If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on our website, SPY.com may receive an affiliate commission.
Fleas, bed bugs, mites, beetles, cockroaches, spiders — although they may be small in size, their gross factor is huge. And in large groups, these pests will wreak havoc in your home, garden and even on your pets. During a pest infestation, these teeny, tiny creepy crawlies can cause thousands of dollars in damage, from mass garden extinctions to seriously damaged floorboards and high-priced vet bills.
Plus, these bugs are, you know, super creepy
When you see one bug, you can normally expect a lot more. There’s never just one flea. Thankfully, there are many ways to combat pest infestations of this sort by using pesticides and other chemicals, but what if you prefer a more natural approach? That’s where diatomaceous earth, otherwise known as “DE” comes into play.
If you’ve never heard of this 100% natural pesticide before, then read on. You’re going to wonder why no one told you about this life hack before.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Trust us, we get it. The first time we saw the word “diatomaceous”, we had to try it out a few times to finally get the pronunciation and spelling (for the record, it’s pronounced die-uh-tuh-meesh-us). Diatomaceous earth, or DE for short, is a completely natural compound made from microscopic fossilized aquatic organisms known as diatoms. Found at the bottom of rivers, lakes, streams and really any other body of water you can think of, miners dig up these tiny silica deposits, which can be used for natural bug eradication. The consistency is that of a super fine, soft white powder, and DE is an extremely effective and chemical-free pesticide.
No poisons, no toxins, and nothing to worry pet owners, parents and chemo-phobes.
Does Diatomaceous Earth Really Work?
Diatomaceous earth is an eco-friendly alternative to chemical bug pesticides that effectively gets the job done. Think of it this way: chemical pesticides clearly work, but if there is an organic substitute out there that achieves the same effect plus no harm to both you and your pets, why not make the switch and give it a shot?
While it’s not as instantly effective or long-lasting as synthetic pesticides, it does work to kill insects like fleas and roaches. We were skeptical at first, too. However, this natural pesticide really does kill pests around the home and garden.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?
As previously mentioned, DE is made up of small fossilized organisms. To mammals like us and our pets, it’s totally harmless. What we see is what we get — an organic white powder. On the other hand, diatomaceous earth is the common insect’s kryptonite. Up close, an individual speck of DE contains hundreds of microscopic razor blades. When these individual particles come into contact with an insect’s exoskeleton, they start to rip it apart, causing the insect to die of water loss, according to the Farmer’s Almanac.
How Do I Use Diatomaceous Earth Around the House?
Although DE is nontoxic to humans and animals, there are some precautions you need to take before handling it. First and foremost, if you’re asthmatic or suffer from any other respiratory illness, be extra careful. Don’t inhale or touch the substance directly either. To be safe, use a mask and gloves to avoid any exposure. When shopping for DE (check out some products below), you’ll want to look for DE labeled as “Food Grade.” That’s right, it’s so harmless to humans you could actually eat the stuff.
Now that you’ve got that sorted, applying DE pretty much works the same way both inside and out. Though you can choose to sprinkle the dry substance wherever, we suggest using an applicator and spraying affected areas of your home. You can get a wet or dry sprayer and treat your floors, windows, fences, gardens, appliances and wherever your pet likes to hang out, etc. Once the DE dries, that’s when the action happens. Typically diatomaceous earth can kill an insect in a few hours, but it’s suggested that you leave the powder in place for as long as a week in order to make sure those pests are all done for.
Once it’s time to clean up, note that your regular vacuum will NOT do the trick. A larger shop or HEPA vacuum will get the job done and not mess with your motor one bit. Plus, you can always use a broom. For puppies, kittens, and other furry friends, try giving them a bath if they can handle the water. Though they weren’t harmed at all by the DE in the process, it’s best to get rid of any leftover powder that might still be on their skin post eradication to prevent itchiness and dry skin.
Where Can I Buy Diatomaceous Earth?
While there are many products on the market you can use with DE, here are a few solid choices when it comes to getting the job done right.
1. Diatomaceous Earth DE10 Food-Grade Powder
As the purest brand on the market, this 10-pound bag of Diatomaceous Earth DE10 Food-Grade Powder is the only DE product out there that meets every single requirement for U.S. health supplements. This batch can even be mixed with water and ingested by humans to support hair, skin, nail, and joint health. No, seriously — we were surprised, too. So if you’re going to try it out, this should be the go-to.
2. HARRIS Diatomaceous Earth Powder Duster
You aren’t pest control, so there’s no need to head out and buy a pricey hi-tech power sprayer. This squeezy manual option straight off of Amazon is easy to use and very within budget.
3. Reusable Household Gloves
While your dishes probably still need cleaning, ditch them a bit longer and throw these staples on when handling DE. They will keep your hands safe and not dry them out.
4. Vacmaster Pro 8 Dry Vac
Channel your inner Ghostbuster and break out the Hepa when it’s time for cleanup. Again, your regular vacuum isn’t going to cut it, so don’t even try unless you want that baby out on the sidewalk when you’re done. This is really only necessary for major infestations when you plan to spread a liberal amount of DE around your home.