Help! How to Fight an Army of Fleas


If you’re undergoing World War Flea (forgive me for that one), I completely understand your frustration on many levels. Fleas are especially prevalent during warm weather and it’s pretty easy to bring them into your apartment unknowingly. It’s even easier if you have a dog or an indoor/outdoor cat dragging them in. And once they’re in, they are a complete nightmare to get rid of. They reproduce rapidly, hide in all your carpet, rugs, dark spaces, forcing you to wash everything and wage a war of fastidious tidying until they’re gone. And the scariest part is, flea eggs can take up to two weeks to hatch so it’s difficult to tell when you’ve really gotten rid of them.

You have to fight the war on fleas on two fronts: the host front, you and your pets, and the environmental front, where you live. You can treat carpets and furniture with a baking soda and salt mixture which dehydrates the fleas and eggs, allowing you to later vacuum them up and get rid of them. This is a fairly safe and pesticide way to treat tricky surfaces that are flea breeding grounds. It’s safe for pets, but best to keep them out of the area as the substances can be irritants. Most other flea treatments are very harmful to pets and people and should be approached with caution. Hardware and home improvement stores sell chemicals that kill fleas and eggs which you can spray on carpets and furniture, but they are dangerous for pets.

Once the environment is treated, you should tackle the process of de-fleaing your pets. This process isn’t too horrible if you’re treating a dog, but I have yet to meet a cat who enjoys a bath. It’s best to start with the bath to remove as many fleas as possible. Using baby shampoo or a gentle pet shampoo, make a ring of shampoo around your pet’s neck so the fleas do not all run up to your pet’s head. Gently bathe your pet as best as you can (without getting your eyes scratched out) and make sure all those fleas coming off wash down the drain. Once your pet is clean and dry, go over him or her with a flea comb to remove any stragglers. Treating your pet with a flea and tick medicine is also a good idea to kill the eggs and ward off any newcomers.

The apartment cleaning process should be repeated periodically to ensure no eggs are left behind and starting the process over. You can also make a spray from essential oils and water to spray on your furniture and even your dog to ward fleas off. You can use rosemary, citronella, tea tree, eucalyptus, and peppermint oils diluted properly as a repellent. However, do not use this spray on cats because they are too sensitive to use essential oils on.

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