- Written ByDan Edwardson November 10, 2018
Last Updated: December 10, 2020
Fleas are nasty, irritating bloodsuckers that are never welcome in your home. Their itchy bites can drive you and your pets crazy, often leading your furry friend to chew themselves raw.
There are many pesticidal flea sprays on the market which can tackle fleas both in the home and on your pet, but often these carry risks and potential side effects. A great alternative is to use natural, homemade flea sprays with ingredients you likely already have at home.
This article examines how to make an effective homemade flea spray and how to use it for best results.
Can Homemade Flea Sprays Be Effective?
Even though there are lots of flea sprays available on the market, many people prefer to make their own at home. The reason for this may be partly down to past controversy regarding the potential risks of using pesticidal flea treatments. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)released a reportinto a selection of widely used flea treatments, which concluded there had been many reports of sickness and deaths in pets that had been exposed to these products.
Because of these results, the EPA called for better product labeling and stricter guidelines regarding the use of flea products. It is, therefore, no surprise that many owners decided to pursue an alternative homemade solution to the menace of fleas.
Natural homemade flea sprays are more economical and can be effective without having to worry about pesticide toxicity. This said, it is important to use the correct ingredients in homemade flea sprays, as pets can have toxic reactions to some plants which are harmless to humans.
Most pesticidal products will kill fleas directly, or interrupt their growth and fertility capabilities. As a result, these products are highly effective from the first treatment. Because they do not contain any poison, natural homemade sprays will usually have to be applied more frequently to have an ongoing beneficial effect.
While there are someessential oils which can disrupt and kill fleas on contact, the vast majority of home flea sprays work by repelling fleas from your home and your pet. Fleas find the taste and smell of many essential oils overpowering and unappealing. As a result, they will leave the area and their host when they’re exposed to these fragrances.
Popular essential oils used in homemade flea sprays are:
- Tea tree
Some of these oils are only suitable for spraying within the home, NOT directly onto your pet. Cats are very sensitive to toxins and can be poisoned by oils which are safe for humans and dogs, and therefore you will need to choose yourcat flea home remediesmore wisely.
Homemade Flea Spray Recipes
Below are some easy homemade flea spray recipes using ingredients commonly found in your cupboards.
Vinegar and Witch Hazel Flea Spray for Home
This flea spray is a great choice of non-toxic spray which can be used around the home to deter and repel fleas. It’s safe for use around children and pets and the ingredients are usually readily available in kitchen cupboards.
- Vinegar, 135 fl.oz
- Water, 67 fl.oz
- Lemon juice, 16 fl.oz
- Witch Hazel, 8.4 fl.oz
- Large spray bottle
Mix all the ingredients together in the large spray bottle. Vacuum thoroughly and then spray heavily across all carpets and upholstery. Leave to dry. You may have to repeat every other week until fleas have been completely eradicated. Do not spray onto animals.
Lemon Anti-Flea Spray for Furniture
Lemon is a wonderful flea treatment which is cheap, readily available and has a refreshing scent. This flea spray is another option for use on furniture. It can also be used on fabrics, but you should check on a small area first, in case the citric acid reacts with your upholstery.
- One lemon
- A spray bottle
- One pint of water
Cut the lemon into thin slices. Add these to a pint of water in a pan and bring to the boil. Cover and leave to cool overnight. The next morning, pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray around the infested areas of your home. Do not spray directly onto animals.
Apple Cider Vinegar Flea Spray for Pets
Apple cider vinegar has been used as a home remedy for many ailments and issues for centuries. It is one of the most popularnatural alternatives to tackle fleasand other pests safely.
While apple cider vinegar is non-toxic, it is important to dilute it adequately, as it can cause irritation to your pet’s skin.
- Apple cider vinegar (filtered or unfiltered)
- Spray bottle
- Flea comb
Mix the apple cider vinegar and water together in a spray bottle in a 1:1 ratio. Shake well. Using a fine-toothed flea comb, gently brush through your pet’s fur, lifting it up to expose skin beneath, spritzing the area as you go. Be sure to cover all parts thoroughly, paying special attention to the areas where fleas tend to congregate. The nape of the neck, between the shoulders, and the base of the tail are prime locations for fleas.
Once you have finished, give your pet a rub down with a towel and allow the fur to dry naturally. Keep an eye on your pet to see if they seem at all irritated by the apple cider vinegar. This is rare, but some animals may experience sensitivity. If so, rinse them off well and speak to your vet for advice about pets with sensitive skin.
How to Use Homemade Flea Spray Effectively
Fleas are skilled at hiding themselves away in the home. Sometimes, months will go by before they emerge and begin to wreak havoc on you and your furry friend. It is a little-known fact that fleas only spendaround 5% of their life cycle upon your pet. The majority of your uninvited guests will be making themselves comfortable among your carpets, rugs, fabrics, cracks in floors, and even your bed!
Until the fleas in your home have been dealt with, you and your pet will continue to suffer their presence. Therefore, knowing how to effectively treat your property from top to bottom is paramount.
Carpets and rugs harbor flea eggs and larvae which have fallen from the fur of your pet. The eggs remainhidden deep within the fibersuntil they are ready to hatch. Fleas will also tuck themselves away in the cracks in wooden floors or walls. Fleas and their eggs are so tiny, they are able to hide pretty much anywhere.
The very first step, before grabbing your homemade flea spray, is to clean and tidy your home. Thoroughly vacuum all carpets, flooring, upholstery, and rugs. Be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies with the vacuum to suck up any fleas or eggs which are lurking there.
Vacuum the underside of sofas and large upholstered furniture too. When you have finished, take the vacuum outside to empty into the trash. This prevents any determined fleas from escaping back into your home.
Once you have vacuumed, mop any hard flooring so that it is clean and ready for spraying. Remove cushion covers, bed sheets, pet bedding and toys, and wash these on as hot a cycle as possible.
Once you have done this, take your homemade flea spray and go from room to room, focusing the spray heavily over the carpets, joins between floor and walls, and upon any fabrics which cannot be washed.
It is best to start upstairs, so the fleas will be forced downstairs as you go. When this treatment is complete, leave the areas to dry naturally and repeat every week until the fleas have gone.
It is, of course, important to treat any pets with their apple cider vinegar spray too, otherwise they will become the only untreated place in the house!
Go through their fur with a flea comb, spraying the apple cider vinegar mixture as you go. Once well covered, towel off and allow to dry. If they show signs of irritation, rinse off and speak to your vet for advice.
Flea Spray Risks and Precautions
The majority of people automatically assume that any homemade spray which uses natural ingredients will be completely safe, but there are some considerations to be had when creating your own flea sprays.
Human and animal biology is very different and therefore, pets can react differently to substances which are safe for people. Just because a spray uses a natural ingredient which is safe for you, doesn’t mean it is safe for your pet.
This is especially the case with cats and kittens. Cats lack a particular enzyme in their liver, which means they are very sensitive to compounds in essential oils.Exposure to certain oils can result in poisoning, so it is important to do your research regarding which oils are safe for cats.
Thefollowing oils are known to be toxicto cats at the time of writing:
- Sweet Birch
- Citrus Oil
- Pine Oil
- Ylang Ylang
- Cinnamon Oil
- Pennyroyal Oil
- Clove Oil
- Eucalyptus Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
For this reason, our above homemade flea spray for pets only uses apple cider vinegar, as this is safe for use directly onto cats when correctly diluted. If you have a cat, it is best to keep it away from essential oil-treated areas while they are still wet.
Symptoms of poisoning will vary according to the essential oil ingested, but can include: drooling, vomiting, tremors, trouble breathing, slow heart rate, wobbliness, liver failure and low body temperature.
If you are concerned your cat may be unwell from ingesting essential oils, contact your vet or the 24/7 Animal Poison Control Center on (855) 764-7661 immediately. They also haveemergency instructionson their website here.
Getting rid of fleas in your home is not easy, but it is good to know there are alternatives to harsh chemical treatments which could put you and your pet at risk.
As long as you are sensible about the ingredients and do your research, natural flea sprays are much safer than pesticides. They are also cheaper and more convenient than having to take a trip to the pet store.
Of course, because these sprays do not contain pesticides, this may mean you have to repeat the treatment over a few weeks to completely eliminate fleas. However, we think this is a small price to pay for a chemical free home.
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