How to Naturally Kill and Prevent Fleas

Rachel, from The Essential Girl, is back to share her expertise on essential oils.

Fleas. When your cat gets them, getting rid of them without fogging your house with toxic chemicals can seem nearly impossible!

How to Naturally Kill and Prevent Fleas

And I must admit, I am guilty of taking the fast and easy way out; however, there are a few ways to naturally kill and prevent fleas that don’t require too much extra work and are much safer for you than any commercial flea fog bomb.

Essential Oils and Herbs that Repel Fleas

The first natural remedy I look to is almost always herbs or essential oils (which are just concentrated versions of the herb).

Before I continue, please take note that several essential oils are quite toxic to cats so while you may have read that a certain oil is toxic to fleas, it may also poison your cat.

Here’s a list of essential oils and herbs that are both safe for cats and have flea repellent or insecticidal qualities:

  • Catnip [1]
  • Cedarwood [2]
  • Rosemary


Catnip is a great option for all around natural insect repellent for your cat, and it is conveniently already present in a wide variety of cat products.  On the flip side, it’s rather difficult to find as an essential oil.

Consider sprinkling catnip on your cat’s bedding or carpeted cat tree after it has been washed or vacuumed to remove flea eggs and larva that may be hiding in the fibers.


Cedarwood oil has been tested against fleas in a lab environment and found to be lethal to adult fleas. It is readily available from several reliable suppliers, making it a good option for concentrated flea control.

After bathing your cat to drown any existing fleas, consider adding a drop or two of cedarwood oil to their collar to prevent reinfestation. Cedarwood oil could also be used as a spray for fabrics to kill any fleas as they hatch. I would recommend mixing equal parts water and vinegar in a glass spray bottle (other materials can interact adversely with the oils) and adding 10 drops of oil per cup of liquid. Just be certain to test the spray to make sure it doesn’t discolor your furniture.


Rosemary baths are widely recommended for flea control, although I wasn’t able to find any research on the subject. Most people recommend that you brew a rosemary tea by boiling fresh rosemary in water on the stove, then pouring the (cooled) tea over your pet and letting it dry without rinsing.

If rosemary is indeed effective against fleas, you might consider using it alongside the cedarwood oil on the collar and in the spray.

Related: Rosemary Oil – Just the Facts

Note: NEVER apply an essential oil directly to your cat. Even if an oil is safe for cats, cats tend to be very sensitive to essential oils and are likely to have a reaction.

Other Natural Flea Remedies

Aside from essential oils, there are several other cat-safe flea control methods you can try:

  • Borax (good for carpets, avoid breathing directly, never apply to your cat, vacuum well)
  • Diatomaceous Earth (also good for carpets, avoid breathing, never apply to your cat, vacuum well)
  • Table Salt (usually used in conjunction with borax or diatomaceous earth)
  • Vacuum everything, and often to prevent and control fleas. Even your cat if they will let you. Dispose of everything in an outdoor trashcan immediately to prevent reinfestation.

Keep in mind that it can be difficult to completely eradicate fleas, but through the combined use of these methods you should be able to kill existing fleas and continue to prevent new fleas from flourishing.

Want to learn more about using essential oils with your cat? Take my free essential oils for pets email course! Inside I cover why using essential oils with your pets can be so beneficial, common mistakes people make when using essential oils with their pets, and I answer all of YOUR burning questions! Just click below to get started.

Do you know of any other ways to naturally kill and prevent fleas that I missed, or stories of successes? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

About Rachel:

The-Essential-Girl-Profile-PhotoRachel is a blogger and bioengineering masters student who lives in Clemson, SC (go tigers!). Her two passions are health and science, and she blends them masterfully in her blog The Essential Girl, where she writes about the science behind essential oils and sorts through the hearsay about clean living.

When she’s not blogging or sciencing the shit out of something in the lab, she likes to drink tea, nom on popcorn, and binge Netflix with her soon-to-be astrophysicist boyfriend.



  1. October 15, 2016 / 11:13 am

    Interesting. There was such a unfounded backlash against using e.o.s on cats, I’d love to see the science backed up with recent research. Feel free to reach out about a possible collaboration. I was a pioneer in the field of aromatherapy 25 years ago in Canada.

  2. October 15, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    Great info. I didn’t know that about catnip, and what cat owner doesn’t have some handy!

  3. Trish
    November 10, 2016 / 8:06 pm

    Vetiver is not mentioned and it’s highly toxic to cats

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