Apartment living brings a unique set of challenges, and common household pests are one such challenge. In fact, these pests can often prove to be even more of a problem compared to living in a house because you will have less control of the surrounding environment. For instance, you may be a neat freak but your neighbors are slobs. Or you have a crappy landlord who doesn’t maintain the place very well. Or you might not even have pets, but end up having fleas in your apartment because of your neighbors’ pets! And so on.
If you are dealing with a flea infestation in your apartment, whether you have pets or not, then this article is for you! Read on to find out how to get rid of your flea problem once and for all.
Reach for the Vacuum
When you found out you had a flea problem, did you mind immediately race to flea bombs, sprays, and other pesticides? Well, before dousing your apartment in chemicals, the first step is to get yourself a powerful and high quality vacuum. This article on how to get rid of fleas in carpet recommends using the vacuum as the first step in removing fleas at home. Vacuuming is actually the most effective non-chemical tool in your war against fleas for several reasons. One, because fleas don’t really ‘hide’ in nests in your walls, cracks, or crevices like roaches, they are right out there in the open (although you may not be able to see them). And for obvious reasons, fleas are attracted to us, instead of running away when they see us.
Second, fleas are tiny, and vacuuming can easily suck them up. And not only that, vacuums are effective against ALL stages of the flea lifecycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults (did you know that adult fleas are only about 10% of the total flea population?). The most challenging stage of the flea to target is the pupal stage because the cocoon is waterproof and protects it from pesticides. However, not only can the vacuum suck these up as well, but even for those pupae it misses, the vibrations from the vacuum can cause adult fleas to emerge prematurely, exposing them for elimination via other methods (or your next vacuuming run). And third, since fleas like to live in carpets, vacuuming raises the fibers in the carpets, making them more permeable to insecticides. As for frequency, we recommend that you vacuum your apartment every other day until the infestation is gone.
Hot Water Laundry
Depending on the severity of your infestation, you may want to launder everything that can be laundered in hot soapy water. If you have pets, laundering your pets bedding in this manner is a must, and if it’s really serious, you may have to dispose of it entirely. Do this step in conjunction with vacuuming.
When it comes to killing fleas, this is the best method. Generally insecticides come in two types: insecticidal solutions and insect growth regulators (“IGR”). Insecticidal solutions target adult fleas and eggs while IGR does not actually kill fleas but prevent larvae from maturing into adult fleas. Just so you know, flea larvae are not a threat to you or your pets as they are not bloodsuckers (yet), instead they subsist on what is colloquially known as ‘flea dirt’, which is the dried blood and feces of adult fleas.
While it is possible to buy liquid insecticides and IGR separately, most products have them already premixed for convenience. Our top recommendation is to buy a flea spray, which contains both of these in aerosol form, which stick to surfaces better compared to liquid solutions and is of course, much more convenient. Use the flea spray after the vacuuming process.
While mostly harmless, you should be aware at all times that you are still dealing with potentially hazardous chemicals, particularly if you have small pets or children living with you. Pay close attention to the active ingredient of the pesticide you are using (ALWAYS read the labels) as some of them are only suited for certain types of animals. For example, flea sprays for dogs should NOT be used on cats as they likely contain pyrethrins which are toxic to felines (studies have shown a mortality rate of over 30%). If you are using flea sprays or dips on your pet (if any), make sure you treat your pet before treating your house as your pet is the main source of attraction for the fleas.
And finally, we do not recommend using flea bombs unless as a ‘final solution’. This is because flea bombs carry the most potential hazards to your health and your pet’s health. If you must use flea bombs, make sure you vacate the premises entirely first. Do not use flea bombs while you or your pets are still in the apartment.