Oh, no! A flea hitched a ride on your clothes, and now you feel like they’re crawling all over.
Are they everywhere, embedded in the fabric of your clothes? Once you shuck your clothes (it might even be a record speed), now what? What should you do with the infested clothes? Will a plastic bag kill them?
Suffocating fleas is one way to eliminate them, especially when they’re on clothing. However, it takes a while for them to die, as they can survive without a host or oxygen for several days. Here’s what you need to know about banning those tiny pests from your clothing.
Where Do Fleas Come From?
Fleas travel from one infested animal to another, hitching a ride on a non-infested host. They prefer dogs, cats, and other furry critters. In many cases, pets pick up fleas from playing with another infested animal, but they can also get them from tall grasses or bushes, as fleas often hang out here waiting for a host.
If your pet is infested with fleas, they’ll likely spread all over your home. You might see them in the carpets, rugs, bedding, and clothing – if your pet has been there, there’s a good chance the fleas have, too.
So, if you randomly notice a few fleas on your clothing, they could have come from your pet, playing with an infested pet, or walking around outdoors in the areas fleas frequently reside. They’ll hitch a ride on almost anything, including you.
Life Cycle Of A Flea
The flea life cycle has four stages: eggs, larvae, pupae, and adults. When the adult female lays eggs, usually after a satiating meal from its host, it lays eggs. The female can lay around 40 eggs daily, so an infestation spreads rapidly.
When the fleas lay eggs on your pet, they usually lay them in bunches of about 20. The eggs are smaller than a grain of sand, and as your pet moves, the eggs fall off, distributing evenly through your pet’s environment.
After anywhere from two days to two weeks, the eggs hatch. The larvae emerge from the eggs, consuming flea dirt (pre-digested blood from adult fleas) and other debris in their environment. In the next 5-20 days, they’ll spin cocoons, which will house them in their next stage: the pupal stage.
The pupae stage of the cycle is the last stage before the fleas become adults. The cocoon they spin protects them for the transitional period between the larvae and the adult flea. This stage can take a while, as the conditions need to be right.
Once the adult flea emerges from its cocoon, it searches for a host, as it needs to eat within a few hours. Within an hour or two of its first meal, the adult fleas breed and start laying eggs within days, continuing the life cycle and spurring the infestation onward.
When contending with a flea infestation, it’s essential to understand the life cycle and take proper steps to eliminate fleas in all stages.
How Long Does It Take To Suffocate Fleas In A Bag?
Like many living creatures, fleas require oxygen to remain alive. However, even if you pop the infested clothes in a bag and tie it off, ensuring no oxygen is getting in there, it takes a while. It can take more than five days for the fleas residing on your clothing to suffocate and die.
These little pests are surprisingly hardy and can live without a host or air for one to five days. So, while some of the pests might be gone after a day or two, there might still be a few live ones for several days after that.
This is true even if you use a vacuum bag, which is designed to suck all of the air out of the contents. So, if you use the bag method, it’s going to take a while.
How Long Can Fleas Live On Clothes?
The fleas that jump onto your clothes are usually uninterested in staying there for very long. While they could stay there a while, especially with a food source close at hand, they prefer the convenience of easily accessible food.
They usually don’t stay on clothes for longer than 24 hours, so if your clothing is infested, it probably won’t be for long. On top of that, they usually don’t feast on people, as they prefer other hosts, like your dog or cat.
They’ll take a chomp out of people, but they usually skitter to their preferred host when the opportunity presents itself.
Will Fleas Lay Eggs In Clothing?
Generally, fleas won’t lay eggs in clothing. Adult fleas need food to survive, so they don’t like to lay their young somewhere without a food source. Since your clothing doesn’t provide a tasty treat for these tiny pests, they usually prefer to lay their eggs elsewhere.
What Kills Fleas On Clothes?
While you could suffocate the fleas in a bag, that method takes a while. So, to speed up the process, try the following methods:
Washing and Drying
One of the best ways to kill fleas in your clothes is to wash them on a max setting and blast them with heat in the dryer. The first stage of the process should kill them, as the chemicals in many laundry soaps aren’t particularly hospitable for these creatures.
However, if a few stragglers remain, the dryer will take care of the rest. Dry your clothes on the highest heat setting, allowing the heat to do its work.
If your clothes can handle it, consider mixing a splash of bleach into your infested laundry load. Avoid pouring bleach directly on the clothes, as it’ll leave discolored marks. Instead, pour one cup of bleach into the correct section of your washing machine and run the system at its maximum setting.
The water in the washing machine will dilute the bleach enough to prevent major discolorations but not too much that it can’t do its job. If your clothes can handle bleach, this is the way to go. It’ll kill and disinfect the clothing, removing most of the fleas and their eggs.
Use Antimicrobial Detergent
Some clothes can’t handle the harsh cleaning power of bleach. So, if your clothes are a bit too delicate for the prowess of bleach, opt for an antimicrobial detergent. You can find these at your local grocery store, as they’re usually widely available.
Once you find a good option, add a hefty amount to the machine. For top-loading machines, add one cup of detergent, but for front-loading machines, stick with ½ cup.
Tips To Avoid Reinfestation
Once you eliminate the pest presence from your clothing and home, follow a few practices to keep another infestation at bay. Here are a few key tips for avoiding infestations:
Fleas enjoy the areas your pets hang out in, so don’t forget to vacuum regularly. Vacuum the rugs and carpets, ensuring you get the hard-to-reach places, like behind and under furniture. Once you finish vacuuming, remove the vacuum bag, seal it tightly, and discard it outside your home.
Stay On Top Of Laundry
Fleas often hang out where your pets do, such as in their bedding, on your bed, or in rugs and blankets. So, ensure you stay on top of laundry, routinely washing everything to keep the flea infestations at bay.
While this shouldn’t be a problem for flea-treated pets, staying on top of the laundry is essential to avoid infestations.
Use Flea Products
Pets are the favored host of fleas, so do yourself a favor by using flea products on your pet. Fleas from your pet can get everywhere – in the carpet, blankets, rugs, and clothing. To keep the problem under control, stop the issue at the host: your furry friend.
You can buy flea control products in pet stores, but if you want something stronger, ask your veterinarian for one. They can prescribe flea products designed for your pet’s species and weight, ensuring the application will be successful. Some products come in tablet form, so you won’t need to worry about a liquid product smearing all over your home.
Alternatively, you can opt for more natural solutions, like diatomaceous earth powders or borax powders. However, we recommend thoroughly researching each treatment before using it on your pet or consulting your veterinarian, as they might not work for every pet.