Here’s a little secret: choosing the best vacuum for fleas is the smartest thing you can do in your battle against these blood suckers.
So kudos to you for seeking one out!
Now for the not-so-good news: If you’ve ever done a search for the best vacuum cleaner for fleas, you’ll be completely overwhelmed by the sheer choice of machinery on the market.
That’s because vacuums are somehow in vogue now. Those of us who are old enough will nostalgically remember when vacuums used to be boring. Just a reliable workhorse that hid in a closet when not being used, without much attention ever being paid to it.
Then Roomba and Dyson came along, and suddenly vacuums went all Hollywood on us.
But if you have fleas, a vacuum cleaner is one of your best weapons against them. And I don’t mean beating them to death with an oversized Dustbuster.
Why is a Vacuum for Fleas Crucial?
Several factors make the humble vacuum one of the most effective weapons against fleas in the home. Let’s count the ways, shall we?
Vacuums kill fleas immediately
First, it’s important to know that fleas won’t last long inside the vacuum. The lack of air and dryness will kill them almost immediately. So sucking up fleas in the vacuum means that their bloodsucking days are over.
Carpets hold generations of fleas
Another huge reason why a good vacuum cleaner is your number one weapon against your battle against fleas comes down to the simple fact that fleas love carpet.
It makes an ideal place for the eggs to hatch and the larvae to pupate. Hidden in the dense fibers of the rug, young fleas can feed on flea dirt, the blood-based droppings of the adults, until they grow big enough to spin a cocoon and emerge as adults.
Clean up disgusting flea dirt
Using a good vacuum cleaner on the carpet will not only suck up both flea eggs and baby fleas, but it will also remove a lot of this flea dirt. Less food to eat means fewer larvae reaching adulthood. And that, in turn, means fewer eggs being laid.
Not to mention, you get to live in a house that isn’t scattered with the droppings of fleas. Yuck.
Vacuum vibrations entice young fleas
All of this sounds good, if a little obvious. But the usefulness of a vacuum in controlling flea infestation goes further. The thing is, young fleas are drawn to vibration.
The idea is that they will emerge from their cocoons when they feel the vibration of animals passing, which they can then jump onto and begin to feed. But this survival strategy can be hijacked by the vibrations caused by a vacuum cleaner.
Vacuuming your carpet can cause flea larvae to emerge from their pupa early, so that the first and last act of their adult life is to get sucked into a whirling vortex of death.
That’s pretty cool. But since a vacuum is such a useful flea killing machine, you want to make sure you’re making the best possible use of it. This means using the right equipment to begin with.
That dusty old relic you inherited when you moved in can’t compete with today’s futuristic vacuums. If you have fleas, especially if you have carpet, it’s probably time to consider an upgrade.
What to Look for in the Best Vacuum for Fleas
There are a lot of vacuums on the market all claiming to be the best. But when it comes to using a vacuum to get rid of fleas – there are very specific things you should be on the lookout for.
Here’s 6 things to look for in a vacuum for killing fleas!
Also called a beater brush, this is the rotating cylindrical brush at the head of some vacuums. If you’re looking to kill fleas, this is a great thing to have.
Not only does the spinning brush help to penetrate deep into the carpet fibers and pick up all the eggs, larvae, pupae and emerging adults, but it also creates heat and added vibration to encourage fleas to emerge from their cocoons.
Also, by shaking the substrate in which the fleas live – which in this case means your carpet – it’s possible to cause fleas to pupate without a cocoon.
These so-called naked pupae are easier to suck up and more susceptible to pesticides. So a beater bar is definitely a good thing to have.
Are you thirsty for power? I know I am. Since fleas often hide deep in the fabric of your carpet, the more power your vacuum generates, the better it will be at killing fleas.
This is not the time to cheap out. A vacuum is one purchase that you really hope will suck. Literally.
Getting rid of fleas is no easy task. You want to make sure you thoroughly vacuum every inch of your home. So the more maneuverable your vacuum is, the better.
You don’t want to get fatigued from an unwieldy machine and give up too early. Imagine how the fleas will laugh at you then.
Juvenile fleas tend to hide from the light, so they can end up in some strange places. Underneath furniture is common. Get a vacuum that can reach all of those nooks and crannies.
As a general rule, the more attachments the vacuum has, the better. You want to be able to reach everywhere fleas could be hiding. Under sofas, behind bookshelves, down the back of entertainment units.
And if you have cats, this is even more true. Fleas can also be found up high, or anywhere the cats go. Which is pretty much everywhere. Look for a vacuum with enough attachments to get the job done.
The chances are that you have a variety of floor surfaces in your house. Fleas will mostly be found in the carpeted areas of your home, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the kitchen, bathroom, or anywhere else with a hard floor.
It’s a good idea to get a vacuum with an adjustable height so that it can be used on different surfaces.
Pet hair removal
If you have fleas, you probably have pets – although for some unlucky folk, it is possible to get fleas without pets.
Fleas don’t feed on pet hair, but it does provide them a cozy place to hide inside the carpet. Besides, if you’re going to all the trouble of vacuuming anyway, you may as well pick up as much pet hair as you can while you’re at it.
Bag vs Canister: Does It Matter?
Here’s a big question you may be pondering if you’re on the hunt for the best vacuum for fleas: what’s better – a bag or a canister?
Those of us who survived the Cola Wars by the skin of our teeth may be reluctant to wade into the great vacuum bag debate. Fortunately, when it comes to killing fleas there isn’t much to choose between the two systems.
Flea eggs and adults can’t survive being sucked up into the vacuum. The dry, airless environment quickly kills them. So you can choose a bagged or bagless vacuum according to which looks prettier instead.
What is the Best Vacuum for Fleas?
So now that you know all the most important things to look for when choosing the best vacuum cleaner for fleas, you may be eager to order one pronto and get started getting rid of fleas.
But ohmygod, there are just so many choices.
Which is why we’ve done the hard work of narrowing them down for you. Here are the top 3 picks to go for to vacuum up those pesky fleas – and why.
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser Handheld Vacuum
If you’re short on storage space, or you’re looking for a vacuum at the lower end of the price range, this offering from Bissell is a solid choice.
As a handheld, it’s not the best option for doing the carpets throughout your home, unless you really enjoy crawling around on the floor. But it is a good option for spot cleaning, or for use on furniture.
Designed to pick up pet hair, this vacuum has a rubber nozzle which is great for penetrating deep into carpet and pulling out flea eggs and larvae. And it’s corded, which means you don’t have to worry about keeping it charged or running out of power in the middle of the job.
The Bissell packs a lot of power into a mere four pounds of weight. And it’s astonishing how much pet hair this handheld vacuum can pick up. After a couple of passes with this device, you’ll have enough fur to make several new cats and dogs. Plus thousands of dead fleas.
However, trying to vacuum your whole house with a handheld machine like this is not recommended. It works better as a supplementary vacuum for small areas.
For that, and for the price, it’s pretty great at killing fleas. But it may be too small to serve as your main vacuum cleaner, especially if you’ve got a whole house full of fleas.
SharkNinja Canister Upright Vacuum
What’s cooler than a shark? A ninja. And what’s cooler than a ninja? A shark ninja.
Although a committee of excitable 12-year-old boys may have named it, this upright vacuum cleaner is actually an excellent choice for getting rid of fleas.
The HEPA filter means that nothing escapes from the bagless canister, not even the tiniest speck of flea dirt. Only 15 pounds in weight, this vacuum swivels easily to help you get everywhere you need to go.
And the large capacity of the canister means you won’t have to stop every five minutes to empty it.
Best of all, this vacuum has a beater bar that can be turned on and off, making it equally useful for hard floors and carpeted areas. It has plenty of power to pick up fleas and their eggs, and the 30-foot cord gives you lots of room to maneuver.
The vacuum also features an extendable hose. This is where the machine loses points. Although the hose itself is quite long, the wand on the end is only 2 feet, which means you’ll be bending over to use it. But this is the only way to use the vacuum’s tools, such as the crevice tool and the upholstery brush.
To get rid of fleas, you’re going to need to use every single tool you can, so it’s a shame that this vacuum isn’t as easy to use as it could be. Just to be clear, it’s still one of the best choices for killing fleas. But its effectiveness is limited by the too-short wand.
If you can live with that, though – this is a Goldilocks choice for the best vacuum cleaner for fleas, due to its affordable price and sheer sucking power.
Dyson Cyclone V10 Animal Lightweight
If you’re looking for a vacuum to make the neighbors jealous, this is it. Dyson is the company that has done more to make vacuums into status symbols than anyone else, and this machine combines the same cool looks and high prices the company’s known for.
Is it worth it? Let’s find out.
First up, this vacuum is cordless. This makes it great for maneuverability, since you aren’t going to be tripping over a cord or looking for plug sockets every time you want to change rooms.
But it does mean you’ll need to charge it up before use. It runs for 60 minutes on a single charge, but that’s only if you’re using a non-motorized tool. So if you have a large house or a lot of carpeted areas, battery life could become an issue.
That being said, this is a great vacuum. Especially for killing fleas.
Dyson is known for the quality of its engines, and this V10 is no exception. The suction on this thing is second to none. And this power is enhanced by the torque drive cleaner head, which Dyson claim is the most powerful ever.
It’s fantastic for providing a deep clean of your carpet, picking up flea eggs, flea dirt, larvae, emerging adults – all the gross things you want gone if you’re going to beat the fleas.
Another nice feature of this vacuum is that it can change from a stick to a smaller handheld vacuum. This is perfect for getting to difficult to reach areas where fleas could be hiding.
For getting rid of fleas, there’s nothing on the market quite like the Dyson. There are really only two problems: the battery life and the price. Is it worth the price? Sure, if you can afford it. It’s an excellent vacuum for all kinds of purposes beyond flea killing.
But if you have a large home, the battery life could quickly become a problem. Though if you live in a palace, you may have enough money to buy two of these vacuums and keep one constantly charging while using the other. Or, you know. Hire servants.
What to Do After Vacuuming to Kill More Fleas
Vacuum cleaners are so good at killing fleas that you could almost think they were designed with that purpose in mind. Carpet makes an excellent habitat for fleas, but the vacuum is one of the best ways to make it as inhospitable as possible.
It’s not the only way, though. There are a few other tactics you can use to make your vacuum assault on the fleas more successful.
High temperatures, 100°F or more, will kill all stages of the flea lifecycle. So steam is a seriously useful ally. When looking for a carpet steamer, make sure you get one that will produce steam hot enough to kill the fleas.
The Vapamore MR-100 is our top pick. It’s pricey but its a workhorse of a steamer and will kill fleas on contact.
That’s because the hotter the temperature, the quicker the kill. And the deeper it will penetrate into the carpet fibers to cook those fleas quickly.
Flea Killer Powder
After vacuuming, one of the best things you can do is to apply a flea powder like this one. Adams Carpet Powder contains Nylar, one of the best chemical weapons against fleas.
This insect growth regulator, or IGR, stops juvenile fleas from maturing, thereby making it impossible for them to lay the thousands of eggs that fleas are capable of.
Breaking the lifecycle in this way is key to controlling fleas. This carpet powder also contains an insecticide to kill any newly emerged adults, so it is effective against all stages of the flea lifecycle.
After a good session with the vacuum, brush the powder into the carpet so that it can reach any fleas that escaped your cleaning.
Once you have applied the powder, you’ll want to leave it to do its job for at least 24 hours. After you vacuum again, you will need to reapply. Yes, it takes work but it’s definitely worth it.
For those wary of applying chemical insecticides in the home, diatomaceous earth is a good option for flea control. This fine powder is made up of sharp microscopic shards which will lacerate a flea’s exoskeleton and cause it to die by dehydration.
As humidity loving insects, fleas are very susceptible to dehydration. And diatomaceous earth is harmless to humans and pets. If using it on the carpet, make sure not to apply it too heavily.
A fine dust is more than enough. And make sure you get the food grade variety to ensure that it won’t cause any harm if ingested by pets.
You can use diatomaceous earth in the same way as regular flea powder. In fact, it’s best to use them together. The insect growth regulator in Adams Flea Powder will kill off the young and the diatomaceous earth will handle the adult fleas.
And alongside a powerful vacuum for fleas, you’ll be arming yourself with some serious weaponry in the fight against fleas.
4 thoughts on “What’s the Best Vacuum for Fleas? (And Why It’s Your #1 Weapon)”
Hello, I have been faithfully been trying to follow through on all of the reccomendations in your article, but have been unable to locate the SharkNinja upright canister vacume. Is it possible that model has been discontinued and replaced by another model called the Shark® Rotator® Powered Lift-Away® TruePet® Upright Vacuum? It’s the only tool I’m missing, but it’s the most important and really need asap, HELP!!
Hi Sharon, thanks for stopping by! Are you based in the States? If so, the SharkNinja vacuum we recommended should be available – it is coming up as such for me. If not, though, the Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away TruePet vacuum you mention also looks exceptionally good. That should more than do the trick for fleas. Good luck!
Thanks for such a useful and amusing article!
my question involves the use of either DE or baking soda on carpet to kill the fleas, and how these affect vacuum cleaners.
I have seen quite a few articles online that says that both DE and baking soda will soon destroy most household vacuum cleaners and not to use them except with something like a shop vac. So I am wondering if the Shark vacuum cleaner can handle DE and baking soda?
What I Don't Like about the Shark, and makes me hesitate, just looking at the photo, is that it swivels and is top-heavy. I had a similar design in a wind-tunnel Hoover made around 2015, and it kept falling over, a couple of times it fell onto ME and it left a bruise, and I found the swiveling very weird & quite awkward and thus physically stressful for me, while trying to control it.
I don't weigh very much and am also a short person, and have upper back & arm problems, so for those 2 reasons – being top heavy/falling over, & swiveling, it was The Most Aggravating Experience I have ever had with any vacuum cleaner (I HATED IT) though the suction was incredible, no doubt about that. Then, it died an early death and I put it into the dumpster after just over 2 years, was unrepairable without spending a whole bunch more than it cost me which was nothing lol – I obtained it though "credit card rewards", and over half of what it would have cost if I had purchased it.
The BEST vacuum cleaner I ever had was an old-school Hoover in the 1980's, from a thrift store for $40, was made in the 1970's or earlier, which only needed repair ONCE during that entire time, and it lasted until 2003, until it finally died. It was such a great vacuum cleaner that I even mourned its death because I was never able to find another one from that era. People definitely hang onto them if they are still working. Most recently-made vacuum cleaners (unless you are an affluent person who can afford a good one that costs at least $500), are by comparison, total junk. Right now my 1992 Hoover Powermax that cost $14.50 in a thrift store 3 years ago is about to die, but it's super heavy, hurts my body to use it, is too wide for my small living space so it's ungainly to use, but has been doing a great job at removing Siberian Husky hair and some fleas (not too many here in the mostly grassless desert) out of the carpet. I will be forced to replace it on a small budget which means I cannot spend over $200 and even that's a stretch for me.