Fleas are some of the biggest pests around, and if you have a pet that shares a bed with you, it’s common to find these annoying insects nestled in your sheets at night.
Fortunately, this is an easy problem to solve – especially if you know what to look out for. We’ll go over the main signs of fleas in your bed, explain how to get rid of them, and provide some ways to prevent an infestation in the future.
Is it Possible for Fleas to Live on Your Bed?
Fleas can be brought into your bed from pets or humans and through infested clothing or furniture. They do need a host to survive since they feed on blood, so it’s unlikely that fleas can live on your bedding or mattress for more than a week or two without an animal present.
If your pet has fleas and regularly sleeps in your bed, there’s a good chance that you will notice signs of fleas in your bed, which we’ll discuss below.
Six Common Signs of Fleas in Your Bed
With over 2,500 different species of fleas, there’s plenty of opportunity for these annoying pests to find your pet. But fleas don’t just cause your dog or cat to scratch furiously – they can also harm humans. If a flea bites your skin and you scratch too much, you run the risk of developing a bacterial infection. On rare occasions, fleas can even transmit serious diseases to pet parents.
Though they often burrow under comforters and sheets, fleas don’t typically dwell in beds long term because they can only live without blood for about one or two weeks. Still, you’ll want to look out for the signs so you can eliminate them as quickly as possible.
If you’re bitten by fleas, you’ll see small, discolored bumps form. You might even notice yellow rings around the bumps. Fleas typically bite in straight lines or in large clusters. It’s rare to get a singular flea bite.
On dogs, flea bites look like tiny raised red dots. If your dog scratches at the bites too much, the area could become irritated and inflamed. Cats have similar side effects, but their bites tend to look pink and crusty. Flea bites look much smaller than tick bites, which often become bumpy and swollen.
Flea Dirt on Bedsheets
Fleas leave dirty residue behind. Typically, this material looks like tiny specs of black pepper in your bedsheets. Though it may seem harmless, this residue consists of blood and flea feces. You’ll definitely want to clean it up as quickly as possible.
Fleas are parasites that thrive off animal blood. Most pets are allergic to the proteins in flea saliva, which causes them to scratch the infected area.
Dogs and cats don’t just scratch flea bites, though. You might also see your animal licking the bites in order to find relief. If you suspect your pet is scratching more than usual, inspect their fur for fleas and bites.
Flea Eggs on Bed
Fleas don’t live in beds for long, but they can lay eggs there. Flea eggs look like oval-shaped, white specs. If you see them in your pet’s skin, you might mistake them for dry skin or sand. It’s important to thoroughly investigate their fur, because you may shortly have an infestation on your hands.
Flea Skin on Bed
If you find flea eggs on your bed, you might also see flea skin. Flea larvae shed their skin, or molt, twice before entering the pupae stage.
Flea skin looks white and tubular, and they usually feel soft. Oftentimes, flea skin is incredibly small and difficult to spot. You might need a magnifying glass to get a clear view.
Adult Fleas on Bed
Fleas probably won’t live in your bed for long, but you might find them there for a little while. Unlike bedbugs, which are flat and oval-shaped, fleas are long and narrow.
How Do You Get Fleas In Your Bed?
You might be wondering: How does this problem happen in the first place? Here are a few common reasons fleas infest beds.
- Pets Sleep In Bed With You – This is the fastest way to get fleas in your bed. Even though research suggests sleeping next to your pet can lower your sleep quality, many people find it helps them relax and unwind. If you suspect your pet has fleas, keep them in their own bed for a few days.
- You Bring Fleas Into Your Home – It’s not just our furry companions that bring fleas into the home. Fleas can cling to our clothes and make their way into our beds. These annoying pests tend to gravitate toward people’s waists, and it’s easy to catch them when walking through a densely forested area.
- Wildlife Bring Fleas – It’s rare, but it can happen. Wildlife, such as racoons, possums, and squirrels, can attract fleas and nestle in our homes. These critters tend to squeeze through cracks in the foundation and make their way into people’s attics and crawl spaces.
How Long Can Fleas Live Without a Host?
In average conditions with a host to feed off of, fleas typically live around 2 to 3 months. However, fleas can only live up to one to two weeks without a host on your bedding or mattress. While fleas sometimes bite humans to eat, pets and wild animals are typically the favored hosts for fleas. So, it’s important to keep your pet away from your bed if they are suffering from a flea infestation. With treatment, fleas on pets are usually killed within 24 to 48 hours.
How To Get Rid of Fleas In Your Bed
Now that we know the signs to look out for, let’s take action. Here are some easy ways to get rid of fleas in your bed.
Vacuum the Area
One of the best ways to remove fleas from your bed is to vacuum them up. Handheld vacuums work best, but you can also use a standing vac with an upholstery attachment. The force from the vacuum kills adult fleas and sucks up their eggs. Plus, vacuuming gets rid of the residue and dirt fleas leave behind!
Important tip: Immediately empty the vacuum and throw away the contents – fleas can live inside it for one to two weeks
Spread Flea Powder
Flea powder is helpful, especially if the fleas have migrated to your carpet. There are many different types of treatments out there, but we recommend finding a product that kills larvae as well as adult fleas.
To use, simply sprinkle the powder over the affected area. Some flea powders work within hours, but others take a few days. Please note – many flea powders contain harmful ingredients, so it’s best to keep children and pets away from the area while it’s being treated.
Steam Clean Your Bed
If you have a severe infestation, you might want to steam clean your bed. Steam cleaning kills adults, larvae, and some flea eggs. It can cause some flea eggs to hatch prematurely, though, so you might see a few more fleas pop up after cleaning.
It’s best to vacuum your bedding before steam cleaning to remove any grime. Afterwards, use a steam cleaner with an upholstery attachment and blast the steam over the affected area. Don’t have an attachment? You can also wrap a towel around the head of your steam cleaner.
Regularly Wash Sheets and Curtains
If you notice fleas in your sheets and pillowcases, wash them in hot water. You’ll want to repeat this every few days to ensure eggs haven’t hatched.
If you have long window curtains, we recommend regularly washing them as well. Fleas can get into the fabric from the floor and lay eggs there.
RELATED: How to Wash a Comforter
Spray Vinegar and Water Solution Onto Sheets
Prefer to DIY? You can easily make a flea-killing solution at home. Combine equal parts water and vinegar and spray over the fleas. Then, sprinkle salt all over the affected area. This helps keep the area dry, which aids in killing the fleas and larvae. Leave the salt overnight and vacuum the next day.
This method may not be ideal for severe flea infestations, however. If you have a big pest problem, we recommend using a professional product or hiring an exterminator.
Hire an Exterminator
If all else fails, bring in a professional. Exterminators can treat your entire home for mites and fleas and alleviate some of the dirty work. This option costs more than other remedies, but it’s often worth it.
How To Prevent Fleas From Getting Into Your Home
Fleas love humidity and heat, which is why you may see more of them during spring and summer. It’s much easier to prevent fleas than it is to get rid of them, so it’s valuable to prepare your pet for these annoying pests.
The following information should not be used in place of medical advice. Talk to your veterinarian to learn what’s best for your pet.
Chewable Flea Prevention Pills
With numerous options on the market, it’s easy to find a flea preventative for your pet. Most of these pills can be given to your pet once a month alongside their food. Many chewable tablets cost about $50 for a three-month supply, but some come at a higher price point.
Some flea preventative pills are available without a prescription from a veterinarian, but we recommend chatting with a professional before choosing an over-the-counter option. In some cases, animals can build a tolerance for non-prescription pills, making them ineffective.
If you’re looking for a low-cost option, you may want to consider getting your pet a flea collar. These convenient products release flea-killing chemicals that spread throughout your pet’s skin. Some flea collars can be used for as long as eight months! It’s important to note, though, that flea collars can often take up to three weeks to work.
Topical Lotions and Shampoos
You can also prevent fleas with the help of topical lotions and shampoos. These options tend to be the most cost-effective, but they require more time and effort. You’ll need to gently massage these products into your pet’s skin and follow the directions carefully.
If you opt for a topical lotion, you may want to keep your pet away from soft surfaces for a few hours. Otherwise, your furry friend might get sticky residue all over your furniture. But the good news is that many topical treatments prevent flea outbreaks for as long as three months!
If you have more questions about fleas, we’ve got you covered. Check out our FAQ section below.
Can fleas live in your bedding?
Fleas can live in beds for about one to two weeks, and they like to burrow under sheets. Fleas need blood to survive, though, so they won’t stay in one place for too long if there is no food source.
Why do I keep finding fleas in my bed?
This could be happening for a few reasons. If your pet sleeps in the bed with you, they might be transferring fleas to your mattress. If you’ve already treated your home for fleas but still find them in your bed, it’s possible fleas have laid eggs there. It can take some time for flea eggs to hatch, so we recommend regular vacuuming and steam cleaning to get rid of them for good.
How do I know if there are fleas in my bed?
There are several signs to look out for if you suspect there are fleas in your bed. You might find clusters of small, discolored bumps along your body, and you might see your pet scratching more than usual. Keep your eye out for the dirty residue fleas leave behind. This often looks like tiny specs of black pepper, but it’s actually clumps of dried blood and skin. If you have a significant flea problem, you might even see white oval-shaped eggs in your bedsheets.
How can I get rid of fleas in my bed?
There are many ways to get rid of fleas in your bed. You can vacuum them up, steam clean your bed, or make your own cleaning solution of vinegar and water.
What are the differences between fleas and bed bugs?
While fleas and bed bugs cause similar symptoms like itchy, red bites, they tend to bite in different places; fleas typically bite the lower part of the body and bed bugs target the upper body. Fleas are smaller than bed bugs and are narrower in shape while bed bugs are oval-shaped. Additionally, bed bugs are typically brought into a home from items like luggage, furniture, clothing, and bedding and they spread by crawling. Fleas are typically spread from pets to humans and move by jumping. Another key difference between the two is that fleas can spread diseases, while bedbugs cannot.