Fleas are a common problem in American households with dogs and cats, as these furry members of the family inadvertently bring these bloodsucking pests into the house. While carpets, bedding and upholstery offer an attractive home for a flea, it's important to note that hardwood floors can also harbor these bugs. Find out how fleas can live on hardwood floors, and learn more about the steps you can take to have pest-free flooring.
Flea habits and hardwood floors
Many pet owners mistakenly believe that hardwood floors will keep fleas at bay. In fact, hardwood floors can sometimes make it harder to deal with the problem.
Fleas don't like to live on slick surfaces like hardwood floors, but they still find themselves in these places when they drop off their animal hosts. As such, these abandoned fleas will hide in cracks and crevices, behind baseboards and in cracks and seams in the floor, which makes them harder to find and deal with. Unfortunately, people with hardwood floors sometimes miss this fact, so even if you concentrate on keeping the floor surface clean, you may not touch the areas where fleas breed and develop.
Getting rid of fleas on hardwood floors
To get rid of a flea infestation, you must first tackle the host, which is probably your cat or dog. Talk to your vet about possible flea treatments, which may include insecticide products or more natural options. Whichever method you choose, you need to apply the treatment immediately before you tackle the floors.
Start by cleaning the hardwood floor with a vacuum cleaner. This will remove adult fleas, eggs, larvae and pupae. Use the nozzle attachment to tackle the corners, crevices and baseboards, as the fleas are more likely to hide here. Don't ignore furniture, as fleas can infest upholstery and pet bedding.
Don't steam clean hardwood floors. This won't necessarily eradicate all the fleas, and you may damage the surface of the floor. When using cleaning products, always choose cleaners recommended for hardwood floors.
You'll then need to choose a product that's suitable for flea control. Flea sprays or bombs can both work, but look for a product that contains an insecticide and an insect growth regulator. The former will kill adult fleas, while the latter will deal with other stages in the critters' life cycle.
Again, you must carefully check that the product is suitable for use on a hardwood floor. Boric acid (sometimes sold commercially under different brand names) is available as a powder that you can scatter across a large surface area. Boric acid is an effective way to tackle fleas, and the chemical won't damage the flooring. That aside, you should wear gloves and protective shoes, as the chemical can harm human skin.
Ongoing maintenance and control
Unfortunately, fleas are hardy and persistent, so if you have pets, you'll need to keep up a regular flea control regime. Regular vacuum cleaning can help, but you should also set up flea traps. You can buy flea traps that emit a light to attract the bugs before trapping them on a sticky board. Regular use of these traps will tell you if you need to apply a flea killer again.
Don't make the mistake of thinking that fleas are only a summer problem. Fleas are generally less active in the colder months, but your pets can still bring them in. As such, flea-control is a year-round task that you just cannot ignore because the sun isn't shining.
Hardwood flooring is often easier to keep clean when you have pets, but this type of flooring sometimes makes it harder to get rid of fleas. Make sure you have the right flea-control strategy that will keep these pests at bay without damaging your beautiful hardwood floor.