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When tapeworms or other infections get a foothold in our homes, we obviously need to deal with the infection itself first. However, after the infection is cured or at least quarantined, we still need to prevent any further infections. In these instances, you will need to know how to clean your house after tapeworms.
What Are Tapeworms?
Tapeworms are a parasite that can live in the intestines of just about any mammal, humans and domesticated pets included. While it is rarer for humans to obtain a tapeworm infection, it still can happen, but pets like dogs and cats are more likely to pick up tapeworms or other parasites. Be on the lookout for signs of worms in the stool of your pets.
The most common way for a domesticated animal to pick up tapeworms is through an intermediary animal such as fleas or rodents like rats or mice. Keeping your home and pets free of fleas is the best way to avoid tapeworm from spreading. If you have a pet that hunts rodents in the yard, they may be more susceptible to tapeworm infection.
The effect of tapeworms on pets is normally fairly mild but may include vomiting and weight loss. If tapeworms pass to their humans, however, it may create health problems that are harder to diagnose and take care of. This is why we need to clean our houses if we find an infestation from our pets.
Remove The Source of Tapeworms
If you notice worms in your pets’ stool, a loss of appetite, vomiting, or any other symptoms that may identify tapeworms as being present, be sure to consult with your veterinarian. If tapeworms are confirmed as being the source of these problems, a dewormer will probably be prescribed to remove them.
While the course of dewormer is in process, you should also de-flea your pet and house completely. Removing all fleas is not a guarantee that future infections will not occur, but it is a good first step. During this process, make sure that a thorough bath is included for you pet in addition to adding any flea medication.
It is true that fleas are the normal way that tapeworms are spread in an average home, but rats and other intermediates may be the cause. If you have not noticed a flea infestation, you may consider using rat traps to make sure that all sources are taken care of.
House Cleaning After Tapeworms
Taking care of where the tapeworms may have come from is the first step, but depending on whether there was a human or animal who was infected, you will need to perform additional cleaning.
Tapeworms live within the intestines of animals (humans included). Segments of them generally break off and pass along with fecal matter out of the body. These segments can cause future infections by themselves, and can also drop additional eggs to create new tapeworms. Either way, these need to be cleaned and destroyed as soon as possible.
If your pet was diagnosed with tapeworms, it is necessary to clean every area that they may have touched, whether you have seen it or not. Tapeworms eggs can be carried not only by fecal matter, but also in paws and under claws.
Clean Up After Pets More Often
The first thing to consider is cleaning up after their poop. For cats, clean litter boxes as soon as possible after a bowel movement. If you do not have a yard and have to walk your dog to do their business, you will be used to cleaning up after them. Make sure you tie off any bags after they are done and before you throw them away.
For dogs who normally spend their time in a yard or other outdoor space, make it a point to clean up after them much more often than you may be used to. Leaving their fecal matter on the lawn for extended periods of time can allow the parasites to spread if they haven’t been completely eradicated.
The first step to help remove the loose segments and eggs of tapeworms is to vacuum every area where the infected pet may have spent time. This will probably include most areas of the house, but it is important to not miss anything. Areas to focus on:
- Any areas where they may nap
Tapeworms are very susceptible to heat and moisture. Steam cleaning is one of the most effective ways to clean after a tapeworm infestation. Be sure to steam clean the following areas:
- Drapes and curtains
- All areas previously vacuumed
Clean Animal Bedding
Where your pet sleeps will be a prime area for tapeworms to have made a new home. After vacuuming, wash any bedding with hot water and a small amount of bleach if the manufacturer instructions do not specifically tell you not to.
Clean Solid Surfaces
While it will be hard for tapeworms themselves to live on non-porous surfaces for long, their eggs may stay for quite some time in cracks and corners. Bleach is a very good disinfectant for tapeworms, but be careful on surfaces that may not react well to this sometimes caustic chemical.
- For surfaces that you know are resilient to bleach, use 1 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water for disinfecting.
- For surfaces that may need a more gentle touch, only use about a tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water.
On hardwood, laminate, or any other flooring that may be susceptible to water damage, only use a damp cloth or sponge to wipe the disinfecting solution across the top and dry it immediately after. Do not let large amounts of liquid pool up on the flooring or it may cause warping or other damage.
In addition to making sure you clean up after your outside pet on a more regular basis, you may also want to consider cleaning the outside area where they spend most of their time. Do not use a hose or pressure washer with only water to spray outside areas that may be infested with tapeworms or any other parasite, this may end up spreading it further instead of cleaning it.
You can use a bleach solution in a sprayer or power washer to spray down solid surfaces like concrete.
In extreme cases, you may want to consider disinfecting your outside areas by raking Borax or another borate-based cleaning agent through the dirt. This will kill almost any parasite that will have made their home there, but it will also kill any grass or other plants in the area.
In this entire cleaning process, remember that it is possible to pick up tapeworms or tapeworm eggs on your hands, shoes, legs, and other surfaces. Be sure to throw your clothes immediately in the washing machine on a hot temperature, and wash your hands thoroughly. Consider washing your shoes with the proper detergent, making sure they are clean but not damaged.
Tapeworms, while not extremely dangerous to pets, can cause a multitude of problems in their owners. We have to make sure that these infections do not pass from our animals to our families, and the best way to do that is to clean the house after tapeworms are removed.