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How Long Can Fleas Live in Water?

Close up of a shiny metal bowl of water

Fleas can drown in water, but it depends on the type of water you use. In ordinary water, fleas can float the same way as mosquitos do. The surface tension of water assists them in floating. Moreover, if you try to drown them, they can swiftly jump out and escape. So, it’s a wrong idea to drown fleas in normal water to kill them. Keep reading to know more about how long fleas can live in water.

How Long Does it take for Fleas to Die in Water?

It is quite interesting to know that fleas don’t die when submerged in normal water. Surprisingly, fleas can survive for a whole week when dropped in water and for a day when submerged in it. But you might think how?

The answer is scientific yet, simple enough to understand. Fleas’ bodies are covered with a wax-like coating known as cuticles. This coating repels water and runs through their trachea and prevents water from invading their respiratory system. The slippery coating also helps fleas to quickly slide through their hosts’ thick fur and get to their skin.

We know fleas can live for a long time on a dog, but what out people? Check out our article, How Long Do Fleas Live on Humans? to learn more.

Can Fleas Survive Soapy Water?

overhead view of a bright green bowl full of soapy water on a white background

Dropping or submerging fleas in water is certainly not a solution. However, there is a good solution that won’t take much of your effort. If you add any dish soap to water, then it can kill the fleas. Two logical explanations support this statement.

Firstly, the dish soap makes water’s surface thin and reduces the surface tension by acting as a surfactant. This means that water won’t hold the fleas anymore and they will sink. The second reason is that dish soap can break the cuticles, breaking the barrier for water. Hence, the water can get into their respiratory system and kill them.

However, you need to ensure that the dish soap is not foaming. It’s because the foam allows the fleas to escape the water by jumping on it. Hence, you should use something like Jet-Dry (paid Link) or Cascade dishwashing (paid link) soap that doesn’t produce much foam. Many people use Dawn dishwashing, which works fine too but it does produce foam.

Can a flea live without someone to hold onto? Check out our article How Long Can Fleas Live Without a Host here.

How Long Do Fleas Live in Soapy Water?

Once the fleas are submerged in soapy water, it is a matter of just 5-10 minutes for them to die.

How to Remove Fleas from Your Pet?

small dog on its back with its handler pulling off fleas from its under arms and placing them in a bowl

If you have a small-sized dog, take a bucket of water. The amount of water should be such that your pet can be submerged until the neck. Now, add dish soap in the ratio of two to three teaspoons per liter of water. Hold your pooch there for 2-3 minutes. Then, take your pet out and again submerge him/her for the same amount of time. Repeat this step 3-5 times.

Next, apply an antiflea shampoo (paid link) on your dog and wash him thoroughly with lukewarm water. Be sure to remove all the soap because soap itself can cause itching. Once it is done, allow your canine friend to dry. Make sure that your pet doesn’t play in grass or mud while wet. You can also use a hair drier to dry your pup. The heat of the hair drier can also kill the remaining fleas.  

In the case of large dogs, this method fails because holding a large dog in water for 2-3 minutes is like squeezing water from a stone. Therfore, you will need food-grade diatomaceous earth to kill fleas. Sprinkle some of it on your dog’s coat and leave it for a few hours. Then, use a dog flea comb and remove all the dead fleas.

If you catch any living flea, squish it immediately using tissue paper. Food grade diatomaceous earth (paid link) is safe for both humans and pets. Therefore, you won’t need to worry about your dog’s health. However, avoid using any other type of diatomaceous earth because veterinarians prohibit its use.

Can I Flush Fleas Down the Toilet?

Close up overhead view of a toilet flushing

Fleas can survive for 24 hours after submersion in water. So, if you flush the fleas down the toilet, there are some chances that you will get rid of them. When fleas are pushed down the drain but don’t reach the sewer, they will get stuck in the water pool. Hence, they won’t get a chance to move out and thus die within 24 hours.

But we know that fleas are mighty quick and can easily escape before you drown them in the toilet. For this reason, a better approach will be to squish them before draining. To conclude, we can say that flushing in the toilet can be a solution to get rid of fleas but it entirely depends on your speed.

In our opinion, the best method to kill fleas is to use water with some dishwashing soap in it (for smaller dogs). For larger breeds, diatomaceous earth seems to be the best option.

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