8 Scents That Fleas Hate (and How to Use Them)

Up Close Macro Shot of Flea

As soon as the snow melts and the temperatures warm up, ticks and fleas will be on the prowl. If you’ve ever had a flea infestation, you understand how difficult it is to get rid of all those blood-suckers in your house. But, did you know you can use various scents to discourage them from making your home their home as well?

Fleas have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources. You can take advantage of this trait by using scents they dislike, such as cedarwood, mint, vinegar, clove oil, citrus, DEET, lemongrass oil, and rosemary oil.

We’ll discuss a list of scents that fleas strongly dislike, and how to use them to your advantage. But first, we’ll learn a little more about these jumping insects. It’s always good to know your enemy, right?

* This post contains affiliate links.

Why Do You Need to Repel Fleas?

A single flea carried in by your pet can turn into a full-blown infestation. Because fleas have a very rapid reproduction cycle, your house can quickly become overrun with these pests.

There’s a large number of reasons that you need to keep fleas out, and many of those reasons are commonly known. However, there a few other things about fleas that you may not know, and knowing these will help you keep them out for the long haul!

They Reproduce Rapidly

The entire life cycle of a common flea takes only 20 to 35 days. That means eggs are laid, hatched into larvae, cocooned, and emergent into full-grown adult fleas in as little as a month.

The problem with this is, some flea repellents only work on adult fleas, while others only take care of the larvae. It’s incredibly difficult to get rid of the adults, their eggs, and the larvae all in one go. If you miss even a small cluster of flea eggs, they’ll soon be full-grown adults and reproduce again, multiplying their numbers.

Another tricky part is that only the flea attaches itself to the pet. Once the eggs are laid, they fall off and are embedded in carpets and couch cushions and anywhere else your pet might sleep or nap.

So, even though you may get all the fleas off your pet, there’s still the problem of the eggs and larvae in the carpets, couches, etc. 

Fleas Can Latch on to Your Pets

Pets are the most vulnerable to fleas. If you have an outdoor cat or dog, they’re likely to pick up fleas if they are not protected against them.

Fleas can consume up to 15 times their own body weight in a single day. As you can imagine, fleas in the house are not ideal for you OR your pet.

They’re Difficult to Remove

Naturally, fleas aren’t easy to remove. If you have a full blow flea infestation, before trying any of the recommended scents below, you should absolutely consult with a professional pest control expert regarding your situation.

Feel free to contact a pest pro through our nationwide partner network here, but regardless, don’t let an infestation get out of control.

Using Scents To Deter Fleas

You don’t necessarily need strong chemical pesticides to keep fleas away. You can use natural oils and scents to deter these jumping hitchhikers. There are also combinations of these ingredients that you can use for dry shampoos for your pet. We’ll get to that!

But now, for now, a quick few notes.

Since we’re discussing fleas here, you’re going to be using these methods around your pets, more than likely. SO, with that being said, please do not use any essential oil concentrates near your pets.

Just plainly, it isn’t good for them, which you can read more on that here.

If you have any questions about the specific usage for any of the scents below or any of the products we recommend, contact your vet with questions 🙂

Let’s get to it!

Cedarwood Keeps Fleas Away

Cedarwood oil can do wonders to repel insects, including fleas. Infact, cedarwood won’t only repel fleas but it can eliminate them as well. A win-win!

It naturally works to suffocate the fleas and deterioates their eggs and larvae, even while they’re on your pet.

The best part is that in proper concentrations, cedarwood oil can even be used around your pets. One of the most prominent options on the market is Wondercide’s Cedarwood Indoor Pest Control Spray.

Basically, the cedarwood oil based formula (when applied properly around your home) works to repel a whole host of insects along with fleas.

Remember, it’s best to use a pre-formulated and proven product, rather than trying to mix and dilute a solution yourself. Contact your vet with any specific questions!

Fleas Hate The Smell of Mint

It’s quite important to keep the perimeter of your home protected with scents of all sorts.

People may find the smell of mint and peppermint refreshing, but fleas don’t feel the same way. They tend to avoid areas that smell of mint. Many other critters dislike the scent of peppermint as well, which is great news for homeowners and gardeners alike!

The easiest way to use mint to repel fleas is to plant it around your house. Mint is easy to grow and can be planted in pots around the house. Try planting them near any possible openings in your house. This may actually work better than a spray, as sprays must be applied every so often.

Again, if you’re going the spray route, you want to go with a pre-formulated product here, Wondercide also has a Peppermint Natural Indoor Pest Control Spray with, you guessed it, peppermint oil as the base.

Vinegar Can Keep Fleas Away

Up Close Shot of Flea

Vinegar, when used properly, can keep fleas away due to its harsh aroma. Most insects and pets get easily repelled by strong scents such as vinegar since the aroma to them really IS that harsh.

To us, vinegar may smell just fine in normal amounts, but for fleas, the scent of vinegar will be magnified heavily.

Now, this scent may not be for you- as it depends on how much you really like the scent of vinegar. White vinegar, in particular, will provide the harsh aroma you’re looking for to keep fleas at bay.

You’ll want to make a diluted mixture of vinegar and water, and spray it around the cracks and crevices of your home. Vinegar itself, especially diluted won’t eliminate fleas but it CAN help to repel them when the scent is present and consistent.

Use Clove Oil (Eugenol) To Keep Fleas Away

Clove oil, also known as eugenol, can keep fleas away quite nicely! Again, you really don’t want to use a concentrate here, but instead, you want to use a pre-formulated product.

Clove oil (eugenol) is derived from clove trees which are commonly found in Southeast Asia. In minute doses, it works wonders again our jumping, flea friends (saying sarcastically, fleas aren’t friends here.)

This eugenol and peppermint oil based spray, Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray can be applied both around your home AND your pet, all while effectively eliminating fleas in the process.

Use Citrus To Deter Fleas

Nootkatone is an EPA-approved organic compound that repels fleas. It is derived from Alaskan cedar trees and grapefruit. It has a refreshing citrusy flavor and aroma.

The best part? You can actually eat Nootkatone. In fact, if you’ve ever drank Fresca or Squirt, you’ve had nootkatone before.

Nootkatone comes in a spray form and works best as a flea repellent. Unfortunately, the concentrations needed to actually eliminate fleas are not practical, so nootkatone should be considered a repellent only.

Nootkatone is relatively new, having been approved by the EPA in August of 2020. Since it’s relatively new, commercially available insect repellent products shouldn’t be available for a few years yet. Currently, nootkatone is used in citrusy drinks and perfumes.

DEET Tricks The Scent of Fleas

DEET is one of the most highly touted insect repellents, and with good reason. You may have heard of DEET often touted as a mosquito repellent, but it’s often used for a plethora of biting flies, such as gnats, chiggers, fleas, and ticks

As a general rule, DEET works to mask the scent of the biting flies target (you) and confuses the flies senses. As a result, the flea or any other biting fly will have a difficult time searching you out.

Now, lets be clear, DEET itself isn’t really a ‘scent’ that fleas hate by itself but rather, fleas WILL hate that they can’t smell you.

While some of the other scents on this list are to be applied around the home, DEET based products are more so to be used while YOU’RE outdoors and potentially in the area of biting flies.

A good starting point for researching a proper product is the Repel Insect Repellent Sportsmen Max Formula, which has a base of 40% DEET.

Again, DEET sprays are primarily designed to be used on you, and not your furry friend.

Lemongrass Oil Can Repel Fleas

Getting close to the end of our scents here- lemongrass oil. The oil of lemongrass gives off a pleasant scent as it is, and is a rather quality repellent not just against fleas, but for other biting flies as well such as ticks.

Again, it’s best to go with a pre-formulated scent here in order to maximize the effectiveness of each ingredient (also, it’s easier to put together and more cost effective to use in the long run) rather than to use essential oil concentrates. Plus the additional reasons we mentioned in the beggining.

If you’re looking to use around the home, Wondercide’s Lemongrass, Flea, Tick and Mosquito Spray for Dogs, Cats, and Home comes highly renowned as well.

The reason we tout Wondercide so much here is that there are a lot of claims to back up the usage of their products, which makes us feel better about your chances of having success with it when used correctly.

The Wondercide lemongrass product specifically contains notes of cedarwood oil as well, which contains two of the scents that fleas really don’t take a liking too.

Utilize Rosemary Oil To Deter Fleas

Luckily for us, fleas have VERY sensitive senses. I mean, it’s how they find their way to jump onto both us and our pets alike, right?

Similar to the scent of peppermint oil, the scent of rosemary oil can overpower the senses of a flea and repel them from an area or target.

One formula specifically made for application on cats that can REPEL fleas (not eliminate them) is MDX Concepts Organic Flea and Tick Control Spray.

It’s pleasant scent to you (and unpleasant scent fleas) will keep these biting flies jumping AWAY from your four legged, furry friend.

MDX Concepts’ Rosemary spray contains notes of rosemary oil, cedarwood oil and lemongrass oil, packing a punch of 3 of the scents that fleas really dislike.

Where Should You Use These Scents?

Close Up Shot of Flea White Background

So all in all, these are SCENTS remember. After time, their smell will surely fade and without their strong smell, fleas won’t have any good reason to want to stay away.

If you’re going to with a pre-formulated mix, then you should use each scent as directed on the label, as each manufacturer will know which recommendations work best for their product.

As a general rule, most scents that repel fleas should be used:

  • Around cracks and crevices on your home
  • The outside perimeter of your home
  • Inside baseboard of your home (depending on manufacturer recommendations)
  • Entry points and pathways
  • Carpets and shag rugging (depending on manufacturer recommendations)

Each scent, will have a different use case depending on what it is but most certainly will need to be reapplied often, generally every 24-48 hours (again, you get it, that time will vary based on the product.)

Long Term Solutions

If you’ve had flea problems before, or finally got your recent infestation under control, it’s a good idea to look at some long-term solutions to keep fleas out for good.

When it comes down to it, a flea’s only source of food is blood. The only way to get that is through other animals. Even if you don’t have a pet, you can still have a flea problem. Here are some long-term solutions that can keep fleas away for the long run.

Keep A Well-Maintained Yard

A yard that has trash, building materials, or even outdoor pet food can be a paradise calling for wild animals. Opossums and raccoons would be thrilled to live under old lumber, stacks of wood, or where garbage is frequently available.

These backyard visitors can be a harbinger of fleas. If they get close enough to the house, fleas may look for their next meal inside.

A well-maintained yard is less inviting to wild animals, and subsequently the fleas they may be carrying. Be sure to keep building materials and lumber stacked neatly, keep your trash cans secure, and keep the lawn cut.

If you have fleas, you should leave it to a professional before it can turn into an infestation. Call our nationwide network of pest control professionals to get connected with an exterminator near you in seconds for free. Using our partner network helps support pestpointers.com- thank you tons!

Be Preventative With Your Pet

Fleas are most common in households that have pets. The pets go outside to go to the bathroom or explore, and come back inside with an unintentional hitchhiker.

The easiest way to prevent a flea infestation is to treat pets with flea and tick prevention products. There are three main options for flea prevention: Spot prevention, oral prevention, and collars.

Spot prevention are those that you place directly on your pet, typically on the back of the neck. This is the area where pets are least likely to be able to reach to lick, as flea and tick treatments.

Frontline is a spot treatment that has both dog and cat formulas. There are plenty of other name brands out there that all have similar ingredients to repel and even eliminate fleas on contact.

Spot treatments are typically given either once a month, or once every three months.

Oral prevention comes in the form of chewable tablets or pills that can be given to your pet. Some are given monthly, while others are fast acting that are paired with other flea management tactics for a long-term treatment.

Capstar is a tablet that studies have shown eliminate 90% of flea infestation on cats within 6 hours. It and many other oral preventions work from the inside out. Capstar also has a flea treatment formula for dogs.

Flea collars are worn directly on the pet just like a regular collar. There are collars made for both cats and dogs from a variety of brands. Be sure to check how long a flea collar lasts and how water affects it to make sure your pet is always a walking flea repellent!

Bathe Your Pet Regularly

If you see your pet itching more than normal, it may be because they have fleas. Bathing your pet will help soothe any flea bites, and if combined with a flea and tick shampoo, such as Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Advanced Strength Dog Shampoo, it can immediately eliminate the fleas making a home out of your pet.

Be sure to check your shampoo bottle closely. Some shampoos will only target adult fleas, while others will target adults, larvae, and eggs. Some even take care of ticks in addition to fleas.

Wash Blankets Regularly

It’s possible to stop infestations before they start if you wash your pet’s blankets and bedding often. These areas will be the most likely place where flea eggs and larvae can be found.

The more frequently you wash your pet’s blankets and bedding, the less likely flea eggs will hatch into larvae and eventually into full grown adult fleas that are capable of multiplying.

Putting a Lid on It!

Fleas don’t have to be a problem in your home. With proper precautionary treatments, yard maintenance, and the power of natural scents, you can keep your house flea-free.

If you don’t yet have a flea problem, try using the reccomended scents of cedarwood, mint, vinegar, clove oil, citrus, DEET, lemongrass oil, and rosemary oil to keep those buggers out!

Make sure your pets are protected against fleas by using prevention methods on them- it’s sure to help eliminate the possibility of a flea infestation!

If your flea problem becomes totally unmanageable, consult a professional (which, if you have fleas, you should definitely be doing.)


Bruce, W. N. (1948). Studies on the biological requirements of the cat flea. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 41(3), 346-352.

Dryden, M. W., & Rust, M. K. (1994). The cat flea: biology, ecology and control. Veterinary parasitology, 52(1-2), 1-19.

Potter, M. F. (2018, June). Flea Control and Prevention. Retrieved from University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef602

French, J. (1995). Non-toxic pest control. Soft Technology, 21-24.

Houseman, R. M. (2014, August). Fleas. Retrieved from Extension University of Missouri: https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g7380

Nootkatone Now Registered by EPA. (2020, August 6). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0810-nootkatone-registered-epa.html

Rust, M. K. (2005). Advances in the control of Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) on cats and dogs. Trends in parasitology, 21(5), 232-236.

Krämer, F., & Mencke, N. (2012). Flea biology and control: the biology of the cat flea control and prevention with imidacloprid in small animals. Springer Science & Business Media.

Silverman, J., Rust, M. K., & Reierson, D. A. (1981). Influence of temperature and humidity on survival and development of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Journal of Medical Entomology, 18(1), 78-83.

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 *