Once they get into the apartment, fleas become a source of distress to both you and your pets. Pets are often itchy from flea bites as they suck blood from them, making them lack sleep and become irritable. Fleas can also spread diseases to humans and animals. The most common disease known to have been caused by them is the plague, which nearly wiped out humanity. It was transmitted by infected fleas that hitched a ride on animals like rats. While the bubonic plague has subsided, other diseases such as murine typhus, tungiasis, and tularemia are still around, and these are also transmitted by fleas.
So how can you get rid of fleas in your apartment? The best strategy, however, is to ensure that you do not get them in the first place. Since pets are usually their first point of contact, they are what you need to start with.
Of course, telling people not to have pets in apartments is completely out of the question. Common house pets like birds, cats, and dogs are not only a source of great company but are also often considered family by their owners.
The most common way that pets pick up fleas is when they go out for walks or when you take them out to exercise. There are several strategies you can employ to ensure that they are free of fleas, which will guarantee their health and ensure that your apartment is rid of them. This article will highlight some of the most common ways you can help rid your apartment and pets of fleas.
Identifying fleas in your apartment
Fleas are a type of flightless insect that lives by consuming blood from birds and mammals. This is enabled by mouthparts adapted at piercing skin and sucking blood. They are very small usually 3mm and are brown. Their bodies are narrow to enable them to move easily through the fur or feathers of their host.
Their legs end in claw-like structures which makes it near impossible to dislodge them from the animals. As they cannot fly, their hind legs are adapted to jumping large distances making them very mobile and agile.
Understanding the life cycle of fleas is also important to rid them completely from the apartment. Like all insects, the flea has a 4 stage lifecycle, the egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The female lays up to 50 eggs within 24 to 36 hours of her first blood meal. These eggs are usually laid on the skin of the hosts. The process can continue for three months if the host is still present.
The whole life cycle of a flea can occur within 3 weeks. This depends on favorable conditions being present which is usually a warm and humid environment.
Getting rid of flea eggs
As the flea lays eggs daily, this can quickly turn into an infestation from the sheer number. Luckily, the eggs are not as sticky the fleas themselves and usually fall off. The eggs are white and usually microscopic. They look like grains of salt.
Getting rid of these eggs requires a multi-pronged approach. The first approach is cleaning the pets to get rid of the eggs. There are environmentally friendly products containing insect growth regulators that can be sourced from the local vet.
The second approach requires meticulous cleaning of the entire apartment. This technique not only destroys the eggs but kills the adult fleas as well.
Home remedies to get rid of fleas
Home remedies are not only cheap and readily available but are also environmentally friendly when dealing with flea infestation. The use of the following remedies may help alleviate the problem.
This is the common method of killing off fleas and eliminating their breeding grounds. Use a powerful vacuum and focus on the carpet and furniture. Make sure you also vacuum the cracks and crevices around the house as this may be used as breeding grounds.
2. General cleaning
Once you suspect the infestation or sight fleas in the house it is prudent to clean the whole house. However, you should focus mostly on where you and your pets spend most of your time. Therefore places such as the furniture, your pet’s room and their beddings as well as your beddings should be paid attention to.
Regularly remove the beddings and coverings of your couches and put them in the washing machine. Ensure the water is hot and the dryer should be at the highest heat setting. If the beddings are old you can also get rid of them and start afresh.
3. Steam cleaning
If the fleas have infested the house, make sure to remove all your beddings and clothing. Steam cleaning’s combination of soap and hot water is a sure way to kill off the fleas. Make sure to focus on spots around the apartment where pets lie down most of the time.
Fleas are known to thrive in humid environments. Therefore the use of salt sprinkled on the furry surfaces such as the carpet or furniture deprives the environment of moisture. This is because salt is a natural dehydrator.
For this to work, you should sprinkle salt on the carpet and furniture and leave for a day or two. Afterward, vacuum the salt from the surfaces and empty the contents in a vacuum-sealed plastic bag for disposal. Ensure you clean off the salt well form the vacuum machine as salt tends to fasten the rusting process.
5. Baking soda
Much like salt but without the problem of causing rust, baking soda is also a dehydrating agent. The process requires you to pour and spread evenly the baking soda on your carpet and furniture.
Leave to aerate for a day or two. Afterward, vacuum and empty the contents in a sealed plastic bag.
6. Bar of soap and water
This remedy involves mixing soap and warm water to create a sticky solution used as a flea trap. Fleas are attracted to moisture and as they are wingless, they jump from place to place. This solution therefore acts as glue and traps them.
For this remedy to be effective, it should be carried out at night. This is because, for the most part, fleas are nocturnal creatures.
Flea repellant plants
Certain plants emit natural fragrances that are a natural repellant to the fleas. These are natural remedies and are also appealing aesthetically in the apartment. They include;
- Catnips – This is a member of the mint family of plants whose properties are known to beneficial especially to cats. An added advantage is that its fragrance also keeps the fleas away from your kitty.
- Citronella – This is also known as lemongrass. The leaves from this plant exude oil known as citronella oil that is not only flea repellant but mosquito repellant as well.
- Chrysanthemums – These produce brightly colored flowers that may brighten up the apartment. The fragrance released from their petals is a natural insecticide that not only keeps fleas away but most types of insects too.
- Pennyroyal – Oils released by this plant do not only serve as insect repellant but may be used as a remedy for the common cold and other illnesses.
- Lavender – Lavender is also a plant from the mint family which releases a fragrance that is a natural repellant.
- Rosemary – This plant’s leaves can be soaked in water used in bathing the pets. This is done by boiling the leaves in hot water and leaving to cool. The extracts in the water not only kill the fleas but act as a natural repellant after the pet dies.
Rosemary extract dissolved in water can also be sprayed around the house. This will give the house a pleasant fragrance while combating the flea infestation.
Flea spray containing essential oils
A faster remedy to only using the above-mentioned plants, this spray can be made from oils extracted from them. This requires soaking the plants in vinegar to extract the oils.
Once extracted, the oil concentrate can then be mixed with water and sprayed directly to the animal’s fur. As it is natural, it does not cause discomfort to the pets.
This should be used as a last resort. This is simply because while it may get rid of the fleas, it may also have a negative impact probably on you, your pets, or the environment.
Chemical treatment involves the use of insecticides. Visit your store to get the right insecticide to use. There are those meant to kill off the adults as well as the eggs they produce. Once procured, make sure to use the aerosol spray well concentrating on places you may find hard to reach using the other methods.
Make sure no one comes directly into contact with the spray including the pets. Do wear gloves when spraying and ensure the house is empty while you spray. Only come back to the apartment once you are sure the spray has dried.
Cleaning and caring for the pets
As part of getting rid of the menacing fleas from your apartment, your pets will need a good cleaning and caring afterward. This may involve the following steps;
1. Citrus bath
Citrus bath involves the use of any citrus fruit in the apartment such as clovers, lemon, or lime. To create this bath, you will mix a half cup of freshly squeezed fruit in two cups of warm water. Bath the pets in it for ten minutes taking great care to comb through their fur.
Leave the pets out to dry in a warm and dry place. The citrus bath will not only rid them of fleas but give them a pleasant fruity smell afterward.
2. Neem oil
This is derived from a plant native to the southeast of Asia. The compounds found in the oil are known to have far-reaching benefits. If you can get hold of it, you can either apply it directly to the pet’s fur or dilute it in water to make a spray.
3. Aromatherapy spray
As with humans, pets can also benefit physically and emotionally from aromatherapy. You can create your own in the apartment but ensure the oils used are pet friendly.
Recommended oils include eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, and almond oil. Do consult your veterinarian for other appropriate oils to use. This therapy not only gets rid of the fleas but also provide a soothing effect to our pets.
4. Coconut oil rub
Other than repelling fleas, coconut oil will make the animal’s coat shiny and remove body odors. To do this, you need to rub a teaspoon of oil directly into your pet’s fur.
Coconut oil can also be mixed with your pet’s food as it helps internally too. It has antifungal and antibacterial properties.
5. Apple cider vinegar spray
This can be made locally by crushing apples and extracting the juice. The juice is then fermented first using yeast and finally by adding acetic acid to produce the vinegar. Always be careful when handling acid in a concentrated amount.
Once produced you can then add water to dilute the mixture and spray it on your pet’s fur. The apple cider vinegar is known not only to kill off the fleas but also balance your pet’s ph. levels.
5. Shampoo bath
A visit to your local stores will get you pet-friendly shampoos that may be used in their baths. Lather produced from these shampoos normally kills the fleas.
To ensure its effectiveness, mix the shampoo in warm water to release the lather. Apply generous amounts of lather to the pets and leave it for a couple of minutes to do its work. Once the pets are sufficiently soaked, rinse them with warm water.
6. Pet collars infused with essential oils
Most pets are not fans of being washed regularly. Using a pet collar may, therefore, be another ingenious way of keeping away the fleas from pets without having to wash them constantly.
To do this, you can dilute a few drops of the essential oils in water and soak up the collars. Once soaked, tie it around them and the fragrance released will act as a natural repellant.
7. Pet collars soaked in vodka
If your pets are uncomfortable with the fragrance released by the essential oil, a vodka-based repellant may be the answer. Make sure though to use unflavored vodka.
Soak the collars in vodka and let it dry before putting them on your pet. When fitting the collars, make sure they are not put on too tightly as this will restrict the pet’s breathing.
8. Flea comb
Fleas are known to claw into the hair and furs of their hosts. Getting them off is not easy because of their claw-like legs. Therefore getting custom-made combs from the pet store is essential.
These combs do get the work done and can help the dog relax when you’re combing through the hair.
9. Pet comb soaked in lemon
If you are not able to get a flea comb, all is not lost. While brushing their fur helps to calm and soothe them, doing it right will also help to fend off the fleas.
Squeeze fresh lemon juice and soak the comb before brushing it over their fur. The lemon’s properties will help kill the fleas and the comb dislodges the fleas from the fur.
Getting rid of fleas outside the apartment
Once you get a flea infestation in your apartment, getting rid of this problem will only work if you pay attention to the outdoors as well. This is because most flea attacks emanate from the outside. Therefore remedies to ensure the outside of our apartments are free from fleas are pertinent.
If you have a yard outside the apartment or a common area where the pets can roam and play, these are places you should pay attention to. To start the disinfection, the area should be prepared first. This involves getting rid of clutter as well as clearing bushes, pulling out the weeds, and mowing the lawn. This is done as fleas might hide while trying to get rid of them.
Once cleared, a common way of killing off the fleas is by flooding areas they might be found in. This method not only waters your yard but kills the fleas and their eggs. Another natural way involves spraying of beneficial nematodes in the yard.
Nematodes are part of roundworms and while most roundworms are harmful, some have been known to control pests without harming the pets or us. These nematodes mostly invade the pest’s larva and release bacteria that poison them from the inside.
Nematodes should be applied every 6 to 10 days to control the infestation. However, the application of this spray should be under strict instructions to avoid an infestation of the nematodes.
As a final solution, you can also use insecticides but make sure to follow the instructions to the latter.
Getting rid of fleas requires a general understanding of their lifecycle and movements. While most fleas are found on pets, you should also pay special attention to hygiene around the house. This is because fleas are not only carried by pets, but also pests such as mice and rats that are attracted to living spaces that have poor hygiene.