How Much Does a Flea Exterminator Cost?
A female flea can lay almost 2,000 eggs in her lifetime, which adds up to a lot of itchy ankles and uncomfortable pets. A professional flea exterminator costs between $75 and $400, with a national average of $300.
- The typical price range to hire a flea exterminator is $75 to $400, with customers paying a national average of $300.
- There are several factors that will affect the total flea exterminator cost, including the infestation size and location, the home size, the treatment method and frequency, and the extermination company chosen.
- Common signs of a flea infestation in a home include the presence of flea dirt or eggs, flea sightings, frequent bites on residents’ ankles, and excessive scratching and hair loss from pets.
- DIY flea extermination products are available, but hiring a professional exterminator will help ensure the fleas are evicted from a home for good.
Most people love their pets immensely, but sometimes they bring home unwanted guests that refuse to leave. Even worse, sometimes someone else’s pet gives a visitor a few friends to bring home and start a family. An infestation of fleas is tricky to eradicate, because they can settle into carpeting, upholstery, bedding—really anywhere that’s warm and provides a ready food source, whether human or animal. How does one know when to call an exterminator for fleas? It’s a problem that needs to be addressed immediately before the infestation spreads, and any animals in the home will need to be treated as well. If a resident has bites but no signs of bugs, itchy ankles and legs, or a cat or dog that is scratching continuously, it’s a good time to start searching the web for “how much does a flea exterminator cost?” or “flea exterminator cost near me.”
According to Angi and HomeAdvisor, the cost for flea extermination isn’t a huge investment, with the expected range running between $75 and $400 and the national average cost of flea extermination running about $300. But the process can be a hassle, and it’s important to make sure the job is thoroughly done, or else stragglers will breed a whole new community that needs to be exterminated again. Choosing the cheapest option, then, is probably not the way to go: What’s most important is choosing an exterminator who is willing to discuss treatment options, has great references, and includes follow-up treatments in their contracts, even if they’re not the least costly choice. But how much does it cost to exterminate fleas, and why? There are a number of components that guide how much the solution to a flea problem will cost, and understanding them can help households with fleas choose an extermination contractor promptly and efficiently.
Factors in Calculating Flea Exterminator Cost
There are quite a few elements that help determine flea extermination cost. While some are specific to the individual job, others will be a factor in every calculation, so it’s important when budgeting to understand how each component figures into the cost.
Larger homes provide more space for a flea infestation to spread out, and so they require more product, time, and effort to complete a thorough extermination. Larger homes will therefore land toward the higher end of the cost range, while smaller homes will fall on the lower end.
Typically, an exterminator will come to the home to perform an inspection prior to beginning the extermination, and this first step is key: It’s important to make sure that the problem really is fleas before treatment begins, because the resident may find they actually need to work with one of the best bed bug exterminators or best cockroach exterminators (such as Orkin or Terminix) instead of or in addition to a flea exterminator. Not all extermination techniques are the same; bed bug extermination can be particularly difficult, and bed bug treatment cost is generally higher than other pest control costs. The inspection will also determine the size of the infestation. If it’s a relatively new infestation—the dog met up with another dog at the park, and several fleas hitched a ride home, then spread around a bit—the process of extermination is relatively quick and inexpensive. If, however, the home’s residents have been in denial for several months and the infestation is dense and spread around the home, the cost will be significantly higher, as it will almost certainly require multiple visits to clear the infestation.
The inspection will also determine where in the home the flea infestation is located. The following table lists the flea extermination cost for various locations around the home.
|Infestation Location||Average Extermination Cost|
If the fleas are just hanging out in the yard or outdoors, the cost is likely to be between $75 and $100, because it’s easier to simply spray down the area than it is to dig into every potential corner of the home where a flea might be hiding. A bedroom infestation will cost around $150, because there are so many soft surfaces where the fleas might nestle, while a kitchen will average about $175—the exterminator will need to take extra time and precautions when working in a kitchen so that food, dishes, and food preparation areas aren’t contaminated. If the whole home is involved, the cost will rise to the high end of the range or beyond, depending on the size of the home.
Extermination treatment will nearly always involve an application of a topical agent that kills adult fleas and damages larvae and eggs so they can’t develop properly. That’s the primary cost of the treatment itself, though there’s some cost variation based on which type of agent is used. Some infestations require additional treatment methods, which can increase the cost. The home will need to be vacuumed intensively and repeatedly to collect dead fleas and any that might have survived the insecticide. If the home’s resident chooses to do this, there’s no added cost, but in some circumstances the pros will handle it at an additional cost. In serious infestations, steam cleaning of soft surfaces and areas with crevices may follow treatment and use heat to kill any survivors. Exterior spraying may be necessary if it’s thought that the infestation moved into the home from the yard, also adding cost.
A small, localized infestation of fleas can possibly be handled in a single visit, perhaps with one follow-up. Very involved cases may require weeks or months to completely eradicate. Some extermination companies include multiple visits in their initial contracts, while others will charge separately for follow-up visits at a rate of $75 to $200 per visit. Both fee structures are reasonable, but it’s key to note which structure is included in the contract before signing.
The area where the home is located can have an effect on the cost, as well. Fleas hatch in warmer weather, so homes in warmer climates will have active flea seasons all year, whereas locations with colder weather seasons will have dormant periods. As a result, exterminators will have busy and slow seasons that may affect cost. Also, some areas have environmental protection chemical disposal fees that can affect the pricing of pesticide and insecticide. Finally, there is greater demand for flea extermination in larger cities where homes and apartments are packed more closely together, and as a result of this demand, the exterminators can charge more for their services.
Brand-name extermination services certainly benefit from nationwide name recognition, and some regional services also play the name game. The average cost for two of the top exterminator services is listed in the following table.
|Exterminator Service||Average Cost for Flea Extermination|
|Orkin||$250 to $600|
|Terminix||$290 to $590|
Customers can read Orkin or Terminix reviews to get a general idea of whether the company will be a good fit for their needs. Local contractors who have built a reputation for knowledge and excellence also compete. In the end, there are only so many treatment options for fleas, so all of the major and minor brands are using similar products at similar costs. Some brands offer competitively priced treatment packages that smaller companies can’t match. However, the goal when choosing an exterminator is to find one who knows their stuff and has a great reputation for customer service, so check out several brands and see how the local offices rate for service.
Additional Costs and Considerations
All exterminator costs will be affected by the previous factors, but some situations require additional services to complete the job. These additions can add significantly to the overall charge for the service, so if they apply, it’s important to factor them into the budget.
In addition to considering the flea extermination service, a resident may need to consider extra services to fully rid their home of fleas. The following table lists some common services that residents may choose.
|Additional Service||Average Cost|
|Carpet cleaning||$50 to $70 per room|
|Pet flea prevention||$40 to $50 per year|
|Pet flea treatment||$10 per bottle of flea shampoo|
|Whole-house cleaning||$219 per visit|
Most of the time, fleas enter the home by leaping onto a pet when they are outdoors or at another home, then hopping back off in the home and spreading. Sometimes they prefer to reside on the pet, which is extremely uncomfortable for the poor animal. If the fleas lay eggs on the pet, then the extermination in the home won’t be sufficient to eradicate the pests, so treating the pet for fleas at the beginning of the home treatment is critical. Pet flea shampoo can cost as little as $10, while opting to have a vet treat the pet can add $50 or more to the cost.
Sometimes, fleas can also be introduced to a home by wild mammals such as opossums and rats. If there is wildlife present in the home, or other pests such as ants, cockroaches, bed bugs, or termites, the pest control company may also provide services that will address those pests as well at an extra cost, or refer the homeowner to a wildlife removal company to address. An exterminator may also seal off cracks and crevices in the home with caulk or expanding foam to block entry points for all kinds of pests for an additional fee.
It may be desirable to have the home thoroughly cleaned after a flea treatment, both to remove any residue from the treatment itself and to flush out dead fleas and their eggs. Hot water laundering of all bedding, pet bedding, and clothing that may be infested is key, and while the home’s residents can certainly do this themselves, they might prefer to pay for a professional house cleaner to efficiently take on the job at a cost of $20 to $200, depending on the services requested.
Although intensive vacuuming is essential after an extermination, carpet cleaning is not. However, it may be a good idea to clean the carpets to make sure that all flea carcasses and leftover larvae or eggs are removed, especially if the infestation was particularly ferocious. Many customers choose to pay for professional carpet cleaning simply because they’re not wild about the chemicals remaining in the carpet and because the “ick factor” of knowing there were probably hundreds of dead fleas in the carpet is just too much to live with. Professional carpet cleaning will usually cost between $150 and $250, depending on how many rooms with carpet need to be cleaned.
Flea Exterminator Cost by Type of Treatment
How do exterminators get rid of fleas? There are several methods, and most often exterminators will use a combination based on their knowledge and experience after they assess the infestation. Each option has a different set of risks and benefits.
|Type of Treatment||Total Cost|
|Flea bombing||$100 to $200|
|Fumigation||$175 to $300|
|Heat treatment||$300 to $500|
|Spraying||$150 to $300|
|Vacuuming||$80 to $140|
Flea bombs are canisters full of insecticide and propellant that are placed strategically in the home, opened, and left to fill the space with insecticide fog that will eventually settle and coat the surfaces of the home. Flea bombs are not as effective as other treatment methods, with some studies suggesting they don’t work at all—fleas generally burrow into carpets or fabric, or hide in crevices, and the fog can’t penetrate deeply enough to reach them. Flea bombs can be deployed by an exterminator, usually only for single-room small infestations, or purchased for home use. The total cost is between $100 and $200 for purchase and cleanup.
Fumigation is the deployment of several flea foggers or flea bombs throughout the home, sometimes involving the tenting or sealing of the home. While this method can be quite effective for certain types of pests, fumigation alone isn’t the most effective method of exterminating fleas, and therefore it is often combined with other methods such as sprays. Fumigation costs for fleas generally fall between $175 and $300 unless the home requires tenting, in which case the cost is significantly higher.
Fleas are very vulnerable to heat. While they’re more active in warm, moist conditions, they simply don’t have the shells or bodies to withstand high heat. Heat treatment, therefore, is very effective in killing adult fleas, and it’s one of the few treatments that also kill eggs and larvae effectively. The cost is generally between $300 and $500, but this process is usually employed only when the infestation is limited to one room. The temperature in the room needs to be raised to more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit, so it’s not suitable for all situations, but when it is possible, heat treatment is quick and effective, and it doesn’t leave chemical residue on home surfaces.
Costing between $150 to $300 on average, spray treatments can force insecticide spray into cracks and crevices and coat surfaces and fabrics where fleas live. Spray treatments take several hours to complete and are generally quite effective, though a follow-up visit may be required, as eggs and larvae can survive the treatment.
Unlike bed bugs, which are hard-bodied, fleas are soft-bodied, so a quick trip through a vacuum cleaner hose often kills them. Beyond that, larvae and eggs have little resistance to the suction force a vacuum presents. Most exterminators will perform a thorough vacuum of a home before starting other treatments to remove as many fleas, eggs, and larvae as possible before beginning the treatment, and then again afterward to remove carcasses and any eggs or larvae that survived. Exterminators will either include this service in their pricing or charge between $80 and $140 if it’s not included.
Do I Need a Flea Exterminator?
Fleas aren’t like other insects, which make their presence known by parading across the counter in search of sugar or moisture or skittering across the kitchen floor when the lights turn on. They’re small, they blend in with a lot of carpet colors and pet fur, and they’re not noisy. As a result, many people don’t immediately realize there’s a problem until there’s a significant issue. Any of the indicators described below mean it’s time to make a call to an exterminator.
Presence of Flea Dirt or Eggs
If flea dirt—tiny dark spots that appear in carpets or at the base of a pet’s fur—has become visible, there’s trouble. That’s because flea dirt is actually the feces left behind by fleas, and if there are enough fleas that the feces is visible, there are many critters. The same goes for eggs, which are a little harder to detect, but again, if there are enough eggs that they can be spotted in the carpet or on a pet, there are quite a few fleas laying them, and it’s time to call an exterminator pronto.
Sightings of Fleas
Fleas are tiny. Really, really small. They’re almost impossible to see in beige or darker-colored carpeting, fabrics, and fur, but they may be visible jumping or crawling on light-colored pet fur, bedding, or carpeting.
Frequent Bites on Ankles
Tiny red bites on ankles and feet are another sign of flea infestation. Anyone reading this may already be incessantly scratching just based on the suggestions of fleas leaping around in the carpet, but even though most pet fleas won’t live on humans, they’re more than happy to bite them. Flea bites don’t look like other insect bites—they’re small and red or pink and can become inflamed, but they don’t swell up like mosquito or bed bug bites. They can be intensely itchy.
Excessive Scratching from Pets
Pets that have fleas on their bodies will wriggle, scratch, rub against furniture or door frames, and chew or gnaw at their skin, desperate for relief from the crawling sensation of having fleas moving around on their bodies or biting them. If this occurs, two things are necessary: The pet needs to get to a veterinarian for treatment, and an exterminator needs to be contacted.
Excessive Pet Hair Loss
If a pet is scratching and biting enough to relieve the itching, they’ll start to lose their fur as they worry at their skin and abrade and irritate themselves. Also, some fleas can cause a reaction in animals that causes them to lose patches of fur. A vet should check out any significant hair loss.
Flea Extermination: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
A quick perusal of the shelves at pet stores and home improvement stores will reveal a collection of sprays, foggers, powders, and treatments for pets, carpets, furniture, and whole homes that promise to rid the home of fleas. Unfortunately, most of the products that are available to nonprofessionals just aren’t strong enough to be effective—but they are strong enough to cause reactions in family members and leave chemical residue in the home. Plus, many over-the-counter products are intended to treat small areas of the home, so purchasing enough product to treat a larger infestation might end up costing as much as an exterminator—and after using them, an exterminator may be needed anyway when the DIY treatment isn’t effective.
Using insecticides in the home can be dangerous and ineffective, and since it’s difficult to know if the larvae and eggs left behind have been killed as well, it’s simply easier and often cheaper to call a professional. It’s also likely to be more effective.
How to Save Money on Flea Exterminator Cost
Once there’s a flea infestation in a home, there aren’t too many ways to save money on the extermination process.
- Focus on prevention. One of the best ways to save on flea extermination costs is to prevent the infestation from occurring in the first place: Stay up-to-date on flea treatments for pets, wash their bedding frequently, and thoroughly vacuum the home regularly to prevent any stray fleas from setting up camp.
- Act quickly. Call a professional as soon as you’re aware that there may be a flea problem, as small infestations are considerably less expensive to treat than large ones.
- Keep up with inspections. If there’s been an infestation, pay for annual treatment or inspections; it will cost less in the long run than paying for treatment of a large infestation.
- Take on some of the work. Ask the exterminator if you can handle the vacuuming pre- and post-treatment for a reduction in cost.
Questions to Ask About Flea Extermination
As with any contractor, it’s important for a homeowner or renter to seek out references and reviews of an exterminator. It’s especially important that they feel comfortable and confident with an exterminator, because they’ll be in the home using chemicals around the residents’ personal belongings. A customer needs to be able to count on the professional’s expertise and be able to ask questions. The following list includes some questions a customer might ask a potential exterminator before signing a contract.
- How long have you been in business?
- Do you have a lot of experience with flea extermination, or have you focused mainly on other insects?
- Are you licensed, bonded, and insured? Are all of the workers who might work on my home?
- What kind of treatment do you recommend for my home? Why?
- Are there other treatments that are more or less aggressive that we should consider? Why?
- Will the chemicals you use be safe for my family and pets?
- Do you guarantee your service? Are follow-up visits included in the cost?
- Can you provide references?
- Will we need to leave the house? For how long?
- How should I prepare the house for treatment?
- Do you offer or contract with someone to do house cleaning post-treatment?
- What do I need to do after treatment?
- What is your process to make sure the treatment has worked?
- What is your payment schedule?
Calling an exterminator is never a fun task—there are many, many other places that most people would prefer to spend money on their homes. When it’s necessary, though, it’s necessary. It’s important for a customer to look beyond the question “how much does flea extermination cost?” and ask “how effective will flea extermination be in my home?” The following are some common questions about flea extermination cost along with their answers to help guide the decision.
Q. Is an exterminator for fleas worth it?
Quite simply, yes. Fleas lay a lot of eggs in a short time. They multiply very rapidly and are difficult to treat because every last little flea—and their eggs—needs to be killed to prevent reinfestation. Professionals can do the job faster, more effectively, and more safely than home or DIY options, and the cost isn’t much more than a home’s resident would spend on home treatments.
Q. Can fleas survive an exterminator?
Actually, they all do, initially. After a chemical treatment to kill the fleas, most survive several days, and some can survive for up to 2 weeks. In addition, their eggs or larvae may survive, causing a slight revival several weeks after the extermination treatment. This is why follow-up visits are important.
Q. How long does it take for an exterminator to get rid of fleas?
In general, depending on the size of the house and the severity of the infestation, it takes an average of 3 to 4 months to fully remove fleas from a home.
Q. What is the cheapest way to get rid of fleas?
A single flea treatment at a cost of about $135 will do a reasonable job of killing most fleas; some may survive and continue to breed. However, customers will want to be wary of exterminators who promise that a single treatment will be effective without being willing to schedule a follow-up check.
Q. Can I get rid of fleas myself?
There are plenty of DIY home treatments available for use and pest control tips listed online, but here’s the problem: Unless the user is a professional, they won’t know whether or not all of the fleas are dead, and so an unfortunate cycle of retreatments could begin, spreading a lot of chemicals around the house inexpertly and taking up a lot of time and money. This really is one area where it could be cheaper to have the job done professionally and well rather than trying to save a few dollars with a DIY.
Q. What is a flea bomb and does it work?
A flea bomb, also called a fogger, is a tool that some exterminators use to effectively coat everything in the home with pesticide. A container holding the pesticide is placed in the home, which is then sealed, and when opened, the container propels a fog of pesticide into the air. The fog spreads throughout the home, then settles to the ground, evenly coating all surfaces and killing fleas wherever it comes in contact. The home must be left for a period of time, then ventilated and deep cleaned, with any laundry or bedding that was exposed thoroughly washed. And the resident must vacuum daily for a period of time to capture any fresh hatches from eggs or larvae that weren’t destroyed. Flea bombs can be quite effective, but they can also be dangerous for babies or medically compromised residents, so it’s important to know what kind of insecticide is in the flea bomb and what effects it may have.
Sources: Angi, HomeAdvisor, Fixr, LawnStarter