I had a flea infestation in my home once and it was difficult to deal with. It’s much better to know the early signs of fleas before they become a big problem. Want to know how to tell if you have fleas in your house?
If your pet has fleas then you probably have fleas in your home, as this is how most fleas get inside. But there are other signs of fleas, such as finding fleas, flea eggs and/or flea dirt in furniture, bedding, your yard, and other hiding spots.
Knowing where to look for fleas and what to look for are very important, which is why I wrote this article to help you.
By the end of this post, you’ll know:
- The 7 signs you have fleas in your house (you only need 1 or 2 to confirm the presence of fleas)
- How to get rid of fleas in your home
7 signs you have fleas in your home
Below are seven signs to look for if you want to know if you have fleas living in your house:
You find fleas in your yard
Fleas in your yard often means you will get or already have fleas in your home.
Fleas hide in piles of leaves, tall grass, and trash in a yard, where it’s warm and humid. They lie there waiting for a human, animal, or bird to come near enough for them to jump on.
If fleas jump onto an animal or bird, they start sucking its blood and stay on the animal. But if fleas land on a human, they catch a ride to somewhere better – usually inside your house.
If you think there might be fleas in your yard, put on a pair of long, white socks. Slowly walk across the lawn and through any areas where you think fleas might be hiding. If you have fleas, there’s a good chance they’ll hop onto the white socks and you’ll be able to see them crawling around.
Your pet has fleas, flea eggs, or flea dirt
A pet with fleas drops flea eggs where it walks, lies down, or spends a fair amount of time, including the house. If your pet has fleas and the animal is allowed indoors, there’s a good chance there are fleas in your home that hatched from fallen eggs.
The easiest way to check a pet for fleas is to comb the animal with a flea comb, like this professional comb from Amazon. Brush wherever you see your pet scratching and biting, or start by combing at the back of the neck and between the shoulder blades, where fleas often hide.
As you gently work the comb through the animal’s fur, watch closely to see if you lift any fleas off the fur with the comb. Wipe the comb on a damp, light-colored cloth after each stroke, to see what the comb picks up. You can also get your pet to sit or lie down on a white towel while you brush them, then check the towel after to see what fell off the animal.
Look for fleas, eggs, or flea dirt on the cloth or towel:
Here’s what a flea looks like so you know if you’ve found fleas on your pet:
Flea eggs look like white salt or sea sand in pet fur. The eggs slip out easily from the fur when combed, unlike dandruff that sticks to the fur and is difficult to brush out.
Flea dirt is reddish-black in color and is actually flea poop. Here’s what typical flea dirt looks like:
The picture above shows a closeup photo of flea eggs. Flea eggs are white and oval. Source: Adapted, with thanks, from Dr Zak, Wikipedia
If you don’t find fleas, eggs, or dirt with the first few strokes, continue brushing your pet along the neck, between the shoulder blades, at the base of its tail, and along the back legs. These are the places where fleas usually hide, so you have a good chance of finding fleas if your pet has them.
Your pet shows other signs of fleas
Fleas usually come into a house on pets. Just because you can’t see fleas on your pet doesn’t mean it isn’t carrying fleas. You might only notice fleas on your dog or cat once they are heavily infested with these pests.
Below are five signs that your pet has fleas and that there might be fleas in your home:
- Excessive licking, scratching, and biting of the skin, especially in the armpit or groin area, and at the base of the tail
- Bald patches in the animal’s fur and areas where the coat is thinning for no apparent reason
- Strange red patches, pimples, bumps, or rashes on the skin
- Dry scabs on the skin
- Gums that are pale can indicate a severe flea infestation
You find fleas in the house
If you find one flea in your house there’s a good chance there are more – maybe even thousands more.
If the conditions are right and a female flea lives to a ripe old age (about 2 years), the female can lay up to 8 000 eggs in her lifetime. Luckily, most fleas are eaten or killed by the animal they live on long before that, so the females only live long enough to lay about 100 eggs.
But each female that hatches from these eggs goes on to lay another 100 eggs. And those females each lay another 100 eggs. Which is how you quickly get a flea infestation in your home.
Fleas can come inside on pets, humans, furniture, wild animals, and through open doors or windows.
Once indoors, fleas can choose to live in a few different places, but there are some places where you are more likely to find them. If you’re looking for fleas in your home, make sure you check:
- Carpets and rugs
- Mattresses and bedding
- Bedroom furniture
- Pet beds
- Wood floorboards
- Cracked floor tiles
- Cracks in walls
- Wood furniture
- Fabric curtains or drapes
- Upholstered furniture
- Tall grass and under shrubs around the house
It’s not only adult fleas you should be looking for in your house, you should look for flea pupae too.
Pupae are cocoons that contain fleas that are busy changing from larvae (young fleas that look like worms) into adults. When the adults are fully grown and they feel vibrations outside, they break out of their cocoon and look for the host animal that made those vibrations.
Pupae can survive for several months in a house before adult fleas emerge.
You find flea eggs
Flea eggs that are not laid in your home are usually brought in by an animal host – most often a pet, but a wild animal can also bring them in (such as rats or squirrels in the roof). Flea eggs aren’t sticky, so they usually fall off as the animal moves around.
Flea eggs are white, oval specks that are so small at 0.02 inches (0.5 mm) it’s hard to see them with the naked eye unless you’re looking for them.
The picture above shows a closeup photo of flea eggs. Flea eggs are white and oval. Source: Adapted, with thanks, from Auguste Le Roux, Wikipedia
Look for flea eggs on your pets, or scattered in your carpets, on your tile or wood floors, in bedding, on furniture, or in pet beds.
You find flea dirt
Flea dirt is flea poop and blood that larvae (baby fleas that look like worms) eat when they hatch from flea eggs.
Flea dirt is dark red or black in color, and it looks a lot like dirt or dark specks. The more fleas there are in your home, the more flea dirt you’ll find.
Look for flea dirt on pet bedding, in carpets, in cracked floor tiles, between floorboards, on furniture, and in your bedroom, on items such as the bed and mattress. On pets, flea dirt usually sits on the skin at the base of the fur. The dirt is often in clusters, making it look like a scab came off and left behind tiny pieces of blood.
Below is a picture of flea dirt that was brushed out of a cat’s fur:
If you aren’t sure if you’ve found regular dirt or flea dirt, put the dirt on a paper towel and trickle a drop of water on it. If the dirt turns red when wet, then it’s most likely flea dirt.
You are being bitten
If you are being bitten, especially when you spend time in a certain area of your home, then there’s a good chance you have fleas. Some people become allergic to flea bites and get a red rash wherever they are bitten.
Fleas often bite people around the ankles and up the calves. They usually bite in threes, which experts call “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”. The theory behind this is that a flea bites the first time (breakfast) and the person feels it, so they move or swat the flea with their hand to stop the first bite.
The flea bites a second and third time (lunch and dinner) after being swatted away again or as it looks for the best area to bite and feed. (source)
How to get rid of fleas in your home
Below is a list of the best methods and products from Amazon to get rid of fleas in your home:
- Sprinkle flea powder, like this one, in the cracks and crevices of floorboards, cracks in tiles, and in carpets and rugs in your house. This powder should be left for 24 hours to kill live fleas and their eggs.
- Vacuum the area, including the floorboards, trims, carpet, furniture, and drapes. Make sure to vacuum in the corners and under all furniture. Once done vacuuming, seal and dispose of the vacuum bag so you don’t spread fleas to other rooms. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning a bagless vacuum cleaner.
- Mop floorboards and tiles with soapy water and a damp mop – you can try using this homemade dish soap solution that kills fleas and other pests. If possible, use a disposable mop head that you can seal and throw away after.
- Machine wash all drapes, carpets, rugs, removable furniture covers, pet bedding, and pet clothing on the hottest setting possible, to kill fleas and eggs.
- Treat all your pets for fleas using products recommended by your vet. This may include a:
- -> topical treatment that’s applied to the back of the neck
- -> pet-friendly wash
- -> spray that’s formulated for animals (here’s a popular plant-based spray for dogs and cats)
- -> flea comb
- -> flea collar
- Find an indoor spray that kills all stages of the flea life cycle and is made from natural ingredients that are safe for the family – here’s a home spray that works. Spray it directly onto floors, pet bedding, leashes, furniture, carpets, rugs, and anywhere else you want to kill or prevent fleas. Move furniture and spray areas where the furniture normally sits.
- Replace or seal cracks and gaps in tiles, walls, and between wood floor boards to stop fleas from settling there again.
Once you’ve taken all or as many of the above steps as possible to kill fleas in your home, you need to maintain a flea-prevention routine until you’ve killed every flea, pupa, and egg as follows:
- Check your pets regularly over the coming weeks. If you see signs of fleas, take more steps to get rid of them (speak to your vet if you are struggling with fleas)
- Get rid of any wild animals living in your roof, attic, or chimney
- Vacuum the floors, wash with soapy water, and spray regularly with a natural product that kills fleas (like this one) every two or three days
If there are no signs of fleas for six consecutive weeks, there’s a good chance you no longer have fleas in your home.