Buying Guide

How to Get Rid of Fleas

Flea Life Cycle
A graphic showing the life cycle of a flea.

Different treatments work better during different stages of a flea's life cycle. Use a combination of flea control treatments for best results on how to get rid of fleas and, ultimately, how to kill fleas. Consult the options in this guide to learn which treatments should be used and when.


Egg:

  • Smooth and white
  • Laid in pet's sleeping areas
  • Hatch in 2 to 12 days

Effective Treatments:


Larva:

  • Small and worm-like
  • Stage lasts 2 to 24 days 
  • Very mobile
  • Host's appearance stimulates hatching

Effective Treatments:


Pupa:

  • White, oval cocoon
  • Stage lasts 5 to 14 days
  • Host's appearance stimulates hatching 

Effective Treatments:


Adult:

  • Wingless
  • Flat and brown
  • Can jump long distances
  • Pierce host's skin to feed on blood
  • Looks for first blood meal within 24 hours after leaving cocoon
  • Lives 2 to 3 months on average

Effective Treatments:

Flea Treatment Options
Dog being treated for fleas.

There are a number of different treatment options that can be combined in various ways to solve a flea problem, including insect growth regulators, organic treatments and more.


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


Natural flea treatment: So how do you get rid of fleas naturally? Adding a small amount of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar to your pet's water or food may deter fleas from biting; always consult your veterinarian before making changes to your pet's diet. 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.


Systemic treatments: These oral medications are usually administered monthly and prevent flea eggs that have been laid on your pet from hatching.

Flea Treatment for Pets
Dog with Flea collar

The first step in effective flea treatment is to address any infested pets when you first notice fleas on them by using dog flea and tick treatments. Not only does this provide relief for your furry friend, but it starts to get control of the flea problem at the source.


  • Use a fine-toothed metal flea comb to remove adult fleas from your pet; flick the fleas into a basin of soapy water where they will drown.
  • Wash your pet in specially formulated flea shampoos to remove both eggs and live fleas.
  • Spot treatments are applied between your pet's shoulders and protect it 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.
Flea Treatment for Homes
Woman vacuuming her living room.

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. Below are some methods on how to get rid of fleas in your house.


  • Thoroughly vacuum your pet's favorite spots, such as the carpet, and particularly where it sleeps.
  • Immediately after vacuuming, seal the vacuum bag in plastic and dispose of it outside before fleas have a chance to escape.
  • Be sure to treat baseboards, windows, doorframes and other areas fleas may try to hide.
  • Continue to vacuum consistently to reduce the chances of another buildup.
  • Wash your pet's bedding, throw rugs and pillows to destroy fleas and eggs.
  • Use foggers, powders and sprays to kill fleas and inhibit their growth.
Flea Treatment for Yards
Person using outdoor flea spray.

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. Below are some ways to get rid of fleas in your yard.


  • Remove dead plants and other debris where fleas can breed.
  • Use sprays on patios, along foundations and under porches.
  • Reapply flea sprays after rainstorms according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Regular watering and lawn maintenance combined with a healthy dose of sunshine should prove effective in controlling fleas in your yard.
  • Apply extra treatments to damp areas that are protected from sunlight, such as crawl spaces.
Flea Prevention
Person using flea spray on their sofa.

In order to avoid future infestations of your pet or home, continue to do a combination of the tasks mentioned in this guide. 


  • Keep using treatment options such as IGRs and sprays.
  • Keep your home clean by vacuuming, washing and more.
  • Give your pet flea prevention medication, or look into flea collars if your furry friend is prone to fleas.
  • Keep your yard maintenance up, and regularly remove debris.

By following these treatments for getting rid of fleas, and continuing using preventative measures, you'll hopefully keep them out of your home and off your pets. If the problems persist, look into a professional exterminator to get the job done. And if your pet remains in distress, seek out your local veterinarian for options.