Does Steam Cleaning Kill Fleas? – [Studies]

Image showing a steam cleaner removing fleas.

Based on the latest studies steam cleaning does kill fleas. However, it also reduces the effectiveness of insecticides. Due to this reason, experts recommend using steam cleaning only at the beginning of an infestation. Switching to regular vacuum cleaning is preferred after utilizing insect repellents.

Based on studies steam cleaning can be even more effective at removing fleas than regular vacuuming. The problem is that steam cleaning on its own will not be enough to get rid of fleas from your household. A regular set of actions is necessary to supplement cleaning, whether it is vacuuming or steam cleaning.

Long fleas’ life cycle needs to be disrupted to fully get rid of them. The full extermination process usually takes around 2 months and insects won’t go away on their own.

Why should you steam clean to remove fleas?

Steam cleaning is a great way to deal with fleas when you first spot them. The hot vapor penetrates fibers of all fabrics effectively killing fleas. Those insects are not adapted to survive extreme temperatures, dying at around 100.4°F (38°C). Since all steam cleaners use far higher temperatures, there is virtually no way for fleas to survive this treatment.

Regular surface cleaning methods may be too delicate for larvae and cocoons as they tend to hide at the base of carpets and rugged areas. A cleaning tool that penetrates fabric all the way to the bottom is necessary.

Steam cleaning can also help you loosen up the larvae and cocoons. If you combine this method with vacuum cleaning (which already has high effectiveness) insects won’t be able to hide. The strong air circulation and suction are more than enough to kill fleas at an early stage of development.

Important side note: Be sure to follow proper guidelines when using a steam cleaner. Using this tool comes with risks such as damage to surfaces, excessive moisture, or hazard to animals. If you have any respiratory diseases you should also contact a doctor before steaming up the room.

How to steam clean to kill fleas?

It’s important to address that steam cleaning alone won’t be enough to get rid of fleas infestation. Those insects have a long life cycle that needs to be disrupted to make them go away. Owning pets can also make the process more difficult as they can constantly bring more insects from the outside.

Regular vacuum cleaning is important to kill fleas in all stages of development, however, treating your pets is also necessary. Keep in mind to focus on all the spots that your pets particularly like such as bedding, cat trees, etc. If you would like to learn more about vacuuming cleaning to remove fleas read our article – Do vacuums kill fleas?

Infographic showing how to remove fleas with a steam cleaner.
Infographic on how to remove fleas with a steam cleaner.

If you don’t have any experience, we recommend following this cleaning routine:

  1. Vacuum.  Start by thoroughly vacuuming all the places that are often visited by your pets. This will remove the loose larvae and cocoons from the surfaces. Wash bedding and all other washable items in hot water to kill the fleas.
  2. Treat your pets. Your pets can carry fleas around making your efforts go to waste. It’s important to bathe your pets with soap and water, you can additionally use a fleas comb. The areas with the most fleas are usually around the neck, tail, and face.
  3. Steam clean. Fill the water tank with water, there should be a line indicating how much water to pour. Set the right temperature based on the fabric you are going to steam clean. Since fleas die above 100.4°F (38°C) this shouldn’t be a problem. Now go ahead and run the steam cleaner starting at the farthest point from the door and work your way out. Keep in mind to focus on areas that are frequently attended by your pets.
  4. Let the area dry. Air drying is the safest option for the fabric to dry. This process should take from 8 to 24 hours. Since steam cleaning allows you to loosen up the larvae and cocoons that are at the base of rugged areas, it may be beneficial to vacuum the area once again when you are done.
  5. Repeat the process. Being systematic is probably the most important part of the process as the life cycle of fleas is long. Vacuuming should be done at least every other day while bathing your pets at least once a week.

When those methods fail or you simply don’t want to do this on your own, you can always call a professional extermination agency. A great middle way can be renting out the necessary equipment such as a good quality vacuum cleaner and a steam cleaner. Using chemical methods can also help but remember that it can cause potential health hazards to pets and those around you.

How does removing fleas look like?

Other ways to kill fleas

While steam cleaning and vacuuming are good ways to kill fleas, those are not the only ones. The main advantage of those is the lack of any harsh chemical agents that can cause hazards to your pets and the people around you.

If you don’t have the necessary equipment to use the methods listed above, here are other ways to kill fleas:

  • Chemical methods. There are many flea shampoos, sprays, dips, and spot treatments that contain insecticides, killing fleas in all stages of development.
  • Regular deep cleaning. This relates to vacuuming, steam cleaning, washing bedding, sanitizing the area, and bathing your pets. 
  • Insect growth regulators. IGRs are chemical compounds that disrupt the life cycle of fleas by mimicking hormones that regulate the growth and development of fleas causing them to be stunted at one stage of life. This leads to a reduction of the fleas population eventually killing them.
  • Essential oils. Some essential oils can be useful when battling fleas, people recommend applying lavender, eucalyptus, or lemon to fleas-infested areas.
  • Natural predators. Utilizing natural predators of fleas such as ladybugs, lacewings, and birds can turn out to be beneficial. 

The efficiency of those methods varies depending on various factors such as the number of fleas, the number of pets, and the area of your household. Steam cleaning and vacuuming are still the most effective natural methods to deal with this problem.


In summary, steam cleaning does kill fleas. The hot vapor from the steam cleaner penetrates deep into the bottom of the fabric disrupting their life cycle. This fact makes it more effective than standard surface cleaning, however, it may reduce the potency of various insecticides.

Studies that we talk about – (Click!)