6 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Rid of Fleas in Your House 

Close up dog ticks and flea under microscope for study in laboratory.

So, you’ve tried insecticide. You’ve tried cleaning up and washing the bedding. Why are there still fleas around? You’re probably frustrated and wondering what you’re doing wrong. It’s not like you haven’t been trying! Why isn’t it working? 

Fleas might stay in your home because you haven’t treated your pets, carpets, or rugs. They also stick around if you haven’t sanitized your home or you have other pests. Fleas are extremely hard to get rid of, and without eliminating them at every stage, the infestation continues. 

I’ve compiled a list below that goes in-depth on six reasons why you can’t get rid of fleas in your house and how to make sure you’ve covered all your bases when you’re dealing with a flea problem.

Key Takeaways:

  • Fleas are a difficult pest to completely eliminate due to the different treatments needed for each lifecycle stage.
  • Fleas are especially attracted to pets, carpets, furniture, and rugs. They use these areas to reproduce and feed.
  • A multi-pronged approach is necessary to completely eliminate a flea infestation in the home.

* This post contains affiliate links.

Identifying Fleas

First things first, are you sure it’s a flea? Fleas, ticks, and bed bugs look similar and are often mistaken for each other. Here’s a rundown of the major differences between them:

FeatureFleasTicksBed Bugs
AppearanceSmall, wingless insectsSmall arachnids with 8 legsSmall, flat, oval-shaped insects
FeedingFeed on blood from hostsFeed on blood from hostsFeed on blood from hosts
JumpingExcellent jumpersCannot jump, but crawlCannot jump, but crawl
HabitatFound in pet fur, carpets, and yardsFound in wooded and grassy areasFound in mattresses, furniture, and cracks in walls
Bite marksSmall, red, itchy bumpsRed, circular rashRed, itchy welts

You can read more about their differences in our article on how to tell the difference between fleas, ticks, and bed bugs. Once you’ve identified that it is definitely a flea, it’s time to take action!

I Found A Flea! Are There More?

If you’ve found a flea or two, they might be a sign of a bigger problem to come. While you may not have an infestation on your hands yet, fleas can lay up to 50 eggs a day and reproduce as quickly as one day after feeding on a host.  

The flea lifecycle is fast, and they reproduce quickly, so a flea here or there is still a cause for concern:

  • Day 0: Flea eggs are laid on a host and fall off to the floor/carpet.
  • Day 1-10: Flea eggs hatch into larvae
  • Day 15-22: Larvae spin a cocoon for the pupae stage.
  • Day 29-52: Pupae emerge from the cocoon as adult fleas and find a host.
  • Day 54: Adult flea lays eggs and begins the cycle over.

Oklahoma State University tells us that over an adult flea’s lifetime (approximately 100 days), they can lay up to 2,000 eggs. Those 2,000 fleas each lay 2,000 more eggs…and you can see where this is going and why infestations can quickly ramp up.

If you find one flea, there are probably more.

Why Are There So Many Fleas?

Cat fleas are the most common type of flea you’ll see on your cat and dog. When they’ve laid their eggs, they’ll drop from your pet’s fur onto your bedding or anything else they come into contact with. 

If you’re seeing a ton of fleas, there are a few possible reasons why their populations have exploded:

  • Temperature: Fleas love warm temperatures between 75F and 85F. If your home is hot, fleas are more likely to hatch.
  • Humidity: Likewise, fleas prefer high humidity over dryness. If the humidity in your home is above 50%, fleas are more likely to flock to your home.
  • Vibration: Vacuuming and walking around the house can be enough to trigger a flea to emerge from its egg or cocoon. If they sense a ‘living thing’ nearby, they will hatch and begin their lifecycle.

If conditions are favorable, a single flea can quickly escalate into a full-blown infestation. Acting quickly is paramount to ridding your home of these pesky nuisances. For a more in-depth look, check out our article on the things that attract fleas to your home.

Here’s How To Check for Fleas

a little flea bites on a human

Checking Your Pet

To identify a flea, grab a flashlight and a magnifying glass. The first places to check are your furry friends. Cats and dogs are common targets for fleas and an easy way for them to get inside your home.

Use a flea comb like Pin Comb by H&H Pets and slowly comb through their fur. Inspect the comb for signs of ‘flea dirt,’ which is just a nice way of saying partially digested blood that the fleas excrete. Yuck.

You may also see the fleas themselves on the comb. Fleas are only 1/12-inch long, dark brown, oval-shaped, and flat. They move around a lot, so they’re usually easy to notice.  

Checking Carpets And Rugs

If you don’t have pets or you couldn’t find any on them, head to the carpets and rugs around the house. 

An easy way to check the floors for fleas is to put on white socks and drag your feet across the carpet or rug for 30 seconds. Once you’re done, look at the bottom of your foot with a flashlight. If you see any fleas or flea dirt, you likely have an infestation. 

Checking For Flea Dirt And Eggs

Besides fleas, you’re also going to be looking for “flea dirt”, or feces, and they look like coffee grounds. If you think you’ve found some, place it in water. If it turns red, it is flea dirt.

Next, check for their eggs. Flea eggs are tiny off-white ovals that look like minuscule pieces of rice. They’re usually clustered together on surfaces like pet beds and rugs. 

Check For Flea Larvae

Flea larvae look like tiny worms with hairy bodies and dark brown heads. It’s hard to spot them because they’re easily hidden behind carpet fibers and pet hair, but they move around so you should be able to see them if you’re focusing.  

The larvae wriggle around and feed for a week or two before making a cocoon. How long they stay there depends on the temperature of their environment. If it’s too cold, they’ll stay in the cocoon for up to a year. 

It’s hard to spot a flea cocoon because they make it deep into the carpet or areas they are nesting. You’ll have more luck looking for fleas in other life stages. 

6 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Rid Of Fleas

Dead flea on animal fur close up view

Fleas are one of the most frustrating pests to have in the home. You can wash everything in steaming hot water, and if you miss just a few eggs, the whole cycle starts over again.

Below, we’ll discuss why you can’t get rid of fleas and offer easy solutions to keep these pesky buggers out of your home and off your furry friends!

1. You haven’t treated your pets

Flea problems are impossible to solve without treating your pets. Fleas prefer furry and feathered animals over humans because it’s easy to move around your pet’s body undetected.

Their thick fur offers the perfect protection so that even when your pet scratches, the fleas may not get dislodged. One of the first steps in treating a household flea infestation is to treat your pet for fleas. Not only will you get rid of the fleas in your home, but your pet will thank you for relieving them of their itchy and biting hitchhikers.

Tufts University tells us that only 5% of fleas live on dogs and cats, while the other 95% live in the environment of your home. However, fleas cannot complete their lifecycle without a host (your pet). So, treating them with a flea prevention is critical.

2. You haven’t treated your carpets and rugs

The carpets and rugs are the next place to check for fleas as they are the most heavily trafficked areas.  Carpets and rugs are the prime locations for hidden flea eggs and cocoons.

As the eggs fall off your pet, they will likely get embedded in the carpets and rugs they walk over or sleep on. Then, once you or your pet walks by and sends vibrations into the ground, the eggs will hatch into larvae because they got the signal that there’s a living creature around to feed on as an adult.

3. You missed or stopped a treatment

A lot of insecticides have to be reapplied after so many days. If you forget or stop treatment too early, you could be opening the door to another infestation because eggs and larvae may still be alive.  

Following the manufacturer’s directions for insecticide treatment is crucial for the most effective results and assurance you have eliminated the fleas at every life stage. This is called integrated flea control. 

4. You didn’t treat during winter

Winter does not mean all the fleas have died out. Hundreds of cocoons could lay dormant, waiting for the temperature to rise. Once it does, they will emerge with a vengeance.

Treating in winter ensures no cocoons will survive until spring.

5. Your house is too hot and/or humid

Fleas thrive in temperatures between 70 and 85 degrees with around a 70% humidity level. Crank up the air conditioner and the dehumidifier while you’re dealing with a flea problem to make the environment as unfavorable as possible for them. 

6. You have other pests

If you can’t get rid of fleas, especially if you don’t have pets, the reason may be wild pests. Flea-infested raccoons, feral cats, squirrels, skunks, and opossums that get into your house will leave behind flea eggs just as much as your pets do.

You might find these pests in your attic, chimney, or garage, so be sure to check these places for other signs of pests if you’re struggling to get rid of fleas.

Even if these wild pests never make it inside your home, they could be breeding fleas in your yard, which you inadvertently carry into your home on your socks or pant legs.

You can read more about why fleas won’t leave on their own here for a more detailed look at why these pesky insects hang around.

How To Completely Get Rid Of A Flea Problem

Treat Your Pet

If your pet has fleas, start by combing through their fur with a flea comb and dunking the discovered fleas in hot, soapy water. Thoroughly wash your pet in warm water with flea shampoo. It’s more effective than regular shampoo because it uses the active ingredient methoprene, which eliminates adult fleas on contact. 

Plus Flea & Tick Shampoo with Precor is a splendid choice for every furry pet, and it’s not too harsh on their skin. It’s made with coconut extract, oatmeal, and aloe vera that leaves their fur soft and smelling pleasant. 

There are six other forms of pet flea medicine you can use for long-term prevention: topical, oral, collar, dip, sprays, and powders.  

Topical Treatments

Dog being treated for fleas and ticks with topical application

Topical treatments are typically known as ‘spot’ treatments. They’re a liquid that you dispense onto the back of your pet’s neck. The liquid then slowly spreads over the rest of their coat, protecting your pet from fleas. Topical treatments are easy, reliable, and fast-acting.

K9 Advantix II Flea and Tick Prevention for Dogs and FRONTLINE Plus Flea and Tick Treatment for Cats are both great choices. Make sure you check the weight requirements for this medication before using it on your pet.

Oral Treatments

Oral flea treatments work from the inside out, eliminating fleas before they get a chance to lay eggs and thus breaking the flea life cycle before it begins. This is a great choice if you don’t want to deal with an oily coat or if your pet has skin sensitivities.

Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Dogs and Capstar Fast-Acting Oral Flea Treatment for Cats are leading oral flea treatments.


Flea treatment collars are simple to use and do not have to be replaced each month like other flea treatments. They’re a great set-em-and-forget-em type of flea treatment.

Seresto is the biggest name in flea collars for both cats and dogs. Check out Seresto Large Dog Flea & Tick Collar for your dog or the Seresto Cat Flea & Tick Treatment Collar for your cat.

Dip Treatments

Dips are best for when you want to eliminate all the fleas on your pet as fast as possible. It will eliminate the fleas, but it doesn’t work as well at preventing future fleas. It’s more of a quick-fix solution.

Adams Plus Pyrethrin Dip is made with aloe vera and lanolin to be gentle on the skin. 


Spray treatments offer both immediate relief for your pet and continued protection for up to a certain amount of weeks, depending on the product. Sprays are used by spraying your pet down with the product, including tail, legs, underbelly, and everywhere else on your pet.

Veterinary Formula Flea and Tick Spray for Dogs eliminates fleas in any life cycle on contact and prevents them from coming back.

You may wonder about using regular bug spray as a flea repellent on your pet, but this isn’t recommended. Bug spray contains a lot of harsh chemicals that are okay for use on our skin but can be absorbed into the coat of your pet. You can read more about how bug spray works on fleas here.


Flea powders may be a little messy, but they are reliable and do not leave an oily residue on your dog like topicals or sprays. Zodiac Flea & Tick Powder for Dogs, Puppies, Cats & Kittens is effective, easy to use, and has a pleasant scent.

Treat Your Carpets And Rugs

Vacuuming is the first line of defense against flea eggs, larvae, and cocoons. Vacuuming will suck up those tiny insects and remove them from your carpet. However, even the most astute vacuumer may miss a spot or two, which can mean your flea infestation continues.

I recommend using Adams Plus Flea and Tick Carpet Spray to treat your carpets and rugs. It’s effective, pet and kid-friendly, and eliminates fleas at every life stage. The spray offers seven months of protection and one can will cover 2,000 square feet.

Wash All Bedding And Linens

Ideally, you want to implement all of these suggestions at once. If you miss just a few eggs or larvae, the infestation will ramp up again in a few weeks.

Wash your bed linens, dog beds, cat beds, and any blankets your pet may use on a weekly basis until the flea infestation is gone.

Avoid Attracting Wild Pests

Fleas can infest more than just your dog or cat. Wild animals like raccoons, opossums, squirrels, and foxes can all harbor fleas. When they visit your yard, they bring the fleas with them!

Use the following basic guidelines to avoid attracting wild animals to your yard, and therefore fleas:

  • Never leave food outside
  • Use a secure lid on your garbage
  • Keep up with yard maintenance – mowing, trimming bushes, pulling weeds
  • Eliminate water sources
  • Remove debris and rubbish in the yard
  • Use motion-sensor lights or sprinklers to deter animals.

Repeat Treatments As Necessary

Repeat this cycle of vacuuming and washing bedding and linens on a weekly basis until you no longer have a flea problem. Even if your pet no longer has fleas, there could still be eggs and larvae hiding in the carpet or in your pet’s bedding.

Even in the winter, it is still wise to treat your pets, rugs, carpets, linens, and bedding.

Scents and smells that fleas dislike are another tool in your arsenal against fleas. Take a look at our guide on the scents that fleas hate.

When To Contact A Professional For A Flea Problem

If you’ve followed these steps and are still seeing fleas after weeks of treatment, it may be time to reach out to a professional. A pest control specialist can evaluate why fleas are still hanging around and recommend treatment plans that will wipe them out for good.

Our nationwide pest control finder can help you connect with a local professional in your neighborhood.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know what it takes, you can get started on your quest to eliminate fleas from your home. While it may be a frustrating process, it is possible!

If you’re wondering why fleas are hanging around, here’s a recap of the 6 reasons why you can’t get rid of fleas in your house:

  1. You haven’t treated your pet
  2. You haven’t treated your carpets and rugs
  3. You missed or stopped a treatment
  4. You didn’t treat during winter
  5. Your house is too hot or humid
  6. You have wild animals bringing fleas inside

To truly eliminate flea infestations, it takes some practiced patience and persistence. Make sure to treat your pet and your rugs and carpets, vacuum, clean, and wash all linens. If all else fails, a pest control specialist can help you eliminate your flea problem for good!


Blagburn, B. L., & Dryden, M. W. (2009). Biology, treatment, and control of flea and tick infestations. Veterinary Clinics: Small Animal Practice39(6), 1173-1200.

Bond, R., Riddle, A., Mottram, L., Beugnet, F., & Stevenson, R. (2007). Survey of flea infestation in dogs and cats in the United Kingdom during 2005. Veterinary Record160(15), 503-506.

Halos, L., Beugnet, F., Cardoso, L., Farkas, R., Franc, M., Guillot, J., … & Wall, R. (2014). Flea control failure? Myths and realities. Trends in Parasitology30(5), 228-233.

Rahbari, S., Nabian, S., Nourolahi, F., Arabkhazaeli, F., & Ebrahimzadeh, E. (2008). Flea infestation in farm animals and its health implication. Iranian journal of parasitology3(2), 43-47.

How to pest proof your home in under a day e-book by Zack DeAngelis

Download My Free E-Book!

 Take a look at my guide on Pest Proofing Your Home In Under a Day! I get into the nitty-gritty on the most common types of pests you’ll see on your property including BOTH insects and wildlife, along with the specific signs to look for regarding any pest you have questions about.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *