Getting rid of fleas and ticks when the summer heats up can be challenging. Fleas especially thrive in hot, humid temperatures. And once your home is infested, it can take several flea and tick treatments over a few months to get rid of them. Here’s what you can do to prevent fleas and ticks in your home, and tips on how to get rid of them:

1. Use Flea & Tick Prevention Medication on Pets

The first step to preventing a home flea and tick infestation is treating your pets on a consistent basis (usually once every month) with an effective, topical or oral flea medication. It’s also not a bad idea to bathe pets with medicated flea & tick shampoo, even if you’re not seeing active fleas and/or ticks on them. This will help to deter fleas and ticks from biting and attaching themselves to your pet, therefore reducing the chance of fleas and ticks being transported into your home.

2. Keep Fleas & Ticks Out of Your Yard

Make your yard unappealing to fleas and ticks with some simple maintenance and pest & critter prevention. Keep grass mowed relatively short and shrubs and plants trimmed to reduce hiding spots (especially for ticks). It’s also important to keep trees, shrubs, and plants away from your home so as not to create a path for animal invasions, seal holes or gaps around roof lines, and close off openings to crawl spaces, basements, or under decks, etc. Raccoons, opossums and other wildlife are carriers of fleas, and if they find their way inside your home, it’s likely you’ll have a flea infestation on your hands, as well as a wildlife control & contamination problem! You can also keep these critters away from your home by eliminating food sources – keep trash away from your home’s exterior and don’t leave pet food outside. As an added precaution, consider using a yard treatment from your local hardware store that’s formulated to kill and prevent fleas & ticks, or call in a professional pest control company to do this for you.

3. Keep a Clean House

You can reduce the chances of a flea infestation with routine housecleaning. Adult fleas will drop their eggs on carpeted surfaces, on, in and under furniture, around baseboards, and in any other cracks & crevices. Keep these areas vacuumed and clean to help prevent flea eggs from developing into the next stages of a flea’s life cycle, and empty the vacuum’s contents outside of your home. Areas your pet frequents, especially pet beds, should be cleaned at least once a week as well, preferably in hot water wash cycles.

4. Use a Natural Flea Treatment

Looking for a more natural approach? Consider using a homemade flea treatment on your pets to get rid of and prevent fleas. Mix 1 cup of white distilled vinegar, 1 quart of water, and a few drops of an essential oil such as lavender into a large spray bottle. Spray the mixture directly onto your pet, avoiding their face, eyes, and inside ears, and also onto any surfaces your pet lies on or plays with – beds, furniture, blankets, toys, etc.

For a natural home flea treatment, mix together 1 gallon white vinegar, ½ gallon water, 2 cups lemon juice, and 1 cup witch hazel into a large spray bottle. After thoroughly cleaning and vacuuming your home, spray the mixture onto carpets, furniture, pet bedding, around windows, baseboards, and any other cracks and crevices where fleas may hide. Use this for at least 2-3 consecutive days, longer for heavily infested areas, or once a week for flea prevention.

Another popular, natural flea & tick repellent is Citronella (also a natural mosquito repellent). As part of your cleaning regimen, mop floors with a mixture of 20 drops citronella oil, 10 drops tea tree oil, 10 drops lemongrass oil, 5 drops geranium oil, and 1 gallon of warm water.

5. Call an Exterminator

Some flea & tick cases call for a professional. Even if you’ve been vigilant in flea & tick control and prevention on pets, in your home, and around your property, a flea infestation can still occur. A professional exterminator will do a thorough inspection of your home to identify areas of infestation and provide you with pest control options and recommendations to get rid of fleas & ticks and prevent them from coming back. Routine pest control, either on a quarterly or monthly basis, will also help to reduce the chances of a flea infestation developing.