Table of Contents
Fleas may be miniature in size. But once they infest your home, these pesky bugs can cause a lot of discomfort, especially to pets like dogs.
It all begins with skin itching, followed by uncontrollable scratching. And before you know it, your dog’s skin has turned into patches of open lesions. Without timely interventions, the scratch wounds caused by flea infestation could act as passageways for bacterial infections.
Fortunately, despite their pesky nature, fleas are surprisingly easy to control. One solution many pet parents often adopt in getting rid of fleas from their homes is using bleach.
But how effective is bleach as a flea control method? Let’s find out.
Does Bleach Kill Fleas?
Flea control methods can be classified into two main categories, depending on how they function. Some methods repel fleas from your property, whereas others kill these bugs.
Bleach is mainly recommended for its remarkable ability to kill fleas. If used right, bleach can be very effective in killing adult fleas and flea eggs alike.
Besides killing fleas, bleach may also act as a repellent, proactively keeping these bugs out of your compound. What’s more, the product is equally effective against other common bugs, such as roaches and bedbugs.
Why Would You Want To Rid Your Home Of Fleas?
The main reason you’d want to eradicate fleas from your property is that these bugs can be quite a nuisance.
Not only do fleas infest the skin of your adorable pooch, gorging blissfully on his blood. But they can also make a host out of your very own skin.
Fleas may also present serious health problems for your dog and virtually all other members of your household.
For instance, the scratch marks caused by flea infestation could act as a passage for the transmission of harmful bacteria. And if swallowed, fleas could cause tapeworm infection. Note that fleas themselves are notorious for carrying diseases. These bugs were actually the primary vectors responsible for the spread of the bubonic plague which killed thousands of people in the mid-14th century.
What makes flea infestation such a serious problem is the speed with which these insects can multiply on your property.
Given the right conditions, fleas can complete their life cycle in as little as thirty days and adult female fleas can start to lay new eggs in as little as two days after getting their first feed. Besides, fleas do not stay on a host for very long. Once they’re fully fed, they prefer to jump off in search of warmer, moister, and darker places to lay their eggs. So, the insects can prove incredibly difficult to control. Even worse is the fact that most household cleaning products are harmless to bleach. But that’s where bleach draws the line.
What Ingredients in Bleach Kill Fleas
Bleach is typically made of one or more of the following chemicals;
• Sulfur dioxide
These core ingredients are the specific compounds in bleach that kill fleas.
Chlorine-based bleaches are generally manufactured from the decomposition of chlorine compounds, such as chloramine or hypochlorite. Peroxide-based bleaching agents are formed via the decomposition of a peroxide-based substance like hydrogen peroxide while sulfur dioxide bleaches have sulfur dioxide as their primary active ingredient.
How to Use Bleach in Killing Fleas
i. Ensure you’re dealing with fleas
The very first thing to establish before using bleach for flea control is whether you’re dealing with fleas in the first place. To determine that your dog is flea-infested, keep your eyes out for the following signs;
• Constant scratching
• Hair falling from your dog
• Open skin lesions and bite marks all over the dog’s body
• Frequent sightings of fleas on your pet, pet toys, and pet beddings, as well as on your floor rugs and furniture.
NOTE: Adult fleas measure about 1/8 inches long and sport a reddish-brown color. They also have a tendency for jumping around and will easily land on your skin during your routine examination of a flea-infested dog.
• Frequent sightings of flea dirt, especially on pet beddings, rugs, and carpets
Flea dirt simply refers to flea feces. It resembles tiny flakes of ground black pepper and usually contains undigested blood. Immature fleas feed on flea dirt.
• Irritation on your skin if you’re also infested.
The irritation is caused by flea saliva and the condition is medically known as Flea Allergy Dermatitis (FAD).
ii. Know where the fleas are typically found
The obvious places you’ll find fleas are on your dog’s fur and bedding, your furniture, rugs, and carpets, as well as your very own skin if the infestation is already out of control.
But in terms of habitat, fleas prefer dark, moist areas that are shielded from direct sunlight. These include underneath carpets or rugs and in the wall cracks or crevices.
iii. Get set
After locating the fleas, it’s time to get down to business.
Start by clearing the house. Remove your kids, dog, and other pets from the areas you intend to fumigate with bleach. Remember that bleach fumes are highly toxic and could present severe adverse effects if inhaled. So, no person or animal should remain in there for at least three hours. You might also consider clearing your kitchen and wardrobe. You don’t want the powerful chemicals in bleach to make contact with your fruit basket or clothing.
After clearing the house, close all windows and doors in the rooms you wish to fumigate. This will help to deny the fleas oxygen when the bleach begins to work on them.
Next, put on your protective gear. This includes long-sleeved shirts, a pair of gloves, and rubber shoes.
iv. Prepare your bleach solution
To prepare bleach solution at home, mix one cup of sodium hypochlorite with five gallons of water. Continue preparing a similar amount of bleach until you achieve your desired volume.
v. Get to work
Begin by vacuuming the floor, focusing on the rugs and carpets. This helps to remove flea dirt and hidden flea eggs, while also ensuring the bleach solution gets through the carpet fibers.
Using a spray bottle, spray the bleach solution throughout all the marked areas. Repeat the process as frequently as required.
vi. Decontaminate the treated rooms
After about two hours, open the windows and fans to encourage ventilation to all the treated spaces.
Wipe any liquid droplets of the bleach from walls and other surfaces to avoid contamination.
Allow for another two hours before anyone can get back into the rooms.
When Should I Expect To See The Results?
Bleach contains powerful chemicals that can kill fleas almost instantly. Any flea that will get in direct contact with bleach during the fumigation exercise will most likely wind up dead.
Bleach kills fleas in two ways.
First, the chemicals in bleach, such as sodium hypochlorite, dissolve in water to form an acidic solution. This solution penetrates flea cell walls, killing the insects instantly.
Secondly, the reaction between most bleach chemicals and water produces gases. These gases can also choke fleas to death.
That said, it’s difficult to kill all the fleas in a single fumigation exercise. It’s even harder to get to all the flea eggs and flea dirt. So, don’t despair if you continue to see fleas jumping around even after extensive fumigation. Repeating the process regularly for a few more weeks will certainly make your home flea-free.
It’s also important to note that the toxic compounds formed when bleaching chemicals react with water have a way of breaking down into salt. The resultant salt is less effective on fleas, which is why you must spray fleas as close as possible to kill them.
Bleach may be a great way to remove fleas from your property. But the method is not fail-safe.
Note that bleach is only 100% effective if you succeed in drowning all the fleas in the bleach solution. Unfortunately, that would mean soaking your entire compound in bleach, which is virtually impossible.
The surest method of preventing flea infestation on your property is by proactively keeping these bugs away. That’s especially considering that fleas can multiple incredibly quickly.
You can keep fleas out of your compound by trimming the overgrown bushes in your yard. You might also consider cutting down dense tree foliage or low-hanging branches to increase light penetration to damp areas on your compound. Regular spraying with insecticides may also go a long way in keeping your dog and property flea-free.