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Tick Killer: What Do You Use?

How do you get rid of ticks? Tick populations can sometimes become so overwhelming that just a few sprays of insect repellent will no longer keep them away. You might think that the only time you’re at risk of getting a tick bite is out camping or hiking, deep in the woods, or while walking around in dense vegetation, but without the right protection, you can just as easily run into a serious tick problem in your own backyard.

Ticks are arachnids and come in several species in North America. Their color ranges from brown to red to black, and some have white markings. They have eight legs, and measure between 1/8” to 1/4” in length. 

Ticks abound in heavily wooded areas, but can easily travel through overgrown lawns and dense shrubbery, which is why it is critical to keep your lawn well-mowed and shrubs neatly trimmed. If you have densely wooded areas adjacent to your lawn, create a barrier of gravel or dry wood chips to keep ticks back. They thrive on the blood of wildlife, but will also latch onto your pets, and even onto you and your family.

It’s possible for your lawn and garden to become so overrun with ticks that spot treatments will not suffice, and you may need a tick control product labeled for yard treatment. 


What is the best product to kill ticks in the yard?

As with all bugs, the best approach is a preventive one. Whatever product you use to prevent or kill ticks, it should list ticks on the label and should be formulated for use on yards. Look for these conventional active ingredients:  permethrin, lambda-cyhalothrin, bifenthrin or cypermethrin. Also, there are products labeled for tick control that use natural plant oils such as clove oil, lemongrass oil, thyme oil and rosemary oil as the active ingredients. Always be sure to follow all label directions.

How do you kill ticks in your home?

To prevent or get rid of a tick infestation at home you’ll need to keep three areas in mind: Your pets, your home, and your yard. It’s a good idea to treat these areas in this same sequence, too, beginning with your pets. An insufficient treatment for these three areas could leave you with a worse tick infestation.

Treating Your Pets for Ticks

There are five main ways to treat your pets for ticks:

  • Insecticide baths

  • Preventive medication/medicated pet collars

  • Tick and flea sprays

  • “Spot-on” tick and flea drops

Consult with your veterinarian to determine which type of treatment is best for your pet(s).

Dog bath

Insecticide Pet Baths

Flea/tick baths with a medicated shampoo is a good place to start. The medicated shampoo will immediately kill off any ticks on your pets. Be sure to check with a vet to make sure you’re using a shampoo that is appropriate for your pet’s species/age. Typically these shampoos do not offer residual protection and only kill the fleas/ticks on your pet when you bathe them. Also, you may not be able to give a bath to some pets (e.g., cats).

If any ticks are still attached to your pet after you bathe them, be sure to remove these ticks properly

Preventive Medication and Medicated Pet Collars

Your veterinarian can prescribe tick prevention medication for your pet(s). You may also consider a flea/tick collar. Flea and tick collars can provide up to eight months of fast-acting protection against ticks and other parasites. After an insecticide bath for your pets, or after otherwise treating them for ticks, place a medicated collar on them.

Pet Tick Spray

Tick sprays, available in spray bottles and aerosol cans can provide a quick kill for fleas and ticks as well as short-term residual protection against re-infestation. Sprays are also the best alternative for pets who don’t like taking baths.

To properly apply a tick spray repellent, refer to the product label to determine how much spray should be used for your animal’s size. Spray the animal and carefully rub the spray into the animal's coat (you may consider wearing gloves for this). Some sprays may have a strong odor, but the odor should dissipate within a few hours.

As always, double-check the product label for possible age and species restrictions.

“Spot-On” Pet Tick Drops

Spot-on tick and flea drops are popular among pet owners because they are easy and convenient to use, without upsetting or stressing out pets. Tick/flea drops are typically formulated specifically for dogs and cats, but should not be used on animals younger than 12 weeks.

You need to get the product directly on your pet's skin for it to work properly. Most product labels will direct the user to part the pet's hair between the shoulder blades and squeeze the entire container’s contents directly onto the skin. Applying the product on your pet’s back as such will usually keep your pet from licking the product off.

Ticks and fleas usually start to die within 24 hours after the application. If pests die while attached to your animal, be sure to carefully remove them. Most drop treatments require re-application every 4-6 weeks or so, to help keep your pets flea and tick-free. The product label and/or your veterinarian should be able to verify the product’s suitability to your pet.

Living room

Indoor Tick Treatment

If you see even one tick in your home, treatment is strongly recommended. The bigger the infestation, the longer it will take (up to weeks and even months) to completely eliminate the infestation.

Using a combination of insecticides can be effective at preventing re-infestation:

  • Liquid sprays (for spraying around window frames, along baseboards, cracks, crevices, and other hard-to-reach areas)

  • Aerosol insecticides can be sprayed lightly on drapes, furniture, carpets, rugs, and pet bedding

  • Tick insecticide dust for door/window frames, cracks, crevices, under sinks, in wall voids, along baseboards, etc. Dust offers good residual protection against reinfestation, even up to several years

All such tick prevention products are for use in out-of-the-way areas and should not be sprayed openly along walls or floors.   

Remember, ticks who don’t have hosts will be looking for their next one. Keep this in mind as you treat them. Double-check on, around, and behind furniture during treatment. Retreat as needed (check product label) until there are no more signs of ticks at home. It could possibly take several treatments to eliminate larger infestations, so be patient and stick with it!

Tick Killer Spray for Yard

First, identify what types of ticks live in your yard so you can know what types of wildlife are bringing ticks to your yard (e.g., deer). You can make your property less welcoming to those animals to help keep the ticks away. 

If you are unable to identify the ticks on your property, get a photo and send it to Your local county extension office. Or you can send it to us (, and we’ll be happy to help you identify it. 

Then, keep your lawn and all vegetation well-trimmed and free from clutter. Also focus your treatment on areas where your pets play, walk and rest. Eliminate puddles and areas where rainwater collects as much as possible (This will help prevent mosquitoes, as well).

Click here to see more on application tips 

Consult the product label for proper application use. Evenly spray your lawn, and also possible tick habitats such as deep into bushes/shrubs/foliage (up to three feet above the ground), plants (top and underside), mulch, around trees and yard ornamentation, etc. Keep children and pets inside until the solution dries.

Repeat treatments every 30 days, or more frequently if needed. Within a few weeks after your first application, you should see signs of ticks start to decline. Know the typical timeline for tick season in your state so you’ll know when to be more vigilant.

Can you kill ticks in the dryer?

Surprisingly, ticks can survive the hot water in a wash cycle. But after washing clothes or bedding with nasty tick passengers, run them through the dryer.

The heat won’t kill them, but the dryness will. Ticks need moisture to survive and will quickly desiccate (dehydrate) and die. Even with just a quick spin in the dryer.

How do you treat for ticks on your pets, in your home, and around your yard? Leave us a comment!


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