Do Fleas Drown in Water

Do Fleas Drown in Water? Floated or Submerged?

Do you have fleas in your home, or on pets like cats and dogs, and have been trying to kill them by drowning? Well, fleas flourish in dusty conditions but is water a risk to the bug’s survival? 

  • So, do fleas drown in water? Yes, fleas will drown within 24 hours when submerged in water and may float alive for up to 7 days when drop fleas on the water surface – floating.
  • But if you add some dish soap to the water, it breaks down the surface tension making the fleas sink. 

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Details: Do Fleas Drown In Water?

For the fleas to drown in water, it will depend on the surface tension of the water that you are subjecting them to. Further, it also matters whether you float or submerge the fleas. 

In water with normal surface tension, fleas will just float and even jump away from danger. But if they submerge the fleas in normal water, they’ll drown within 24 hours – you may also use flea traps

But if you put fleas in dish soap water, they will drown in a matter of seconds. Next time you consider drowning as a means of eliminating fleas from your area, you are wrong. 

Why Don’t Fleas Die When Floated on Water?

Fleas won’t die that fast when floated in water because of their body anatomy. A closer look at its body shows that fleas have a wax-like coating that covers its whole body.

  • This wax-like coating is also called the cuticle.
  • It is this cuticle that plays an important role in preventing water entry into the fleas’ respiratory system giving its adaptive mechanism in the water.

It’s this cuticle that also allows these fleas to easily penetrate into pets far and into the skin.

How to Drown Fleas? 

Though the wax-coating makes it hard to drown fleas, there are techniques that you can use to get rid of these disturbing pests.

The easiest and fastest way to kill fleas by drowning is to mix dish soap with water. Why is the dish soap water method effective?

  • Dish soap destroys the wax-coating of the fleas and therefore when the fleas drown, water easily gets into the respiratory system and the fleas drown instantly.
  • Without the dish soap, fleas can survive submerged in water for more than 24 hours increasing their chances of survival.

Another advantage of using dish soap water to drown fleas is because it destroys the water surface tension. This surface tension keeps the fleas afloat and can even escape. But when it is destroyed, they will be submerged and drown in the process.

If you want to get rid of the fleas from your pet, foamless dish soap works best. The biggest challenge with foamy soap is that it allows time for fleas to escape. You can get yourself a formless dish soap from the local outlets.

For effective fleas’ elimination, dip the dog or your pet into the water at least 2-4 times. You also need to take precautions not to immerse the dog’s head because the dish soap may harm the dog’s eyes and ears too.

  • I would also recommend the use of lukewarm water for the effective elimination of fleas. That said and done, don’t leave your dog when wet to go and play.
  • It is good to make a point of drying it by whatever means. I would recommend you use a hairdryer to dry the dog’s fur.
  • The good thing with a dryer is that it produces some heat that has the capacity to kill any fleas hiding under the fur as you dry your pet.

However, this method of killing fleas is very tricky especially if your dog is big. Lifting them and immersing them in the dish soap mixed with water is difficult.

  • There are other like fleas shampoo and also using food grade diatomaceous earth (DE).
  • The food-grade DE is a pet and human-safe powder that you can use to control disturbing pests and bugs in your home.

When using this powder, you can sprinkle it on your pet and allow it to effectively kill the fleas. After about an hour, you can use a comb to clear out the dead fleas from the fur. 

Related: Flea Insecticide to Treat your Garden

Should I Use Dishwater Soap Regularly To Bathe My Pet?

Much as dishwater soap is very effective in eliminating fleas in your dog, it also has its disadvantages and should not be used regularly to wash your dog.

  • Dishwater has a dehydrating effect on the dog’s skin which may cause a long time effect on the pet.
  • It also has an irritating effect on the dog and may also be a cause of diseases and infections.

Avoid using dishwater soap on a dog that has a skin infection because it will further aggravate the infection.

Does Hot Water Kill Fleas in Cats And Dogs?

Yes. Hot water can also be used ineffectively killing fleas in your pet.

The only challenge remains that fleas can easily sense the hot water and jump from the host only to come back later and re-infest.

If Dogs Swim in Water, Will it Kill The Fleas?

Swimming does not kill the fleas in the dog’s fur.

Most river or lake water is normal water that will hardly penetrate the cuticle of the flea and therefore unable to kill them. 

Related: Kills Fleas in the Yard Naturally?


Do fleas drown in water? An outright yes. But, this does not happen with all types of water. For normal water, they may not drown because of the presence of surface tension and also because of their anatomy.

Fleas float on normal water and can survive up to 7 days but when they drown, they may take up to 24 hours before they drown and die.

If you add dish soap, to any normal water, it destroys the surface tension and also destroys the cuticle that makes fleas survive for long before they drown.