I’ve spent twenty plus years in the pest control industry, and fleas can be a real pain. If you have pets or even just bring used clothing or furniture into your home, you’re always at risk of dealing with fleas. Throughout my career, we’d typically rely on treatments that contain Permethrin or other chemicals, but I’ve always been open to testing other solutions that don’t contain professional insecticides. The past few weeks I’ve been testing using bleach to kill fleas, although bleach has it’s own safety concerns, I would consider it safer than Permethrin, and most homeowners have bleach handy.
Below we’ll be talking about my experience with bleach for fleas, and if I recommend it!
Does Bleach Kill Fleas? – My Experience
The short answer to this question is, Yes, bleach does kill fleas, and when I tested it in a flea-infested home, bleach did kill fleas on contact.
That being said, it didn’t kill all the fleas in the household, and in my estimates, the bleach probably killed around 70% of the fleas it contacted.
Bleach will technically kill fleas at all stages (adult, larvae, and eggs) which can make it an effective and thorough method of treating fleas. Even the fumes alone can be enough to kill fleas eventually, however, the best way to kill fleas with bleach is through direct contact with the cleaning solution.
Would I Recommend Using Bleach For Fleas?
If you have no other treatment options, then bleach could be a good first step. That being said, I believe there are better treatment options. Bleach will kill some fleas, but probably won’t kill the entire infestation.
That being said, I would recommend using bleach to wash blankets, clothing, and any other washer-safe materials that are infested with fleas, to kill fleas and flea eggs that are in those materials.
But when dealing with fleas you should focus on a multi-pronged approach:
- Wash flea-infested materials with bleach in your washing machine.
- Vacuum regularly to clean up flea eggs and larvae in your carpets.
- Treat your pets with flea treatments after consulting with your veterinarian.
- Use a flea specific home treatment such as Vet’s Best Flea Spray.
How Quickly Will Bleach Kill Fleas?
The best way to ensure that fleas die from the bleach is to ensure direct contact with the substance. In some cases, this direct contact can lead to instantaneous death for fleas. However, this is not always the case. Fleas, and especially flea eggs, may need to soak in the bleach over the course of 2-3 hours in order to ensure that the cleaning toxin (sodium hypochlorite) does the job entirely.
If done correctly, your affected areas could be rid of fleas in just a few short hours. That being said, it’s not uncommon for flea treatments to take time, because fleas can live inside and outside you’ll have to eliminate them from both sources to completely get rid of a flea infestation!
What is Bleach and Is It Safe To Use?
Bleach is a chemical product used to whiten or remove stains from fabric or fiber in a process known as bleaching. Bleach products usually contain hypochlorite (also known as chloroxide), which is a chemical that can be potentially hazardous to humans and animals. Bleach itself is a common industrial and domestic cleaning product that is safe to use when used correctly.
Bleach should be kept away from areas such as your skin, mouth, and eyes at all costs. Exposure to your skin could cause skin irritation. Ingesting bleach or bleach getting in your eyes could cause internal irritation or burning. If bleach is drunk, you must call poison control immediately.
All warnings aside, bleach is safe to use when used correctly.
Should You Use Bleach to Kill Fleas?
In a world where other commercially available products could kill fleas, should you use bleach? That is ultimately up to you, but in my testing, it wasn’t effective enough to be the only solution to dealing with a flea infestation.
Whether bleach is what you have available to use, or you’re on a budget, there is nothing inherently wrong with using bleach as a solution to your flea problem. However, it might not always be the safest way to go about getting rid of fleas and cleaning your home.
When deciding what product to use on your flea problem, you’ll want to take in to account the following things:
- What potential cleaning solutions are available to you?
- Your personal level of responsibility to handle potentially hazardous chemicals
- What is safest for you and your family?
After weighing all of those things, the choice remains yours. And as we will say several times throughout this article… if used safely, bleach is an effective method for killing fleas.
Hazards of using Bleach to Kill Fleas?
Before we move forward to discuss HOW to kill fleas using bleach, here are some reminders that you should keep in mind when interacting with bleach:
- Bleach is a toxic chemical that is very dangerous if used incorrectly
- Make sure you dilute your bleach properly by always pouring bleach into water, NOT by pouring water into bleach (this helps reduce potential hazardous splashing)
- Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area as bleach creates toxic fumes that could potentially cause you to pass out
- Wear personal protective equipment when handling bleach (goggles, gloves, and even a face shield)
- Avoid contact of the bleach with your skin as much as possible to avoid skin irritation
- Avoid contact of the bleach with your mouth and eyes to avoid potential poisoning
- Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water after using bleach \
- Keep bleach out of reach from pets and small children
Following these rules can help you safely utilize bleach for cleaning and in this case, killing fleas.
What Surfaces Can You Apply Bleach To Safely Kill Fleas?
Bleach is a cleaning agent that removes stains or whitens fabrics. This product can be used on some surfaces without harming the original color or design. However, bleach can harm the original color or design of other surfaces.
Surfaces it is safe to use bleach on:
- Fabric (this includes clothes) – Check out our guide on do fleas live on clothes
Depending on if you’re using white bleach or color-safe bleach, you can safely use bleach on these surfaces for general and deep cleaning purposes. If you are applying bleach to furniture, you should make sure the bleach won’t harm your furniture. Although fleas can live on furniture, they’ll generally will be looking for a host instead.
Surfaces you should NOT use bleach on:
- Wood (bleach will destroy the cosmetic appearance of wooden structures)
- Metal (Most metals will react to the chemicals in the bleach so avoid using it on stainless steel appliances, metal pots/pans, etc.)
- Granite Countertops/Marble (bleach will destroy the cosmetic appearance of granite/stone surfaces)
- Silver or Copper Surfaces
Bleach (both white bleach and color-safe bleach) can potentially damage these surfaces and should not be used to clean them with.
If you’re worried about using bleach and damaging some of your surfaces, then you should try using vinegar for fleas because it can help deter fleas while being a bit safer and less harsh than bleach.
How To Use Bleach to Kill Fleas:
When you’re safely ready to use bleach to help get rid of your flea problem, here are the steps you should take.
- Put on appropriate clothing and protection as previously outlined
- Things you’ll want to have on hand: Goggles, Gloves, and long-sleeved clothing
- Things you don’t need but might want: Face-Shield or Face-Mask
- Mix your bleach product with cold water (make sure you follow the mix ratio as outlined on the bottle of your product)
- You can mix these directly in a bucket or bathtub depending on the size of the area that you need to clean. For smaller areas, you can mix the concoction directly in a spray bottle.
- Make sure that you pour your bleach into the water to mix. Pour slowly and gently to avoid splashing of the product.
- Make sure that you utilize a fan or make your mixture in a heavily ventilated area. Fumes from the bleach can cause light-headedness if there is too much exposure to them.
- Apply the bleach concoction directly to the area that you have found fleas.
- Loose fabrics such as sheets, clothing, and pet bedding can be directly soaked in the bleach concoction for 2-3 hours. This should fully exterminate any fleas that are hiding in those fabrics.
- For Carpets and Furniture, you will need to put your bleach mix into a spray bottle and spray the area that is affected by the fleas. You will then want to scrub the sprayed area to make sure that the fibers of the areas are completely coated with the mixture. Make sure you use a healthy amount of bleach mix to completely soak the entire affected area.
- Leave the area to soak for approximately 2-3 hours.
- As a reminder, 2-3 hours is a good amount of time to wait to make sure that the product does a thorough job of killing all the fleas, larvae, and eggs that may be present in an area.
- After the time has passed, thoroughly rinse or spray the areas with FRESH and CLEAN water to wash out the bleach and the (hopefully) dead fleas from the fabrics and affected areas.
- Dry manually or use a fan to air dry
- Remember to properly ventilate the area in which you have applied your bleach mixture. This will not only help the area dry faster, but it will prevent people or animals from smelling too many fumes from the bleach mixture.
- Repeat if needed.
- In severe cases, fleas could still be present after this initial cleaning and you may need to reapply a second round of the bleach mixture to the affected areas
If used correctly, bleach should be a quick and effective method of removing fleas from your home. However, a more intense flea infestation could require a second cleaning or the help of a professional cleaner. Every flea situation is different, and it is important to make sure that you reassess the cleaned area afterward to make sure that the job is fully done.
Note: You should NEVER apply bleach to a pet. If your pet is infected with fleas, you need to use a pet-safe flea shampoo and a flea comb to clean them directly. DO NOT use bleach on your pet, it is incredibly dangerous to do so.
Alternative Options to Bleach For Killing Fleas
Now that we’ve discussed how you can use bleach to kill fleas, here are a few other products that you could consider using, if you’re not comfortable using bleach. Ultimately, this decision is up to you and what you’re most comfortable using. And while the products below may be a bit more expensive, they are definitely safer than using bleach in your home.
- At-home Flea Traps
- Flea Yard Sprays
- Name Brand Flea Cleaning Spray
- Hire an exterminator
Final Thoughts On Using Bleach For Fleas
When used safely, bleach is an effective method that you can use at home to help with your flea problem without breaking the bank. An effective bleach-cleaning treatment should be enough to kill all the fleas, larvae, and eggs of an affected area.
However, it is important to remember that bleach itself is a potentially hazardous chemical that could be harmful to people and pets. The decision of whether to use bleach or a commercially available product is up to you. But yes, bleach is an effective solution that you can use!
I hope this guide on does bleach kill fleas was helpful and gives you a bit of insight on how to get rid of your flea infestation!