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Does Lemon Kill Fleas?


Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re a pet owner, then you probably know the struggle of constantly having to find fleas in your home. Sadly, getting rid of fleas is no easy feat.

You have to run your washing machine countless times and put any infested objects in soapy water. You also have to vacuum like crazy and properly dispose of your vacuum bag to ensure no fleas or flea eggs remain. That isn’t to mention the expensive flea remedies you have to but for your pet.

Accordingly, many pet owners have had to resort to cheaper home remedies, including lemons. However, can lemons actually repel fleas from a dog or other animals? Moreover, are lemons even safe to use on pets? Keep reading to find out all this and more.

Does Lemon Juice Kill Fleas?

Not really. That is, of course, unless you’ve decided to catch and drown the little pests in lemon juice.

Unfortunately, straight lemon juice doesn’t have any insecticidal properties. So, if you were planning on getting and squeezing a lemon, we highly recommend you drink the juice as spraying it on your pet, and your furniture will do nothing more than make everything smell citrusy. Still, we can’t completely deny that lemon juice can be a fairly good flea repellant.

So, now that you know that lemon juice isn’t an option to kill fleas, where did the idea to use lemons even come from?

What About Lemons Is Good for Killing Fleas?

As you already know, the answer to getting rid of the blood-sucking pests doesn’t lie with lemon juice. So, where does the effectiveness of lemons come from?

Believe it or not, lemon rinds are the knights in shining armor of any flea battle. Why you may ask? Well, this is because lemon peels contain a compound called D-limonene.

D-limonene is a natural chemical used in many pesticides and flea-control products. It repels and kills fleas quite well, though it works on certain flea life forms better than others.

What About Lemons Is Good for Killing Fleas?

In short, D-limonene has the most insecticidal effect on flea eggs. However, it’s much less effective against adult fleas and larvae. That isn’t to say it’s utterly useless against adult fleas and larvae, but it would be much better to put it to use against flea eggs.

So, as you can see, lemons can be good for killing fleas as they contain D-limonene in their rinds. But, unfortunately, that’s not the case for straight lemon juice. So, if you’re going to be using lemon products to get rid of your flea problem, you need to make sure they contain D-limonene in some way or another.

How Do Lemons Get Rid of Fleas?

While it isn’t 100% clear how lemons kill fleas, it’s suspected that the D-limonene in lemons can get rid of fleas through their neurotoxic effect. Accordingly, once the fleas make contact with a lemon flea spray, they may experience tremors, loss of coordination, convulsions, and even paralysis.

It’s worth noting that even if D-limonene isn’t able to kill fleas, it can still repel them quite well in high enough concentrations. Basically, fleas can’t stand its lemony, citrusy scent, so if you lightly spray your cat or dog’s coat with a lemon flea spray, you’ll be able to deter fleas from staying in your home.

Are Lemon Flea Treatments Safe for Pets?

Nowadays, various lemon flea treatments include lemon sprays, essential oils, and even lemon-infused collars. So, are all these flea control treatments safe for you and your pets, or do they pose a threat? Let’s take a look.

Lemon Oil

Unfortunately, lemon oil isn’t a good choice to use if you’re a cat or dog owner. That’s because lemon oil contains incredibly high concentrations of D-limonene.

You may be thinking, how can that be bad? Surely, the higher the D-limonene, the faster you’ll be able to get rid of your flea infestation!!!

Well, that’s not our worry here.

Sadly, the EPA has listed D-limonene as a volatile organic compound, which can cause unpleasant odors, skin irritation, as well as other health and comfort concerns for you and your pet.

Lemon Oil

This is especially true with cats, as even a few drops of D-limonene are toxic to them. On the other hand, dogs can withstand small quantities of many citrus oils, though some can experience mild skin irritation with these oils.

That being so, it’s generally best not to risk using essential oils on your pet’s coat or skin directly. Instead, you can try various other remedies that are much safer for your pet, such as dish soap and coconut oil.

Lemon Spray

Lemon sprays are generally much safer to use on pets due to the lower D-limonene concentrations. However, regularly using a lemon spray on your cat’s or dog’s body can cause skin irritation, redness, and peeling as the lemon blend is highly acidic.

Now, though lemon spray may not be very dangerous in adult dogs, puppies and cats are a different story. Puppies have particularly sensitive skin as they’re still growing and developing, so applying an acidic mixture to their skin isn’t the wisest choice.

Of course, if your cat or dog has open wounds and sores due to flea bites, using lemon spray would be an absolutely horrible idea. The acidity will immediately put your pet through a world of pain, similar to how painful it feels when lemon juice comes in contact with a papercut on your finger.

Lemon Spray

Moreover, since D-limonene is toxic to both cats and dogs, your pet can experience gastrointestinal problems if it licks the lemon spray off its body. It can even undergo liver issues with high enough concentrations.

So, is using lemon spray to deter and prevent fleas hopeless if you have a pet?

No, not if you use it wisely. First off, avoid spraying any cats or puppies with lemon sprays. Only use it on your adult dog and introduce the home remedy slowly. Apply it in small quantities infrequently, and watch for any signs of allergy or sensitivity. If all is well, then you can keep using the spray.

So, what if you have a kitty cat? In that case, don’t spritz your feline friend with lemon spray. Instead, spray your pet’s bedding and surroundings, and only allow it back in the room once everything has dried down.

How to Use Lemons to Deter Fleas

You have a few different ways you can put an end to fleas in your home.

First of all, you can cut a lemon in half and simply rub it on your pet’s fur, rind, and all.

You can also add lemons to your pet’s shampoo, then use a flea comb to catch any remaining fleas.

You also have the option of making a natural flea collar by soaking your pet’s collar in a lemon mixture infused with dried rosemary for about five minutes, give or take.

You can also make your own lemon spray and use it to spray your home and pet.

To do so, simply get a couple of fresh lemons and cut them into quarters or thin slices. Then, put them in a large pot with 4-6 cups of water and boil the mixture for about five minutes.

Let the mixture steep overnight or at least for about eight hours at room temperature. Once your mixture has steeped enough, get a large spray bottle, and pour your mixture into it, but make sure to strain it first.

Then, spray your pet’s belongings, and any other area you suspect is infested. You can also spray your dog’s fur, but don’t saturate its coat. A gentle spritz is more than enough. Wait for about 10 minutes or so, then get your flea comb and start picking out the bothersome pests.

We highly recommend you do this process outdoors, just in case any fleas are still alive and kicking. You can apply the spray to your dog daily until you’ve managed to get rid of all the fleas. However, that’s only if your doggo doesn’t experience any side effects.

Tip: You can add rosemary and other natural ingredients like apple cider vinegar to your lemon water in order to increase its flea repellent effect.


Lemons are a great natural deterrent for fleas. However, it’s important to note that whole lemons and lemon juice don’t have the same effect. That’s because lemon juice lacks D-limonene, which is the active ingredient that kills and repels fleas. This ingredient is only found in lemon rinds, so you have to use the whole lemon to get any flea-fighting properties.

Just take care that D-limonene can be toxic to cats and dogs if ingested. So, be cautious when using any lemon-based flea treatment on your pet’s coat.