9 Home Remedies For Fleas And Ticks That Don't Work

9 Home Remedies for Fleas and Ticks That Don't Work

Numerous individuals who adore dogs and have a soft spot for animals, in general, would never intentionally harm even the tiniest insect, except when it comes to fleas and ticks.

Although flea and tick medications are widely regarded as the most successful preventive measures during the flea and tick season, specific individuals may find themselves tempted to experiment with home remedies and alternative approaches for removing these pests.

However, the unfortunate reality is that these do-it-yourself methods for flea and tick removal do not yield positive results. To make matters worse, some of these approaches can risk your pet's well-being and potentially lead to additional health complications.

In this article, we will explore nine commonly used home remedies for fleas and ticks that not only prove ineffective but also jeopardize the overall health of your beloved pet.

Dish Detergent:

When dealing with a flea infestation, many consider giving their furry companions a bath as a potential solution. While specialized flea shampoos for cats and dogs can prove effective, resorting to dish soap as a flea treatment must be more effective.

Dr. Robert Lofton, a seasoned veterinarian with 44 years of experience and an assistant clinical professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Auburn University in Alabama, explains that dish detergent on pets is not advisable due to the difference in pH levels between humans and animal skin. He highlights that dish soap can dry out and irritate the delicate skin of dogs and cats.

Furthermore, Dr. Lofton emphasizes that dish detergent fails to control flea populations. Even if it manages to kill adult fleas, these persistent pests will continue to breed and multiply, posing a threat to both your home and pet. It's important to note that dish soap baths do not address flea eggs and larvae, which are crucial parts of the flea life cycle.

Dr. Lofton reminds pet owners that fleas undergo four distinct stages—egg, larva, pupa, and adult—and comprehensive flea control requires addressing each stage. Simply killing adult fleas with dish soap does not equate to proper control.

While dish soap can be used on puppies and kittens too young for flea medication to eliminate adult fleas, it is crucial to implement alternative methods to control the flea population in the environment. Please do so to avoid reinfestation the next day, making adopting a comprehensive approach to tackle fleas effectively imperative.

The Garlic:

Among the numerous home remedies suggested for flea control, one common claim is that garlic can repel these pesky parasites, particularly when combined with brewer's yeast. The idea behind this theory is that when a dog consumes a mixture of garlic and brewer's yeast and perspires, the scent of garlic will permeate their body, rendering them unattractive to fleas.

This remedy often involves adding a concoction of garlic and brewer's yeast to the dog's food. However, veterinarians consistently caution against this potentially toxic approach.

According to Dr. Mike Hutchinson, a veterinarian at Animal General of Cranberry Township in Pennsylvania, "Garlic is not an effective flea or tick repellent for dogs or cats since they do not sweat like humans." Therefore, the notion that the garlic scent will deter fleas is unfounded.

Furthermore, apart from its inefficacy as a flea treatment, garlic can be toxic to dogs if consumed in large quantities. It is best to keep garlic away from pets to ensure their safety and well-being.

Apple Cider Vinegar:

Like garlic, using vinegar, specifically apple cider vinegar, to eliminate fleas is strongly discouraged due to its inefficacy and potential hazards.

While apple cider vinegar's pungent odor and sticky nature may repel humans, fleas and ticks are not deterred as easily. Spraying vinegar on your pet's bedding or directly on their fur may discourage you, but it won't have the same effect on these persistent parasites. Similarly, attempting to force your pet to consume vinegar will not serve as a repellent for fleas and ticks.

Apple cider vinegar, often called ACV, has become a versatile cure-all remedy. While it might offer certain health benefits for humans, it is important to acknowledge that dogs and cats are not simply furry counterparts of people, and ACV is not safe for them to consume.

Since pets frequently groom themselves, anything sprayed onto their fur or bedding will eventually be ingested. Therefore, using apple cider vinegar as a flea treatment poses potential risks to their well-being and should be avoided.


Rubbing alcohol, indeed, can kill fleas and ticks. However, it is crucial to utilize alcohol correctly to ensure safe and effective results. Experts advise placing fleas or ticks into a glass or jar filled with rubbing alcohol as the preferred method.

Dr. Lofton, a veterinarian with extensive experience, offers a word of caution: "Do not pour alcohol directly on a tick that is attached to your dog. The alcohol will prompt the tick to release its toxin." Wearing gloves when dealing with ticks is recommended to protect yourself from their toxins to avoid potential harm. Use tweezers to carefully remove the tick by grasping it at its mouthparts attached to your dog's skin and gently pulling it straight back.

However, it is important to note that alcohol is only effective in killing fleas and ticks if they are fully immersed in it. Attempting to pick them off individually and placing them into a container of alcohol is not a practical or efficient flea control method. It is crucial to understand that pouring or spraying alcohol directly on your pet is highly dangerous, as excessive alcohol exposure can cause serious harm to them.

In conclusion, while alcohol can be used to eliminate fleas and ticks, it must be employed with caution and follow proper guidelines to ensure the safety and well-being of your beloved pet.

Cedar Oil:

Dr. Hutchinson strongly advises against the use of cedar oil, despite its reputation for repelling certain insects. This is primarily due to its potential to cause significant irritation to the skin.

Surprisingly, applying cedar oil doesn't necessarily have to be direct to cause skin problems. Many dogs develop skin issues simply by sleeping on a bed filled with cedar shavings, demonstrating the irritation caused by this oil.

Skin problems, however, are not the only cause for concern. Ingesting a substantial amount of cedar oil, such as through a dog licking its skin after treatment, can result in liver damage. Even inhaling tiny droplets of cedar oil can lead to lung complications.

While cedar oil may possess an appealing scent and could deter a limited number of parasites, it is strongly advised against using it on or near pets. The potential risks and adverse effects outweigh any potential benefits.

It is worth noting that other oil extracts, such as tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil, should also be avoided. The toxic dosage required to repel fleas and ticks is highly detrimental to the health of dogs and cats, making these oils unsuitable.


Attempting to eliminate fleas using salt is ineffective and poses significant risks. The quantity of salt required to kill flea eggs effectively and larvae can be toxic if ingested or inhaled by your dog or cat.

An enormous amount would be necessary to completely eradicate flea eggs and larvae from your home using salt. It would entail pouring truckloads of salt into every surface and crevice, which is impractical and excessive. At such a point, relocating is a more feasible option!

Moreover, ingesting or inhaling the large amounts of salt used for this purpose can pose serious health risks to your beloved pet. The toxicity associated with salt ingestion or inhalation should not be underestimated, making it imperative to seek alternative and safe methods for flea control.

In conclusion, relying on salt as a means to combat fleas is not only ineffective but also potentially hazardous to your pet's well-being. Exploring other proven and safe flea control measures is strongly recommended.

Boric Acid (Borax):

Boric acid combines borax and acid, often utilized as the primary ingredient in certain flea powder products designed for carpet application.

As part of a comprehensive approach to flea management, boric acid may exhibit some effectiveness. However, it is important to note that boric acid alone primarily targets feeding flea larvae within carpets or rugs. These larvae constitute only approximately 35 percent of the overall flea population in a household with fleas.

It is crucial to understand that boric acid does not effectively combat adult fleas or ticks since these pests solely rely on blood for sustenance and will not consume the powder. Furthermore, boric acid is ineffective against flea eggs, which make up 50 percent of the fleas found in a home and flea pupae, accounting for 10 percent of the flea population.

While boric acid may offer limited benefits within a multifaceted flea control strategy, it is essential to acknowledge its limitations and address the entire flea life cycle to achieve optimal results. Relying solely on boric acid may prove insufficient in effectively eradicating fleas from your home.

Baking Soda:

While baking soda possesses excellent odor-absorbing properties, it is important to note that it cannot kill adult fleas or protect your pets.

Some online pet resources have suggested using baking soda as a potential flea killer due to its alleged ability to dry out flea eggs and larvae. However, it is crucial to highlight that there is a lack of concrete evidence supporting the effectiveness of baking soda in killing fleas.

Although baking soda may have certain benefits, particularly in reducing unpleasant odors, its role in flea control remains limited. Exploring alternative proven methods for effectively combating fleas and protecting your pets from infestations is essential. Relying solely on baking soda is unlikely to yield satisfactory results in eradicating fleas.

Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil is renowned for its various beneficial properties and versatile applications. The polyunsaturated fatty acids in coconut oil can help reduce inflammation and support pet cognitive function. However, it is important to note that coconut oil does not possess the ability to repel fleas and ticks.

Unless specifically recommended by your veterinarian for targeted areas of irritation or dryness, coconut oil should not be applied to your dog's skin. Alternative oils may be more suitable for such purposes.

Applying coconut oil to your dog's skin will produce greasy floors and furniture. The thin layer of coconut oil on your dog's skin does not provide an effective barrier against these persistent parasites.

To answer the question definitively, coconut oil is not a flea-killing agent. Its impact on fleas is minimal at best.

While coconut oil can offer certain health benefits, seeking alternative, proven methods for flea and tick control is important. Relying solely on coconut oil is unlikely to address and eliminate flea infestations effectively.

Prioritize Vet-Approved Methods For Flea And Tick Control

Regarding flea and tick control, it is crucial to prioritize methods that your veterinarian recommends. While the allure of home remedies may be tempting, exercising caution and relying on professional guidance is essential.

Dr. Hutchinson highlights the potential risks of well-intentioned pet owners attempting to treat fleas and ticks using non-vet-approved methods. Unfortunately, such attempts can lead to unintended side effects in pets.

Thankfully, there are various veterinarian-recommended options available for flea and tick prevention. These options include chewable tablets, topical solutions, and collars. To ensure you choose the most effective flea and tick prevention method for your pet, conducting thorough research and engaging in discussions with your veterinarian is recommended.

It is important to acknowledge that fleas can cause discomfort and transmit diseases to your pet and your family. Utilizing vet-approved prescription flea and tick treatments can keep your pet and your loved ones safe from potential health risks.

In conclusion, the best approach for effective flea and tick control involves relying on vet-approved methods. Prioritizing your pet's and family's well-being by utilizing prescription treatments will provide the most reliable and comprehensive protection against these parasites and the diseases they may carry.

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