Once you spot those dreaded fleas in your carpet, you know that it’s time for war.
Fleas will wreak havoc on you and your pets and will multiply quickly, especially if you have carpet and rugs throughout your home.
Fortunately, there are many natural and chemical solutions and prevention tips you can follow to get rid of them and keep them out.
How do you get rid of fleas in the carpet? Start by using natural remedies like DIY citrus sprays, diatomaceous earth, or boric acid. Products containing pesticides, such as carpet powder or aerosol and liquid sprays, will effectively eliminate fleas as well, but they are toxic, so use with caution.
Let’s take a look at the best methods you can use to get fleas out of your home.
Fleas are tiny – they grow no more than ⅛ inch long (3 millimeters) and are a reddish-brown color, so they can easily blend in with carpets and animals.
They can jump long distances thanks to their long back legs, but they can still be pretty difficult to spot since they’re so small.
In ideal conditions, fleas can survive for more than one year. This article tells you exactly how long a flea can live and what conditions are necessary for their survival.
Fleas will look like little black dots on you, your pet, or your carpet.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll be able to see that they’re brown and that the back end of the insect is large and elongated compared to the head.
If you notice small red spots on your feet and ankles, it’s most likely flea bites.
Fleas often aim for the ankles because they’re within their reach. The bites will quickly turn into scabs with red rings around them.
Where do they come from? Read this to discover the main cause of fleas.
Commonly Mistaken Pests
There are a few insects that look like fleas and even jump around like them. These doppelgangers include:
Bed bugs are often mistaken for fleas because they look very similar in size and color.
These are usually found on mattresses or in walls because they like to hide in dark places.
You won’t really find them in some of the common places that fleas hide, like carpets.
Many flea beetles don’t look like fleas, but the species Luperaltica nigripalpis is small and brown and might be confused with a flea.
Flea beetles are typically found outside on plants, so they aren’t very likely to come indoors. They do like flowers, so it’s possible for them to be brought inside.
Ticks are frequently mistaken for fleas because they latch onto people and pets and feed on blood, much like fleas do.
They can be the same size as a flea or just a couple of millimeters larger.
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The Best Way to Eliminate Fleas in Carpet
The best way to eliminate fleas is boric acid. It’s a chemical that occurs naturally in volcanic parts of the earth, saltwater, and even in fruit.
Boric acid is toxic to people in large amounts. It’s toxic enough to insects that it kills them by poisoning their stomach after it gets absorbed through their exoskeleton.
Many pesticides have boric acid as the main ingredient. Carpet powders especially rely on boric acid to kill the fleas.
(See our list of our top recommendations for carpet powders to eliminate fleas.)
If you buy boric acid by itself, you can save some money by not paying for a pesticide brand that added unnecessary chemicals.
Plus, you get the bonus of using a natural ingredient that doesn’t have any odors.
It’s important to keep fleas out of the house with prevention.
Once they get inside, they can quickly multiply and live in every rug and carpeted area in your home.
Prevention is simple and won’t take up too much time.
Keep It Short
Fleas like to hide in long fur and tall grass. Keeping both of these trimmed will prevent fleas from wanting to make these places their home.
It’s best to keep your pet’s fur trimmed short (depending on the breed) for most of the year, but it’s especially important in the summer months when fleas are out the most.
It’s also wise to trim grass and nearby shrubs at the beginning of summer, too.
Cleaning your home every week is a good way to stop fleas from multiplying. Vacuuming will remove fleas at every stage of their life, from egg to adult.
If you think you might have fleas, you should empty the canister in an outdoor trash can or a sealed bag so the fleas won’t have a chance to escape the vacuum.
Washing blankets, towels, pet beds, and clothing with hot water will kill fleas at any stage.
It’s a convenient way to make sure the eggs and larva never grow up to create more fleas.
Use Natural Repellents
You can use plants and fruit around your home to repel fleas.
Plants such as chrysanthemums, lavender, rosemary, or spearmint will repel fleas because they can’t stand the smell.
You can place the plants near doors and windows or in areas where your pet usually stays to repel fleas.
They also hate the smell of citrus fruit, so you can use any kind you’d like to keep them away.
Natural Solutions to Get Rid of Fleas
Natural solutions should always be the first choice because they won’t be harmful to you or your pets, unlike pesticides will be.
The great part about natural solutions is that you can use multiple options at the same time without your or your pets experiencing any negative effects from them.
Indoor infestations are arguably the most important to take care of because it’s easier for the fleas to get on you and your pets.
Here are some natural solutions you can try indoors.
DIY sprays are a great way to keep fleas out of your home. You can choose to use citrus or vinegar to make the spray.
The fleas will hate the smell, but they’ll smell great to you, so you can choose whichever scent you like the best.
To make a citrus spray:
- Slice a citrus fruit into thin slices.
- Boil the slices in water.
- Let the water sit overnight.
- Fill a spray bottle with the scented water (these bottles from Amazon are ideal).
To make an vinegar spray:
- Combine 1 cup of vinegar, 1/2 cup of water, 2 TBS lemon juice, and 2 TBS witch hazel.
- Mix together thoroughly.
- Transfer the mixture to a spray bottle.
Both sprays can be sprayed on pet bedding, carpets, and blankets. You should only spray until the surface is damp, not wet.
Diatomaceous earth is a natural ingredient that’s often used to kill insects. It’s fossilized algae that’s in a powder form.
When insects walk across the powder, it cuts their exoskeleton and causes them to become dehydrated.
To use this indoors, sprinkle it along baseboards or on carpets and rugs.
For best results, leave it for at least two days so the fleas will have a chance to walk over it and get dehydrated.
It only works on adult fleas though, so if there are eggs or larva, they won’t be killed until they have fully grown.
Harris Diatomaceous Earth is great to use indoors because it’s food grade and is safe to use around children and pets.
Boric acid is great to use indoors because it doesn’t have any odors and it can easily be vacuumed up.
You can use it similarly to a carpet powder or diatomaceous earth – just sprinkle it on the carpets, give it some time to work, and then vacuum it up.
Don’t let the powder get wet because it will be less effective and more difficult to clean up.
Although it’s natural, it’s still toxic. Humans and pets can get poisoned by it if it’s ingested or if you’re exposed to it for too long.
It’s recommended that you (and any pets) stay out of the area while you have boric acid in the room.
Ecoxall Boric Acid Powder is 99.9% pure and is effective against many other insect pests as well.
If you have an outdoor infestation, you’ll probably have an indoor infestation soon after.
Wondering whether fleas are more likely to infest dirt patches or grassy areas? Find the answer here.
Luckily there are a few great options you can use along with regular lawn mowing that will cut down on the population.
The best part about these outdoor solutions is that they can also be used indoors too.
There are several plants that fleas can’t stand the smell of that will effectively help keep your yard free of fleas. These include:
Most of these plants are pleasing to people, so they’ll be a great addition to any yard.
Chrysanthemums and lavender are beautiful ways to brighten up your landscaping, while rosemary and spearmint are good to keep around to use in the kitchen.
If you choose to grow herbs, you can dry them out and sprinkle them throughout your home for continued flea control.
Herbs grow well just about anywhere, whether it’s a flower bed, raised bed, or a pot, so they’re easy to incorporate anywhere around your home.
Cedar repels fleas and thousands of other insects, so you’ll benefit by putting cedar in your yard. You can use cedar shavings in several ways.
Place cedar shavings on top of the soil around plants. Fleas won’t want to go near the area and it will help your plants retain moisture.
Every time you water your plants, the cedar will release its scent, which will repel fleas and other bugs even better.
Use cedar as a mulch around flea-repelling plants for the ultimate natural repellent.
Potting Soil Amendment
If you want to use cedar on a patio or indoors but don’t want to smell the scent, mixing it in potting soil is a great solution.
You won’t be able to smell it as much, it’ll act as fertilizer for the plant, and it’ll still repel fleas.
If your pet spends most of the time outdoors, put shavings where they like to hang out the most.
Cats might want to use it as litter, so only put a pile of shavings in an area you don’t mind being used as a litter box.
You can also open up pet beds and sprinkle some shavings on the bed filling before closing them back up.
Four Winds Trading Natural Cedar Shavings is a good option if you want to try it out.
A good alternative is Cedar Sense Cedar Rings. They’re made of real cedar and have the scent that repels fleas, but they’re less messy than cedar shavings.
You can place them around your home or yard without having worry about making a mess.
Salt dehydrates fleas and is a great way to get rid of the adults. Salt is inexpensive and can be applied almost anywhere.
Sprinkle it on your patio, near doors, and near flower beds. Salt can kill grass so it isn’t recommended to place it directly on your lawn.
You can also use it indoors by sprinkling on your carpet. It isn’t toxic, so it’s a safe option to use around kids and pets.
Find out why it works and how exactly to use salt for flea elimination in this article.
Pesticide Solutions to Get Rid of Fleas
Pesticides shouldn’t be your first choice since they are toxic to people and pets, but they’re sure ways to make sure both flea eggs and adults get eradicated.
Carpet powders work wonders because they can kill every stage of the flea life cycle, and many of them prevent fleas from mutliplying with insect growth regulators (IGRs).
IGRs can sterilize adult fleas and prevent them from being able to lay eggs, prevent eggs from hatching, and prevent larvae and pupae from growing into the next stage.
Carpet powders are meant to be distributed directly on the carpet or rug.
You can use a broom to push the powder deep into the carpet, and then vacuum up the excess after it’s been given time to work.
Some of the powder will stay behind in the carpet and will continually kill eggs, larvae, and pupae for up to a year.
Harz UltraGuard Flea & Tick Carpet Powder contains an IGR that will continually kill eggs and larvae for up to a year.
You’ll have to apply it once a month to continually kill adult fleas.
(Other terrific carpet powders can be found in this article.)
Aerosol sprays work quickly to kill fleas, and many of them will continue to kill them if the residue is left behind.
The room will need to be vacated before using them, as breathing in the spray is dangerous. The room will need time to air out so the spray can dry completely.
PT Alpine Flea & Bed Bug Insecticide works well for killing fleas. It can kill adult fleas for up to a month and hatching eggs for up to seven months.
Once it’s completely dry, it’s safe for people and pets to enter the room.
Liquid sprays are great to use because you can have better control over where they’re applied.
Since aerosol sprays come out as a gas, they can get in the air and they’re easier to breath in.
You have a smaller chance of breathing in liquid sprays since they come out whichever direction you squirt them.
These sprays are still toxic and should be used with caution.
Enforcer Flea Spray contains IGRs that will stop fleas from hatching or laying eggs for up to seven months.
After seven months, you can spray it again if you still have fleas.
Safety Precautions When Using Pesticides
When using pesticides, you should keep children and pets out of the room while you’re using them.
Cover your face and skin so you aren’t exposed to the chemicals, and ventilate the room as much as you can.
Stay out of the room for as long as the package directs because it takes time for the powders, liquids, and gases to settle and dry completely.
Pesticides are very toxic and can cause skin irritation and respiratory problems if you come into contact with them.
In some cases, the side effects can be lethal.
If you or your pet start to have negative reactions after you use a pesticide, contact a doctor, vet, or poison control center (1-800-222-1222) as soon as possible.
When to Call a Professional Exterminator
If you’ve tried natural solutions and pesticides but you’re still finding fleas, it’s time to call an exterminator.
Exterminators are trained professionals who will be able to help you find the source of the problem and eradicate all the fleas.
If you aren’t comfortable using pesticides because you’re worried you won’t be able to use them correctly, go ahead and call an exterminator.
Pesticides are toxic so it’s better to be cautious and avoid making any mistakes.
There are many ways you can get fleas out of your carpet. Always try to use natural remedies before choosing a pesticide.
Vacuuming frequently is one of the best ways to keep fleas from multiplying in your home.
Don’t miss out on other important tips!
You’ll find the answers to common questions about fleas as well as the best prevention methods and other elimination solutions here on our main flea page.