Dawn Dish Soap for Fleas – Easy Step By Step Guide

If you are the proud owner of a furry companion, chances are that you have had to deal with fleas on more than one occasion. The goal is pretty much always the same; get rid of the fleas without risking your pet’s health and do it as affordably as possible, right? Let’s explore how dawn dish soap can help you achieve this without adding any more stress to your life.

Does Dawn Kill Fleas Or Am I Wasting My Time?

Yes, dawn dish soap does kill fleas and they will die within minutes, making it a very time effective way to deal with these pests. The overall process is fairly simple; place your pet in a bath of water (or just wet him/her with a hosepipe outside), lather some of the dawn dish soap into the fur (ensuring that you reach all potential flea hideouts, e.g. under your pet’s belly, etc.) and watch as the fleas die within minutes of coming into contact with the soapy water.

If you are using dawn on a dog or a cat, I will provide some additional tips a little later in this article. However, that being said, even if you were using it on another type of animal, the process is safe and you can’t really do it incorrectly. I recommend that you give it a try as soon as possible, and just make sure that your lathering doesn’t miss any spots on your pet.

How Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas On My Pets?

Simply put, the dish soap breaks down the flea exoskeleton, which proves fatal for these little pets. Even if the soap is mixed into the water at a fairly low concentration, it’s still deadly for fleas in most cases. That being said, I always recommend that you wet your pet first, then use your fingers to lather it into the fur so that you don’t miss any fleas that may be hiding from you. 🙂

Are There Dawn Dish Soap Alternatives For Flea Removal?

Although this article focuses on using dawn for flea removal, it is possible to use alternative dish soap brands if it’s not available near you. Just keep in mind that you need something that is as natural as possible, without harsh chemicals or heavy scents, as these could have harmful effects on your pet. A couple readers have had good success with baby shampoo, and although I haven’t tried it myself, I am pretty sure that it will work. Please feel free to share your thoughts on this in the comment section at the bottom of this article.

Lastly, I strongly advise against using dishwasher soap on your pets, as I have yet to find something that I would feel comfortable recommending, as they are usually unsuitable for pets due to their ingredients. Remember, this soap will be rubbed in your pet’s fur, and will be touching their skin, so you want to try your best to avoid anything that could cause rashes or excessive itchiness.

Is Dawn Soap Safe Or Does It Have Nasty Side Effects?

Dawn is safe and non-toxic for dogs and cats, as well as most furry pets. You can even use it on baby animals, such as kittens and puppies, without worrying about any harmful ingredients that can potentially affect their health or vitality.

However, it is worth noting that Dawn (and pretty much any other dish soap) has the potential to dry out your pet’s skin, especially if you wash him/her on a regular basis. Thus, I recommend that you firstly, only wash your pet with dawn soap if he/she is obviously infested with fleas (i.e. not just a single flea lol), secondly, don’t do it more than once every 2-3 weeks and thirdly, never use it on a pet that has preexisting dry skin or an infection of any sorts. Another tip, make sure that you rinse the soap off completely, even if this takes you an extra couple minutes, it’s worth it.

I know that I will probably get an absolute flurry of emails about how people use dawn for fleas on their pets more frequently (like every couple days) with no signs of dry skin, but please understand that it is not the most common outcome. In reality, robbing your pet’s skin of protective moisture, even if it doesn’t dry out, is not healthy for your furry friend.

Dawn Dish Soap and Vinegar, Is It A Good Combo?

Vinegar doesn’t kill the fleas, but it certainly can help keep them away as they hate the smell. Unfortunately, so do I, so although it is a great way to keep fleas off your pet, I don’t use it when treating my animals. However, if you want to give it a try, after applying the dawn soap and washing it off completely, apply a little using a spray bottle (half water, half white vinegar) as a decent preventative measure against fleas. The mixture doesn’t need to reach your pet’s skin, just spray a fine layer on its fur.

Please note that this is not a magic bullet, and I cannot guarantee that it will keep the fleas off, even if you spray your furry pet on a daily basis. However, provided you don’t have a full-blown infestation and you offload your pet’s existing fleas using dawn, this can be a cheap alternative to a spot on treatment, so give it a try and see how it works for you.

Does Dawn Soap Kill Flea Eggs, Or Only Live Fleas?

dawn soap for fleasIf you thoroughly wet your pet’s fur and lather in the dawn soap, the majority of flea eggs (if there are even any on your pet) will end up down the drain and will die. However, it is worth noting that these eggs commonly fall off your pet and can be found in carpets, in the yard and other areas around your home. Thus, when dealing with a flea infestation, it is critical that you prevent fleas from reattaching themselves to your pet at a later stage.

It is not feasible to simply keep treating your pet with dawn, even if the eggs end up dying as they are washed away in your bath. Keeping this in mind, I recommend that you check out my article on treating fleas with diatomaceous earth for a natural, cheap way of getting rid of fleas in your home.

Lastly, before I get any more off-topic (lol), I recommend that you acquaint yourself with the difference between flea eggs and regular flea dirt, as they are not the same thing. While that may seem obvious when saying it out loud, I don’t want you to find lots of “specks” on your pet while washing him/her with dawn and freak out because you think they are eggs. 🙂

How To Use Dawn Dish Soap For Dogs – Step By Step

Dawn soap makes a great flea bath for dogs, even if it’s a puppy, as it is completely non-toxic. This is great news, considering that many flea shampoos provide warnings against using them on puppies, due to their ingredients. But how do you go about washing a dog with dawn dish soap? Well, although I have outlined some of the steps already, here is a nice and easy, step by step guide for you to follow for your dog:

  1. First, unless you want to use water from an outside hosepipe (which is fine), fill a bath with lukewarm water (about 70 degrees Fahrenheit), as this makes it less of a shock for your dog when being introduced to the water. While this is not critical, this is usually what I do for my Mr woof woof.
  2. Second, you want to soak your pet in the water, ensuring that it reaches the skin in all areas of the body. Please avoid getting any water inside his/her ears though, as that has the potential to cause complications if it doesn’t drain out. A few readers have suggested that some cotton wool is used to ensure water is kept away from the ears, so give that a try if you want. If you have put a few cups of vinegar in the water (instead of using the spray bottle afterward), or if the water already has any kind of soap in it, be sure to keep it away from your dog’s eyes as well.
  3. Third, after leaving your dog fully lathered with dawn dish soap for about two minutes, rinse it all off with some water. This can be done with a hosepipe (if you are outside), a bath shower head (if you have one) or you can pour a bucket of water over your pet (a couple times) until all traces of the soap has been removed.
  4. Forth, provided all the fleas are dead (which they should be if you lathered properly), dry your dog with a towel. If you have an outdoor area for him/her to run around in, let your dog outside to dry off, provided the weather is nice and warm. If you have a small dog, some readers have suggested the use of a small hand dryer, which isn’t a bad idea, but it’s completely up to you.

dawn dish soap for dog fleasNOTE: If your dog has a massive flea infestation, you might find that the bath water ends up with tons of dead fleas floating around. If this is the case, I recommend that you empty the water and refill it, otherwise it can get rather messy. It is also worth noting that fleas tend to run for their lives (literally) when you start lathering the Dawn soap, which means that they often end up on your pet’s head, or in other hard to reach places. I suggest that you use your finger to carefully apply some Dawn in these areas, being extra careful to avoid their eyes, as it is critical that all the fleas are killed. Lastly, if you want to apply some white vinegar (using a spray bottle, half water half vinegar) as a preventative measure, only do this when your pet is dry.

Using Dawn Dish Soap For Fleas on Cats – A Couple Tips

Unless you own a suit of armor or have a cat that doesn’t mind water (very unlikely), using Dawn soap to get rid of fleas can be slightly more challenging, especially if you have an older cat that has already acquired an intense dislike for H2O. Strangely enough, kittens don’t usually mind it as much, so this is great news if your tiny fur ball gets fleas and you need a non-toxic solution. Here are a couple steps (and tips) for using dawn on your feline friend:

  1. First, although you could place your cat inside the bath (with around 3-4 inches of water) and wet it that way, I have found that most cats find this method highly offensive. I suggest that you fill a regular sized spray bottle with some warm water, and after making sure that the cat cannot escape, using that to gently and slowly wet its fur.
  2. Second, while making sure that your cat is not traumatized in any way, slowly rub some Dawn soap into its fur, using some of the same pointers as the guide for dogs (above). I recommend that you speak softly to your cat during this process, as this will help your cat feel as relaxed as possible, given the situation. You can simply refill the spray bottle to rinse the soap off your cat when you are done, and repeat the process as many times as necessary.
  3. Third, dry your furry friend with a towel and be prepared for a disappearing act as soon as you let the cat go. If you live in an area with cold weather, please make sure that the cat is completely dry to avoid any chance of it catching a chill and getting sick. You might also find that you cat hides away for awhile, but rest assured that he/she will be back, especially when the food is put out.

dawn dish soap for cat fleasNOTE: Please be extra careful with its ears, as cats are known to be much more susceptible to ear infections. As mentioned before, you can use some cotton wool to keep the water away, if you want to be completely safe. It is also critical to make 100% sure that all the soap is removed, as you don’t want your cat to lick it up while it cleans itself. The Dawn soap is not toxic, but eating soap is very a good idea lol. As mentioned above, just use the same spray bottle to rinse the soap off your cat. Lastly, some readers have suggested giving your cat a mild relaxant, and if that is easily available and affordable, it is a decent idea, to be honest.

UPDATE: I have received a couple emails that recommend putting the Dawn soap directly into the spray bottle. While I haven’t tried this, it is a good suggestion, provided there is sufficient Dawn in the mix. Give it a try and let me know in the comment section below. Also, if you are struggling to get your cat wet (even with the spray bottle)

Frequently Asked Questions About Using Dawn For Fleas

Question 1: Can I use Dawn soap for killing fleas on my carpets? – While it is possible I recommend using food grade DE (diatomaceous earth) or borax powder, as it simply works better than Dawn.

Question 2: What type of Dawn is best for fleas? – The cheapest. Seriously though, any Dawn dish will work perfectly fine, so just grab some and get started with the flea extermination process, instead of overthinking it.

Question 3: Can I use dawn soap for fleas in the yard? – You can, but unless you know exactly where the fleas are hiding out, by applying it everywhere, you will turn your garden into a bubbly mess. In addition to that, you will also kill many useful bugs at the same time, and that is never a good thing. I recommend using beneficial nematodes instead, and scattering a decent amount of cedar wood chips around your yard.

Question 4: Can dawn soap be used as a flea trap? – Absolutely, simply place a couple drops in a low rimmed bowl of water (or just a saucer) and place a tea light in the middle of it to attract fleas. The Dawn lowers the surface tension of the water, leading to the fleas demise. If you leave a few of these DIY flea traps in each room at night, and you will catch lots of fleas, presuming you have a problem with fleas in your home.

That about sums it up, and to be honest, I really enjoyed writing this article for the community. As per usual, please feel free to leave a comment below and I will try my best to reply within 24-48 hours. I welcome any suggestions so please if you have some novel way of using dawn soap to combat fleas for your pets, let us know. Thanks for reading, and have a good one!

Natasha Anderson
Natasha Anderson

Hello! My name is Natasha Anderson and I have been helping people with their pest control issues since 2012. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below (or contact me up on social media) and I will respond within 48 hours (even for older articles). Please note that these articles are for informational use only, please seek help from a local professional if you have a serious situation. If you want to support my work, please share this article on social media.

Comments

  1. Russell Morley says:

    Hello what is best for the car

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Russell, thanks for your comment! For your car, it is usually as easy as removing all the mats, rincing them with warm water and soap (dry them afterwards) and then spending about 15-20min looking for them with some water/soap mixture in a spray bottle. I usually just spray the areas when I find any signs of fleas, just make sure that you air out your car afterwards. 🙂

  2. Sunny Pete says:

    Would it help to mop non carpet areas with dawn? I only have carpet in my den.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Sunny, the soap will kill fleas if they come into contact with them. So yes, as long as you don’t mind doing that (they are your carpets after all), I am sure it will help.

  3. Nicolette Garcia says:

    Can i spray my carpets with dawn soap to kill fleas? Has thus worked for anyone?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Nico! If you soap up your carpets (right through), it will definitely kill the fleas. However, there are so many types of carpets that I hesitate so tell my readers to go ahead and do it. If you feel that it won’t damage them, then go ahead 🙂

    • Maegan Foci says:

      Nico, I have used a homemade carpet shampoo mixture in my shampooer and had no problems. I used dawn in and it actually cleaned my carpets really well.
      1 gallon warm water
      1/4 vinegar
      1/4 cup dish soap
      A few drops of essential oil of your choice (optional)

      Hope this helps 🙂

      • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

        Hi Maegan! Thanks for helping Nico, I am sure the rest of the community will also benefit from your comment.

  4. Caity says:

    Do you know if the dawn spray can be used on old hardwood floors, rugs, & couches?
    With 3 indoor cats the struggle is real…

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Caity! I don’t recommend it, as those that I have spoken to about this kind of stuff seem to have a mini-heart attack if “non-standard” hardwood cleaning agents are used lol. However, the good news is that any soap will kill fleas (on contact), so perhaps just get a cleaner for hardwood? Sorry not an expert on floors 🙂

  5. Diamond says:

    I cleaned my puppy with dawn because she has like 2 fleas that are really bothering her then when it’s time to dry her I can see them crawling but they’re not dead, they are on top of her head btw. Am I doing something wrong ? Any suggestions e?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Diamond, I have had a similar experience and it will boiled down to not rubbing the soap in properly. You will be shocked at how good the fleas are at getting away from the soap, they will even run to areas where you have not applied the dawn and foamed it up. I highly recommend that you try it again, it definitely works.

  6. Edward Jackson says:

    I am going to try your Dawn dish soap on my Yorkies, which have fleas and are scratching constantly. After I bath them in Dawn, do you recommend putting a good flea collar on them. I am always concerned about the chemicals in flea collars, and most brands don’t seem to work. Do you have a brand you would recommend?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Edward, I don’t recommend that at all. Check out article (on this blog) about flea collars, they are horrid. If you want an “after bath” solution, just grab a good spot on solution (E.g. frontline, etc.). Hope that helps.

      • Edward W Jackson says:

        Thank you, Natasha. Well, I gave both my Yorkies a dawn bath yesterday. First I soaped up their heads and around the neck, then I did their bodies completely. I left the dawn soap on for about a minute, then rinsed them off.
        I did kill some fleas, but not all of them as my dogs are still scratching as before. What did I do wrong? Should I have left the dawn on longer?
        I don’t wash them in a tub full of water, I use the kitchen sink and just let the water drain as I wash and rinse them. Should I plug the drain and let them stand in the water as I bath them?

        • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

          Hi Edward, yes plug the drain. I put my dogs in the bath, soap them up completely (spending time to COMPLETELY cover their fur), and then after a few minutes I wash it off. I actually did this fairly recently, and the number of dead fleas was astonishing. Give it one last try before leaving it for a bit, because the soap does dry out their skin.

  7. Marie says:

    Hey Natasha! So thankful for this awesome website! Just a couple of questions though. We set of a hot spot flea bomb but a found some on me though. What did we do wrong should we set of another one? I tried your flea traps so far 6 fleas and only about five minutes! Will that kill the rest of them?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Marie! Glad you like it! You can set off another one, just make sure that you follow the instructions on the back of the bomb (especially RE electronics). Glad to hear the flea traps helped, I highly recommend that you leave them out at night (1 per room) and repeat each night for a week or two. Hope that helps!

  8. Helen says:

    Hi, Working with a cat rescue I knew about Dawn for the baths and borax for my carpets, great info BTW. My question is about the flea traps(Silly as it may be,) you don’t light the candles or do you? It’s probably obvious to 99.9% of folks, but I guess I’m in the .1% lol

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Helen! No you don’t, they are battery powered 🙂 Or at least they should be, if you have tea light candles (with physical wicks) then yes you might light them, but I advice against using fire inside your home. Hope that helps.

  9. Jen says:

    Can you place flea drops on a cat after they are dried from giving them a bath in Dawn dish soap? Will this irritate their skin at all?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Jen! Yes you can, but it will dilute it to the point of making it rather ineffective. I recommend dying your cat completely, then applying the spot on (preferably the one that lasts for at least 30 days).

  10. Jay says:

    Hello community, just wanted to let all the people know, those that are trying to get rid of the flea problem, there is a way to get rid of the fleas nearly indefinitely. I had experimented with many different kinds of powders. Turns out the powder that worked the best was the cheapest I’ve ever bought. Go to Walmart and grab the flea powder that is on their shelf in the pet section. I will guarantee you, if you are patient, after two weeks you should notice at least a 90% reduction with those little pests. However you’ll have to do it a certain way that’s not in the instructions on the container. Remove your pets to a single bedroom. If you are going to use the bathroom I do not recommend putting more than one cat in the bathroom. Start Spreading the powder in thick patches on your carpet and then with a broom rubbing it in. Do not vacuum it up in fact do not try and get it up at all for at least a week. After the first week vacuum it up reapply in thick patches yet again. After the second week vacuum it up and you and your pets should be very happy to walk into a room without fleas jumping on them or you. Just make sure that you apply the flea powder every 6 months because regular in and out the door activity there’s always the possibility of bringing in a flea that causes the whole thing to go down again. The only problem you’ll have is the fleas that are already on your pet. Eventually those will jump off and lay eggs but the newborns will die instantly because the carpet is a death trap. Eventually the seniors will die off. Any eggs that are unhatched I believe can survive for 5 or 6 years. So just make sure you keep your carpets with a moderate amount of new powder in it. After that you should have a 100% no flea problem. Other than what you bring in from the outside. If you want to get the unhatched eggs I suggest a steamer. They are forced to hatch if there is any source of moisture and sound. Not moisture or sound but both. Has to be both. So turn on some loud music and go to town with your steamer over your carpets. After everything is dry put the powder down you should have gotten all of them.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Jay! Thank you, what a legendary comment! If I could give you some flair for it, I totally would (Mmm might be a good idea for the site actually lol). Really appreciate your contribution, and I hope that thousands see your advice 🙂 Cheers!

  11. Brittany says:

    Hi! I am the mommy of 2 kittens that are about 5 1/2 months old. Over the last month or 2 I have been finding more and more fleas on them, which is weird bc they’ve only been out on my patio which is the 2nd story up. I’ve tried giving them baths in dawn about twice a week, although I’ve found many fleas falling off dead after the bath, recently I’ve noticed there are still some running around on them, I took them to the vet and got revolution to put on them, but that hasn’t seemed to help either and is supposed to be the best stuff out there?! I’ve tried putting Damascus earth (food grade) on my carpets and furniture, I left it on for a couple of days and then vacuumed. I’m SO frustrated and stressed out at this point! This is a nightmare! I don’t know what to do at this point…please help! 🙁

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Brittany! I suspect that fleas managed to survive in some of your removal steps, and then that resulted in not getting rid of the infestation. I recommend that you do this in the following order: Apply DE to your floors, wash your dogs in dawn, after they are dry apply some Frontline or Revolution and lastly, if you have a garden, use beneficial nematodes to kill the fleas that may be hiding there. For bonus marks, use a DIY flea trap in your bedrooms (at night). All this info is in a couple articles on my blog, check them out.

  12. shawn richardson says:

    Does Dawn Soap work on Humans- O.K. ?? Thanks

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Shawn, yes it will work, however it really isn’t necessary. A nice hot shower and any soap will kill the fleas, so rather just go do that instead of covering yourself with Dawn hehe 🙂

  13. John Scott says:

    What would you recommend doing for hardwood floors as far as killing fleas and cleanup?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi John, any soap will kill fleas, so using something that is safe for your hardwood will get rid of them, presuming they come into contact with it. Otherwise you can set up a few flea traps in each room (at night), check my article on this subject, they are super easy and cheap to make.

  14. Amie says:

    Hello I was wondering what the best way to remove fleas from my puppies head if they run there while bathing him. Would you recommend a flea comb?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Amie, yes that will work nicely! Have a good one!

  15. Alissa Marquardt says:

    I’ve found that diatomaceous earth (FOOD GRADE) works wonders for getting fleas out of carpet. You can get a huge bag at Tractor Supply (hey, I live in the deep South) for much cheaper than other proven flea treatments, but be sure it’s the food grade as the other is harmful for pets. The only downside is that it gets a layer of dust over everything, but it’s a sacrifice I’ve found far preferable to dealing with vicious blood-suckers devouring my pets and family. You can also apply it directly to your pet. I’m going to try this a couple hours before soaping up the new kitten. We got her last week and she was covered in fleas (she’s completely white, but her tail looked black because of how many she had). I bathed her in Dawn after we got her home and it worked on about 90% of her fleas. Problem is, they jumped onto our other kitties and the carpet before we could give her the bath, so this will be round 2.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Alissa! Appreciate the comment, really appreciate you taking the time to share this with the community. Hope that you are flea free soon, hate these little bugs lol.

  16. monica moss says:

    Hi Natasha,
    My husband put the frontline on our dog however she has fleas on the top of her head the look like little black dots, If I wash her can I reapply the frontline after she dries?

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Monica! The issue is that the skin would have absorbed some of the frontline, so while washing might take some of it off (and kill the fleas), not too sure about reapplying it a second time within such a short time frame. It should be ok though, just sharing the facts 🙂

  17. Lyn Martin says:

    Salt the carpets, it dries out adults and eggs…vacuum after 24hrs…they also need humidity to hatch so throw a dehumidifier in each room if you can afford it lol

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Lyn! Appreciate the comment, that will definitely work. I personally prefer using DE but both are good!

  18. Linda says:

    It worked!
    Thank you!!!

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Linda! Super glad to hear it, appreciate you stopping by to leave a comment 🙂

  19. Diane Kossow says:

    I have fleas brought in by my neighbor how can I get rid of them I am concerned as I have a 12 week olr puppy and have seen them on her I also have a cat. I an concerned about them both and how time our NY house of them before they spread really bad

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hi Diane! I recommend you wash your little puppy in warm water and some dawn soap, kills the fleas instantly. On your cat, get a good spot on treatment (such as Frontline). As for your home, check out my other flea articles on this blog and let me know if you still have some questions afterwards 🙂

  20. Johanna de la Fuente says:

    Hi, I have a 3 month old Maltipoo and I’ve showered him three times (one week apart each time) will I do him harm if I showered him again? I really want to try this Dawn method. He recently got fleas and is scratching a lot.

    • Natasha Anderson Natasha Anderson says:

      Hello Johanna! That is a little too frequent to be honest, but nothing to worry about. I tend to lean towards a max of twice a week, as it can (not always) make their skin dry. However, yes go ahead and use dawn on the next wash, it works extremely well 🙂

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