How To: Kill Fleas in Carpet
Four-legged friends can bring more than joy into your home; they also can bring in fleas. Get ahead of these little hoppers before they become a chronic issue.
Fleas aren’t an unusual houseguest when there are pets around, but they’re not exactly welcome inside a home. These tiny critters like humidity and warmth, and they easily jump from pets to land on carpet, furniture, humans, and anything with a pulse.
Flea bites itch, but even worse, a bite can transmit disease. If you notice these little bugs hopping in the carpet, it’s best to get ahead of them before they entrench themselves and spread throughout the house. Here’s a rundown on how to kill fleas in carpet.
Before You Begin
Try to identify where the fleas are hiding before cleaning. While fleas can infest carpeting in the entire home, they really like a nice warm host. Pets’ favorite places, and unfortunately, places where people frequent like beds and couches, are pretty common hiding spots. The carpet in these areas is more likely to have a flea issue than areas where pets and people rarely frequent.
STEP 1: Vacuum your carpet often and thoroughly.
A vacuum cleaner can thoroughly remove fleas. Stay ahead of the problem by vacuuming regularly and often. Use a hose attachment and crevice tool to get near baseboards and all of the hidden carpet between or underneath furniture. If pets like to snuggle down behind the couch, make sure to vacuum there, too. Don’t forget rugs, pet bedding, or pet furniture, especially if it’s on the floor.
STEP 2: Vacuum and steam-clean all upholstered items in the house.
If fleas have migrated from pets to upholstery, they can easily make their way into the carpet. To help minimize the migration, the next step is to vacuum and steam-clean upholstery. The vibrations of the vacuum may be enough to make the fleas reveal themselves. However, to be thorough, use a steam cleaner to clean deeply into the fabric and cushions. Once you’ve gotten rid of the fleas, regularly vacuum the upholstery to prevent future outbreaks.
STEP 3: Remove the vacuum cleaner bag after each vacuuming.
After vacuuming, take the vacuum outside, remove the bag, put it inside a sealed bag, and put it in an outside garbage can. Do not leave the bag in the vacuum or leave the sealed bag inside the house. Those pesky fleas can travel back through the vacuum’s system and onto pets, people, and carpeting.
When there’s a flea problem, the vacuum bag should be changed after each vacuuming to make sure the vacuum isn’t spreading the fleas.
STEP 4: Apply a spray treatment.
Apply a spray treatment to the carpet to remove any stubborn fleas. These treatments sink into the carpet to get rid of current infestations and can help prevent future infestations.
Homeowners with pets should make sure to use a spray that is pet-friendly. These products feature natural ingredients that won’t hurt pets if they sniff or roll in the carpet. A few carpet sprays are designed for direct application to pets, but most are not. Always read application instructions carefully.
Pro Tip: Carpet flea treatments may need to sit on the carpet for a few days.
STEP 5: Prevent further infestations by cleaning your pets and using a diatomaceous earth treatment.
Fleas can be tough to control once they’ve started laying eggs. In their egg and larvae stages, they’re fairly impervious to treatments that kill hatched adults. To prevent a chronic problem, regularly wash pets and apply flea treatments, whether that’s a topical medication, a flea collar, or both.
Another preventative measure is regular diatomaceous earth treatments that can kill fleas in the carpet before they reach the egg-laying phase. Diatomaceous earth is made of the abrasive particles of long-dead single-celled organisms called diatoms. The abrasive particles attach to the flea’s exoskeleton and absorb moisture from the body until the flea dries up and dies.
Pro Tip: There are two types of diatomaceous earth—food grade and filter grade. Only use food-grade diatomaceous earth inside a home. Do not use diatomaceous earth directly on pets unless directed by a veterinarian, as it can dry the skin.
The flea reproductive cycle can make it difficult to get ahead of these pests. That’s why the how-to’s of killing fleas in carpet starts with early detection and consistent cleaning of pets and the home. The steps outlined above, including regular vacuuming, pet washing, and flea sprays to both pets and carpet can rid the home of these bouncing, biting bugs.
Be thorough, cleaning upholstery and places where pets like to hang out with extra attention, and make sure to dispose of vacuum bags and leftover cleaning supplies appropriately. If pets are the cause of the fleas, use pet-friendly products and follow the manufacturer’s instructions. With consistency, fleas won’t stand a chance.