Build Your Own Effective and Simple Flea Trap

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How to get rid of fleas in your carpets and pet areas using non-toxic and pesticide-free 'flea trap' methods.

Fleas Be Gone: Getting Rid of Fleas in the Home Begins with Your Pets

When I lived in New York some years ago, we had a very dry and hot summer. It was a banner year for ticks and fleas. My cat, which had outdoor privileges, was infested with fleas and I suspected, so was her bed and my carpet as well.

Her flea collar was not helping much and she was losing weight due to the stress of being bitten, and from her constant itching and scratching. The discomfort must have been unbearable!

I bought flea soap for pets and laundered the cat in the bath tub. She did not enjoy being bathed but I dare say that many hundreds of fleas floated off of her in the wash.

I towel-dried the cat and using the hair-dryer, finished the task. I replaced the flea collar with a new one, and that cat was SO relaxed! She stretched out on the living room carpet and you could just see the delicious repose!

She laid upon her back to nap, stretched so deeply & articulately, and purred so very loudly. -Anyone could tell that she was at least briefly, stress-free and perfectly content. It must have been a blessed relief to be rid of those annoying fleas!

I was fairly certain it would not last even if I curtailed her outdoor roaming privileges for the near future. The indoor cat would still be subject to any fleas already embedded in the carpets and cat furniture. Nobody wants to admit that their home has or may have fleas, but it you have a cat or a dog with outdoor privledges, this is very likely.

Here is how to make a simple and surprisingly effective flea trap.

Image of a flea from a Scanning Electron Microscope

(image source) Picture of a flea taken with an scanning electron microscope.

Build a Simple and Safe Flea Trap

Using a shallow aluminum pie tin or vertical-sided cake pan, place it upon the carpet and fill it about three-quarters full of warm water.

Add several drops of sudsy dish detergent to the water and mix it to produce a sudsy mixture. You want the surfactant action of sudsy water.

It is probably better to use slightly too much dish soap than to use not enough. Using too little dish detergent might cause the fleas that land upon the water to not sink and drown. They merely swim to the edge of the cake pan and climb out.

Position a desk lamp close over the cake pan on the carpet and turn the lamp on, shining the light onto and into the pan. Turn off all other lights and go to bed. A good place to begin is to place this pan near where your pet usually sleeps.

The fleas will be attracted to the warmth and to the light, and upon jumping towards it will land in the sudsy water. Being of such a liteweight, normally the flea would float upon the water but the dish detergent is a surfactant. The lowered surface tension of the water causes the flea to sink and drown.

You could substitute the desk lamp on the floor by leaving the pan in front of the television set turned on with the volume turned completely down. The fleas will be attracted to the light like moths to a flame. Possibly even the movement of whatever program is on attracts them too (confusing it with a real potential mammalian host) and will eventually end up in the sudsy demise.

Fleas and Carbon Dioxide

Fleas are very much attracted to carbon dioxide of respiration; the exhalations of you or your pet is an attractant to a hungry blood-sucking flea.

You could also take advantage of this and use tonic water or seltzer soda pop instead of tap water, still using the added dish detergent. This might be even more effective. The carbonation release will last for hours even when the ‘fizziness’ is no longer visible. There will still be enough of a carbon dioxide ‘cloud’ around the cake pan trap to attract fleas to their lemming-like watery death.

During these overnight trapping tests it will be best to confine your pet to a room where they cannot access the pan of soapy water. You don’t want them to drink it because if might cause stomach distress.

You should also control fleas that get into your vacuum cleaner bag too: sprinkle table salt and borax powder on your carpet and vacuum it up. Both of these will desiccate ('dry out') fleas that get sucked into the vacuum cleaner sack, killing them.

Borax is available in powder form where insecticides are sold, is safe to use in home with pets and children because it has approximately the same toxicity as table salt.

Whether you use the plain water or seltzer/tonic water method (both using added dish detergent as surfactant,) if your home has a recent flea infestation it might be an effective and pesticide-free flea remedy to try first.


Posted on Nov 19, 2010
Kaleidoscope Acres
Posted on Feb 8, 2010
Amanda Bradbury
Posted on Feb 8, 2010