Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas?

The presence of fleas in pets, underneath the carpets and in humans is often the beginning of long troubles! Stinging, invasive, thirsty for blood, and reproducing very quickly if not dealt with properly, fleas are a real ordeal. However, since the price of commercially available flea products is quite high, many have resorted to the use of dish soaps like Dawn. But the question is: does dawn dish soap kill fleas on dogs? One of the best ways to get rid of fleas on your pet is to bathe your companion and wash it in the dish soap. Otherwise, if it doesn’t like the bath, you can also use a spray bottle and the wash-up liquid to kill fleas easily without breaking the bank. It’s that easy, isn’t it? Find out how to identify the fleas and how to get rid of them with the use of this home hack! First, let’s see what the insects are like.

does dawn dish soap kill fleas
does dawn dish soap kill fleas

Who are the fleas?

Tiny, fleas are no less large parasites. From the category of ectoparasites, they feed on the blood of the mammals they infest. Cats, dogs, sometimes even rats, they don’t hesitate to attack humans when resources run out.

After their meal, the females lay an average of 20 eggs per day directly on their host. Round or oval with a smooth shell and whitish, these do not stand on the animal. They are found scattered on the floor throughout the house. This makes the infestation challenging to eradicate.

Once hatched, the larvae take refuge in dark places, protected from light, and in search of moisture. There they feed on organic debris, larval remains, and dried blood found in the excrement of adult fleas before weaving a cocoon. This is an envelope in which they can stay for up to 5 months. Then they are awakened by vibrations testifying to the presence of hosts to be parasitized.

What is the risk of fleas?

Arriving at adulthood, the flea leaves in search of its first blood meal. It then has seven days to find a host to feed on, otherwise, it dies. If the flea feeds several times a day, it can survive for several days without eating. Thanks to its powerful legs, it jumps very high and very far. This is how it moves from prey to prey.

Only the female bites because, like the mosquito, it searches for proteins contained in the blood to lay its eggs. Its bites leave small stinging red marks. It is this eating habit coupled with its nomadism that makes it a carrier of diseases. Also, their bites can trigger allergic reactions and be extremely unpleasant because they are stinging in all cases. Not to mention your pets, who are the first to suffer.

How to get rid of fleas?

The best season for infestations is from early August to early October. Hence the importance of being extra vigilant at this time of the year. After each outing of your pet, inspect its hair thoroughly and do not hesitate to use a flea comb. Measuring only 2 to 6 mm, fleas are not necessarily visible at first glance, but their brown color can help you to spot them. Then use the proper flea treatment if necessary.

The problem with fleas is that the eggs and pupae are insensitive to insecticides. So when, after returning from their outing, we treat and kill the adults and the larvae, the eggs, nonetheless, will continue to grow into larvae. The pupae release new biting fleas, and will lay again! A single treatment is rarely enough, and one may have the impression that the products do not work!

Why does Dawn dish soap kill fleas?

Aphids, mites, and whiteflies are common garden pests that can ruin your garden. There are many veils of mist and insecticides out there that can kill many of these creatures on contact. But many contain chemicals that you may not want to use on your plants. Generally, dishwashing detergent offers a quick solution to many pests, but may not be effective in the long run. Dish soaps like Dawn and other brands can kill many pests in contact.

How does dawn dish soap kill fleas on dogs?

The Mechanisms Dawn can kill many insects through a process known as desiccation. Although the exact method with which it and other soaps kill pests is not yet fully understood. Desiccation causes the insect to dry and its outer skin to open.

Homemade flea spray with Dawn dish soap: How to go about it

Option 1: Bathing your pet

  1. Fill the bathtub with lukewarm water to around 20°C. This temperature is hot enough for your pet to be comfortable without shaking it. Fill the tub so that the water rises to your companion’s belly. For example, if your pet’s lower abdomen is 30 cm from the floor, you should fill the tub 30 cm. If you wash a smaller animal, such as a ferret, fill a large bucket with lukewarm water instead of putting it in the tub.
  2. Soak it in the bath to wet it. Avoid getting water in their eyes or ears, as this can irritate them. Make sure the fur is wet before continuing. This is all the more important for animals with thick coats because you are going to need more water to wet them thoroughly.
  3. Pour the Dawn dishwashing liquid over the fur and lather. The amount of dishwashing liquid you need depends on the size of your pet, as well as the flea population. Start with a small amount (for example, between two and three teaspoons) and add more if necessary. Start by applying the washing-up liquid to the neck and go down to the tail. Avoid putting it in the eyes or ears. Rub it gently, but make sure that the product penetrates the skin because this is where the fleas hide. If it moans, it means you are rubbing too hard. If its fur is particularly thick, try brushing it to make the soap penetrate further.

Tip: since fleas will rush towards the neck when you start applying the product, it is better that you start with this area before going down to the rest of the body. This will create a barrier that will prevent fleas from taking refuge on the face or ears.

  1. Wait for five minutes, then rinse. Leave about five minutes for the dish soap to kill all the fleas before rinsing. Use a cup of water or the showerhead to rinse off the foam. Start at the top and descend slowly to the tail. For best results, you can use a flea comb while you rinse it to make sure you remove as much of it as possible. You may need to use a large amount of water in one area to completely clean the foam out of the hair. Be very careful when rinsing it around the eyes. If you put foam in her eyes, rinse with cold water and pat dry with a towel.
  2. Empty the bathtub and dry your pet with a towel. Once you no longer see living fleas in its fur, drain the water from the tub. Rub it gently with a towel until it is completely dry. You can also use a hairdryer to dry it, but you will take less risk by using a towel. If you want to make sure you eliminate as many fleas as possible, run the flea comb through its fur once it is completely dry. This helps to catch those that you might have missed during the bath. If you have a cat, this experience will probably agitate it, and it will run away at the slightest opportunity. Be careful when you dry it doesn’t scratch you.
  3. Repeat if you still see fleas. Some of them could have survived the first treatment with dishwashing liquid. Remember that they hide at the level of the head and the face. This means that you will probably have to add a very small drop of washing up liquid to your pet’s head on the second pass. You may need to rewash it once or twice, depending on the number of fleas it has. If you still see it after several days, give it a new bath every two to three days, then use flea products to kill the stubborn ones. You could also put on a flea collar or use a skin product like Frontline. To make sure there are none left, vacuum often the floor and cloth furniture (at least once a day) to kill all the fleas and their eggs.

Read more: Best flea fogger for your house

Option 2: Use a spray bottle

  1. Fill a spray bottle with lukewarm water at around 20°C. This temperature will prevent your pet from agitating while protecting it from possible burns. If you do not have a thermometer, use water at room temperature. This method is particularly useful for cats, rabbits, and other animals that do not like baths in general. If you don’t have sprays, you can also mix lukewarm water and the Dawn dish soap before dipping a flea comb and combing your pet. However, it will not be as effective as the solution with the spray bottle.
  2. Hold your animal and wet its fur. You can wrap it in a towel to immobilize it or hold it gently by the skin of the neck. Be very careful while you hold it; remember that it can be a very stressful experience for the pet. Make sure their fur is wet before proceeding to the next step. You should avoid getting water in his eyes or ears, as this may irritate him.
  3. Rub the washing-up liquid on its fur to make it foam. Use between two and three teaspoons of dishwashing liquid to start with and add more if necessary. Start by applying the washing-up liquid to the neck and go down to the tail. Make the product penetrate deep into the hair until it reaches the skin. Fleas generally live and lay their eggs close to the skin. This is why it is essential that you make sure that the dishwashing liquid comes into contact with it to rid your pet of fleas. If its fur is thick, you may need to reapply dish soap to make sure it penetrates deeply.
  4. Wait five minutes, then rinse the pet. Start at the top of its body and work your way down to the tail. For best results, use a flea comb while you rinse to remove as much as possible. You may need to spray some areas with lots of water to rinse them off thoroughly.
  5. Dry your animal with a towel and release it. It will be very stressed after washing it, especially if it is a cat. It might even run away once you release it! Do not take it personally. It will soon return to normal behavior, especially when you feed it!

Tips: Dawn can also be used as a topical shampoo for dogs or cats that suffer from fleas. Dead fleas must be removed from the skin with a comb.

What’s the right concentration?

Dawn liquid soap should be diluted with water to be effective. It is typically mixed in a spray bottle with water at a concentration between 2 and 3 percent. You can also add a little eucalyptus. It will bring a pleasant smell to your house. The combination of water that covers the insect and the desiccation caused by the soap will remove the wax layer from the creature, drying and killing it.

Benefits and Limitations

Insecticides made from Dawn detergent are readily made and inexpensive. But asides from use at home or on pets, does dawn dish soap kill fleas in the yard without harming plants? They can kill insects on contact and generally do not harm plants, as long as they are not applied very often. Plants sprayed with the insecticide should be rinsed with water to remove any soap residue. However, Dawn-based pesticides do not act as preventives. They will help to reduce existing populations but will do virtually nothing to prevent future infestations.

Read more: How to kill fleas in yard

Other natural flea treatments for your home

  1. Non-toxic insecticide

You can make a homemade preparation with natural products to fight against fleas in your home. You just need to mix two liters of white vinegar, 1 liter of water, 25 cl of lemon juice, and 10 ml of witch hazel. This product is not dangerous in the presence of children and animals. It is a natural anti-flea treatment for your home entirely harmless for you. Place this mixture in a spray, vacuum your entire house, then spray this product on your furniture, on the floor, baseboards, window sills, door sills, etc. Dawn dish soap and vinegar for fleas are also an effective solution.

  1. Baking soda

If you are a lover of natural products, you must have baking soda in your home. Safe for your environment; it turns out to be an excellent anti-flea treatment for interiors. Mix the baking soda with a little fine salt and sprinkle this mixture on your carpets, sofas, etc., then use the brush.

  1. The lemon

Again, you have a completely natural product to fight against fleas. Also, it diffuses a fresh and pleasant scent throughout your home. You can achieve a natural anti-flea treatment by making a spray simply by mixing a finely cut lemon and water. Let it macerate for a day, then spray in places infested by fleas.

  1. Diatomaceous earth

This natural product used in various ways is safe for animals. It thus will be a perfect anti-flea treatment. This very fine powder is not toxic; it is advisable to choose diatomaceous earth for food. You can sprinkle infested places with it and leave it on for two days. This eco-friendly product will make your environment healthier and more pleasant. Be aware that diatomaceous earth can also be used as a dewormer for your animals.

  1. Anti flea plants

There are perfect repellents to fight against fleas and even insects naturally. This is particularly the case for pennyroyal, a medicinal plant that you will also appreciate for its sweet and pleasant smell. Around and in your home, this anti-flea repellent is perfect. Note that the traditional spearmint will also be an ideal option. Also, note that fleas do not like chrysanthemums. Do not hesitate to place pots of the plant at the entrance of your house. Lavender is also a natural anti-flea treatment for your home. In front of it, in a pot in your interior, lavender is a preferred solution. Finally, rosemary is also a natural anti-flea product. With it, not only will you make your home healthier, but you will also be able to take advantage of this plant to flavor all your dishes.

Natural chemical treatment against fleas


Farnesol will slow down or even prevent the metamorphosis of the larvae. In short, most eggs will not hatch; they will deplete their larval state resources. Beware of allergy sufferers: farnesol is an allergenic agent.

Preparation of the farnesol treatment

  • Pour the required amount of alcohol into the sprayer, reserving a fifth.
  • Then add the farnesol and the essential oil.
  • Fill the empty vials of farnesol and lavender essential oil with half alcohol.
  • Close and shake to dilute the last drops of the products.
  • Empty the two small bottles back into the spray bottle.
  • Fill the empty bottles again with the remaining reserved alcohol.
  • Empty the vials again into the spray bottle.
  • Close and shake the sprayer: it’s ready.
  • Do not forget to keep some products to start treatment in 10/15 days.

Pet maintenance treatment

Maintenance treatment will allow for long-term effectiveness. Every day, you should take a few moments as soon as you can to maintain your pet. Indeed, if you have got rid of all the fleas on its fur, there may still be some left in the house. Sooner or later, they’ll catch up with the pets again. Knowing the speed of reproduction of this pest, regular maintenance is the best way to maintain the natural health of the animal and thus avoid infestation.

  • Coat the lice comb with dimethicone and place within your reach a bowl of water with a few drops of Dawn dish soap.
  • Comb the animal (the favorite place is mainly the neck for cats).
  • As soon as there is a flea on the comb, dip it in the water solution.
  • Tap the comb on your knee to drain it and repeat until it has no more fleas.
  • Put dimethicone back on the comb if necessary, and spray at close range on a flea that is difficult to catch (without rinsing).
  • Do this as many times as possible and especially when the animal returns from the outside, or has been in contact with animals.

Flea treatment for humans and homes

Equipment for treating fleas at home

  • Standard household equipment, include a little dish soap, such as Dawn, of course.
  • Plates and as many trays with high edges or large basins.
  • An empty window cleaning spray bottle (which must not have contained bleach, toxic products, or synthetic insecticides).
  • Farnesol of natural origin. You can get this in the deodorant product department of stores or sites selling ingredients for homemade cosmetics. Attention: some sites play on words. They explain that farnesol is present in certain essential oils, but it is a synthetic product.
  • The rubbing alcohol without additive: 10 times the amount of farnesol used in ml.
  • A pest control essential oil, for example, cedar or geranium. The same amount as that of farnesol will be used (to slow its volatilization).
  • For carpets or large rugs: rent or hire a steam cleaner.

Human treatment

Drowning remains, without question, the simplest and most effective non-toxic means against fleas. The few drops of detergent, by reducing the surface tension of the water, prevent the fleas from being able to float and escape from the edge.

  • Stay barefoot or in shoes for a while: this will make it easier.
  • Take some basins or trays and put a few drops of Dawn dish soap before filling them with water.
  • Place them close to the places where animals pass, at least one on each floor if necessary. This is so as to be quickly accessible to all.
  • As soon as you feel a flea on you, enter barefoot in the basin or tray. Shake the part concerned to make the insect fall into the water. It may be necessary to raise your pants or sweater stockings while shaking them over the water. Since fleas seek the security of darkness, they tend to jump when the light changes. Once in the water, they will drown.
  • If by skill, you caught one between your fingers, do not open them, especially without having strongly crushed it. With their shell, being very solid, it would leap out as soon as the pressure of your fingers is less intense. Having plates everywhere on the ground where possible without being too annoying, will reduce the room for maneuver of living fleas present in the habitat. Leave water traps at least one month without interruption.

Mechanical flea treatment

The objective is not to get rid of living fleas, which are too mobile, but of the larvae in order to limit contamination.

  • Store and clean everything. There should no longer be any dust used for the larvae’s nests.
  • Shake everything that can be shaken out, especially cushions and cloths from your animals’ diapers. Choose this method over the vacuum cleaner. The latter is a real reservoir of fleas. It is an ideal carrier and incubator for their reproduction.
  • If necessary, boil or iron the laundry most likely to be infested. Otherwise, simply wash it after shaking it outside.
  • Sweep everywhere. Do not exempt any corner, especially the passages of animals and areas where potentially infested linen has been stored. Vacuum where this is not possible if you are not using a steam cleaner.
  • Be very careful with vacuum cleaner bags (supply of fleas and larvae). Change the bag or empty the tank carefully if there is no bag, and clean the area infested by this operation again.
  • For carpets or large rugs, thoroughly clean them with steam. You can do it on other floors too and everything that supports them. It will kill fleas and larvae in high heat, but you have to be careful. Do not exempt any corner because average heat and humidity are the most favorable conditions for the development of fleas.
  • Do not forget to start the big cleaning for around 10 to 15 days.

Last Line

If you have a dog or a cat, you are not immune from seeing your pet return with fleas after a getaway. However, if having fleas for your animal is particularly annoying, you’re not exempted from being bitten by this parasite. If you are not a chemical enthusiast, there are some natural anti-flea treatments for your home to discover. To clean up your environment, we suggest that you simply use the Dawn dishwashing soap. Mix it with hot water and apply it on affected pets. Dawn dish soap for fleas in carpet is equally effective. If this may seem harmless, this natural product is particularly sticky for fleas and becomes a real trap. But above all, the Dawn dish soap is effective for an instantaneous result. However, they’re not as effective as a preventive product.

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