Flea bites suck!
They itch like crazy and can even cause a rash or dermatitis for people with sensitive skin but flea repellents can help.
So, can humans carry fleas from one home to another? YES, but it’s rare that fleas will transfer between bodies. Humans and pets are more likely to get fleas from the pet’s living and sleeping areas such as a flea-infested dog bed.
- Fleas don’t like human skin as it’s less hairy. The bugs will jump off fast from humans to hairy pet such as dogs or cats as the furry environment offers a more suitable hiding place.
- Fleas won’t be brought largely through human skin, clothes, or even furniture like other pests like bed bugs that are easily passed to new environments.
Let’s get started!
Can Humans Carry Fleas from One Home to Another?
Can you bring fleas home from someone else’s house? Yes, Fleas can hop on any host they come across – humans included and thus move to another house!
- However, only studies report that 5% of inter-host fleas transfers happen between hosts living in close proximity. And thus, there are reduced chances of fleas spending much time on the humans and thus getting carried to other homes.
- Pets (and their beddings) are the main agents that’ll bring fleas into your house. They’ll pick up fleas dropped in the yard by wild animals like wild deer and carry the bugs into the house.
- Flea eggs will fall off the animal fur onto the house spaces, and thus easily stretch out their territory.
Fleas like to hide in different places too, and just as with bed bugs; they may be transferred by an old couch, carpet, or chair.
When moving furniture between rooms or houses, flea eggs, larvae, and pupas are often transported to the new location.
These undetectable stages of a flea account for upwards of half the flea population in your home!
- So, if you have an infestation of fleas, don’t be afraid to try a little borax or diatomaceous earth before moving the flea-infested furniture. Also, you can freeze the couch and put it in bubble wrap.
Fleas and other pests like to hitch rides from secondhand or vintage items too. So if your budget is tight, steer clear of shady yard or dealers.
Who knows how long those things were sitting in a dark garage? And don’t forget: Treating an infestation through steam-treatment before you bring something home will kill the flea infestation.
How to Avoid Carrying Fleas to Your House
Below I’ve listed step you can take to minimize your risk of coming into contact with fleas and carrying them between rooms or homes;
- Before entering a room or area that has been recently occupied by someone infested with fleas (such as a pet), it is important to vacuum thoroughly.
- It is also recommended that outside pets be treated on a regular basis with flea repellents and also use a flea spray for your home plus declutter barns and crawl spaces.
- You should also vacuum the cat or dog bed before other pets sleeping and eating areas to reduce your risk of transmitting fleas from one animal to another.
- Flea-infested carpets and furniture can be sealed up inside plastic bags for two weeks so the bugs cannot escape and reproduce.
- When you are finished with the flea-infested object, it is important that you take a shower to wash off any fleas (or their eggs) from your hair and body.
Before you go, here’s a detailed outline of the additional steps to avoid carrying fleas to your house.
1. Natural Flea Repellants
There are all sorts of natural and homemade remedies to prevent and exterminate those fleas!
These include brewer’s yeast, rosemary, diatomaceous earth (foo-grade), coconut oil, lemon spray (to repel the bugs from your lawn or plants) salt, baking soda & Dawn dish soap.
These natural remedies are made up of organic and herbal ingredients – and thus they can be introduced safely to the pet’s food or bathroom solutions to repel fleas from clothes, fur, and skins. But, let’s check the details!
a. Essential oils
The use of essential oils is an eco-friendly and economical solution to getting rid of fleas. Suitable essential oils include clove, lemon, citronella, peppermint (like the castile soap), lavender, and cedar.
Suitable essential oils will effectively exterminate fleas; these include clove, lemon, citronella, peppermint (like the castile soap), lavender, and cedar.
Essential oils are often used in blends with other natural ingredients.
- One example of a flea repellent is clove, peppermint, and rosemary essential oil mixed into castile soap which forms an anti-flea shampoo bar that can be wrapped up for easy transport to the dog park!
Mixing lemon or citronella essential oil into a spray bottle with water or vinegar can create an all-natural flea repellent that is safe and effective!
Mixing lemon, cedar, lavender, or peppermint essential oils in the bath not only helps to keep dogs smelling nice but also deter fleas from jumping on them.
Another option is adding essential oils like tea tree oil, cedarwood, lavender, or peppermint into a spray bottle of water and spraying it on your floors.
b. Vinegar or Lemon juice
Another way to repel the ticks and fleas is by spraying a solution that has a vinegar or lemon juice smell.
For a smaller area, such as in tiny studio apartments, you can use one-half of a cut-up lemon to massage the pet’s skin.
Mix vinegar + lemon juice and water to make a spray. Spray your pet with it when outside such as in the yard.
Some people also give apple cider vinegar to their pets as a diet, adding it to the food.
c. Betadine Bath
Betadine antiseptic solution is a topical medication as an alternative to toxic flea treatment.
Betadine baths work by killing the larvae and adults in the fur of dogs or cats, leaving them feeling clean and refreshed while keeping fleas away for up to two weeks!
To make the betadine (the antiseptic) solution:
- Pour 2 drops of betadine into some 1 liter of water. This will make it like iced tea. Rub the solution on the dog’s body and massage it thoroughly.
First, shampoo and rinse the pet’s fur off, and then bathe it using betadine solution. It’ll kill fleas and soothe the pet’s skin allergies and flea bites.
The Natural Vets Association recommends you feed your dog garlic in small doses (don’t worry, it won’t harm them) to control fleas. The foul garlic odor will repel the bugs.
- To avoid bringing fleas from outside the home, crush a garlic clove and add it to your pet’s food – the dog should weigh a minimum of 10-20 lb. (4.5 – 9kg).
- The best time is 15 minutes before mealtime as the juice of crushed garlic can have some adverse effect on an animal’s metabolism soon after.
However, Garlic in dogs can make their breath smell bad and it may cause them to itch or get sick so is not recommended for long-term use.
Heat treatment is a good way to get rid of fleas and eggs. You need to clean your house first with steam. Then vacuum. Note: continued vacuuming will help kill all the hatching fleas.
With your steam cleaner, fleas can’t survive if the temperature is over 35ºC. But some exterminators say that you should raise the temperature to 49-56ºC.
So, when you get home, put the clothes into the dryer. For each type of fabric, use the highest recommended temperature. Hot air generated by the heat treatment will get into the fabrics to kill the fleas.
Related: Flea Killers Suitable for Cats.
Here’s my Short Flea Story
Two years ago, I was transferred to my current job. I came to town to find a house for rent. I entered a lot of homes. Some smelled bad and were dirt because no one had lived in them for a long time.
- I went back to my host’s house and started feeling itchy all over. I saw that there were bumps and clumped-up bites on my body. It turned out that I had carried the fleas from my house-hunting trip.
- I took a shower and put my clothes in hot water. But the house still had lots of fleas after this event.
- I realized that’s why pest exterminators and vets wear scrubs instead of nice clothes when doing flea inspections as they know the fleas on clothes can jump off and start an infestation in a new home.
- Also, for massive flea infestations, pest exterminators will do thorough treatments with a flea bomb.
Fleas can wait inside their cocoons for a few months without coming out – according to the School IPM flea control. But when the conditions are right and they have food, then they will emerge from their pupal casing after 1-2 weeks.
When you enter an unoccupied house, the vibrations, heat, and carbon dioxide from your body will make the flea adults come out of their pupal stage.
- After work, the pest professionals change their scrubs because they might have fleas, broods, larvae, and feces from other people’s houses on them.
What Risks do Fleas Pose to Humans in the Home?
Besides causing stinging pain, flea bites can also carry other pathogens that can be transmitted to humans, such as the bacteria Bartonella henselae and Rickettsia Typhi.
- Flea bites in the U.S. are known to cause flea-borne diseases such as Rickettsia prowazekii (in southern states) and Bubonic plague (in western states). These are bacterial diseases and you’ll require antibiotic treatment if infected.
- Fleas bites can also cause scratch bites and allergic reactions on humans and pets. This is when the body has a reaction to the bug’s saliva. Those allergic reactions can lead to flea allergy dermatitis.
Fleas may also cause tapeworms on humans and pets that ingest the fleas – you’ll see pumpkin seed kid objects in human or pet feces – consult a veterinarian or a doctor.
Fleas can cause tapeworms on humans and pets. You may see small objects in human or pet poop that look like seeds from a pumpkin. Consult a veterinarian or doctor to find out if you have fleas.
1. Can Fleas Live in Clothes?
Fleas can’t live continuously in clothing but they can be found there for a day or two while feeding.
So, if you don’t change your clothes before going home after being outside with pets – the flea could jump off and into your house!
If you have a flea infestation, you must remove it from your pets and the house.
The first step is to wash all laundry at a high temperature if possible or at least dry clean them before wearing them again. Throw out rugs or anything that can’t be cleaned in a hot water washer: pillows, comforters, blankets, clothes with pet hair.
If the problem is just in your house, vacuum carpets and upholstery at least once a day for two weeks to kill any eggs that are present.
In addition, use flea bombs on your house if needed – they will eradicate all living insects including fleas within 24 hours or so.
2. Can I Get Fleas from My Neighbor?
So, can fleas travel from house to house? Yes, fleas may come from other people’s (neighbor’s) cats or dogs. Also, a stray dog or cat could bring fleas into your house.
But wildlife like raccoons or opossums are intermediaries that’ll carry fleas from infested yards and spread the flea eggs all over the neighborhood.
Also, flea larvae are able to crawl up and down vertically as well as horizontally, so you could be getting fleas from other apartments and even the outside.
- But you are most likely to get fleas if you share a common space with an infected person, pet, or animal. This includes areas such as yards, garages, entertainment spots, or even gazebos.
If you’re a pet owner, it’s important to make sure that your pets don’t have fleas when they come inside the house – flea treat your pet and vacuum or steam-clean the pet bedding
Also, be on the lookout for stray cats or dogs near your property – if one of them has fleas and finds its way onto your property, then you’ll have fleas in your house.
3. Can Fleas Travel Through Walls?
Yes, fleas can travel through walls.
It is important to seal up any cracks or holes in your home which might allow fleas access into the house so that they can’t get inside and start infesting the bedding, furniture, carpet, etc.
Common amenities like electrical and plumbing lines should also be carefully checked for any cracks, holes, or gaps that might allow fleas to crawl through from infested apartments.
In summary, on the question of; can humans carry fleas from one home to another, the answer is yes but on a small scale.
- Fleas will live primarily in the pet’s sleeping and living areas.
- The most common way that fleas enter a human home is by a carrier – an animal (pet) that has come in contact with wild animals, such as feral cats and raccoons.
- These animals are often carriers of parasites such as flea eggs which they carry on their fur without presenting any symptoms.
- The eggs can then be transferred to the household by pets or humans walking across a yard or catching onto pants, shoes, etc. while outside.
Wear good flea repellents, clean the house and other spaces, inspect the pets for fleas, and consult a veterinarian (for pets) or doctor (for humans) if irritation or tapeworms are seen.