Monday, August 27

How to Rid Your Home of a Flea Infestation

Nope, you're not in the wrong place. Yep, this is still a blog about narcolepsy. Yes, my husband's narcolepsy did lead to a flea infestation in our home... in a rather roundabout way. Here's what happened:

I research narcolepsy constantly. Every week (at least!) I discover something new and interesting about my husband's illness. Well recently, I did some research about ESAs - Emotional Support Animals. Are you familiar with the term? An emotional support animal is jut what it sounds like; it offers emotional support to someone who desperately needs it. It's more than a pet - it's a friend, confidante, and someone to care for. Of course my husband has our young daughter and me, but I thought an ESA would be great for him. It would be just his, and since he's been a long-time cat person, I decided to ask him about adopting an adult cat. My husband loved the idea and voila! we added an adult female long-haired cat to our family. She and my husband were instant best buds, which was great. Unfortunately, our new friend had a secret problem that she neglected to mention to us: FLEAS.

I admire all of creation, but I must admit, fleas are disgusting, annoying - and in groups - horrifying! I've never experienced a flea infestation, and if you haven't had the pleasure, lemme tell ya - it's a nightmare. (psst... for those of you who have emailed me recently, this post is why I haven't gotten back to you yet! You know who you are...)

No, not that Flea.
That flea.

It started with just one. Well, just one that we could see, anyway. Before we knew it, they were everywhere! By the time we noticed that we might have a problem, we had a problem. Fortunately for our household - it could have been worse, and, our solution worked wonders. So for all pet lovers, animal hoarders, and cat people, here is our guaranteed (almost) method of removing unwanted fleas from your home. (I'm assuming you don't want fleas in your home.)

STEP 1. Get sprayed - I mean you. Seriously, even before you treat your pet, treat yourself. I highly recommend using a bug repellent with a high concentration of DEET, which I wouldn't typically recommend using. However, this is an emergency, and sometimes flea bites can actually make you ill. So get bug spray and treat your feet and ankles and whatever's on them (slippers, shoes, socks, etc.) and the cuffs of your pants every day until the fleas are gone. Remember, fleas need blood to survive. It doesn't matter whose.

STEP 2. Treat your fur baby. Now it's time to treat the animals in your home. If your situation is as simple as ours, it will be fairly easy. We have one indoor cat. If you have multiple pets and/or outdoor pets, your situation is going to be harder to control and more expensive to fix. Just sayin'. In any case, get a high-quality flea treatment for your animal(s). If necessary, take them to your vet to get a thorough flea bath and treatments. If that isn't necessary, use what we did - Flea Killer Capsules! We were impressed with these. You can hide the pill in a treat or open the capsule and dump the contents in kitty's food. Whatever you use, don't skimp on the quality. This is not an area where cheaper is always as good as the name brand stuff. You'll want to treat your pet immediately after you treat yourself. Now when fleas jump off of your furry friend, they won't find their next meal in you. Also, if you use a treatment like the one we like, the fleas that do bite your pet will die!

STEP 3. Start cleaning. This is the part that will take the most time, but it is necessary. You will need to gather or buy the following:
  • Ammonia, bleach, Pine Sol, or anything else you prefer to use to wash hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors.
  • Carpet powder, soap for a steam cleaner, or anything else you prefer to clean carpeting and rugs.
  • Laundry detergent and fabric softener (if you don't already have plenty)
  • Black plastic trash bags and ties (they need to be black)
  • Flea killer spray (We loved Hot Shot)
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Disposable plastic or aluminum pans (like the pans pie crusts come in)
Once you get all of your supplies together, here's what to do:
  • Wash anything that has been contaminated, using hot water where possible. (If this overwhelms you, just wash what you need to for now. Store dirty or clean laundry, shoes, bedding, or anything else that you can't get to yet, in black plastic trash bags until you're ready to wash everything and put it back in place.)
  • Anything that may have been contaminated doesn't necessarily need to be washed, so you can throw it in the dryer on high heat. The heat will kill both fleas and eggs. (Notice I said "may have been." Better safe than sorry.)
  • Anything that can't be washed - place in large black plastic trash bags, tie them closed, and place in hot sunlight. The heat generated inside the bag will kill fleas and eggs.
  • Anything that can't be washed, dryer dried, or bagged, spray with flea killer. I had to spray a couch and an easy chair - among other things.
Start on the floors:
  • Mop, steam clean, hand wash... whatever will get your floors clean. You'll get rid of lots of fleas this way and disturb their nests and eggs. Do a thorough job so that you won't have to do it again later. We have hardwood floors, so I used hot water and a generic lemon ammonia cleaner to mop the floors.
  • Once your floors are dry, start spraying everything with your flea killer. I hate using lots of chemicals in my home, but this stuff works great. Spray whatever you can from the floor to the couch. Don't forget to treat underneath chairs and couches, long curtains, behind shelves and cabinets... try to get something in every nook and cranny. The spray will kill on impact and kill any eggs, but you'll need to spray again in a couple of weeks so that you aren't enduring a second infestation weeks later. Don't forget the litterbox or dog bed - places where your pets hang out too!
STEP 4. Now set out your traps. What traps, you ask? Why, your flea traps of course! No need to spend 13 bucks on one - just make your own.
  • Put water and dishwashing liquid (just a drop or two) into a shallow dish or pie pan.
  • Set one trap in every room of your house.
  • The key to these traps - to attract the fleas - is to set the traps under light. At night, move a lamp to the floor, put a trap beneath it, and turn out the lights in the rest of the room.
  • In the morning, check your traps for dead fleas to see if your problem still remains. If you only see a couple of dead bugs, don't fret - this is a good sign! Hopefully it will be empty, but if it's full - uhoh - you may need to go back a step.
STEP 5. Sigh in relief. You're done! You should see either a significant decrease in the flea population in your house or none at all. I found one today, but it wasn't moving too quickly. I got out my spray and covered a corner of my office that I missed. Also, don't forget to breathe. You can always burn your home to the ground. Okay, I'm kidding. But seriously, it's gonna be okay. You don't have to try to rid your home of fleas in just one day. Do what you can when you can. It took my husband and I several days to really make a significant difference. I'm still working on my office and the kitchen.

P.S. If you just don't have the time or energy to do all of the steps listed here, @ least clean and spray your floors. If you prefer, you can even call an exterminator. My method is for the average family, who, like us, doesn't have the budget for an exterminator and just wants the fleas gone with as little chemical interference as possible (that's why I don't mention using a fogger).

If this post bored you to tears, I'm sorry. But this experience really shook me up! I just had to pass on this info to anyone else who might ever go through a home taken over by fleas. The lesson I learned? Once again, narcolepsy interrupts our lives. :o)


  1. My dog Oreo, a Siberian husky, had the same problem before and it was out of control. It was affecting even us, so we decided we had to do something about it. Here’s what we did: we used bathe Oreo using bar soap and we combed the entirety of his fur. Then we had everyone sprayed with anti flea to make sure. After a few weeks of diligently following these routines, we were able to eliminate all the pests.

    Lucile Lynch

  2. This post was so relatable. My ESA for narco got fleas at the end of the summer. It took all fall to get rid of them- mostly because I could only do part of the cleaning before passing out. Thankfully after pushing myself to the edge for a month our house is now clear- but these annoying problems can become so much worse when you can only do dishes and laundry on a normal basis

  3. Excellent article - pretty much reflects others I've read but well done and with great style - thanks much for taking the time

  4. This is good info since where I live I cant bomb and its safe for my kids and my cat...and I dont have the money for an exterminator....ill be doing this alot

  5. Nothing has worked with our infestation so far :( its so frustrating

  6. It was a very good post indeed. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it in my lunch time. Will surely come and visit this blog more often. Thanks for sharing. Miniature cats

  7. There are big problems for a home.I had never such problems.

  8. I will try this I just got a house and as I was cleaning it I seen it had fleas not a lot so I moped all my floors cause it's all hardwood with bleach for a week went back today to see if any more was there and it was wose then the other day I haven't moved any of my stuff in yet it just hard to walk in there with out getting them all over you. I'm working and going to the new house cleaning and coming back to my place I'm still in to take care of my kids. Just want them gone so I can move in

  9. A great way to get rid of fleas is to use small branches/sticks from the black walnut tree. Fleas are drawn to them. Any fleas in the area will go there and stay. Get rid of branches every 24 hours.
    Also, diameateous earth will kill them and any other bugs or insects in the house. It is also safe for animals. It is actually good for their digestive system.