How to get rid of fleas in your house, on your pets, and how to stay rid of them once they're gone – a step-by-step guide to flea control.

An Introduction to Natural Flea Control

Many of us prefer to totally avoid the use of toxins in our home, and particularly on our pets. Fortunately, there are many natural flea control methods available

The first thing to realize about natural flea control remedies, is that just because something is natural, does not mean it’s not toxic. Pyrethrins, insecticides derived from the African chrysanthemum, are both natural and toxic.

Essential oils

Some essential oils can be toxic in large doses as well, particularly to cats. Since cats do not metabolize essential oils very well, they can build up in their systems and cause problems. Although many cat owners use natural flea control remedies that contain essential oils, it is advisable to use caution.

Here’s an interesting video about making your own homemade flea and tick spray.

Good nutrition and flea control

Feeding your pet good quality food is not just the right thing to do, it can also provide better protection against fleas. Poor nutrition can make your pet more susceptible to fleas, since a healthy animal is less appealing to adult fleas. Ask your vet for recommendations.

Brewer’s Yeast

Brewer’s yeast can be used for both dogs and cats. Use about one teaspoon for cats and small dogs, and about a tablespoon for a fifty pound dog. If your pet develops a skin rash, they may be allergic to yeast


Thoroughly combing your cat or dog with a flea comb is one of the cheapest and most effective ways to control fleas. Regular baths for your pet are as well. In most cases, plain soap will suffice, and there’s no need to use chemical flea shampoos.

Flea traps

A simple way to trap adult fleas is by placing a light next to where your pet sleeps. Then, under the light, put dish of soapy water. The fleas will be attracted by the light and drown in the soapy water. You can even build your own flea trap very easily.

This method only works for adult fleas, but if it’s done consistently, it can be remarkably effective.

Diatomaceous earth

natural flea control methodsDiatomaceous earth kills fleas by damaging their skin and dehydrating them. It can be sprinkled under furniture, on carpets, and in other areas of your home that may be infested by fleas. It can also be applied directly to your pet.


Nematodes are microscopic worms that eat flea larva, and are an effective, natural way to control fleas. Nematodes can be purchased at pet and garden stores. Apply them to moist, shady areas in your yard and around your home. They multiply rapidly, so a small amount will produce the desired result.

Many Common Herbs Can Help Repel Fleas

One effective, non-toxic method of repelling fleas is planting certain herbs in your yard. If your pet spends a lot of time in your back yard, try planting some of these herbs to repel fleas and other pests. These herbs can also be used in conjunction with other natural flea control methods, such as nematodes and diatomaceous earth.

As well as being a lovely smelling, aromatic herb with many uses, lavender will repel fleas. It also attracts many beneficial insects. In addition to repelling fleas, lavender will help protect nearby plants from insects such as whitefly.

The penny royal plant will repel fleas, and the leaves can be crushed and rubbed into your skin as a natural insect repellant. Please note, however, that pennyroyal is highly toxic to cats. DO NOT plant pennyroyal where cats might ingest it, and never rub the crushed leaves into the cats skin.

As well as being well-loved by many cats, catnip will also deter fleas, beetles, aphids, ants, etc. Plant this herb to both repel fleas and make your cat happy.

Planting mint can also be an effective deterrent to fleas, not to mention a key ingredient in a mojito. Mint can be very invasive, so be careful about where it’s planted.

Wormwood is an excellent deterrent to most insects. Use it as a tea to repel fleas, moths, and snails. Be aware, wormwood produces a botanical toxin, so keep it away from any food crops.

Try these and other herbs as a natural flea repellant in your yard. But, don’t forget that any effective flea control program requires treating your pet and treating your home consistently in order to be worth the time.

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60 Responses to “An Introduction to Natural Flea Control”

  1. mettarose says:

    I have no pets and an organic garden AND fleas! Every time I work in the garden I get bit by fleas, definitely fleas. Is there an organic homemade recipe I can use outside that is safe for the garden and will get rid of the fleas?

  2. beyondfleas says:

    Hi mettarose,

    If I were you, I’d try using nematodes in your garden to see if that helps. Nematodes are tiny worms that eat flea larvae, so they ought to help without causing any harm to the natural flora or fauna in your garden.

  3. helper says:

    Buy LOTS on nemotodes, and sprinkle them EVERYWHERE, inside and out. Will kill fleas, won’t harm humans. NON TOXIC!!! Also, buy some hydrocortisone cream for the bites.

  4. mike says:

    you can use nematodes,pronounce knee-mu-toads (here in Texas anyway) they are a beneficial microsopic worms, harmless to pet or humans also they will rid your yard or garden of fire ants. you can usually find them in feed and livestock stores. very inexpensive and wont hurt the enviroment because they do occur naturally. for more info do a search for nematodes and fleas.

  5. Christina says:

    Help! My boyfriend brought his dog Bob over and unbeknowst to us both, he has fleas (he skipped a dose of Frontline). So now I have fleas in my bed. How can I get rid of them??? Non toxic and safe. I was just given the gift of a pure silk duvet for my bed so I can’t wash it. Any ideas??? Thanks!

  6. Beth says:

    They salt and vac. treatments work! But also at night try and put out some pans of water with just a lil bit of dawn dish soap (or any brand) in the water! Place the pan (like a pie pan) under a night light or put a tea candle in the middle of it, the fleas like the light and will jump to it land in the pan and drowned!! Good luck all!

  7. dude says:

    to the person who said they had the problem about getting fleas in the soup….just put bowls of soup all around your house to catch all the fleas, on a serious note, i have a major flea problem, i have found that the lightbulb over hot soapy water does work pretty well, the fleas go to the light…and drown

  8. Margaret says:

    I Spray our 2 dogs evry night with apple cider vinegar and once a week we do all flooring and carpets. So far no flees at all pass it on touch wood.

  9. Pat says:

    Borax (as in 20 Mule Team) from the grocery store (Walmart didn’t have it) worked quickly (within hours!) to stop an investation of fleas (from a cat) that my daughter got from a friends cat this week. It was awful! 20-30 bites on her legs. But the Borax is working! She washed all her clothes and is getting a new mattress. BUT… please read Wikipedia on Borax, it’s natural but toxic if breathed in or absorbed through skin. Wear gloves, shoes, and wash afterwards. After trying toxic pesticides that didn’t work, including foggers, when I got deer fleas one time from hiking …Borax sprinkled on my carept worked over night! I never saw a flea again…I “salted” the carpet w/it and left it for 4 days. Vaccume up after 3-5 days…empty your vaccume bag and tie-up the trash bag. Repeat often. It worked for me! Don’t let children be exposed to Borax in the carpet, don’t put it on your pet, or expose it to your bare feet. Wash your hands afterwards. Borax, of course, is ment to be added to laundry soap. To get rid of fleas: It works! I’m not an expert so read all you can on the topic. Best of luck.

  10. Lucy says:

    where can I find diatomaceous? can i use the product in the house?

  11. beyondfleas says:

    Lucy, try your local garden store, or the garden department at Home Depot or something similar.

  12. Snuff says:

    You can find Diatamaceous earth at your local garden center if they have an organic section.

  13. Becky says:

    If I use diatomaceous earth on carpets, is it safe to walk on them barefoot after sprinkling it? I have fleas in house, yard and garage.

  14. beyondfleas says:

    Becky, diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, and safe to walk on. It kills fleas by scratching their exoskeleton and causing dehydration. You can apply it directly to your pet as well.

  15. RAQUEL says:


  16. Annie says:

    I have heard vinegar works well, but what exactly can it be sprayed on? Also, what can the Borax be sprinkled on and how long should I wait to vacuum? How long should the vinegar be left on before washing it off? Can either one of these products be put on my dogs? Thank you for any and all advice. Annie M.

  17. shaz says:

    Put garlic capsules in your dogs food, the fleas dont like this when they bite your dog and will find another animal to feast on. to see if you have fleas in your home put a bowl of boiling water in the middle of the room before bed and if by the moring you have more than 5-8 fleas in the bowl you have a problem which will need sorting. i recomend frontline.

  18. Ronda says:

    Hi Christina, I have read that you can put your duvet in someones deepfreeze. Fleas are not supposed to survive at any stage after 5 days but I would give it a week. Don’t forget to vacume every second day! What a lot of work but it takes 3-6 weeks to become adult feas. If you don’t get them all they will quickly take over.

  19. Rick Says says:

    Diatomaceous Earth can be purchased at any pool supply store! It is organic & is used to coat the leaves of diatamaceous filters. Leavinf swimming pool water super clean!!!!!

    • Lisa says:

      From what i have read you are only suposed to use FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth…?

      • Violette Rose says:

        DO NOT USE POOL GRADE! Diatomaceous earth as water filters are left with the silicon skeletons intact, with long spines. This is very dangerous to breathe the dust, and is similar to asbestos. Food grade sold at garden centers is ground too fine to be hazardous to human and animal lungs, but is, however still effective at punching holes in the exoskeletons of fleas. I read that the most effective was a combo powder of salt, borax and DE. Brush it in with a broom, leave it set for a day or two, and vacuum with the “high” level setting to just get the excess. The Borax application was supposed to last months, while the DE was weekly.

  20. wendy moore says:

    Beware of using the Diatomaceous earth as it is toxic to small animals and things that are low to the ground as it does not break down in the lungs and causes respiratory problems in animals close to the ground and possible little kid’s. This is listed on the packages and the website that has the holistic flea treatments.

  21. Carla says:

    is there anything to put in dogs water to try to get rid of fleas on dogs

  22. Laura says:

    I had read that putting 1/4th cup of white distilled vinigar per gallon of drinking water helps keep fleas off of cats and dogs. I have been doing that and it has really keeped the flea population down. They animals don’t seem to mind the taste either.

  23. miked68 says:

    will peroxide work? it seems to make them run away.

  24. napost says:

    Vinegar in a dish attracts the fleas and they drown.
    Soapy water in a dish under a light works well but can’t possibly get all of the critters.
    Lemons, 3 to 4 cut up and steeped in a quart of boiling water for at least 6 hours (then strained into spray bottles) provides an essential oil product for spot spraying (smells nice too, we used it on the beds)
    …but, vacuum vacuum vacuum day after day after day is what really works. When all else fails – get a professional, and YES you will still need to vacuum vacuum vacuum. We would have saved a lot of money, time, worry and stress if we had only started out with a professional pest control company instead of trying to do ourselves at the start.

    • Melissa says:

      If vacuuming is all I do, then how long will it take before the flea cycle ends? I have been doing this for almost 2 months now and the fleas are still here. I do use garlic for my dog and spot treatments for both my animals. They were bad on my animals first then came into the house. Now I have been trying to get them out ever since.

  25. s m says:

    we have a flea problems in the house and on our 3 indoor cats. i really would like to know if there is something NON TOXIC and NON CHEMICAL as well as inexpensive to get rid of fleas. i need something that will be safe on the cats and on us. there is no carpet in the house, just hardwood floors and linoleum tiles.

    any ideas is welcome thank you.

  26. beyondfleas says:

    s m, I don’t know of much other than what’s on this page. I would try both nematodes and diatomaceous earth. You can find both a gardening stores. Lots of vacuuming is important too, and washing any bedding, clothes, etc that might be infested.

  27. sadie says:

    I see that someone was wondering about peroxide. I use a remedy that works to kill fleas really well. You take 1 qt. peroxide, 1/4 cup of baking soda, and one big squeeze of dish soap or dog shampoo. Leave on cat or dog for about 15 minutes or so then rinse very well. It works for me and I have 2 dogs and 2 cats.

  28. beyondfleas says:


    Thanks for the tip on using peroxide with baking soda and dish soap. Any issues with bleaching your pet’s hair? :)

  29. Lea says:

    I Just got back from vacation to find my cat ran off but left all her fleas. I heard crushing moth ball on your rug then vacuuming a few minutes later may work although we always want to read those warning lables before acting. I rubbed vapor rub on me and my children and I haven’t gotten bitten since. Heard bug sparys like Off help temporarily. Are there any over the counter meds or vitamins that can be crushed and used in carpets?

  30. Hannah says:

    My kitten has a really bad flea infestation. It has gotten to the point where they are all over him, my blankets, and biting the crap out of me. My room is in my basement, and the cat cannot stay upstairs. The fleas are all over my room! I tried a medication to put on him but it didn’t work at all. I need something that is COMPLETELY SAFE and NON TOXIC that can be put on my kitten, and me, without harming either of us. PLEASE HELP!!

  31. Lea says:

    The OFF worked. Had to be the one in the green bottle, but I haven’t seen a flea since I sprayed it on me and the kids. $5.00 at the dollar store per can. Green Bottle… Spray it everwhere you can and vacuum everyday. I have a small home so I only needed two cans. repeat if needed, but after everything we tried, the OFF was best (the green can) =)) good luck….

  32. Jesse says:

    I recently got a new kitty that has a mild case of fleas. I had fleas before because I got another kitten 2 weeks before but regular flea shampoo and meds got rid of his.. Here recently I’ve been gettin bit and I noticed my other kitten has them now too!! But, the flea meds don’t work and the shampoo only kills the ones that are on them currently. I’m gonna try the pan of boiling water in the middle of the floor tonight. I got flea collars but I read on them they may harm my babies…. So I need an alternative..

  33. Tara says:

    What about steam cleaners, both the bare floor ones and the carpet cleaners? The ones for bare floors emit really hot steam – wouldn’t that kill fleas/flea eggs? Has anyone else tried this approach? I know the carpet “steamers” aren’t really steamers at all, they just use hot water but I’m hoping that the combination of lots of vacuuming and the steam cleaning will work.

    Does anyone know of a safe, natural/organic flea bomb that I can use to kill the fleas in my garage?

  34. jennife ashley says:

    Hey,my best friend is a vet tech. And what worked good for a while with my under twelve week old kittens,was to wash them I’m LEMON soap!!that’s it….repeat this step every week and the fleas will eventually go away…unforanately I have a sdmall dog that always goes outside and consistly brings them in!!!

  35. Marianne says:

    You can also make your own flea collar by getting tea tree oil and placing a few drops on the dogs collar. Remember to do this every day so the smell stays on the collar. You can also steep two cups of fresh rosemary in two pints of boiling water, then you mix this with enough warm water to make one gallon, you can wet the dog down with this and let them dry naturally. Very strong smell. Thanks for all the tips because I can’t stand the thought of fleas in my house or on my dog.

  36. Mark says:

    I had always heard that borax is an effective way to get rid of fleas. this is so not true. I sprinkled it all over the floors in my house with no results. just to make sure, I picked a couple fleas off my dog and put them in a clear container half filled with borax.——- two days later the two fleas were still jumping around in tne container. I used strait borax, not detergent with borax. lets not waist out time money or energy on this myth anymore.

  37. Lila says:

    what is diatomaceous earth where do you get it?

    • Travis McGee says:

      Hi Lila,

      Diatomaceous earth is a powdered, fossilized remains of ancient algae. It’s often used as a mild abrasive, and works as such on fleas, scratching their exoskeletons and causing dehydration.

      You can find it at home and garden stores, as it’s pretty commonly used in gardens.

  38. Lila says:

    I was reading on a site about red cedar oil spray would kill fleas does any one know where to get this? Does any know if you can boil red cedar chips to make your own spray? thanks Lila

    • Tjbrownlee says:

      You can get Texas Cedarwood oil from the health food store. And you can put two drops on your pet behind the neck (like applying frontline) but you have to do it about once every two weeks.

      • Violette Rose says:

        Actually the cedar oil does not kill the fleas— it is a pheramone disrupter, making it difficult for the fleas to find each other to mate and making it difficult to find their food (your pet). I wouldn’t think that the cedar oil would make a good spot treatment, and please don’t use it on cats.

  39. Charlotte R. Wolfe says:

    Thanks so much for this advise. I have pulled all the rugs up, and need to attack the fleas and be rid of them once and for all.

    • Maria Kasstan says:

      The worry I have is that these suggestions are also lethal to beneficial insects and spiders. I don’t want to hurt any living thing [not even the fleas, really,] but I am -gulp- choosing the pets comfort over the fleas’ survival. This is why I always used advantage or revolution, it was specific to the actual “parasites”. But it doesn’t seem normal or natural to medicate their systems so frequently to keep the fleas away.

      • Travis McGee says:

        You make a good point there, Maria. I admire your commitment to not hurting living things. Hopefully, by using a very targeted approach to flea control, we can minimize the effects on other insects.

        Natural methods are going to be harmful to spiders and other insects, that’s true. But, if we use them sparingly and in a very targeted fashion, that harm should be limited. Using diatomaceous earth or borox on your carpets may harm spiders that come in contact, but that number should be minimal, and hopefully other areas or your home are left untouched and therefore harmless to other insects.

        Thanks for you input though, and good luck.

        • Violette Rose says:

          There are some products that inhibit the flea-only hormone that makes them mature to adults…look into that! Sorry I can’t remember the name of it.

  40. Kelly says:

    Hello – can you provide specific information on how to work with the diatomaceous earth?

    Meaning – do you just sprinkle it onto carpet, or do you need to work it into the carpet?

    How long should you wait before vacuuming after applying the DE, or does this need to be a daily ritual: ie: vacuum then apply a layer of DE?

    I posted a question under the flea bomb subject, but if you use area rugs, do you need to treat under the rug, as well?

    Thank you.

  41. Vic says:

    Thank you for all these tips! I am hoping the soapy water flea trap will confirm that I am being bitten by fleas, so I set one up tonight. If this works for me, please clarify how often I need to change out the soapy water to keep trapping fleas.

  42. Beth C says:

    Hello, we are the proud owners of a 14 week old puppy! I was told when we got him that the dose of Advantick should last through the summer (got him July 7), but it did not! We found a flee on Indi today and promptly administered another dose of Frontline Plus today (August 9). I am hoping we do not have a problem at this point, and I will take every step I have read to make sure. My question to you is: We have used an enzyme cleaner in the past to control a bird mite problem in our home as well as one head of lice. The stuff is instant and miraculous, as far as I am concerned, and is supposed to be for all parasites. The very informative website is:
    Please evaluate the information on it and let me know if you think the enzyme cleaner could be good when used with due diligence. The downside is that it is expensive, so if you think plain old dog shampoo is just as good, then… PS, You can buy Diatomaceous Earth from them too.

  43. Ally says:

    Hello my house is infested with fleas we took in a stray kitten I have flea bombed baby powdered flea powdered flea sprayed soapy water with peroxide an alcohol spray but nothing seams to be working. We are not doing so well with money an we had to get rid of the cat. So if anyone knows of a very cheap and quick acting way that is non toxic please let me know. Also I have an almost 2 year old so I would like something that we can stay in the house with. Thank you

  44. i am going to try a couple of things …people suggested. thanks

  45. anne taylor says:

    Thank you for your comments but my concern is am I gonna get bit if they jump off of them then do I re wash my bedding and spray everything again I’m at a loss but I appreciate the comment in please comment on this 1 too thanks a lot have a good day

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