Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas on pets?

Cat scratching with dog in the background
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Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas? It sounds like an odd question, but if your pet has a pesky parasite problem, you’ve probably heard plenty of strategies for dealing with them. Of course, there are plenty of flea treatments out there, from spot-on products to tablets and sprays. One popular idea among pet parents is using dish soap to remove fleas. But does dawn dish soap really kill fleas? Is it safe? Or are there better ways to keep your furry family members flea free? 

When it comes to the best flea treatments for cats and the best flea treatments for dogs, read on to find out whether Dawn dish soap makes the cut or if our vet recommends a different course of action. Spoiler alert: it's definitely the latter!

Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas on cats and dogs?

If you're looking for a home remedy or a quick fix for your pet's flea infestation, you might be tempted by the idea of using Dawn dish soap. Dawn dish soap, as well as other brands of dish soap, shampoos, and any other chemical that forms suds, can be used to kill fleas. This is because they interfere with the surface tension, stopping fleas from floating and causing them to drown. 

Although this sounds effective, there's a catch. Dawn dish soap can only kill fleas that have hatched, and it doesn't repel fleas. This means that although dish soap could effectively remove and kill the fleas on your pet, it won't stop fleas from the environment from jumping on to take their place. Since there will also be plenty of eggs in the environment, if you only use dish soap to kill the fleas on your pet, there’ll always be other fleas in your home waiting to pounce. 

Is dish soap better than flea shampoo?

You might wonder what's so special about specific flea treatments when you can just use dish soap. But actually, killing the fleas on your pet won't solve the problem. To treat a flea infestation successfully, you need to clear the fleas and eggs from the environment, as well as remove and repel fleas from your furry friends. Most flea shampoos have a similar effect to dish soap since they don't treat your pet's environment or repel fleas. To get to grips with a flea infestation with dish soap, you'd need to do regular baths and use a different product to treat your home.

How to kill fleas on pets with dish soap

Bathing our furry family members isn't always easy, and if your cat or canine companion is a bit feisty, they might have something to say about it! However, if you're determined to try using dish soap to de-flea your pet, you'll need to remember to use only a small amount of Dawn and dilute it with plenty of water. 

Dish soap can be pretty harsh on our perfect pets' skin, so don't use too much, and make sure you rinse them thoroughly afterwards. You can find some tips for bathing your cat here, and click here if you want to know more about how to bathe your dog.

What kills fleas instantly?

Dog scratching outside

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Although dish soap kills live adult fleas quickly, there are plenty of more effective products that work just as quickly while also repelling fleas and reducing the numbers in the environment. For instance, many spot-on flea treatments and flea sprays work within around an hour or less. Even those that take a little longer will still be more effective in the long run because they’ll help to prevent re-infestation. If you find sprays and spot-on treatments tricky, speak to your veterinarian about flea tablet options. You can find out more about safe and effective flea treatments for dogs and cats by clicking the links.

What is the best way to get rid of fleas on pets?

Although it’s tempting to try quick fixes, home remedies, or even pet shop products, it's worth speaking to your veterinarian if you want to clear a flea infestation quickly. The most effective flea treatment products have a veterinary license, meaning they are proven to work and are safe for your furry friends. Whether you prefer a tablet, a spray, or a spot-on, your veterinarian will have a product to suit you and your pet.

Can dish soap be used to get rid of fleas in your home?

If you make up a dish soap solution and spray it around your home, it will kill live adult fleas. Sounds great, right? But the problem is it will only kill fleas that are thoroughly saturated with the solution. This means even if you completely soak your carpet and soft furnishings, you’re still unlikely to reach the ones that are lurking deeper within. It’s important to realise dish soap won’t kill the flea eggs, so it won’t solve the problem. There's also the risk of ruining your belongings in the process! So, considering dish soap is unlikely to resolve your flea problem, it's probably best to stick to licensed and effective household sprays.

So, can you make a homemade flea spray with Dawn dish soap?

It’s a really popular idea to use Dawn dish soap to remove fleas from your pets, and when you see all the dead fleas coming off your furry friend, you'll probably be feeling relieved. But don't be fooled; if you've found fleas on your pet, they'll also be lurking in your home. Treating your home and all of your fur babies with a veterinary-approved product will get the problem under control much more quickly.        

Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS

Dr Hannah Godfrey is a small animal vet who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but focussed on small animals from 2014. She has a passion for soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and canine and feline dentistry, having completed additional training in these areas.