Fleas in clothes can be devastating due to the simple fact that while they might not always transmit diseases, they could cause an annoying and intense itch. Also, many people are allergic to flea bites and can develop pus filled blisters or other skin infections. Therefore, read this guide if you want to learn the safest and most effective way to get rid of fleas in your clothes.
How do they get there in the first place?
Adult fleas generally live on blood meals which they obtain from animals. Pet owners also have to deal with flea eggs and larvae in their carpets and rugs. The flea larvae, in turn, feed on dandruff, discarded skin and other organic animal/human waste that is readily found in pet fur and human clothing. For pet owners allowing pets to sleep in their beds, fleas become a common occurrence in bed clothing, linen and mattresses. Flea eggs usually drop into cracks, crevices and other hiding places that are found abundantly in bedrooms. Fleas also like warm temperatures (optimally in the range of 65 to 80 deg F) with relative humidity, all of which are readily available in human clothing. They then jump off and latch onto their animal hosts for getting a blood meal. In absence of animals, fleas can also bite and feed off humans.
Today, fleas are found in urban residential areas, classrooms in schools, rental apartments which previously housed pets and even grassy hiking trails or wooded areas. Fleas can even come from possums, squirrels, raccoons, birds and feral cats. For that reason, it is essential for everyone to understand how to remove and kill fleas in clothes effectively.
How to get rid of fleas in clothes
- For clothes that can withstand bleach, use diluted bleach in water and immerse the flea infested clothes in the solution. For machine wash, it is recommended mixing 1 cup of chlorine bleach per 16 gallons of water. Bleach can kill and disinfect clothes to remove most fleas and their eggs.
- Use the highest water setting, hottest temperature and longest wash cycle as allowed by your washing machine, for clothes that can withstand this harsh treatment. This is a sure-fire method for removing fleas in clothes and can kill eggs and larval stages.
- For clothes that are not bleach-safe, you can use detergents with antimicrobial action or pine oil and other phenolic disinfectants. To use these in washing machines, add 1 cup to top loading machines and ½ cup to front loading machines.
The integrated pest control program
Did you know that only 10% of fleas found inside a household are adults, while the remaining 90% are in various life cycle stages, like eggs and larvae? Naturally, even if you follow the aforementioned methods for removing fleas from the clothes, you must also use an integrated pest control program to ensure complete flea elimination. This includes managing habitats of host animals, destroying resident fleas and preventing new infestations. Here are some effective ways to accomplish this:
- Vacuuming daily- Vacuum all rugs, carpets and especially hard-to-access areas like behind and under the furniture. Discard the vacuum bags outside the home afterwards.
- Wash and launder regularly– Apart from washing your clothes using the steps given above, wash and clean your pet’s bedding and all household linen including towels, bed sheets, curtains, mattress covers, blankets and comforters etc. If needed, opt for having these dry cleaned or professionally treated. You can even take bulky linen to the Laundromat for some heavy duty cleaning.
- Use insecticides– Flea foggers, powders and sprays as well as spot treatment for pets is an important part of integrated pest control. You can talk to your vet about the right oral or topical flea medicines to stop fleas from laying eggs and reproducing.
- Use natural flea products– Treatment using naturally occurring flea products is another way of getting rid of flea eggs in carpets and rugs. The most effective ones include diatomaceous earth powders and borax powders.
Use protective clothes to prevent flea bites
While the flea treatment is taking place, you and your family must take care and wear protective clothes to prevent fleas from biting you. Lighter colored clothes generally provide fewer hiding places than darker ones. You could also wear long trousers and full sleeved shirts as well as thick socks to stop the flea bites. Additionally, you must wash all these items as mentioned above to ensure the complete removal of fleas in clothes. For more free guides like this, please consider subscribing to my newsletter.
Got fleas? Find out which products work in 2019, with my updated flea control product comparison chart.