Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Tick Safety
Name: Tegan
Status: student
Age: 11
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 2000-2001

My family has done an outside outing and discovered a reasonable amount of ticks had been carried home with us (although 1 that we know of bit a family member). Can you drown a tick? If so, how long does it need to be underwater? There are ticks in our clothing that we immediatley took off (at home) and are washing. Is it safe to believe the ticks are dead when the clothes come out of the wash? Or does my family have to search for them and kill?


Like other tiny insects, ticks have a relatively low oxygen use compared to us - a small bubble of air lasts a long time for them-, so it's often very difficult to drown them in water. Detergents like laundry soap when added to the water can be effective since it penetrates their breathing passages. Laundering clothes with a good detergent and hot water should kill them. Even more effective are organic solvents like oils, kerosene, lighter fluid, dry cleanig fluid and similar compounds but you need to be very careful in using them since they are also toxic and flammable. Another alternative would be to ask someone who owns a pet shop. When they give pets baths to rid them of ticks & fleas, what kind of soap do they use and is it also safe for human use.


Click here to return to the Zoology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory