Does Dawn Soap Kill Fleas?

We’ve all heard of dawn soaps, haven’t we? If you haven’t, then know this: dawn soaps are dishwashing detergents advertised as the best of their kind in the American market.

But aside from being an excellent grease remover, some people claim that these dawn soaps can also kill fleas. Fleas, as we all know, are one of the nastiest vampire parasites on earth. Add to that, they are very difficult to get rid of.

In earlier articles, we pointed out that Lysol, a common household disinfectant, could kill fleas.

Now, we all know that both dawn soaps and Lysol are antiseptic. With this similarity, does that mean that dawn soaps, like Lysol, can kill fleas as well? Well… in this article, that’s what we’re going to find out!

Does Dawn Dish Soap Really Kill Fleas? 

The simple answer to this is yes; dawn soaps can kill fleas. And it does this by drowning the fleas. Afterward, the surviving fleas would then be dehydrated to death.

But despite its lethal action on fleas, dawn soaps are very safe for your pet use.

This is because dawn soaps were made to remove grease and oil stains from the feathers and fur of animals in the wild. So, it was made with organic safety in mind.

However, dawn soaps are not that effective when it comes to battling a full-scale flea infestation.

That’s because dawn soaps can only kill the fleas directly on your pets. But then, other infested places will remain.

These surviving fleas would later come in contact with your pets. And it’s the same thing all over again.

READ MORE: What Kills Fleas On Contact?

Does Dawn Kill Fleas Egg?

does dawn kill fleas eggs

Because of the potency of their antiseptic property, dawn soaps can not only kill fleas; they can kill flea eggs as well.

However, these eggs must be located directly on the pets. Because like most ectoparasitic eggs, flea eggs, unlike adult fleas, lack mechanical hooks.

As such, they do not stick quite well to the fur of the animals. So, any slight disturbance would knock them off.

Now, as said earlier, dawn soaps kill fleas on direct impact. So, oftentimes when people use it as a flea killer, they bathe their pets completely in a dawn soap-water solution.

If the flea eggs have been knocked off the animal, then dawn soaps can’t kill nor prevent them.

Why and How Does Dawn Kill Fleas?

Dawn soaps can kill fleas because of many reasons.

For one, dawn soaps, like other dishwashing soaps such as Palmolive and others, have antiseptic components.

As such, they can kill germs. Fleas, of course, are other germs that their component compounds can eliminate.

Then again, fleas are ectoparasites with exoskeletons. That means, they live on their hosts and have a hard outer covering. This light skin layer gives the fleas the ability to float on water.

Likewise, that same exoskeleton in fleas is laced with a cuticle. Oftentimes, this cuticle is a bit tough and waxy. As such, it prevents water from penetrating into the skin of the fleas.

Water, itself, could support the weight of a flea because of its high surface tension. It is this surface tension that the surfactants in dawn soaps tend to break. When this water surface tension is broken, the fleas caught therein get drowned.

In most cases, some of the fleas do survive the initial drowning. However, the components in dawn soaps tend to wash off the waxy cuticle.

This generates two effects. One, it creates a pathway for water to penetrate the skin of the fleas. Once this happens, the chance that the targeted fleas would drown doubles up.

Aside from that, removing the waxy layers also exposes the fleas to quick dehydration. This also can kill off the fleas. But remember that all these fatal reactions of dawn soaps on fleas are only possible on direct impact.

Does Dawn Dish Soaps Kill Fleas on Dogs and Puppies?

does dawn kill fleas on dogs

Among all housepets, dogs are most prone to a flea infestation.

In fact, fleas even prefer some species of dogs to others.

Oftentimes, these flea magnets among dogs tend to have more body moisture and dark fur colors.

However, fleas, whenever they get the chance, would infest any dog; adult, or puppy. But with dawn soaps mixed with lukewarm water, you can kill them off.

This is because like other types of fleas that infest other animals like man and cats, dawn soaps will drown and dehydrate them to death.

Do Dawn Soaps Kill Fleas on Cats and Kittens?

Whether dog flea, human flea, or cat flea, dawn soaps can kill any kind of flea.  The only difference lies in the reverse effect that comes with using dawn soaps on these animals.

In cats, for example, dawn soaps can indeed remove all fleas and flea eggs lurking under feline fur. However, a one-time application cannot do the job.

So, oftentimes, many people tend to put this home recipe on repeat. In the end, the fleas indeed do die off.

However, using dawn soaps repeatedly to kill fleas would cause the skin of the cat and kittens to dry and flake. This can lead to infections and skin irritations.

Does Dawn Kill Fleas on Humans?

Pets like dogs and cats have furs on their body. This fur was meant to cover the thin epidermis that lies beneath.

In humans, our epidermis is much tougher compared to dogs and cats. Because, unlike dogs and cats, we have no extra fur to keep us warm and protect us.

As such, the effect of the surfactants present in dawn soaps is less irritating to our skin. So, yes; humans can also use dawn soap to kill fleas on their bodies.

However, we and many other vets out there agree that dawn soaps should be used only in worst-case scenarios. To be on the safer side, look for human-specific flea treatment instead.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas in the Yard?

Yes, you can use dawn soaps to kill off the fleas infesting your yard, gardens, and lawns. However, too much of it can have some bad side effects on the plants.

The explanation, though, is a bit scientific. But bear with us here.

You see, dawn soaps are not essentially true soaps. Instead, they are detergents.

Now, almost all detergents have some components like Sodium lauryl sulfate. Such substances can wash the natural oils and waxes found in most plants.

When that happens, the affected plants tend to lose the ability to resist dehydration and fight pathogens. As such, excessive use of dawn soaps can later lead to the death of the plant. So, use it with caution.

  • How to Get Rid of Yard Fleas With Dawn Soaps.

Because of the sodium lauryl sulfate in dawn soaps and other dishwashing liquids, some garden plants cannot tolerate them in large amounts.

As such, using dawn soaps to remove garden fleas must be done with caution. In this section, let’s scan through three main steps that you can use to get rid of garden fleas using dawn soaps:

  1. Manicure your lawn with a good mower – Reducing the size of your lawn grass will help you to locate the hiding spots of the fleas.
  2. Make a cocktail of dawn soap and water – Mix dawn soaps and water in a 50:50 ratio. Put it inside a sprayer.
  3. Apply the mixture in your yard often – Apply the mixture in your yard and concentrate the mixture around flea colonies. For it to work, repeat the application reasonably.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Also Kill Ticks?

Fleas and ticks, like spiders, are both arachnids. That means they both have a lot of features in common. One of the most important ones we need to note is the possession of exoskeletons.

As said earlier, dawn dish soaps tend to wash off the waxy cuticles that line the exoskeletons in ticks and fleas. When this happens, the tick dies of both drowning and dehydration.

Other dishwashing soaps that can kill both ticks and fleas include Palmolive, Joy, and Ajax. These soaps can kill any tick on dogs, cats, and even humans.

Will Vinegar Also Kill Fleas?

For ages now, vinegar has been labeled to be one of the most effective natural and homemade repellents. This is because vinegar produces a very strong scent that drives pests away.

Fleas, like most insects, can also be repelled with vinegar. So, oftentimes, you can deal with a flea infestation by making a spray of 50:50 vinegar water.

However, most pest experts, like Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, believe that apple cider vinegar cannot directly kill fleas.

According to them, the acetic acid in vinegar is quite weak. As such, it cannot penetrate into the shells and hard outer skins in fleas and ticks.

The best any kind of vinegar can do is to act as an irritant that chases fleas away. Although, many websites out there claim otherwise.

While using vinegar as a flea killer, you should note the following:

  1. Avoid rubbing your pet with a towel. If you do, you’d perhaps lessen the effect of the vinegar.
  2. Use a small amount of vinegar in a bowl of shampoo lather. This will help prevent wet pets from running around the house.
  3. Make sure you don’t over-use the vinegar to prevent irritations.
  4. Always keep vinegar jar away from children and pet foods. Ingesting some levels of vinegar can be dangerous.

Does Lemon Juice and Water Kill Fleas?


Like vinegar, lemon juice emits some kind of scents that fleas cannot tolerate. As such, it works as a good flea repellent.


If you mix lemon juice and water, the mixture can help to kill off fleas. Better still, you can use the mixture on kittens and dogs.


But to use it, you would need to make a cocktail of lemon juice, water, and baby shampoo. Combined, they make a lethal flea poison.


On one hand, the lemon juice would deter the fleas. On the other, the shampoo contains pyrethrin that can smother the flea.

Does Palmolive Kill Fleas Like Dawn?

Palmolive is another dishwashing detergent that works just like Dawn. Add to that, it also has a pleasant aroma. That aroma alone is enough to repel fleas.

However, if you use Palmolive to bathe your pets, it can help kill off adult fleas. But remember that ridding your pets of fleas is just one step to eradicating the fleas in your house.

So, even after you feel like the fleas on your pets have been eliminated via thorough washing with Palmolive, you still need to launch a full-scale flea treatment.

How to Use Dawn Dishwashing Soaps to Kill Fleas

To use dawn dishwashing soaps to kill fleas on pets, carpets, and furniture, consider using this general guideline:

  1. Mix dawn soaps with lukewarm water in about 1:4. That should be about 2 teaspoons of dawn per liter of water.
  2. Juggle up the mixture until lather forms.
  3. Bath your pet in this mixture by scrubbing for about 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse with clean water.
  5. After cleaning your pet, make a new dawn solution and extend the cleaning to the entire house.
  6. While cleaning the carpets, ensure you allow the dawn solution to sit on the carpet for a while. You can vacuum-dry it afterward.
  7. Wash all beddings and pet clothes with vinegar and hot water.
  8. Use sprays of essential oils to ward off adult fleas.
  9. Repeat the cycle as required.

FAQs About How Dawn Soaps Kill Fleas and Flea Eggs

1. How Long Does Dawn Take to Kill Fleas?  

It takes dawn soaps roughly about 20 minutes to kill off the fleas. But you can shorten that time if you mix your dawn soaps with lukewarm water.

2. Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Flea Instantly?

Oftentimes, we mix dawn soaps with water in order to use them to remove grease or kill fleas. As such, the concentration used becomes so mild that it’s going to take a while before the fleas can die.

According to firsthand accounts, it should take about 5 – 10 minutes before the targeted fleas can die.

Final Words.

In this article, one thing is clear; dawn soaps can indeed kill fleas by drowning and dehydrating them to death. Within 10 minutes, the targeted fleas are expected to die.

However, using dawn soaps as a flea killer is not the best technique out there. After all, dawns soaps were originally made as grease removers.

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