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Does Salt Kill Fleas? How Quickly? Are Carpet Powders Better?

A bowl of salt and a pile of spilled salt on a black surface.

Fleas are a nuisance that can cause discomfort and illness in you and your pets. When you see them in your home, you should start trying to get rid of them immediately. You can use items in your home as inexpensive, natural flea-control remedies.

Does salt kill fleas? Salt kills fleas by dehydrating them. When fleas walk across salt it cuts through their exoskeleton and dries them out. Leaving salt on your carpets and rugs for up to two days will decrease or eradicate the population in your home.

Let’s take a look at how salt works to kill fleas and how effective this method is.

How Does Salt Kill Fleas?

Salt seems like an unlikely flea control method at first since each grain is so small. The size is actually a feature that makes it work so well – it’s small enough to hurt a flea.

Injuring fleas is how salt kills them. When the fleas walk across it, it cuts their exoskeleton and leaves them vulnerable. Exoskeletons serve as protection for fleas and also hold in moisture. Once the exoskeleton is damaged, fleas begin to lose moisture and become dehydrated.

Salt absorbs moisture, so once the exoskeleton is broken and the flea continues to walk across salt grains, moisture is drawn out at a faster pace, and they soon become dehydrated, which will them.

How to Use Salt to Kill Fleas Indoors

Using salt for flea control in carpets, rugs, and furniture doesn’t take much effort. You do need to consider where to apply it, though. It only works when fleas are present and can walk over the grains. If you have fleas in your home, look around to spot where they’re hiding.

Fleas like to cling to people and pets, but they’ll jump off and land in rugs, carpet, and furniture to lay their eggs. Rugs and carpets with long fibers are more likely to host fleas because they can hide the eggs more easily.

Although salt can kill fleas in carpets, you should not use salt solutions to treat fleas on your pets. Use an animal-specific treatment to get rid of fleas on your dog, cat, or other furry friends. Salt is likely to irritate your pet’s skin, and ingestion of salt by common housepets like cats and dogs can be poisonous.

Fleas can live longer than you might think and they reproduce at an impressive rate. That’s why it’s so important to practice prevention methods and begin elimination as soon as you notice their presence.

What Kind of Salt Kills Fleas?

Ultimately, you can use any kind of salt to kill fleas, but refined household salt that’s ground finely or sea salt will work best. You can use whatever is in your salt shaker on the dinner table, as long as it’s not too coarse.

How to Apply It

To apply salt for flea control:

    • Sprinkle: Sprinkle salt on rugs, carpets, or upholstered furniture. Don’t put it on pet beds because too much salt is bad for pets.
    • Brush: Use a broom to brush it deep into the carpet. The deeper, the better because fleas like to burrow in as far as they can.
    • Wait: Allow the salt to sit for one or two days. If possible, we’d recommend you keep your pets out of the room while you wait, but if they do enter the room, don’t allow them to lick it up. As mentioned above, salt can be poisonous to dogs and cats at relatively low dosages.
    • Vacuum: After you’ve let the salt sit, thoroughly vacuum all the areas you applied salt. Not only will you be vacuuming up salt grains, but you’ll also pick up dead fleas.

You can also pour salt on top of fleas for faster control. This method isn’t very efficient since you have to have a pile over the fleas. It would take much more salt, and you’d have a bigger mess to clean, but if you can easily access a few fleas, just pour a mound of salt on top of them to create a trap.

How Long Does It Take Salt to Kill Fleas?

Salt works pretty slowly to kill fleas in carpet since it takes time to dehydrate the fleas. 

  • If you’ve embedded salt in your carpet, fleas will continually walk across the salt in the carpet until they die. Expect this method to take up to two days to kill fleas with salt.
  • When a flea is trapped inside a mound of salt, it works much faster. You can expect the flea to die within an hour. Although this method is faster, it’s more difficult to put into practice since the fleas are constantly moving and might be all over the room if the entire area is carpeted.

If you’re dealing with a heavy infestation and salt doesn’t seem to be quite enough to get the job done, there are many carpet powders available that will finish the job once and for all. We list the best ones (including three that are all natural) in our article, “Best Flea Powder for Carpets.”

How Much Does It Cost to Kill Fleas in Carpet with Salt?

Using salt is an inexpensive method. If you use a salt grinder, like McCormick Sea Salt Grinder, you only have to pay a few dollars. This will only cover a small room or a few rugs if you apply it in a thin layer. If you want more coverage, a single grinder will not be sufficient.

Buying in bulk can save you some money and cover a larger area. Morton Table Salt – 25 Pounds is about a dollar a pound and you’ll be able to cover a large area or continually treat smaller areas in your home.

Morton Table Salt, Iodized, 25 Pound

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Using Salt Outdoors

Salt is good for indoor use, but it can also be used outdoors.

Fleas usually come inside by clinging onto pets or your ankles (yes, you can be the main cause of fleas in your home), but they also jump through doors, windows, and cracks. If you line these areas with a wide border of salt, fleas have a chance of getting injured before they can make their way inside.

High sodium levels can kill off plants and grass, so it’s best to avoid these areas of your yard. However, you can spray a saltwater solution in areas where you don’t have grass or don’t mind losing the plants.

Just grab your outdoor sprayer, and add between 1/4 and 1/2 cup of salt for every gallon of water.

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You can spray sidewalks, sand, pebbles, and piles of yard debris, such as leaves and grass clippings. If you have outdoor animals like chickens or horses, salt is a great way to keep fleas out of stables and chicken runs. Will you find more fleas in dirt or grassy areas? Find the answer here.

You can sprinkle the salt or spray a saltwater solution. Not only will it kill fleas, but it will also kill some other insects, including parasites.

Additional Natural Flea Control Methods

Salt is certainly a good natural remedy on its own, but you can also use other methods for extra control and prevention. 

Clean Regularly

Whether you have fleas or want to prevent them, cleaning will always be beneficial. Vacuum carpets and rugs at least once a week to suck up eggs and adult fleas. Wash blankets, pet bedding, and clothing with hot water to kill any fleas that have made the items their home.

Natural Repellent

You can use citrus fruits, herbs, and plants to keep fleas away. Fleas hate the scent of citrus, so you can boil some orange or lemon slices in water to make a spray to spray around your home.

They also hate the scent of lavender, rosemary, spearmint, chrysanthemums, and pennyroyal. You can grow these in pots indoors or outdoors to use as a natural repellent.

You can dry out the herbs and sprinkle them throughout your home or turn them into sachets.

Natural Flea Spray

There are many flea sprays that rely on natural ingredients to ward off or kill fleas.

Vet’s Best Flea & Tick Home Spray uses natural ingredients like peppermint oil and sodium to kill and repel fleas.

Vet's Best Flea and Tick Home Spray - Dog Flea and...

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These sprays are good to use along with salt because the combination can kill fleas faster and also act as a repellent, making them more willing to leave the area to begin with.

It should be noted that natural sprays aren’t guaranteed to be completely non-toxic. Most essential oils, including peppermint, are toxic to pets. Cats are especially sensitive to them, but dogs can have negative reactions to them as well. Pets coming into direct contact with oils or even putting oils in diffusers can be a problem. If you choose to use a spray, pay close attention to the ingredients and monitor your pet after you spray the treatment in your home.

(Head over to our article on getting rid of fleas in carpet to learn how to make two simple, yet effective, DIY repellent sprays with no essential oils.)


  • Salt kills fleas slowly by damaging their exoskeleton and dehydrating them. It can be a slow death that takes up to two days, but it’s an effective way to control fleas.
  • Salt is inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk, so you can easily buy enough salt to cover a large area or to continually treat your home.
  • Be careful about using salt around your pets. High doses can be dangerous, but if you watch your pets and make sure they don’t try to lick up the salt in the carpet, it shouldn’t cause any harm.
  • Salt is a great, natural solution for getting rid of fleas, but it certainly isn’t your only option. Check out our main flea page to learn more about these pests and to see if other elimination methods appeal to you as well.