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Natural Flea Prevention

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Homemade Natural Flea Repellent

I was wondering if there are any home remedies to get rid of fleas. I live in town and the house next door is about three feet from my house. They had extremely bad fleas and their yard is full of them. Anytime we go outside, if we are in that yard, we bring fleas into my home. I have two indoor cats and a toddler so I do not want to have to spray my house anymore than necessary.
Thank you.

Eucalyptus Leaves

The answer is eucalyptus leaves. You can get them at any craft store. For some reason the fleas don't like the smell of it. I used this for many years when I lived in California. I had a dog and 2 cats and a toddler! Safe for the kids and the environment.

Sprinkle the Borax

Borax is great for fleas. It is not toxic and you can sprinkle it on your carpet. Let it sit for a few days and then vacuum it up. You can sprinkle it around the fence of your yard too. I understand that using Skin So Soft from Avon on the animals' coats will repel fleas and mosquitoes. It is also good for the kids skin but just make sure you get the original from Avon.

DE Cheaper to Sprinkle

An inexpensive way to rid your yard of fleas is to sprinkle DE (diatomaceous Earth) all over the yard. Use food grade DE that's available in health food stores.

Cedar Chips as Repellent

Putting cedar chips along your fence line will keep the fleas from other people's yards out of your yard, as cedar repels fleas.

Herbal Control

I worked with a man who had bird dogs and his wife was a student in plant sciences. They found that planting tansy (an herb) around the dogs' pens kept the problem in check. Their children played in the same yard as the dogs. And they were not bitten at all. Maybe this would be a safe and effective way for the woman with the neighboring flea problem. And not be harmful to her child.

Related: Natural Flea Control Solutions

Set A Trap

I read this in a Mother Earth News Magazine about 15 years ago and it works great. At night you put a dinner plate on the floor (preferably in the room with the worst flea problem) and put a drop of dish soap in some water on the plate. Put a lamp on the floor next to the plate. The fleas are attracted to the light and jump on the plate. Without the dish soap the water surface tension is enough that they can jump off but with the soap the sink and drown. If this is done for several nights eventually all the fleas will be gone unless more are brought in.

Words From Experience

Fleas are dangerous pests. They continue sucking blood even when full, because their larva feed on the blood that they pass with their stool. Fleas carry tapeworms, and a bad infestation can cause serious loss of blood. Puppies and kittens can die from flea caused anemia.

Any insecticide you use will be absorbed through your skin and the animal's skin, and be breathed by you, the kids, and the animal. Our San Diego fleas are resistant to most insecticides. The ones that work are either really strong or act as hormones, with unknown long term effects on people. The borax/repellent approach described here is much safer.

Related: Inexpensive Flea Treatments

The following has worked for us for the past 10 years, and we have three large outdoor dogs and an outdoor cat.

  1. Vacuum the house thoroughly, including floors and furniture. This will get any loose flea eggs, larvae, and adults. Dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag. Otherwise, the fleas you catch will hop out (they go toward light).
  2. Make a 50/50 mixture of 20 Mule Team Borax (the boxed laundry product), and diatomaceous earth. The diatomaceous earth is available cheaply wherever swimming pool supplies are sold, including most supermarkets and drug stores. It is also called swimming pool filter earth. Pure borax will also work but will cost a bit more.
  3. Make a dust can by punching or drilling a bunch of holes in the base of a container. A used quart yogurt or cottage cheese container, with the top, is perfect. Medium dust all carpets and hidden nooks and crannies of furniture, closets, and wherever else larval fleas might be hiding (they eat dust and detritus). I like to sweep the powder into the carpets with a push broom and not vacuum the rugs for several days so the dust can really sift down.
  4. Save on your pet's medications at 1-800-PetMeds.

  5. Do not breathe this dust or get it on the skin. This isn't a systemic poison like insecticides but it is irritating to the eyes, skin, and lungs. For this reason, be sure the kids and animals are out of the house while you dust. Do not use this dust outside or on houseplants. The borax will harm any plants it contacts. I wrestle with the dogs on the rug after dusting, and don't notice any irritation from that small contact.
  6. To keep fleas off of pets or kids when they are outside, thin slice a lemon or lime (peals and all) into two cups of water. Heat the water to boiling and let sit overnight. Sponge the child or pet in the morning with the lemon scented water, and let it dry. It will soothe the skin, smell really nice, and keep the fleas off for about 1/2 a day.

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Lemon grass (also called citronella, available from Asian markets) would probably work even better. I use commercial citronella based insect repellents to keep off ticks, mosquitoes, and other biters when hiking. It seems to work as good as DEET, but is safe and smells nice. It only lasts about 2 hours. A weak solution of eucalyptus oil and/or pennyroyal oil also works, but may irritate the skin.

We have found that outside fleas get on the dogs and cats, come into the house on them, jump off and die. We have almost no fleas in the house or yard (we do not spread poisons on our yard), and we take our dogs hiking once or twice a week.

A dust treatment once a year works for us but we treated twice the first year.

Reviewed February 2018

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