The Best Natural Flea Repellents To Keep These Pests Away (DIY)

Although repelling fleas is only a small part of the removal process, it is an excellent way of getting immediate relief for both yourself and your pets. This guide focuses on how you can safely use natural products to keep these little pests away, and I have made sure that all suggestions have evidence that they actually work. Let’s get started!

  1. If you are short on time, click here for a quick summary of this guide.
  2. Does repelling fleas also kill them, or do they just hate the smell?
  3. What is the best natural flea repellent for dogs and cats (that is safe)?
  4. Are there any plants that repel fleas which can be easily grown in my yard?
  5. Is there any natural options for keeping fleas away from my house?

Does repelling fleas also kill them, or do they just hate the smell?

No, in most cases, the natural options that are used to keep fleas away will not kill them, unless they come into direct contact with some of the oils. However, this doesn’t mean that repelling them from your home and garden will not help with a flea infestation. In fact, it is a crucial step to make sure that these little pests stay away from your pets and out of your day to day life.

Using treatments that produce a pungent odor turns the fleas olfactory senses against them. As soon as it reaches the stage where it seeks out blood meals, it will need these to find a suitable host. If you use some of the options listed in this article, not only will they be deterred from your dogs and cats (which would usually be their primary target), but you can also use specific plants to keep them out of your yard.

PRO TIPS: The masking odor that we apply to our pets wear off after a few days, some sooner than others, depending on the potency. If you have purchased a product, please make sure to follow the instructions carefully, and do the same for all-natural options as you don’t want to overwhelm them with strong smells. With this in mind, regularly check that it’s still present and reapply when it has dissipated.

What’s the best natural flea repellent for dogs and cats?

The word natural is not always synonymous with safe. Even beautiful plants that we grow in our gardens and essential oils can be toxic to dogs and cats, so we need to be careful about what we use on our pets. Here are some safe options, please follow the steps carefully:

Apple cider vinegar: This is safe to use on cats and dogs, but make sure that it is diluted 50/50 with water. I usually put ACV into a spray bottle, but if your pet hates that method of application, then you can use a moistened face cloth instead and gently rub their fur with it.

Rosemary or lavender: I prefer using fresh rosemary or lavender steeped in two cups of hot water instead of the essential oil, as it is much milder and there is less room for error with strength. Once it has cooled, strain, and use as a spray or apply on your pet’s fur by hand.

Organic coconut Oil Coconut oil can both kill fleas (that come into direct contact with it) and keep them away. As usual, I recommend that you get the organic variety from your local store, and then simply rub it into your dog or cats fur (it is safe for both of them, even if they lick it off).

Citronella or cedarwood: Both citronella and cedarwood oil are powerful flea deterrents. Just moisten a ball of cotton wool with water, and then add 3-4 drops of one of these oils to it. Dab it behind your dog or cats neck, between the shoulder blades, and at the base of the tail.

Diluted Neem oil: This natural insect repellent is considered safe to use on cats and dogs, provided you use it in small doses. I recommend that you place 5-6 drops on your pet’s collar (or a homemade bandanna), and that should be enough to keep the fleas away from them.

PRO TIPS: If you want me to decide for you, I recommend that you choose coconut oil as it is easily to use, readily available, and it has a host of other benefits as well. To avoid health risks, please don’t use any of the above on very young, very old, or pregnant / lactating pets. Additionally, although there are other options to repel fleas, I have left out the ones that are toxic for cats (their metabolism is slower). Remember that keeping them away is just one part of the overall pest management process.

Are there any plants that repel fleas which can be easily grown in my yard?

Yes, introducing plants into our yard can repel fleas, as well as a bunch of other non-beneficial insects. To keep things focused on the topic of this article (and to keep the number of options a bit more manageable), the ones that I have chosen below are different from the list above (which also work well), they are very effective, and will look good in your garden.

Photo of Chrysanthemums that repel fleas

Catnip: We all know catnip for the almost hypnotic, joyous effect that it has on our kitties! Apart from being such a treat for them, the catnip plant has the added benefit of having the opposite effect on fleas. Plant in borders in full sun to partial shade.

Lemongrass: Companion planting lemongrass, with lavender not only looks fabulous but makes an excellent flea repelling team. Lemongrass is great to use in the kitchen too, so grow a plant in a pot on the window sill for some added protection.

Chrysanthemums: Pyrethrin is a compound found in chrysanthemums that are used in commercially produced products. Plant these pretty flowers (shown in the picture, they come in many colors) around your garden – and scare them to death!

Geranium: Every part of this lovely plant is toxic to dogs and cats, but they can be used to repel fleas in safe and attractive ways. Plant them in hanging baskets at your door entrances, and add them to your window boxes and in pots on your window sills.

Marigolds: Marigolds emit an overpowering scent that is not even that appealing to most of us, but it is such a powerful bug-repelling plant that it needs to be included in this list. Plant these easy to grow bright blooms around your garden, and fleas will stay away.

Mint: Mint is a potent flea repellent and can tolerate some shade and semi-shade too. Since these pests love the shade as well, it can be a great help in keeping them away from these areas. Mint is an invasive plant, so if you need to keep it under control, preferably plant it in pots.

PRO TIPS: There are some other options available to you that do not involve digging in the dirt. Apply a layer of cedar wood chips as mulch in your garden beds and around the perimeter of your yard. You can also introduce beneficial nematodes into your yard; they will literally feast on fleas, doing all your dirty work for you. If you are feeling a little overwhelmed by the choices above, I recommend that you go with mint plants in more shady areas, and pop in some lavender in sunny areas to cover all your bases.

How to make a homemade flea repellent for humans (that doesn’t stink):

We all have our likes and dislikes, and the smell of some natural products may be as awful to us as it is to fleas. However, the recipe below has my stamp of approval (for both it’s odor and effectiveness), and I highly recommend giving it a try if you want to keep from away from yourself.

Picture of essential oils that can keep fleas away

Step 1: Make a master oil blend of four drops of peppermint oil (see my full guide on this), four drops of lavender oil, eight drops of lemongrass oil and four drops of thyme oil. Mix these oils and store them in a dark-colored glass dropper bottle.

Step 2: Place five tablespoons of water and one tablespoon of witch hazel into a separate spray bottle and add five drops of your master oil blend from the dropper bottle into the mixture. Shake up well and mist your body that the fleas are targeting with a lovely smelling spray.

PRO TIPS: If this combination is still bothering your sensitive nose, you can try experimenting with a combination of any of cedarwood, tea tree, citronella, eucalyptus, rosemary, orange or pine oil. Please remember that this spray won’t make you immune to fleas, and if they are starving, they will likely still try bite you. However, in most cases they will seek out easier targets, which means that this can give you some immediate relief while you treat the bigger problem.

Is there any natural options for keeping fleas away from my house?

Yes, just as we can use affordable, natural products to help our pets, they are equally effective in repelling fleas from our homes. In fact, treating your home for fleas goes hand-in-hand with treating your pet. It’s futile to do one without the other, as your pet will just become re-infested.

Treat your carpets by sprinkling them with a layer of fifty/fifty salt and baking powder. Work down into the fibers with a brush (not too hard, just take it easy) and leave for a few days (it can be shorter, but this duration is ideal). Vacuum up and dispose of the contents of the bag. Use a flea spray (click this link for my guide) and mist any areas (furniture, floors, etc.) where you keep finding these little insects.

PRO TIPS: Before you apply any product to your environment, vacuum clean your home thoroughly. This action in itself will suck up eggs, larvae, and adult fleas and will stimulate any pre-emerged fleas to hatch, making it easier to wipe out all stages of their lifespan. Although it is not usually necessary, you can also hot wash fabrics (such as bed linen) that might have been in contact with them.

A quick summary of this guide if you are short on time:

Most natural repellents work in repelling fleas in two ways. Firstly, they mask the smell of your warm-blooded pets, so it’s unable to recognize it has a viable host. Secondly, by adding a scent that fleas hate to your pets, home, and garden, they will try and avoid these areas. Although this will not kill them immediately, limited access to regular blood meals will result in a drop in their overall population.

There are several safe repellents for your cats and dogs, and although it is not the strongest, I recommend that you use coconut oil. Not only does it work very well, it also leaves your pet with a shiny coat and is easy to find at local stores. Just make sure that you don’t use too much or you will have to clean up oily marks in your home, and remember that treating pets is just one part of the removal process.

Speaking of following taking a broad, integrated pest management approach, please don’t ignore the possibility of fleas hiding out in your yard, especially if your pet spends a lot of time outdoors. If you don’t give this area your attention, you will experience continuous re-infestations on both your pet and likely in your home. Luckily, there are a number of plants that repel fleas naturally.

Essential oils (extracted from plants) are a key ingredient in many natural sprays (for your own usage, not your pets). The one that I have listed in this guide contains peppermint, lavender, lemongrass and thyme, and these choices are both for their effectiveness against fleas and their pleasant smell. You can also use this in your home (provided you don’t have any cats, it is just not worth the risk).

A couple of popular FAQs, and my concluding thoughts:

Does tea tree oil repel fleas? Yes, it does, but tea tree oil is a potent essential oil, and you should only use it on people or in the home. Just remember that although some commercial pet products have it, the concentration is critical, and they typically contain no more than 0.1 to 1%.

Does eucalyptus repel fleas? Yes, it can be used safely in small amounts, and I recommend that you just put 3-4 drops into your pet shampoo. You can also protect dogs from fleas by placing a bunch of fresh leaves (from the actual tree) in their kennel (just make sure they don’t eat it).

Does garlic repel fleas? Even though many people seem to be using it (based on my research), I do not recommend it as there is little evidence to support its effectiveness. It is actually dangerous for your pet to consume too much garlic, so rather stick to the safer options that I have outlined in this guide.

Will repellents stop fleas from biting me? Yes, in most cases, they will stay as far away from you as possible (provided the odor is still present on your skin). However, if they are starving and you are the only target, they might still try and give you a little nibble.

Does flea repellent shampoo kill them? Yes, but it is actually the soap that kills fleas as it causes suffocation. The residual odor of whatever the manufacturer has put into the shampoo (such as tea tree) will then serve to keep them away from your pet after you wash it all off.

What other smells do fleas hate? There are a ton of smells that send their olfactory senses into overdrive, but most essential oils (and the plants they come from) are a safe bet. Rather stick to these (instead of things like vanilla essence, etc.) as they definitely work.

Thank you for taking the time to read my article. I’m sure that you will agree that using natural products is an affordable and straightforward way to keep fleas away. Even though most repellents won’t kill them (unless it prevents them from feeding), it will bring some immediate relief to family and pets, and this is a very important part of the removal process. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments section!

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