How to Free Your Dog & Home of Fleas…Effectively & Chemical-free

By on July 7, 2017

A small calamity arose this week: Fleas. Seems like every 2-3 years it’s time to deal with fleas on a dog, and move into prevention mode to keep them out of the house (or offense if they set up camp). This post shares how I use diatomaceous earth, a highly effective, inexpensive, non-toxic, chemical-free way to kill fleas on my dogs and in our home.

When Chemical Prevention Fails…..

Flea removing gear: 2 brushes, L and R, remove coarse hair and undercoat. The Flea Comb, middle, has very tight tines that effectively pull out fleas. Soapy water to contain and kill fleas, bottom.

Despite each of the dogs wearing a Seresto collar  and Spectra Shield, (chemical stews I use to prevent additional Lyme disease on one dog), fleas jumped on board Dixie. Fortunately, she’s not allergic to them, or I would have noticed earlier. Her fondness for water may have diminished the effectiveness of these prevention measures, and/or maybe fresh ones were needed a few months ago. (Sorry dogs!)

How I De-flea Dogs:
  1. Comb out out excess fur/hair and undercoat with fur-pulling combs.
  2. When I can get in closer, I use a flea comb to smoothly pull a straight length. As I gently comb, fleas get caught in the tight tines of the flea comb. After each stroke, I look at the comb for these freeloaders (wearing glasses; looking for movement) or their telltale signs of black specks of dander and/or dried blood.
  3. When one’s spotted, I immediately put the whole comb over a nearby bowl of soapy water and pull out the hair & flea together and drop it in the water (the deep end!). Flea dies within seconds. Repeat combing. Repeat again. And do it the next day. And the next.
  4. After Round #1 of combing, I appied diatomaceous earth to Dixie, the Giant Schnauzer. I use the sieve approach (see #2 below) to dust it over her body, a fairly light covering, then rubbed it into her legs, shoulders, tail area, ear, neck. Avoid eyes and nose!

If fleas are on the dog, they may be in the house. Sometimes they stay on a host(ess) for a few days. But I don’t wait for flea bites to figure that out. I reach for diatomaceous earth to treat hardwood floors and rugs where the dogs lie down.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Mined from ancient lake beds and former seas, diatomaceous earth is the fossilized skeletons of ancient algae. It’s pure silica, very hard, and effective in killing parasites and crawling insects. Safe to use on dogs.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is composed of extremely small, fossilized algae shells, mined from ancient lake beds and former seas. It’s pure silica shaped into extraordinarily strong, hard structures. The effectiveness of DE in killing insects and parasites is mechanical as it abrades (or shreds) an insect’s exoskeleton. Upon contact with DE, they dehydrate. Let’s just say, DE makes mincemeat of their armor and they die.

The powder itself is very fine, even silky to touch. Food grade DE, is non-toxic to touch or taste. Just don’t breathe it in. It washes off easily, but leaves skin dry (I feel the effects of dehydration). Keep dogs and pets outside when you apply it in your home.

Here’s How I Prevent or Kill Fleas Inside the Home
  1. Put the dogs out.
  2. Inside, I use a small sieve to distribute the fine powder, and tap it with my hand or against a jar I carry around with more DE in it, as I move from room to room. A little goes a long way…
  3. Focusing on where the dogs lie, using a broom, I sweep DE into cracks in hardwood floors and rug fibers.
  4. Let sit for at least 4-6 hours
  5. Vaccuum up. Toss the bag.
    bamboo floor

    Dixie lies on this part of the living floor, hence it’s a targeted area. DE dusted onto bamboo floor


  1. Wait a few days to clean out the cracks in hardwood floors.
  2. Keep up with flea combing dogs for several days until there’s no indicators or fleas.
Great Internal Health Benefits for People

The fascinating thing about FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth is that’s very effective for people to ingest. It cleans ‘junk­’–bad bacteria, fungi, drug residues, pesticides­­–out of human and animal (same thing!) intestinal tracks. I’ve taken it myself to positive effect, and after writing this, will do so again! Read about its benefits here.

I also put it on the dogs’ food to prevent worms and parasites, and try to keep Buck’s Lymes disease at bay.

Final Note

Buy food grade diatomaceous earth only. A 2-pound bag lasts our 2 dog household over a year. Learn a lot more about it and purchase it here.

Dixie loves to lay on this part of the living floor, hence a targeted area. DE is swept into cracks of hardwood, a favorite habitat for fleas in the home.


All rugs where the dogs lie down are treated. Here, DE is swept in and vaccuumed 4 hours later.


I applied diatomaceous earth to Dixie after the first round of flea combing. (Hence the white spot on top of head!). I’ve combed her 4 times now over 2 days. Next stop, the groomer’s, where she’ll be treated like the queen she is !

Suzy Meyer, Author
Pittsburgh, PA

I'm a landscape architect, gardener, and of late, a certified NRA instructor. I enjoy practicing T’ai Chi, playing bocce, and walking through watersheds.. This blog is my journey full of learning curves to calm the chaos.


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