A flea infestation can happen quickly and can be very difficult to eradicate. If your pets are scratching their fur and/or you see small red bites on your skin, your house or accessory dwelling unit may have been invaded by fleas. If you can see small black insects jumping on your clothes and furniture, you are probably dealing with a large flea population.
Attack the Problem Immediately
If you see fleas, you need to kill them right away and prevent them from coming back. Not only will fleas make you and your pets miserable and itchy, but fleas can also carry parasites and diseases. Pets can easily get tapeworms from fleas, and you can sometimes get infected with them as well. In some unusual cases, fleas can give you Bartonella (commonly called “cat scratch fever”), typhus or even bubonic plague. Some pets are very allergic to flea bites and can experience severe hair loss when bitten by even one flea.
Wipe Out Fleas at All Life Stages
Killing adult fleas is only one part of the equation. You will need to destroy the flea life cycle. This means that you need to remove any flea eggs and larvae from your house and prevent fleas from laying any more eggs. You can call a professional exterminator, but this can be expensive. It would also mean that you and your pets would have to leave your home while the exterminators spray powerful chemicals. You can try the following steps first and leave the exterminator as a last resort.
Remove Fleas From Soft Surfaces
First, vacuum everything that you can. Make sure to vacuum carpets, mattresses, pet beds and furniture. Use a hose attachment to vacuum cracks in hardwood floors and the spaces where your walls meet your floors. If you have access to a steam cleaner, use it on your upholstered furniture, pet furniture (including cat condos) and carpets. If you have a bagged vacuum, dispose of the bag immediately after vacuuming. If your vacuum has a canister, empty it outside.
Next, take all clothing, blankets and pet beds and wash them. Fill the washing machine with hot water first and then put the items in the machine. This will keep fleas from jumping out of the machine before it fills with water.
Use the Right Kind of Flea Spray
In between loads of laundry, use a flea spray on all of your drapes, carpets and furniture. There are several types of sprays but do not be tempted to buy the cheapest one. Ask a veterinarian for their recommendations. Ask them for advice on how to treat your pets for fleas as well. Follow all directions on the spray carefully. Do not use the spray on your cats. Open windows to keep the area ventilated. Keep all residents, including your pets, away from areas that you sprayed until well after the spray has dried. Depending on how significant your flea problem is, you may have to repeat this process if you still see fleas a few days later.