Does Dawn Dish Soap Really Kill Fleas on Dogs?

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So I told you all a while back about my little sister adopting a goldendoodle puppy.

Like any new mom, she quickly began freaking out about everything, and I do mean EVERYTHING.

I have literally gotten a text at 2:00 a.m. with a picture of a puppy turd asking me if it looked “normal.”

I contemplated texting her back and telling her the only way to really be sure was to taste it. Instead I told her it was perfect, just like her puppy, and to go back to bed.

Who am I to complain about the steady stream of texts though? It makes coming up with my next post a breeze. Thanks, sis!

My sister’s most recent panic stricken string of texts were the result of finding three (THREE!!!) adult fleas on her puppy. She tried to Google it, but got mixed results causing her to spiral further.

Here are the highlights. I omitted some of her texts with more “colorful” language. You’re welcome, Grandma. Just try to remember who the good one is come this Christmas.

Puppy’s First Flea

Flea comb helps check for and remove fleas from dogs“I don’t know what to do. I found a flea. I started really inspecting and found two more.

They could be all over the house by now. And the yard!

Good Lord, you have to help me!!!”

I decided to tackle her panic attack one question at a time.

My first text instructed her to quit looking at random stuff on the internet and check out posts I have already done about this very topic.

I had a great one on eliminating fleas from your yard, how to tell if your dog has fleas, and a separate post about how to treat your house for fleas. I even have one about using natural methods to get rid of fleas.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

Blue Dawn Dish Soap Kills Fleas on dogsI’ll do my level best to answer her questions in the hopes it will help give answers to someone else, possibly sparing their siblings 23 texts.

The quick answer is, yes, Dawn dish soap kills fleas. Within minutes you’ll see those black bouncing specks start to fill up your sink (or tub).

“Is washing a dog with Dawn soap bad to do? Didn’t mom use it on our dogs when they got fleas when we were kids?”

While it is not best to wash your dog every day with Dawn soap, there are times that you may need to if something happens such as a huge flea infestation, your dog rolls around on a dead animal (yeah, that is a thing that happens), or maybe they have gotten into some kind of oil.

You may need to immediately wash the dog and you don’t have a flea shampoo. You can use Dawn soap to bathe your dog instead in a pinch.

Will Dawn Dish Soap Kill Flea Eggs?

“Will Dawn kill flea eggs? How do I know if I have those? How do I get rid of those?”

I had to look this one up myself.

According to an article I found on a site called, it works by penetrating the eggs, interfering with metabolism or by suffocating the flea larvae. So yeah, Dawn dish soap kills flea eggs as well as any adult flea.

But if things get too bad, you’ll likely need to use a flea bomb or other methods of controlling a flea infestation.

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Related: What Do Flea Bites Look Like?

Freaking Out

Apparently I took too long looking up the answer to her last question for her liking.

“Why are you ignoring me?

You seriously picked the worst possible time ever to abandon me.

I need help!

I can’t remember the last time I was this freaked out!?!”

I do. It happened last Tuesday.

How Does Dish Soap Work Against Fleas?

“I don’t understand how dish soap kills fleas. Is this stupid? Is it even going to work?”

Dawn dish detergent kills fleas in two ways. The first way is that it strips the fleas of their wax coat making their exoskeletons vulnerable.

The second way dish soap is effective at killing fleas is that it changes the surface tension of water.

With these two changes taking place during bath time, it allows the fleas to no longer repel the soapy water and to instead sink down into it thus killing them by suffocation.

Without the Dawn soap, other forms of dog shampoo would not have this same effect on the fleas.

They may take the fleas off of the dog but they would just float on top of the water and eventually land on you or back on your dog.

See also: What Kills Fleas on Dogs Instantly?

Does Only Blue Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

“Which Dawn soap should I use on fleas?

Does only the blue Dawn kill fleas? It doesn’t say. Please help me!”

No. Any dish washing soap will work for killing fleas.

You want to look for dish soap with the simplest ingredients so that you do not cover your dog in harsh chemicals.

Also be careful of different scents especially if you have a dog with skin sensitivities or allergies.

Is it Safe to use Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas on a Puppy?

wash puppy bedding with blue Dawn soap“Is it okay to use Dawn soap to bathe a puppy?

Will he be safe or will it hurt him?”

It is not safe to use flea shampoos or medications on a puppy until they are around six weeks of age.

Some even require waiting until the pup is as old as 12 weeks.

Since you can’t use that, is Dawn safe for puppies?

It will dry the heck out of their skin and fur because it works by stripping oils, but it’s not toxic to wash your pet with it.

If you’re dealing with a flea infestation on a pup younger than six weeks, Dawn is a safer alternative for treating fleas.

How to Give a Flea Bath with Dawn Dish Soap

waterpik for bathing dogs using water and soap“So how do I go about doing this? Is it just like using regular shampoo?”

Pretty much except you’ll need to be extra diligent during the rinsing process.

  1. You want to start by preparing everything you will need before getting the dog to the bathing location. Gather necessary items such as Dawn (or another type of dish detergent), flea comb, towel, and collar and leash (if your dog likes to jump out of their bath like mine).
  2. It does not matter where you bathe your dog at. It could be the sink, outside with the hose, bathtub, kiddie pool, etc. It just needs to be in an area that your dog will stay put while the bath is going on.
  3. You want the water to be around 70 degrees or lukewarm. If you are not using just the hose, you’ll want to go ahead and fill up the bath with water before attempting to put your dog in it.
  4. Once the dog is in, make sure to wet your pet’s fur as much as possible before putting the soap on. Avoid getting water and dish soap into the dog’s ears and eyes. If the water does not drain out, this could cause ear infections. Some have suggested putting cotton wool into your dog’s ears to help protect them from water during bath time.
  5. When you start to apply the soap, you want to start around the dog’s neck and the top part of their head. Fleas will start running once you start and you want to build a blockade around the dog’s face with a line of dish soap. Your dog’s facet is most likely where fleas will attempt to run to and it is hard to wash that part of the dog. Be careful to not get soap into the dog’s eyes, nose, or mouth.
  6. Cover the rest of the dog’s body with lather from the Dawn, paying extra close attention to spots that fleas like to hide in, like their armpits, in between toes, belly area, etc.
  7. Once you have covered the dog’s body other than the face, you can add some extra water to help later the soap up more.
  8. Leave the dish soap on the dog for two minutes. If your dog has a really bad infestation, it can be helpful to use a flea comb while they still have Dawn on them to begin to comb out some of the fleas that may be hiding deep into your pet’s coat.
  9. pet grooming system for bathing dogs with dawn soap and waterRinse your dog off after the two minutes and make sure that you rinse all of the soap off as best that you can. If you see a large amount of fleas floating around in the water you may want to let the water out and start over fresh before rinsing your dog off.
  10. Once you are sure that there is no more dish soap on your dog’s fur, you can begin to dry the dog off. You can use a towel, dryer, or allow your dog to run outside if it is warm outside and they won’t roll around in the dirt (like my dogs seem to enjoy doing).
  11. Once the dog is dry, you can use the flea comb again and brush your dog for any fleas that may have missed the soap. I like to have a bowl with hot water and dish soap beside me to drop the fleas into.

Related: Best Flea Collar Picks for Your Dog

How to Mix Dawn to Repel Fleas

Other items you could include to make a DIY flea spray with Dawn are

These items help repel new fleas from coming back once you have washed your dog.

You would wash your dog the same way as with the regular Dawn mixture but would have an added ingredient to help your dog stay rid of fleas.

Dawn Dish Soap and White Vinegar

  • 2 Tbs. Dawn Dish Soap
  • 2 Tbs. White Vinegar
  • ½ Cup of Water

For this method, simply combine ingredients into an empty spray bottle.

Dawn Dish Soap with Salt

  • ¼ Tbs Dawn Dish Soap
  • ¼ Cup of Iodized Table Salt
  • 2-4 Drops of Peppermint Essential Oil

In this method, you will mix the ingredients together and then massage them onto your dog. The salt is to get into your pet’s skin and help dehydrate the fleas.

The peppermint essential oil helps with repelling fleas, plus it can help your dog against skin irritation.

Dawn Dish Soap with Apple Cider Vinegar

  • 1 Tbs. Dawn Dish Soap
  • 1 Tbs. Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ Cup of Water

Combine ingredients to make a homemade flea spray. Add the ingredients to a spray bottle to apply directly on your pet and on other surfaces.

Dawn Dish Soap with Lemon Juice

  • 1 Tbs. Dawn Dish Soap
  • 1 Tbs. Lemon Juice
  • 1 Tbs. Water

Ingredients should be combined in a spray bottle for application.

Related: Best Flea Treatment for Dogs without a Prescription

Can You Use Dawn to Kill Fleas Around the House?

“Will any of those recipes work on fleas around the house?”

You can certainly use the DIY flea spray recipes on areas like bedding, but your best bet is a trap.

How to Make a Flea Trap with Dawn Dish Soap

One way that you could use Dawn soap around your house to kill fleas is to make a flea trap.

If you have children or dogs around you will want to place these on cabinets and high areas that the kids and dogs cannot reach.

You can set these up at night to kill any fleas that may be left in your house.

  1. Take a saucer, plate, or low rimmed bowl and fill with water.
  2. Place a few drops of Dawn dish washing liquid.
  3. Add a tea candle in the middle to lure fleas to their death.
  4. Cackle maniacally (optional)

Other Natural Flea Killers

Here are some other natural alternatives you may want to look into:

A Word of Caution

So does Dawn kill fleas? Yes it does. And pretty effectively.

However, I would recommend using extreme caution when it comes to using Dawn or any other brand of dish soap for a flea bath.

While it has certainly been proven that Dawn is effective against fleas, it’s a terrible idea to use it excessively due to the dryness and irritation it causes to your dog’s skin and fur when it strips the oils.

If your dog already suffers from skin conditions, do not use Dawn for a flea bath.

If your dog does not have sensitive skin, dish soap will work in a pinch.

Sometimes it needs to be done if they have been bombarded by fleas or have gotten into something so smelly that they have left you with no choice.

Don’t forget to treat their beds! If you neglect to wash the dog’s bedding, you will end up with a reinfestation.

Does Dawn Dish Soap Really Kill Fleas on dogs - Pinterest


Does Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

The quick answer is, yes, Dawn dish soap kills fleas.

Will Dawn Dish Soap Kill Flea Eggs?

How Does Dish Soap Work Against Fleas?

Dawn detergent kills fleas in two ways. The first way is that it strips the fleas of their wax coat making the fleas’ exoskeletons vulnerable.

The second way dish soap is effective at killing fleas is that it changes the surface tension of water.

Does Only Blue Dawn Dish Soap Kill Fleas?

No. Any dish washing soap will work for killing fleas.

Is it Safe to use Dawn Dish Soap to Kill Fleas on a Puppy?

It is not safe to use flea shampoos or medications on a puppy until they are around six weeks of age.

Can You Use Dawn to Kill Fleas Around the House?

You can certainly use the DIY flea spray recipes on areas like bedding, but your best bet is a trap.

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