Can home flea repellents get rid of fleas?
Yes, but they can’t work alone – you also need to ensure your pet is directly protected, and that the home is kept vacuumed and clean. However, they do a great job at tackling any fleas that are not on your pet.
Did you know that only 5% of fleas are actually on your pet at any one time? The other 95% are on soft furnishings, just jumping onto your pet temporarily to feed. Fleas will also only die if they bite your pet and ingest the product in their blood but can live for up to two weeks without a meal. Eggs and larvae can also only be killed by home sprays and foggers.
Treat your pet effectively using a cat flea treatment or dog flea treatment, wash soft furnishings on a very high heat and regularly vacuum and steam carpets and surfaces which you cannot wash.
Vacuuming is vital as no insecticide can kill off fleas at the pupae stage (you must wait until they hatch), so hoovering regularly over the course of seven days should get all last traces remaining. You may also wish to reapply repellents after this time.
Before applying any of the above, you should remove all washable surfaces like cushion covers and bedding and wash on high heat for the best results.
Ensure your pet is protected with topical or tablet treatments before releasing them back into the room. Read our guide on how to rid your home completely of fleas.
Which flea repellent is best for me?
In the vast majority of cases, sprays that can be used directly on surfaces are best and should be where you start the fight. Fleas are not airborne creatures, so while they are designed to disperse droplets, airborne foggers can be a step too far in most cases.
But if your infection is severe, you may need a fogger or smoke bomb to clear all areas, such as high up on curtains, just as a precaution.
How long does it take to get rid of fleas?
In simple terms, you have to be patient. Maybe not what you want to hear if you’re being bitten every night, but patience is key to eradicating the issue.
Because fleas can’t be killed in their pupae life stage, they must become adults before the treatment will work on them. This can take anywhere from a few days to months, so while most products will still work for up to 12 months, you may need to reapply regularly and simply wait. However, you should see a definite improvement within a week or so.
When should I use flea repellants in the home?
Home flea repellants should be used when you are sure or suspect there are fleas in your home, such as clues from your pet or if you are being bitten.
A flea spray can also be used as a preventative measure every so often, such as monthly at the same time as the reapplication of spot-on topical treatments for your pet. Summer is a particularly vital time to protect your home when the weather is hotter and fleas are more prominent in the heat. This is particularly relevant if you take your dog on walks in the grass or your cat is outdoors.
However, fleas can also thrive in winter inside your home, as you will be using central heating and blankets to create a warm environment for yourself. Unfortunately, fleas also thrive in the warmth.
You need to pick a good day where you can leave the house for a few hours and also leave windows and doors open after about an hour to air the room and free it of any leftover smell or airborne chemical particles.
Fleas can still come into your home even if your pet is protected. For some pets which use topical treatments, they can carry the fleas but it is only when the flea bites that they die. This can mean that fleas come into the home, and end up in your carpet where they lay eggs and begin a life cycle.
Where should I apply flea home treatment?
If using an aerosol or trigger spray, some important areas to cover are:
- Sofas and chairs
- Skirting boards and other areas which contact the above
- Around door frames
- Underneath furniture
- Outside areas (like outbuildings, patios and decking, especially in warmer months)
As with any product, do check that it is suitable to use on all of the above before using. You may need to use a few different products to cover the whole house.
Can I use flea repellents on my mattress?
Does Fido also sleep on your bed? You’re probably waking up with chewed ankles in the morning.
Not all of the treatments above can be used on mattresses or dog beds. Some flea treatments contain insecticides that cannot have contact with skin or be breathed in huge amounts.
As mattresses and some dog beds can’t be washed, this repellent can’t be gotten rid of so could cause some issues. Try to buy a natural repellent if using somewhere like this, and choose steaming and vacuuming. Or, opt for one which is safe if it comes into contact with skin.
Are home flea treatments safe for animals?
Permethrin is an ingredient found in a lot of the above insecticides. It is a synthetic pyrethroid that acts as a neurotoxin on insects.
It is very toxic to cats, who cannot tolerate the therapeutic doses made for dogs. It remains much longer in cat organs compared to dogs and can be fatal in larger doses, so if you have cats, increase the recommended wait times before you allow them into the room.
The pyrethroid also has shown a toxic effect on rats and other small animals, so do the same with these. Lastly, it is highly toxic to aquatic mammals, so remove fish tanks before using flea sprays.
If you are worried about these issues, opt for a treatment that doesn’t contain the ingredient, but when used safely and following strict guidelines, it shouldn’t have a negative effect on animals. Always air a room fully after application.
Natural vs Synthetic flea treatments – which is best?
Natural flea repellents and products are often not recommended as they aren’t as effective and often just repel as opposed to killing the fleas.
Synthetic sprays are best, but the obvious risk of chemicals is present and you may wish to avoid them. Always look at ingredients lists and educate yourself before jumping in. Pyrethrin is very potent.
As they are the only real effective solution, however, you must apply the spray when you know you can air the room and not use it for a few hours after application.