Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an effective, natural, non-toxic form of flea control. It is a great alternative to using other insecticidal flea control powders. Diatomaceous earth will kill the fleas in your house without you having to worry about harming your family or your pets.
Find out everything you need to know about diatomaceous earth for flea control, including what it is, how to use it, and where to buy it.
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth, also known as diatomite, is a sedimentary rock which is composed of fossilized diatoms, which are hard-shelled algae. This rock is harvested from the bottom of dried ancient lakes. It can then be broken down into an extremely fine, white colored powder. This powder is porous, very light, and has microscopic razor-sharp edges. Therefore it feels abrasive, kind of like pumice.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth
You will want to find food grade diatomaceous earth if you plan on using it for flea control. Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe to eat. It is actually used in livestock food, and for dogs to treat worms and other internal parasites. Having food grade DE is important in case you or your pets accidentally ingest some. The FDA has approved it as safe for both internal and external use. Do not use any DE that is not clearly label “food grade”, for example the kind that is use in swimming pools.
How Diatomaceous Earth Kills Fleas (and other insects)
Diatomaceous earth is commonly used as a natural, non-toxic insecticide for both internal and external use. Of course with fleas, it will be used externally. The physical properties of the DE are what make it so effective at killing fleas. The powdery diatomaceous earth has microscopic razor-sharp edges, and physico-sorptive properties. Physico-sorptive means it can easily absorb liquids, kind of like a sponge. Plus, DE is a very hard material, 7 out of 10 on the hardness scale.
When the powder contacts a flea’s exoskeleton, it affects them in a couple different ways. Firstly, the absorptive qualities of the DE will remove the waxy lipids from the flea’s exterior. This causes a water pressure deficiency, and leads to death. The second affect it has on fleas has to do with the tiny, hard, sharp edges. When it contacts a flea, it will cut into its exoskeleton. The diatomaceous earth will then absorb any fluids inside the flea, causing them to die from dehydration. After the DE comes in contact with a flea, it will take up to 72 hours to completely dehydrate them.
Diatomaceous earth will work on more than just fleas. It is commonly used to manage infestations of other insects as well, such as cockroaches, ants, and bedbugs.
Benefits of DE Flea Treatment
There are a lot of flea treatments out there, but most of them contain chemicals and synthetic substances. Inadvertently, we are breathing in these chemicals, along with our children and pets. While the active ingredients in home flea control products are believed to be safe, we really do not know the long term effects of some of these insecticides. This is why diatomaceous earth is such a great option for flea control. It is all natural, and will not harm you, even if you eat it.
Buy Diatomaceous Earth (and duster)
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is most commonly used on on carpets. This is because fleas lay their eggs there. So the flea adults, eggs, larvae, and cocoons will all be in the carpet. DE will not kill flea eggs, but when they hatch into adults, they will immediately dehydrate and die.
To apply the diatomaceous earth, simply sprinkle it lightly and evenly over your carpet. Using a mini powder duster can make this job much easier. After it is on the carpet, grab and broom and brush it in. This will get the powder deeper in the carpeting where the fleas are. Keep in mind it will take 3 days to completely kill the fleas with diatomaceous earth. Plus, fleas reproduction cycle can last 7 to 21 days. So, do not vacuum for at least 3 days after application. After 72 hours, vacuum your carpets to remove any excess DE. Keep in mind, a good portion of it will stay in the carpet fibers for lasting effect. Vacuum regularly to suck up any dead fleas. Reapply the DE when needed, at least every 30 days.
Other Indoor Surfaces
You can also dust other surfaces, such as baseboards, couches, sofas, and bedding. Just keep in mind you will need to remove it eventually, and on carpets vacuuming it up is very easy.
Topical Pet Treatment
Diatomaceous earth can be directly applied on your dog’s or cat’s fur, as well as their bedding. Give them a light dusting and then gently work it into their fur. This will kill the adult fleas on their bodies, as well as any fleas that might jump onto them.
Fleas can survive outdoors, and will likely be thriving in places where your dog stays. Diatomaceous earth can be sprinkled in these areas where fleas are prone to live. DE will also kill other insects that are causing problems in your yard, such as ants. Read more about killing fleas in yards.
While food grade diatomaceous earth is safe to ingest, it can cause damage to our lungs if we breathe it in. This is because it is very abrasive (the same reason it kill fleas). To be on the safe side, always wear a mask when applying the powder.