Fleas in Basement--solutions??

Updated on October 01, 2010
S.J. asks from Belmont, MA
12 answers

We have a flea problem in our basement. We are treating our cat with Advantage and keeping him out of the basement, which has a concrete floor and stone walls. (He is a totally indoor cat, so I'm puzzled by why we even have fleas.) I'm confident that the cat and our main living space are both fairly flea-free. We are vacuuming a lot.

But the basement remains a problem. My husband thinks we should send our cat into the basement right after treating him with Advantage so that the adult fleas will bite him and die. (We are concerned about using an insecticide that our young children could be exposed to.) I'm not comfortable with this idea--using the cat as bait. Plus, I wouldn't be comfortable letting him into our main living space again after spending time down there. My husband says he could give him a bath after being in the basement. To me, that sounds totally absurd. I envision the cat running wildly through the house dripping all over the place--a disaster I don't want to clean up. Has anyone tried this, or other solutions? I'm interested in success stories as well as cautionary tales. Thanks!

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So What Happened?

Thanks so much for all your thoughts. I'm especially grateful for the diatomaceous earth suggestion. We just bought a bag and are going to spread it throughout the basement. We're seeing fewer fleas down there with the cooler weather, and I'm hopeful the DE will help curb an explosion in the spring. A flea bomb will be our last resort. Thanks again!

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answers from Charlotte on

All the adult fleas aren't going to jump on the cat. You'll have to do it over and over and over...

Put a flea bomb in the basement. Then do it again in 10 days because the eggs will have hatched and the second generation needs to be killed.

Sorry - it's better than continuing to be bitten.

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answers from San Francisco on

Have you looked up more natural solutions on the internet? One year we used a combination of salt and Borax (soap) spread over the carpet. It did the trick as a natural fix. From what I remember is supposed to dry out the fleas. We also on occasion we spread Diatomaceous Earth around the outside perimeter of our house. The DE cuts up the bodies of insects making it hard for them to survive.

We have never used a flea bomb in the house as I do not want my children or myself to be exposed to that type of chemical. Yes, we still get fleas mostly because there are squirrels all over our neighborhood. Just keep up on the vacuuming and combing the cat. I have found we only need the Advantage once year, in a really bad bug year.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Fleas don't live long in a house where there is no host for blood--are you sure they are not gnats?

Gnats--pour water & bleach down all floor drains once per day for several days.

Fleas-- Treat your cat--remove him/her from the house. Bomb the house.



answers from Anchorage on

I would make sure that the cat is flea free, and than remove everyone including the animals from the home for a day and use a flea bug bomb. I know it is not ideal, but when our house got fleas it was the only thing that worked to get them all and keep them from coming right back. I would not let them get on your cat, the advantage helps, but the cat can still get fleas if there is an infestation, and than he will carry them up and into the main part of the house and than you have a bigger problem.



answers from Boston on

I had major problems with fleas a few years ago, and the best thing that I did, was go online to BESTNEST.COM. they sell this little contraption that is a natural flea killer. It's called "The Ultimate Flea Killer. It has a sticky paper inside a plastic shell. There is a little night lite in the top of the shell. You just put it where ever the fleas are, and they are attracted to the light. They jump to the light, and get stuck on the paper. I must have had a zillion fleas in my basement, and living area, and within 2 weeks, they were almost all gone. I keep one going in the basement, and one in the living area and change the sticky paper every 3 months. They are about $14 dollars, and definately safer for pets and humans than bug bombs.



answers from Joplin on

If no one is going in the basement it may sound like an over simple solution, but this really works, set out a pan with water and a bit of dish soap in it, then shine a light ( like a small flashlight near the bowl. They are attracted to the heat from the light and will drown in the water...although I have to say I have never heard of fleas in just one area of the house before, if you have fleas...you have fleas.



answers from Columbus on

We have/had a bad flea year too. They have flourished and gone nuts! There is a treatment called DE (Diametrious Earth). Not sure I spelled that right though. It is all natural. My daughter EATS it when she can find it. LOL. It is made from ground of fossilized rock into a fine powder. You just need to wear a mask while distributing it. Inhaling the smoke can trigger asthma and I would keep everyone out of the area until the dust cloud settles. It works, but makes the fleas go crazy for a bit. The powder slices through the exoskeleton of the fleas and dehydrates them from the inside out. A large bag usually doesn't cost more than $10. I get 2-3 uses from each bag for my 2 bedroom house. I love it because my daughter eats everything! No ill effects so far and we have been using it for months. Just don't spend time in the area after spreading the DE for a few days, if possible. As they die, they get desperate. We do it regularly now every month or so, or if we even start getting infested again. Believe it or not, there is actually a recipe online that you ingest the powder mixed with water for your digestive tract. I am not going that far, but I do like it immensely. Hope this helps. <3


answers from Norfolk on

Hmm. A puzzling problem. If the cat's not getting out, the fleas have got to be coming in from somewhere.
I'd clear around the outside edges of your house. Trim back vegetation, cut grass very short, keep wood piles (if any) away from the house. Eliminate hiding places which give bugs/critters an excuse to come close. Spray around the outside perimeter of your house.


answers from Barnstable on

We had a massive flea problem in the basement and the only, ONLY thing that got rid of them was hiring Terminex. They would come out whenever I called them - sometimes 3 to 4 times a WEEK, and you just pay the flat yearly bill ($300 I think). Worth every penny!


answers from Boston on

You have received a lot of good suggestions on how to get rid of them. It's true that you need a 2-pronged solution (fleas, and then the remaining eggs). As for the source - there is a bumper crop of acorns this year and so squirrels are frantically gathering them. One may have worked his way into your basement - it's pretty easy. Same with chipmunks. The other source is a field mouse - they are unbelievable at flattening their bodies and entering a house along a joist or along a pipe - like where the water goes out from the basement to the outdoor spigot. As the nights cool down, animals may get in the basement looking for a warm place to build a nest for the winter. The fleas are happy with any warm-blooded host, and they are good at jumping onto a cat or a human. For the squirrels, look for a hole anywhere about 1.5 inches across. For the mice, forget it - you can't mouse-proof the house, only get rid of the ones you have.

You can try the natural solutions mentioned or consult an exterminator who uses environmentally-friendly (and child-friendly) solutions. Sometimes the exterminators can spot the source of the problem by identifying entrance holes, small amounts of damage you can't spot, or droppings. But definitely do something!



answers from Lincoln on

We had the same issue. Set off a bug bomb (or two depending on the size of your basement) and the fleas should be gone. Just go to the park, or go run errands while its going. My problem was so bad I had to bomb twice, but it worked.


answers from Austin on

You need to bomb the basement with a flea bomb.. Then the next day vacuum and on the third day bomb again..then vacuum the next day.. Then get a spray of flea killer and spray it around the edges all around the walls and floors..

Fleas are really bad this year. What is happening is that you can bomb one day, but any eggs that will hatch will hatch on about the 3rd day.. So you need to do 2 or 3 treatments to eliminate them.. Also make sure to throw away the vacuum bags right away after vacuuming or pour out the contents if you do not have bags in your vacuum.

Fleas love to hide in rugs, carpets and in corners and the edges of the rooms all along the floor and the walls..