How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your Mind

Learn how to identify a flea problem, how to eliminate it, and protect your home and pets from flea infestation.
Phyllis McMahon
Phyllis McMahon
Research Writer
Phyllis teaches English Literature at a local college and loves writing in her free time. She’s also a great cook – her British beef Wellington is something the best res read more
Reviewed By
Chas Kempf
Chas Kempf
Expert Consultant
Chas works in a professional pest control company and knows all the nuances of this job. Also, he’s a fantastic tennis player and loves to organize BBQ parties for his fam read more
Last updated: August 30, 2023
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Fleas can be a terrible problem and it’s often very hard to get rid of them once they start. During certain months, fleas tend to come around and it’s up to you to protect your household. If you’re wondering how to get rid of fleas, you’ve come to the right place.

There are many valuable solutions and tools to help you know how to get rid of those pests in just about any situation. In this guide, we will walk you through how to know what fleas are, identifying whether you have a problem, identifying when a professional might be needed, and how you can try to get rid of fleas on your own as well.

What Does a Flea Look Like?

Fleas are pretty tiny creatures. They’re sneaky and quick. Sometimes, they can be mistaken for bed bugs buts, but there are certain distinctions between the two.

While fleas and bedbugs have similar colors, they are different shapes. Bed bugs are flat and shaped in ovals, whereas fleas are long and narrow in comparison.

Fleas can be identified by their colors, which are brown and red tones. They might even look black if you only get a quick look at them. Full-grown fleas only measure about 1/8 of an inch.

Fleas do jump and move and you’re likely going to know when they are around, despite the size that makes them harder to see. We will help you learn how to identify a flea problem a bit later in this guide.

Flea Lifecycle

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindIt’s important to first understand their life cycle. This life cycle might affect your ability to eradicate them. This is because the eggs are hard to get rid of so you might think you got rid of them, only to find them again when eggs hatch.

Flea life cycle starts with the egg. The eggs are also very small but will be white and possibly smooth as well. Most fleas only live for about 100 days, but it’s actually possible for them to live a full year, depending on the situation.

In those short-planned 100 days of life, fleas can lay 2,000 eggs. That’s a lot of eggs and a lot of little fleas to grow up as well. After the eggs hatch, fleas move into the larva stage, the pupa stage, and then adults. From hatching to adults, it only takes a few weeks for the full cycle to happen.

How to Identify a Flea Problem

There are several ways to identify a flea problem. You might see signs around the home that allude to fleas being present. However, you should also know how to identify a flea problem with your pets. Being able to tell whether those bites on your ankle are from fleas or some other bite is important.

Take a look at these details to better understand how to identify flea bites and problems in general.

Identifying Flea Bites

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindAll too often, other types of bites are mistaken as flea bites and then the wrong treatment is used to get rid of them. The most common misconception is bed bugs vs. flea bites. Fleas and bedbugs are both insects, although flea is more likely to carry illness or disease around. The Bubonic Plague is one such illness.

Typically, flea bites will appear as small red bumps. They show up in clusters or even in a straight line but there are usually three or four small bites together (and sometimes more).

The bumps from the bites are small but they will itch. If a human experiences these flea bites, it will certainly lead to how to get rid of fleas on humans.

Cats Fleas

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindThe most common type of flea that is found on pets are called cat fleas. These are not just found on cats, despite the name. They actually target all kinds of pets and might even affect humans as well.

These fleas are known for being able to move through the hair of their host because of their tiny sizes. They also lay eggs in that hair, leading to the production of more fleas.

Human Fleas

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindThe next common flea is called a human flea and they typically do only pester humans. However, these are less common, except in situations where there might be poor hygiene or poor unclean living conditions. They like human skin and human hair, which is why they tend to stick to humans for their homes.

Much like the bites of other fleas, these will show up in a cluster and will be small bites. The fleas are reddish brown in color. The bites will be raised spots but will be smaller and clustered still. They are most likely to show up near underarms or on your head.

Rat Flea

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindThe rat flea is most common in heavily populated areas, particularly areas that experience rat activity. They are most commonly found on rate and other rodents. Much like mosquitoes, they feed on the blood of their preferred species, which is rodents.

While these fleas stem from rats, they can easily find their ways into homes or other buildings, particularly if you live near a river or know of rat infestations nearby. These fleas jump really high, can carry diseases, and love heat.

Chicken Flea

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindIf you live on a farm or have chickens and other poultry nearby, you might find chicken fleas around the area. These are most likely to show up near chickens and other poultry and rarely affect humans or other animals. The best way to avoid them is to properly maintain and care for the shelters your poultry reside in.

How to Get Rid of Fleas

Learning how to get rid of fleas incorporates a lot of different information. For example, if you want to know how to get rid of fleas natural, you can use vinegar, dawn and other home remedies to do so. Take a look at some of these examples. You can also use pre-made materials if you prefer those to DIY solutions.

Take a look.

In Your House

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindAre you wondering how to get rid of fleas without bombing? While bombing is highly effective, a lot of people look for other solutions first to avoid the chemicals in their homes. The good news is that almost every type of flea above can be treated with a DIY method to get rid of them.

Getting rid of fleas naturally with vinegar in your home is incredibly easy. You just use a vinegar and water solution and spray it all throughout the home, including into your carpets and furniture. The vinegar will kill fleas and their eggs.

Another method for how to get rid of fleas with home remedies is to use baking soda or salt. Salt can be effective at killing fleas and their eggs but it can also be challenging to clean up after the fact. You may have to vacuum several times to get rid of it. However, this method works by sprinkling salt all over the carpet and furniture surfaces and letting it sit for a minimum of 30 minutes. Then, vacuum several times. The salt dehydrates and kills fleas and eggs.

Once you’ve worked on fleas in the home, start on how to get rid of fleas in bed. This may take some additional effort. First, you will definitely need to wash all bedding. This includes the sheets, pillows, blankets, and whatever else you have on the bed. Use hot water for washing purposes. Then, clean your mattress too. Try using vinegar, or another DIY solution and coating the bed. Let it rest and then vacuum the mattress a few times.

Here are a few other methods for how to get rid of fleas in your home as well.

  • Lemon water spray
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Steam clean the carpets and furniture
  • Strong vacuuming
  • Dawn dish soap and water

The other option is to use a bomber or a fogger to get rid of fleas in your home. We’ve found some of the best flea bombs and foggers for houses that you can use if you identify a flea problem and want to get it taken care of quickly.

On Your Pet

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindOne of the best DIY methods for your pets is learning how to get rid of fleas on cats with Dawn. Dawn is a powerful tool and it won’t harm or irritate your pet. But it will kill the fleas. To use this solution, you just need to mix Dawn dish soap with water and then spray it on your pet.

You may want to follow up this procedure with a good bath to help rinse off the soap but also to get rid of those fleas. While you’re bathing the pet, try using a flea comb to help. Reviewers highly recommend this flea comb from Hartz as an effective tool.

You can also bathe your pet with flea and tick shampoo. This can be helpful, but if your pet has sensitive skin, it might also further irritate their skin so use something gentle and soothing. Keep in mind that your pet might have sores or raw areas from scratching and certain chemicals might be painful to them.

There are drops, tablets, and even flea collars that you can use to help your pets. Use these under the advisement of your veterinarian to be sure it’s safe for your pet and the best choice for their needs. If you do notice irritation, be sure to try another solution.

Another gentle solution that is recommended by many pet owners is this Vet’s Best flea and tick spray. It’s made with natural oils so it’s not loaded with chemicals.

In Your Yard

How to Get Rid of Fleas Without Losing Your MindFleas in your yard can easily find their way into your homes. They jump on humans or your pets and hitch a ride inside to make themselves at home. The best way to treat your yard is to use a spray or treatment. There are several different types of treatments, including concentrated mixtures, powders, or sprays. These can be found online or at your local hardware store typically.  Just be sure to keep your pets away for the recommended timeframe after treating the yard.

We’ve found these best flea killers for yard to help you sort through some reliable solutions.

When Is It Time to Call a Professional?

If you’ve tried some of these home solutions and don’t seem to be getting anywhere, this is a sign to call in the professionals. They will have specialized foggers or sprays that they can use to treat all areas of your home. Sometimes, they will need to apply more than one treatment to fully get rid of the fleas.

How to Prevent Flea Infestation

Taking steps to avoid flea infestation will be critical. You have some options for the best way to do this.

  1. Be proactive about combatting any signs of fleas
  2. Take note of itchiness with your pets or even bites on your family members
  3. Treat the pets in your home regularly with flea treatments, even when there are no fleas
  4. Clean the home regularly, including detailed vacuuming
  5. Seal up any holes or cracks with caulking to close entry ways.

This simple steps could go a long way to keeping fleas out or reducing infestations.


How long does it take to get rid of fleas on a dog?

You need to plan to routinely treat your dog. Once there is an infestation, it can take 3-4 months to fully eradicate fleas because of the life cycles.

How to get rid of fleas in the car?

You can use many of the same methods for your car as you would for your home. This includes flea bombs and foggers, spray treatments, vinegar, baking soda, salt, and vacuuming.

Final Thoughts

Nobody wants fleas to come into their homes or to bombard their pets and cars but it does happen. Fleas can be challenging to fight, primarily because they lay a lot of eggs so killing all fleas and their eggs simultaneously is nearly impossible. Even professionals typically have to treat more than once to do so.

However, when we look at how to get rid of fleas, there are many valid solutions. You can use things like sprays, bombs, and foggers for your home. You can also treat your pets and your home with natural solutions that will be gentler and won’t have as many harsh chemicals to worry about.

Remember the process takes time and you may have to repeat steps to fully get rid of fleas.

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