If you’re a pet owner you’ve probably heard about the dangers of fleas, but surprisingly enough, even if you don’t own pets you can still get fleas in your household! Fleas are annoying pests that are tough to get rid of because they are so small and they can move very quickly. That being said, if you follow the right steps you can get rid of your flea infestation all by yourself! In this guide we’re going to be diving into does diatomaceous earth kill fleas, and how to use diatomaceous earth to get rid of fleas!
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?
Yes, diatomaceous earth (DE), does kill fleas and can be an effective method for controlling fleas. It’s a natural powder made from tiny fossilized aquatic organisms known as diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica.
When fleas come into contact with diatomaceous earth, the powder can penetrate the waxy, protective layer on the flea’s exoskeleton. This causes the flea to dehydrate and eventually die. The powder can be equally effective on other stages of the flea’s life cycle, including larvae.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) kills fleas through a physical process rather than a chemical one. The powder is made up of tiny, sharp-edged fossilized diatoms, a type of algae. These sharp edges are not harmful to humans or pets, but they are lethal to fleas and other small insects.
When a flea or other insect comes into contact with diatomaceous earth, the sharp edges of the DE particles cut through the insect’s protective exoskeleton. After penetrating the exoskeleton, the DE also absorbs the insect’s body fluids, causing it to dehydrate.
It’s important to note that while DE can start affecting fleas upon contact, it doesn’t kill them instantly. It can take a few hours to a couple of days for the fleas to die after coming into contact with the DE. This is why leaving the DE in place for a few days is often recommended when using it for flea control. Because fleas are constantly looking for food, you want to place the DE in areas near your pets and other food sources for fleas.
Moreover, DE is most effective when it’s dry, as moisture can make it clump together, reducing its effectiveness. So it’s best used in dry environments.
While DE is a natural substance and is non-toxic to humans and pets, it’s important to remember that it can cause irritation to the eyes and throat if inhaled. Therefore, precautions should be taken when applying it, such as wearing a mask and gloves.
What Is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that is easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. This powder is made up of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae.
These diatoms have existed on Earth for around 30 million years, and their skeletal remains have accumulated in the form of siliceous sedimentary rock, known as diatomite. When this rock is crushed, it produces the fine powder known as diatomaceous earth.
The unique thing about DE is that, under a microscope, each particle appears to be a small, hollow cylinder covered in barbs. These tiny particles are sharp and can lacerate the exoskeletons of various types of insects and pests. When the exoskeleton is damaged, the insect loses its protective covering and quickly dehydrates and dies.
We’ve found diatomaceous earth to be effective in killing the following pests:
There are two main types of diatomaceous earth: food grade and filter grade (also called pool grade).
- Food Grade DE: This type of DE is safe for consumption by humans and animals, and it’s the type that’s commonly used for pest control applications.
- Filter Grade DE: This is chemically treated and heated, making it unsafe for consumption. It contains a high concentration of silica and is used mostly for filtration purposes, such as in pool filters.
It’s important to note that while DE is a natural substance and is safe for use around humans and pets, it can cause irritation if inhaled, so it should always be used with caution. Always wear a mask and gloves when handling DE, especially during application, and keep it out of reach of children.
How To Use Diatomaceous Earth To Get Rid of Fleas
Diatomaceous earth (DE) can be an effective natural remedy for a flea infestation. Here are some steps on how to use it:
1. Purchase food-grade DE: It’s critical that you only use food-grade diatomaceous earth for flea control. Other types of DE, such as pool-grade, are not safe for pets or humans.
2. Prepare the area: Before you apply the DE, clean the areas where you’ll be using it. Vacuum thoroughly to pick up any adult fleas, eggs, larvae, and pupae. Wash any pet bedding in hot water or use vinegar for fleas.
3. Apply the DE: Sprinkle the DE evenly over the carpet, pet beds, upholstery, and any other flea-infested areas. Use a small amount; a thin layer of dust is sufficient. It’s also a good idea to work the DE into the fabric or carpet with a broom or brush. The benefit of DE is that it can be used on furniture since fleas can live on your furniture!
4. Leave the DE: Allow the DE to sit for at least 24 hours, but ideally up to two weeks. This gives the DE time to kill the fleas.
5. Vacuum again: After the treatment period, vacuum thoroughly again to pick up the dead fleas and the remaining DE. Empty the vacuum outside to prevent any live fleas from escaping back into the home.
6. Repeat as necessary: Flea infestations can be tough to get rid of, and you might need to repeat the process a few times.
Remember that while DE can be effective against fleas, it’s not an instant solution. It may take a few days to start seeing results, and it’s best used as part of a comprehensive flea control plan.
Lastly, be careful not to inhale DE dust, and keep it away from your pets’ and your own eyes and nose. Although food-grade DE is non-toxic, the fine particles can irritate the eyes, nose, and throat. Always use a mask and gloves when handling DE.
As always, consult with a pest control professional or your vet if you’re unsure about treating a flea infestation. They can provide advice tailored to your specific situation.
What To Remember When Killing Fleas With Diatomaceous Earth
However, it’s important to remember a few things:
- Use Food-Grade DE: There are different grades of diatomaceous earth, but only food-grade DE is safe for use in home pest control. Other types, like pool-grade DE, have been heat-treated and can be harmful to humans and pets.
- Application: Diatomaceous earth needs to be spread evenly in areas where fleas are likely to pass, such as on carpets, pet bedding, and upholstered furniture. The DE needs to stay dry to be effective, so it won’t work as well in damp areas.
- Time: DE doesn’t kill fleas immediately. It can take a few hours to a couple of days to kill fleas after they come into contact with the powder.
- Clean-Up: After a few days, vacuum the treated areas thoroughly to remove any flea eggs, larvae, and the remaining DE. Always wear a mask when applying or cleaning up DE to avoid inhaling the dust.
- Not a Standalone Solution: While DE can help manage a flea problem, it might not fully eradicate a serious infestation. Using DE alongside other methods, such as regular vacuuming, washing pet bedding, and using pet-specific flea treatments, can be more effective.
Final Thoughts On Using DE For Fleas:
Fleas can be a difficult pest to get rid of for homeowners because they are so small, they repopulate extremely quickly, and they are very agile. That being said, using diatomaceous earth for fleas is a great start to controlling your flea infestation. If you need help identifying fleas then check out our guide to ensure you are battling fleas!
The unfortunate part of fleas is that you’ll often have to use a combination of treatment options to fully eradicate the infestation. That being said, I hope this article on does diatomaceous earth kill fleas has been helpful in providing you a good starting step for dealing with your infestation!