Natural Ways To Combat Fleas
When you're opting to go chemical-free, it's hard to find a flea treatment that actually works. Try these natural flea remedies to rid your home and pets of these parasitic pests!
Every year, pet owners struggle to keep the fleas away from their four-legged friends. If you prefer all-natural solutions to store-bought chemicals, then flea season can be even more challenging. With so many treatments that aren’t pet-safe, it’s hard to find a pet-friendly solution that actually works. If you want to beat the fleas this summer, we’ll show you some natural flea remedies along with a few ways to avoid an infestation!
Natural Flea Remedies
Fleas are wingless parasites that have great jumping ability, enabling them to easily locate and ambush your pets. They feed on blood, and female fleas consume roughly 15 times their body weight each day. They excrete the blood, which dries to form what is commonly referred to as “flea dirt.” This serves as food for flea larvae. Because they are so small, they are difficult to detect, therefore, treat. You might feel outnumbered and fear it’s a losing battle, but there are effective ways to combat them.
Unfun Fact: One adult female flea will lay a total of 2,000 eggs over her lifetime!
Preventing Fleas In The First Place
The best flea prevention targets places where fleas live. As long as fleas are living in your yard, your pets will constantly be plagued by them. While your pet may pick up a few stray fleas out in the dry, sunny areas of your lawn, their breeding grounds are in damp, shady spots like flower beds or underneath your porch or the doghouse.
Combatting Fleas Outdoors
- Keep your lawn well mowed so that there are fewer places for fleas to hide.
- Weed often. The same goes for flower beds and shaded areas – fewer weeds means fewer fleas.
- If you’ve had flea infestations before, the best solution may be to apply food-grade diatomaceous earth to the fleas’ favorite haunts. Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made up of finely crushed diatoms (a shell-like matter), which works by dehydrating the fleas. Sprinkle in sandy patches and shaded areas. Caution: the fine powder can be bothersome to some with respiratory sensitivities—you have to be careful not to breathe it in.
- Try pyrethrin dust. Pyrethrin is a natural insecticide that comes from flowers. Scatter it in flea-prone spots to kill existing fleas and prevent future infestations. You can also grow your own pyrethrum. Plant these flowers around your home to repel fleas or harvest the flowers, dry them and crush them to make your own pyrethrin dust. You can find pyrethrum at your garden center under the name “painted daises” or Chrysanthemum cinerariaefolium.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Pyrethrin is toxic to cats, so whether you buy it or make your own, never apply it to your cat or his bedding. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat that frequents your garden beds or other flea hotspots, you may want to keep the cat indoors for a few days after treatment or avoid using pyrethrin altogether. Read more here.
Combatting Fleas Indoors
- The best defense is cleanliness. Wash your pet’s bedding and vacuum your home each week to pick up eggs and larvae that have found their way indoors. If possible, scatter a handful of fresh cedar chips in your pet’s bedding to help repel fleas.
- You can also make your pet a DIY flea collar with essential oils. However, you should always do your homework before choosing an oil for your pet. Cedar oil and lavender oil are two pet-friendly options. To use them, add 5 drops of oil to a tablespoon of water, and then dab the solution on a collar or bandana that your pet can wear. ONLY for external use.
What If You Have A Flea Infestation?
If you have a flea infestation, the key to success is persistence. Fleas lay eggs at an amazing rate – one adult female will lay 20 to 50 eggs each day for a total of 2,000 eggs over her lifetime. To keep up with the flea eggs, vacuum your home thoroughly every day and dispose of the vacuum bag after each session.
Here are more flea-busting tips:
- In hard-to-clean spots, like carpets or area rugs, scatter salt. Salt dries out fleas just like diatomaceous earth, but it’s less messy, and unlike diatomaceous earth, it doesn’t pose a respiratory threat when used indoors.
- Borax powder is also effective against fleas and their larvae. Sprinkle borax powder (not to be confused with boric acid!), such as 20 Mule Team, onto carpets and heavily trafficked areas, work it in with a stiff-bristled broom and close off the area for the night so pets and children cannot access. Then vacuum it up in the morning and dispose of the vacuum bag in a dumpster or away from your home.
- On your pets, a simple soap-and-water bath is the best way to get rid of fleas fast. The fleas will rush towards your pet’s face to keep from drowning, so use a flea comb to remove the fleas. Dunk the comb in soapy water to trap the fleas so that you can dispose of them. Add cedar or lavender oil to your pet’s bathwater to help prevent a new infestation.
- Outdoors, continue using diatomaceous earth or pyrethrin dust to kill fleas. You can also use neem seed extract to make a mist that you can use indoors, outdoors or on your pet. This natural compound contains azadirachtin, which can kill fleas for up to two weeks. Neem seed isn’t good for children under three, however, so if you have young kids, avoid using it on your pets or spraying it where your children play. You can find it on Amazon or other sites where natural remedies are sold.
Try some of these remedies and enjoy a summer without all the scratching!
Try these Flea-Be-Gone Dog Treats you make yourself!
Amber Kanuckel is a freelance writer from rural Ohio who loves all things outdoors. She specializes in home, garden, environmental, and green living topics.
The best flea killer is walnut leaves! Gather walnut leaves and put in your pets bedding area by the time the leaves dry out the fleas will be all gone. I thought this was an old wise tale until I tried it myself on our lab that has a bad allergic reaction to flea bites. 🙂 My grandfather use to always do this for all of his animals. This really works!!!
Hi Jacqueline, thanks for sharing this, we hadn’t heard this one!
Where do you find food-grade DE? Please don’t say Amazon-too expensive. I have a cat and Frontline Gold almost killed him. I need a safe alternative. (For outside use, I am concerned about harming my beloved lizards. Any suggestions? Thanks–
Most any Garden Center will sell it. But be sure it is FOOD GRADE, as any other type is toxic to aninals.
I swear for 17 years with my 5 golden retrievers used only garlic powder in their kibble. Just a sprinkle and we live in a very rural area where fleas and ticks are everywhere and they never got any. All my goldens lived to be 15-17 years old so it wasn’t bad for them and I swear by it no matter what any one says. Garlic is bad or them in one sitting if given a lot of it. I gave them chocolate, like a piece or two very small and they never got sick. It depends on the amount given. Garlic powder worked wonders for my 5 goldens and potbelly pig for 17 years.
Must be Food Grade the one you use in pools is toxic. Rub on their coats sprinkle on their food. I use regularly. Also called Fossil Flour or DE.
Diatomaceous Earth is an odorless and nontoxic white powder. It is composed of finely milled fossilized shells of organisms called diatoms. The powder has an abrasive quality similar to pumice with very high porosity. The porosity allows it to absorb moisture easily. Because of the pumice-like quality of fossil shell flour, it is widely used to deter crawling insect pests.
DE or Diatomaceous Earth has many uses.
Use to control crawling indoor & outdoor pests such as crickets, silverfish, bedbugs, carpet beetles and cockroaches.
The EPA has approved it as an anti-caking agent in animal feed.
DE is approved by the FDA for internal and external use as a Food Grade Chemical
1 cup dawn liquid – 2 cups white vinegar – 1 gallon water . Mix well soap your pet let sit five mins the rinse well and be amazed at the dead fleas in the bottom of your tub
Down soap is bad for dogs and other pets . Down said NOT to use their product on dogs.
I give 2 tbs of DE to my greyhound everyday for year and half, but this week she is now loaded with fleas. I smash the fleas I can but they never have blood. What should I do?
The vet I take my dog to said not to give my dog garlic, especially garlic cloves as it will cause internal bleeding. What say all of you?
That your vet is 100% right!
I have an outside dog and plenty of woods around I have tried everything you can think of to keep ticks and fleas off of her. than one day when I was shopping I found a spray in the pet aisle called Simple Solutions and it was peppermint and clove spray and it worked no fleas the ticks I find are dead I love this spray I put it on her twice a month and rub it in her thick fur and on her stomach she loves the rub down
Planting fennel repels fleas, there is an old saying, fennel near the kennel !
Thank you Paul Dolph, that’s a good one!
Another good remedy that really works is skin so soft from Avon
Skin So Soft.. omg it has been years since I heard someone mention that old favorite
Garlic has been dissed by many, but there are still many others, including vets, who swear by it. It has always worked for us and the dogs were never affected, other than losing fleas! Everyone should follow what they believe is correct, but just stating that garlic is toxic to dogs does a disservice…and there are those of us who know better from experience.
I love diatomaceous earth. Used it in the Spring in the yard and sprinkled it around in the house by baseboards and the back splash on the counters (for ants) and I have four dogs that are still flea free. It is the food grade and I also take it myself in a fruit juice of a morning and put it in the dogs’ food every day. It has also helped to clear my house of those thin legged house spiders, as I hate any spiders in my house.
We battled fleas for weeks and after we thought we were rid of them, my husband found two on him in our bedroom. Not sure where I saw this idea but it worked!!! Use a small desk lamp, although I used a headlamp hanging from my gardener’s kneeling bench, and a white pie plate filled with water and a squirt of Dawn soap. Leave it turned on in an otherwise dark room. The next morning we had 14 fleas dead in the water. We left it on till we found no more fleas. It took a week or so till we got the ones that were hatched later.
Where can I buy been seed?
Neem oil. Absolutely brilliant at keeping the fleas away. Two drops on the back of the neck every three weeks really does do the trick. The cats aren’t too happy with the smell and will threaten to leave home but they’re back for supper and all’s forgiven by the next day. Promise!
So this is safe for dogs and cats?
I have heard of a natural remedy for bugs using stale beer Epsom salts & I think vinegar, but no exact amts. Please help if you have a recipe . THANK YOU
I LIKE THE SUGGESTION’S ANOVE. A VET TOLD ME, INSTEAD OF SPENDING ALOT ON DOG SHAMPOO’S JUST USE JOY DISHWASHING SOAP OR ANY SOAP WITH LEMON. BUT NOT TO USE ALOT BEACAUSE IT COULD DRY OUT THEIR SKIN. WASH ONLY ONCE OR TWICE A MONTH.
The best and safe, is Dawn and baby shampoo.
I Love DE! I found a doggie soap on the internet made with Diatomaceous earth and essential oils proven to repel fleas. It really works. As I’m shampooing my pup I watch the fleas jump off into the water…hehehe. A good flea combing to remove the dead ones and my little guy is flea-free for weeks. And he smells nice, too!
In response to this comment…
“I did some research on internet because i have two dogs,didn’t want them to get fleas or ticks since i was moving to a house with a backyard and i have had wonderful results with giving my dogs one garlic tooth for a week every month. I have not seen a single flea or tick on them ever since,and it’s been 2years and a half since i moved into my house.I put the garlic on a small piece of bread with penutbutter so that way they can eat with no worry☺
by Kandida Rosso on May 29, 2015 at 2:54 am”
IF you did research then you know GARLIC is TOXIC to pets.
In exaggerated quantities , Half glove every day or every other day is actually very healthy. 🙂 You may want to do your research again and stop believing what everything Google is telling you. ??
I did some research on internet because i have two dogs,didn’t want them to get fleas or ticks since i was moving to a house with a backyard and i have had wonderful results with giving my dogs one garlic tooth for a week every month. I have not seen a single flea or tick on them ever since,and it’s been 2years and a half since i moved into my house.I put the garlic on a small piece of bread with penutbutter so that way they can eat with no worry☺
Try cedar oil, bugs don’t like the smell…if you spray on furniture, test a spot first…I just take a dot on finger on the back of cat/dogs neck…then put them outside fleas will jump ship…
I’m very interested in all of these posts,,but with no money to buy some of these things,,what would be a good idea for us to use?? We have a big yard lots of trees,,an lately a hole lot of rain Help! Thanks
for any poster who uses ESSENTIAL OILS near their CATS, it can be extremely toxic to them, making them very, very sick. I have if my dog is very healthy and bathed once a week we don’t have much of a problem with fleas. When you go to shampoo you dog since fleas will run up to the head, first soap up the neck and leave it there, they will not be able to get to the head. Also I use the Stopper on the bathtub so looking at the water I can see how many fleas we are dealing with. I have successfully used aromatherapy on my dogs, but don’ t over do it since their sense of smell is so keen…good luck!!!
Iodized table salt will kill fleas, especially on carpets: sprinkle heavily, leave on 24-48 hours and vacuum up. Dispose of bag away from thd house. Repeat as necessary, sslt must be iodized.
I had the worst infestation EVER…long story…and tried everything both toxic and natural. Three years later I read about a trap for bed bugs and tried it for the fleas: get a block of dry ice and place in a plastic milk bottle with the top cut off and cover with saran wrap. Set in center of large platter with diatomaceous earth surrounding it. Place in a dark room with one small light nearby. Turn off all other lights in the house. Close the shades and blinds. They are attracted to the heat of the light and the carbon dioxide that the dry ice gives off, like the exhalation of a blood source (pets or us). Amazing grace.
Jane, how long did you have to do this one, two, three nights? Could you just Answer through my email so it would be easier cuz I most likely would not be able to get back here. Thank you so much, Karen. Waiting patiently for new mgs in my email.
Buy Brewers yeast an add approx. a tsp. daily to your pets food, this will deter fleas from your pet, this is also said to help with ticks.
We had a bird dog once. Took him to vet. Vet said he had red mange and couldn’t be cured. I did a lot of research and was into vitamins minerals and natural stuff. Read about brewers yeast…byproduct of making beer not live yeast! I put 2 tablespoons of powdered brewers yeast on his food everyday and voila! Mange gone and had a beautiful coat of hair. Brewers yeast has b vitamins in also. Worked great.
Yes, absolutely! I also use DE the same way you do too…I sprinkle a little in each corner of the basement to keep spiders away, and add to dogs’ supper (and to the dry crunchies when it sits in a large container to keep it fresh and bug-free) When my hubby and I take a break from taking it internally, I add a little to the flour for my muffins and we still get the benefit.
Diatomaceous earth. The best. I get the food grade and sprinkle around my house, in my dogs’ house, on my dog after he is dry from a bath and a bit in his food. too. I even eat it myself. Great for toxins, parasites and pests.
Jeannie did you mean Garlic oil capsules?
For my 6 of my samoyeds, I have given them daily a light dose of gatlic oil (capsules). They love it and the fleas have stayed away even though we live in a wooded area with squirrels running all over the decks they lay on.
TY 4 a very informative article! GBU☺
I give my dog Brewers yeast (found in pet aisle). I give it year round – dosage based on weight. The last 3 years it has been pretty effective. I have only had to use flea treatment for a month or two – less than a dozen fleas but am a little crazy with keeping the house clean. Hope this helps.
I found a product called Pet Protector a year ago. I kept watching there site and reading the testimonies about it. I finally ordered one. It is a small disc you attach to the pets collar. You are advised to make sure your pet and surroundings are clear of fleas and ticks and to use an alternative natural product with the pet protector for the first month because it take about 20 days for the scalar energy to cover full protection. It is being used safely in 194 counties with great success. This disc, protects your pet from fleas and ticks for 4 years. Check it out. Just click on the link(you might have to copy and paste it)
http://www.petprotector.org/products?ID=37251 and read about it.
It can also be used on horses, llamas etc. Of course more then one pet protector will be needed
on larger animals
For my dog, as a flea and tick preventative, I use as spray that I make with essential oils. I put several drops of geranium, peppermint, eucalyptus, clove, and cedar essential oils into a glass bottle and add water, then put into a spray bottle. (You can also add vinegar and vegetable oil to the bottle). I then spray my dog’s bandana and little over his body. I also use this around my ankles to repel ticks and mosquitoes.
We have hardwood floors. One year when we were fighting fleas, I did what was suggested by Sandi. I took a 13×9 glass baking dish, put in it a little water and dishwashing liquid. In the dish, I placed a lit oil lamp, a heavy one so it wouldn’t easily tip, and put it in the center of the living room at night. Be sure no people or animals would be going through the area and knock it over! The next morning, it was filled with dead fleas. After a 4-5 nights, we had no more fleas.
I also found a homemade all-natural pet shampoo bar made with neem oil, cedarwood, citronella, eucalyptus and pennyroyal essential oils. I don’t bathe the cat with it but grate it and wash his blanket and the small throw he sleeps on. The scent was pleasant and I don’t fear us or the animals touching chemicals.
Can you tell me the name of the pet shampoo bar you used? I’ve tried so many things both natural and not natural and still dealing with fleas.
Adam, you may want to give this a try. Put a dish of soapy water under a nightlight near where your cat sleeps or near the windows. Some say this works well.
My wife an I are cat lovers and live in a home with primarily wooden floors through out our home. Our cats stay inside but I am convinced they contract fleas from being in the WINDOWS…What should we do for fleas with our hard wood floors ? I was told to put soapy water in bowls and put in dark places like under beds and behind furniture, is that true? Anyway please help I have recently had kittens and pesticides are seemingly out of the question…Thank You