No matter what types of pets or how many you have in your home, controlling fleas is an inevitable part of pet ownership. Although they’re more common in warmer, dryer climates and their population in your home and yard tends to be highest in the dryer summer months, it’s possible for fleas to get out of control quickly no matter where you live all year long.
But how can you tell when it’s time to treat your home for fleas? “You can do home flea treatment in the beginning of spring or summer, since it is the season of fleas and ticks,” explains Ryan Smith of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control of Beaverton, Oregon. “But no matter the time of the year, a home flea treatment is necessary and should be done immediately once you see signs of infestation on your pets.”
When choosing home flea treatments there are a number of factors to consider. Do you need to treat indoors, outside in your yard or both? Should you use a powder, a spray, a fogger or a trap? You’ll also want to ensure that the product you choose is safe for your pets, your children, and any surfaces where food is stored or served. Each treatment has its own method of application, cautions, and effective ingredients. This list will help you choose one or two that are a good fit for your specific needs.
Wondercide Flea & Tick Spray for Pets + Home
One spray for cats, dogs, and home
Gentle enough for puppies, kittens and senior pets
Avoid their peppermint scented spray
Wondericide Flea and Tick Spray is mild enough to be applied directly to your dog or cat’s fur as well as bedding, furniture, rugs, and carpet. Like cedar chests used for storing family heirlooms, this spray’s main component, cedar oil, is naturally repelling to a variety of insect pests, especially fleas. Other main ingredients include lemongrass, a close relative of citronella, so it is naturally repellent to insects including fleas and ticks. Sesame oil contains natural acids that act as alarm pheromones resembling those emitted by dead and dying insects, sending invading fleas and ticks instinctual messages that they should go elsewhere to avoid a dangerous situation.
It’s mild enough to use every two to three days as needed. The spray is also cruelty-free, biodegradable and made in the U.S.
Luckily, each of Wondericide’s ingredients imparts a pleasant smell to the spray that customers and pets don’t mind. We recommend the lemongrass, cedarwood, or rosemary blends. Avoid the peppermint option, as peppermint essential oils are toxic to dogs and cats.
Price at time of publish: $27 for a 16-ounce bottle
Application Type: Spray | Active Ingredients: Cedar, lemongrass, sesame oils | How Long it Lasts: Unclear, but kills in minutes
Adams Flea & Tick Carpet Powder
Stops all parts of flea life cycle
A number of carpet powders are available on the market. Adams Flea & Tick Carpet Powder with Linalool and Nylar is affordable. It kills adult fleas, flea eggs and larvae, and ticks on carpets, rugs, and furniture.
Nylar is an Insect Growth Regulator, which means it stops eggs and larvae from growing into adults, effectively breaking the flea life cycle in your home. The botanically-derived insecticide Linalool kills all four stages of the flea life cycle: adults, eggs, larvae, and pupae.
One container can treat up to 400 square feet and you do not need to replace or reuse it for a year. Because it kills on contact, the manufacturer recommends applying and then letting it settle for at least 24 hours before vacuuming. It prevents re-infestation. The citrus fragrance also deodorizes and freshens while eliminating pet odors. Be sure to follow application instructions carefully to avoid inhalation exposure.
Price at time of publish: $16 for a 16-ounce bottle
Application Type: Powder | Active Ingredients: Linalool, Nylar, pyrethrin insecticides, piperonyl butoxide | How Long it Lasts: One year
Bayer Advantage Household Fogger
It works when other treatments have failed
Can be dangerous for humans and domestic animals if not used according to instructions
It’s a synthetic insecticide
When fleas get out of control in your home, sometimes you just need a fogger so you can get ahead of their life cycle. Advantage Household Fogger is an excellent choice from a long trusted brand. The fogger comes in a pack of three and kills fleas, flea eggs, flea larvae, and ticks, as well as cockroaches, lice, mites, ants, and many other household pests. Each fogger treats an 8-foot-ceiling room measuring up to 16 by 16 feet, or 2,000 cubic feet of unobstructed space.
Be sure to thoroughly read and follow all instructions before use. Because the active ingredients include pyrethrin insecticides, you’ll need to take extra care to remove food and dishes from the treatment area, and also clean counters and eating surfaces with soap after treatment.
They also recommend using this in combination with yard and pet treatments to prevent re-invasion from outside areas.
Price at time of publish: $21 for a pack of three
Application Type: Fogger | Active Ingredients: Pyrethrin insecticides, piperonyl butoxide | How Long it Lasts: Up to seven months
PetArmor Home and Carpet Spray for Fleas and Ticks
Works well for a long time
Can irritate skin
PetArmor Home Brand Home and Carpet Spray can reach the fleas and ticks hidden in your carpets, rugs, draperies, upholstery, and pet bedding. This hard-working spray kills fleas, flea eggs and larvae, ticks, bed bugs, lice, and dust mites.
It works for seven months because it inhibits growth into the adult phase, thus preventing re-infestation. This spray doesn’t leave an odor or powdery mess and, when used as directed, does not stain. You’ll need to spray and let the product dry for two hours for safe application.
Price at time of publish: $9 for a 16-ounce bottle
Application Type: Spray | Active Ingredients: Permethrin insecticide, N-octyl bicycloheptene dicarboximide (insecticide enhancer) | How Long it Lasts: About seven months
Enoz Trap-N-Kill Flea Trap
Reusable with sticky pad refills
No chemicals, smells, or oils
Does not address eggs and larvae
Used alone, takes longer to stop life cycle
If you don't like the smells, oils, or chemicals in sprays, powders and bombs, try an old fashioned trap with help from modern technology. Enoz Trap-N-Kill Flea Trap uses infrared heat and light from a bulb to attract fleas. The fleas jump toward the light and fall through a screen onto a sticky pad.
A single pad attracts fleas and is good for up to three months or until filled. Refills are sold in an affordable three-pack. Because its made without pesticides, its safe for use around children, pets, and food.
Price at time of publish: $16
Application Type: Sticky trap | Active Ingredients: Glue | How Long it Lasts: Each pad up to three months
Best for Outdoors
TropiClean Natural Flea & Tick Yard Spray
No synthetic pesticides
Connects to hose for easy application
Can cause eye and skin irritation on prolonged contact
Some ingredients are not pet-safe
It makes sense to consider your yard when eliminating fleas. Otherwise any work you do in your home to remove fleas could be foiled in a short time by new tiny invaders. But it’s your yard—which is where your home meets Mother Nature. So you may want a product that works naturally without harmful chemicals, odors, or damage to your lawn.
Tropiclean Natural Flea and Tick Yard Spray is made of a cocktail of essential oils—clove, lemongrass, cedarwood, and cinnamon oils that naturally kill and repel fleas, ticks, mosquitoes, spiders, ants, aphids and many other insects. It has a citrus aroma.
A single bottle should cover 5,000 square feet of lawn and is effective on all flea life stages to ensure they won’t return. Application is easy because you can attach a hose directly to the bottle for spray distribution. However, you'll want to keep your pets off the treated area, because cinnamon essential oil is harmful to dogs.
Price at time of publish: $26 for a 32-ounce bottle
Application Type: Spray with hose | Active Ingredients: Clove, lemongrass, cedarwood, and cinnamon essential oils | How Long it Lasts: Not specified, customers say 3-4 weeks
NaturVet Herbal Flea Powder
Simple, natural ingredients
Powders can trigger asthma
Meant for use on pets and throughout your home, NaturVet Herbal Flea Powder is for both cats and dogs. Formulated by a veterinarian, it’s simple, fragrant herbal ingredients are safe enough to use on bedding, and on weaned kittens and puppies over the age of six weeks whenever you need.
A money back guarantee should dispel any worries that such simple ingredients won’t be strong enough. As with all powders, follow the manufacturer’s instructions including applying in ventilated areas. If you like the powder, you can also try the brand's spray for added protection.
Price at time of publish: $18 for a 4-ounce container
Application Type: Powder | Active Ingredients: Thyme oil, lemongrass oil, and rosemary
Based on personal experiences, Wondericide Flea & Tick Spray earned the top spot because it’s safe enough to use directly on your pets and throughout your home whenever you spot a flea.
We also included a spray, powder, and fogger with strong insecticides that will get the job done when you’re overrun or when other products have failed.
What to Look for in Home Flea Treatments
“Active ingredients in most pesticides include permethrin and fipronil, which effectively kill adult fleas. Other active ingredients like methoprene and pyriproxyfen inhibit eggs from developing,” Smith explains. “When using chemicals, avoid products with imidacloprid and dinotefuran as they can be very toxic to children." He says you can use safer alternatives, such as diatomaceous earth, herbal, or organic flea sprays, and lemon spray, and salt (coupled with vacuuming).
Avoid home and bedding sprays that contain essential oils known to be toxic to dogs and cats including peppermint, cinnamon, tea tree, pine, and wintergreen oils.
Most brands offer a variety of methods to address customer needs, including sprays, powders, foggers and traps. They recommend a thorough approach that involves treating your pets, home, and yard simultaneously for the most effective treatment.
Generally, start by treating the area where fleas are first discovered. Then expand outward. That may be pet bedding or your sofa.
With any aerosol or powder application, remove pets and children from the area and follow all directions to avoid inhaling the product, especially if it contains synthetic insecticides. Also look for warnings about skin contact. Wear gloves when applying and wash your hands with soap and water after each application. Watch for mention of items that should not be treated, such as eating surfaces, and items that should be removed from the area before treatment such as food, dishes and items that are difficult to clean.
Some home sprays contain ingredients that are toxic to pets. Never apply a spray directly to your pet’s fur unless the product instructions indicate that it is safe to do so and you have consulted with your veterinarian.
When do I need to treat my home for fleas?
Most experts agree that as soon as you see the first flea, it’s time to treat your home and pets. That’s because a female flea can lay 50 eggs per day, around 2,000 in their short lifetime. Those hatch and can become mature adult fleas within two weeks to several months depending on the conditions.
It's best to take care of this problem right away, because when fleas get out of control, they can cause a number of problems for you and your pet. Beyond being annoying, fleas can spread diseases and parasites.
Some pets are mildly to severely allergic to flea saliva and can experience discomfort even from a single flea bite. If you’ve ever had fleas bloom in your home, you’ll remember the urge to itch the bites. That urge can make your pet to lick and scratch themselves until they develop secondary problems like skin infections, hot spots, and even behavior problems like destroying furniture out of frustration.
How long do home flea treatments take to work?
Most home flea treatments contain ingredients that kill on contact and additional ingredients called growth inhibitors that disrupt the flea life cycle. Some products produce immediate results with strong pesticides while more natural ones can take up to 30 days to fully eliminate all fleas. Read the package carefully as most products will indicate how quickly they take effect.
Are home flea treatments safe?
“When using pesticides for treating flea infestation in your home, remember that these chemicals may have harmful effects to your family, pets, and the environment,” notes Smith. Most experts agree that home flea treatments are safe as long as you thoroughly read instructions before use and follow the directions carefully.
Some must be fully dry before contact to be safe. Others require you to remove food and dishes from treatment areas before application. Be sure you understand your product fully and plan carefully before applying flea control products in your home.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This piece was written by Lorraine Wilde who has had at least two cat and two dog companions in her home for the past 35 years. She’s needed to treat her home twice during particularly dry summers in the Pacific Northwest. When researching these brands, she evaluated the type and health of the ingredients, application methods, and the company’s research and development of the product. We consulted with several pest control experts and evaluated active ingredients, affordability, safety, and effectiveness. We also studied customer reviews to consider the pros and cons of each product.
Because she has only the highest of standards for her pets and her family, Wilde included products she’d be willing to use in her own home.
Wilde holds a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and a Master’s degree in environmental science with an emphasis on toxicology. She is a firm believer that consumers can make healthy, informed, and environmentally-conscious choices to protect their pets and families.
Dr. Ryan Smith earned a Ph.D. in entomology (the study of insects) and biochemistry. He is a pest control expert and the owner of Ant and Garden Organic Pest Control in Beaverton, OR.