How Do I Choose the Best Natural Flea Repellent?

Dan Harkins
Dan Harkins
A flea.
A flea.

Probably no one but an entomologist will say that fleas are fun. To pets and their masters, they are a parasitic menace that must be conquered. Keeping a home flea population at bay could involve chemical insecticides, but a range of natural flea repellents could work just as well while being sensitive to the environment. Some of the best flea remedies are preventative measures like properly cleaning your house and pet; others are natural flea repellent products, like diatomaceaous earth and certain bugs, that will help you keep your home flea-free.

It may be helpful to run a flea comb through the animal's fur each day.
It may be helpful to run a flea comb through the animal's fur each day.

Diatomaceaous earth, a natural flea repellent sold by most vendors of pet supplies, looks like baby powder but packs a punch that kills fleas and keeps them from coming back. Made of the fossilized remains of single-celled plants called diatoms, these jagged microscopic skeletons kill fleas by shredding them to death. The product, which doesn't harm humans or animals, is spread like talcum over carpets, pet bedding, furniture and even outdoors in areas most frequented by pets.

Adding a certain type of bug to highly trafficked outdoor areas can also serve to lessen your flea population. Tiny worms called nematodes, purchased online or at some nurseries, naturally eat flea larvae. This won't eliminate fleas from your world but it could lessen their impact, especially during peak flea season in the summer.

Perhaps the most effective natural flea remedy is a clean home. Flea eggs take a month or more to gestate. If homeowners fully vacuum all rugs, curtains and furniture, as well as launder all bedding and pillows, at least a few times a month, a flea's chances of hatching is greatly reduced. If an infestation is being dealt with, vacuum bags should be sealed in a plastic bag as soon as you're finished cleaning.

A pet's bath should be included in every regular cleaning to keep fleas from jumping from your house to your pet or vice-versa. Dish soap is a natural flea repellent that should fully rid your pet of the insect. Conditioning dog shampoos also remove fleas and dander, while also promoting healthier skin and coats. A dip in saltwater, such as a trip to the seashore, is another effective repellent.

To catch any strays, place a store-bought electric flea trap near where the animal sleeps. As an alternative trap, place a saucer of dish soap and water near the pet's bed with a light hovering just above it. This makes an alluring but deadly trap for fleas.

For keeping fleas off pets between baths, run a flea comb through their coats almost daily. You can then try one of several measures touted as a natural flea repellent. Some people include garlic cloves and brewer's yeast in their pets' diets to repel fleas; others apply apple cider vinegar above the tail and base of the neck. For dogs, placing drops of essential oils like lavender, peppermint or citronella at these locations can be effective. This treatment should not be used on cats, whose skin is unequipped to metabolize many flower extracts and oils.

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Discussion Comments


Using flea combs is a good way to remove fleas from pets. I comb my cats daily, and I like this natural flea remedy because I can count the fleas as I comb them out of the fur. This way I can see it working. I dip the comb in water and dish liquid and this traps the fleas. After they are dead I just empty the container of water and soap and the fleas are gone.


@Sporkasia - I know people who have used the vinegar--given it to their dogs and cats. However, like you said the dogs and cats don't like the taste of the vinegar so this will cause them to drink less water. In some cases the animals will become dehydrated and this will cause more health problems than a few fleas.

I have also heard that vinegar shouldn't be given to cats to drink because the acid in vinegar interferes with the cats' internal systems and can make them sick, so vinegar probably is't a good natural flea repellent for cats.

If you're going to use vinegar on your pets then you should pour it on their hair or wash them in vinegar and water. This will keep the fleas away and your pets won't have to actually drink the vinegar. However, you and the pets might have a hard time getting used to the smell.


Vinegar repels fleas. I put a few drops in my pets' water bowls. The vinegar gets into the animals and works in the same way as the flea repellent pills or the Advantage flea control you can buy at the pet store. The vinegar seems to work, but the biggest problem is getting the animals to drink the water. They can taste the vinegar and you may have a hard time getting them to drink enough water to make it worthwhile.

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    • A flea.
      By: Carolina K Smith MD
      A flea.
    • It may be helpful to run a flea comb through the animal's fur each day.
      By: absolutimages
      It may be helpful to run a flea comb through the animal's fur each day.