As with all these things, prevention is better than a cure, so even if you do not have an infestation of fleas in your house, we would suggest you look at either a course of spot on treatment or a flea collar to keep your pet and home flea free.
However, this is only part of the problem. As was pointed out in the BBC's "Trust Me, I'm a Vet" series, only a tiny percentage of fleas are adults. So if you do find fleas boogying down on your floors and furniture, there are many times more as eggs and larvae, just waiting to take their place.
Luckily, gone are the days of only ineffective flea treatments being available at the supermarket, while the effective flea treatments were only via a trip to the veterinarian for a princely sum. Nowadays there are now some very good flea treatments available over the counter. But which are worth spending your hard earned cash on?
What Are The Best Flea Sprays?
Since many people just want to know our recommendations, here they are. For those that want a little more detail, click on the product name to take you to a more detailed review of each product.
|Name||Comments||Rating||Hover or click for price|
|Indorex Flea Spray||
Our choice as the best in class flea spray
|Acclaim Flea Spray||
Narrowly misses out on top spot, as it is not quite as effective as Indorex but a can covers more area
It does not quite as effective as Indorex and we didn't like the smell.
|Johnson's 4Fleas Fogger||
If you want a fogger rather than an area spray, this is the one to go for. The down-side is that it can be quite wasteful.
If you have an infestation you need to get to grips with the whole lifecycle of fleas to understand why they can be so difficult to remove. So before we get into the reviews, let me share with you a few tips I learned along the way while dealing with fleas.
Fleas spend very little time on your pets. The rest of the time is spent hopping and crawling on surfaces such as your carpet and pet beds. So prior to using flea spray in the house, make sure you wash all pet bedding at 60 degrees celsius or more.
Additionally do not limit this to just your home. If there are other places you dog spends a lot of time such as your car, you will need to go through a similar routine or those fleas will be back. A single egg-laying female can produce hundreds of eggs, and they will just as happily live in the carpet or dog bedding in your car as in your home, so take care and be thorough.
As a matter of course, you should also keep sprays away from food and from food preparation areas, but since fleas are usually only found in carpets and bedding, kitchens are not usually hot-spots for fleas.
Once you've treated your home you will need to vacuum frequently for a few weeks and make sure you empty the vacuum immediately, away from the house.
The first few vacuum runs will remove all the dead bodies as afterall, noone wants to live with a bunch of dead fleas in their residence. It will also clear away any excess spray residue, which minimises any risk to other pets.
We would also suggest that you add a spray of pesticide or an old flea collar to the bag or canister of your vacuum and clean away. Make sure you get under beds, sofas, and chairs and use attachments to get into the corners and crevices. Make sure you empty the vacuum outside away from your home and put a fresh flea collar in your vacuum.
The reason you keep doing this is that as well as helping you rid your home of carcases, vacuuming also creates vibrations that cause fleas to emerge from their pupa making them vulnerable to the spray.
The sprays are most effective when newly applied so getting the fleas to hatch out in this period gives you the best chance of killing off the infestation. This period is called the "Pupal Window".
The Pupal Window
The pupal window is the key to clearing your home of fleas. Fleas are vulnerable to sprays and other treatments in their egg, larval and adult phases. However, in their pupal phase, none of these treatments will affect them, and they can remain like this for many months.
Since the pupa will protect the flea it is imperative that any flea spray used in the house have a residual effect and you get the fleas to hatch out as quickly as possible so the treatment can kill them off as adult fleas.
This means they key to success is encouraging adult fleas to emerge from the pupae as quickly as possible. There are several ways to trick fleas to hatch out of their pupa, including:
- Letting your pet into all rooms in the house as the presence of a host will encourage fleas to hatch out. Remember that fleas are not too fussy about where they get their meals so if pets are not around, emerging fleas will happily jump onto humans and bite them instead!
- As mentioned before you need to vacuum regularly, starting 24 hours after spraying then at least twice a week (daily is better) for the next few weeks to both clear the flea debris and encourage them to hatch.
- Finally increase the humidity in your home as this encourages growth. You can do this by placing wet towels on radiators or boiling the kettle in all rooms you have sprayed.
As for the products to kill those fleas, there are several treatment options on the market. Each of them will have slightly different ways of working so make sure you read and follow the instructions.
Can Flea Sprays Kill Cats?
Permethrin is a very common and is used in most flea sprays. It is incredibly effective at controlling fleas, but it also has nasty effects on cats and other pets.
A study by the Veterinary Poisons information Service (VPIS) found that as a many as one in 10 cats referred to them had died after being exposed to flea treatments containing permethrin and as many as 88% suffered convulsions and spasms and can need two to three days of intensive treatment to recover.
The same study found that cats can even fall sick simply by sharing bedding with a recently treated dog.
However these sprays are designed in a way that they will bind to the surfaces they are sprayed on in a way that it will not come off onto the skin. This ensures they are safe for cats and other pets once they have been applied, but make sure you read and follow the instructions carefully.
With this in mind, let's take a look at a few choices, starting with our recommended choice:
Indorex Flea Spray Review - Our Best Buy
Indorex is a heavy duty brand of indoor flea treatment intended to destroy infestations. If used correctly it is highly effective, perfect if you just want the job done or if you’ve been struggling with fleas for some time, this might be the solution for you.
Indorex is an area treatment, which means it is not designed to be used on pets but to be applied directly to your floors, furniture, etc. A single can of Indorex is enough to treat the average, 79 square metres (approximately 2100 square feet), three bedroom house and prevent the return of ticks for seven months.
WARNING Indorex's main active ingredient is Permethrin, an insecticide which acts fast to kill adult fleas in your pets' environment. However, this can be lethal to many other pets including cats, fish, reptiles and birds so make sure you follow the instructions and it is will be safe for them.
Indorex also contains Piperonyl Butoxide, which reinforces the activity of the Permethrin, and Priproxyfen, a long lasting insect growth regulator which prevents eggs and larvae from developing into adult fleas. Together this means Indorex will kill eggs, larvae and control adult fleas for 12 months according to the makers, Vibrac.
However, Indorex will only kill adult fleas for 2 months and the spray cannot penetrate the pupae. Since a flea can remain in its pupal state for up to a year before hatching you will need multiple applications to control larger infestations so we would suggest re-applying every 2 months for a year to make sure any newly hatched fleas cannot re-infest your home.
Is Indorex Safe For Pregnant Women and Infants?
The Health and Safety Executive have found that there is no data to indicate any risk to pregnant women, babies, young children or mothers who are breastfeeding. Indorex binds to all surfaces in a way that it will not come off onto the skin making it perfectly safe for mothers and young children.
Is Indorex Safe For People With Asthma?
The propellant in Indorex is carbon dioxide and elevated levels of CO2 have been implicated in asthma attacks. Because of this, it is recommended that non-asthmatic sprays and
asthmatics only enter the property after a few hours ventilation.
I have pet cats, reptiles, birds, spiders etc - can I use Indorex?
The active ingredients in Indorex are toxic to many pests, but also some pets including cats, birds, reptiles, spiders and fish. For this reason all animals should be kept well away during the treatment.
If you cannot move your vivarium or aquarium, cover it with two thick blankets and turn off any ventilator pumps and leave them off for at least 2 hours after you have finished spraying.
While being a very strong pesticide, as long as you follow the instructions it is very safe as well as effective.
For those of you that prefer a video to text, here are the instructions courtesy of the makers of Indorex, Vibrac:
And for those of you that prefer written instructions:
Before you start
- Remove all pets from the area prior to treatment - this includes any birds, reptiles, insects, spiders and aquatic pets.
- Wash all pet bedding on high temperature
- Close all Windows and Doors
- Do NOT use near any naked flames, including pilot lights.
- Prior to using on any furniture or fabric, test it on an inconspicuous area to ensure it does not discolour it
How to Use Indorex
- Shake can of Indorex
- Remove lid and hold upside-down about 50cm above the area you wish to spray
- Indorex should be sprayed around your home evenly. Spray directly on to any carpets, flooring and skirting boards and under rugs and blankets
A 5 second burst should cover approximately one square metre. If you spray more than this it can cause discolouration, any less and it will not be effective.
- Pay particular attention to any cracks or crevices where pests may hide
- After you have finished spraying, leave the room and wait for 30 minutes before ventilating the room for at least one hour.
- Vacuum daily for at least 7 days after treatment and we would suggest spraying a quick burst into the bag or cylinder of your vacuum before you start each day.
Once dry (allow at least 90 minutes), Indorex binds to all surfaces in a way that it will not come off onto the skin making it safe for infants, cats, etc.
As a bonus, Indorex works against household dust mites, a leading cause of indoor allergies. Using Indorex could mean you and/or your pet will no longer need to take allergy medication.
One can of Acclaim covers more territory than its competitors on the market, up to 140 sq. metres, or the size of a smaller four-bedroom home. On the down-side there have been some questions regarding its efficacy compared to Indorex, but we have been generally impressed with it.
Like the other area sprays, Acclaim contains S-methoprene and permethrin to kill fleas and flea larvae plus a full twelve months activity against flea egg development.
Acclaim has proven efficacy in killing adult fleas for up to 6 weeks. Besides killing fleas, Acclaim also guards against house dust mites, ants, cockroaches, ticks and, thankfully, spiders.
RIP Fleas is another good product. Like Indorex it is an area treatment and is used in much the same way. The only reason we do not like it quite as much is that there seem to be more reports that it does not work and that we don't like the smell! However, this is still a very good product.
RIP Fleas contains tetramethrin, a second generation synthetic pyrethroid. As such, it quickly kills adult pests. It also contains permethrin: a strong pesticide that works on contact. Peremethrin was the first synthetic pyrethroid authorised for home use by the World Health Organization. Its properties cause it to be lethal to fleas, but safe for most mammals, but make sure you follow the instructions carefully to avoid issues with other pets.
A third active ingredient is methoprene. Methoprene “mimics the insect juvenile hormone and arrests development of fleas and house dust mites…” keeping them in their adolescent stage of development. This prevents the critters from developing into full blown biting pests so they cannot reproduce.
One other advantage of methoprene is that it remains liquid at room temperature, allowing it to better spread into carpet pile.
Johnsons 4Fleas Room Fogger
Johnsons 4Fleas is a room fogger, which works differently to the sprays. Instead of spraying the area directly, you simply place the can in the middle of the room, set it off and leave it to empty the contents into the air. The fog then settles creating a lethal environment for any pests.
4Fleas contains permethrin and s-methoprene which kills fleas and other insects such as ants, cockroaches, earwigs, etc. The active ingredients also prevent hatching eggs and larvae developing into adult fleas.
One can will treat an area of 35m², for example, a 7m by 5m room. For most effective results you need to treat the whole house and you will need one can for each room you treat.
How to Use Johnson's 4Fleas Fogger
- Shake well before use.
- Remove all pets but ensure pet bedding is treated as this is a primary hiding place for pre-adult fleas.
- Close exterior doors and windows; open interior doors and cupboards of areas to be treated.
- Place Fogger on raised area e.g. table or chair and protect with newspaper under the can.
- Keeping at arm's length, point the top of the can away from the face and press down on the actuator until it locks.
- Set the can upright on the newspaper and leave the treatment area. Once activated, the can will discharge the entire can.
- Keep area closed for 2 hours, then open all the doors and windows for 30 minutes.
The Fogger will only treat exposed surfaces. In heavy infestations treat under furniture with a Johnson's Household Flea Spray. The Fogger leaves no odour or residue and should not stain soft furnishings. In case of heavy infestation, a second application may be necessary. 4Fleas Room Fogger will also kill The Fogger can be used throughout the year if there are signs of fleas.
Summary of Johnson's 4Fleas
4Fleas does a pretty good job of killing fleas and without any bad smells. It also kills ants, cockroaches, ticks, earwigs, silverfish, other bristletails, centipedes, spiders and beetles on contact.
However, you may need several cans to fully treat your house as you have to use a whole can, for each room regardless of the size of room,
Also since you cannot use it to target specific areas and it will only treat exposed surfaces, we do not find it as effective as other solutions such as Indorex.
Let's say you've identified fleas in your home and on your pet. What's next? Well, after you have read this you should have a good idea of the available products, so make a choice and carefully read the package to ensure you use it properly and that you have enough to treat your entire dwelling. Don't just consider the square footage of your home, but also the need to spray your pets' bedding and furniture.
Next spray some of your flea spray into the cannister and Vacuum thoroughly, not just floors but furniture, beds, and pet bedding if the bedding cannot be washed. This will get rid of many of the flea eggs and larvae to help break the flea life cycle.
Then spray your home evenly, following directions on the can, making sure you spray under furniture and on the pets' bedding. Spray well along the baseboards and in any cracks or crevices.
Finally, make sure you treat your pet at the same time, ideally with an oral flea treatment and a spot on.
You may need to repeat this process for a few months to kill off all the fleas infesting you home, but following this advice can help get and keep your home flea-free.
- 1 What Are The Best Flea Sprays?
- 2 First Steps
- 3 Can Flea Sprays Kill Cats?
- 4 Indorex Flea Spray Review - Our Best Buy
- 5 Acclaim
- 6 RIP Fleas
- 7 Johnsons 4Fleas Room Fogger
- 8 Summary