8 Scents That Fleas Hate (and How to Use Them) - Pest Pointers (2023)

As soon as the snow melts and the temperatures warm up, ticks and fleas will be on the prowl. If you’ve ever had a flea infestation, you understand how difficult it is to get rid of all those blood-suckers in your house. But, did you know you can use various scents to discourage them from making your home their home as well?

Fleas have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources. You can take advantage of this trait by using scents they dislike, such as cedarwood, mint, vinegar, clove oil, citrus, DEET, lemongrass oil, and rosemary oil.

We’ll discuss a list of scents that fleas strongly dislike, and how to use them to your advantage. But first, we’ll learn a little more about these jumping insects. It’s always good to know your enemy, right?

Just to add – when you shop using links from Pest Pointers, we may earn affiliate commissions if you make a purchase. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

Why Do You Need to Repel Fleas?

A single flea carried in by your pet can turn into a full-blown infestation. Because fleas have a very rapid reproduction cycle, your house can quickly become overrun with these pests.

There’s a large number of reasons that you need to keep fleas out, and many of those reasons are commonly known. However, there a few other things about fleas that you may not know, and knowing these will help you keep them out for the long haul!

They Reproduce Rapidly

The entire life cycle of a common flea takes only 20 to 35 days. That means eggs are laid, hatched into larvae, cocooned, and emergent into full-grown adult fleas in as little as a month.

The problem with this is, some flea repellents only work on adult fleas, while others only take care of the larvae. It’s incredibly difficult to get rid of the adults, their eggs, and the larvae all in one go. If you miss even a small cluster of flea eggs, they’ll soon be full-grown adults and reproduce again, multiplying their numbers.

Another tricky part is that only the flea attaches itself to the pet. Once the eggs are laid, they fall off and are embedded in carpets and couch cushions and anywhere else your pet might sleep or nap.

So, even though you may get all the fleas off your pet, there’s still the problem of the eggs and larvae in the carpets, couches, etc.

Fleas Can Latch on to Your Pets

Pets are the most vulnerable to fleas. If you have an outdoor cat or dog, they’re likely to pick up fleas if they are not protected against them.

Fleas can consume up to 15 times their own body weight in a single day. As you can imagine, fleas in the house are not ideal for you OR your pet.

They’re Difficult to Remove

Naturally, fleas aren’t easy to remove. If you have a full blow flea infestation, before trying any of the recommended scents below, you should absolutely consult with a professional pest control expert regarding your situation.

Feel free to contact a pest pro through our nationwide partner network here, but regardless, don’t let an infestation get out of control.

Using Scents To Deter Fleas

You don’t necessarily need strong chemical pesticides to keep fleas away. You can use natural oils and scents to deter these jumping hitchhikers. There are also combinations of these ingredients that you can use for dry shampoos for your pet. We’ll get to that!

But now, for now, a quick few notes.

Since we’re discussing fleas here, you’re going to be using these methods around your pets, more than likely. SO, with that being said, please do not use any essential oil concentrates near your pets.

(Video) 10 Effective Ways to Get Rid of Fleas

Just plainly, it isn’t good for them, which you can read more on that here.

If you have any questions about the specific usage for any of the scents below or any of the products we recommend, contact your vet with questions 🙂

Let’s get to it!

Cedarwood Keeps Fleas Away

Cedarwood oil can do wonders to repel insects, including fleas. Infact, cedarwood won’t only repel fleas but it can eliminate them as well. A win-win!

It naturally works to suffocate the fleas and deterioates their eggs and larvae, even while they’re on your pet.

The best part is that in proper concentrations, cedarwood oil can even be used around your pets. One of the most prominent options on the market is Wondercide’s Cedarwood Indoor Pest Control Spray.

Basically, the cedarwood oil based formula (when applied properly around your home) works to repel a whole host of insects along with fleas.

Remember, it’s best to use a pre-formulated and proven product, rather than trying to mix and dilute a solution yourself. Contact your vet with any specific questions!

Fleas Hate The Smell of Mint

It’s quite important to keep the perimeter of your home protected with scents of all sorts.

People may find the smell of mint and peppermint refreshing, but fleas don’t feel the same way. They tend to avoid areas that smell of mint. Many other critters dislike the scent of peppermint as well, which is great news for homeowners and gardeners alike!

The easiest way to use mint to repel fleas is to plant it around your house. Mint is easy to grow and can be planted in pots around the house. Try planting them near any possible openings in your house. This may actually work better than a spray, as sprays must be applied every so often.

Again, if you’re going the spray route, you want to go with a pre-formulated product here, Wondercide also has a Peppermint Natural Indoor Pest Control Spray with, you guessed it, peppermint oil as the base.

Vinegar Can Keep Fleas Away

8 Scents That Fleas Hate (and How to Use Them) - Pest Pointers (1)

Vinegar, when used properly, can keep fleas away due to its harsh aroma. Most insects and pets get easily repelled by strong scents such as vinegar since the aroma to them really IS that harsh.

To us, vinegar may smell just fine in normal amounts, but for fleas, the scent of vinegar will be magnified heavily.

Now, this scent may not be for you- as it depends on how much you really like the scent of vinegar. White vinegar, in particular, will provide the harsh aroma you’re looking for to keep fleas at bay.

You’ll want to make a diluted mixture of vinegar and water, and spray it around the cracks and crevices of your home. Vinegar itself, especially diluted won’t eliminate fleas but it CAN help to repel them when the scent is present and consistent.

Use Clove Oil (Eugenol) To Keep Fleas Away

Clove oil, also known as eugenol, can keep fleas away quite nicely! Again, you really don’t want to use a concentrate here, but instead, you want to use a pre-formulated product.

Clove oil (eugenol) is derived from clove trees which are commonly found in Southeast Asia. In minute doses, it works wonders again our jumping, flea friends (saying sarcastically, fleas aren’t friends here.)

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This eugenol and peppermint oil based spray, Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Home Spray can be applied both around your home AND your pet, all while effectively eliminating fleas in the process.

Use Citrus To Deter Fleas

Nootkatone is an EPA-approved organic compound that repels fleas. It is derived from Alaskan cedar trees and grapefruit. It has a refreshing citrusy flavor and aroma.

The best part? You can actually eat Nootkatone. In fact, if you’ve ever drank Fresca or Squirt, you’ve had nootkatone before.

Nootkatone comes in a spray form and works best as a flea repellent. Unfortunately, the concentrations needed to actually eliminate fleas are not practical, so nootkatone should be considered a repellent only.

Nootkatone is relatively new, having been approved by the EPA in August of 2020. Since it’s relatively new, commercially available insect repellent products shouldn’t be available for a few years yet. Currently, nootkatone is used in citrusy drinks and perfumes.

DEET Tricks The Scent of Fleas

DEET is one of the most highly touted insect repellents, and with good reason. You may have heard of DEET often touted as a mosquito repellent, but it’s often used for a plethora of biting flies, such as gnats, chiggers, fleas, and ticks

As a general rule, DEET works to mask the scent of the biting flies target (you) and confuses the flies senses. As a result, the flea or any other biting fly will have a difficult time searching you out.

Now, lets be clear, DEET itself isn’t really a ‘scent’ that fleas hate by itself but rather, fleas WILL hate that they can’t smell you.

While some of the other scents on this list are to be applied around the home, DEET based products are more so to be used while YOU’RE outdoors and potentially in the area of biting flies.

A good starting point for researching a proper product is the Repel Insect Repellent Sportsmen Max Formula, which has a base of 40% DEET.

Again, DEET sprays are primarily designed to be used on you, and not your furry friend.

Lemongrass Oil Can Repel Fleas

Getting close to the end of our scents here- lemongrass oil. The oil of lemongrass gives off a pleasant scent as it is, and is a rather quality repellent not just against fleas, but for other biting flies as well such as ticks.

Again, it’s best to go with a pre-formulated scent here in order to maximize the effectiveness of each ingredient (also, it’s easier to put together and more cost effective to use in the long run) rather than to use essential oil concentrates. Plus the additional reasons we mentioned in the beggining.

If you’re looking to use around the home, Wondercide’s Lemongrass, Flea, Tick and Mosquito Spray for Dogs, Cats, and Home comes highly renowned as well.

The reason we tout Wondercide so much here is that there are a lot of claims to back up the usage of their products, which makes us feel better about your chances of having success with it when used correctly.

The Wondercide lemongrass product specifically contains notes of cedarwood oil as well, which contains two of the scents that fleas really don’t take a liking too.

Utilize Rosemary Oil To Deter Fleas

Luckily for us, fleas have VERY sensitive senses. I mean, it’s how they find their way to jump onto both us and our pets alike, right?

Similar to the scent of peppermint oil, the scent of rosemary oil can overpower the senses of a flea and repel them from an area or target.

(Video) How to Get Rid of Fleas Fast Cheap and Easy. See Links / Info in Description 👇🏻

One formula specifically made for application on cats that can REPEL fleas (not eliminate them) is MDX Concepts Organic Flea and Tick Control Spray.

It’s pleasant scent to you (and unpleasant scent fleas) will keep these biting flies jumping AWAY from your four legged, furry friend.

MDX Concepts’ Rosemary spray contains notes of rosemary oil, cedarwood oil and lemongrass oil, packing a punch of 3 of the scents that fleas really dislike.

Where Should You Use These Scents?

8 Scents That Fleas Hate (and How to Use Them) - Pest Pointers (2)

So all in all, these are SCENTS remember. After time, their smell will surely fade and without their strong smell, fleas won’t have any good reason to want to stay away.

If you’re going to with a pre-formulated mix, then you should use each scent as directed on the label, as each manufacturer will know which recommendations work best for their product.

As a general rule, most scents that repel fleas should be used:

  • Around cracks and crevices on your home
  • The outside perimeter of your home
  • Inside baseboard of your home (depending on manufacturer recommendations)
  • Entry points and pathways
  • Carpets and shag rugging (depending on manufacturer recommendations)

Each scent, will have a different use case depending on what it is but most certainly will need to be reapplied often, generally every 24-48 hours (again, you get it, that time will vary based on the product.)

Long Term Solutions

If you’ve had flea problems before, or finally got your recent infestation under control, it’s a good idea to look at some long-term solutions to keep fleas out for good.

When it comes down to it, a flea’s only source of food is blood. The only way to get that is through other animals. Even if you don’t have a pet, you can still have a flea problem. Here are some long-term solutions that can keep fleas away for the long run.

Keep A Well-Maintained Yard

A yard that has trash, building materials, or even outdoor pet food can be a paradise calling for wild animals. Opossums and raccoons would be thrilled to live under old lumber, stacks of wood, or where garbage is frequently available.

These backyard visitors can be a harbinger of fleas. If they get close enough to the house, fleas may look for their next meal inside.

A well-maintained yard is less inviting to wild animals, and subsequently the fleas they may be carrying. Be sure to keep building materials and lumber stacked neatly, keep your trash cans secure, and keep the lawn cut.

If you have fleas, you should leave it to a professional before it can turn into an infestation. Call our nationwide network of pest control professionalsto get connected with an exterminator near you in seconds for free.Using our partner network helps support pestpointers.com- thank you tons!

Be Preventative With Your Pet

Fleas are most common in households that have pets. The pets go outside to go to the bathroom or explore, and come back inside with an unintentional hitchhiker.

The easiest way to prevent a flea infestation is to treat pets with flea and tick prevention products. There are three main options for flea prevention: Spot prevention, oral prevention, and collars.

Spot prevention are those that you place directly on your pet, typically on the back of the neck. This is the area where pets are least likely to be able to reach to lick, as flea and tick treatments.

Frontline is a spot treatment that has both dog and cat formulas. There are plenty of other name brands out there that all have similar ingredients to repel and even eliminate fleas on contact.

Spot treatments are typically given either once a month, or once every three months.

(Video) 8 Proven Essential Oils for Fleas

Oral prevention comes in the form of chewable tablets or pills that can be given to your pet. Some are given monthly, while others are fast acting that are paired with other flea management tactics for a long-term treatment.

Capstar is a tablet that studies have shown eliminate 90% of flea infestation on cats within 6 hours. It and many other oral preventions work from the inside out. Capstar also has a flea treatment formula for dogs.

Flea collars are worn directly on the pet just like a regular collar. There are collars made for both cats and dogs from a variety of brands. Be sure to check how long a flea collar lasts and how water affects it to make sure your pet is always a walking flea repellent!

Bathe Your Pet Regularly

If you see your pet itching more than normal, it may be because they have fleas. Bathing your pet will help soothe any flea bites, and if combined with a flea and tick shampoo, such as Vet’s Best Flea and Tick Advanced Strength Dog Shampoo, it can immediately eliminate the fleas making a home out of your pet.

Be sure to check your shampoo bottle closely. Some shampoos will only target adult fleas, while others will target adults, larvae, and eggs. Some even take care of ticks in addition to fleas.

Wash Blankets Regularly

It’s possible to stop infestations before they start if you wash your pet’s blankets and bedding often. These areas will be the most likely place where flea eggs and larvae can be found.

The more frequently you wash your pet’s blankets and bedding, the less likely flea eggs will hatch into larvae and eventually into full grown adult fleas that are capable of multiplying.

Putting a Lid on It!

Fleas don’t have to be a problem in your home. With proper precautionary treatments, yard maintenance, and the power of natural scents, you can keep your house flea-free.

If you don’t yet have a flea problem, try using the reccomended scents of cedarwood, mint, vinegar, clove oil, citrus, DEET, lemongrass oil, and rosemary oil to keep those buggers out!

Make sure your pets are protected against fleas by using prevention methods on them- it’s sure to help eliminate the possibility of a flea infestation!

If your flea problem becomes totally unmanageable, consult a professional (which, if you have fleas, you should definitely be doing.)


Bruce, W. N. (1948). Studies on the biological requirements of the cat flea. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 41(3), 346-352.

Dryden, M. W., & Rust, M. K. (1994). The cat flea: biology, ecology and control. Veterinary parasitology, 52(1-2), 1-19.

Potter, M. F. (2018, June). Flea Control and Prevention. Retrieved from University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef602

French, J. (1995). Non-toxic pest control.Soft Technology, 21-24.

Houseman, R. M. (2014, August).Fleas. Retrieved from Extension University of Missouri: https://extension.missouri.edu/publications/g7380

Nootkatone Now Registered by EPA. (2020, August 6). Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2020/p0810-nootkatone-registered-epa.html

Rust, M. K. (2005). Advances in the control of Ctenocephalides felis (cat flea) on cats and dogs. Trends in parasitology, 21(5), 232-236.

(Video) Essential Oils for Fleas

Krämer, F., & Mencke, N. (2012). Flea biology and control: the biology of the cat flea control and prevention with imidacloprid in small animals. Springer Science & Business Media.

Silverman, J., Rust, M. K., & Reierson, D. A. (1981). Influence of temperature and humidity on survival and development of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis (Siphonaptera: Pulicidae). Journal of Medical Entomology, 18(1), 78-83.


What natural scent kills fleas? ›

Citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and rosemary will all naturally repel fleas. If your dog doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil into a 300ml-400ml of water and spray directly onto your dog's coat.

What scents are fleas attracted to? ›

Contrary to popular belief, fleas are not attracted to most smells or scents. The only scent that's has proven to be attractive to fleas over and over again is the scent of their hosts (animals and humans). Fleas do not attack plants because they do not release attractants that are appealing to them.

What can kill fleas instantly? ›

An oral fast-acting tablet that contains Nitenpyram is the safest way to kill fleas on dogs instantly. You can also bathe your dog in hot soapy water with Dawn to kill adult fleas, but this is not a good long-term solution.

What will scare fleas away? ›

Natural flea repellents such as citronella, eucalyptus, peppermint, and geraniol may naturally repel fleas. If your pet doesn't mind a spray bottle, dilute a few drops of your chosen repellent into 10-13 fl oz of water and spray directly onto your pet's coat.

Does Vicks Vapor Rub repel fleas? ›

Deter Insects

It is also an insect repellant and kills fleas," says Jose. "This is the major substance in Vicks, aside from Vicks use in upper respiratory infections, that can be used to repel mosquitoes and even fleas."

What home remedy kills fleas in bed? ›

Natural Remedy: Diatomaceous Earth

This talc-like powder is made from silica, the same stuff that makes up sand. You can sprinkle it on carpets, bedding, and furniture. Let it sit for several hours, then vacuum it up. It kills fleas by drying them out.

Does rubbing alcohol repel fleas? ›

Alcohol. Rubbing alcohol will kill fleas and ticks, but if you're going to use alcohol, make sure to use it correctly. Experts recommend dropping fleas or ticks into a glass or jar filled with rubbing alcohol.

What light attracts fleas? ›

Green-yellow coloured lights have also been found to attract over twice as many fleas compared to standard light. Interestingly, their attraction towards light is greatly enhanced when the light source is turned off quickly for a few seconds and then turned back on again.

What soap kills fleas? ›

Yes, as with many other soaps and shampoos, Dawn dish soap will kill fleas on your pet. It works by reducing the surface tension of water, causing fleas to sink and drown. Dish soap also affects fleas by damaging their waxy exoskeletons.

What is the best homemade flea killer? ›

Lavender, rosemary and other essential oils are considered a natural flea killer, and are generally considered non-toxic for dogs when used properly. A couple of drops can be applied to areas around the house such as baseboards.

Does Dawn soap kill fleas? ›

Although Dawn kills fleas, veterinarians say it doesn't repel them or prevent infestations. Think of it as more of a temporary fix than a permanent solution.

What kills fleas and flea eggs instantly? ›

Foggers provide a simple way to kill flea eggs (and many other pests). It is recommended to use foggers in combination with sprays or other products that can be used under furniture, where foggers have trouble reaching.

How do I keep fleas off my sleep? ›

Covering skin with long-sleeve clothing and pants will minimize exposure to bites. Flea bites often occur on the lower legs and feet, protect these areas with long socks and pants. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

What does vaseline do to fleas? ›

But wherever the idea stems from, the short answer is; No! do not use vaseline to treat ticks or fleas on your dog. Putting vaseline, alcohol, or anything else on a tick to get it to release on its own can make the tick regurgitate some of its saliva into the dog. This increases the chance of infection.

Where should I spray my house for fleas? ›

Spray directly on carpets, flooring and skirting boards and underneath any rugs or blankets, paying particular attention to any cracks and crevices (those fleas get EVERYWHERE). Avoid wetting furniture and carpeting and don't over-apply to polished wood surfaces.

Can I spray vinegar on my bed for fleas? ›

White vinegar.

If fleas have spread throughout your house, you can make a white vinegar solution with equal parts water and vinegar to spray on carpet, baseboards, furniture and under furniture.

Does hydrogen peroxide repel fleas? ›

Outdoor Flea Removal

A 3% hydrogen peroxide solution may just be your answer. Peroxide is a common insecticide used in gardens and other agricultural sites. Not only does it kill fleas due to its toxic nature, but it can also eradicate other pests from your foliage as well.

Can I spray alcohol on my bed for fleas? ›

Alcohol can be toxic to animals. It's easily absorbed through their skin, and if they ingest a large enough amount, it could be fatal. Alcohol is also really flammable, so it's not a good idea to spray it on your furniture, bedding, or carpets.

How do you keep fleas off me while I sleep? ›

Covering skin with long-sleeve clothing and pants will minimize exposure to bites. Flea bites often occur on the lower legs and feet, protect these areas with long socks and pants. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

Do fleas hate the smell of vinegar? ›

While Apple Cider Vinegar does not kill fleas, it may repel them because fleas dislike its smell and taste. One of the most simple ways to use this natural flea repellent is to make a solution out of equal parts apple cider vinegar and water.

Why do fleas jump into soapy water? ›

Fleas are so light weight that they can bounce right off the surface of the water because the surface tension of the water prevents them from breaking through. Adding the dish soap reduces the surface tension so the fleas slip through and drown.

What can I spray on my bed to keep fleas off? ›

Spray Vinegar and Water Solution Onto Sheets

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.

What attracts fleas in bed? ›

Fleas are attracted to light, movement, heat, and CO2 because these elements help them find suitable hosts to feed on.

What kind of vinegar kills fleas? ›

Apple cider vinegar for fleas in the house and on carpets

You can also use apple cider vinegar around the house to get rid of house fleas. Fill up a spray bottle with distilled water and ACV in 1:1 ratio. Spray the mixture around the house, under furniture, on carpets and rugs and especially on pet bedding.

How to get rid of fleas in the house fast with baking soda? ›

Baking soda does not kill adult fleas and will do nothing to protect your pets. It is excellent at absorbing smells and has been suggested by some online pet sites for use as a flea killer because it “may” dry out flea eggs and larvae. But there is no evidence that using baking soda to kill fleas is effective at all.

Do LED lights attract fleas? ›

I did more research and used green LED tea lights because fleas are most attracted to green/yellow-green lights. Fleas are least attracted to white and warm white/yellow lights. These worked great in flea traps.

What time of day are fleas most active? ›

During the day, fleas avoid the sun so they are most active at sunset and least active at sunrise. At dusk, the pests would lay more eggs, respire more, and move around in the yard more. Although the fleas are not completely inactive at any time of the day, they have increased activity at dusk and night.


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