Can you wash bed bugs out of clothes, HowStuffWorks

Can you wash bed bugs out of clothes?

Bed bug infestations are on the rise in the U.S., and coming up with effective ways to deal with these nocturnal pests has become a big topic around the water cooler. Although bed bugs can hitch a ride on just about anything, including shoes, handbags and luggage, clothing is a common target. It’s possible to eradicate bed bugs from laundered clothing, bedding and household textiles like drapes and area rugs, but it takes heat to do it.

A sustained temperature of 120 degrees Fahrenheit will kill all stages of the bed bug’s lifecycle. Some experts suggest maintaining the heat for at least 20 minutes while others recommend continuing high temperatures for an hour. That’s good news if you’re trying to get bed bugs out of your clothes: Washing your clothes in hot water will probably kill them, and spinning your clothes in a hot dryer will certainly kill them. In fact, just stuffing your bug infested clothes in a trash bag, sealing it and putting it out in the sun on a hot day will kill any critters inside. Just make sure the interior of the bag reaches a sustained 120 degrees Fahrenheit by checking the temperature with an instant read thermometer.

If you’re dealing with dry-clean-only garments, the dry-cleaning process kills bed bugs, too, but it’s probably a good idea to let the dry cleaner know there may be bed bugs in the clothing you’re leaving at his facility. He may want to quarantine your clothes before treating them.

If there will be a delay in cleaning your garments or dropping them off at the dry cleaner, keep them in a sealed trash bag in your garage to make sure you don’t spread them to multiple areas in your home.

These tips don’t just work for clothing, either. Washing and drying with hot water, dry cleaning and heat treating will kill bed bugs in bedding, draperies, pillows, cushions, area rugs and other household textiles, too. Just make sure that the heat penetrates all the layers of the items you’re cleaning.

At what temperature do fleas die?


Adult cat fleas die in temperatures colder than 46.4°F (8°C), and hotter than 95°F (35°C). However, the low-end extreme for immature fleas is 55.4°F (13°C). %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> During winter, adults can survive in cold temperatures while living on a warm-bodied host. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Img 1 Environmental conditions needed for all life stages of the cat flea to survive. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>


Cat fleas can survive from egg to adult in temperatures between 55.4°F and 95°F (13°C and 35°C) Fig 1 . %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Cold Temperatures

Low-End Extreme

Adult Fleas

Temperatures below freezing are lethal to adult fleas . They’ll die within five days at 30.2°F (-1°C) Fig 2 . At 24 hours, there’s mortality in 20% of emerged adults and 72% of pre-emerged adults. Fleas can live up to ten days at 37.4°F (3°C). Survival significantly increases when temperatures exceed 46.4°F (8°C), where nearly half of emerged adults stay alive for 20 days. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Fig 2 Percent of emerged adult fleas that survive (y-axis) across 40 days (x-axis). %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Immature Fleas

Flea eggs and larvae are more susceptible to cold temperatures than adults. The immature stages require temperatures of at least 55.4°F (13°C). %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> At 50.4°F (10°C), eggs hatch within 12 days, but first instar larvae die 10 days later. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Winter Survival

In the winter, near-freezing temperatures kill fleas living outdoors. While frost kills fleas, not all will die in winter. Some immature stages develop in the freeze-protected dens of wild animals. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> Adults will survive on their warm-bodied hosts, such as dogs, cats, raccoons, or opossums. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> And, of course, fleas living within heated homes will survive.

Img 1 Fleas can survive winters indoors, in animal nests, or on warm-bodied hosts (e.g. raccoons).

Some geographic locations year-round warm and humid climates. As a result, fleas can thrive nearly all year long. In Florida, for instance, fleas continue developing even in the winter months from November to March. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Hot Temperatures

High-End Extreme

Adult Fleas

Any temperature above 95°F (35°C) is lethal to adult fleas. They’ll die within two days unless relative humidity exceeds 75% Fig 3 . %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> Fleas can’t survive outdoors when temperatures surpass 95°F for more than 40 hours a month. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Fig 3 Days it takes (y-axis) for 90% of unfed adult fleas to die at various relative humidity percentages (x-axis) while temperature is kept constant at 95°F. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Immature Fleas

Flea larvae also die at 95°F (35°C). They’ll live long enough to form cocoons and complete their pupal-imaginal molt, but 100% will die within their cocoon. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»>

Washers and Dryers

Fleas, of any stage, can’t survive the laundering process. To kill fleas on clothing and bedding, it’s recommended to wash the items for 10 minutes at 140°F, and then dry at the highest heat setting. %num% ‘, ‘brackets’: », ‘etal’: », ‘separator’: », ‘and’: » >»> Multiple factors will prevent survival. They’re exposed to extreme heat, extreme dryness, flooding, detergents, and physical tumbling action.


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I’m having a flea problem. I read your article about how temperature over 95f Will kill fleas. For clarification how many days of heat inside the house does it take to kill fleas, larvae and pupa? I’M trying this method while i’m waiting for an IGR. Please please advise. Thank you for your time.

Nancy, heating a home isn’t a viable method to kill fleas indoors. Adult fleas live on pets and won’t be affected. The eggs, larvae, and pupae develop within microhabitats of carpeting. These areas have their own microclimate, where temperate and humidity are held constant, and they’re relatively unaffected by the surrounding conditions.

At 95°F, unfed adult fleas die in 0.5 to 9.5 days, depending on the relative humidity (RH). Take a look at Fig 3. Eggs won’t hatch at 95°F unless RH exceeds 75%. Larvae can survive long enough at 95°F to spin cocoons, but they’ll die within the silk structure. In home environments, larvae live for around 7 to 11 days before cocoon formation.

Thank you Adam for your prompt response. I should have asked this question before doing this. I think I made an even more mess than what it was. I have had my room since Saturday in between 99 – 102 degrees with RH in between 32-38. I have a room temperature reader. I’m just desperate to get rid of them because they are driving me nuts. Oh dear, once again thank you for your time.

We have the same issue. We have an empty shipping container that we could put items in and heat to necessary temperature. We would put in mattresses, couch, etc. before moving the items to our new home. Do u think this method would be effective?

Hello Sarah, I recently answered a very similar question. You can find it here:
Will heat kill fleas?

I am having a very difficult time getting rid of fleas after living in a house with them for several months. Could I bag up my children’s stuffed animals that can’t do in the wash and leave them in the hot car for a couple days to kill any fleas on them?

Hello Krista, that strategy should work in the summer heat. However, it’s unlikely that fleas are on the stuffed animals.

Thank you for all this information! Grateful over here. How long do I need to leave my stuff in a hot car? I went on vacation and stayed in a place with fleas. Put my suitcase in the trunk and went straight to a laundromat otw home (1.5 hour drive). Then had the car professionally vacuumed before picking up my clothes from the laundromat. The only things I did not wash are a leather jacket and a bathing suit. All these things (including the laundered clothes) are now in my car–the unlaundered in the trunk and laundered in the backseat. Could my car have gotten them either the trunk from my suitcase or the front seat from my sitting there? How long do I need to leave them in the hot car? It is 93 degrees outside today!

It’s unlikely that fleas got onto your belongings, but not impossible. I’m not certain the exact amount of time needed to kill the fleas. However, 1-2 days in a hot car should do it.

Hi. But do flea eggs stick to stuffed toys?

Thank you for your article on flea survival in hot and cold temperatures. We have been cursed with fleas and are now moving to a new home. We have to be sure we’re not taking any fleas, including their eggs or pupae. We have a large shipping container for moving and we were thinking of lightly packing it with home items then heating it to a temperature that would be sure to kill all flea stages. What temperature do you recommend and for how long?

I’ve replied to a similar question previously. You can find it here.

I’m telling you, give the pet a flea bath, treat it with Frontline, and get a commercial steamer and stream clean every inch of carpet or fabric in your home. Move the furniture and stream clean there as well. Flea problem gone in a weekend.

I bought a McCullough model for around $200

Hi, Your site has definitely been the most clear and helpful in my dealing with fleas. I’ve had pets always and only had fleas twice in 15 years. I’d count myself lucky but right now is one of those times (the other, a sick kitten). My sweet 12 year old Aussie was diagnosed with liver cancer some weeks back and, while I’m very grateful for a nearly miraculous turn-around in that respect, he got fleas while he was so sick. I’m sticking to totally non-toxic approaches due to his health and mine (I get migraine from the most mild of chemicals, even regular laundry detergent). I’m doing regular baths, bagged up all rugs (they’re getting a seven to twelve month hiatus), diamotaceous earth, washing everything I can, temporary dog bedding washed every day, hardwood floors vacuumed washed and DE even got two dehumidifiers going full-time (thanks to your information) so RH is consistently below 50% and often as low as 40%. It’s been 3 weeks and I’m still getting bitten, seeing the occasional one even in my “clean” bed (dog does not sleep with me) and yesterday I discovered hoppers in the car in his backseat hammock. So discouraging even though I know it takes time.

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My questions are two: do I have a real chance of getting rid if the fleas going this route? and, I am able to get the interior of my car up to 50C (making RH very low, like 20-30%), how long would it take to kill all stages at this temperature? Maybe it’s not possible.

I’ve done two, five-hour shifts of 40-50C in the car over the last 24 hours and washed the hammock. It’s a black interior so it’s impossible to see fleas. I’m hoping against hope that the fleas (larvae and pupae) were contained in the hammock and that any strays were cooked.

Rhonda, sorry to hear about your flea problem. If the infestation has gone unchecked for a while, you may have a difficult time ending it without employing some chemical methods.

Vacuuming and laundering pet beds and rugs are essential mechanical control methods, but they aren’t 100% effective. Diatomacoues earth is lauded online, but I’ve never seen it recommended as an effective control method from any reputable source. It likely has some effect, but it’s doubtful that it will end the infestation. Lowering the relative humidity with dehumidifiers isn’t an effective control solution, because larvae seek out dark, humid areas. They develop in their own micro-habitats which have regulated micro-environments, thus temperature and RH are largely unaffected by surrounding conditions. Bathing a dog too often can be detrimental to its skin. It removes the natural oils needed for a healthy coat, and can leave the dog itchy and irritated.

If you wish to forgo all chemical methods, I’d recommend continuing to vacuum daily. Focus on rooms where the dog spends the most time (sleeping, eating, resting). If you only have hardwood floors, target the cracks in the flooring, crevices around baseboards, or anywhere debris collects. Continue laundering pet bedding at least once weekly. For control on the dog, be diligent with a flea comb and try to remove all the fleas from its coat daily.

To prevent fleas from accessing your bed, ensure your sheets don’t hang to ground. Fleas can’t jump higher than a human ankle, so they won’t have a route into the bed. Though, they may be jumping on you before you enter the bed.

All stages of fleas in the car should die if exposed to temperatures above 50°C for an extended period of time. I’m not certain on the specific amount of time needed to kill the fleas, but I’d assume a couple days of the car parked outside in the sun should be enough.

Try WONDERCIDE! All natural flea repellent chemical free. My 2 dogs and cat infested my house last year. they got fleas at a farm from the farm animals. I sprayed Wondercide on my pets, carpet,bedding, toys, etc and I was flea free. i also sprayed the dogs every 2-3 days & consitantly vacummed. I would say i was flea free within 2 weeks tops. I would still spray wondercide on my carpet once a month just for precaution. Good Luck

Hi Adam, Because not all items can be laundered at hot temperatures I have put some things in a freezer at -19C (-2F). Do you happen to have an idea how long they should stay in the freezer to ensure that all stages of fleas are killed?
Many thanks for this wonderfully informative and fact-based site!

Hello Sara. I don’t know exactly how long it will take for 100% of fleas at all stages to die at that temperature. I can’t imagine them surviving longer than five days though, the adults being the most resistant to the cold.

Hi there. I recently discovered my dog had a bad flea infestation. I treated immediately with flea treatment for the dog as well as daily vacuuming and some IGR spray for the carpeting. My main question I have is that was looking to invest in a steam cleaner for the carpets that temperatures reach a little over 200 degrees F. Will that steam cleaner be sufficient with killing the eggs and left over fleas with one or two solid treatments on my carpets?

Steaming cleaning is more effective at removing debris from carpets. And those high temperatures will kills the immature stages. Unfortunately, it likely won’t be 100% effective, because most of the larvae live at the base of the carpets where the hot steam won’t be able to penetrate. Also, wet carpet cleaning will reduce the efficacy of the IGR treatment.

Steaming cleaning the carpets can be useful for establishing control. However, you’ll still want to vacuum regularly. Unless the infestation is severe, it may not be worth the investment in a steam cleaner. The steps you are currently taking should bring the infestation under control.

Omg I have used dawn blue on my cats a bath a day for two weeks the pest man has come and spreyed 6 times I have uses bleech I have used pinsol I have now tried borax I bought 6 boxes of borax and have covered the whole house and let it sit there been hmthere for 2 days and I am STILL SEEING FLEAS please help me. Any ANY suggestions will be taken and tried

Please view our page on How to get rid of fleas. It contains a comprehensive guide.

Using borax takes about a month before all fleas are gone. The borax doesn’t kill the adult fleas but it dehydrates the larva as they hatch out and so the cycle is broken and lasts from 6 months to a year. I am having a problem at my house this year though, not with the fleas inside because borax is very effective, but outside, on account of a neighbor with tied up, outside dogs who are apparently breeding fleas. I now have an infestation in my backyard that I am trying to figure out. My neighbor next door has used chemicals on her dogs, and chemically treated her backyard (as her property backs up to the neighbor with the infested dogs), but she told me today that she is still having to pick fleas off of her dogs when they come into the house. I comb my cats and dogs with a flea comb a few times a day to keep the fleas from living in my house. The cats don’t go out but still get a flea or 2 from contact with the dogs. I’m in Alabama and I know that the problem is compounded by the drought that we have been experiencing for the better part of 2 months now. I’m praying for God’s deliverance from these miserable pests, while doing what I can…good luck and God Bless!

I feel sorry for those tied up dogs. They should be reported

Hi I live in Minnesota and the winters here get well below freezing, if my cat goes out side in a daily bases and sometimes they are gone for several days, how come does my cat comes in they still have fleas on them, even if it’s below 0

Fleas lay their eggs on the host. The eggs aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. The eggs then develop in the host’s environment, indoors this is most often carpeting. In homes, they’ll mature into adults in 17 to 26 days. The newly emerged adults will then jump on the host. So, even if the cat goes outside in the cold, and the fleas die, the cat may quickly acquire fleas again upon re-entering the home.

In addition, fleas can survive on warm-bodied hosts in the winter. The adults don’t leave the host once acquired, so they will be protected from the cold weather.

i have a large shag rug that i love. I put it outdoors while treating indoors for fleas. Its been outside for a while now. I now would like to bring it back inside. It is now cold and dry outside. 50s at night 65 sunny in day. How can i be sure it wont bring fleas inside? If i spray the underside with igr will it be enough? I have it hanging over in the sun currently. It is too thick to vaccuum the top. I love the rug. But im scared to bring it in? Please help. It keeps our feet warm in the kitchen. Thankyou

How long has the rug been outside? If the coldest it gets at night is in the 50’s, then all the fleas may not be killed. Flea larvae will avoid sunlight, so placing it in the sun is useful. However, they may just crawl deeper into the fibers. Spraying the rug with an IGR will help prevent eggs and larvae from maturing into adults. I’m not sure how effective spraying the underside will be though.

You should be fine bringing the rug back inside. There may be fleas in it, but if the house and pets are treated, then the fleas should die soon after emerging. Allowing the fleas to emerge and then die may be one of the best ways to get rid of them, since you can’t vacuum the rug. Any new eggs falling on the rug won’t be able to develop, because of the IGR you plan on spraying (you’ll need to spray the topside of the rug, where the eggs would fall onto).

I can’t get rid of my fleas! I think they’re also in my attic and duct work as well. I thought I had gotten them isolated to one bathroom but turnred on my AC unit and now they’re back all over the house. Should I pull up all my carpet or what. They don’t seem to be dying and I’ve been fighting them for months now.

Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas. It contains a comprehensive guide. After reading it, please let me know if you still have any specific questions.

Hi Adam. We just moved on 13 acres in Western NC. The property (the ground) has a major flea infestation. When you walk they even jump on us. Help me!! I hate using heavy chemicals!! My dogs were on the ground 12 minutes and I removed 80 fleas off of them. I have them protected now but we have a lot of land with a lot of fleas!! What would you do?

Your best bet is to use a preventative flea medication on the dog, such as flea drops or oral meds. One option is Fiproguard Plus, a generic version of Frontline Plus. You won’t be able to remove the fleas from the land, as it is a lot of land and wild animals will continually deposit new eggs. So having the your dog treated is the best way to prevent the fleas from infesting your home.

You may also want to consider applying an insect growth regulator to your carpets. IGRs mimic natural insect hormones that regulate development. Exposed eggs are larvae won’t be able to mature. IGRs last for 7 months indoors and are good for prevention, plus they’re considered safer than traditional insecticides because they specifically target insect endocrine systems. Martin’s IGR is a good choice.

Today my pet groomer called to say she found a couple of fleas be on my dog. I was surprised because my dog is indoors most of the day and even though she often sleeps with me, I have no bites. The groomer bathed her with a flea-fighting shampoo and gave her a Frontline plus treatment and a very short haircut.
Needless to say, while she was gone I looked to see what I should do before she got back. I have washed, dried, and ironed sheets, pillowcases. A memento blanket that cannot be washed in hot water is now bagged and in my freezer for the next 2 weeks. I’ve washed my PJs in hot water. I also threw out the dog’s bed and favorite rug; They both were old and ratty looking anyway. I vacuumed the entire house (no carpet or rugs). My question is, is it too much to hope that 1) because of lack of bites or visible fleas, and 2)with all the measures I have taken, is it possible that I’ve seen the last of the fleas? By the way, the dog is 12 and has never had them before.

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It sounds like you’ve taken the correct steps to resolve the problem. And it sounds like the infestation is mild. However, you’ll likely continue to see fleas here or there for around 8 weeks. This is why pet treatments are usually given for 3-4 months. Eggs, larvae, and pupae make up 95-99% of infestations. They live hidden in the environment. The sanitation procedures you’ve done should have eliminated a large portion of them, but some likely escaped your efforts. They will pop up as adults when they mature and emerge from their cocoons. This isn’t much to worry about, as it’s normal. They’ll die when they jump onto your treated dog. Or they will die when you vacuum them up.

I am flee spraying scrubbing everything and washing and drying in hot temps I also sprayed yard but still have flees anyone have anymore suggestions I am at my wits end

You can check out our page on How to get rid of fleas for more comprehensive control information.

I have hardwood floors with a few through rugs. I have washed everything including my rugs and I’ve sprayed inside and out. I vacuum everyday and I still can’t get rid of them.
The guy next door has cats that get into my yard and in the parking lot and they have attracted 3 tomcats that are in my yard all the time. Everytime I walk outside I get bites, so I put my stuff in the oven as soon as I come home. I have been putting things in my oven on low, about 170F, for an hour or two. Is that long enough to kill fleas in my shoes and jeans etc.? I do this everytime I come home. So is 2 hours at 170F long enough to kill any fleas in my shoes and socks, etc.?

Two hours should be long enough at that temperature to kill any fleas. However, it’s unlikely that fleas are living on those items. Usually they are just incidentally on clothes when they jump onto a person, but they don’t stay there. And laundering the clothing is probably an easier method to kill any fleas.

If you think your yard is the source of the problem, you may want to check out our page on flea sprays for yards. It contains comprehensive information on outdoor control.

i found out my dog had adult fleas after we closed our cabin for the winter in upper pennisula michigan. we turn heat off for winter. can adult fleas survive without host on below freezing temps?

If the home reaches sub-freezing temperatures, then the fleas won’t be able to survive. The majority will die within 24 hours in sub-freezing temperatures. All will be dead by 10 days.

So if I allow my house to get to sub freezing temperatures in the winter for 10 days, will this kill all fleas in my house in all stages. What temperatures exactly should it be between to do this and will it kill the eggs and larvae in the carpet and hardwood floors?

I am not sure exactly how long it will take. The article contains the most precise information I have. Generally it’s not a good control technique to try to alter indoor climates. Fleas develop in protected micro-habitats that have their own micro-climate (e.g. deep within carpets), which is keep fairly regulated and isn’t drastically affected by surrounding conditions. Exceptions may be cars that are left outside in the winter, or cabins residing in really cold areas.

Any way to get estimate? Live in 3 bedroom ranch. No basemennt. Small house. Husband and i both on disability.

A price estimate for extermination? I am not sure. This site is just dedicated to providing well-researched information, we aren’t a pest control service company.

I accidentally bought home bed bugs when I purchased a used piece of furniture from an unscrupulous person. I’m in the process of having my house heated to eradicate the problem, but have seen my dogs itching a little bit from fleas. I continuously treat them for fleas, but wondered if the heat eradication might take care of any stragglers in the house. Thanks

Trying to alter the climate within homes to kill fleas isn’t a very effective technique. This is because the eggs, larvae, and pupae live deep within carpets or other refuges. These micro-habitats have their own regulated micro-climate that is mostly unaffected by the surrounding conditions of the room.

Our dogs sleep with my daughter and were recently at the vet where he found “flea dirt” on them. I have yet to see an actual flea. They have been treated with Frontline gold and I am doing all carpets with a chemical treatment. My question is how to treat my daughters bedding as safe and effectively as possible? She has a lot of stuffed animals on the bed too?

Adult fleas live permanently on their animal host once it is acquired. Eggs are laid on the host, but they aren’t sticky and fall off within a few hours. So, if there are fleas developing on the bed, then they are on the surface of the sheets, or folds within the fabrics. Fleas don’t infest mattresses. Laundering the bedding is sufficient to kill any fleas on beds.

There probably aren’t any fleas on the stuffed animals, but it is possible if the dog laid on them. Eggs and larvae would have a hard time attaching to these items, so vigorously shaking them should remove most of the potential fleas. Some people will put items like plush toys in a bag, and then put the bag in a freezer for around 5 days. Putting them in the dryer (if it is safe for the items) should also kill any fleas.

I have a ton of blankets and pillows I can’t launder in one day…. Can I lay then outside where the temps are below 45° now for a period of time to kill the fleas? I can do the spraying and such on the carpets and furniture I can’t lay outside.

Leaving the items outside in the cold should kill any flea stages. However, it may take a while (a few weeks) at 45°F. In subfreezing temperatures, 100% should die within 5 days.

Hi. I read that sprinkling salt and baking soda on carpets not only helps to freshen carpets but works it’s way into the carpet fibres and dehydrates flea eggs, so this is what I do. Do you think this works?

I’ve read about similar control measures online, but I think the authors of those articles are just pandering to people’s desires for natural remedies, without concerning themselves with what actually works. I’ve never read anything in the science literature stating that salt or baking soda will control a flea infestation. That said, there are many anecdotal reports of pet-owners claiming that these methods work. Perhaps more research needs to be done.

I don’t see any mention of using foggers to treat entire rooms or spaces. What do you think of their effectiveness? Also, what are the health concerns for people and pets (after, of course, the specified time has passed and the room is again aired out)? Thanks!

Hello Rob, I’ve written a page on this here: Best flea foggers. Foggers aren’t as effective as sprays you can apply directly into flea habitats. And the mist gets on more surfaces, which can lead to more safety concerns. The page I’ve linked covers all of this.

Hi. I keep reading that to get rid of fleas , the washing machine should be set at the hottest temperature of 90 degrees? Seriously!? This can’t be right!? My electricity bill would be sky high if I did all washes at that temperature.

You shouldn’t need to do all your washes at that temperature. Fleas shouldn’t be on most clothes or other items. The exceptions are items that infested cats and dogs may have laid on, because eggs probably dropped there. Common items are pet beds, area rugs, and bedding (if pets are allowed on beds).

We had a mild case of fleas in our home. Called an exterminator and it seems to work. But after they came I got to thinking about the fact I put boxes of Christmas decorations that I didn’t use back in the attic. My cat would lay on the boxes. But they are now away from a host. Do I need to have the exterminator to spray up there or will they die out on their own??

You shouldn’t need to spray if the host isn’t allowed there. Any fleas will die out on their own in time. Eggs reach adulthood in 17-26 days, and emerged adults will starve within a week. The problem stage is the cocooned adult. Pre-emerged adults can enter a quiescent (dormant-like) state for up to 5 months. So, the longest they could survive in the attic is around 5 months.

If you use diatomaceous earth to kill fleas, be sure to get the “food grade” stuff. Many website will tell you it has to be food grade. It has to be food grade or it might make the fleas sick. Seriously. Used that stuff for a month or so and it doesn’t do one thing to stop fleas. I think they like it!

We have no pets, never have and have been the sole owner of our home. It’s winter with snow on the ground. About a month ago, I believe I brought fleas in from a friends dog. We had a few bites but then the problem seemed to go away for about a week. We are now getting bit again and I have killed 3 fleas in last 3 days. I have vacuumed incessantly. I am starting to go crazy. I don’t think we have an infesatation, but I need some advice on if I should get my house treated by an exterminator. I really don’t want the chemicals near my 2 young kids. Please help!

Without pets, you most likely have human fleas (P. irritans), as this is the only species that can survive and reproduce on human blood. A less likely possibility is that you have rodents somewhere in the home, and you are seeing rodent fleas. The best chemical-free method for controlling fleas is vacuuming, which it sounds like you are already doing. You may also want to employ some flea traps. Flea traps are useful for assessing flea populations within certain rooms, and will help you determine if you have an infestation or not.

If you do indeed have an infestation, you’ll likely need to employ some chemical control methods. The best option would likely be an insect growth regulator (IGR), either pyriproxyfen or methoprene. IGRs mimic a natural insect hormone that regulates development and reproduction. Eggs and larvae that get exposed won’t be able to reach adulthood. And the IGRs last for 7 months indoors, which is useful for stopping re-infestations. IGRs are considered safer than traditional insecticides, because they specifically mimic insect hormones. Martin’s IGR is a good choice, as it is in concentrate form without any other chemicals.

Hi Adam, My family and I went to see a house to purchase. No one was living in it, but there were dormant fleas in the carpet. My daughter sat on the carpet and my husband and I both held her… We noticed the fleas when we got in our vehicle, took off all our clothes and washed them when we got home, left all our un-washable stuff (like winter boots) outside (-10 degrees celsius… we live in Canada) and all took hot showers. I have not noticed any flea bites on my two children or my husband, but I have gotten a few a few times this past week. I have started vacuuming and doing crazy amounts of laundry in hot water and putting it in the dryer. Am I the “host”?? for these bugs? Do you have any recommendations for me?I was thinking of turning my thermostat down to 10 degrees Celsius and going out of town, but I’m guessing I’d have to leave it that cold for longer than a few days to kill anything off….

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Cheryl, you shouldn’t have too much of an issue if your family doesn’t own any pets. The fleas shouldn’t be able to survive or reproduce on human blood. Any adults should die within a week or two. The exception is human fleas (P. irritans), but this is a somewhat rare species.

Vacuuming regularly is the best thing you can do. You may also consider setting up a few flea traps in your home, as they are useful for identifying fleas and assessing populations. If you do indeed catch more fleas, it would be a good idea to employ some chemical control, such as an insect growth regulator like Martins’ IGR.

Altering the climate inside your home isn’t an effective control method. This is because immature stages (eggs, larvae, and pupae) make up 95-99% of infestations. And they live deep within protected micro-habitats, often at the base of carpets or cracks within flooring. These habitats have their own micro-climate that is kept regulated and isn’t too affected by the surrounding conditions.

It sounds like alot of these questions could be answered by reading How to get rid of fleas, no?

Thank you so much. I haven’t had any bites in about 3 days! I have continued to vacuum and regularly wash clothes and bedding!

I just found out our backyard is infested with fleas due to my neighbor taking in kittens then throw them out when they grown and they have started making their way in my house would it be best to sleep with the a/c on or off so we don’t get bit? We are trying to get rid of them and our landlady has been notified?

Oh I have begun the salt and laundry vacuum method.

Trying to alter the climate within your home with the A/C won’t do much to control fleas. Adult fleas live on their warm-blooded host. And immature stages live in the environment in protected micro-habitats, where the micro-climate is insulated from surrounding conditions (e.g. deep within carpets). Please see our page on how to get rid of fleas for more information.

My cats had kittens 12 weeks ago, my male ventured outside and I am assuming brought fleas in with him. I couldn’t treat my female or the kittens (they went to their new homes a couple of weeks ago) so the infestation got way out of hand. I used a natural powder on them and my house hoping to kill off some of the fleas with no avail. The main floors are not bad, but my basement is so ridiculous, when you go down there you literally have your feet covered in at least 20-30 fleas each. It is an unfinished basement, we have next to no laundry down there, and the cats have not been down there for well over a month now. Do you have any suggestions on how to get rid of them!? We will be purchasing flea treatments for the adult cats and the kitten we have kept now that she’s 12 weeks, and treatment for the house, we have lights over bowls of hot water and dish soap, but is there anything else we can do? I loathe going down to do laundry because of how bad it is. I’m so sick of it.

I apologize for the late reply. Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas. Flea control is typically most successful when 3 main steps are followed: (1) treating the pets (2) treating the environment with an insect growth regulator (3) vacuuming regularly.

My cat got infested with fleas from being outside a lot, despite wearing a flea collar and my giving them what I thought was on ok brand of flea meds. I was wrong. I took my cocker spaniel in to have his feet groomed. He had to have 3 flea baths and was bleeding all over from the bites, per the groomer. A friend of ours kept him at his house, and we kept the cat in a cage outside while we poured flea powder all over the house, and vacuumed the heck out of our house. Then we gave the cat and dog flea treatments with Revolution liquid, and a capstar pill. We are keeping the cat outside until we get a deep frost to kill the fleas that are outside. But we are still seeing fleas on the dog, and some fleas on us after contact with the dog. Our questions are: what else can we do to get rid of the fleas on our animals, and in our house. And what can we do to keep the fleas from coming back? We have never had a problem with fleas before. So if you could give me some suggestions on how to get rid of these darn fleas, and how to keep them from EVER coming back, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for your time and attention to my problem. I look forward to your response.

Please see our page on How to get rid of fleas. The section on flea control for carpets will be of particular use. Employ a spray with an insect growth regulator, which will remain active for 7 months indoors, preventing eggs and larvae from maturing. Keep in mind, it usually takes at least 8 weeks for fleas to be gone. All of the immature stages need to mature, emerge, and die. There should be no new generation of fleas though after proper treatment.

Ive been in the trenches fighting cat fleas, i understand, because i can visually see dog fleas, but the ones ive been fighting are not visable, even with my reading glasses & a magnifying glass. I. Can feel it as soon as one jumps on me, & if i put sanatizer on that area, i no longer feel it move. This has been going on well over a year & im to the point of considering ripping up my livingroom carpet on garbage day & trying to end the infestation, then once their gone laying new carpet. Im in a mobile home, & my story is so long, im almost 60, disabled, overwhelmed and exhausted from the vacuuming & never seeming to get rid of them

Fleas are big enough to see with the naked eye. So if you are being attacked by something that isn’t visible, you are dealing with something other than fleas. Unfortunately, this would be outside of my expertise. You may want to consider consulting with a professional exterminator.

I use food grade diatomaceous earth in the home if small amounts brushed into the carpet. This works great to kill fleas in the carpet so I don;t have to vacuum all the time. I have used liquid detergent in a hose end sprayer in the grass prior to watering or rain. You need to mow and get up as much leaves and grass clippings as possible. Sorry, but I don’t have any measurements for the soap, I just dump it in and spray. I look for a small amount of suds if I hold the sprayer in one location for a few seconds. The idea is the same as a little soap in a glass of water. Fleas drown in seconds if you can prevent them from floating.

There is no one way to kill fleas, you must use multiple approaches at the same time and don;t forget that they are smart enough to get under things when it rains. Poison any place they can hide before it rains. Including under the home.

Would steaming my carpet help to kill fleas? In the cold winter months, with a temperature consistently below 8°c for say 2 weeks, and if I moved out of my house left the heating off for 2 weeks so the little suckers can’t attempt to feed on me. No living thing in the house. That should pretty much kill all fleas right?

It’s questionable whether turning off the heat in winter will kill all the fleas. 95-99% of the population are immature stages living in the environment. They live in protected micro-habitats (e.g. base of carpets) with their own micro-climate that tends to be insulated from surrounding conditions.

I have a summer home in Michigan which is currently infested with fleas (brought inside on pet dogs). The home will be vacant from October to May…over the cold winter months with NO heat on and no pets inside. Can I expect that the fleas and all stages of their life cycle will die over the harsh winter months?

No fleas should be able to survive that long without a host in the home. The longest they could possibly live is 5-6 months.

Hello, so we recently moved out of out house back east and locked it up for the winter no heat or water there was going to rent it out when a relative when to show the house they noticed fleas there which was never and issue when we were there but the basement is half rock and gravel. Anyways just wondering since temperature drops to like -30° there and the place will not be heated all winter would this kill all the fleas and eggs

It’s hard to say if the the micro-habitats where the fleas live will get to a low enough temperature to kill them. It sounds like it should get low enough, but the room and ground may provide micro-niches that are insulted from surrounding conditions.

I drive for Lyft as a part time job in the mornings. On Sunday morning I noticed a few fleas hopping around the carpet in my back seat. I vacuumed as best I could, bust could not fully get under back seats. I live in the mid south so temps right now outside are 95+ daily. I closed the car up and let it sit in the sun for 18 hours. I took a device I use in my cigar humidor and placed it in my car and found it got to over 120 degrees in the car for an elongated period of time that day. The next day I still found two fleas in the back. I vacuumed again and put down boric acid on all carpeted surfaces. I then locked the car up and left it in the sun for two straight days. I’m driving myself crazy but am concerned I may have brought fleas into my home and that they are still surviving somewhere in there. I feel myself being itchy all the time now and notice my dog scratching it up a bit too, although she gets frontline monthly. It might just be mental and paranoia (my wife would KILL me if I brought fleas home from this side gig).
Any suggestions for flea control when you are transporting humans that carry them into your vehicle? Thanks!

It sounds like you’ve taken a lot of the appropriate measures to kill the fleas in car. And they shouldn’t be able to reproduce without animal host there, so there isn’t much of a concern for the infestation continuing. Spraying the floors with an insect growth regulator would be the next step, but this may be a bit extreme for the situation.

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