The first thing anyone, including us as pest control professionals, is going to do is determine that what you have is truly fleas. There are a multitude of small household insects that may look like fleas, but in fact are not fleas at all.
As someone who has pets and loves the outdoors, I have seen a lot of fleas, (and other creepy crawlies) and know how to positively identify them as invaders into my home, and on my pets. However, many small insects, including beetles and even aphids are commonly mistaken for fleas!
Making the determination as to whether you have fleas or something akin to beetles is very important, as this will dictate how you proceed, and if it is fleas, I have fantastic news for you, 90% of a flea treatment can be done by you! (This is really DIY, without the risk of being a “DIWhy?”)
If you’ve positively determined that what you have is fleas, then your next steps should be toward knowing how they’re getting into your home and how to prevent that from happening.
Do you have a beloved pet that goes outside? Have you brought in any pre-owned furniture, or had any wildlife guests such as birds, rodents, or even squirrels staying in the attic or hanging around the porch? If so, this may be how your home was exposed to these pests! Sometimes, it can even be from we humans bringing them in!
The most common type of flea is the cat flea (which does not only feed on cats) and they love to burrow down in carpeting, pet bedding, and soft surfaces where a host (human, cat, dog, or any food source) frequents. These are what we refer to as “hot spots”, and they should be treated at the same time as your beloved pet, if you have one.
As one of the most important steps, we always recommend taking any pets to the veterinarian to be treated because they have immediate access to the newest professional flea products and they’re going to be able to tell you exactly what “Fluffy” needs based on their medical needs, and that treatment will also be the most effective in taking care of your pet! This is important to your pet’s health and killing the infestation in the home, because if you treat the hosts, it makes it harder for the fleas to sustain life.
The next step is the big one, it’s time to get your Cinderella on and start cleaning!
I’ll step-by-step you through it.
- You need to (at least temporarily) remove all the furniture and items from the floor that could prevent you from cleaning as much as possible (your daughter’s dollhouse, your son’s massive Hot-Wheels collection, etc.)
- Remove as much clutter as you can; boxes, tubs, and the treadmill/laundry rack in the guest room too, especially if pets go in there frequently!
- Washing or tossing out pet bedding or other plush floor items where pets lounge about.
- Sweeping the deck, porch, and outside steps and thresholds.
- Mowing the lawn and temporarily removing large yard toys.
- This step is very important! You must vacuum along baseboards, closet floors, around corners and around baseboard heating. Clean every surface, especially furniture seams, fabric upholstery, and under cushions on couches and chairs in preparation for steam cleaning, where they can burrow; furniture, carpeting and rugs. This means that you’ll draw eggs and larvae to the surface and kill the little suckers with the steam!
- Detailed steam cleaning, even on hard wood floors. For dog owners, most of this will be lower to the ground (furniture and floors), for cats this could mean windowsills and on top or behind the refrigerator and cabinets where cats frequent.
- Vacuuming may need to be repeated several times, steam cleaning if done diligently could be as little as one or two times!
If you’ve maintained your tenacity, your problem is well on its way to being under control and you’re perfectly poised to do one of the following, depending on how comfortable you are with the state of the infestation. You can keep treating the way you have been with cleaning or call in a professional to supplement your cleaning with a chemical treatment for the home. If you do decide to undergo a chemical application, you will want to stop steam cleaning after the chemical treatment, and you will want to keep vacuuming every day for 2-3 weeks. This will promote fleas to molt and expose them to the treatment and help eliminate any left-over populations.
This is only effective if you’ve treated the animals in the home as well as cleaned as recommended. It’s as simple as that, and if you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call, and we can answer any questions you have.
More than anything though, don’t panic. You’ve got this!
Cheers and good luck,