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How do I Use Diatomaceous Earth for Bed Bugs?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 16, 2024
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Many exterminators use diatomaceous earth to eradicate beg bugs, and other people can use it as well. After you buy the diatomaceous earth, you must then spread it around the area that's infested and vacuum it up. You can also use this product to help eliminate other pests, such as ticks and fleas.

Diatomaceous earth a type of crushed rock formed from the fossils of diatoms. It eradicates bed bugs by first scratching their hard exoskeletons, then absorbing the moisture from inside their bodies. Diatomaceous earth can be purchased from most large home improvement stores and may also be labeled as kieselgur or diatomite.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is required to get rid of bed bugs. There are other varieties, such as the diatomite used in pool filters, but they often contain harmful chemicals.

To use diatomaceous earth for bed bugs, you must sprinkle the powder everywhere the bed bugs might be. It is usually a good idea to start in the bedroom, since that's where the majority of the infestation will be. Other sections of the house, however, must also be treated since these bugs can spread throughout an entire dwelling very quickly.

It's important to get the diatomaceous earth into all of the tiny cracks and crevices. This includes baseboards, creases in upholstery, and cracks in furniture. You may also want to sprinkle some inside the box springs and mattresses, as well as on and under furniture. Some experts even recommend removing light switch and outlet covers to sprinkle it there.

After one or two days, vacuum up the dust. Most exterminators recommend adding a handful to the vacuum bag or canister before thoroughly vacuuming your home. After all of the diatomaceous earth is removed, dispose of the contents of the vacuum cleaner immediately. Seal it in a plastic bag before disposing of it outside.

Diatomaceous earth can also help prevent bed bug infestations. Sprinkle a fine layer of the dust in baseboards and other cracks, under furniture, and between the box spring and mattress. For added protection, some people even put four strong dishes filled with diatomite under each of the legs of their bed.

Although food-grade diatomaceous earth is generally safe, even for small children and pets, exterminators recommend some safety precautions when spreading it around. Gloves are usually a good idea, as is a mask or respirator. This will prevent the fine particles from irritating the delicate mucous membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs.

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Discussion Comments
By anon970947 — On Sep 22, 2014

Basically, apply the DE carefully, since the dust is not good for you in large quantities. Let it sit in the carpet for two or three days then vacuum up. It's hard on the vacuum cleaner, so don't overdo.

Put some on the spines of your animals and rub down to the skin. Avoid the eyes and be gentle with the ears.

The stuff is drying; that's partly how it kills bugs. It may be hard on your hands and you may want to pick up a dust mask for application. Repeat every time you vacuum because you have to catch the egg hatch.

Keep your pets out until you have finished spreading the stuff around. It is only the food grade you should use and everyone is different so watch your pets' paws.

Note: Human consumption of this product and in your pets' food is OK and many say good for you. But do your own research and make up your own mind.

By burcinc — On Jun 19, 2013

@fBoyle-- Yes, keep all pets and children away from diatomaceous earth. My neighbor's cat developed respiratory problems after exposure to diatomaceous earth.

By bluedolphin — On Jun 18, 2013

@fBoyle-- Is your whole house infested?

If the infestation is just in your bedroom (specifically in and around your bed), I don't see a reason to treat the entire house.

I used food grade diatomaceous earth just in my bedroom because I only get bitten at night when I'm sleeping. I put it all over under the mattress. I took apart the bed frame and made sure to put it into the creaks on the floor and the wall where the infestation was most.

I slept in the living room for almost a week as the diatomaceous earth took effect. I made sure to use clean washed sheets and clothes every night to make sure I was not carrying mites to the couch.

After a week, I vacuumed the diatomaceous earth and returned to my bedroom. I have not had a bite since, so it clearly worked! I think this is a great way to get rid of bed bugs.

By fBoyle — On Jun 17, 2013

Does anyone know if diatomaceous earth is dangerous for pets? Do I have to vacate all the pets before I treat the house with diatomaceous earth for geting rid of bed bugs?

I'm thinking of treating each room at a time and keeping that room closed until I'm done with vacuuming. Is this how most people do it?

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