Practically every pet owner will have experienced the suffering of a flea problem in their home at one time or another. If your pet has started scratching, or if you’ve seen that you unexpectedly have red, itchy bites on your body, fleas might be the cause.
Using hot steam is an effective way to eradicate fleas within your home. But will a clothes steamer kill fleas? Or do your need a high pressure steam cleaner?
Fleas and flea larvae cannot withstand the heat from steam and begin to die at temperatures above 100°F. A clothes steamer will effectively kill fleas, as it produces steam above 200°F.
If you have a large carpet area to steam, a steam mop or canister steam cleaner with a carpet glider will be more efficient than a clothes steamer.
It is essential to note you should never directly steam a person or animal. If your dog or cat has fleas on them, use a combination of natural methods or pest control treatments to rid them of fleas. Steam causes severe burns and will harm the skin of your pet.
What Causes a Flea Infestation?
When selecting hosts, fleas prefer furry, four-legged animals to people. If your family pet has fleas, the females lay eggs that fall off your pet. The life cycle is 2-3 months, and the eggs hatch wherever they land in your home, quickly causing an infestation.
Generally, by the time you realize your dog or cat has fleas, these tiny parasites have laid eggs and dropped them around your home. They are just waiting to hatch, causing you more problems in the long run.
While the most common approach may be a chemical treatment, there is a safer and simpler method to remove fleas using steam and a vacuum cleaner.
How Does Steam Kill Fleas?
The high temperature required to make steam will kill fleas. While doing additional research for this article, I came across websites recommending using a high-pressure steamer such as a handheld steam cleaner instead of a clothing steamer. I don’t agree with this.
The essential point is that fleas cannot withstand the extreme temperatures of steam. Whether that steam is delivered with high pressure (like a handheld steamer with a nozzle) or via a more gentle clothing steamer doesn’t matter. It is the steam temperature that is important.
Use whatever type of steamer you have at home, to begin with. It is a helpful strategy for eliminating fleas in hard-to-reach areas such as lounges, under furniture, and carpets and rugs.
Steam is an effective method for eradicating fleas at all stages of the life cycle without the need to use toxic chemicals. You should combine steam cleaning with dry vacuuming – both before and after steaming. Just make sure the area has dried entirely after steaming before vacuuming.
How to Use a Clothes Steamer to Kill Fleas
You can use a clothes steamer on furniture, carpets, drapes, pet bedding, your car interior, and more to kill fleas and their larvae on contact effectively.
It is recommended to steam fleas for 3 seconds to kill them effectively. Unfortunately, these tiny biting insects jump – up to 7 inches in the air and 13 inches across the floor.
Miss one female flea and she can lay another 25 to 50 eggs, starting the breeding cycle all over again.
The best way to eradicate fleas is to take a multizone approach and treat your pets, your yard, and the inside of your home simultaneously.
Start By Vacuuming Your Home
Dry vacuuming helps remove flea feces and dried blood, which developing fleas utilize as a food source. Vacuuming will also kill adult fleas.
Ensure all of your carpeted areas are accessible. Move furniture and vacuum underneath, pick up any clutter around your home and store it away.
Pay particular attention to any crevices along the edge of baseboards, couches, pet bedding, rugs, and anywhere that your pet likes to nap.
Remember that fleas can jump – both high and wide. Don’t just pay attention to the floor – vacuum all of your couch; on top and underneath, remove the cushions, and be as thorough as possible.
Vacuum any hard floors as well, as the eggs can drop anywhere.
When you’ve finished vacuuming, put the vacuum bag in a garbage bag and seal it firmly before taking it outdoors and putting it in a trash bin.
Follow With a Steam Cleaner or Handheld Steamer
Use a steamer on pet bedding, carpets, and upholstery. If the fabric allows, use the steamer on the highest steam setting and hold it in place for 3 seconds before moving to the next position.
Steam all your pet’s blankets, bedding, and toys. Follow this up by washing pet bedding and blankets in hot water with a mild detergent.
For extra measures, wash and dry your sheets and bed linen, mainly if your dog or cat sleeps in your room or is allowed on your bed. While your sheets are off, run the clothing steamer over your mattress, pillows, and base.
Scrub and clean the area where your pet sleeps or rests. Your steamer will be effective at helping to remove dirt and debris here also.
If you have hardwood flooring, luxury vinyl plank, or laminate, test the steamer initially to ensure it does not damage the surface area. The same applies in the case of delicate linen, carpets, upholstery, and drapes.
Pay special attention to crevices and cracks for any flea eggs. For a thorough clean, also steam the windows and blinds. The bonus with a thorough cleaning is steam also kills dust mites, so you’ll be removing any of these as you go as well!
It is good to vacuum daily and steam every other day to handle an active flea infestation. If you have a heavy infestation you may need to vacuum and steam daily. As the fleas start to disappear, you can cut down on the vacuum and steaming treatment.
Other Steps To Take To Remove An Infestation
Along with steam cleaning and vacuuming routinely, there are some other vital steps to follow to guarantee that your home remains flea-free.
Cleaning all clothing on a hot wash is necessary to kill any eggs or adult fleas. To help remove the fleas, thoroughly wash both pet and human bed linen in a washing machine on the hottest cycle the fabric will allow.
Consider Chemical Treatments
For a severe infestation you may need some help from chemicals. You can buy flea sprays and flea bombs that target fleas at all stages of their life cycle. Whilst I’m not a huge advocate for harmful chemicals, sometimes it is necessary.
If you decide to go down this route for flea treatment, ensure you remove any people (children especially) and pets from your home. Allow the chemicals to fully dry before returning.
Failing that you may need to contact a pest control company for help.
Treat Outdoor Areas
Treat your yard and gardens with food-grade diatomaceous powder.
Plant-based formulas are also available to treat and repel fleas and bugs like carpet beetles. Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Yard and Kennel Spray is a natural option for eradicating fleas. However, this product is not suitable to use directly on your pets. Still, you can use it in kennels, patios, lawns, and gardens.
Treat Your Pets
Adult fleas need a food source, and this is usually your pet. You will need to treat your pet to kill the fleas. You can use a flea control shampoo or treat them with a flea control medication. I would err on the side of caution and do both.
Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Shampoo is safe to use on both dogs and cats and will help soothe any irritated skin and kill fleas on contact.
Natural Remedies for Fleas
Here are some natural products which you are likely to have around your home that can get you started in eliminating fleas from your pets. These products may also help you avoid harmful chemicals in and around your home keeping your pest control natural.
Coconut oil, such as Viva Natural’s Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, is one of the safest and most reliable ways to eliminate fleas on your pet.
Mixing coconut oil with your pet’s favorite shampoo eliminates fleas, larvae, and eggs within hours. In addition, soothing coconut oil helps heal any sores triggered by flea dermatitis.
You can also give coconut oil to your pet orally to help prevent and eliminate flea invasions.
Baby powder is an efficient and safe method to kill fleas on your dog. The fine powder will suffocate the fleas. However, it will not kill the eggs and larvae, so it should not be the only treatment for fleas.
After dusting your pet with baby powder, comb their coat using a fine-tooth or flea control comb. A flea comb is also effective after using coconut oil on your pet’s coat to help remove dead fleas.
Fleas have a strong sense of smell, sniffing out available food sources. You can take advantage of this by using essential oils, which fleas don’t like!
Essential oils that naturally repel fleas are:
Vinegar is also said to be a repellent for fleas.
Tidy Your Yard
Decrease clutter in your yard. Mow your lawn routinely to keep yard height to a minimum. Deter flea-carrying animals like rodents, possums, and squirrels in your backyard.
Will Vinegar Eliminate Fleas?
Vinegar does not eliminate fleas on contact; however, the scent does repel them.
Does Baking Soda Kill Fleas on Dogs?
There is some argument over whether baking soda can assist get rid of fleas. It does not kill them on contact; however, some state its properties can dehydrate flea eggs and larvae.
What Eliminates Fleas Quickly?
The most common poison used to kill fleas on pets instantly is Nitenpyram, more commonly known as Capstar. This single-use tablet is administered orally and starts to kill fleas on your pet within 30 minutes.
Keep your pet in an enclosed area after you have given the Capstar. That way, any eggs that drop off from adult fleas will not be spread throughout your home.
You can then use steam to treat this one area to kill any remaining eggs and larvae and hopefully you have broken the flea life cycle.
Choosing A Steam Cleaner
It doesn’t matter whether you choose a steam cleaner or clothes steamer to help eradicate fleas. The essential requirement is that the steam-producing device will produce enough steam over time to treat fleas effectively.
A handheld clothing steamer will require regular water refills but is light and portable, and very easy to use.
The same applies to a handheld steam cleaner, which is just like a clothes steamer, but with a single nozzle rather than a wider soleplate.
A multifunction canister cleaner will allow you to cover all bases. It will enable you to steam your carpets more efficiently than handheld devices. You can then use the handheld tools for steaming pet bedding, furniture, and other areas around your home.
The McCulloch MC1275 is one of my favorite all round canister steam cleaners:
Like I mentioned earlier in this post, use whatever steaming device you have around your home. Whether a clothes steamer or steam cleaner, they will each produce steam hot enough to kill fleas. It comes down to the size of the cleaner and how efficient you want to be.
Avoiding Fleas in the Future
There are a few methods to lower your odds of coming across ticks and fleas. If you spend a great deal of time in nature, invest in some lightweight ankle-length trekking pants. Wear enclosed boots and long socks.
There are several ranges of insect repellents that can help to ward off fleas. Pick bug repellant consisting of Pyrethrin and spray your pant legs and socks. After you get home, examine yourself thoroughly.
Animals are the primary targets of fleas. At a minimum, regularly treat your dog or cat with a veterinarian-recommended flea and tick prevention.
Try to keep your dog or cat away from long grass, leaves, and any areas that wildlife may have passed through. Examine your family pet for ticks and fleas at the end of every walk.