How to get rid of fleas: 8 tricks for getting rid of fleas plus our recommended flea spray

Brought in by your cat or dog, bloodsucking fleas can infest carpets and rugs, but we’ve got the lowdown on how to evict these unwelcome home occupants

dog with fleas
(Image credit: 247 blinds)

Need to know how to get rid of fleas? Usually brought into the house by your dog or cat, fleas feed on dirt and by sucking blood from animals and, sometimes, us humans.Their bites aren't harmful but they are itchy and annoying.

Fleas are big enough that you might catch sight of the odd one hopping across a surface your pet frequents – perhaps the carpet, sofa or (eek!) bed. And because they breed quickly, you'll want to know how to get rid of fleas quickly. 

Use this guide to get the job done, and find out how to get rid of other household pests with our help. Then, find more cleaning tips, hacks and advice on our hub page.

What are the signs of a flea infestation?

The fleas that occasionally invade our homes tend to be cat and dog fleas – it's very unlikely that you'll find human fleas. So, the good news is that you're most likely to spot fleas because of your pet's behaviour, rather than because you yourself are infested. 

The biggest telltale sign is that your dog or cat might be scratching or biting its fur or fidgeting constantly. This is a good time to have a look at your pet to see if you can spot the fleas – or rule out a skin infection. If you can't see any fleas on your pet, have a good look around the places they like to lie down, perhaps their beds or a particular spot on the sofa. 

Flea know how

Fleas are black, and around 2.5mm long; and they can really jump – up to a metre high – which is when you'll have the best chance of spotting them. 

If you're hunting about for them indoors – or perhaps in the garden – bear in mind that they like shady, humid, and warm spots. 

Fleas breed quickly, with one female laying up to 20 eggs that can hatch within a couple of days. In warm, humid climates, fleas live from several weeks to several months; in colder climates, with no host to feed on, the larvae can remain dormant, waiting for better conditions to develop. 

For this reason, while treating a current flea problem, bear in mind that when the weather warms up (or the heating goes on), you may need to take up the cleaning regime again. For best results, keeping up the cleaning programme for a few months beyond the infestation is a wise move.

Best ways to get rid of fleas

1. Start by vacuuming the furniture – soft furnishings like cushions, mattresses and upholstery are the perfect refuge for fleas. 

2. Take everything outside that you can, well away from the house and shake it out into the garden.

3. Hot wash everything you can. That goes for soft furnishings and any clothes that are in or have been in the room affected. Wash your bed linen, mattress protector, and pets’ bed linen on the hottest wash recommended, too.

4. Thorough vacuuming is key to getting the fleas out of carpets and rugs. It can remove a good proportion of flea larvae and flea eggs. Make sure you go right up to the edges of the room when you vacuum as this is where they can lurk. You’ll also need to vacuum right under all your furniture, too. 

5. Don't stop at soft furnishings: although your carpet, sofa or bed might be where you first spotted the fleas, you’ll need to do the same with wooden flooring (fleas can infest the gaps). 

6. Move on to gaps! Any gaps between skirting boards and walls, cracks in walls... they're all worth your attention.

7. Get the right kit and use it right: a pet vacuum will do a top job, but make sure you empty it after each vacuuming session, disposing of the sealed vacuum cleaner bag in the bin outside, not in your interior. Got a bagless cleaner? Empty the dirt cylinder into a bag outside, tie the bag closed, and put the bag in the bin out there.

8. Treat your home with a flea spray that will kill remaining fleas and their eggs. Always follow the instructions explicitly, including those on how long you need to exclude pets and children from the room you are treating, and on ventilating the room afterwards.

This is our favourite flea spray (it works)

The Realhomes.com team has a ton of pets between them (well a few kgs' worth, anyway) and flea infestations aren't unknown at Realhomes Towers. 

We've used and recommend Virbac Indorex Defence Household Flea Spray; it's a vet-recommended product which kills adult fleas and stops development of eggs and larvae. It promises to get rid of adult fleas – and house dust mites – on contact for up to two months after application, and prevent the development of flea eggs and larvae for up to 12 months. 

You’ll need to shut doors and windows before you use it, and keep pets out. Spray the carpet, plus other surfaces according to instructions, and don't neglect skirting boards and underneath rugs. Ventilate the room as indicated afterwards. You’ll need to vacuum your rooms for seven consecutive days after treatment as well.

The best vacuums for pets (and to get rid of fleas)

DYSON LIGHT BALL ANIMAL UPRIGHT VACUUM CLEANER

Dyson is known for its powerful vacuums, and the Animal is no exception. If you have pets, then this is regarded as one of the best vacuums you can buy.

Since Dyson is known not only for suction power but also filter simplicity, this is the best vacuum easy cleaning of pet hair. You can suck up all kinds of pet hair without worry of blockage or leave stray hairs due to a lack of power. The attachment options also make cleaning a pet bed a simple task too.View Deal

MIELE COMPLETE C3 CAT & DOG VACUUM CLEANER

This specialised vacuum for pets by Miele is designed for those who tend to suffer with allergies, particularly to dust and pet hair; making this the best vacuum for allergies to pets.View Deal

SHARK DUOCLEAN CORDED STICK VACUUM

If you don’t want to lug around a big and bulky vacuum (who does?), then the Shark DuoClean Vacuum is lightweight and easy to manoeuvre, plus its thin body makes it easy to store. In fact this is one of the best vacuums for quick pet hair cleaning.View Deal

How to get rid of fleas with home remedies

There are tons of home remedies associated with getting rid of fleas – from making a flea trap out of hot soapy water and putting it where you've seen fleas (perhaps in your dog's bed or on the sofa, for example) to sprinkling the sofa/carpet/dog bed with bicarbonate of soda, salt, ground rosemary or lemon then vacuuming. However, it's unlikely that any element of these remedies works, other than the vacuuming.

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