How to control fleas the low cost way

Low Cost Flea Control

by Sarah Borroum

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A flea infestation can be costly; even if you don't hire an exterminator, you're spending money on flea-and-tick remedies for your pets, house, and yard. This is better than living with fleas, but there are other, less-expensive options.

Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

DE, which you can find at the feed store or online, is safe to use around children and pets. This product contains fossilized phytoplankton, or lots of microscopic critters. They're very hard and dry, so they kill pests like fleas by shredding them and leeching moisture from their bodies.

Make sure you're buying the food-grade version because the other, pool-grade DE is a different product; it can be dangerous if used anywhere but the swimming-pool filter. When you shop, look for a sack of DE with the EPA-approval label, which certifies it as a pest-control product.

You can apply food-grade DE to pets' coats, bedding, the yard, and any other place the fleas have taken over. At less than $25 for 50 pounds, which is a lot of DE, this is a very-affordable option even if you have to reapply every few days or so at first.


Vacuuming carpets will remove some of the fleas. To make this more effective, vacuum and then cover the carpet with salt. Just use the inexpensive, table version you pick up at the supermarket. Leave the salt for 24 to 48 hours and then vacuum again.

To kill even more fleas, put part of a pet flea collar in the vacuum bag or canister before you vacuum. Whether you do this or not, be sure to dispose of the bag or contents outside, preferably in a sealed bag or container, so the fleas don't return to the carpet you just treated.

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Flea Traps

You can make your own flea traps with shallow dishes (pie plates, for example) and lights. Fleas will drown in a dish that is half full of soapy water; lure them into that dish, which you've placed on the floor for the critters' convenience, with light. An incandescent bulb in a fixture like a gooseneck or heat lamp, pointing down into the middle of the dish, uses heat and light to attract fleas. Set up the trap before you go to bed and check for casualties the next morning.

Flea Combs

Buy a flea comb (they're usually cheap at $5 to $10) and get a dish of soapy water. Comb each pet, using the water to dispose of any fleas you find. Regularly combing the pets keeps not only the adult fleas but also their eggs and larvae under control. You also get to spend some quality time with your pets, which they'll enjoy.

All of these remedies are inexpensive, but take time. Don't be surprised if you have to reapply DE and salt on a regular basis, at least at first, and keep the flea traps in the house for days or even weeks. Also, flea combing should remain a regular part of the routine so that you can catch future infestations early.

Take the Next Step:

  • Get more frugal flea control tips by visiting the Dollar Stretcher Library.
  • Stop overpaying for your pet's medications. See how much 1-800-PetMeds can help you save.
  • Don't let your pets take such a bite out of your budget! The Dollar Stretcher's Guide to Frugal Pet Care can show you smart ways to love your pet while spending less.
  • Join those who 'live better...for less' - Subscribe to The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, a weekly look at how to stretch both your day and your dollar! Subscribers get a copy of our ebook Little Luxuries: 130 Ways to Live Better...For Less for FREE!

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