floors. However, if your animal sleeps on your bed, then eggs probably fell there, and drying the bedding should kill them.

      • Marie Sessums October 19, 2017, 9:48 am

        Unfortunately he does sleep in our bed so I have just been drying everything single piece of bedding. Thanks for the helpful response!

  • LS October 21, 2017, 10:12 am

    We have something that we first noticed on our dog. Dog is now on vet prescribed Revolution and is more comfortable. Now this pest seems to resides on the floor and feels like it jumps and crawls on us, but we cannot see anything. It has a stinging bite and leaves bite marks on me. It becomes more active the warmer it gets and the only sure thing that we can find that kills it is freezing temperatures, so our clothing and bedding goes in the freezer before we wear it. We cannot figure out what this is. Could it be that fleas are evolving to be smaller to survive? I think flea because it feels like it jumps.

    • Adam Retzer October 24, 2017, 1:57 pm

      The pests certainly sound like fleas. Though they should be large enough to see. I’ve never heard of fleas being so small that they can’t be seen. You want to try deploying some flea traps to try to capture and identify whatever pest it is.

  • Charlotte October 22, 2017, 7:13 am


    So at the beginning of this week we found fleas in our house (absolutely no idea how they got there – we haven’t had any pets in the house!). I’ve seen a couple on me (got about 18 bites on my feet and ankles) but my flatmate has said they’ve seen quite a few. I sprayed the whole house with Indorex, I’ve made everyone wash their sheets at 60C and tumble dry them and then I called in the local council to come and spray all the carpet (thought I don’t think they actually moved any furniture, but i did like 3 thorough hoovers and sprays the week before they came anyway).

    I’m at my absolute wits end atm with imagining that the fleas are still everywhere. I’ve been washing all my clothes and tumble drying them, but some things I can’t wash – e.g soft toys on bed, etc. Is it ok to just freeze those sorts of things for 5 days? Will that kill everything? I’ve chucked loads of things that have made contact with the floor, like slippers and the laundry basket.
    Also the council said to not hoover for as long as possible to make the insecticide be effective as possible. Is a month (slightly grim I know) a good amount of time to aim for?????? All help appreciated, I’m actually losing hair from all this stress.

    • Adam Retzer October 24, 2017, 3:35 pm

      It sounds like you may be dealing with human fleas (P. irritans) if you have an infestation without pets. Or maybe an infested animal, like a feral cat or raccoon, somehow got into your home (attic, crawl space, etc) and dropped eggs. Cat fleas (C. felis) and dog fleas (C. canis) account for nearly all domestic infestations. Since human fleas are somewhat rare, this website isn’t focused on them. Still the control of human fleas is the same as other species. Environmental treatment with an insect growth regulator, along with regular vacuuming should do the trick.

      Freezing those small items for 5 days should kill any potential fleas on them. There shouldn’t be too much of a worry for plush toys and such, but there is a slight chance that some fleas are developing on them.

      Pest control companies often recommend waiting to vacuum. But there have been a few studies showing that vacuuming doesn’t significantly impact the residual effect of insecticides. Though wet carpet cleaning does. I summarized the studies at the bottom of this page: How often to vacuum for fleas. This page also lays out why it’s important to vacuum.

      It may be a good to employ a flea trap or two. Since you don’t have pets to inspect, the traps will be useful for assessing flea populations and determining if the control methods are working. It’s normal to see fleas for around 8 weeks after treatment, in diminishing numbers as time goes on.

  • Lachlan Symons October 22, 2017, 7:45 pm

    Hi Adam
    Are there any natural remedies for killing / repelling fleas that does not invole pyrethrums. permetrins, s-methoprene and other nasty chemicals?

    • Adam Retzer October 24, 2017, 2:18 pm

      If the infestation is mild, diligently combing pets with a flea comb daily, and vacuuming every other day can go a long way in controlling the infestation.

      As far as natural remedies, there isn’t much I’ve come across with a successful track record in the scientific literature. Diatomaceous earth has insecticidal properties, but studies on fleas are lacking. Plus there is the issue that immature stages live in the environment, while adult fleas live and lay eggs on the host. Effective treatment needs to address both habitats.

      Check out this journal article for some natural remedies that have some level of success: Biorational approaches to flea suppression. It’s a bit dated, but I haven’t come across much newer information regarding natural remedies, though I am always keeping an eye out.

  • Susan December 2, 2017, 6:22 pm

    We only have hardwood floors, tile and linoleum my arms are about to fall off from vacuuming every few days and we bathe (once every week or two) and flea comb (try for daily) our cat frequently. We are really trying to avoid chemical options since I am due with a baby soon.
    I just found out about Cedarcide and it does seem to be effective but I don’t know if you’ve read anything on it or think we’ll be successful without chemicals.
    Also, I’m using a shop-vac because we don’t need a beater brush with our solid surface floors. Is it as effective at capturing and killing fleas?
    We’ll think we’ve got it and then boom, a bunch suddenly emerge. I’m exhausted!

    • Adam Retzer December 4, 2017, 10:23 am

      I have never read anything in the scientific literature that suggests cedar oil has any repellent or insecticidal effect on fleas.

      Non-chemical control methods, like vacuuming and combing, can control mild flea infestations. However, you may have difficultly ending a moderate to severe infestation. This is because there will be large numbers of immature fleas developing in the environment. They will continually emerge as adults. If a newly emerged adult is able to feed for 24 hours on the cat, it will mate and lay eggs, continuing the infestation. You should notice a large decline in the flea populations in 2-4 weeks if your control methods are working. If not, you may want to consider using flea drops on your cat.

      The Shop-Vac should work as effectively. However, all the studies done on vacuuming have been done with beater-bar vacuums on carpets.

  • Jane February 19, 2018, 10:31 am

    Hi, I’ve been reading some of these Q & A and I am a little bit confused. I saw that eggs fall where my pet spends time but I believe you also said that fleas can’t live in clothing or furniture.
    -So if eggs are dropped onto my bed and in the carpets etc. Will the eggs hatch?
    -What does Frontline do?
    I am certain my cat has fleas because of the flea poop and dandruff in his fur.
    -So I need to sanitize all carpets, wash as many surfaces as possible (bedding) and then what should I do with chairs and other apholstered furniture he sleeps on?
    -How cautious and thorough should I be? (If my cat has slept on my bed, should I be putting my pillows in the dryer?)
    Thank you so much this website has been very helpful so far

    • Adam Retzer February 27, 2018, 2:18 pm

      Flea eggs are laid on the host. The eggs will fall anywhere the infested animal roams. They aren’t sticky and drop within a few hours of being laid. Most eggs accumulate in areas where pets rest. So, if clothes are laying on the ground, pets may go there and flea eggs may fall there. However, fleas wouldn’t be going to lay eggs on clothes in closets or dressers (unless your cat or dog sleeps in your dresser drawer).

      Fleas can end up living on furniture if pets are allowed there, especially upholstered furniture where larvae can hide in the fabric folds and other dark areas. However, they won’t live in furniture. The eggs fall on the surface of the items. Then, upon hatching, the larvae will move to avoid light (often folds of fabric). For instance, with beds as a common example, the fleas won’t infest the mattress, but it is possible there will be fleas living on the surface of the sheets if pets are allowed on the bed.

      In order for flea larvae to survive upon hatching, there needs to be flea dirt (feces) in the area. This further limits where fleas can develop. The eggs fall off of the host easily, but most of the feces only comes out of the fur and drops in the environment when the animal grooms itself. This is another reason why resting/grooming site get the most fleas living there.

      Also, a portion of the eggs won’t be viable and won’t hatch.

      Frontline Plus contains fipronil and methoprene. Fipronil is an adulticide that will kill any adults fleas on the animal. Methoprene is an IGR that will sterilize adult females, and will also prevent eggs and larvae from maturing. Frontline Plus and Advantage II are similar, and will control fleas by making them unable to survive and reproduce on their host. Thus, there will be no new generation of fleas. However, only the adult stage lives on the host. The eggs, larvae, and pupae living in the environment need to mature, emerge, and die before an infestation ends. This is why pet treatments are to be used for at least 3 months.

      If you are using Frontline Plus or Advantage II, there have been studies showing that these pet treatments alone are enough to end mild to moderate infestations. However, sanitizing the environment will speed up the eradication process. Vacuuming is especially helpful. Here’s an article on vacuuming that goes into more details. If your cat sleeps on your bed, it would be a good idea to launder the bedding at least once a week. You can spray other items with an insect growth regulator (IGR). This will prevent the immature stages from becoming adults. And the IGR will last 7 months to help prevention reinfestation. Martin’s IGR is a good option, and doesn’t contain any other chemicals.

  • Carole B March 16, 2018, 9:47 am

    My sons moved house last year and his cats left me the gift of fleas. I looked at all sites on line on how to deal with them. I can’t stand insects and was horrified. Your site gave the best advice ????. I hoovered every other day moving all the furniture, washed every thing that would fit in the washing machine. I have wooden and carpeted floors and saw loads coming from the cracks in the floor boards. The white sock trick doesn’t work and l had months of shaking out my trousers to get the fleas out of them Yuck!!! However overall your advic was sound and l was flea free in 3 months. Thanks Adam ????

    • Adam Retzer April 12, 2018, 12:54 pm

      Carole, thank you for sharing your experience, though I am sorry you had to go through it. I am very happy my advice has helped! It feels good knowing that I am making a difference, as small as it may be.

  • MHD March 18, 2018, 10:32 pm

    I had cats that both had fleas and after treating them with activyl, bombing our home with hot shot, and vacuuming washing bedding and linens, I found new homes for them. Since then I have vacuumed every nook and cranny of our home which has all hard wood floors and 2 area rugs and bombed the house twice in the last week. I feel like I have spent so much time washing all bedding and putting pillows through the drier. We have leather couches so I haven’t been worried that there are fleas in them. I purchased DE and treated carpets and our mattress which our cats occasionally slept on. I reupholstered our chairs that our cats frequently slept on. All stuffed animals from my daughters room have been cycled through the drier. I washed the shower curtain and small door mats and area rugs. My husband mopped the hard wood floors. After one week of the cats being gone which I’m assuming are the fleas hosts we still are getting bites, so I threw out a large shag carpet which I’m assuming was infested. I had my husband bomb the house again today and now I’m tempted to start washing all the clothes in our dressers and closets, which got vacuumed but am hesitant because I don’t know why there would be flea eggs, pupae, or larvae in our clothes.. my questions would be

    -Do fleas survive and lay eggs after feeding off humans?
    -Since the hosts are gone from the home how long should I expect to be getting bites?
    -If I got rid of carpets and we have all hard woods can I assume they are living in our clothing and surviving off biting us?
    -how effective is diatomaceous earth in carpets and in yard?
    -if I have already washed pillows and blankets since getting rid of hosts is it possible for the eggs that have hatched to bite us and lay additional eggs and reinfest pillows bedding or clothing within a week?
    -am I wasting my time and energy washing all clothes within the hose hold again.

    • Adam Retzer April 12, 2018, 1:20 pm

      1) Fleas can’t survive or reproduce on human blood

      2) Before the fleas are completely extinct in your home, all of the immature stages living in the environment need to mature, emerge as adults, and die. New eggs reach adulthood in 17-26 days in homes. However, cocooned adults can enter a quiescent stage for up to 5 months. In most situations, the fleas should be gone in around 2-3 months.

      3) It’s unlikely that fleas are living on your clothing, unless your clothes were laying on the ground. This would have given your cats access to lay on them, and subsequently drop flea eggs there. However, laundering the clothes would have killed any fleas on the garments. Most likely, the fleas are developing somewhere in the environment. Sprays and foggers can help eliminate fleas, but it won’t kill them all. This is because they live deep down in the substrates where it is difficult for insecticides to penetrate. Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done to kill 100% of developing fleas. Patience is required.

      4) Without cats or dogs in the home, the fleas won’t be able to continue the infestation. They will die off without a primary host. See the answer to question 1.

      5) Washing clothing and other items probably isn’t necessary now that the cats are gone, since no new eggs would be falling on these items.

      I sincerely apologize for the delayed response.

  • Kristine June 9, 2018, 4:56 pm

    Great site, thank you so much! I have learned a lot, but still would love your feedback on my situation. 4 evenings ago (Tuesday) 4 foster kittens came to my house. They are approximately 5 weeks old. I had one of the plastic/mesh enclosures in my bedroom I was going to keep them in to prevent contact with my cats until they have had their first set of shots. I sat inside the enclosure with them for about 45 minutes and some got in my lap. I could not see any fleas. Several hours later, itchy feelings compelled me to use a flea comb on them, and fleas were found. I immediately placed them in the hall bathroom, actually in the tub with some towels and their food and litter supplies. Put the enclosure outside and vacuumed the area rug in the bedroom. Gave the kittens a bath that same night with dish soap. The next morning, still saw them, so they received another bath. Have been laundering towels daily and throwing away the pee pads that line the floor. Trying to be very careful about how I transport the towels down two flights of stairs to the laundry room. I don’t have many, trying to limit the amount used so either shake them out first, or put them in bucket to dump inside the machine. Vacuuming daily or every other day. Most of house with exception of living room, is hardwood, with area rugs. Was mostly concentrating on the upstairs as that is where they were/are and they never touched anything outside of the enclosure until they were in the bathroom. I am concerned though that while holding them when they first arrived, some eggs may have fallen on me and then I transported them throughout the house?? I am still vacuuming the first floor regularly as well, but wonder if I am unduly overstressing about this. I don’t use preventive drops on my cats as I only ever had fleas one time before, several years ago, from a foster dog. I feel like I am putting poison on them, but if there is a chance they may get fleas then I will absolutely administer them. While in the bathroom with them now (2 are still being bottle fed) I am more cognizant now of wearing limited clothing and brushing myself off when I leave. The kittens had a 3rd bath Thursday evening, and Friday did not see any live ones. Today (Saturday) we split a vial of Advantage Kitten between 2 kittens since they are not old enough for meds, let alone a full dose. Wondering what you think the chances are that I still may have an issue with eggs hatching at some point, and what location(s) might be most at risk?

    • Adam Retzer June 11, 2018, 10:43 am


      It sounds like you’re being proactive, which should greatly reduce the odds of an infestation taking hold. Still, it’s possible that your efforts aren’t enough. You should know in about a month. The flea life cycle, from egg to adult, takes 17-26 days in home environments. So, if your efforts weren’t sufficient, you will see new adult fleas emerging in about that time. It may be a good idea to purchase a couple flea traps to put in the rooms where the cats were held. Traps aren’t great for control, but they are a very useful tool for assessing populations.

      Flea eggs could have potentially dropped anywhere the cats were located. There is less risk of you yourself spreading the infestation. This is because flea eggs and flea dirt (feces) need to drop together from the host. Flea larvae require the flea dirt for food when they hatch. Eggs fall readily from the host because they aren’t sticky. But the flea dirt can get lodged into the pet fur as it dries, and thus most gets removed during grooming. The odds are low that you transferred flea dirt around, even if you did transfer some eggs.

      A bit of patience will be required now, as you wait for any potential eggs to become adult fleas. If you end up finding new fleas with the flea comb, or in a flea trap, it would be a good idea to employ some other techniques (e.g. IGR to the environment, and pet treatments).

      • Jayce King June 24, 2018, 4:43 am

        Hey Adam, so my room is in a basement and I only have one light source which is above a dresser. Its bright yellow and as I’ve read on your site that certain colors attract fleas. I constantly have my light on except when I sleep, and as soon as I sleep the fleas eat away at my ankles. I also can’t sleep without a fan, does having a fan trigger the Larvae to come out and attack me? Because I sleep with it on high blast. Additionally, if I were to take one my fans and a decent yellow light and hang a piece of cloth in front of the fan by the light to trigger movement, do you think it would work to draw them into my flea trap?

        • Adam Retzer June 25, 2018, 11:56 am


          Flea larvae are not parasitic, and don’t bite animals or people. Only the adult fleas will bite.

          Here is an article about what attracts fleas. This should answer your questions regarding the air currents and light, as well as ideas to make a flea trap more efficient.

  • Bella August 31, 2018, 2:02 am

    Thanks for a great and informative site.
    I read here that these critters don’t climb up humans? So what have we got if not dog fleas?! These do!
    We have a rough collie who doesn’t appear to be itching and has an extremely dense coat. Never seen fleas on him. I’ve put Frontline drops on him now ( lapsed, my bad). He doesn’t go upstairs, thankfully.
    We have a quite low sofa, with a nest of cushions in it. Could they jump onto the sofa and fail to find a host, only us? If a flea is on him, why would it then jump or crawl off onto us, or our sofa?
    First my husband got bitten, now me too, and the dog sits against but not in the sofa. He doesn’t cheat, he only lies on the floor.
    The places we’ve been bitten, inside our clothes, either suggest we have human fleas, or worse, because I’ve got bites high up my thighs and at my waist, and my husband has one on his shoulder and one in an armpit! He slumps as he sits. They are not clustered bites nor in lines. I’ve not heard mossies whining.
    So we started the hoovering regime last night and will spray today, but now reading here that they don’t climb up humans I’m confused. We’ve not stayed away from home to have caught bedbugs and brought them home, we don’t tend to hug people, and this has started up after a drop in house cleaning because I’ve been unwell. So I find myself hoping it is just dog fleas that have become mountaineers!
    As they have been inside our clothes while we’re wearing them, and may drop out when we undress, could we set up an infestation upstairs? It seems not if they only lay eggs on their host and emerging larvae need frass to feed on. Provided they’re dog and not human fleas! What a thought!

    If it were ticks we’d likely find them on us, right?

    Can you comment on Thiamine, vit B1, in high doses (100mg per day for adult human) as an insect repellant? Builds up in the skin and makes us smell bad to an insect, apparently!
    I presume the flea drops are too toxic for humans? Are the growth inhibitors toxic?
    I am chronically unwell and the thorough and ongoing measures needed to beat this are very difficult for me, so I’d appreciate your thoughts please! Thank you so much

    • Adam Retzer September 2, 2018, 12:15 pm

      Fleas can climb up humans. However, they rarely get very far. They can only jump to the height of a human ankle, and they bite readily upon finding exposed skin. After biting, they will quickly leave humans. Bites found higher up on the body usually occur when people are sitting or laying on infested furniture or the ground, where fleas can easily reach these body areas.

      Fleas could jump onto the sofa if it’s low enough. However, usually when fleas are on furniture it’s because the pet lays on the surface. Adult fleas stay on their host and lay eggs there. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours of being laid. So the eggs can end up on furniture, where they develop and eventually become adults. Upon emerging from cocoons, the adults will be attracted to the nearest warm-blooded body, which could be a human.

      I am not sure how to explain the bites higher on your bodies without seeing the situation in person.

      Most likely you are dealing with cat fleas (C. felis) and not human fleas (P. irritans) if there is a dog or cat in the home. However, it is possible they are human fleas. Please see my answer to this question for how to identify flea species.

      Adult fleas that get trapped in your clothes and drop out upstairs (where there is no animal host) shouldn’t be able to survive and lay eggs. The infestation shouldn’t be able to spread there.

      Yes, ticks stay attached to skin, unlike fleas which move around.

      Have you not seen the fleas themselves yet? You may want to purchase a flea trap to help with identifying and monitoring populations.

      I haven’t seen much research into B1 as a flea repellent. However, I just did a quick search in Google Scholar which yielded this study: Ineffectiveness of thiamine (vitamin B1) as a flea-repellent in dogs. And a citing article states: “Scientific evidence regarding dietary supplementation with vitamin B, Brewer’s yeast, or garlic suggest these methods are of little value.”

      Flea drops and IGRs should not be used on humans. Topically applied insect repellents do work against fleas though, such as DEET, IR3535, and picaridin. And permethrin insect repellent for clothing can also help keep fleas off of garments.

  • Jessica October 1, 2018, 6:32 am

    I have had dogs for decades and never had fleas. I have always treated them year round with a topical. I now have a new dog, a six-pound poodle. The new vet strongly suggested Effitix as a topical. We have been on it for six months religiously. Nonetheless, I found two fleas on the dog last week. I applied the next round of Effitix immediately, through it was several days earlier than scheduled. Since then I have combed him with a nit comb daily, removing quite a bit of flea dirt, and yesterday I removed another live flea. Clearly the Effitix (applied three days earlier) is not working. Now I am treating my house as though I have an infestation, though I have not had any signs of an infestation yet. I feel it’s best to be proactive. I am using a Dyson to vacuum area rugs and wood floors daily. I wash and dry the dog’s bedding daily. I comb the dog daily. The dog doesn’t sleep in my bed, but he is quite small and is carried around a lot. He does get on my furniture. There is no part of the house that he does not visit. Yesterday I read that steam can kills eggs and larvae, so I used my Shark steam cleaner on every piece of furniture in the house (leather and upholstered), on all the floors (wood and tile), and especially on all the dogs bedding, crate, plush toys, etc. It was a lot of hours steaming. Do you agree that steam is effective for getting rid of any eggs that might be between the cracks in the wood flooring or in the folds of furniture?

    • Adam Retzer October 22, 2018, 2:32 pm

      Yes, steam cleaning should kill any fleas it contacts. Here is a page of steam cleaners and fleas. The trouble is that many immature stages are likely out of reach of the steam (e.g. base of carpets).

  • Frazier October 6, 2018, 4:44 am

    Hi Adam, great site. I have a question: do fleas “return” back to a nest? Are they able to know how to get back to a specific place in the room? Or, once having bit and eaten, do they then drop and just scurry off to lay their eggs in the nearest dark crevice? Many thanks

    • Adam Retzer October 21, 2018, 12:37 pm

      Immature stages live in the environment. Adult fleas emerge from cocoons and look for a host. Once on a host, they stay on the animal. Eggs are laid on the host, but they aren’t sticky and soon fall off. The cycle continues.

      Fleas don’t return back to a nest. But infestations area often worst around nests and favored resting areas, because this is where animals groom and sleep. Eggs and flea dirt (feces that feeds hatching larvae) are dislodged during the grooming process.

  • AHM October 15, 2018, 7:35 am


    My dog was treated for fleas by the vet after discovering “flea dirt” and seeing him start to itch. He was given a nexgard and capstar. A few questions…
    1) After taking these medication for 24 hours he traveled to another home and spent two nights there. Before entering the house he was checked with a flea comb and no fleas or dirt were noted. The vet said he would not spread fleas to the new environment since he was medicated. Is this correct?
    2) When returning home I used flea bombs, treated the carpeted with IGR, vacuumed daily, and washed all sheet and fabrics the dog has touched. So far I have only seen three fleas and some white eggs which were vacuumed and disposed of. I am aggressively treating the environment to reduce infestation with your tips in mind. While cleaning I removed the couch covers to wash in hot water and noted black specks bundled together under the couch arm (The specks almost appeared on top of each other and huddled around each other, they did not move and looked like flea dirt but were stacked in some places, which I found odd. They were also more difficult to vacuum up- but this could be due to the fabric they were sticking on. Fabric was a wicking couch fabric which things stick to.). They were concentrated together and in two sections of the couch. Are these flea droppings or something else? Can fleas and dropping be under fabrics couch covers? I am anxious already because of the flea vet diagnosis and am assuming these are fleas however don’t want miss something else. I was able to vacuum the black specks up and sprayed Vibrac on the couch frame where they were noted.

    • Adam Retzer October 23, 2018, 1:46 pm

      1) Fleas may have spread to the new home if the dog was introduced there only 24 hours after taking the flea medications. This is because those medications work when the adult fleas feed on the dog. Flea infestations don’t start from adult fleas, but instead begin when eggs fall from the host’s fur into a new environment. There may have been eggs in the dog’s haircoat prior to being treated, and those eggs may have fallen into the new environment. However, most eggs fall off of the host within a just few hours of being laid. And upon being laid, the eggs hatch in 2-3 days.

      2) It seems strange that the droppings would congregate under the couch cushions, but I suppose it’s not impossible. Fleas deposit feces on their host animal, and it typically gets dislodged during host grooming. So the dropping end up in a clumped distribution around pet grooming/resting sites.

      The best way to determine if they are flea dropping is to rub them on a damp cloth or paper towel. Or drop them in a cup of water. Since flea feces are comprised of host blood, the dry blood with reconstitute in water. It will smear red on the cloth. Or it will turn the water red in the cup.

  • Loretta December 16, 2018, 3:48 am

    Hello, I have been reading through the information on this site, and the comments below.
    I’m not very encouraged.
    We have now been dealing with fleas for several years.
    I wasn’t worried when they first showed up (I know better now).
    We gave the dogs what the vets recommended, meanwhile the infestation got worse, and my small dog declined in health.
    We have tried many of the above suggestions, but seem to have fleas for life.
    The flea meds have been a concern as my small dog did pass away, and i have just not been all that sure how safe they are.
    Also, The premise igrs sound useful (we acually did spray this once), but what is the effect on beneficial incects?
    My Other concern is for my pet tarantulas and the roaches i keep to feed them.
    I am gearing up to try once again to deal with the flea problem, my hope being that starting in winter will make for a better summer.
    The main difficulty (other than mistrustfulness of chemicals) is that due to chronic fatigue syndrome, the battle has been given up before the war is won.
    exterminators have not been affordable .
    I’m guess i’m just looking for some encouragement to give it another go, to hear that being flea free is possible, and with a minimin of chemicals.
    Have you ever heard of “Flea Busters” neamatodes? They are supposed to grow and multiply for outdoor long term control, by eating flea larva.
    Thank you for reading my sob story, and many thanks for making all this info available to all,
    Tip: for those using vacuum bags, simply rotate between two. One spends the night (or two) bagged in the freezer, wile you use the other one, and switch as needed.

    • Adam Retzer December 18, 2018, 2:29 pm

      Loretta, I am sorry to hear about your flea problem lasting so long.

      The IGR will affect beneficial insects. Outdoors it will prevent exposed insect eggs and larvae from maturing, and adults from reproducing, for around 3-12 weeks. Indoors this isn’t usually much of an issue. But in your case it may be. If the roaches are exposed, they will affected. I am not sure how IGR affects tarantulas and other arachnids, but it likely isn’t good. It would probably be best to relocate them while treating the fleas. Once the spray has settled, the tarantulas and roaches shouldn’t be at risk of exposure.

      I have heard of using nematodes. They will kill flea larvae and pupae. However, the habitat restrictions (substrate, temperature, humidity) of the nematodes limits their usefulness. As a result, they aren’t all that effective at controlling fleas. This is what I have read in summary journal articles. I need to do more research on this, so take this with a grain of salt.