Fleas’ biology enables them to survive in the water for hours. It even allows them to jump out of the water and escape drowning.
Many dogs and cats owners ask the question – do fleas drown?
Or can they kill fleas by submerging their pets in a bucket full of water or pool for a while?
They hear conflicting and confusing opinions on the topic that don’t give them the right information.
In this post, you’ll get a science-based but easy to understand the answer to your question.
Let’s find it out.
Do Fleas Drown?
Yes, fleas drown in water. But it depends on the kind of water you’re drowning the fleas.
In normal water, fleas can float.
Fleas float on the water in the same way mosquitoes do. The surface tension of normal water enables them to float.
So, when you’re trying to drown them in water, fleas can quickly jump off from the surface of water and escape.
The most interesting part is that fleas don’t die when you submerge them in water.
They can easily survive for 24 hours inside water.
So, if you’re thinking that you’ll get rid of fleas in your pet by just submerging its body in water for a minute or two, then you’re wrong.
Fleas will still survive that.
Why Don’t Fleas Die When Submerged?
It’s because of the way fleas are built.
Fleas have a wax-like coating on their body, which is known as cuticles.
The wax coating repels water.
The wax coating runs through their trachea (consider it as its nose), stopping the water from entering their respiratory system.
The wax coating is very slippery. It also enables the fleas to quickly slide through their hosts’ thick fur and go straight to their skin.
How To Drown Fleas?
So, the obvious question is, how you can drown the fleas.
There’s an easy way to do it – mixing dishwashing soap with water.
Submerge the fleas in water mixed with dishwashing soap. Fleas will die.
There are two reasons for it.
First, dish soap makes the water’s surface thin and reduces the surface tension.
So, the fleas won’t be able to float on the water, and they’ll sink immediately.
What about the cuticle that we talked about? Won’t it protect the flea?
That brings us to our second reason.
The soap in the water breaks the cuticle or the wax coating of the fleas.
Water enters the respiratory system of the fleas and kills them.
But there’s one catch.
It will help if you use a dish soap that doesn’t produce any foam.
It’s because when you’re submerging your pet inside the water, the fleas can hop onto the foam and jump away.
Hence use something like Jet-Dry or Cascade dishwashing soap that doesn’t produce much foam.
Many people use Dawn dishwashing, which works fine too. But it produces foam.
If you’ve got a small-sized dog or cat, then submerge it until its neck in a bucket of water mixed with dishwashing soap. Hold your pet for 2-3 minutes.
Take your pet out, and again submerge it for the same amount of time. Do it for 3-5 times.
Then use an anti-flea shampoo on your pet.
Wash your pet with lukewarm water and let it dry.
If you’ve got a dog, then ensure that your dog doesn’t run into tall grass or rolls on the mud when it’s wet.
Then use a hairdryer to dry your dog’s or cat’s hair.
The heat from the dryer will kill any remaining fleas on your pet’s body.
But what if you’ve got a big dog?
Then you can’t use this method because it’s impossible to hold a big dog inside water for 2-3 minutes.
If you’re a big dog, you can use food-grade diatomaceous earth to kill fleas. Sprinkle diatomaceous earth on your dog and leave it for a few hours.
Then comb your dog. You’ll find dead fleas sticking on the comb.
Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for both humans and pets.
So, you can drown fleas on your dog by using water mixed with dish soap. But it works when you’ve got a small or mid-size dog.
Should You Use Dishwasher Soap Regularly To Bathe Your Pet?
No, you shouldn’t.
Dishwashing soap or liquid is good to use when your pet has fleas. It’s not for regular usage.
Dishwashing soap or liquid is very dehydrating. It’ll remove all the essential oils and proteins from the pet’s hair.
Excessive use of dishwashing soap will make your pet’s skin and fur excessively dry, making its skin prone to irritation and infection.
It’d be best for your pet if you don’t use it more than twice.
If your pet has a skin infection, then don’t use dishwashing soap at all. Consult your vet asap.
Can Fleas Drown In The Washing Machine?
Yes, fleas drown in the washing machine and when you use warm water to wash your clothes.
If you’ve got a dryer, then dry your clothes at a temperature of 140 deg F. Fleas do die in the dryer and can’t survive that temperature.
Fleas can travel to places by latching onto your clothes and luggage. If you walk through areas, like through tall grasses where fleas hide and wait for a host, fleas will attach themselves to your clothes.
So, if you’ve been outdoors, refrain from keeping your clothes that you wore in your closet or bed. Wash them in hot water to kill the fleas attached to your clothes .
So, wash your pet’s bedding and fabrics in warm water and dry them up at 140 deg F to kill any fleas living in them.
If Dog Swims In Water, Will It Kill The Fleas?
No, it won’t.
Does Hot Water Kill Fleas On Dogs And Cats?
Yes, it does. But using only hot water isn’t an effective way to kill fleas.
It’s because when the fleas sense hot water, they can jump off the only to reinfest your pet later.
Fleas drown in water. But not in normal water. You need to add dishwashing soap with the water to kill the fleas.
Fleas can float on normal water like mosquitoes. And when submerged inside the water, fleas can easily survive in water for 24 hours.
It’s because of the wax-like coating that runs across the flea’s body.
The wax coating prevents water from entering its respiratory system, keeping the fleas alive for extended hours.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.