How To Get Rid of Fleas In Your Carpet (Without Breaking The Bank)

If you have treated your pets for fleas, but still have them lurking in your carpets, it will usually result in repeat infestations and lots of frustration for your entire family. If that sounds like your situation, this guide will show you how to find these little pests, and use natural products to get rid of them quickly and affordably. Let’s get started!

  1. If you are short on time, click here for a quick summary of this guide.
  2. Before treating, how do you find out if your carpets are harboring fleas?
  3. What natural solutions can help you get rid of carpet fleas quickly?
  4. How to make the best carpet powder for these pests (my DIY method).
  5. What about using chemicals, or only a vacuum cleaner on my carpets?

How do you find out if your carpets are harboring fleas?

In my experience, if your pet has flea problem for a few weeks, the females have likely had enough blood to reproduce. This means that your carpets (presuming you let your pet on them) are probably harboring eggs (or other juvenile stages), which can eventually turn into adults. This can result in a seemingly endless battle, where as soon as you think you have won, another generation rears its ugly head.

However, that being said, unless there are obvious signs (they are jumping on you, you keep getting bite marks, etc.), I recommend that you confirm their presence before you go spending time and money on trying to rectify the situation. To do this, follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Put on some white socks, and then use a kitchen broom to brush the carpet vigorously. This movement will disturb the fleas that may be lurking in the fibers, and once they jump on your socks, they should be easily visible on your white socks.

Step 2: If that didn’t help you discover anything in the carpet, the next step is to make yourself a DIY flea trap that will attract them. The process is very simple, and requires a tea light (preferably battery powered), a dish of water, and some dish soap (click here to read my full guide).

Step 3: If the trap didn’t catch anything (you can put one in each room), this pretty much confirms that there are no adult fleas in your carpets. However, it is possible that there are eggs, larvae and pupa, and since they are so small, it can be very difficult to find them.

PRO TIPS: If you have a flea infested pet, they should be a priority before you even thinking about your carpets. If you have dealt with that already, and you are certain that these pests are still around your home, feel free to repeat the above steps every week until you find them. Although it is your choice, I advise against simply treating your carpets “to be safe”, as it is a waste of your time. If you do locate them and want to take immediate action, click here to skip to my recommended removal process.

What natural solutions can get rid of carpet fleas quickly?

Although the flea traps mentioned in step #2 are perfect for both detection and killing them, it is usually not enough to get on top of a sizable infestation. The good news is that if you are willing to roll up your sleeves a bit, there are some excellent natural solutions that are very DIY friendly. They are also extremely cost-effective, safe to use around your pets and family, and often already in the cupboard.

Diatomaceous earth This is one of the more popular DIY methods, and is very effective. It works by cutting into the exoskeleton of the flea, and the resulting damage and loss in moisture spell their swift demise. Please make sure that you use food-grade DE (not the pool grade alternative), as the other contains ingredients that are not meant for any type of indoor use.

Regular Baking soda: I love this option for killing fleas because it is often already in your kitchen. A single box (about 2.2lbs) can easily cover a 15 by 15 foot room (or about 4m x 4m for our non-US friends), it is super cheap, and available at most grocery stores. It works by dehydrating the fleas (and other stages), click here to read my guide on it.

Borax powder: This is often used to remove stubborn stains on fabrics, and is another great option for DIY flea control. You can use around the same quantity as the baking soda, and it is also very affordable. Please don’t confuse this with boric acid, which I don’t recommend using due to it’s risk for young children. I recommend that you stick to borax powder instead.

Regular table salt: The crystalline structure of salt grains are abrasive and have the ability to damage the exoskeleton of fleas when they come into contact with it. Additionally, salt is a another great dehydrator, which adds to it’s effectiveness. If you put a fine layer of salt on your carpets, you will get noticeable results (read the full guide here).

PRO TIPS: For all the options above, I recommend that you keep them down for at least two weeks (if possible), and take a few minutes each day to lightly brush the carpets (disturbs the fleas and encourages hatching). You can make yourself a shaker to distribute the products (explained in the next section), and although they are safe, preferably keep young children and small pets out the room during treatment. It is rare, but if your pet decides to give it a nice “sniff”, it might have a small impact on their respiratory system.

How to make the best carpet powder for these pests (my DIY method):

After testing multiple powders over the years (both DIY and commercial ones), this is what I personally recommend due to affordability, how quickly it works, and how effective it is at killing fleas in carpeted areas. This uses a combination of the best natural products for the job, but please don’t be overly concerned if you are missing one. Follow these steps to make it from the comfort of your home:

Picture of a carpet with fleas hidden inside

Step 1: Get yourself some table salt, baking soda and diatomaceous earth from local suppliers (or online). Since we’re mixing them in equal parts, just make sure you have around 2lbs per room. This means that if you have three rooms with carpets, then you will need 9lbs, which translates into 3lbs of each product. These products are very cheap, and with the exception of DE, you may even have them already.

Step 2: To distribute the powder around the rooms, you can use a homemade shaker by taking a large plastic tub, and punching little holes in the lid (ice cream containers work well, just make sure you fasten the lid on with some tape). I recommend making enough for one room at a time, and then repeat the process for each one. As mentioned before, leave it down for about two weeks, and disturb the area with a broom each morning.

Step 3: Once the 2 weeks are up, use a bag-based vacuum machine to suck it all up, and discard it safely in the rubbish bin. If you have a serious flea infestation, you can repeat this process over and over until they are all dead, including their eggs/larvae/pupa. However, from my personal experience, I rarely have to do it again if I leave it I follow these exact steps.

PRO TIPS: Please don’t use a “fancy” vacuum to suck up the powder (Dyson, etc.), as it can clog it up and cause damage. If you can get hold of a Shopvac for this job, that would be ideal. You may have noticed that I left out borax from the ingredients, and this is due to the slight chance of a young child eating it. Borax is safe, but since consuming it can make you sick, I figured that it is not worth the inclusion. Lastly, as a bonus, you can put a few drops of essential oils into the room every few days to proactively keep fleas away.

What about using chemicals, or only a vacuum cleaner on my carpets?

If you have a severe infestation in your carpets, it might be tempting to investigate using a flea fogger, or some other kind of insecticide. The truth is that they also work, and usually contain an IGR that interrupts their life cycle (which is awesome). However, the trade-off is that you are using ingredients that can pose a potential risk to your health (and your pets), and while it is nice to stop their eggs from hatching, you can get rid of all stages of fleas using the natural products listed above.

Photo of a cat lying on a flea-free carpetsI have a lot of readers ask about using vacuum (and nothing else) to get rid of fleas in their carpets, so I would like to answer that question here. In my experience, giving your rooms a thorough clean with a quality vacuum can make a decent impact on their overall population, but it is usually not enough to completely sort out the problem. I recommend that you use it in combination with my DIY carpet powder for a more complete solution.

PRO TIPS: You might experience an increase in visible fleas after vacuuming, and this is due to the vibrations in the carpet fibers encouraging immature fleas to hatch from their cocoons. If this happens when you are in the process of sucking up the carpet powder, I recommend that you immediately re-apply some more and leave that down for another week or so. This re-application does take some time, but remember, you are avoiding chemicals by choosing to go the natural route, so the little extra effort is worth it.

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

First and foremost, presuming that there are no obvious signs, check if you have fleas in your carpet by brushing the carpets and then walking around in it with white socks. You can also leave a light-based trap (tea light, shallow dish, soap and water) out at night to lure them from their hiding places. I recommend that you do this before taking the time, effort and money to treat the area.

To kill them in your carpets, you can use natural products such as Diatomaceous Earth, baking soda, borax powder (not boric acid) and table salt. I have written guides on each of these, so be sure to check those out before buying anything. Suffice to say that they are very effective at flea removal, and they work when these pests come into contact with them.

When I have fleas in my carpets, I use a combination of these products (with the exception of borax) for maximum efficiency. After spitting the amounts evenly (1/3 of each), you can use about 2lbs per room using a plastic container that has holes in the lid. This “shaker” type of application distributes it evenly, and after you have left it down for about 2 weeks, you can suck it up with a vacuum.

I am not against going the chemical route for treating your carpets, as it does yield good results. However, in my experience, natural options work just as well, and the little extra time and effort is worth avoiding the insecticides (in most cases). As for just using a vacuum cleaner (and nothing else), it usually will help reduce the overall population a bit, but isn’t enough to get rid of them completely.

A couple of popular FAQs, and my concluding thoughts:

Should I strip out my bedroom carpets? If you love your carpets, but are thinking of removing them due to a flea problem, you definitely don’t need to do that. If you follow the steps in this guide, I promise that you can keep your gorgeous carpets and be free of these pests in just a few weeks.

Can I leave the powder down forever? If you are not using the room, or if you put a very light coat on the carpet, you can leave it down for as long as you like (provided it doesn’t get wet). In fact, the longer it stays on your carpets, the better chance it has to come into contact with new fleas.

What about vinegar and essential oils? While they are good at repelling fleas, they will not kill them. However, with the exception of vinegar (don’t like the smell), I do recommend that you put a few drops of your favorite type into the corners of the room to keep them away.

Why do you combine various products? Salt grains are heavier and will usually fall further down into the carpet fibers, and baking soda is very effective at dehydating fleas that come into contact with the powder. Lastly, DE is lethal to them due to its microscopic shards that can cut their exoskeleton.

In conclusion, once you have found signs of fleas, you can easily deal with them in carpets using either chemical or natural options. However, you should not delay, as this can result in repeat infestations throughout your home. I personally recommend using natural solutions due to their effectiveness, affordability and safety, but the choice is yours. Thanks for reading, and I welcome your questions in the comments below.

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