How to Use Diatomaceous Earth

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth

Don’t worry, you don’t have to pronounce the whole name, you can simply call it DE. Diatomaceous earth is an unusual but very useful substance that has a wide variety of applications. If you want to see how it can help you, read on.

What on Earth is Diatomaceous Earth?

Mined Diatomaceous Earth

DE is an organic, natural insecticide that claims many benefits. Pest control professionals, gardeners, and farmers have been using it for decades.

So, why the strange name? Well, DE is made from ground-up fossilized diatoms. The origins of diatomaceous earth make it sound icky, but it’s not. It looks like plain old chalky powder.

Diatomaceous earth is rich in silica and other minerals. When ground, diatomaceous earth particles are very sharp. Think of them as very tiny pieces of broken glass. DE can kill insects such as ticks, spiders, cockroaches, crickets, fleas, bed bugs, and many other gardens and household pests.

But have no worries, it is not toxic to humans or pets. DE is also found in some paints, rubber products, medicine, some types of toothpaste, skincare products, and water filters.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in the Garden

Lush home garden

Snails and slugs really hate this DE. Because the tiny dead planktons are so sharp, they will injure snails and slugs that crawl over them. Those slugs and snails will eventually dehydrate and die.

The process also works for getting rid of aphids, caterpillars, and other soft-bodied insects. You can even use it to kill cockroaches, fleas, beetles, and a few more hard shell insects.

It kills them by cutting them up and drying them out. So, there are no toxic chemicals involved at all, but they can be just as effective as man-made pesticides.

However, the problem with DE is the fact that it kills beneficial insects just as efficiently as it does bad ones. And it doesn’t discriminate between them. It can also kill bees, butterflies, ladybugs, and green lacewings, so you need to be careful when using it for pest control.

If you are adamant about using DE to wage war against garden pests, make sure to go for DE that’s labeled as “food grade.” Other types of diatomaceous earth aren’t that effective against garden pests. Besides, other types of DE may be mixed with ingredients that are harmful when ingested or inhaled. Do know that food-grade diatomaceous earth is called that because it is safe for human consumption and has some health benefits, but it is dangerous to inhale.

Find spots in your garden where slugs and other pests are most likely to hang around and sprinkle rings of DE around them. Sprinkle it around the plants you want to protect as well.

Make sure to apply a full circle. Remember, food-grade diatomaceous earth works as a physical barrier, so you don’t want to leave room for the insects to wiggle through. You don’t want to kill off pollinators, so avoid applying diatomaceous earth near flowers.

You can also dust leaves with it if you’ve noticed that pests like to nibble at them. This should discourage them.

DE is not really effective when it is wet. If it rains, make sure to reapply it. Even though it is not toxic, diatomaceous earth can be irritating, so be sure to wear a dust mask and eye protection when using it.

DE will help you get rid of insects, but what about those pesky squirrels that keep stealing bird feed? Check out our pick for the best squirrel proof bird feeder. And if you’d rather not have birds too, read our post on how to keep birds off your porch.

Diatomaceous Earth 5 Lbs Food Grade DE Diatomaceous Earth 5 Lbs Food Grade DE

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How to Use Food-Grade DE for Bed Bugs

Close-up of Diatomaceous earth

Bed bugs love the warm places in your home, and they are particularly fond of furniture, carpets, clothes, and, naturally, beds. They are stubborn little creatures, so it can be quite hard to get rid of them.

DE is not just for pest control in your garden. This fine powder one of the very few chemical-free ways you can use to effectively neutralize bed bugs. You can safely apply it around your home. But, diatomaceous earth will only kill adult bed bugs. If you want to use DE to break their life-cycle, you’ll have to let it sit for a couple of weeks.

To achieve the best results:

  • Before you start sprinkling food-grade DE around, steam cleans your home if you can. If you use a steam cleaner on your linens and furniture first, you’ll speed up the process.
  • Wash all of your fabrics. It’s best to use either very cold or very hot water. Use high heat to dry all the fabrics and store them in sealed bags or containers.
  • Vacuum everything. Try to vacuum every corner of your come. If you have any carpets, make sure to vacuum them thoroughly.
  • Use an applicator to apply diatomaceous earth to areas where nasty critters like to hang out. Apply it along with door frames, windowsills, appliances, crevices, drawers, and moldings. It is also a good idea to unscrew electrical faceplates and apply diatomaceous earth behind outlets and switches.
  • Put on a dust mask and some eye protection. Cover mattresses and furniture with diatomaceous earth as well. Don’t overdo it, a thin layer will suffice. Then, using your hands, work it into the carpeting, mattresses, and furniture.

After a few years, your house will look like it has been ravaged by the Addams Family. It is not a pleasant sight, but it should be worth it. You can clean up the mess after a couple of weeks. This should be enough to break the breeding cycle.

Again, put on a dust mask and goggles. Use a shop vacuum cleaner or a HEPA vacuum cleaner to vacuum everything up. Don’t use a standard home vacuum cleaner as the diatomaceous earth can damage the motor.

How to Use DE for Fleas

If you have a pet that likes to play outside, they can easily pick up fleas. And, by the time you find out that your pet has fleas, they will have found their way into your home. Luckily, you can safely get rid of them by using DE.

  • Make sure to thoroughly clean the areas where your pet likes to hang out the most.
  • Then, dust the areas with diatomaceous earth.
  • If your pets like to hang around the house, you will need to dust pretty much the whole place, but especially the furniture and the carpeting.
  • Your pet will be completely covered in diatomaceous earth very quickly. Wait for a couple of days before giving them a thorough shampooing. Bit, don’t wait for too long. If left for too long, the DE can dry out the pet’s skin.
  • Vacuum up the diatomaceous earth after a couple of weeks. Again, it’s best to use a shop vacuum cleaner or HEPA vacuum cleaner.

Read also: How to Get Rid of Dandelions

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