Do Fleas Drown In Water?

Many pet owners, especially dog owners, ask me “Do fleas drown in water?” I know where they’re coming from.

They presume that submerging pets in water will drown the fleas. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t.

Fleas drown and die if they’re completely submerged in the water for 24 hours. If not, they can float on the water’s surface for seven days!

However, if fleas are submerged in water mixed with dish soap or detergent powder, then they’ll die in less than 24 hours.

This guide will explain the science of fleas drowning in water in a layperson’s terms. And why you should resort to proper flea treatments rather than using soapy water.

Let’s dive in.

Why Fleas Don’t Die In Water?

There are three reasons fleas don’t drown in water –

  1. Water’s surface tension
  2. Cuticle wax on fleas’ exoskeleton
  3. Fleas’ body shape.

Water’s surface tension prevent fleas and other insects, such as mosquitoes and their larvae, from drowning.

Also, fleas have a waxy coating on their body. The waxy coating in known as cuticle wax that covers their exoskeleton and their trachea (nose).

Do Fleas Drown

The coating prevents the fleas from suffocation because it stops the water from entering their respiratory system.

Add the unique oval-shaped body of the fleas and you’ve a perfect combination that keeps fleas alive for seven days in the water and for 24 hours underwater.

That’s the reason fleas can survive the rain and they can will remain alive in the areas such as bathroom and basement where there’s high water usage or dampness.

Can Fleas Swim?

No, fleas can’t swim. They remain afloat on the water’s surface because of the surface tension.

So, fleas floating on the water’s surface can easily survive. And they can hop off the water containers and escape.

Dish Soap In Water Will Drown Fleas

Soapy water will drown fleas. Dish soap or any detergent powder contain surfactants that reduces the water’s surface tension, disabling the fleas ability to float.

However, fleas need to be submerged in soapy water for at least 24 hours to drown.

The dish soap in the water will absorb the waxy coating on the flea’s body and it will penetrate the flea’s exoskeleton. Both these reasons drown fleas in soapy water.

Does Hot Water Kill Fleas?

Yes, hot water kills fleas. Fleas die when you expose them to temperatures greater than 95°F.

That’s why washing the bed sheets in hot water in a washing machine kills fleas. Drying the bed fabrics in the dryer kills the remaining fleas. Both these steps are important for killing fleas in the bed.

Also, using a steam cleaner on flea infested furnishings such as pet’s bedding, carpets and bed mattress will kill fleas in them.

Steam cleaners produce heat to an extent of 100-120°F which kills fleas in all lifecycle stages, including flea larvae.

Do Fleas Drown In The Washing Machine?

Yes, fleas drown in the washing machine. But it’s only possible if you’re using hot water and detergent, preferably citrus scented detergent, to wash the clothes or fabric with fleas in them.

The soapy water will absorb the oil like coating on the fleas body, causing the fleas to drown.

Should You Bathe Your Pet With Dish Soap To Kill Fleas?

Pet’s skin and fur have natural protective oils that protect them from various skin issues.

Dish soaps have high pH values that soak the natural oils in your cat’s or dog’s coat, leading to skin irritation on your pets.

As the fleas won’t be submerged in the water for 24 hours, so, the fleas won’t die either.

If your pet has fleas, then it’s always wise to take your pet to the veterinarian for flea treatments.

Bathing your pet with a flea shampoo in warm water, flea comb, and even food grade diatomaceous earth on your pets help remove adult fleas, flea eggs, and other tiny bugs that are not fleas.

Also, fleas in dogs won’t die if your dog swims in the water.

Preparing Flea Traps With Soapy Water

You can prepare a flea trap with dawn dish soap and water for drowning fleas. It’s quite an impressive hack for flea control and many homeowners facing the blunt of flea infestation in their homes have used it successfully.

Take a bowl and fill it half with water. Add a two table spoons of dish soap.

Fleas are attracted to light, so, keep the bowl with soapy water nearby a light source in a flea-infested area.

Rub some petroleum jelly on the bowl’s interior or rim will cause the jumping fleas fall back into the water and will drown the fleas.

Keep the trap for 24 hours in the areas of your house with fleas. You’ll notice many dead fleas in the bowl.

However, this flea trap isn’t a cure for the flea problem in the house. You’ll need to treat your entire home and your pet dog or cat for fleas to get rid of fleas.

Final Thoughts

Fleas don’t drown in standard water, but they do drown in soapy water.

However, there’s a catch. Fleas drown only if they’re immersed in water for 24 hours. Water mixed with dish soap doesn’t remove fleas from your home or from yo

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