Simple Tips for Safe Flea Control

Deter fleas the natural way with these non-toxic remedies.

| June/July 2007


Don’t let fleas ruin your pets’ fun!


Summertime means tasty barbecues, relaxing hammocks and scenic camping trips. But sultry dog days also mean larger populations of tiny household pests, such as fleas. Thankfully, there are effective non-toxic countermeasures you can easily employ.

There are 2,000 known species of fleas worldwide. But the cat flea, which bites cats, dogs and humans, is the most infamous indoor troublemaker. For every flea found on your animal, there are approximately 30 more in your home.

Most chemical flea control products target only 5 percent of the flea population — the adults. Because fleas become stronger and more immune to chemicals with each generation, toxic chemicals must be repeatedly applied. And, although a product may claim to be natural, some natural ingredients may cause allergic reactions or have toxic effects in animals. Visit eartheasy’s Natural Flea Control page for details.

Here are natural, easy tips to prevent fleas from entering your home:

  • Spray microscopic nematodes in moist, shady spots outside — even in flower and vegetable gardens. The worms eat flea larvae and can reduce populations by 90 percent within 24 hours.

  • Set eucalyptus leaves inside and out because fleas can’t stand the smell. Buy bunches at a craft store, cut them up and place leaves and stems in open glass jars. Set one or two in each room of the house. Also, hang pod-filled socks from branches around the yard.

Follow these tips to safely manage flea populations indoors:

  • Create a specific pet sleeping area that’s easy to clean often.

  • Restrict pets’ access to attics and basements.

  • Vacuum carpeting, furniture and floors weekly. When fleas are present, burn the bag promptly for effective disposal.

  • Regularly wash all bedding and rugs that your pet has contact with.

  • Comb your pet daily with a fine-toothed metal flea comb. Pull in the direction of the fur and drown fleas in soapy water.

  • At night, diligently place a dish of soapy water under a light near your pet’s bed to attract and trap fleas.

  • Treat your pet monthly with a homemade repellent. Place a thinly sliced lemon in a pint jug. Cover with boiling water and let the mixture soak overnight. In the morning, spray or rub the mixture into your pet’s skin and fur until damp, not wet.

Also, healthy animals are less susceptible to fleas. By feeding your animals a high-quality, natural diet free of additives and preservatives, you improve their health and dramatically increase their protection from fleas. Nutritional supplements can help too.

8/8/2013 11:40:28 AM

A Garcia, I'm with you on the DE. Works great for so many things and is healthy for us too!

8/8/2013 3:19:25 AM

Looks like no one has been here for a while, I hope I get an answer. I was told that placing dried eucalyptus ;eaves all under my house and growning some eucalyptus plants will keep fleas from breeding in my yard. Can anyone tell me if that is true?

heather euler
7/5/2012 2:19:29 PM

Spinosad. This chemical is currently approved for organic farming. It is on the market in the US for flea control as Comfortis (or Trifexis if you want to simultaneously treat for heartworms). I find the Trifexis is not as effective for I find fleas after three weeks. But the Comfortis seems to be able to go as long as five to six weeks before I see fleas.

joyce brazee
7/5/2012 1:14:46 PM

I have a question about fleas. Do chickens get fleas? THey love to take dirt baths and I often pick them up and hug them. Will the fleas transfer to me and subsequently will I bring them into the house?

sherry compton hanson
7/4/2012 11:27:47 PM

20 mule team borax works great- springle on carpet leave in at least 24 hours vacume. I did leave a little along the base boards .

cheryl collins
5/4/2011 4:22:09 AM

My Vet warned me that Garlic is definitely poisonous for dogs.

left of sean
7/8/2010 2:50:52 PM

Beth, not sure where you got that garlic is poisonous to dogs but you are completely wrong. Onions and chocolate are. As well as raisins. But garlic is perfectly fine and can be found in many dog treats and foods.

5/6/2010 8:34:11 PM

I'm not sure about brewer's yeast, but garlic is poisonous to dogs and should not be fed to them.

10/2/2008 10:22:29 PM

I've used Brewer's Yeast w/garlic for my cats and dogs daily for the past 15+ years successfully. I won't go into the long story of why I began using it but the results of the first use was so successful and saved me so much money that I haven't stopped using it. I live in Arizona USA and summers can be terrible for pets with all of the fleas and ticks. While my neighbors and their pets are suffering, my pets, my yard, my home are all free of fleas and ticks. Frequently, when I take my dogs for walks, they'll pick up ticks. For this I use Frontline religiously every month to kill the ticks and to keep them from laying eggs. In the house, I also use the electronic pest repellor Riddex Plus. I've used that since 1992. Before then, I had my home and yard sprayed monthly for insects and mice. Since using Riddex, no creepy crawlies stick around. Any pest that crawls on the walls or walks on the floors and ceilings just leave the house after a day or so. Riddex does nothing for flying insects until they land somewhere. So, although I see an occasional bug inside the house (ants included), they just don't stick around after a day. I like using Riddex because they don't kill the insects, just sends them away. I may not like pesky insects but I don't like killing them either. And I didn't like having my home or yard sprayed with chemicals. Since 1992, I have not had to do anything about insects and rodents in my home or yard and my pets have all remained relatively pest-free...even while my neighbors' yards are infested during the flea and tick season. PS Riddex has worked just as well for family members for whom I bought them. If the home has been heavily infested with roaches for a long time, it may take 2 or 3 months to see the last of them. But it's worked in every instance. I would never be without Riddex again! It's so much cheaper, safer, and easier to use than all of the flea and tick

bonnie wallace
11/13/2007 12:00:00 AM

I raise Boston Terriers, a very small operation, mostly out of my home.Its very hard to see fleas on them as their black markings are SO BLACK. I use a lot of Avon's Skin So Soft bath oil. The fleas hate it, and so do mosquito's! Im an avid gardener and I use it also. I give my dogs bath's in it, and also just spray them with it. It really WORKS!!Bonnie Wallace

l d_3
10/22/2007 12:00:00 AM

I use a quart spray bottle of 1part apple cider vinegar and 4 parts water with fresh rosemary left to steep. Sometimes I put a few drops of tea tree oil. Good thing I've never used it on the cat! I spray our very large dog before he goes out and sometimes when he comes in at the end of the day. I also use this as our mosquito repellent =) Once the vinegar dries you can't smell it.

c gardner
10/20/2007 12:00:00 AM

I have always used camphor spirits on my pets - both cat and dog. I mix a bit of it in shampoo and give them a bath. It kills the existing fleas, plus discourages any new ones from coming along. I keep a bottle of this in our first aid kit because it kills chiggers on humans too.

jeanne atchinson
9/25/2007 12:00:00 AM

The FrontLine liquid you put on the back of your cat's neck will continue to kill every flea that bites it. Over the course of a few weeks every flea in your house should be dead. Also, sprinkling Borax Mule Team laundry powder on your floors and carpets will kill fleas. Just vacuum them up a day or two later. You can do this every couple of weeks for a month or two and your flea problem should be eliminated. If you live in a "high flea" area, then I might combine several months of FrontLine with the Borax. Once you have a killing frost (if you live in the north) the fleas will stop coming into your home from outside.

raili dwyer
8/20/2007 12:00:00 AM

What is the best product to spray for fleas? I bought front line for my cat and that seems to have worked for her. But now I have to get rid of the fleas in the house.

jan g.
7/9/2007 12:00:00 AM

TEA TREE OIL IS TOXIC TO CATS!In response to the first comment about Tea Tree Oil as a treatment for fleas: PLEASE read all the information on this website: I came very close to using it on our cat after reading the first comment on this website until I ran across the afore-mentioned website and read how toxic it is.

rita swaringen
7/1/2007 12:00:00 AM

I read about using baking soda in the carpet, so I tried it. Kills 2 birds with one stone. Not only does it dehydrate the fleas like D-Earth but it also deodorizes. Sprinkle into carpet, leave at least 24 hours, and vaccuum.

a garcia
6/21/2007 12:00:00 AM

We use diatomaceous earth. Because we do not allow animals in the house, we've never had a flea problem inside. But living in FL, there are unwanted flies and fleas outside. The DE works alittle slower than some other remedies, but it does work and it's completely safe for all our animals: cows, chickens, rabbits, dogs, cats,guineas, sheep, fish, and goats. I also dust alittle on the kids socks and shoes when we go outside to feed everybody. That way we don't get hitchhikers inside!

melinda wilson
6/19/2007 12:00:00 AM

In addition to soapy water to dip flea combs in when grooming out animals, when we have fleas everyone wears white socks pulled up, the fleas are attracted to them and are easy to see and we can pick them off and dunk them in the water. To prevent them we sprinkle Borax everywhere (under beds and under large furniture especially) and then beat it deep into the carpets with a broom or stick. If we have fleas we simply vacuum them after a few hours, or leave it in to prevent fleas. The borax dries out the adults and whetever eggs land on the carpet. We have seven indoor-outdoor cats and not one flea. Just make sure to beat it deep into the carpet, don't just leave it on the surface or it can dry out paws and cause cracking. We also have five outdoor dogs, and a simple treatment of Advantix (not frontline- no good, and not HARTZ- may cause severe reactions in cats) clears up any fleas and prevents any ticks. We live in a forest, and the only time the dogs get fleas and ticks are when they haven't been treated.

d williams
6/17/2007 12:00:00 AM

We use pennyroyal soap to wash our dogs. I'm not sure whether it kills the fleas but is certainly stuns them out which we then pick out and place in eucalyptus oil. Often though of going into business making pennyroyal pillows. as anyone heard of placing "stinking roger" inside dog kennels to get rid of fleas? I'm sure going to try some of the other tips.

aida pitts
6/17/2007 12:00:00 AM

Hello to everyone, Lost Tuesday, I Flea Killer Plus Fogger, this moring I see flea again today. fogger again!P.S. my sweet dog 8-ball is die 3 three weeks ago; I always put on Frontline plus every mouth. But I get a cat, set outside she's old 14 old.thank you

h k_2
6/16/2007 12:00:00 AM

I am always reading that lemons (citrus) shouldn't be used around cats. D-limonene is a natural citrus extract found in flea shampoos and rinses. It gets rid of fleas by dissolving their waxy coating, thus causing dehydration and death.However, some cats and kittens are extra sensitive and may suffer if flea control products with this substance are used in an excessive amount.Toxic signs in cats from d-limonene include: * excessive salivation, * weakness, and * muscle tremors. Consult your trusted veterinarian immediately if these or any other suspicious symptoms occur.No toxic effects from d-limonene have been reported in use on dogs.

johna delano
6/16/2007 12:00:00 AM

In addition to eucalyptus I use diatomaceous earth lavender and rosemary ad sprinkle it onto my pet.I also put it inside their crates and around the perimeter of my home to stop all sorts of insects.

leonie edge
6/16/2007 12:00:00 AM

Suggest you go to an old classic, Juliette de Bairacli Levy's The Herbal Handbook for the Dog and Cat. Brilliant!

louis anderson
6/15/2007 12:00:00 AM

For many years we have fed our dog brewers yeast for flea control. Appears to work well. We feed our 20lb dog six tablets a day.

mike list
6/15/2007 12:00:00 AM

I read a tip in MEN years ago that yielded astonishing results. take a hanging light, and hang it above a shallow pan of water in an infested area. a couple of drops of soap, alcohol or detergent will reduce surface tension, which will make this work better. close the shades, and turn off all other lights in the room, and go for a walk or to the local brewpub, or.... when you come back to check the carnage, you'll be surprised. this method doesn't eliminate eggs, but if used regularly it could eliminate most of the adults that are needed to produce those eggs.

misty panzino_1
6/15/2007 12:00:00 AM

Here in Texas the fleas are epidemic. It is a constant battle to keep them at bay, and with 7 dogs it can be quite a job! We give our dogs fresh garlic to help ward them off, and we use diatomaceous earth both inside and outside the house to kill insects. We try to do as little as possible in the yard so that we don't kill all the "good" bugs. In the house sprinkle it on carpets, around baseboards, under furniture, and inside cabinets under sinks or wherever pests might be. If you find that it is creating too much dust when you apply it, just follow with a spray bottle of water and lightly mist the air as you go. It will cause the dust to settle and stick to the floor. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is non-toxic to everything except bugs. However you do want to avoid breathing the dust, or getting it in your eyes. It is nothing more than ground up fossilized microscopic diatoms, and works by scratching the surface of the insects/bugs and causing them to dehydrate. It is safe to ingest, and works quite well for eliminating internal parasites as well. We add it to our dog's, cat's, horse's, and goat's feed instead of chemical wormers. We even mix some with juice every now & then and drink it ourselves. And it's great in the garden when pests are present. You can purchase food grade DE at many feed stores or health food stores. Do not use the kind for pool filters as it is not safe for this purpose.

nan fickett
6/15/2007 12:00:00 AM

My favorite organic pest control for fleas, ticks, biting gnats, and horse flies for all my pets (horses, dogs, and even myself) is the time honored tee tree oil mixed with water.A little bit goes along way (I use just about four or five drops mixed with water in a 16 oz spray bottle.) Shake and spray on your pets. (Don't spray it in their eyes! I put a few drops on my hands and wipe it around their sensitive areas.)I also use this mixed in rinse water for doggie baths, horse baths, etc.Tee tree oil is also used for getting rid of head lice. (A few drops in a shampoo bottle works well.)Tee tree oil is an astrigent, an antiseptic and has a million uses, both for people and animals. You can find it in any health food store.

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