Fleas are a type of parasite that primarily feeds on warm-blooded animals. The most common flea species is the cat flea, which despite its name, is the most common flea found on dogs.
Out of the estimated 2,000 flea species worldwide, more than 300 are found in the United States. Fleas don’t just infest dogs and cats. They are also found in rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, raccoons, mice, rats, chickens, and more.
Whether you have pets in your home or not, you can still have a problem with fleas. Luckily, steam is lethal to fleas and will kill fleas at every stage of their life cycle.
But you can’t always steam everything in your home. So if you’re wondering, does steam cleaning kill fleas? The short answer is yes. Using steam cleaning is one aspect of flea control management.
Let’s jump right in, and I’ll explain how to use steam to eradicate fleas quickly.
What is Steam Cleaning?
Steam cleaning is a method of deep-cleaning that uses hot steam to clean surfaces, kill dust mites and other pests, scrub away stuck-on messes, and more. It is an effective way to sanitize and deodorize without using chemicals. Steam mops and steam cleaners are two popular types of equipment used for cleaning.
Does Steam Cleaning Kill Fleas?
Steam cleaning will eradicate fleas with prolonged exposure to steam.
To effectively kill fleas with steam, the temperature must reach at least 140°F (60°C). The high temperature of the steam will cause the proteins in the flea’s body to break down. Fleas cannot survive the heat of the steam generated, causing them to die. The hotter the steam output, the faster the fleas will die.
All steam cleaners heat to at least boiling point (212°F). Steam cleaning is recommended as a safe and natural way to kill fleas in all stages of their lifecycle.
How Long Does it Take for Steam to Work?
It takes approximately 10 seconds of exposure to the steam cleaner or mop head for the heat to be lethal against fleas. To ensure that all of them are killed, it is recommended to extend the contact time by a few extra seconds in case some were concealed away from where the heat was fully impacting them.
How to Use Steam to Get Rid of Fleas in Your Home
Steam mops and steam cleaners are great tools for exterminating fleas as they reach hot temperatures to kill them on contact.
On Hardwood Floors
Vacuum your hardwood floor before steaming. Fill the tank with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions and plug in your steamer.
Move the mop or steamer head over each floor section, ensuring you overlap each pass slightly, so you don’t miss any spots. After steaming, allow the floor to dry before walking on it again.
Carpet and Upholstery
Steam cleaning is a great technique for eliminating fleas deep into carpets and other hard-to-reach areas where fleas may be hiding.
Before using a steam cleaner on carpets or upholstery, vacuum thoroughly to remove any loose dirt particles, flea larvae, or flea eggs.
Attach the carpet glider to your steamer. As you go around the room’s edges, try to angle the steam towards the baseboards where fleas may be hiding, or eggs may have fallen.
Begin steaming small sections at a time until you have covered all areas of your carpet and furniture.
Remember that fleas are tiny and may jump. Be as thorough as possible, getting into crevices, corners, and under cushions, all great hiding places for fleas.
Allow carpeting or furniture fabric to dry completely before vacuuming again to collect any dead fleas around.
Combining Steam with Insecticides or Natural Treatments
Pest control professionals advise steam cleaning may reduce the efficacy of chemical treatments.
If you have recently had a professional pest control treatment for fleas or used over-the-counter products, steam may also break down these chemicals and stop them from working appropriately.
Please consider this before steam cleaning fleas.
Tips for Keeping Your Home Free of Fleas After Using Steam
Fleas lay eggs on their animal hosts. The eggs hatch, and the larvae fall off the fur, residing on carpets, blankets, or furniture. The larvae survive by feeding on adult flea droppings. This larvae stage can last from seven days to over a year. Only when a host is present will the larvae emerge as adult fleas.
Given how long flea larvae can survive, diligent cleaning is vital to get rid of fleas for good. Here are some tips to remove fleas from your home permanently:
Vacuuming Regularly and Thoroughly
Vacuuming is an essential part of keeping your home free of fleas. As the EPA recommends, vacuum carpets, rugs, furniture, curtains, and any other fabric surfaces in your home daily to remove the presence of eggs and flea larvae.
The National Pesticide Information Center recommends sprinkling cornstarch on your carpet before vacuuming to kill fleas in the vacuum bag or canister.
Make sure to empty the vacuum bag or canister after each use (outside in a sealed bag, so you don’t spread the problem around again), as this will help prevent re-infestation.
If you have pets, it’s a good idea to vacuum their bedding daily too.
Washing Bedding and Soft Furnishings Frequently
Wash all bedding (including pet beds) at least once a week in hot water (at least 130°F). This will kill any newly hatched fleas or eggs that may be present on the fabrics.
You should also hot water wash soft furnishings such as pillows, blankets, or throws every week. Hot water washing is also a useful technique for eliminating fleas, including their eggs.
Treating Pets with Anti-Parasite Products
It’s essential to treat your pet for fleas not only for their sake but for yours as well. If left untreated, a flea infestation will only continue to grow.
A single female flea can lay up to 30-50 eggs per day, so it’s crucial to break the flea life cycle by using various treatments, including flea combs, collars, shampoos, tablets, or drops.
Tapeworms need fleas as an intermediary host to infect dogs and cats. The flea larvae can eat tapeworm eggs – the eggs develop into a larva that becomes cysts in the flea muscles.
If a cat or dog eats an infected flea, the tapeworm can develop and mature in the animal’s gut. This is another reason to ensure you treat your pet for all parasites, not just fleas.
The FDA gives further advice on using flea treatment products on pets.
Frequently Asked Questions About Using a Steamer to Kill Fleas
Will steam cleaning my carpet get rid of fleas?
Steam cleaning carpets can help effectively remove fleas. Vacuuming daily is also vital to remove any eggs that may be present in the carpet fibers. Flea eggs take up to 14 days to hatch, so repeating the process is necessary. Additionally, washing bedding and other fabrics with hot water can help reduce the number of fleas in your home.
Can fleas survive carpet cleaning?
The traditional method of steam cleaning carpets uses hot water extraction and detergent. Carpet cleaning may help remove some fleas, as the detergents will break down their exoskeleton, and they will drown in the water collection tank.
Does steam cleaning furniture kill fleas?
Steam cleaning furniture is an effective way to kill fleas. The intense heat of the steam penetrates deep into the fibers and cracks of the furniture, killing larvae, eggs, and adult fleas. Steam cleaning also helps remove sticky residue left behind by flea excrement and eggs.
Does steam cleaning kill bed fleas?
Bed fleas are killed when exposed to temperatures over 140°F, and steam cleaners typically reach temperatures of 200°F or higher. The high temperature of steam destroys the proteins on the exoskeleton of fleas, and they can’t survive. So, if you have an innerspring or box spring mattress, use steam to treat the mattress while washing your linen in hot water.
Can fleas survive being vacuumed?
Fleas can survive the suction of a vacuum. The vacuum’s strong suction can pull the fleas and their eggs off surfaces and deposit them into the bag or canister. Sprinkle carpets with cornstarch before vacuuming. The cornstarch will suffocate the fleas in the vacuum bag or canister.
What kills fleas on Carpet instantly?
Salt sprinkled all over your carpet will dehydrate fleas. Follow with baking soda and cornstarch before thoroughly vacuuming your carpet. Then steam clean your carpet to kill any leftover fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae.
What can I mop my floors with to kill fleas?
The high steam temperature kills fleas, so steam mopping your floor is the best bet. If you have delicate flooring that should not be steam mopped (like luxury vinyl planks), refer to your warranty and manufacturer guidelines for specific advice before trying products like Dawn dish soap, Fabuloso complete, or Pine-Sol.
Get Rid of Fleas for Good With Steam
Steam is an effective way to kill fleas, as the high temperature of the steam kills them quickly.
However, it is essential to note that steam cleaning alone may not completely eradicate a flea infestation. Additional treatments, such as chemical insecticides, may also be necessary to achieve complete eradication, especially when treating your pets.
Fleas can lay dormant in cold temperatures, so taking a long-term approach to flea control is best. After all, prevention is better than cure, as they say!
If you have tried over-the-counter products or using a steam cleaner to kill fleas without success, contact your local pest control professional for expert advice and treatment.