Does your home have fleas? Here’s the definitive answer to whether vacuuming kills fleas, along with tips for preventing these common parasites.
Fleas are often brought into the home by dogs or cats. Once inside, they can breed quickly, with a single female able to lay 20 eggs at a time.
Considering these eggs only take a few days to hatch, it’s vital for pet owners to get rid of fleas quickly – and vacuuming could be one of the best solutions.
Does Vacuuming Actually Kill Fleas?
The short answer is that yes, vacuuming does kill fleas. So, if your home is suffering from a flea infestation, vacuuming is one of the easiest ways to address it.
Scientists have actually studied vacuuming as a potential form of flea control. They found that 96% of adult fleas are killed by being vacuumed, while 100% of young fleas were killed.
That’s a pretty good success rate!
It’s thought that just the process of being sucked through a brushroll and down the tubes is enough to kill a flea. This suggests that a cylinder vacuum without a brush bar might be less effective, although the strong airflow is probably enough to do the job.
Despite how effective vacuuming is at killing fleas, it’s not a complete solution to getting rid of an infestation. Vacuuming is a great method for reducing fleas, but you’ll probably need to use it in combination with other methods.
Note: The study mentioned above didn’t directly test flea eggs, but the scientists are confident that these would also be killed by vacuuming.
Make Sure You Know How to Spot a Flea Infestation
While vacuuming can kill fleas, you’ll need to do a thorough vacuum of every floor, staircase, curtain, mattress, and item of furniture in your home to remove as many as possible.
You’re unlikely to vacuum with this much attention to detail during regular cleaning sessions. So, it’s important to know how to spot a flea infestation before it gets out of control.
Here are some early signs to watch out for:
- Fleas are big enough to see by eye, with most growing up to around 0.25cm long. You’re most likely to see them when they jump.
- Fleas are unlikely to be found on humans, so keep an eye on your pet for potential behaviour changes. Scratching or fur biting is the most common, along with fidgeting and moving around more than usual. Contact a vet if you notice these signs, as they could also be caused by a skin infection.
- Check your pet’s bed or favourite sleeping spots for fleas. Fleas don’t tend to live on a pet, so they usually jump off after sucking blood.
Fleas Can Be Dangerous for Your Pet
In most cases, fleas just cause skin irritation and itchiness for your pet. Some pets suffer from more serious symptoms, however, such as ulcers and hair loss. Fleas may also be carrying diseases and other parasites, so it’s vital to solve a flea infestation as quickly as possible.
Where Should You Vacuum to Get Rid of Fleas?
You need to vacuum everywhere that might have fleas in your home. This is time consuming, but missing a patch can make it more likely that the fleas re-infest your home.
- All carpets and rugs. Make sure to go right up to the edge of skirting boards (you might need to use a crevice tool for this part.)
- Hard floors. Fleas are less likely to be found on hard floors, but they can still hide between floorboards.
- Mattresses and pillows. You should wash the sheets and other bedding on a hot wash too.
- Pet beds. This is the most common location for fleas to hide, so give it a thorough vacuum, shake the bed off outside, then wash the cover (if possible) on a hot wash.
- All upholstery and furniture. Use a turbo tool for this if your vacuum cleaner has one. Don’t forget to vacuum underneath the furniture too!
- Any remaining crevices or gaps. Just like floorboard cracks, fleas can be hiding in gaps between skirting boards, any cracks in the wall, and other tight locations.
Once you’ve finished vacuuming you should empty it straight away. For bagged vacuums, make sure you remove the bag outdoors. If you have a bagless vacuum, go outdoors and empty the contents into a bin bag, tie it up, then put it into an outside bin.
Other Tips for Getting Rid of Fleas
While vacuuming will kill the majority of fleas that are sucked up, this doesn’t mean it’s enough to completely solve a flea infestation.
It’s hard to clean up all fleas and larvae, especially as they are so small. Even missing a few could allow the infestation to return.
With that in mind, here are a few other tips for getting rid of fleas:
- Once you’ve vacuumed everything in the room with fleas (including all soft furnishings), take small items into the garden and give them a good shake. It’s also a good idea to run clothes or linen through a hot wash.
- Use a flea spray to kill eggs and fleas that escaped your vacuum. It’s very important to closely follow the instructions, especially to keep children and pets safe (you’ll need to keep them out of the room for a certain length of time.)
- Wash your pet with an anti-flea shampoo. You can then use a flea comb to remove remaining fleas.
- Ask your vet about topical flea treatments. While there are shop-bought options, it’s always best to get professional veterinary advice about the right treatment for your pet.
- Take your pet to the vet if you notice him or her excessively scratching, especially if there is hair loss or red skin.
Vacuuming has been proven to kill the vast majority of adult fleas and young fleas. It may also kill flea eggs, although this hasn’t been proven.
Just using your vacuum probably isn’t enough to solve a flea infestation though. You’ll need to combine it with other methods, such as flea spray and treating your pet with topical flea treatments.
Do you have any questions about whether vacuuming kills fleas? Let us know in the comments below. You may also want to read our guide to whether vacuuming kills bed bugs.