Sleeping with the enemy
March 7, 2006 10:33 AM   Subscribe

How do you eliminate fleas in a bed? I'm under the vague impression that flea-killing products have limited to no success against the eggs (is this correct?), which hatch 3 weeks later, so what is Standard Proceedure? Put the matress in a plastic bag for a month with some flea product inside and sleep on the couch?

I have no experience with fleas. My reason for thinking there are fleas in the bed is that ever since my girlfriend let her cats sleep on the bed in the midst of a heatwave-induced flea epidemic last summer, I've periodically noticed insect bites in the mornings. Cats were banned from bedroom, but it's been months now and I still get bites. They're not going away on their own.

Any firsthand success stories?

Do flea bombs work for eggs in beds?

The bed has a duvet, any duvet-treatment tips? (I really wouldn't know where the fleas are, just that they're somewhere).
posted by -harlequin- to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When we had fleas we sprayed the bed, didn't work, so we flea bombed the room, didn't work, so then we poured borax on the bed and then flea bombed again. That worked.

After leaving it on a day I vacuumed the borax off the mattress.

(I also put borax into the washer with my bedding, and everything came out flea-free.)
posted by birdie birdington at 10:42 AM on March 7, 2006

I'd try the borax thing. Borax works fantastically against roaches, and is non-toxic for you. But if the borax thing doesn't work, try spraying your mattress with anti-head lice spray.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2006

I whole-heartedly second the Borax recommendation, based on my own prior flea experience.

Flea eggs also last in their dormant state for a very, very long time, so use the Borax frequently don't be in any great rush to stop.
posted by CRM114 at 10:47 AM on March 7, 2006

Oh, and are you sure you don't have bedbugs?
posted by Sara Anne at 10:49 AM on March 7, 2006

Deflea thoroughly, then do so again in 2 weeks to kill of the nits that have hatched from the eggs. It's very hard to kill off the eggs, so you basically have to kill off the parents, then wait for the eggs to hatch, and then kill that generation. Otherwise they never go away.
posted by selfmedicating at 11:40 AM on March 7, 2006

Enough said.
posted by ramix at 11:51 AM on March 7, 2006

It sounds like the advice here is better than what I could relate, but I've lived in two places where this was a problem. It was clear in the first instance that I was waking dormant fleas; in the second I wouldn't swear that they weren't just bedbugs, but I thought by then that they were fleas. In both cases, the flats had been empty for some time before I moved in.

In my less eco (and health) sensitive days, I sprayed the hell out of my mattress, then flipped it over, sprayed the other side and then left it and went to work. I repeated the next day and that solved the problem.

I have no idea what that might have done to my central nervous system and the like. Din't affect me none.

I wouldn't do this today (I'd probably just buy a new mattress), but you asked for success stories. I'm adding the borax tip to my travel notes, and wondering what is the Arabic for borax.
posted by sagwalla at 1:18 PM on March 7, 2006

Rid does kill nits. It can be purchased in a spray can, the directions on which recommend spraying beds and furniture.
posted by kc0dxh at 2:50 PM on March 7, 2006

To diagnose for fleas, place a pan of soapy water on the floor under your bed,place a low wattage lamp above the water, if you have fleas they will show up dead in the water. Heat attracts the little buggers.
posted by hortense at 3:27 PM on March 7, 2006

Vaccuum every single square inch of the room, plus the mattress, daily, along with using the Borax. Empty the cannister/throw away the bag outside of your home each time - fleas will happily live in there and can get back out. The vaccuum not only sucks up fleas, but the vibration causes eggs to hatch sooner, thus ridding you of the problem sooner.
posted by donnagirl at 4:15 PM on March 7, 2006

Third for sprinkling borax heavily on and around the bed, letting it sit, vacuuming/sweeping it and washing all bedding, then doing it again. It scratches the fleas' chitinous shell and they dry out. Flea eggs hatch anywhere from two days to two weeks after being laid, depending on conditions like temperature - sites give varying ranges: 1-6 days, 1-12 days, 2 days to 2 weeks, etc. Commit to at least two thorough attempts two weeks apart and you should be fine.

More in this previous thread. And hortense's suggestion really works to diagnose the problem; leave the lamp on at night and if it's fleas you'll find a bunch of them drowned in the pan in the morning.
posted by mediareport at 9:37 PM on March 7, 2006

Are you sure they are fleas? If so, you will see them. Particularly on your ankles. We had flea problems at my house when i was growing up. And I also had them pretty bad when we had three stray kittens in my house at college. The darn fleas would infest the house every year.

Do the cats still live with you? If so, I would recommend Advantage. Not only will it kill any fleas on your cat, but it will also make your cats walking flea bombs. It works for 30 days, and will also kill the eggs too.

I would have killed to have this stuff back in the day when we had flea problems.
posted by punkrockrat at 8:17 PM on March 8, 2006

Response by poster: I did the lamp trick and caught me a flea. It sounds like the next step is borax and vacuum...

(The cats are normally flea-free. They don't seem to have established elsewhere).
posted by -harlequin- at 2:16 PM on March 9, 2006

I suggest a flea combing of the cat, just to make sure
posted by hortense at 10:07 PM on March 9, 2006

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