Itching to be rid of fleas?

Dear HomeEc 101:

My wife and I live alone, no dogs, cats, children, or other pests. Until recently. Immediately after a painter touched up a ceiling, and protected our hardwood floors with a drop cloth, we began to find fleas in our house. 3 flea bombs and 1 pest control visit later, we still have fleas. Help!

Itching in Ithica

Heather says:

Fleas are patient creatures and this is reflected in their life cycle. They tend to wait until conditions are favorable before moving from egg to larvae and larvae to adult.  This ability to bide their time is part of what makes them so difficult to control.  Since new introduction seems unlikely, I bet you’ll be able to get these monsters under control in no time.  Since you have already tried chemical means of pest control I believe you may be experiencing reinfestation as the new batches of eggs hatch.

Thoroughly vacuum your home, paying careful attention to corners, crevices, drapes, and upholstered furniture.  Go as far as to take the cushions out of the slipcovers.  Don’t forget to stick the wand down any heat registers/cold air returns in the floor. Unfortunately you’ll need to repeat this thorough vacuuming until the situation has resolved.  Larvae feed on organic debris, so the frequent vacuuming not only reduces the population, but limits their food supply as well.

You’ll also need to wash your bedding, the suckers like to hide there, as well.  Use HOT water, unless the care label indicates this will damage the material.

If you have a bagged vacuum remove the bag from your home.  Before installing a new one add 1/3 to 1/2 of a dog’s flea collar to the bag. This should kill any errant fleas before they can escape to repopulate your home.  If your vacuum is bagless empty the container outside of your home after each use.

You may be able to lure adult fleas with a flea trap.  These low tech devices are simple to build.  Securely suspend a lightbulb over a shallow dish of soapy water.   In a dim room the fleas are attracted to the light and jump in, but cannot escape.  This may help control the flea laying portion of the population.

For temporary relief consider wearing Skin so Soft as a repellant.

Finally, consider having your carpets and upholstered furniture professionally steamcleaned.  I would only use this as a last resort as you’ve already shelled out for pest control.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes.





2 Comments

  1. Gayla McCord on April 10, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    An old farmers remedy for these little critters that works like a charm —

    Put some water into a cookie sheet

    Drizzle a bit of dish soap through the water

    Place a table lamp in the middle of the room floor where the fleas are

    Place the cookie sheet right next to the lamp.

    During the night, the fleas will jump at the heat of the lamp – fall into the water and because of the soap, they will drown.

    I swear it works like a charm.

    Need to do this a couple of nights in a row then repeat every three days until fleas are gone.



  2. Bramble on April 9, 2007 at 2:41 pm

    throw some diatomaceous dirt around outside your home as well to prevent new pests entering, and to prevent the old ones from holing up outside while you bomb and then popping back in!