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Rid Your Home of Fleas Naturally

Lavender flowers

Lavender flowers

As summer draws to a close, the kids head back to school, and the tomatoes begin to get ripe in earnest, the world holds its breath in anticipation of another long-awaited event: the first frost—which will put an end to the legions of fleas that invade the house in summer. The spiders seem to lurk all year round.

I don’t like using chemical pesticides, but in years past I have sometimes been driven to desperation. A couple of years ago, I felt I had to flea bomb the whole house. While this did take care of the problem, this summer I decided to look into natural methods for ridding the house of fleas.

It turns out that there are many natural substances that repel fleas. Some of the best are citrus, lavender, rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, geranium, citronella, and tea tree oil.

I recently discovered a recipe for a homemade all-purpose household cleaner made with orange peel.


Pell two oranges and put the peels only into a pint jar. Add distilled white vinegar to cover. Close with a tight-fitting lid and let stand for one week. Pour off the liquid and discard the orange peels.

This yields about a half-pint of a delightfully orange-scented household cleaning liquid that hardly smells of vinegar at all.

You may want to double the recipe!


To the orange/vinegar cleaning liquid, I added about 20 drops of lavender essential oil and about 20 drops of rosemary essential oil. Both these oils, when used as household cleaners, give your home a lovely fragrance.

The combination of lavender, rosemary, and orange is a triple-whammy flea repellent!

To use this cleaner, mix about ¼ cup of the cleaning liquid with 1-2 quarts of warm water.


A good thorough housecleaning does a lot to rid the home of fleas, simply because their eggs are scrubbed up and poured down the drain. Adding an aromatic cleaning solution to the mix drives away adult fleas and keeps them from coming back for at least a week, and maybe up to two weeks. You might want to use rubber or plastic gloves when scrubbing with this cleaning solution, since it is pretty strong, even after diluting with water.

This will make your house smell wonderfully fresh and clean!

If you don’t consistently scrub all the floors in your house once a week, you are perhaps not alone. As a working mom, much of my cleaning regimen consisted of cleaning up spills and trying to control clutter. But if you want to control the summer flea population, you will need to up the ante.

I noticed an additional plus, this cleaner seems to act as a contact poison to flies. First their absence becomes noticeable—and then you notice that you are sweeping them up off the floor.


If fleas have invaded beds and bedding—and they surely have, especially if children allow pets to sleep with them—bedding must be washed in hot water and dried at high heat, to destroy fleas and their eggs. Mattresses should be vacuumed.

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Another way to repel fleas from beds is to moisten a cotton ball with lavender or rosemary essential oil and take a few swipes at the mattress with this before making up the beds with fresh linens. Don’t overdo essential oils on mattresses. Not that much is needed, and you don’t want the smell to be strong enough to disturb sleepers. The cotton ball you used to apply essential oil to the mattress can be tucked into a pillow sham.

Upholstered furniture should be vacuumed, and cotton balls soaked in lavender or rosemary essential oil can be tucked behind the cushions. One cotton ball per item of furniture should be sufficient. You may not want to even lightly swipe upholstered furniture with cotton balls of essential oil, lest it leave unsightly smudges that might attract dirt.


Decades of living with children and pets have given me something of a horror of carpets! They are ideal nesting places for fleas, and every spill, dog or cat “accident,” and every speck of dirt tracked in and dust blown in will impregnate carpeting for the rest of geological time. Even if you shampoo the carpets when needed…well, much of that stuff is still there. You will realize just how much of it is still there when you pull up the carpeting to replace it, either with new carpeting or some other kind of flooring.

Granted, it’s probably worse if you live on a gravel road in the country and like to open your windows in nice weather.

To rid carpets of fleas, vacuuming and then steam cleaning carpets—and upholstered furniture—is the recommended approach.

For natural flea-killing treatment for carpets, mix equal parts salt and borax and apply to your carpets. A flour-sifter works well for this. Leave this on the carpets for 24 hours, to allow time for the mixture to kill fleas and their eggs, and then vacuum it up. Be sure to discard the vacuum cleaner bag in an outdoor trash receptacle.

Wash rugs and pet bedding in hot water and dry in a hot dryer.

Should essential oils be applied (lightly) to pet bedding? This is okay for dogs, but not for cats. Cats are sensitive to most essential oils, many of which can make them very ill.


The best discussion for preventing and ridding your dog of fleas using natural methods is at The advice at this link comes from a woman who fosters animals. I love her approach, though I don’t have dogs, myself.

The author suggests mixing 2-3 drops lavender or cedar wood essential oil with 1-3 tablespoons water and apply to your dog’s collar. I love the author’s idea of putting this combination on a bandana for tying around the dog’s neck, for a jaunty look.

She also suggests adding a small amount of apple cider vinegar (1 teaspoon ACV per quart of drinking water for a 40-pound dog) to your dog’s drinking water and sponging the dog with water in which lemons have been steeped overnight. To make this sponge bath, slice one lemon into a pot of boiling water, turn off the heat, and let stand overnight.


Essential oils should never be used to get rid of fleas on cats. Any prolonged or direct contact will make your cat very ill.

The best approaches for getting rid of fleas on cats:

Do the thorough housecleaning using cleaners with essential oils, vacuum thoroughly, steam clean carpets and upholstery—and of course wash bedding (both yours and the cat’s) and rugs as above.

Bathe the cat, using Dawn dishwashing detergent or an herbal flea shampoo. The pet shampoo recipe given by the above author includes lemon juice and is safe for cats:

Mix together:

½ cup lemon juice

2 cups water

¼-1/2 cup Dawn dishwashing detergent or herbal flea shampoo

Mix this together and bottle for use as a flea shampoo (for cats or dogs).

Comb the cat’s coat regularly with a flea comb dipped in hot soapy water.

In the days before chemical pesticides, both dogs and cats were kept free of fleas using these bathing and combing methods.

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Sharon Vile (author) from Odessa, MO on November 02, 2013:

One of the best effects of the natural cleaner is that it gets rid of houseflies. This surprised me. Usually I have quite a problem with houseflies in warm weather.

I don't like to use chemical pesticides, especially in my home.

Allyson Cardis from Gloucestershire, England on October 29, 2013:

I've just read your really useful article. I love our cat but get bitten to pieces in the warm weather from the cat fleas, and they do seem to become immune to the stuff you buy if you use it too much.

Sharon Vile (author) from Odessa, MO on September 10, 2013:

I was surprised to find that using this cleaner also completely got rid of flies. After the first time I cleaned with this stuff, I found a lot of dead flies on the floor, but now they don't seem to come in the house at all.

The orange peel in the cleaner is important too, as fleas are repelled by citrus.

I used the method described in the link: Use a pot of water in which a sliced lemon has been steeped to sponge the cat and comb with a flea comb. This did make the cat a little sick for about an hour. (He kept retching off and on for about an hour and then was fine.) I am hoping it also got rid of his fleas.

CraftytotheCore on September 10, 2013:

These are really great suggestions! I didn't know rosemary and lavender were natural aides in killing off fleas as I have both growing outside.

Fortunately my pets do not have fleas. I know what a nightmare it is though. My friend rescued a stray cat that was covered in them. Next thing she knew her house was infested. I keep my cats on Revolution from the vet's office. They don't have fleas but the vets said they can carry mites too which I didn't know.

Thank you for these great ideas!

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