How to Get Rid of Fleas

Find the best method to control fleas in your home, yard, or on your pet

How to Get Rid of Fleas

Fleas can cause many problems. In addition to irritating bites, fleas can carry and transmit bacteria that cause disease. This guide will tell you which treatment methods are the most effective in eliminating fleas from your home.

Safety: Check manufacturer’s instructions to ensure that a particular treatment is safe for your pet, and do not treat newborn puppies, kittens or pregnant animals.

Pet Treatment

The first step in getting rid of fleas is to treat infested pets. This helps you begin to get the problem under control while providing relief for your dog or cat.

When you first notice fleas on your pet, you have a number of different treatment options.

  • Use a fine-toothed metal flea comb to remove adult fleas from your pet and flick them into soapy water where they will drown.
  • Bathing pets in special flea baths and shampoos may not make them especially happy, but it will remove both eggs and live fleas.
  • Spot treatments are applied between your pet’s shoulders and protect them from getting new fleas for a month or more, depending on the strength of the product and the size of your pet.
  • Flea collars help deter new fleas as well, though you’ll want to use other treatments concurrently for maximum effectiveness.
  • Systemic treatments are oral medications that are usually taken monthly and prevent flea eggs that have been laid on your pet from hatching.

Home Treatment

Treating your pet will go a long way toward solving your flea problem, but you must treat your home to prevent your pet from attracting more pests.

  • Thoroughly vacuum areas where your pets spend most of their time, particularly where they sleep.
  • Fleas can escape from vacuum bags, so seal them in a plastic bag and dispose of them immediately after vacuuming.
  • Be sure to treat baseboards, windows, doorframes and other areas fleas may try to hide.
  • Once fleas have been removed, continue to vacuum consistently to reduce the chances of another buildup.
  • Foggers, powders and sprays can be used to kill fleas and inhibit growth while you wash your pets’ bedding, throw rugs and pillows to destroy fleas and eggs.

Yard Treatment

Failing to treat a large flea population in your yard can undo all of the hard work you’ve done inside your house and with your pet.

  • Remove dead plants and other debris where fleas can hide and breed.
  • Use sprays to treat areas where your pet rests frequently, such as patios, along foundations and under porches.
  • You may need to reapply sprays after rainstorms.
  • Regular watering and lawn maintenance combined with a healthy dose of sunshine should prove effective in controlling fleas in your yard.
  • Make sure to treat damp areas that are protected from sunlight, such as crawl spaces.

Life Cycle of Fleas

Different treatments work better during different stages of a flea’s life cycle. Use a combination of treatments for best results.

Consult the chart to learn which treatments should be used, and when.

Stage Description Effective Treatments


  • Smooth and white
  • Laid in pet’s sleeping areas
  • Hatch every few days
  • Systemic treatments (oral)
  • IDI sprays
  • Vacuuming
  • Flea collars


  • Blind, limbless worms
  • Very mobile
  • Feed on debris left in nest
  • Foggers
  • Vacuuming
  • IGR sprays


  • White, oval cocoon
  • Can last for long periods of time
  • Host’s appearance stimulates hatching
  • Foggers
  • Vacuuming


  • Wingless
  • Flat and brown
  • Can jump long distances
  • Pierce host’s skin to feed on blood
  • Flea combs
  • Shampoos and dips
  • Sprays and foggers
  • Flea collars
  • Vacuuming

Flea Treatment Options

There are three primary treatment options to help get rid of fleas: insect growth regulators, organic treatments and multipurpose products.

Insect Growth Regulators (IGR): These chemicals prevent larvae from developing. Safer than traditional insecticides, they help ensure your pet won’t become ill from pest treatments. Common types include methoprene and pyriproxyfen.

Organic treatment: Adding vinegar to your pet’s water and garlic to its food may deter fleas from biting. Spraying your pet with a diluted, flower-scented shampoo may also prove effective in preventing fleas.

Multipurpose products: Fleas aren’t the only pesky parasites that attack dogs and cats. Look for flea collars that prevent ticks and other pests in addition to fleas as well as oral medications that prevent worms.