Discover 9 Smells That Fleas Absolutely Hate

A pug scratching on a white background

Written by Lev Baker

Updated: November 8, 2023

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These are the nine smells that fleas hate.

Imagine discovering small, black, rapid-moving insects on your pet. Oh no! It’s a complete nightmare, as these pests do not confine themselves to a single territory. You can quickly expect these fleas to move around your house, multiplying and, of course, making your furry pets uncomfortable, which is the last thing you want! Getting rid of fleas by removing them one by one can be a nuisance and is almost impossible. Instead, what you need to do is to use some kind of flea treatment. Plus, you can prevent them from further infesting your home. One effective method to do this is by taking advantage of smells that fleas hate.

Using natural products for prevention can be an effective and convenient option. There are some smells that fleas hate yet are perfectly pleasant for us. In this article, we will go over the top 11 smells that fleas absolutely hate!


Xenopsylla cheopis

All pet owners are familiar with fleas — the blood-sucking parasites you never want to see on your furry pet!

©Yale Peabody Museum (Daniel J. Drew), CC0, via Wikimedia Commons – Original / License

But first, what are fleas? Fleas are blood-sucking parasites. They feed externally on the blood of their hosts and other organic matter. They typically measure around 0.1 inches in length and live anywhere between a few months to an entire year! Despite their tiny size, fleas can create havoc.

There are around 2,000 known species of fleas. They contribute to the spread of many diseases, including bubonic plague, cat scratch disease, flea-borne typhus, and even tapeworms. But thanks to modern medicine, the transmission of such diseases is becoming rarer and rarer. Besides disease transmission, flea bites can also cause significant discomfort, inflammation, itching, and allergic reactions in both humans and pets alike.

These tiny pests are usually found in dark, moist, shady places, usually tall grass. From there, they cling to animals such as rodents, birds, or pets like dogs and cats, using them as hosts, slowly making their way into our homes.

Interestingly, fleas can also jump up to 7 inches vertically and 13 inches horizontally! This makes it easier for them to jump from host to host with ease.

Why You Don’t Want Fleas

A pug scratching on a white background

There are many reasons why you don’t want fleas on you, your pets, and even your home.


Simply put, fleas are pests. Once they have found a host with you or your pet, they can cause skin inflammation and severe itching. If conditions are favorable within your home, especially if you have pets, the fleas may also invade your furniture! Unfortunately, these tiny critters can reproduce quickly. Their life cycle is fast as well, growing from an egg to an adult in 30 to 35 days. However, with that said, it can also take several months if the conditions are not favorable.

One female can lay up to 20 to 50 eggs in a single day, leading to more and more fleas. The larvae, until developed, tend to hide in fur, beds, couches, and carpets, making them difficult to get rid of.

In severe cases, fleas can also cause anemia in pets. This is particularly the case for smaller animals, such as kittens. In cases of severe infestation, the fleas may cause the tiny animal to lose so much blood that it can be fatal. So, if you see a flea on your pet, it’s time for action right away!

Fleas also have an exceptional sense of smell, making it easier for them to find a host to feed on. However, on the flip side, you can take advantage of this sense of smell to use smells that fleas hate to deter them and get rid of them from you, your pets, and your home.

9 Smells That Fleas Hate

Some smells are proven to be effective against fleas. You can use these scents around your home and even directly on your animal’s fur to use as a flea repellent. This way, you can avoid using chemicals and opt for a more natural remedy.

As a disclaimer: If you are unsure at any point, consult a vet before using any of the scents below to avert allergies or other adverse side effects. After all, it’s best to be cautious when it comes to your furry pets!

1. Cedarwood

Bottles of essential oil with cedar wood chips

One of the most effective smells you can use against fleas is cedarwood.

©Madeleine_Steinbach/iStock via Getty Images

Cedarwood is a natural insecticide. It is a widely-used common pesticide for fleas and is a prominent ingredient found in flea sprays you can easily buy over the counter. But you can just as easily make your own cedarwood essential oil flea pesticide.

Cedarwood oil has a pleasant woody aroma (pleasant for us, at least!) that keeps fleas away from your home and pets. The best way to use cedarwood essential oil is to dilute it in water and spray it in your home and on your pet’s fur. But, of course, as always, consult a vet before doing so to avoid allergies. Make sure to use a heavily diluted form on your pet’s fur.

Using cedarwood oil around the infestation will kill the larvae and the eggs quickly and will instantly give you a flea-free home. As violent as it sounds, cedarwood essential oil works by essentially sucking out all the moisture from the fleas!

2. Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil and fresh twig on wooden background.Tag with text peppermint

While peppermint oil won’t kill fleas, it does deter them.


Peppermint essential oil is another smell that fleas hate. While peppermint won’t kill fleas like cedarwood, it can still be an effective deterrent. It is not as effective if you already have an infestation on your hands, but it can definitely be used in conjunction with the other smells on this list for best results!

You can use this oil in a couple of different ways. The most effective way to use peppermint as a flea deterrent is to make a DIY peppermint essential oil spray. Simply mix 1 part of peppermint essential oil and 12 parts of water to form a solution that can be sprayed around the house. You can even apply a little oil on your dog’s collar as a flea repellent. Alternatively, you can plant peppermint and place it around your house to prevent fleas from setting up shop there, waiting for a host to come by.

3. Lavender

lavender spray

Although lavender is pleasant for us, fleas hate the smell.

©Mila Naumova/

Lavender is another smell that fleas hate. Planting some lavender plants around your property will give you a beautiful view while keeping fleas at bay. A win-win situation!

You can also use lavender essential oil. Make a mixture of lavender essential oil with water and use it around the house. Spray it on your bedding or couches to deter fleas. While you may be able to get away with spraying some directly onto your dog as well (ask your vet!), avoid spraying this essential oil on your cat!

4. Eucalyptus

Green eucalyptus leaves in vase on white table. Front view. Place for text, copy space, mockup

Eucalyptus oil keeps fleas away.

©All for you friend/

This oil is known for its calming and soothing scent. In addition, when it is diluted in water and sprayed around the home, its aroma keeps away fleas and can help avoid infestation. You can use whole eucalyptus leaves or essential oil derived from its leaves to deter those pesky fleas. You can use these essential oils in scent diffusers, too. This way, you can get a sweet-smelling and flea-free house. This smell is so powerful that it not only deters fleas but also kills them!

However, be careful when using eucalyptus oil around your pets — make sure to dilute it thoroughly!

5. Citronella

Mosquito repellent. Citronella essential oil and fresh leaves on wooden background. Tag with citronella text

A natural insecticide, citronella also repels fleas.


Citronella essential oil is a natural insecticide that keeps fleas away. It is derived from lemongrass, and its citrusy smell works as a great bug repellent. Unfortunately, it can be toxic for your pets, so use it sparingly. Also, make sure to dilute it before spraying.

You can also use citronella essential oil by pouring 2 to 3 drops over a few cotton balls and placing them in your room and home. Or you can simply try citronella-scented candles to keep the fleas at bay.

6. Tea Tree Oil

Fresh tea tree branch and essential oil on white background. Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia)

One of the many benefits of tea tree oil is its ability to deter fleas.


Tea tree oil is pretty miraculous. It has a great many benefits, with its antifungal and antibacterial properties. But, best of all, tea tree oil essential oil can be used as a natural bug repellent. Cockroaches, lice, ants, and, of course, fleas all hate the smell of tea tree oil. Dilute and spray this essential oil around the home to prevent all of these pests from entering and infesting your home. As with many other essential oils, be cautious about using it directly on your pets, as it can be toxic.

7. Geranium

Essential oils safe for cats

Geranium is one of the few essential oils relatively safe for cats.

©Alla – Din/

Who knew that something as sweet and beautiful as geranium could be so deadly? Geranium oil is derived from Pelargonium graveolens, a plant species native to South Africa. It is a beautiful shrub with pink flowers. Not only does the smell of geranium keep fleas away, but it can also be used to directly kill fleas that are already present! And, what’s more, geranium is one of the few essential oils that is relatively safe to use on cats. But, of course, always dilute it and consult a vet first!

8. Rosemary

Rosemary oil can be used on dogs but not on cats!


Over the years, a popular scent to repel fleas has been rosemary. Thanks to the flea’s oversensitive sense of smell, fleas naturally stay away from areas with strong scents, making rosemary essential oil a pretty effective repellent. To use this essential oil, dilute it first and spray it around your home. When diluted enough, rosemary oil can also be used directly on your dog’s fur, but keep it away from your cat!

9. Lemon and Lemongrass


Lemongrass (pictured) and lemon are both effective smells to use against fleas.


Although the smell may be pleasant to us, lemon and lemongrass will have fleas running off in the opposite direction. Using diluted lemon juice can help keep fleas away and keep your house smelling refreshing — a double threat! But keep in mind that the lemon or lemongrass won’t necessarily eradicate any existing fleas. Also, do not apply this solution directly to your pet’s fur, especially on any wounds.

Summary of Smells That Fleas Absolutely Hate

6Tea Tree Oil
9Lemon and Lemongrass

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About the Author

Lev is a writer at AZ Animals who primarily covers topics on animals, geography, and plants. He has been writing for more than 4 years and loves researching topics and learning new things. His three biggest loves in the world are music, travel, and animals. He has his diving license and loves sea creatures. His favorite animal in the world is the manta ray.

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