Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

Did you hear from a friend or family member that they used Dawn dish soap to kill fleas?  Are you wondering if this could even be true?  Chances are, if your dog or cat has fleas right now, you’re desperate to get rid of them and willing to try anything — as long as it will actually work! 

So, is it possible?  Does Dawn dish soap kill fleas?  Continue reading, and we’ll answer these questions along with others you may have, including whether Dawn is safe to use on pets, how long to leave Dawn on dog to kill fleas, and which Dawn soap is most effective.

does dawn dish soap kill fleas

What is Dawn Dish Soap?

Dawn dish soap has been one of the top-selling dish soap brands in the United States since it first came out in 1973.  What sets Dawn apart from many other brands out there is the fact that it is both highly effective at removing grease and safe enough to use on animals. 

You may remember hearing about Dawn being used to help remove oil from the feathers of birds after oil spills.  Its grease-fighting capabilities make it a great tool for breaking down the oil and helping to remove it without harming the bird’s feathers.

Part of the reason why Dawn is so effective at breaking down grease and oil is because of its surfactants.  These surfactants work to break apart the barrier separating the water from the dirt or grease.  Once the barrier is broken, the dirt and oil are effectively suspended. This makes it easier to remove them from dishes and other items.

Another property of the surfactants in Dawn dish soap is their ability to reduce the surface tension of water.  We’ll talk more about how this property is key when trying to kill fleas with Dawn dish soap.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

Will Dawn soap kill fleas?    The answer is actually yes.  Using Dawn makes it possible to drown fleas.  Many people assume that fleas will drown if placed in a bowl or cup of water.  However, due to the high surface tension of the water, the fleas’ wax-covered and water-repellent body, and their overall small and lightweight size, fleas will simply float when placed in water.  In fact, they can even survive for multiple days in water.  

Enter the power of Dawn dish soap.  As we shared above, Dawn dish soap has surfactants.  These surfactants break or reduce the surface tension of the water.  This means that fleas will no longer float on the water and will sink instead.  When you’re thinking about how to get rid of fleas with Dawn, know that placing the fleas in water alone is not enough to kill them.

how to get rid of fleas with dawn

How Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

We started answering this question above.  One of the reasons Dawn dish soap works to kill fleas is that it reduces the surface tension of the water.  When the surface tension is broken, the fleas lose their ability to float.  

However, this is not the only important role Dawn plays when killing fleas.  If you were to place a flea in a container of pure water (with no Dawn) and push them beneath the water yourself, they still wouldn’t drown and die right away.  A flea submerged in water can live for up to 24 hours. We all know that keeping them submerged that long (whether they’re on our pets or loose in the jar) just isn’t going to be possible.

The reason fleas can stay alive, even when submerged under the water, is that they have a wax-covered cuticle.  This cuticle repels water. Even when the flea is actually beneath the surface of the water, the cuticle will keep the flea dry.

When you add Dawn dish soap to the water, however, not only will the flea not be able to float on the surface of the water, they also won’t be able to stay alive when they’re submerged.  The dawn works to break down their waxy covering.  The wax’s water-repellent properties are decreased.  This allows water to enter the flea, where it will get into their respiratory system.  This kills the flea.

Will Dawn Dish Soap Kill Flea Eggs?

Yes, Dawn dish soap can kill flea eggs.  Like the fleas themselves, flea eggs also won’t drown in just plain water.  However, when Dawn is added to break the surface tension, the egg will no longer be able to float.  The Dawn will also break down the special layer in the flea egg designed to protect itself against taking in water.  This will allow the water to be able to penetrate into the egg, which will kill the egg.

Keep in mind, however, that Dawn will only kill the eggs that are submerged under the water with it.  This means that any eggs that are on your dog’s bedding or in other areas of the house will still be able to hatch.  You’ll need to address all of these areas in addition to taking care of the fleas on your pet.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Ticks?

Does dawn kill fleas and ticks is another question.  As we shared above, it can kill fleas, but what about ticks?  Yes, you can also use Dawn dish soap to kill ticks.  Start by mixing ⅔ cup warm water and 4 tablespoons of Dawn dish soap in a small container with a lid.  Mix and shake the solution.

Then ,take a cotton pad and place it in the solution to soak for about two minutes.  Remove the soaked pad from the solution. Hold it tightly over the tick on your dog (or a cat or person) for a few minutes.  

The tick will begin to loosen its grip on the person or animal. It should become stuck in the cotton pad.  Once it loses its grip and releases itself, carefully pull the tick out with tweezers, place it in the dawn and water mixture, and cover the container with a lid. 

Leave the tick alone and let it drown.  You may want to save the tick to show your doctor. You could also send it out for testing if you are worried about any diseases.

does dawn kill fleas and ticks

Is Dawn Safe to Use on Pets

Yes, Dawn is safe to use on your pets.  As we shared above, it has been used for years to clean up birds and other wildlife after oil spills.  It certainly would not be the cleaner of choice if it were toxic to animals in any way.  Dawn does not contain any ingredients that are dangerous for your animals. So, washing dog with Dawn for fleas is safe.  

However, using Dawn on a dog or cat with any sort of skin condition or sensitivity isn’t a good idea.  Dawn can be very drying for pets and may irritate their skin, especially those who are already dealing with other skin concerns.  Compared to the top layer of our skin (the epidermis), dogs and cats have a thinner layer.  This increases their sensitivity to certain soaps, detergents, and fragrances.

Even with pets that don’t have sensitive skin, you should limit how often you use Dawn as a flea removal method.  Try to only wash your dog or cat with Dawn every two to three weeks.  Don’t use Dawn as a replacement for a regular shampoo; save it for those times when you are dealing with a flea infestation.  And, always make sure that all the soap is fully rinsed out of their coat to avoid leaving any residue that could lead to irritation.

Can You Use Dawn Dish Soap on Puppies and Kittens?

Yes, as we explained above, Dawn dish soap is safe to use on animals who don’t have pre-existing skin conditions.  It is gentle enough to occasionally use to kill fleas on a puppy or kitten.  In fact, since most flea shampoos are not deemed safe to use on young puppies or kittens, Dawn may be the best option available for these younger animals.

Which Dawn Dish Soap Should You Choose?

What soap kills fleas is a common question.  Does blue Dawn kill fleas?  Does green Dawn kill fleas?  Deciding which Dawn dish soap to use may be confusing.  After all, Dawn has multiple different varieties of their dish soap.

The good news is that all dish soaps will have the same effect on fleas.  They will all break the surface tension of the water, making it possible to drown the flea.  

The main thing you should consider when choosing a Dawn dish soap to use on your dog or cat is the scent.  Avoid using soaps with a fragrance, as they may irritate your pup’s skin or cause an allergic reaction.

Is Mixing Dawn Dish Soap With Vinegar Good?

If you’re wondering whether to mix some vinegar in with Dawn dish soap to help kill the fleas, doing so generally isn’t a good idea.  Adding vinegar in with the Dawn makes it more likely that your dog’s skin will become irritated, or even infected.  You definitely should not choose to use vinegar on a dog or cat who already has irritated skin.

The only time it may make sense to consider adding vinegar to Dawn dish soap is if you’re facing a major flea infestation and need to act quickly.  However, again, you shouldn’t use the mixture on a dog who has irritated skin or another skin condition.  You should also only use a small amount of vinegar to make sure that it doesn’t burn or sting when it comes in contact with your dog’s skin.

Limitations to Using Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas

Dawn isn’t always going to be the best solution for killing fleas.  As we shared above, it can dry out your pet’s skin and isn’t ideal to use on animals who already have an existing skin condition.  Additionally, using Dawn dish soap generally isn’t the most effective method for killing fleas on bedding or the other items in your home that pets may come into contact with.  

This means it isn’t always the most effective approach for controlling infestations. Even if you are able to kill the fleas on your pet, they’ll just get infected again if there are still fleas in the environment.

Generally speaking, it is best to use Dawn on rare occasions.  The best thing you can do to prevent fleas is to make sure your dog is taking a monthly flea and tick preventative or using a flea collar.  These will help stop the infestations from happening in the first place.

When is it Best to Use Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas?

So, when is the right time to use Dawn to kill fleas.  Well, one example would be using it to bathe puppies or kittens who have fleas.  Since most flea shampoos are not considered safe to use on young animals, Dawn is a viable alternative.  However, you’ll still want to dilute the Dawn a good deal to protect their skin as much as possible.

Another time you may find that Dawn is helpful is for killing stray fleas that aren’t part of an infestation.  If you just notice a flea or two on one of your pets and don’t think they have really spread to other pets or other areas of the house, then a quick dawn and water bath may be a good idea.  

You could also simply place any fleas you find in a bowl of water and Dawn dish soap.  Alternatively, as part of your strategy for clearing up a flea infestation in your home, you could make flea traps with dawn dish soap.  Fill shallow bowls with water and a few drops of Dawn.  Place them near your dog’s bed or other areas.  This way, if the flea jumps off of one of your pets and into the water, it won’t be able to get back out and will drown.

washing dog with dawn for fleas

Directions for Using Dawn to Kill Fleas

In the next few sections, we’ll share the steps you should follow to use Dawn to kill fleas on your dog or cat.  We’ll also answer questions such as “how long does it take for dawn to kill fleas,” so you know how long to leave the sudsy water on your pup or kitty.

How to Use Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas on Your Dog

If you’re ready to learn exactly how to get rid of fleas with Dawn dish soap, follow the step-by step directions below with your dog.

  1. Run some lukewarm water into the bathtub.
  2. Put your dog in the bath and use a rinsing cup to make sure that their entire body gets wet (except the insides of their ears).
  3. Put some Dawn dish soap on your hands, and later it up by rubbing it all over your dog’s coat.  Use enough to get a good lather.  Also remember that Dawn can be drying, so don’t over do it.
  4. Keep your dog in the bathtub with the Dawn soap sitting on their coat for at least five minutes, if not closer to 10.
  5. Use the cup to rinse off all of the soap and any dead fleas from your dog’s fur.  You’ll want to be sure to do multiple rinses to make sure all the fleas are rinsed away and to keep any soap residue from irritating your dog’s skin.
  6. Use a brush to scrub your dog’s coat all over.  This will help remove any lingering fleas.  After scrubbing, perform a visual inspection to see if you notice any remaining fleas.  Finish up with a few final rinses with water.

How to Use Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas on Your Cat

Does dish soap kill fleas on cats?  Yes, Dawn dish soap can also kill fleas on your cat.  However, you’ll need to modify the steps outlined above, as most cats won’t tolerate baths like a dog will.  Try these steps to kill the fleas on your cat using Dawn dish soap:

  1. Mix dawn dish soap and vinegar together in a bowl or small tub.
  2. Dip a flea comb in the vinegar and Dawn solution and then use it to comb your cat.  
  3. After each pass with the comb, dip it back in the solution to help keep the fleas from getting back on your cat.
  4. Continue brushing your cat with the Dawn and vinegar solution until you get rid of all the fleas.

How Long Do You Leave Dawn on to Kill Fleas?

How long does it take Dawn to kill fleas?  It doesn’t take long, really only about 5 or 10 minutes.  However, if you’re giving your dog or cat a bath, you may find it difficult to leave them submerged in the water for this long.  Be prepared with someone to help you keep their body (up to their neck) under the water and to try to keep them happy and distracted during the bath.

Ways to use Dawn Dish Soap to Get Rid of Fleas in the Environment

You can also try to use Dawn dish soap for fleas in carpet or other indoor or outdoor areas of your home.  However, it is not always the most effective method.  For example, using food-grade diatomaceous earth can be more effective to kill fleas on the carpet.

If you’d like to try using Dawn dish soap to get rid of fleas in your home environment, here are a few suggestions to try.

Cleaning the Carpets

Add three cups of water and 4.5 teaspoons of Dawn to a spray bottle.  Mix the solution and spray it over all of the carpets in your home.  After about 10 minutes, blot the carpet using a clean and dry towel.  The vacuum thoroughly to make sure any dead or nearly dead fleas are removed.  Empty and clean the vacuum canister and throw the trash bag in your outside bin to make sure all the fleas are out of your house.

Cleaning Bedding

Try adding just one tablespoon of Dawn to your washing machine along with your regular laundry detergent.  Wash any bedding or soft dog toys that could have fleas using a hot water wash.

Flea Traps

You can make a flea trap using Dawn dish soap and water.  Combine the two ingredients in a shallow bowl or pan and place it near your dog’s bed/preferred sleeping areas.  Turn off the lights in the room and angle a lamp right over the trap.  Because fleas are attracted to light, they will be more likely to jump into the trap.  Then, since the Dawn dish soap will have broken the surface tension of the water, they will sink and die.

Lawn Treatments

You may also be able to use Dawn dish soap in your yard to get rid of fleas.  However, it will only be effective if your grass is cut short.  You’ll need to mix Dawn dish soap and water together in a spray bottle and use it to spray the entire yard in the evening.  

Dawn Dish Soap for Fleas:  Final Words

Dawn dish soap can kill fleas, but it may not always be the right method to choose.  It is safe and not-toxic for pets, but Dawn can also be drying and may irritate the skin of some dogs or cats.  If you’re just dealing with a few stray fleas or need to give a kitten or a puppy a flea bath, then Dawn dish soap may be the right solution.  For larger flea infestations, you’ll likely find that Dawn dish soap alone isn’t sufficient to address the problem.


How long do you leave Dawn dish soap on to kill fleas?

How long does Dawn take to kill fleas?  After bathing your pet with Dawn dish soap, allow them suds to remain for about 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing off your cat or dog.

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