Does Pool Water Effectively Kill Fleas? What You Need to Know

When summer heat beckons you to the pool, often accompanied by your water-loving Labrador or spaniel, an unexpected guest might also join in: fleas. These tiny pests, known for their irritating bites and remarkable resilience, spark curiosity and concern. A common question arises: Will pool water kill fleas? In this exploration, I’ll uncover the surprising survival abilities of fleas in aquatic environments and share effective strategies to keep your pool flea-free.

Key Takeaways

  • Pool water, whether chlorinated or saltwater, cannot kill fleas; they are adept at surviving on the water’s surface.
  • Fleas are equipped with water-repellent coatings, enabling them to float without sinking.
  • Dishwashing liquid can be used to break the surface tension, submerging and potentially drowning the fleas.
  • A shock treatment with higher chlorine levels might be effective against these pests.
  • Using the pool’s pump to draw fleas into the skimmer box is a practical removal method.
  • Prevention strategies include maintaining a flea-unfriendly environment around the pool area.

Will Pool Water Kill Fleas? If Not, What Will?

If we’re talking about fleas, the first thing to do is identify which species will find their way into the pool.

Types Of Fleas Found In Pools

Water fleas (daphnia) are not fleas at all but are microscopic crustaceans found in most aquatic environments. They are harmless to humans and animals and are almost impossible to eradicate, but you’re unlikely to find them in your pool.

Human fleas, Dog Fleas, and Cat Fleas are the most common in a domestic environment, the cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) being the most prevalent. All these fleas have their favorite hosts, hence their names, but they can be found on animals and humans alike.

Sand fleas typically have their home on sandy beaches but will attach to humans and animals so they could land up in the pool.

All fleas avoid bodies of water, so they will jump off hosts to stay dry if they get the chance. For this reason, fleas in pools shouldn’t present an ongoing problem for homeowners – there are many other bugs that are more prevalent and harder to eradicate.

How Can You Get Rid Of Fleas In The Pool?

Let’s assume we’ve found our pool infested with fleas for reasons I’ll discuss later. How can we get rid of them if they’re not going to be killed by the chemicals and they’re not going to drown unless we make it happen.

Get The Fleas To Drown

Because they’re so small, the fleas are able to stay on the surface without breaking the surface tension…… unless we reduce the surface tension. This can be done by adding a few drops of dishwashing liquid (preferably low- or non-foaming) to the area where the fleas have gathered. The soap has the effect of reducing the “skin” of surface tension, and the fleas will be submerged.

The bad news is that they can still survive underwater for about twenty-four hours before drowning, so you’ll need to be patient before declaring success.

Give Your Pool A Severe Shock

The chlorine level in a pool is usually between 1 and 3 ppm, which is too dilute to have any impact on fleas. However, if you triple- or quadruple-dose the water as a shock treatment, it may be enough to kill the fleas.

Run The Pump

The fleas’ ability to stay on the surface of the water can be used to your advantage to remove them from the pool. Running the pump will draw the fleas into the skimmer box, where they will remain until you scoop them out and kill them. This is probably the most effective way to get the fleas out of the pool, but it’s only a quick fix, not a cure.

Keep Fleas Away From The Pool Area

I don’t think fleas will appear in numbers in your pool by allowing your dog to swim – the chances of more than one or two landing in the water are minimal.

The only preventive measure you can take is to make the surrounding area as inhospitable as possible, so avoid having grass under shrubs or shady, warm areas such as a compost bin anywhere near the pool.

Where Are The Worst Areas For Fleas?

Fleas thrive in warm, humid conditions, and while they are present throughout the country, the states where they are happiest are:

  • Florida
  • Alabama
  • Oregon
  • South Carolina
  • California (for cat fleas)

Just a fun fact (except for the people living there) – The Tampa Bay area is known as the “Flea Capital’ of the United States!

Research also shows that fleas are most active after heavy rains. They live in high grass, underneath shrubs, and in places where they can find shade and humidity. These areas provide perfect conditions for all three stages of the flea’s life cycle, but from there, they will migrate to dogs, cats, and humans.

Are The Fleas In Your Pool Really Fleas?

Pool owners report “millions” of fleas in their skimmer boxes, but it seems that there is a lot of confusion between fleas and springtails, another widespread water bug found in pools. They look like fleas and jump like fleas, but they’re not fleas and are harmless to humans.

The best way of removing springtails is to use your skimmer or a pool net to scoop them out. A chlorine shock done at night is also an effective way to eliminate these pesky but harmless bugs.


Pool water will not kill any fleas that find their way into the pool, nor will they drown unless you submerge them using liquid soap to break the surface tension. Control, then, is restricted to removing them or preventing them from getting into the pool. I’ve given you some pointers on how to do this, but I suggest, first and foremost, that you keep this problem from getting under your skin!