Flea bombs, or foggers, are aerosol cans that contain insecticides. They are designed to be sprayed inside the home on their own; their contents are released as a fine mist into the environment and indirectly kill off fleas. The most effective flea bombs contain both adulticides (to kill adult fleas) and Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs; to prevent flea eggs from hatching and larvae from developing into adults). As soon as you detect a problem with fleas on your pet or in your home, you should begin the treatment process. Flea bombs represent only one step in this process, and treatment of your pet should also be paramount and should take place prior to bombing your house.
How to Flea Bomb
CC Image courtesy of Christopher Barson on Flickr
First, you must decide which flea bomb to purchase. Make sure the bomb is effective against both adult fleas and hatching eggs, while ensuring that you purchase a sufficient amount so as to cover a large enough area in your house. The label should indicate how many square feet one bomb will cover. It is extremely important to read all instructions on the flea bomb as they will not be identical to those given here. Make sure to follow the directions carefully – you don’t want to have to bomb your house a second time!
- Get everyone – both pets and people – out of your house. You could even use this time to treat your pet for fleas directly, if you haven’t already. The house must remain unoccupied for at least 8 hours after bombing since they release toxic ingredients into the air.
- If you have an aquarium, remove it from the house or turn off the pump and cover it tightly.
- Remove any pet bedding, cages and litter boxes from the house.
- Close all windows. It may seem trivial to include this step, but you want to seal the contents of the bomb inside your house.
- Move as much furniture as possible to uncarpeted areas in the house. Fleas love to infest carpets, so it is important that as much carpet is exposed to the contents of the flea bomb as possible.
- Open all doors to infested rooms as well as cabinet doors and drawers. Remove all utensils, cutlery, small appliances and food, and store them in a sealed area (or remove them from the house entirely) as bombs leave behind a toxic residue.
- Cover tabletops, food preparation areas, furniture and electronic equipment with sheets or plastic tarps to keep off the toxic residue. This will also prevent any damage that might be caused by the contents of the bomb.
- Turn off all electrical devices, including lights, fans and air conditioning units. Make sure to also turn off all heat and fire sources as flea bombs are highly flammable.
- Place the bomb(s) in a central location, preferably in a room that is used regularly with access to the rest of the house. Stand the bomb upright in a bowl, or with newspapers tucked underneath and around the bomb.
- Set the bomb off (as per the instructions listed on the bomb) and leave the house immediately. Do not enter the house again for at least 8 hours, or the time specified on the bomb.
- Return to the house after the specific time. Dispose of the bomb(s) and newspapers. Open the windows, turn on the fans and leave the house again for at least another hour.
- It is important to clean everything in sight after bombing to ensure a safe environment for your family and your pet. Clean down any exposed surfaces to remove all toxic residue. Vacuum and mop the floors and thoroughly launder all sheets and clothing.
How to Flea Bomb an Apartment
Using flea bombs in an apartment or any type of multi-family housing requires a few extra precautions. Most importantly, you must inform your neighbors before setting off the bomb. As mentioned, flea bombs release a toxic mist that could escape into neighboring units and put others at serious risk. All vents should be covered with plastic to minimize leakage into any shared air system. To seal off the apartment, windows must be closed and towels can be rolled up and placed at the base of the door. Check the label when buying; you should purchase a bomb that is suitably sized for your apartment, i.e. smaller than that required for a house. Finally, you should leave a note on your door, clearly stating that you have used a flea bomb in your apartment. Should the flea bomb trigger the fire alarm, for instance, firefighters will be prepared when entering your unit.
Do Flea Bombs Work?
Flea bombs containing both adulticides and IGRs work to effectively kill adult fleas and control hatching eggs, respectively. Bombs that only contain adulticides will not disrupt the life cycle of the flea and so developing eggs will continue to thrive. Flea bombs may not reach hidden or sheltered areas, however, and bombs are not recommended for treating the exterior of your home. As mentioned earlier, flea bombs are only one step in the eradication process and should be used in conjunction with other flea treatment methods. Flea sprays should be used under furniture, inside closets, along baseboards and other hard-to-reach areas: these will directly kill off adults and slow down hatching. Flea sprays can also be used to treat the exterior of your home, if required. As mentioned, it is important to treat your pet at the same time that you are treating your house using effective, non-toxic methods.
Are Flea Bombs Safe?
Did you know?
If you have an infant in your home, it is highly recommended not to use a flea bomb.
Flea bombs contain chemicals that are highly toxic to humans and animals. It is extremely important to follow the directions exactly as they appear on the label and remain out of the house for the recommended time. It is not recommended to use flea bombs if infants are living in the house, as the very young, the elderly and the immunocomprimised are at increased risk of developing adverse reactions to the residual toxin. If you absolutely must use flea bombs in a house with an infant, please consult your paediatrician first. Please also be aware that even if you follow all of these steps, you will still be putting your child in a potentially poisonous environment. It may be safe to breathe the air in the house, but if a child touches a surface contaminated with toxic residue and then puts her hand in her mouth, you’ll be on the phone to poison control.
Before setting off the bomb, remove all of the baby’s clothes, toys and bedding from the house. Set off the bomb and remain out of the house for 24 hours if possible. Once you return, it is imperative that you thoroughly clean any rooms which were exposed to the bomb. Steam clean the carpets, furniture and any other fabrics which the baby might make touch. To be safe, do these things twice.
Are There Non-Toxic Flea Bombs?
Several non-toxic flea treatments are available, including non-toxic flea bombs. Pyrethrin is a natural neurotoxin extracted from flower heads of Old World Chrysanthemums. While it should not be used in households with cats, flea bombs containing pyrethrin are the lesser of evils when it comes to foggers. If you cannot find any flea bombs containing pyrethrin, look for those with resmethrin, a synthetic chemical and another, safer alternative.
Frequently Asked Questions
- How Expensive Are Flea Bombs? – Flea bombs usually sell for around $5-$20, but multi-packs are also available which will save you some cash. For example, Raid Deep Reach Fogger typically sells for $13-$15 for three 5-ounce cans. Because you will need several bombs to treat an entire house (usually six to eight), you will probably spend between $30-$160 to treat the premises. Another option that is slightly cheaper is the Hot Shot No-Mess Insect Fogger which treats up to 2000 sq ft per can.
- Do Flea Bombs Kill Eggs? – Flea bombs that contain IGRs are effective in preventing flea eggs from hatching and larvae from developing into adults. Flea bombs that do not list an IGR as an active ingredient will only kill adult fleas and do nothing to eradicate flea eggs.