Not-so-jolly flea circus in your bed

GOOD RIDDANCE: Finding the source of fleas in your home is important to root out the infestation. Salt is an excellent deterrent
GOOD RIDDANCE: Finding the source of fleas in your home is important to root out the infestation. Salt is an excellent deterrent

HOW can I get rid of fleas? My bed has been infested with these creatures for about two months now. (I got your e-mail address from my brother in Port Elizabeth). – JF, Cape Town.

It is unusual to have a major flea problem unless there is a host for the fleas, such as a dog. In subsequent correspondence, “JF” confirmed that he does have a dog – a husky. I suggested that he consult a veterinarian about the best way to treat the dog. The vet could also provide a strict procedure to ensure that the dog’s kennel and bedding do not become havens for fleas.

Meanwhile, there had to be a major spring-cleaning of the house, including the dog’s kennel and bedding. I advised:

Everything should be vacuumed, including the mattress. Afterwards, take the mattress outside, and leave it in the sun for a while. Ideally, the mattress should be steam-cleaned.

Many readers have found that salt is an excellent deterrent for fleas. Sprinkle salt onto carpets, and vacuum in the morning. This worked well for a reader who had a flea problem in a holiday cottage.

“MF” of East London had good results with paraffin, sprinkled round the edge of her carpets. It wouldn’t be pleasant to use this on the bed, but you could wipe down the bed frame, if you can put up with the smell. You should bear in mind that while smells that are unpleasant to fleas may chase them away, if the fleas have laid eggs they will still hatch. You have to get to the root of the infestation.

Once again, through your column, I have found a “miracle” cure – this time for perspiration odours. I have breast cancer and am going for daily radiation. One of the rules is not to use soap or deodorant on the treated area, only plain water. After a few days, I began to get the perspiration odour.

I read the suggestion in your column from reader “GR” about using fresh lemon juice and was a bit sceptical. However, I gave it a try and, guess what, the odour disappeared in a day! I pat on a little under the arm each day and am odour free. I can’t express my gratitude enough to the reader who sent in the advice and to you for publishing it. I will definitely spread the word to other patients in my predicament. – RV, Port Elizabeth.

It is always gratifying when readers take the trouble to share helpful advice, and hopefully other patients will also benefit from the simple and inexpensive tip from “GR”.

Regarding the reader who had problems with linen becoming smelly in the cupboard, I have antique wardrobes and they give off that mouldy smell. I wash them down with bleach/lemon water and leave them standing open as often as I can. I have also found that soap slivers and small bars of soap placed in between my clothes helps provide that fresh smell. – LV, Port Elizabeth.

Thanks for confirming the effectiveness of giving the cupboards a wipe-down with bleach, and of ventilation, in combating odours. I like the idea of lemon being added to the bleach water. It’s interesting that you place the soap slivers among your clothes. This is something I have done for years, but only in my linen cupboard, where it has been most effective.

I read the item in your column about removing make-up foundation from clothing. I always use a paste of cold water Omo granules and Dettol (diluted with a small amount of water to turn it white). – SA, Port Elizabeth.

This is definitely one for the files.
–  At Your Service, with Gwen Bisseker

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