There’s a Flea on Me!

There's a Flea on Me!

There is a flea on me and there are two on you. No, this is not the opening of a Dr. Seuss story; this is me trying to find a sense of humor in my tragic tale of woe.  Humorous is not how I would describe the past week of my life, however, more like grueling, nightmarish and let’s not forget itchy.

Those of you who follow me know that I teach in an impoverished school district. Over the years I have had students plagued with fleas, cockroaches, ringworm, pink-eye, and in the last few years bedbugs.  Praise god, I have managed to keep things that crawl out of my house and even avoided catching ringworm.  Pink eye I have succumbed to more than once and while I hate it, at least the treatment is just a bottle of drops, a couple of days and done.

My run of good luck ran out, though, last week. It was a Wednesday night when my husband came to me and showed me that he had an itchy rash on his feet and legs.  If there is one thing I have learned from being a mom over the last decade and a half from countless pediatricians and general practitioners is that rashes are usually no big deal.  As long as its not chicken pox or shingles you are usually just fine.  My youngest son, as well as my self, suffers from “contact dermatitis” all the time.  Basically we touch stuff and have allergic reactions that go away in two to three days.  This was the driving force behind my switching to household products as well as buying my giant jugs of ECOS laundry detergent from Costco.

So, as I was saying, when my husband showed me his rash I sort of shrugged it off. Friday night while watching an episode of Bones that I had recorded I started scratching my own ankles and noticed that I had developed a rash just like my husbands.  Okay, so something was up.  I thought about my laundry and remembered that I had washed one load of clothes with Tide Free and Clear.  AJ had managed to get the bottom hem of his good khaki pants caught in his bike chain and I knew ECOS probably wouldn’t be able to get the black grease out of his pants so I used the Tide that I kept on hand for just such an emergency.  Because I only wash large loads odds were high that some of mine and Bill’s socks were mixed in the load.  So there, the mystery was solved.

Saturday night rolled around and while I was reading a book I noticed that there was a little black bug on my white robe that I was wearing. There was nothing remarkable about the bug.  It looked like a gnat.  I shooed it off and went back to reading.  In the back of my mind, however, thoughts were stirring.

Sunday night was the clincher. It was 10:00 pm and I was in bed reading.  I looked to the side when something moved on my white sheets.  There was another little black bug.  When I reached for it…it jumped!!!  I was freaking out but I held perfectly still and stared at my white sheets with serious concentration.  There was another one, and another one, and holy shit there were six fleas on my sheets!  SIX!!!

“BILL!” I screamed, and I do mean I screamed. I am still shocked the boys slept through that.  He came running in the room yelling, “What?  What’s wrong?”

“WE HAVE FLEAS!” At this point I had already jumped out of bed and was pulling back the covers to expose all of the white sheets.  Sure enough, we had fleas.  I looked at my feet, which were now planted on the carpeting and there was a flea on my foot.  There was a flea on Bill’s foot.

“Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” I just kept saying.

Bill, always the voice of reason, tried to calm me down. “Okay, it’s late too to do anything about it now.  We’ll tackle this in the morning.”

“Oh no we won’t. Meijer is open 24 hours a day.”  In less than a minute I was dressed and grabbing my keys.

At Meijer I was overwhelmed by your flea removal options. There were powders, sprays, Fabreeze versions, and then The Bomb.  Being as this was my first infestation (and it better damn well be my last) I didn’t know what to buy, so I bought one of everything, except The Bomb.  Before heading to the check out lane I ran down the cookie isle and grabbed two packs of Keebler Fudge Grahams.  If ever there was a moment when chocolate was allowable due to extreme stress this was it.

$64 dollars later I was back at the house and reading the labels on all of the different bottles I had purchased. As Bill and I read it became abundantly clear that we couldn’t actually do anything about our situation until the next day.  Every single bottle said the same thing, that after spraying the contents you needed to leave the area for at least two hours.  The boys were already sleeping.  It was a school night.  There was nothing to do but wait.

I called and cancelled the nanny for the next day and put in for a substitute teacher. I would take the day off of work and tackle the problem head on.

That night I did not sleep. Seriously, not one wink.  First, I refused to go in the bedroom.  It just was not going to happen.  So I stayed up all night in the living room with the lights on so I could quickly knock off any little critter that tried to suck my blood.  It was a long damn night and by the time morning rolled around and I needed to get the boys off to school I had bags on top of the bags under my eyes.

The war began at 9:15 am. I dropped Casey off at school and Googled “how do you get rid of fleas.”  The fast responses were to spray and wash everything.  Every blanket, pillow, sheet, towel, and item of clothing had to be washed in hot water and dried in the dryer to kill live fleas as well as eggs.

Since I knew I had a ton of work to do I decided to tackle the problem one room at a time so I could avoid leaving the house. I pulled all bedding, clothes, and linens into the garage, which connects to the laundry room and got started with the first load.  Then I sprayed the bedrooms, and I mean I sprayed the holy hell out of them, as well as the bathrooms.  While I waited for 2 ½ hours to pass I did multiple loads of laundry.  Because we have hard wood floors I put all the clean stuff in baskets on the kitchen floor.

Finally I vacuumed the bedrooms as instructed (and got totally light headed in the process). I spent no less than 30 minutes in each room vacuuming the same spots endlessly as well as all baseboards.  I only stopped long enough to rotate the loads of laundry.

Next it was time for the living room. We only have an area rug but I knew I also needed to spray the sofas.  I had at it.  I sprayed and sprayed.  This time I really did have to leave the house so I didn’t accidentally kill myself on flea spray fumes.

I spent two hours running a few errands. I bought new hair brushes and a few other things since I actually threw mine away, not willing to take any chances!  When time was up I went home and continued my war of laundry and vacuuming.

Bill and the boys came home and he cooked the Costco pizza I grabbed while out. Then Bill helped with returning clean laundry to cleaned bedrooms.  It was 9 pm when I finally called it a night.  I ached in every bone of my body.  I was beyond exhausted.  I climbed into bed to relax for a few minutes in front of the television before turning in.  As I sat there I looked down to see two fleas on my bare legs.  This time I didn’t scream.  I didn’t even shoo them off.  I just broke down crying, a deep, heaving, hiccupping cry…ugly face and all.  AJ came into my room and a second later so did Bill.

I pointed at my legs and said, “It didn’t work. All that work I did and they are still here.  I can’t take another day off of work to fight fleas.”  Bill used toilet paper to get the fleas off my legs and flushed them down the toilet.

We dug out an old bottle of Deep Woods Off! and sprayed ourselves along with all the bedding and went to bed.

The next day the nanny showed up and showed us her flea bites, two of which were infected from scratching. She also informed us that if fleas showed up in her house we would be paying for her professional extermination.  Then she said she quit until next week, after we had it under control.

To say my world had turned into a hell would be an understatement. Bill and I took turns missing work, and Bill went ahead the next day and Bombed the house with the big one.  I came home from work and once again started washing every single piece of fabric in the house.  We threw our enormous Land’s End Goose Down Quilt in the trash.  It was too big to wash and I just knew it would be filled with eggs and larva.

Even after the bomb we still saw the occasional flea. I continued to throw down a little spray in the bedrooms and shut the doors so the poison could work.  I vacuumed for an hour every day to suck up dead fleas and eggs.  Further Google searches taught us that even with all the work we did there would still be eggs that survived the Bomb and the vacuum so it was recommended that we re-Bomb in three weeks!

Today is the second day that I haven’t seen a flea, but I am not stupid. I know that somewhere there is still a few around.  I will continue to vacuum and we plan to Bomb the house again in two weeks.

A trick I did learn during this week of misery was to spray a deet based product like Off! or Repel on just your feet and ankles. Fleas are mostly in the carpets and feet=food for a flea.  Plus, a few sprays of deet on the foot of the bed and on the blanket near the foot will keep them off your bed while you sleep during the night.

I seriously pray none of you have had a flea infestation and I apologize to those of you who are now scratching at invisible bugs or any cases of the willies I may have caused.

If you have a great tip for fighting fleas PLEASE share it below.

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  1. We’ve been fighting fleas for a month now and have finally seen a decrease in fleas. We have 3 pets though, so they hide on their fur and our puppy continues to find them in our yard. First of all, nothing can be left untreated! Spary ypur yard as welll! We found fleas love to live in hardwood floors. Make sure you clean them! Pinesol is supposed to help because the pine oil kills and repels fleas. After we’ve cleaned the whole house thoroughly, we used our steamer to kill any fleas hiding in the cracks of the wood. I understand your frustration! We’ve poured so much time and money into treating our home and pets but it will get better! Hang in there!!

    • Hopefully are battle with the little blood suckers won’t take that long. I hate bugs. I mean I seriously hate bugs and just can not handle this for much longer.

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