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Does Water Kill Fleas?


Reading Time: 6 minutes

Fleas are parasitic organisms. They depend on the livelihood of other animals, so they’re mostly found on furry, feathery, and hairy animals, like your cat and dog. They have bristle structures attached to their bodies, which allow them to stay stuck in the hair, fur, or feathers.

Flea bites can cause bad irritations in animals, and for very sensitive and allergic cats and dogs, fur or hair loss is likely to be seen. So, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of these parasites and if water can actually kill them. Read on to learn if water can be a solution to these nuisance insects.

Can Water Kill Fleas?

Yes, fleas can drown in water. However, the biological makeup of the parasites allows them to escape any drowning attempt in normal potable water. Their cuticle-bound bodies will make them survive the water for several hours. So, a mere dipping of your pet won’t make the fleas die. This is because they’ll just escape, especially those adapted for long jumps.

However, you can still free your pet from these parasites by mixing water with something else to make sure you’ll drown fleas.

Freeing Your Pet Using Water

Freeing Your Pet Using Water

Here are some efficient ways to overcome the biological makeup of the parasites and grant your pet some freedom as well.

Using Soap

Applying a few drops of soap to the water before bathing your pet helps improve the situation. This is because soap in potable water reduces the surface tension of the water; it makes the water too thin to allow any insect movement.

And with lowered surface tension, you’d see the fleas lose contact with your pet while struggling to swim in the soapy water. The soap prevents swimming, so the fleas drown because they’re unable to reach the water’s surface. It also weakens the cuticle wax system, allowing exposure of their respiratory system, blocking spiracles, and preventing air exchange, which kills them.

So dip your pet 3-5 times in a large basin or your bathtub, holding it down for about two minutes, and leave the soap to do its work. Also, use soap with less lather, so the fleas don’t jump over the foam to escape.

However, you shouldn’t practice this too regularly; soap tends to dehydrate the skin beneath your pet’s fur and may eventually cause fur loss. For example, the Dawn Dish Soap, which is used as an alternative to flea shampoo, is known to dry your pet’s skin.

Hot Water

People tend to ask: Can hot water kill fleas? The answer is yes; hot water is effective against fleas. Similar to soap, there’s less surface tension at higher temperatures. Also, hot water attacks the cuticle system but isn’t as effective as soapy water.

But you should note that when the water is too hot, you may struggle to dip your pet and risk burning it.

However, your pet’s bedding can be rid of any stuck fleas and flea larvae. A good wash in hot water with enough detergent will attack and weaken cell membranes, ridding your pet’s bedding from future infestation.

Machine Wash

This is another effective use of water in ridding your pet of fleas. But this isn’t a “drowning” fleas method; it applies to your pet’s bedding and other clothing materials your pet may use, such as cotton ribbons.

High-velocity spins of the washing machine coupled with increased wash temperatures at about 140 degrees Fahrenheit and detergent use is powerful enough to kill the fleas. After washing, expose the material to thermal drying, ensuring that all fleas are properly eliminated.

Floor Wash

Another way to use water to keep fleas away is by cleaning your floors, carpets, and furniture regularly with citrus or lemon-scented soaps or detergents placed in warm water.

This may not kill the fleas but will be effective in keeping them away. Fleas don’t do so well around strong citrus-based smells; they stay away from environments with these smells, so you’d have a flea-free area with this practice.

Other Effective Flea Controls

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Besides using water, there are some equally efficient ways to rid your home and pet of fleas. They’re as follows:

Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Now, this isn’t water, but it does the freeing just as much as water does. If you have a pet that would struggle with the dipping action, you can use some amount of food-grade diatomaceous earth. You should find it in any grocery shop or pharmacy.

Like any powder, sprinkle the earth in small amounts in your pet’s hair, ensuring it reaches all areas, even beneath the fur, hair, or feathers. The fleas die in about two hours.

After the given period, comb the fur or hair of your pet, and you’d see the dead fleas sticking to the cob and falling off as you do. You can do this every fortnight if you’re in a flea-prone area.


Vacuuming causes flea deaths, especially those who stray away from your pet in search of other environments. Remember to attach a disposable bag to your vacuum cleaner before you begin.

Since fleas mostly hide their eggs in beddings, cushions, and small and confined spaces, make sure to vacuum frequently across all these susceptible areas. Fleas and their larvae are most likely to be sucked in and deposited in the attached disposable bag at vacuuming speeds. Carefully discard the contents of the bag after vacuuming to prevent future flea problems.

Vegetable Oil

This is a simple homemade flea trap. Vegetable oil has a very low surface tension, almost half of that of potable water. And the thickened nature of vegetable oil allows limited movement for fleas.

Limited movement leads to drowning, which can kill fleas. Also, since oxygen doesn’t penetrate oily surfaces, there’ll be no air exchange happening in vegetable oils when fleas are trapped in them, so they’ll suffocate to death. Therefore, you can comb your pet’s fur with a bowl of vegetable oil close by; the oil will trap fleas.


This is an even more natural method of ridding your pet or home of fleas, and it’s a simple thing to do. All you need is enough herbs and some water. You can choose this way if you’re not into chemicals.

For starters, coarse grind some sprigs and add them to two glasses of boiling water. Then, allow the water to cool and transfer it into a spray bottle. You can also add the mix to your machine wash water or your cleaning solution for your floors.

The smell keeps the fleas away, while direct contact weakens their cuticle system. And at higher concentrations, it can kill fleas.

Safer Ways of Flea Control

All the methods above help in one way or the other when it comes to getting rid of fleas. When used correctly, they’re also not so harmful to the human skin and your pet. First, however, we’ll briefly describe some safer approaches to control fleas.


Even though fleas are parasites, they’d only be invited to your home or pet when your environments are unsanitary. For example, weedy areas are a spot to pick flea eggs from. Also, dirty pet beddings and cushions are spots that allow proper conditions for flea growth.

Therefore, you must keep your surroundings free from tall weeds, especially the parts where your pet likes to take strolls. And give your pet regular baths with pet-approved shampoo and anti-flea shampoos as well. Finally, wash all beddings and clean floors with enough detergents. All of this will prevent flea dirt from sticking around.

Treating Pets

As much as possible, give your pet a good bath and regularly give it a relaxing comb or hot air drying treat. You’d find out your pet loves this treatment. Also, remember to use a specialized flea comb, which digs beyond the fur to bring out adult fleas.

Also, dip the flea comb in a bowl of alcohol during the process to kill any fleas sticking to the comb. And give your dog a burst of hot hair from a blower once in a while; the heat also helps rid the dog of the fleas.

Moreover, your vet can recommend Insect Growth Regulators (IGR) such as Sentinel. They come in the form of pills, food additives, or sprays, and they’re synthesized to disrupt the development of fleas, especially at the egg and larvae stages.


What Kills Fleas Instantly?

Nitenpyram, commonly known as Capstar, can instantly kill fleas on dogs. However, it has to be administered orally, and it can work in 30 minutes.

And in-home, salt does the magic; salt can kill adult fleas instantly.

How Long Does It Take to Drown a Flea?

When you submerge a flea in water, it’ll take a minimum of 24 hours for it to drown. In general, water bodies, they can last up to seven days.

Will Fleas Die in Cold Water?

No. Fleas will manage to swim to the surface and escape, despite cold temperatures. But, on the other hand, hot water kills fleas.

What Is Flea Allergy Dermatitis?

It’s an allergic reaction that appears in the form of a rash on the skin of your pet. Flea bites cause it.

What Is Cat Flea?

It’s one of the most common fleas that affect cats and dogs.

Final Words

Fleas can be managed and controlled with water, but a few additions must be made to make it more efficient. You can try any of these methods, such as soapy water, hot water, and machine and floor washing. Whichever method you’ll use, make sure you’re doing it safely.