Discover 3 Smells That Attract Fleas

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: November 1, 2023
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Their sense of smell is remarkable. Yet there are only a few scents they find alluring. There are some scents that repel them as well. But which are which? Discover three smells that attract fleas (and a few that repel them!).

Discover 3 Smells that Attract Fleas

These three smells attract fleas.

1. Carbon Dioxide

Interestingly, the scent of carbon dioxide (which is odorless to you) is a scent that attracts fleas. That means that your natural exhale can catch a flea’s attention and draw it closer to you.

2. Garbage

Fleas flock to garbage cans and though they can pick up the scent, it’s not the only reason they gravitate toward trash. Fleas are also attracted to heat and a steaming pile of garbage is appealing to them.

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3. Pets

Pets emit their own scents, including when they exhale. Just like humans, pets expel carbon dioxide when they exhale, which is a smell that fleas are attracted to.

Fleas on a white background close-up. Destruction of parasites in pets. Treatment of premises with insecticides.

Fleas need a host and they’re attracted to carbon dioxide.

©Vera Larina/

Smells That Repel Fleas

These three smells repel fleas.

1. Citronella

You can probably guess what citronella smells like. It’s citrusy, much like a lemon, and is quite pleasant to humans. However, fleas do not like it. It’s great to use as a repellant since there are other insects that abhor it as well, including mosquitoes.

2. Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus also incorporates traces of citrus, but it has a sharper smell that includes mint and honey. Some might describe the scent as medicinal. Mixing this essential oil with warm water provides you with a spray you can use to repel fleas.

3. Mint

The smell of mint makes up part of the scent of eucalyptus but alone, it’s not just minty. It may also have hints of chocolate, wintergreen, and even apples and lemons. This is a strong, refreshing scent for you but for fleas, it’s unpleasant.

Mint growing in a plant pot. Fresh green mint (mentha spicata) in a herb garden, UK

Fleas do not like the smell of mint.

©Paul Maguire/

How to Keep Fleas Away

Keeping fleas away requires you to keep your environment clean. That means regular sweeping and vacuuming, including any sofas and cushions. When you empty your vacuum bag or container, do so outdoors. Ensure you keep your (and your pet’s) bedding clean, washing frequently with both soap and water.

You can use essential oils as natural repellants in rooms your pets don’t enter as they can be toxic to your four-legged friends. Ultimately, fleas are attracted to carbon dioxide and warmth and you’re emitting both all day. Prevention of an infestation along with a tick and flea treatment for your pets can keep these tiny, persistent critters away.

Summary of 3 Smells That Attract or Repel Fleas

1Carbon DioxideAttracts

The photo featured at the top of this post is © ThamKC/

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About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

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