In a world filled with chemicals, it is no wonder that many people are interested in exploring natural alternatives for flea problems. However, presuming that it is even effective, this doesn’t always translate into the treatment being safe for your pets. In this article, I will explore if apple cider vinegar is a good choice for DIY flea control.
- If you are short on time, click here for a quick summary of this guide.
- Can vinegar help my pets with these pests, and is it 100% safe for them?
- My homemade vinegar spray that I use for indoor flea control (3 steps).
- Is apple cider vinegar effective for repelling them in carpets or my yard?
- Can ACV help deal with all stages a flea infestation (eggs, larvae, etc.)?
Does vinegar kill fleas, and will it keep them away?
Apple cider vinegar does not kill fleas, even if they come into direct contact with it. The level of acid contained in ACV is not strong enough to penetrate the hard exoskeleton of the adults, or even the protective coating of their cocoons. That’s the bad news, but don’t be too disappointed. Vinegar is still a good solution for controlling these pests due it being a great natural option for repelling fleas.
The acetic acid contained in ACV gives it a distinctive sharp odor, and this smell is repugnant to them (to be completely honest, I am not a fan of it either). This will not only keep them away but if used correctly, can also rob them of their source of food. Without a constant supply of blood meals, they will eventually die and will be unable to reproduce.
PRO TIP: Female fleas are unable to lay eggs without a blood meal as they are anautogenous insects, which means that they must feed before they can breed. She needs to feed continually to sustain her high metabolic rate to enable her to remain fertile, and without this, she will die in a couple of days. This will make big dent in the overall population, provide the odor doesn’t dissipate too quickly.
Can vinegar help with pet fleas, and is it safe for them?
Yes, it can help, and using ACV in your pet’s care regime will not only repel fleas; it will also help it in other ways as well. For example, the potent antioxidant and antibacterial qualities of apple cider vinegar will help with dry, itchy skin, dull coat, yeast infections in paws, hot spots, bladder infections, and digestive problems.
ACV is entirely natural and non-toxic to both dogs and cats. It is safe to use internally and externally, but always remember that too much of a good thing can be harmful. If you stick to the dosages (and dilution ratios) outlined below, you will reap all the rewards of this product.
Speaking of which, here is an awesome ACV recipe that I use in conjunction with dawn soap to both kill and repel fleas from a dog or cat. If you follow these steps, it will provide immediate relief for your pet, and keep these pests away for a couple of days.
Step 1: Prepare a bath for your dog or cat, placing a non-slip mat (or a towel) on the bottom to help prevent your pet from sliding. Wet your furry friend thoroughly, and lather his coat with Dawn liquid soap (if it is not available in your area, use any other natural dish soap).
Step 2: Rinse all the soap off and then rub the apple cider vinegar mixture into his fur (1 cup ACV, 3 cups of lukewarm water), making sure to get it down to the skin. When it comes to his face, dip a cloth into the mixture and use that to avoid getting it the eyes (it will sting).
Step 3: If it is a sunny day, I recommend letting your pet to air dry, otherwise use an old towel to do the job yourself. At this point, the fleas will be dead (from the dawn), others will stay away (from the ACV odor), and your pet will enjoy the bonus of a lovely shiny coat.
PRO TIP: When the smell of the vinegar dissipates, fleas may return to bite your pet. I don’t recommend repeating the bath too frequently, as it can dry out their skin. Instead, leave out the soap and just put a little vinegar and water into a spray bottle, and use it to on their fur every 2-3 days. If you are still having a problem after doing this 2-3 weeks, consider using a spot-on treatment as well.
My homemade vinegar spray that I use for indoor flea control:
I am going to be honest with you and say that I was never a fan of using vinegar inside my home due to the strong smell. Yes, it can repel fleas, and yes, it is safe to use, but the odor is a little too much for my rather sensitive nose. However, after much trial and error, I have put together an ACV spray that not only keeps them away, it can kill these pests and it also smells great!
Step 1: Place 1 cup of ACV into a 33oz spray bottle (about 1L for our non-US friends), and then add five drops of rosemary, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender oil (twenty drops in total). These are the ones I use, but feel free to choose a single one, or to add what you have to the mix, as most essential oils repel fleas.
Step 2: Add half a cup of salt to your liquid mixture and fill up the spray bottle with tap water. Shake vigorously until all ingredients are well blended. The salt will help the oil to mix with the ACV and the water, and when it comes into contact with fleas, it will strip the moisture from their body (which kills them pretty quickly).
Step 3: Use this spray to lightly cover any areas inside your house that are harboring fleas. Please remember to avoid any materials that should not come into contact with water (silks/suede/etc.) and if you are unsure, test in a small area first. Lastly, keep the spray bottle in a cool, dark place to preserve its effectiveness.
PRO TIPS: Just to be perfectly clear, this spray is for inside your home and should not be used on your pets. Unfortunately, although dogs are much easier when it comes to essential oils, they can be toxic to them (especially cats), so rather stick to my ACV method for pets above. If you have any questions about this, I would be happy to help you, but please don’t risk endangering your furry friend. Lastly, I don’t recommend using this mixture on your hardwood floors, as there is a small chance that it could cause some damage.
Is apple cider vinegar effective for fleas in carpets or my yard?
Yes, it is effective, and if you use the DIY indoor spray that I covered in the previous section, ACV can do its part by keeping fleas away from the targeted area. However, if you want my personal opinion, I feel that there are better options for your carpets, as outlined in this article.
The same situation exists for using vinegar in your yard; yes, it will deter fleas, but there are just better tools for the job. For example, beneficial nematodes are very affordable and make short work of them. I feel that the only exception for using ACV would be if you had a tiny garden, and didn’t have any of the options listed in this article at your disposal.
OVER TO YOU: If you have had any success in using apple cider vinegar (over other solutions) in your garden, I would love to hear from you. It is my goal to keep this guide as comprehensive as possible, and would love to include a use case for it. Just leave a comment and I will review it for a potential inclusion.
Can ACV help deal with all stages of fleas (eggs, larvae, etc.)?
Despite its acidity, vinegar cannot get rid of eggs (or stop them hatching), or have any real impact on the density of pupae in an area. I also couldn’t find much reliable evidence that suggests that it would kill the tiny, worm like larvae that emerge from the eggs. However, just remember that if they cannot feed due to the surrounding odor, they will die, so ACV can play a role in them dying off.
Even if the juvenile fleas eventually become adults, the apple cider vinegar will keep repelling them from any area where you put it. This means that provided you treat your pets, use the DIY spray around your home, and make sure they are not in your yard, they will stay out of your living spaces and likely die due to the lack of adequate sustenance.
PRO TIPS: I have a bunch of other articles that can help you deal with these pests (all stages), and I recommend that you take a look at using my food grade Diatomaceous Earth, household borax, and DIY flea trap articles. I also have a detailed guide on what they look like, and a deep dive on their lives (egg -> adult). If you have any questions on them, please ask in the comments below.
A quick summary of this guide if you are short on time:
Even with direct contact, vinegar will not kill fleas. Although some sources claim that the acids contained in this liquid will penetrate their exoskeleton (or their eggs), this is just not true. However, ACV can be used as an effective flea repellent due to these pests finding its odor particularly unpleasant, and if this robs them of their food source (e.g. if you use it on your dog), they can eventually starve to death.
ACV is safe to use on your pet when its diluted in water, and it can even be ingested to help with all kinds of problems. I recommend that you combine it with Dawn for immediate relief for your dog or cat, as the soap kills them and the vinegar keeps them away. Don’t repeat this method too often, as it can result in dry skin. Instead, mist their coat every 2-3 days with watered down vinegar (without soap).
As for using it in your home (furniture, floors, crevices, etc.), you can use my homemade ACV spray, which adds table salt and some essential oils to the mix. The salt will have a dehydrating effect on the fleas (which is deadly to all stages of their lifecycle), and the oils aid not only repel them but also make a considerable improvement to the smell of the vinegar solution.
Vinegar is not an ideal solution for carpets, even if you mix it with the ingredients above. I am not saying it won’t work, but I personally recommend a few alternatives (listed in the tips section). The same applies to using ACV outside, it pales in comparison to better options like beneficial nematodes. If you have a specific use case for it outdoors, I would love to hear from you.
A couple of popular FAQs, and my concluding thoughts:
Can I use apple cider vinegar on myself? Yes you can, provided you don’t mind smelling of vinegar. Based on my research, it is even used for some skin ailments like eczema and acne, so it is definitely safe to use. However, always apply diluted and don’t use on broken skin.
Will it help to add vinegar to my pets water? No. Some believe that by reducing the pH of their blood, it will act as a deterrent to fleas. However, this has not been scientifically proven, and since many pets don’t like the taste, they may even avoid their water and become severely dehydrated.
What type of vinegar should I use for this? Honestly, it doesn’t really matter that much, but if you want to go the extra mile and want to use it on your pets, you can get an organic brand. I have used both, and didn’t notice much difference, so please don’t get all caught up on this.
Can I combine some baking soda with ACV? Yes you can, and it will dehydrate the fleas in the same way that salt does (you can use the same measurements). Please note that it will react a little bit when you add it to the vinegar (nothing to worry about), just leave the lid off until it settles down a bit.
Can I use distilled white vinegar as an alternative? I don’t recommend that you swap ACV out for this product, as it is much more harsh and should never be used on pets. Additionally, please keep in mind that all the dilution rations in this guide presume the use of apple cider vinegar.
Will apple cider vinegar burn my pet’s eyes or skin? Yes, even diluted vinegar will burn your pet’s eyes, so please make sure that you don’t get it near them. It will not hurt their skin (presuming it’s not damaged), but if your pet’s skin goes red, stop the treatment immediately.
I hope you enjoyed reading this comprehensive guide on using apple cider vinegar for these pests. If you have a success story or a question, please share your thoughts in the comments section, and I promise to get back to you. I always answer my comments, even if you are reading this in 10 years from now. If you want to support me, please consider sharing this post with your friends and family.