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Does Steam Cleaning Kill Fleas? Vet Approved Facts & Tips

Grant Piper

By Grant Piper

steam cleaning

Vet approved

Dr. Amanda Charles Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Amanda Charles

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Derm) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Fleas are a wretched pest that can quickly make any life miserable. Fleas can rapidly grow from mild irritation to a full-on nuisance that can make a home uninhabitable. The hatred of fleas has bred a lot of tips and home solutions for eliminating the bugs before they get out of control. One such solution is steam.

Many people say steam cleaning can kill fleas. But is that true? Can a steamer kill fleas? These are important questions to ask before you embark on a mission to rid yourself of these blood-sucking pests. Steam does have the potential to kill fleas, but it is not a perfect solution to your flea woes. Here is what you need to know about steam cleaning and fleas.

How Hot Is Steam?

Water turns to steam at 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the same temperature at which water begins to boil. Boiling is the temperature at which liquid water turns into water vapor. Boiling water is pretty hot, but is it hot enough to kill fleas?

carpet steam cleaning
Image Credit: whitejellybean, Shutterstock

Steam Can Kill Fleas

Steam can kill fleas. Fleas do not have a very high heat tolerance. The heat generated by steam cleaning or by using a steamer can kill fleas at every phase of their life. The lethal component of steam has nothing to do with the moisture and everything to do with the heat. So, if steam can kill fleas, can typical steamers be used to eliminate flea populations?

Will a Steamer Kill Fleas?

Yes, a steamer can kill fleas. If you suspect that you have fleas lurking deep in the carpet, or in and around furniture ,using a steamer can indeed kill the fleas. Steam can kill flea eggs, flea larvae, adolescent fleas, and adult fleas. Using a steamer to heavily treat an area with heat can eliminate large numbers of these pesky mites. While this is a handy tool to keep in your arsenal, steamers cannot do everything. On their own steamers will struggle to eliminate large numbers of fleas or full infestations. That is because steam cannot penetrate every crack and crevice that could be hiding fleas. Solid layers can mitigate a lot of heat, and fleas can hide behind and beneath things where steam cannot reach.

You can work to eliminate fleas with a hand steam cleaner that you either buy or rent. You can also look to eliminate fleas by hiring a professional cleaning service that specializes in steam cleaning. Anything that produces hot steam should be good enough to kill fleas of all kinds. You can use carpet steamers, clothes steamers, and industrial steamers. The differences will lie in how much steam it creates, how large of an area it can treat at once, and the ease of use. If you look to use a professional service, be sure to let them know that you are trying to kill fleas before they come to your house.

cat flea in human skin
Image Credit: David Jara Bogunya, Shutterstock

Steam Can’t Eliminate a Flea Infestation Alone

The flea has four stages in its life cycle . Only the adult flea lives on your pet while the other three stages eggs, larvae and pupae are likely in your home, and account for as much as 95% of a flea infestation. A flea infestation is a nightmare for anyone who has to experience it. Once fleas get ingrained and begin multiplying, they can be extremely difficult to get rid of. Steam cleaning certain areas of your house will not stop a full-blown infestation. When fleas get going, they get into everything. They will hide on your pets, in your clothes, in your curtains, in your carpets, and in your vents. So flea infestations will require a combination of methods targeting each stage of the flea life cycle and including treating your pet with a veterinary approved flea preventative product.

When to Use Steam Cleaning

Just because steam cleaning can’t deal with an infestation on their own, doesn’t mean that they are useless when it comes to combating fleas. You can use steam cleaning or steamers to target specific areas where you suspect fleas are living before they become an infestation.

Steam can be used on:
  • Your car if your pet has traveled in it.
  • A rug or section of carpet that you suspect could be harboring fleas
  • Pet bedding
  • Human bedding that could be infested with fleas tracked in by you or your pet
  • An outdoor mat near the door that could harbor fleas

You can use steam on these things to quickly eliminate small populations of fleas that could be clinging to these objects. Steam is often used after more rigorous flea treatments to ensure that no fleas are hiding in cloth. After you treat your house for fleas (or bedbugs), many professionals will suggest steam cleaning your bedding, curtains, and clothes to root out any holdouts.

person mopping floor with steam mop
Image Credit: cunaplus, Shutterstock

When to Seek Professional Help

A heavy flea infestation may take months to get under control and can be very frustrating. Seek professional help from your veterinarian to make sure your pet is on effective flea medication. Often environmental insecticides are also needed. If you experience a recurring flea problem or have a population of fleas that continues to grow, you might need to call a professional exterminator.

Talk to your vet about the best flea prevention regimen for your pet to prevent problems from flaring up in the future.


Steam is more than hot enough to kill fleas. Steam can kill fleas at all stages of life, but it is not a silver bullet when it comes to fighting flea infestations. Steam is great for spot cleaning or coming in after a professional flea treatment, but it is unlikely to be enough to fully stop or prevent large infestations. It is good to know that steam kills fleas, but you should treat it as one tool in an arsenal of weapons to be used against fleas.

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Featured Image Credit: lapsa03, Shutterstock

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