Would you believe that you can combat fleas naturally and prevent infestation using only 8 non-toxic ingredients?
I was working away with my mini dachshund nestled on my shoulders the other day when a flea hopped onto my arm – ewwww!
It's been a long time since we last had fleas, so I couldn't remember how to eradicate the little buggers without bombing the whole house. So I did my thing and researched until I found a solution. I was really impressed with the brilliant eco hacks available online, so I picked my favorites and tried them all. I wasn't taking any chances!
My Favorite Flea Busting Tricks
1. Vacuum, Vacuum, Then Vacuum Some More
You should especially do this in areas that don't get much exposure to sunlight (fleas like humid and cool spots), anywhere that you find dried blood and feces (flea debris), and upholstered furniture.
- Before vacuuming the carpets, sprinkle salt, diatomaceous earth or baking soda around liberally.
- Work it into the base of the carpet with a broom.
- Let it sit for a few hours while the powders do their work in causing flea eggs that are tucked deep into the carpet to dry out.
- Be sure to empty the dust bin or discard the bag outside and continue vacuuming thoroughly every other day.
- Fleas can develop resistance to insecticides, vacuuming regularly is essential in order to bring them under control.
Be sure to wash bedding too. Toss everything – including blankets from family beds where your dog sleeps – into the washing machine with hot, soapy water. Don't forget to include everything they like to lie or sleep on regularly too. If the bedding can go in the dryer, running them for 15 or 20 minutes in a hot dryer will kill adults, larvae and eggs. Then followup by washing all bedding at least once a week until the fleas are gone.
2. Use Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
Food-grade DE is completely natural, and it can be used pretty much anywhere. It’s a very sharp material, deadly to insects, but harmless to humans and mammals because it’s particles are so tiny. Farmers add it to stored grains to stop insects from invading their silos, and they feed it to their animals to control internal parasites like worms.
3. Bathe Your Dog with Dish Soap
Smother your dog in soap, but don't do it with Dawn. I used Better Life's safe dish soap and I could actually see those fleas go running – without the toxic chemicals! You'll need to bathe your dog every two or three days until the fleas are entirely gone.
4. Make Your Own Flea Traps
This one surprised me. I've heard of gnat and mosquito traps, but never flea traps. Turns out it's really simple and I was able to trap a ton of fleas overnight.
- Fill a shallow bowl or pie pan with soapy water and set it out overnight in the area you suspect of harboring fleas.
- Set a desk lamp over bowl of water. The fleas will be attracted to the heat and jump towards it, causing them to land in the soapy water. It helps if you turn off all other light sources so they are attracted to the spot you want them.
- Be sure to change the water daily until there are no more fleas. This technique helps you keep tabs on your progress: the more fleas you see, the more you need to clean the area and treat your dogs.
5. Make Your Own Herbal Flea Spray
Plants produce essential oils which function as their own built-in insect repellents, which makes them great for use in people and animals. With the exception of tea tree oil (which can be toxic for dogs), essential oils are natural, mild and may even help boost the immune system. Some of the most common oils that act as flea and insect repellents include lavender, citronella, cedar, peppermint, eucalyptus and lemongrass.
- Mix 10-15 drops of your favorite essential oil with 1-2 ounces of mild, organic soap and water. I used my Earth Mama Calming Lavender castile soap with several extra drops of lavender and some vinegar as an added boost.
- Pour into a spray bottle and spray your pet periodically throughout the day.
- Don't soak, but rather dampen the fur.
- You can also add 2-3 drops of the mixture under your pet's collar to help keep fleas away.
In the end, I was able to rid our dogs of fleas within one week. But I'm not going to lie – it took some effort and repetitive natural treatments.
How do you take care of fleas in your home?
Yes, food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is completely safe for all types of animals.
And I can vouch for that. We've been using it on our dogs regularly for the last couple of years for flea and tick control with great success and no adverse effects.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth is a fine, talc-like powder made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms called diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica. Over a long period of time, diatoms accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans.
Earth Easy explains how it works:
These diatom particles are very small and sharp – but only harmful to the small exoskeletons of insects. Insects cannot become immune to its action, as it is a mechanical killer – not a chemical one. Because it is like a light dust, it easily clings to the bodies of insects as they walk and crawl over it. The tiny diatom particles then cut the waxy coating of insects and they eventually dry out and die of dehydration within 48 hours. It is an all-natural product that is so safe, it can be sprinkled around your vegetable patch, or rubbed right into your dog’s fur.
In fact, many naturally-focused breeders I've spoken to add it to their animal's food each day to kill parasites. They also love the fact that it has 15 trace minerals, which helps fortify their diets.
What Bugs Does it Kill?
Diatomaceous Earth has proven to be effective against various household and garden pests including: Ants, Bedbugs, Silverfish, Flour Beetles, Fleas, Cockroaches, Slugs, Earwigs, Centipedes, Millipedes, Sowbugs, Pillbugs, Carpet Beetles, Spiders, Crickets, Colorado Potato Beetles and Caterpillars.
Be Sure to Choose Food Grade DE
Food grade DE has to meet certain specific requirements for heavy metals like lead and arsenic, while pool filtration grade DE is treated with chemicals and very high heat so it's dangerous for people and pets, so be sure you avoid it.
And even with food grade DE, t's always a good idea to use commonsense when applying so that you don't inhale a large amount. The National Pesticide Information Center says if breathed in, diatomaceous earth can irritate the nose and nasal passages temporarily, but doesn't cause any longterm damage.
Where to Find It
We ordered our first bag online and bought another bag today at a local farm supply store. I thought it was interesting that they commented about how quickly they're selling out of it these days. Folks are finally catching on to this simple, cheap alternative to toxic pesticides!