Bats in the belfry

Filed in Blog by on July 22, 2009 12 Comments
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Mrs Green cleans under her carpet

Mrs Green cleans under her carpet

Actually, we don’t have bats in the belfry, we had fleas in the bedroom.


Mr Green is in the midst of a project which is set to revolutionise our lives for ever when he made the discovery.

He’s building some LED lightbulbs and we’re planning on running them all from a solar panel.

Life has been a bit Heath Robinson here at zero waste towers and I shared that ideally, I would prefer the wiring to come through the ceiling rather than be loosely strewn across it.

So off to Little Miss Green’s room went Mr Green, dutifully to feed wires through the floorboards.

Imagine my horror when he came screaming naked from the room!

yes, Mr green had been bitten by a flea.


Little Miss Green and I don’t get effected by the little blighters; but Mr Green’s histamine release goes into overdrive and my poor love gets himself into a bit of a lather.

now I don’ know how much you know about us, but Green is our name and green is our nature; even when it comes to fleas.

Firstly flea treatment for Pussus Green is £14!!

More worryingly is the toxic array of chemicals included in such preparations. I wouldn’t put them on my skin, so I didn’t expect the cat to have to put up with it either.

The chemicals you spray into the house for getting rid of fleas are just as toxic and then you end up walking on the carpets and ‘ingesting’ through your feet; so to speak.

Armed with a bottle of neem oil and my trusty essential oils I made up a blend of neem oil, cedarwood, peppermint and eucalyptus oils with a dash of dishwashing liquid and some hot water to create an emulsion.

The idea is to spray it on the carpets and soft furnishings. As with all ‘natural’ products it isn’t a quick fix. It requires reapplication and a lot of time and effort.

For us, it’s a small price to pay to know we have not contaminated our house and the air that we breathe.

So true to my ‘thorough’ clean of the house I pulled up the carpets, pulled up the underlay and down to the bare floorboards.

Man, they were filthy. Carpets are such a disgusting invention – they are simply sponges for dust, dirt and anything else.

It really is a case of ‘sweeping everything under the carpet. Whether you think you are or not; you are, believe me; I’ve seen it.

I hoovered between the floorboards and sprayed everything before replacing the carpet.

In that time I FILLED the vacuum cylinder with brick dust, plaster, bits of paper, food (yes food), moth larvae and assorted bits of goodness knows what.

It was an event I don’t plan on having to do again.

I will continue to spray the carpets for the next couple of weeks and use a carpet cleaner to push neem into the fibres of the carpet.

Honestly, if it weren’t for you lot watching me, I wouldn’t probably have tossed the carpet and underlay out of the window. I’d rather eat my dinner out of a trash can – especially ours.

It reminded me which I chose wooden flooring for the downstairs.

Forget your bin; you want to check under your carpets…

At least there were no landfill sins under there; but there was rather a nice blue mosaic tiled hearth which we never knew existed!

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth's fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (12)

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  1. Les Crompton says:

    How fantastic i:v been looking for a non chemical remedy for cat fleas; what did you use on the cats love the site regards

  2. Compostwoman says:

    Try a thick dusting of Diatom…its diatomeaceous earth , for hens etc but it dries up fleas and mites by dessication…no toxic stuff involved…( you know me…would I use that sort of stuff?)

    I have used it on the hens, to see off an ant infestation in the house and it apparently works on fleas…and can be dusted around…just be a bit careful about breathing it in as it dries up the aveoli in the lungs a bit…

    If you want some, I have some, or you can buy it from places which sell hen supplies…

    You could use it on Cattus green as well! and it is a wormer!

  3. I love that you share even the nitty gritty with your readers. Mr. Savvy and I are looking for a new apartment, and you’ve just strengthened my resolve to find one without wall-to-wall carpeting. Good luck with the fleas! I hope your treatment works.

  4. Elizabeth B says:

    Be careful with essential oils around pets. Some oils are toxic to cats. D:

  5. We found a tiled hearth in our bedroom when we pulled back the carpet to check the floorboards.

    At the moment though it is back under the carpet but will be feature of the room when we get round to decorating it.

  6. Marion says:

    Hi Mrs Green, I hope you are rid of fleas soon! I completely agree with you when it comes to trying to find more natural remedies but please be careful with essential oils around cats (I’m sure you already are!) I personally don’t use ‘toxic’ remedies, however if may be a bit misleading to say that you ‘ingest’ the toxins through your skin, as some flea treatments electrostatically bind to the carpet so they don’t come off on your skin – although I’m not sure how strong this force is and it sounds rather scary so I’d rather not use it!

  7. Sarah says:

    Tea tree is, apparently, toxic to many felines. I don;t know about the others you used but it might be worth keeping Pussus out of the room while you treat if you can.

  8. Mrs Green says:

    @Les Crompton: Hi Les, welcome to the site and I’m glad the post was useful. On the cat I use cedarwood essential oil ‘baths’ (I soak a flannel in diluted cedarwood and wash her fur – she doesn’t mind in the least bit) and I put garlic in her food. Apart from that, it’s regular grooming to see the state of her fleas…
    And check this out – she has a new ‘bed’ which she found for herself in the greenhouse. It’s an old seed tray which has some dried lavender flower heads in it. I think she might just be making her own remedy!

    @Compostwoman: What a great suggestion, Compostwoman – thank you. I had not heard of this, so I’ll look out for it!

    @SavvyChristine: Hi Christine; oh yes, I’m a carpet-free woman through and through. Mr Green agrees with me; it’s just such a challenge as the floorboards are in such bad shape throughout the house. We replaced them all downstairs, but I’m not sure we can stretch to the upheaval upstairs, plus LMG is so darned noisy at the best of times! At least the carpet gives us a bit of noise insulation!

    @Elizabeth B: Hi Elisabeth, thank you for your comment. Yes, I’m aware that essential oils can be toxic to animals. Pussus Green is an outdoor cat, so apart from cedarwood on her fur, she is away from what I am doing in the house.

    @maisie dalziel: How lovely Maisie; do you have an open fire there too? I’ve always fancied a fire place in my bedroom. I had one in my old house, and there is one I’m sure behind the wall in LMG’s bedroom. I think she would hibernate for the winter with a huge pile of books if she had an open fire to herself!

    @Marion: Hi Marion, thank you for your thoughtful comment. I was not aware that some flea treatments electrostatically bind to the carpet – do you have any references for this? I would still not use the toxic ones, but it’s good to be informed about these things. 🙂

    @Sarah: Aloha! She is well out of the way; on the wrong side of every door! I’ve been using cedarwood on her since she was a kitty, so I know that one is safe. Colloidal silver is a nice product to use on animals as it is so powerful yet non-toxic.

  9. There is a fire place as well although it is boarded up, my plan is to open it up to make it part of the decorations along with the hearth. My bedroom was the only one not decorated by the previous owners. I’m sure there will be fireplaces in the boys rooms as well but these have been plastered over so am not about to start removing that just to look.

    Apparently you can’t now have an open fire in bedrooms something to do with fire safety; not quite sure how they would “police” that if one was already there.

  10. Mrs Green says:

    Hi Maisie; I don’t think that could be policed at all! I guess the only concern would be if there was a chimney fire and you needed to claim on house insurance 😉

  11. I somehow missed your ordeal. We have had an ongoing struggle for about 18 months now, with a reprieve over our mild Florida winter, followed by them returning with a vengeance early spring. I do believe we finally have the upper hand and I am glad we continue go go forward with the all natural route on this! I have seen every vet in town with signs about fleas, so I know it’s not just us. And none of the mainstream stuff works! So people just go for more and more toxic chemicals. It’s not just your pet you’re treating; it’s you as well.
    In the end, after trying a zillion things, this is what we have –
    First I must interrupt myself to say that the diatameceous earth was a costly mistake – in an act of desperation, I sprinkled it throughout the house. It did NOT work and it killed our vacuum. Never again. So – our program:
    -This orange spray – something from the peel in it? – sprayed all over floors, carpets, cloth furniture daily for a few weeks
    – cloth colloars on cats onto which we add a drop of a special oil mix which does annoy the crap out of the cats but seriously seems to help
    – small lamps over bowls with a tiny bit of soapy water or a sticky sheet which traps the fleas

    That’s it! We also give the cats garlic and yeast.

  12. Mrs Green says:

    @ThinkingWoman: Hey Thinking woman; sorry to hear you have endured the same. Thanks for the heads up about the diatameceous earth; we didn’t need to use it in the end as our neem oil and vinegar sprays were successful.

    Like you, we made our own ‘flea traps’ from bowls of soapy water under lamps – we found those to be really good and it’s great to get up in the morning and count the casualties!

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