Fleas in your home is no laughing matter and if not dealt with right away can quickly become a nightmare for you, your family and your pets. Below are a few tried and true methods for keeping fleas at bay without resorting to harmful and stressful fogging treatments. And while some are not totally free of chemicals, they are very safe and the only things that I have found to be effective. Being a bit of a chemical-phobe I have tried everything that I have heard to be effective from lavender oil to garlic to brewer's yeast and nothing really works once these buggers have gotten into your home or on your pets.
The very first step in preventing fleas from getting to your pet and into your home is treating your dog or cat with the now very popular once-per-month treatments. I was very reluctant to try these and did actually have an issue with hair-loss on my cat one year, but I have been using Bayer's Advantage II for the past few years with no problem whatsoever - even on my older dog and cat. Depending on where you live, these treatments should begin no later than June 1st and continue through to the second frost of the season. You should also purchase a flea comb and comb your pet thoroughly (especially around the neck and tail areas) once per day during the season. Be sure to have a cup of hot, soapy water at hand to drown any fleas that may come off with the comb.
These two things should ideally keep fleas from becoming a problem in your home. However, if you do see evidence of a flea invasion - no matter how small - the following steps should help you avoid harmful and stressful fogging.
Before you do anything, get in the habit of placing shallow dishes of hot, soapy water on the floor at night under lights and you will be amazed at what you find in the morning. Fleas, gnats and even moths fall prey to the light and water and this is a safe and effective way of controlling them.
The single most important thing in keeping a flea-free home is vacuuming daily. Many sources advise changing the vacuum cleaner bag after each use but a much less wasteful way to do it is to place one or two moth balls in the bag. Moth balls actually kill fleas and if you hate the smell or are afraid of them - worry not. Most vacuum bags keep the smell contained.
Another very effective way to kill fleas in the home is steam cleaning. Thankfully there are now plenty of portable, affordable and powerful steam cleaners on the market that can be used on furniture, carpeting, hardwood floors and tile. You should ideally steam clean everything every other day until the fleas are under control. Remember to take your time and not just push the steamer around. It is important when steaming (and vacuuming) to move the machines slowly across the surface so that they have time to do their thing. Fleas are incredibly stubborn and hearty critters and will hold on with all their might.
If you fear that fleas have gotten into your clothes, wash everything right away. If you have items that require dry cleaning and simply cannot afford to clean them all, you can wrap them in plastic and put them in the freezer overnight. Fleas love heat and humidity and so the freezer will kill adult fleas, eggs and larvae.
All of this may seem daunting and a lot of work, but if you get into a rhythm for just a couple of weeks you will save yourself a lot of heartache down the line. Best of luck keeping yourself, your family, your pets and your home free from fleas permanently!