5 Reasons Why Fleas Won’t Leave On Their Own (And What To Do)

Flea on human skin.

Just saying the word is enough to make you start itching! Whether you own pets or not, you can have a problem with fleas in your home. These pests are difficult to deal with and challenging to get rid of, and it’s mostly because – they won’t leave on their own!

Since fleas can survive a long time without feeding, go dormant in cool temperatures, and reproduce rapidly, once you have a flea problem, it’s hard to get rid of them. However, it’s not impossible.

You’ll need to use a multi-tiered approach to get rid of them, but the good news is, we can let you know how, so keep reading.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fleas won’t go away on their own because of several different reasons, and therefore must be dealt with quickly.
  • Fleas reproduce rapidly, can go dormant in cool temperatures, and can survive long periods without feeding.
  • A multi-tiered approach is necessary to get rid of fleas from the home.

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Here Are 5 Reasons Why Fleas Won’t Leave On Their Own

Tabby kitten paw scratches fleas behind the ear

Fleas are experts at waiting. They can go months without a meal or even remain in the pupal cocoon stage for up to a year. Even the eggs can remain unhatched for weeks while waiting on a warm-blooded host to feed on.

These pests don’t need blood to survive for long periods. In fact, fleas mainly need feeding to reproduce, something the flea does remarkably well.

1. Fleas Reproduce Quickly

Fleas generally only live for two to three months, but during that time, they spend every waking moment feeding and laying eggs.

Fleas need blood to nourish and lay eggs, but once they get that blood meal, they start reproducing rapidly. These eggs don’t stick to anything but generally drop to the floor or wedge themselves deep into the carpet or into the fabric of the couch.

Under the right conditions, in as little as two weeks, a single flea can suddenly multiply to 700 fleas! When those 700 grow to adulthood and start mating, the numbers can grow exponentially. So it’s easy to see why an infestation can happen so quickly.

To give you a better picture of the stages of a flea, here is an overview of the flea lifecycle:

Stage of LifecycleDescription
EggThe flea lifecycle begins with the egg stage, where eggs are laid on the host or in the surrounding environment.
LarvaAfter hatching from the eggs, larvae emerge and feed on organic debris in the environment, such as flea feces and other organic matter.
PupaLarvae then spin a cocoon and enter the pupal stage, where they undergo metamorphosis into adult fleas.
AdultThe final stage of the flea lifecycle is the adult stage, where the flea emerges from the pupa and seeks a host for blood meals and reproduction.

2. Flea Eggs Are Resilient

The University of Kentucky tells us that feeding on blood, mating, and egg laying can happen in the first 24 hours that fleas are on your dog or cat. Although they lay 40 to 50 eggs a day in your pet’s fur, these eggs often fall off wherever your pet lays or sleeps.

If the eggs don’t hatch immediately, they can lay dormant for over nine months! And don’t expect to eliminate eggs just by stepping on your carpet – the pressure can actually encourage the eggs to hatch. When flea eggs meet the perfect set of circumstances, they can hatch, pupate, and grow into adult fleas in as little as two weeks. That’s why it seems they instantly appear.

One day, you and Fido are living a happy, flea-free life, and then all of a sudden you’re both itching and fighting off a severe infestation.

3. Fleas Can Live A Long Time Without A Host

When the flea eggs hatch, the pupa does not need blood to feed. Only the adult fleas need the “red life juice.” Baby fleas subsist on adult flea droppings.

Even adult fleas can survive without blood for many months at a time. Some species of fleas can survive up to two years without a blood meal.

No matter the life stage of the flea, it has the patience and resiliency to pause and wait until they get a warm-blooded meal which will make them move to the next stage.

4. An Empty House Won’t Deter Fleas

Let’s say you’re looking at a house to buy, rent, or vacation in. The property has sat for two years with no tenants, no pets, and no animal infestation.

But once you settle in, you and your pets are suddenly accosted by fleas.

You may wonder how this happened, but it’s just because there were fleas from the last occupants, and the pests have waited that long for a new host. I know, chills.

5. Fleas Can Lie Dormant In Cool Temperatures

When the temperature is lowered and the humidity is over 45%, fleas can live even longer without a warm-blooded host.

Cooler temperatures and increased humidity serve to lengthen the lifespan of fleas.

When houses are left vacant for a time, people tend to turn the heat off or at least set it to a much lower temperature. When the heater or AC isn’t running as much, humidity has a tendency to increase. These settings help to preserve fleas, so they will live longer without a living being to feed upon.

During either cooler temperatures or humid conditions – adult fleas can lay dormant, waiting for warm food for up to two years.

How Do Fleas Come Into Your House?

fleas on puppy, itching

We all know that when your little doggo or your kitty goes outside, they can come back with fleas and/or ticks. But how do you get an infestation of fleas if you don’t have a dog and your cat is strictly an indoor feline?

If you have recently moved into a new place, there could have been eggs or adult fleas lying in wait for you to show up.

Let’s say you’ve been living in the same place for most of your life, your pets stay indoors, and you haven’t had any four-legged visitors. How could the fleas have come in?

Fleas Can Hitch A Ride On Your Pants Legs

Humans aren’t high on a flea’s menu of acceptable meals, but there are times they will lower their standards. Most fleas prefer to feed on dogs or cats. That’s why when your pet is suffering by scratching and chewing to stop the itching, you’re left alone.

Fleas want to hide in thick fur for protection, and we as humans don’t have much. While you may get the occasional bite if your pets have fleas, for the most part, they leave you alone.

That isn’t to say they won’t hitch a ride on your clothing. When you go out, you may inadvertently bring in a flea or two on your pants, socks, or shoes. As we already know, it only takes one flea to start a legion in a few weeks.

Wild Animals Brought Fleas In

Mice, rats, raccoons, or any other wild animal could have brought the fleas into your abode. These animals often get into crawlspaces and attics.

Either way, if it had fleas, it could have dropped a few eggs off the animal before it moved away. Now you’re dealing with the pest-ridden aftermath. Don’t blame yourself or your pet if you suddenly have a flea invasion. These pests could have come from other unwanted invaders.

For a more in-depth look at fleas in your house, check out our guide on the things that attract fleas to your home. Make haste to eliminate any attractants to keep these itchy bugs far away!

Here’s How To Get Rid Of Fleas

Close Up Shot of Flea White Background

Now that you’ve identified the problem, how do you get rid of these infuriating parasites? Unfortunately, you’ll have to employ a house-wide treatment plan. To get all the flea’s life stages, you’ll have to “wash, rinse, and repeat” for a few weeks. 

While there are a lot of ways and pesticides to help get rid of fleas, you have to understand where they hide and how to treat all of these areas.

You can get rid of them with limited pesticides if you are worried about chemicals. Keep reading as we go over all the ways to get rid of fleas.

Treat The Fleas On Your Pets

The best way to treat fleas on your cat or dog is to give them a bath. A lukewarm bath and regular dog or cat shampoo will help to get rid of most adult fleas. You can even opt for a mild dish detergent bath.

The soap from the pet shampoo or dish soap will get rid of the fleas.

Comb Fleas Off Your Pet

Of course, some pets—dogs and cats—hate a bath, and it can be difficult to wash them properly. In these cases, you can opt for a fine-toothed flea comb.

GNAWRISHING Flea Combs come with four pieces and high-strength teeth that are fine enough to capture fleas and the eggs they lay.

Just have a bucket nearby with warm water and dish soap mixture. When you catch a few fleas in the comb’s teeth, rinse it off in the water. The fleas and eggs will drop off into the water, and this will effectively get rid of them.

While you are treating fleas, you should aim to comb your pet with a fine-toothed comb at least weekly. However, if your pet has fleas, we recommend taking them to a vet immediately to assess the situation. This will help to get rid of the fleas that hatch or escape the first brushing.

Thoroughly Clean Your Home To Get Rid Of Fleas

While you are treating your pets for fleas, you’ll need to do a deep cleaning of your house to help get rid of the fleas that are in your house!

To deep clean your house to get rid of fleas, you’ll need to wash all the bedding, rugs, pet beds, curtains, and furniture covers in the hottest water they can handle. Then dry them on the hottest setting allowed. The heat and soap are very detrimental to fleas in all stages.

If the infestation is severe, you may elect to get rid of the pet bedding. Be sure to seal them tightly in plastic bags, get them out of the house, and call a professional immediately.

Vacuum Often

One of the best things you can do to slow down and get rid of a flea infestation is to vacuum frequently. Vacuum all your carpets, rugs, and furniture. Be sure to use the crevice tool and get into the corners and where your pets like to hang out.

Vacuum the entire house, especially areas where your pets hang out the most. Pay special attention to resting areas, around the legs of furniture, along baseboards, and any furniture your pets may lay on.

Bag up and remove what gets sucked into the vacuum because If eggs or flea cocoons are left in the vacuum, you can end up with a new infestation after you’ve treated everything.

Mop Hardwood Floors

You still need to vacuum and mop with warm water and a floor cleaner. Fleas can just as easily hide in the cracks and crevices of hardwood floors as they can in the high-piled carpet.

Even without carpet, you should vacuum your hardwood and tile floors. After you have done that, use a mop with the hottest water your hands can stand and a proper cleaning agent for your floors.

Steam Your Carpets And Upholstery

Hot steam will get rid of fleas at all life stages. Having your carpets and upholstery professionally steamed is a great way to help eliminate fleas.

If you want to steam your upholstery yourself, we recommend Wagner Spraytech On-Demand Steam Cleaner. This is a great option because it is lightweight and portable – and can fit in to clean those hard-to-reach areas.

Lay Out Flea Traps

While you are cleaning, vacuuming, and washing everything, go ahead and lay out some flea traps as well. TERRO Indoor Electric Flea Light Refillable Flea Trap uses a small light to attract fleas, which will help get rid of them.

Not only can these traps help you get rid of fleas, but they will also serve as an indicator. You can put these traps in places where you notice flea activity and when you stop getting fleas in that area, move them to other areas until you no longer find them.

Get Professional Help If You Feel Overwhelmed

Treating fleas isn’t easy, especially if you have a heavy infestation.

If all this feels too overwhelming, or you have been battling fleas for some time but still can’t seem to manage them, then call in professional help. Use our nationwide pest control finder to connect with a local professional in your area.

A professional pest control company can come in and treat the fleas for you. You will probably have to leave the house for a few days while the pesticides work, and then you may end up with some residual chemical smell, but most big companies have a guarantee.

How To Prevent A Flea Infestation

Spot treatment for fleas and ticks on a dog.

We all know that prevention is the best cure, but what can you do to prevent fleas from coming back? Maybe you’ve been lucky enough that you haven’t dealt with this pest. How do you go about keeping it that way?

Use Preventative Pet Treatments To Keep Fleas At Bay

There are several things you can use to keep fleas at bay on your pet:

  • Flea Collar: Flee collars use certain chemicals to keep fleas off your dog or cat. Seresto Small Dog Vet-Recommended Flea & Tick Treatment & Prevention Collar is an excellent item to repel and eliminate fleas. Just be sure to get the correct size for your dog.
  • Spot Treatments: Frontline and K9 Advantix are two examples of spot treatments you can use on your pets. Unlike a flea collar, spot treatments are a liquid applied to your pet’s coat. Over time, the liquid covers their entire coat, preventing fleas and ticks.
  • Flea Powders & Sprays: Zodiac Flea & Tick Powder is one option to repel fleas from your pets.
  • Oral Treatments: Capstar is a big name in oral pills used to treat pets for fleas, ticks, and other parasites.

Whichever pet product you decide to use, always read the label to ensure you are using the correct dose for the size and type of pet. Never use cat products on dogs, and vice versa. We also recommend visiting your vet to ensure your pet is cleared to use flea and tick treatment.

Bathe And Brush Your Pets Regularly To Deter Fleas

Depending on a few factors such as hair length, species, and size of the dog, you may only need to bathe your pet once every two or three months.

During the warmer months when fleas and ticks are at their worst, you can increase that time to once every other week or so. Just be sure to use gentle shampoo on your pets.

You don’t need a medicated flea and tick shampoo, as regular action is what really gets rid of the fleas. As we said before, the soap coats the fleas and removes them from your pet. Likewise, you can also brush your pets with a fine-toothed comb between bathing. The thin teeth of the comb will often catch and trap fleas, then you can dunk the fleas in a soapy water bath to get rid of them.

Essential Oil Sprays Can Be Useful In Preventing Fleas

For a more natural alternative, you can mix your own essential oil spray to keep fleas away. Fleas seem to be repelled by scents such as peppermint, rosemary, cedar, cloves, and lemongrass.

Just by mixing a few drops of these scents into a spray bottle and spritzing it around your house, you can deter fleas.

Sometimes using natural scents can be really helpful and an easy way to keep unwanted pests away for good. For more scents that will repel fleas, be sure to check out our article about the scents that fleas hate, and we will show you how to use them!

Be Sure You’re Not Inadvertently Attracting Fleas

Unfortunately, you may not even realize that you’re attracting fleas to your house!

Here are the five main things that attract fleas to your home:

  • Pets
  • Warm & humid environments
  • Wild animals
  • Your clothing (they might hitch a ride inside)
  • Carpet

While we’re not saying to rip up your carpet or get rid of your pets (please don’t!), we do recommend taking a close look at these attractants to see if fleas are using them to infest your home.

That’s A wrap!

Fleas are awful, and we sincerely hope you aren’t having to deal with them. If you are, at least you now know how to deal with them. Since they can wait for up to two years for a meal, waiting them out is not the way to go.

Here’s what you can do to get rid of the fleas!

  • Treat your pet by bathing, brushing, or applying a flea solution to eliminate fleas. Always check in with a vet before taking any preventative measures with your pet.
  • Thoroughly cleaning your house will help get rid of fleas.
  • Vacuuming and steam cleaning is one way to really help to get rid of fleas in carpets, rugs, and upholstery.
  • Using essential oils can keep you from having to deal with big flea infestations.

Most importantly, if you’re having a flea problem we recommend contacting a professional and veterinarian before trying any of these tips


Marchiondo, A. A., et al. “World Association for the Advancement of Veterinary Parasitology (WAAVP): guidelines for evaluating the efficacy of parasiticides for the treatment, prevention, and control of flea and tick infestations on dogs and cats.” Vet parasitol 194.1 (2013): 84-97.

Carlotti, Didier N., and Dennis E. Jacobs. “Therapy, control and prevention of flea allergy dermatitis in dogs and cats.” Veterinary Dermatology 11.2 (2000): 83-98.

Dryden, Michael W., and Michael K. Rust. “The cat flea: biology, ecology and control.” Veterinary parasitology 52.1-2 (1994): 1-19.

Hinkle, Nancy C., Philip G. Koehler, and Richard S. Patterson. “Egg production, larval development, and adult longevity of cat fleas (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae) exposed to ultrasound.” Journal of economic entomology 83.6 (1990): 2306-2309.

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