Affordable Natural Flea Control for Your Yard and Home
by Reader Contributors
Fleas can cause discomfort to your pets, your family, and your budget. Try these affordable natural flea control tips to keep fleas out of your yard and home and off of your family and pets.
Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I was wondering if anyone has any affordable natural home remedies to get rid of fleas. I live in town and the house next door is about three feet from my house. They have extremely bad fleas and their yard is full of them. Anytime we go outside, if we are near that yard, we bring fleas into my home. I have two indoor cats and a toddler so I do not want to have to spray my yard or house anymore than necessary.
Affordable Natural Flea Prevention Remedies
We reached out to our frugal readers for their advice and they had plenty of tips to share. See if a few of these suggestions can help you naturally and affordably keep fleas out of your yard and home.
The answer is eucalyptus leaves. You can get them at any craft store. For some reason the fleas don’t like the smell of it. I used this for many years when I lived in California. I had a dog and 2 cats and a toddler! Safe for the kids and the environment.
Borax Eliminates Fleas
Mix four parts of borax with one part of salt, and sprinkle over your carpet. The mixture gets down amongst the fibers, and dehydrates the fleas and eggs, and prevents them re-hatching. This works great, and it is much more effective and cheaper than “flea bombs.”
Editor’s note: It’s wise to keep borax away children and pets.
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Rock Salt Deters Fleas
We have cats! We used to have a lot of fleas until I read somewhere about putting small trays of rock salt under couches or other places where it can’t be seen or gotten into by children. I might have one or two in any given room. The rock salt lasts for years. I have a few fleas occasionally but not any more infestations. I have no idea why or how this works, but it has in my house!
Mary Ann A.
Garlic and Brewer’s Yeast
Has the reader tried garlic and/or brewer’s yeast? You can purchase capsules of either at health food stores and at some chains of stores. Have your pet swallow one a day, the taste/smell will get in their coats and fleas do NOT like the taste.
If the fleas have gotten into the house, place a small pan of soapy water in the middle of the room at night with a small light (tea light candles sitting in the water work well) near the pan. The fleas will jump towards the light and end up in the water. In the morning, flush the water.
A Little Salt
I have used salt on the ground outside the door and on the carpet to kill off the eggs of the fleas. If you are doing this outdoors, you need to be careful not to use too much, especially in areas where you grow things, it will an adverse effect on your plants as well. It is inexpensive and it seems to work.
DE Cheaper to Sprinkle
An inexpensive way to rid your yard of fleas is to sprinkle DE (diatomaceous Earth) all over the yard. Use food grade DE that’s available in health food stores.
Cedar Chips as Repellent
Putting cedar chips along your fence line will keep the fleas from other people’s yards out of your yard, as cedar repels fleas.
Mothballs in the Vacuum
When we found ourselves with a flea-infested Samoyed, the groomer recommended putting mothballs in the sweeper bag. The mothballs killed the fleas and the eggs in the sweeper bag. We ran the sweeper alot that summer, but we had no more problems with fleas. Now, I always put mothballs in the sweeper bag in the summer and we’ve never had another problem.
I worked with a man who had bird dogs and his wife was a student in plant sciences. They found that planting tansy (an herb) around the dogs’ pens kept the problem in check. Their children played in the same yard as the dogs. And they were not bitten at all. Maybe this would be a safe and effective way for the woman with the neighboring flea problem. And not be harmful to her child.
Words From Experience
Fleas are dangerous pests. They continue sucking blood even when full, because their larva feed on the blood that they pass with their stool. Fleas carry tapeworms, and a bad infestation can cause serious loss of blood. Puppies and kittens can die from flea caused anemia.
Any insecticide you use will be absorbed through your skin and the animal’s skin, and be breathed by you, the kids, and the animal. Our San Diego fleas are resistant to most insecticides. The ones that work are either really strong or act as hormones, with unknown long term effects on people. The borax/repellent approach described here is much safer.
The following has worked for us for the past 10 years, and we have three large outdoor dogs and an outdoor cat.
- Vacuum the house thoroughly, including floors and furniture. This will get any loose flea eggs, larvae, and adults. Dispose of the vacuum bag in a sealed plastic bag. Otherwise, the fleas you catch will hop out (they go toward light).
- Make a 50/50 mixture of 20 Mule Team Borax (the boxed laundry product), and diatomaceous earth. The diatomaceous earth is available cheaply wherever swimming pool supplies are sold, including most supermarkets and drug stores. It is also called swimming pool filter earth. Pure borax will also work but will cost a bit more.
- Make a dust can by punching or drilling a bunch of holes in the base of a container. A used quart yogurt or cottage cheese container, with the top, is perfect. Medium dust all carpets and hidden nooks and crannies of furniture, closets, and wherever else larval fleas might be hiding (they eat dust and detritus). I like to sweep the powder into the carpets with a push broom and not vacuum the rugs for several days so the dust can really sift down.
- Do not breathe this dust or get it on the skin. This isn’t a systemic poison like insecticides but it is irritating to the eyes, skin, and lungs. For this reason, be sure the kids and animals are out of the house while you dust. Do not use this dust outside or on houseplants. The borax will harm any plants it contacts. I wrestle with the dogs on the rug after dusting, and don’t notice any irritation from that small contact.
- To keep fleas off of pets or kids when they are outside, thin slice a lemon or lime (peals and all) into two cups of water. Heat the water to boiling and let sit overnight. Sponge the child or pet in the morning with the lemon scented water, and let it dry. It will soothe the skin, smell really nice, and keep the fleas off for about 1/2 a day.
Lemon grass (also called citronella, available from Asian markets) would probably work even better. I use commercial citronella based insect repellents to keep off ticks, mosquitoes, and other biters when hiking. It seems to work as good as DEET, but is safe and smells nice. It only lasts about 2 hours. A weak solution of eucalyptus oil and/or pennyroyal oil also works, but may irritate the skin.
We have found that outside fleas get on the dogs and cats, come into the house on them, jump off and die. We have almost no fleas in the house or yard (we do not spread poisons on our yard), and we take our dogs hiking once or twice a week.
A dust treatment once a year works for us but we treated twice the first year.
Grits to Eliminate Fleas
I had a flea problem in an apartment when I moved in and had maintenance spray numerous times, but they couldn’t get rid of the fleas. I heard about grits and tried it. Sprinkle grits throughout; let this sit for five minutes and then vacuum.
Reviewed January 2022
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