Even if you do everything right, there’s still a chance your pet could end up with fleas. The good news is that there’s something you probably have at home right now that can help get rid of them: dish soap.
All you have to do is prepare a regular dog bath, but use dish soap instead of shampoo for the lather. The soap destroys the fleas’ exoskeletons, drowning them and killing them within minutes. It may take a while to get them all, but a flea comb should help you find and dispose of any leftover bodies. Once you’re done, you can give your pet a proper bath with good shampoo to keep their skin from drying out.
To be clear, though, dish soap won’t prevent or repel fleas. “Since only a small percentage of fleas are on a pet at any given time, fleas from the environment will simply hop right back on and restart the infestation cycle,” Dr. Jennifer Coates, a veterinarian, tells PetMD. In addition, vets don’t usually recommend using dish soap to wash your pets, as it has the potential to be irritating to their skin.
Also, if your pet’s flea problem is really bad, you should probably call a vet. If you’re just being cautious because you noticed a flea or two though, this is a cheap first step to nip the problem in the bud.
This story was originally published on 8/25/13 and was updated on 9/11/19 to provide more thorough and current information.