Say you’re a person who notices that feral cats are hanging around your home. You take pity on them — even though you shouldn’t — and decide to put tins of cat food beneath your porch so they won’t starve. After a while, you notice itchy pinpricks on your skin. You might even get a rash and have no idea what’s causing it. You may even notice that your indoor cat or dog have started to scratch themselves frequently. Then, one day, after a shower of bath, you look at the towel you’ve dried off with and see it. It’s tiny, but you know it’s a flea. When you check the fur of your dog or cat, you’ll see them there too along with eggs, larvae, and pupae. No matter what you think of feral cats, you need to get rid of these fleas, and instantly. How do you do this?
First: About Fleas
A flea is a type of insect, but it’s different from other insects in that it has no wings. But that doesn’t matter because it can jump between 40 and 100 feet its own length. If a 6 foot tall human could do that, they could jump 600 feet vertically. A flea can do this because the muscles in its legs behave like springs. Another thing that makes fleas different from other insects is that they need a blood meal to mature. Insects such as mosquitoes and horseflies need blood to lay their eggs, and only females need blood. With fleas, both males and females need blood in order to reproduce. Flea larvae also drink blood, but they also need other forms of nutrition, such as flea eggs that are duds. After they pupate, male and female fleas start drinking blood in earnest.
Fleas have been sucking blood since before there were such things as mammals. Over eons, they’ve become exquisitely attuned to their hosts. They know when the host’s hormones, body temperature, movement, and carbon dioxide are at optimum levels to start feeding.
Ways to Get Rid of Fleas: Steam Cleaning
This is one of the ways to get rid of fleas more or less instantly. Steam cleaners resemble vacuum cleaners except they use steam. There are steam cleaners for both hard surfaces and for fabrics, and you’ll need the latter to clean your upholstery, the beds of your pets, and possibly your own bed. Steam cleaners also come with a variety of attachments. If you don’t have a steam cleaner on hand, you should be able to rent one from a big box store.
First, you’ll need to make sure that the items you clean are up to steam cleaning. Delicate fabrics such as silk can be damaged by steam cleaning as the temperature needs to get at least as high as the boiling point of water. When you’re sure that the area can be steam cleaned, clean it the usual way first. This means wiping it down with microfiber cloths or vacuuming. Pretreat stains, to keep them from being set by the heat of the steam. It’s also a good idea to fill the tank with distilled water. After the item is steam cleaned, throw open the doors and windows, and let it air dry. Steam cleaning not only gets rid of fleas, but bacteria and mold.
Wash Bed Linens in Hot Water
Washing your bedclothes and your pets’ bedclothes in hot water can put paid to a flea infestation if it’s not too bad. The combination of soap and very hot water may be just enough to get rid of them. After washing, put the bedclothes in a dryer and set the temperature on high.
Another Way to Get Rid of Fleas: Sprinkle Baking Soda
Baking soda seems miraculous in its ability to keep your fridge smelling fresh and unclogging drains, but it can also be used to dissuade fleas, especially if the infestation is light. All you need to do here is buy a couple of big boxes of baking soda, sprinkle them over your rugs and upholstery, then vacuum it up. You’ll probably need to do this more than once until the fleas are gone, but it’s a worthwhile and inexpensive treatment.
Spritz Your Home With Lemon Water
Like baking soda, lemon is a sort of miracle product when it comes to cleaning and disinfecting. Slice up a lemon, toss it into a pan of boiling water, and let it cool to room temperature. Then, pour the water into a spray bottle and spritz the problem areas.
Vacuum Your Home Frequently and Thoroughly
Vacuuming every day may be a bit of a pain in the neck, but if you want to get rid of fleas in your home, it’s worth it. It’s also worth it to invest in a vacuum that’s good at hoovering up pet hair. Once you’ve finished vacuuming, gather up the filter and the bag, or empty the canister into a trash bag. Take them down to the garbage can at the end of the driveway, toss them into the trash compactor, or take them to the recycling place. Do not let them stay in your home.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Cosmin Manci/Shutterstock.com
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