Last week somebody left the question on my site: “how do you kill fleas in clothes and bedding” Sadly, that’s about all the details they gave me. So, I had to assume they have fleas are on the clothes they’re wearing or their pet hitchhiked their bed and left some of the pests.
The short answer on how to kill flea in clothes and bedding is to use a laundry detergent, heat, and turbulence cycle in the washing machine to kill the fleas, their eggs, pupae, and larvae.
Really, all you have to do is wash the clothing. The challenge is getting the right ingredients/ temperature and transporting the clothing and bedding to the laundry area (without dropping some fleas), either in your home or somewhere else.
You don’t want the fleas to spread. What you want to do is to put the laundry (clothes, blankets, bed sheets e.t.c) in a nice sealed plastic bag and take them straight to the washing machine.
Then do just your regular wash cycle (with hot water and soapy base detergent like 20 Mule Team Borax) and dry the clothes and bedding. If there are clothes that can’t be washed but can be dried, then you’ll need to put it in the dryer and run it on a hot cycle for about 30 minutes – which will kill the fleas too. Let’s dive into the detailed process:
Step 1: Wash all clothes & bedding for 10 minutes ( in cold water)
Flea eggs and adults will not die easily when immersed in water. In fact, fleas will survive in water for about 7 days. Further, fleas will only drown in water after 24 hours when submerged as they just sit on the water and not break water’s surface tension. Fleas have cuticles that are covered with wax and hence its skin is non-wettable with water.
However: Dish soap drops have surfactants that reduce the surface tension of water and hence make the flea to sink in water and drown. Therefore, washing clothes with a detergent, for about 10 minutes, would make adult fleas to drown but not the pre-adult fleas.
Flea eggs and flea larvae in your bedding and clothes will require the use of more rigorous laundry methods:
Which drives us to tactic #2…
Step 2: Wash Clothing and bedding in Hot Water
Depending on the type of fabric: Cotton, Silk, Wool etc…
Wash the clothes in a washing machine or just hot water in a basin.
However, add some mild detergent to the hot water.
Adult fleas will die when temperatures exceed 35 °C (95°F) or if it goes below 13°C (55.4°F). Also, Flea larvae will die in their cocoon at a temperature over 35 °C.
The mechanical action and the hot water in the washing machine would definitely dislodge the fleas from the clothes and beddings and send them down the drain. The flea adults, eggs, larvae and pupae would not survive through the laundering & drying process.
Fact Bite: Most fleas (90% of the flea population) hide as larvae, pupal and eggs in shady areas, clothes, furniture, carpet, and pet’s fur. So, practice persistence and vigilance but use a flea fogger if you have a massive flea infestation.
Step 3: Quarantine & Flea Treat the pets (Cats and dogs)