Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Fleas flee from lemonade, laundry soap


Published: Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Risak, CJ

Mary Ryder


The author of the article told how she simply sprinkled borax powder over her floors, then went away and did something amusing for the next four hours or so while the magic mineral did all the dirty work. Upon her return, she vacuumed up the borax powder, and looked forward to a flea less summer.

It was worth a try. No smelly, poisonous fumes. No need to seal up all the cracks around the doors and windows so those smelly, poisonous fumes wouldn't escape before killing off the wretched fleas. And as icing on the cake, a big box of borax (found in the laundry detergents section of the supermarket) cost about as much, or a little less, than one bug bomb. And somehow, de-fleaing was never a one-bomb procedure.

Since 2010 has brought in another bumper crop of fleas, I've been comparing notes with friends whose environmental concerns and frugality result in a preference for "natural" home remedies whenever possible.

My friend Peggy, who always has one or more dogs around the house, suggests equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water, kept in a handy spray bottle. Use it on floors, or spray it on your dog, and rub it into the skin. Fleas hate vinegar. Unfortunately, this doesn't work for cats; cats are said to hate the smell of vinegar almost as much as fleas do.

My friend Jan uses an old "lemon cure" to keep her dog free of fleas. Chop up one lemon, peeling and all, pour a pint (two cups) of boiling water over it, and let cool to room temperature. Then strain, and use a soft cloth or cotton balls to apply to pet's skin. Jan says this lethal lemonade kills fleas instantly. And unlike the vinegar remedy, this one can be used on cats, too.

If fleas are a problem in the house, some books recommend washing floors with lemon water, and rubbing lemon peels across the doorways.

Other sources say that any citrus can be used: lemons, oranges, limes, or grapefruits.

Another household item that works well against these annoying little house invaders is old-fashioned pine oil. Unlike the aromas of citrus and vinegar, which fleas hate, Peggy says the scent of pine oil is something they actually like.

"Get some shallow containers - ordinary saucers will do - fill them with water, and set them on the floor around the room where fleas are a problem," she said. "Add just a few drops of pine oil product to each saucer - I use Pine-Sol - and leave them alone. The fleas are attracted to the smell of the pine oil, and jump into the water and drown. You'll be amazed how many you trap that way."

Or you can lure them to their doom with light. Put a lamp in the middle of the floor, and set one or more plates of water on the floor where the light will shine on them. The fleas are attracted to the light, and, again, they jump in and drown.

My friend Lee has a simpler version of the borax method: "I just sprinkle it on my carpets, and work it in with a good stiff brush, and leave it." No need to vacuum, and no, it doesn't harm her pets.

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