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Long story short...we came home after 5 days away with our 1.5 year old and noticed that the wherever the cat slept or lounged there was cat hair and little particles that looked like black pepper.

A quick internet search pointed to fleas. My wife bought a flea collar for the kitty (~$50 for a time release collar good for 8 months...that hurt the wallet) and a flea comb.

She proceeded to comb 40-50 fleas off of kitty. (Awhile ago I noticed spots on kitty's neck that were scabbed over. I should have guessed that it was probably from scratching.)

I also saw a flea on the carpet and then it sprang away.

My question is, what is the cheapest, safest and most efficient way to get rid of these suckers. Is there a permanent solution? I have a 1.5 year old so I'm concerned with using chemicals.

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3 Answers

Due to the fact that you have an infant I would seek professional assistance. You don't have the choices of chemicals that trained and licensed pest professionals do. I can't testify to there effectiveness but I have heard that you can trap fleas with a desk lamp. You place the lamp on the floor with the arm extended and pointed about 6 inches off the floor. Place a pie pan on the floor under the lamp so the lamp shines on it. Pour an inch of water in the pan. Add a small amount of vegatable oil to the water. The theory is that the fleas are attracted to the light, hop in the pan and are trapped in the liquid. Another tip I have done is to take the extra piece of flea collar and put it in the vacum cleaner bag. We have a HEPA filter so the chemicals are contained in the bag. The idea is that any fleas vacumed up are killed in the bag preventing their release when the bag is changed.

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When I lived in an apartment, we had a problem with fleas once (due to a neglectful pet owner in the building). Getting rid of the problem was no small feat, and took a lot of work over a few days.

I started by laundering all bedding, clothing, and basically anything fabric that was washable. Next I rented a steam cleaner, to clean the carpets. You can call in the pros for this if you don't want to do it yourself. The final step was to spray the entire carpet; paying special attention to the edges and corners, with Adams™ Flea & Tick Home Spray. Other brands exist, this was just the one I chose which worked for me.

When using any chemical spray, make sure you have adequate ventilation. Try to avoid skin contact with chemical sprays as well. My wife had a bad reaction to the spray, where her feet swelled up quite a bit.

If you're in an apartment building; where the source of the infestation could be coming from other tenants, you'll also have to treat the other units. If you don't remove the infestation from the entire building, you'll likely see the fleas return to your apartment. Any outdoor pets in the building should also be treated, not only to combat the flea infestation but also for the health of the animal.

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That home spray doesn't sound good around my one and half year old. –  milesmeow Apr 9 '13 at 6:18
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It may not be dangerous to use around your child, though I would not apply it in their direct vicinity. I had no reaction to the chemical, and my wife only had a problem until the carpet was dry. If you're going to use chemicals, maybe send the wife and child to visit grandma and grandpa for the afternoon. It might also be a good idea to check with your pediatrician before using chemicals in your home. –  Tester101 Apr 9 '13 at 10:49
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I recommend the following for your flea problem. Vacuum the afflicted room(s). Toss the vacuum bag once your done with it. Next, take a carpet steamer to the recently vacuumed areas to kill off the remaining eggs and adult fleas. For further protection from fleas, you may purchase some carpet powder.

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You have already been warned about posting answers that are little more than spam. I've removed the link from this answer as it's not necessary. –  ChrisF Apr 10 '13 at 20:39
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