Can Fleas Survive In The Washing Machine?

Do you have pets in your home? If so, you may have to deal with flea infestation, or you might be currently going through one now. Fleas are parasites that usually feed on the blood of your cute dog or cat, and are extremely irritating carriers of diseases. 

If you have unwanted guests in your home, you’ll know how they can get everywhere – your furniture, appliances, and especially in your fabrics. Hence, if you’re wondering whether you can kill these pests in the washing machine, the answer is yes. 

Tossing your flea-infested garments or bedding in the washer can kill the pests, as long as you’re using detergent and most important of all, warm to hot water. It’s always best to read your fabrics’ care labels to know the highest temperature you can safely use and you can ensure that the fleas won’t survive once the cycle is done. 

How To Wash Flea-Infested Fabrics

Despite what others may believe, washing fabrics that have fleas isn’t effective because they’ll drown in the water. In fact, it’s difficult to drown fleas, as they’ll have to be completely submerged in water for at least 24 hours before they perish! Instead, what’s important is the water temperature, as heat will dehydrate the pests – effectively killing them. 

top loading washing machine drum

The main reason why you have to wash your clothes, bedding, and rugs during an infestation is that fleas can quickly spread in your home. The eggs and mature fleas that have been feeding off your pets can get everywhere – and if you don’t get to the bottom of it ASAP, don’t be surprised if you see fleas crawling around, even on your curtains. 

Here are some tips on how to kill the pesky fleas in your washer:

Use The Highest Temperature In Your Washer

Fleas are not easy to kill. However, with the right temperature, it will be possible to kill even mature fleas and also destroy any eggs that may be clinging on your fabrics. 

60 Degree Wash Cycle

To do so, you’ll have to use at least 40°C temperature in your wash, and of course, the hotter the temperature the better. If your fabrics can be washed using a temperature of 60°C or higher, it is guaranteed that you’ll be able to get rid of those fleas once the cycle is complete.

WARNING: Always read the care label of your garments. Using too much heat in the washer can result in the fading or shrinking of your fabrics. 

Do Not Overload 

It might be tempting to wash as much as you can in one go, especially during a flea infestation! However, overloading your washing machine can prevent clothes and fabrics from moving freely in the water, which may reduce the effectiveness of the wash cycle in killing fleas. 

large load in drum illustration

Ensure there is enough space for the water and detergent to circulate through the fabrics, reaching every inch of clothing where fleas might hide or use as a boat. 

TIP: The optimal load of laundry you should wash should be at least ½ of the washing machine’s capacity. If you have an 8 KG washer, put at least 4 KGs worth of fabrics in one cycle. 

Use The Right Amount Of Detergent

No, you don’t have to use a special detergent to kill the fleas. However, using the correct amount is crucial! Use too little detergent and you may not kill all the fleas, and using too much can create suds, which can help the fleas float and survive. 

Follow the detergent manufacturer’s recommendations for the size of the load and the level of the soil to ensure that your efforts do not go wasted!

SEE ALSO: Liquid vs Powder Detergent For Washing Machines: Which is better?

Select A Long Wash Cycle

The longer the wash cycle, the more time the hot water and detergent have to work their magic. Going for an extended wash cycle ensures that the fabrics are thoroughly soaked and agitated, leaving no safe spaces for the fleas to survive. 

TIP: If you’re washing heavily soiled or thick materials, always choose a longer wash cycle as long as the fabric is not delicate, as fleas can use the soil or excess fabric as a buoy to not get in contact with water. 

Consider An Extra Rinse Cycle

Although it will take more time and resources, we recommend that you also do another cycle once the first one is complete. An additional rinse cycle can help to ensure that all detergent, as well as any dead fleas and eggs, are thoroughly removed from the fabrics. 

This is also helpful for those who have sensitive skin, as residue from the detergent can trigger allergies and skin irritation.[1]

Dry On High Heat

After washing, drying the fabrics on high heat can add an extra level of assurance that you’ve completely eradicated the fleas. Like the washing machine, a tumble dryer’s high temperatures are lethal to the annoying pests. 

person in front of a stacked washing machine and dryer

As always, check the care labels to ensure the fabrics can withstand high heat. If not, air drying in direct sunlight can also be effective, as fleas will not do well in direct, hot sunlight.

Additional Tip: Deal With The Infestation Quickly

The quicker you act to deal with a flea infestation, the easier it will be to control and eradicate. This means treating infested areas in your home, your pet (with advice from a vet), and any infested fabrics simultaneously. 

cat getting injected

Delaying action will allow the fleas to multiply and spread, making the problem significantly more challenging and expensive to fix!

Do you have questions or tips to share? Leave a comment below!

Frequently Asked Questions

What temperature kills fleas in the washing machine?

The temperature that kills fleas in the washing machine is at least 40°C. However, the hotter the temperature, the more effective it will be at eradicating fleas, with temperatures of 60°C or higher being ideal to ensure those pesky fleas don’t stand a chance.

Do I have to wash all my clothes if I have fleas?

You don’t necessarily have to wash all your clothes if you have fleas, but it’s crucial to wash any fabrics that your pets have come into contact with or are infested. Targeting bedding, rugs, and garments in the affected areas will help prevent the spread and ensure a flea-free home.

Can fleas survive without a pet?

Yes, fleas can survive without a pet for a short period. They prefer living on hosts for easy access to food (blood), but they can jump onto and live in carpets, bedding, and furniture while waiting for another host to come along.

Can fleas get in your bed?

Absolutely, fleas can get in your bed. If you have pets that sleep on or near your bed, fleas can jump from your pet onto your bedding. Washing your bedding in hot water and drying on high heat can help kill any fleas and their eggs.

Does sunlight kill fleas?

Yes, sunlight can kill fleas. Direct, hot sunlight is harmful to fleas, and air drying infested fabrics in direct sunlight can help in eradicating these pests.

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