Fleas are one of the most difficult pests to control in your home. A trip through your pet's favorite spots in your white socks will let you know in an instant if you have a problem. If your white socks are dotted with hopping black specks, you have a flea infestation.
Conquering a flea problem doesn't have to be difficult, but you do need persistence. Commercial products can easily do the job, including talc-based flea powders and similar powders that you can use around your home and on your pets.
Best flea treatment for carpets and furniture
Standard baby powder, or talcum powder, is made with talc, a soft, chalky mineral known for its ability to absorb moisture. This feature of talc helps it to dry up fleas and to discourage them in your home and on your pet. It also makes it a great base for most flea powders available in pet stores.
Flea powders typically contain a talcum powder base and a small amount of an insecticide. The powder and the insecticide help to kill the fleas and eggs that are around your home. While some flea powders are safe to use on pets, others are only meant for use on carpets and outdoor areas. The best flea treatments for carpets and furniture are powder-based because they get into all of the cracks and crevices, lasting for days so that they can kill fleas.
Diatomaceous earth for fleas
Often mistaken for talcum powder due to their similar textures, diatomaceous earth for fleas is also a fine, mineral-based powder that is very absorbent. Unlike talc, it contains microscopic fossilized algae called diatoms. These diatoms have sharp edges that cut through the outer layer of the fleas' body and dry them out, thus killing them. Because these diatoms are so small, they won't harm people or pets.
You can safely use food-grade diatomaceous earth directly on your pet. It can be irritating if inhaled, so you might want to wear a mask when applying it. In addition, you can sprinkle it around your home to kill fleas or mix it with talcum powder to create an insecticide-free flea powder.
Best pesticide for fleas outdoors
The best pesticide for fleas outdoors is one that kills adult fleas and controls flea eggs. This way, you won't have to treat the areas more than once every few months. Many types of flea powder contain insecticides, such as pyrethrin and piperonyl butoxide, that work together to kill adult fleas. Look for formulations that contain insect growth regulators, like Nylar, that stop eggs from hatching for months.
Because these products will leave a residue behind to continually kill fleas, they should eliminate the fleas from outdoor areas. Look for products that are safe to use around pets, especially in areas that your four-legged friends frequent, like kennels and dog runs.
Powder for pets and your home
The areas most susceptible to fleas are your pet's body, her bedding and the carpet in your home. Dust your pet lightly with flea powder that is safe to use directly on pets. Check to make sure that you are using a product safe for cats if you have a feline because some powders are only safe to use on dogs. While wearing gloves, rub the powder into your pet's fur.
Leave the powder on your pet for as long as directed and comb her thoroughly with a flea comb. Place the fleas on a white paper towel to determine if there's still activity. Repeat if necessary. Most flea powders kill fleas on contact and continue to kill fleas.
Wash your pet's bedding after treating your pet, or you can lightly dust the bedding and the carpet in your home with the talcum-based flea powder. Leave the powder on the carpet. Shake the bedding outdoors to remove dead fleas or use a vacuum. Vacuum the carpet thoroughly. Repeat until the population has been extinguished.
- Ehrlich: Top 8 Flea Home Remedies
- Animal Wellness Magazine: Using Diatomaceous Earth to Control Fleas
- U.S. Food & Drug Administration: Safe Use of Flea and Tick Products in Pets
- University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: Flea Control and Prevention
- National Pesticide Information Center: Piperonyl Butoxide
- Professional Pest Control Products: Nylar