Say ‘fleas' and you will see any dog owner cringe. These pesky little parasites have caused many a headache, but don't despair, there are easy-to-make home remedies that can help you beat the little rascals, including a good homemade flea trap.
Fleas are a threat throughout the year, and infestations can continue for months if you're not careful. Taking action as soon as possible, and ridding your house of them once you spot fleas will prevent complicated situations and you won't have to use any harsh pesticides.
A great way to trap and kill fleas in your house is by using flea traps. You will find various traps at your local pet store such as electric flea traps, but there are some proven methods you can try in your own home, for a fraction of the price, when you build your own safe homemade flea trap.
Before we get to making your own DIY homemade flea trap, remember that flea traps should be used in conjunction with other flea-control measures, like flea shampoos and flea powders, to truly be effective. Flea traps, bought or homemade, will not help with fleas that are already on your dog – they have all the warmth and sustenance they need and will completely ignore any traps.
DIY Homemade Flea Trap
How to catch fleas
One of the most common, easiest, cheapest and most efficient homemade flea trap options to catch fleas in specific areas in your house is with water and dish soap.
Fill a shallow dish with water. You can use a plate, cookie sheet, or rubber lids. As long as the container has short sides, which won't act as a barrier for jumping fleas, and has a large surface. Add 15-30 ml liquid dish soap to the water and mix to dispense soap throughout the water.
Why the soap? Fleas can't drown in plain water. They don't weigh enough to break through the water's surface tension. Adding liquid dish soap reduces the surface tension, trapping fleas and causing them to sink and drown.
Put this homemade flea trap in a place where you have already seen fleas. Choose strategic locations that will maximize the number of fleas you catch. For example, if your dog spends a lot of time in his bed, you can bet that the fleas will be in the bed and in the surrounding area. Place the homemade flea trap close to the bed.
Other places to look for fleas and place the trap can be:
- Near pet bedding
- On carpets and rugs
- Near food or pet bowls
- Near doors
- Around pillows and furniture
- Near drapes and curtains
You may have to set more than one homemade flea trap, depending on the size of the infestation. Once you lay the trap(s), leave it out all night long. Fleas are most active during night time. If possible, close the door to the room to keep your dog away from the trap – you don't want him drinking a soapy flea cocktail.
In the morning, check if you caught any fleas. If you did, throw out the water and rinse the dish. Prepare your next trap for the next night. You may have to repeat the process for a few nights to get rid of most, if not all, of the fleas.
How to attract fleas:
Fleas are attracted to light and even twice as attracted to yellow-green light. Increase the efficiency of your homemade flea trap by placing a lamp beside the trap and positioning the bulb above the water so the light shines onto it. When fleas jump toward the light, they will fall into the water and drown.
Add a yellow-green filter to the light, or use a yellow-green bulb, for extra flea-catching oomph. You can buy colored bulbs at most stores, or look for filters and gels at your camera or art supply store. They're very cheap and worth it for the trap.
To make your homemade flea trap fail-proof, you can add one more level: a plant. Plants release carbon dioxide and fleas like carbon dioxide. This will attract them even more.
Make sure the lamp is not at risk of being knocked over into the water. If there is a chance that children or pets can bump into the lamp, you can consider placing a tea candle in the center of the trap. This will also create light and warmth that will attract any fleas. Make sure your trap is not close to any walls, curtains or any other flammable objects if you decide to use a candle.
Homemade Flea Spray
It’s possible to get rid of fleas with herbal homemade flea spray. The ingredients used are known to have anti-flea properties and can destroy fleas the same way a chemical spray would – without the harmful effects, of course.
Combine the following ingredients:
- ½ gallon of purified water
- 1 gallon of white vinegar
- 16 ounces of lemon juice
- 8 ounces of witch hazel essential oil
Pour the solution into a spray bottle and spray a liberal amount throughout the room. If you want to boost the efficiency of the herbal spray, vacuum or steam clean the carpet before spraying the solution. The herbal flea spray won’t kill larvae, steam will!
Another option is to sprinkle finely ground sea salt in the room. You might have noticed that a lot of commercial flea sprays and powders contain sodium as an ingredient. That is because sodium penetrates the flea’s shell and kills it by dehydrating it from the inside-out.
Homemade Flea Powder
You can also make your own homemade flea powder that will penetrate flea shells for full elimination. The good thing about homemade flea powder is that you can avoid using any dangerous or irritating ingredients or pesticides that can be harmful to pets.
For the homemade flea powder, you will need:
- 1/2 cup of dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup of dried rue
- 1/2 cup of dried wormwood
- 1/2 cup of dried fennel
- 1/2 cup of dried peppermint leaves
Place all the ingredients in a coffee grinder and grind until a fine powder forms. Sprinkle the powder throughout your house, focusing on strategic areas like the area surrounding your dog’s bed.
It is important to let any dry ingredients, like salt or the homemade flea power, ‘rest’ for 48 hours before vacuuming. You may have to repeat the process a few times before total eradication of the pests.
Keep it simple
Before and after using homemade flea trap, there are some simple steps you can take to prevent any further flea infestations:
Proper dog care practices, and regular grooming habits will help stop the infestation at its source as your pet is the most likely culprit bringing these unwanted visitors into your house. Using flea drops, most effective flea collars or safe flea pills, wash your dog with flea shampoos and comb him with a flea comb to help get rid of any fleas that might have jumped on from outside.
Get out the vacuum and suck up any fleas and larvae. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where they might be hiding. If your vacuum has a bag, remove the bag and dispose of immediately in such a way that the fleas won’t be able to get back into your house, or onto your dog.
Wash your dog’s bedding, rugs, toys and anything else that is overrun with fleas. Use the hottest setting on your washing machine and dryer as the fleas and their eggs won’t survive the heat.
If all else fails, and as an absolute last resort, you can consider using a pesticide. For fleas, the most popular is a pyrethrin-based pesticide with an insect growth regulator. Before applying, get everyone out of the house, put on protective gear like gloves, goggles, long sleeves and a respirator and start to sprinkle or spray the insecticide. Be sure to cover all surfaces. Before letting your family and pets back in the house, let the dust settle first. Remember to vacuum after 48 hours.