One cat is now over twenty years old and the other is so allergic to fleas that within a day of being bitten he's heaving his guts up all over the place. Not pretty. He's very sensitive to Advantage and all the other back-of-the-neck gels, too. I want to kill the fleas, not my cat!
So after doing a bit of research I've found what looks to be a very easy fix. Cheap, too. I like cheap. Who doesn't?
Two things you'll need: diatomaceous earth and vinegar. You can find the proper diatomaceous earth in the gardening or pet section of most general stores. Get the food grade variety, not the stuff out of the pool and filter section. That stuff is poisonous for what you're going to be using it for. If you get the diatomaceous earth(DE for short) out of the pesticide/gardening section make sure that you read the bag very carefully. You need 100% DE, not a product which has any other ingredients. I've seen a couple of those products and their website said that the 'other' ingredients are proprietary in nature and will not be disclosed. RED FLAG! Don't get that stuff. Only get 100% DE. Here's a good place to get it.
First, decide if you want to deal with the pets first or your home.
Next, grab your pet and put them in the water. Thoroughly saturate them and using a cup, keep them in the water for at least five minutes while you pour the water all over their body. Take special care around the face. Don't let it get in the eyes or nose but you should definitely get some in their whiskers because that's where fleas love to run to when they feel they're in danger. The ears, too. Their coat should begin to feel very slick and silky by the end of five minutes. Vinegar has a conditioning effect on fur and skin.
Take them out of the water and smooth down their body with your hands, lightly pushing out as much of the vinegar as you can. Towel dry their face and ears and paws then let them go on their way. Let them dry in a warm environment if possible.
They will smell like vinegar quite strongly for a few hours but this will pass. They can lick themselves and will be fine. Also, more than one animal can be dipped in the same bath water.
First, fhoroughly vacuum all carpets and rugs.
Now here's a safety concern I have to point out because I think it's pretty important to everyone's lung health-- don't breath in the diatomaceous earth. Open every window in the room you're attacking and then leave the room for at least 30 mins while the dust settles. DE can be a lung irritant. I do my whole house one room at a time in a methodical way and it doesn't take long at all. Open the windows, squirt a bit of DE and see which way the wind blows, literally. Then you can plan how best to squirt the stuff on and exit the room in relation to the window and the work you've done. Don't 'paint' yourself into a dusty corner. Cover your mouth and nose if you have to.
Using a squirt bottle(I use a large hair dye squirt bottle I got from Sally's Beauty Supply) puff the diatomaceous earth over your carpets. You don't have to be heavy handed with it for it to work. Even a single molecule of this powder can kill a flea or roach.
Sprinkle more diatomaceous earth around your floorboards and in any nooks and crannies you have seen fleas. You can even sprinkle some in your pet's bedding or in boxes they like to lay in. Again, you don't have to be heavy handed with it. Even a small puff of powder is good in a space about 3'x3'.
Bear in mind that any kind of moisture will kill the effectiveness of DE. If it gets wet then it has to be replaced.
Next comes the vinegar. In a spray bottle fill it with 1:3 vinegar/water. Spray all your upholstery and any cloth in any areas which you think may be appealing to fleas, including comforters and blankets on your bed. Don't spray the carpet with the vinegar. The vinegar is only to be used on furniture.
Let the diatomaceous earth stay in your carpet for at LEAST a full week before vacuuming again. Two weeks is better. But, if you gotta vacuum then you gotta vacuum, right? After vacuuming, put down more diatomaceous earth. Fleas have an egg cycle which you must cover at least three times before you can be assured you're safely flea-free.
Just to be clear, the vinegar is a deterrent and the diatomaceous earth actually kills. Warm blooded creatures are not harmed, only creatures with exoskeletons are. Your goal with using vinegar on the pets and upholstery and bedding is to make the little biting bastards run from those areas and force them onto the carpet which has diatomaceous earth. From the frying pan into the fire, so to speak.
Diatomaceous earth is pretty much the only other way besides heat to kill bedbugs, too, by the way. I've read some amazing stories about people's infestations and how they managed to reclaim their home using this natural product.
We have personally had great results with DE and now I recommend it to all my friends with pets. Have you tried it or even heard of it?