How to use Diatomaceous earth to get rid of bed bugs

diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs

Diatomaceous Earth (DE), also called Kieselguhr, has been used since ancient times as a natural insecticide. This ecological powder, composed of microscopic algae 100% of natural origin, has abrasive and drying properties that will be deadly to bed bugs. The benefits of DE are also found for many uses including animal care, household products, paint and construction work, and for dealing with many other small insects. In this article we will see How to use Diatomaceous earth to get rid of bed bugs.


How can Diatomaceous Earth eliminate bed bugs?

To eliminate bed bugs, using an aerosol insecticide is not really the best solution. Indeed, just like cockroaches, Those bloodsuckers tend to reproduce very quickly. They are also characterized by high resistance. Therefore, if you want to kill them, you need to make sure you find a drastic solution.

In this regard, it is possible to use diatomaceous earth against those bloodsuckers. The effectiveness of this natural product has been demonstrated time and time again by professionals in the field. At first glance, it looks like powder or talc. However, it contains microorganisms that act on those pests in two different ways:

Thanks to its sharp particles, The white dust lodges in the joints of bedbugs and deals them serious injuries;

Thanks to its absorbent power, DE will suck up all the moisture from those bloodsuckers and thus cause these insects to dry out completely;

You can take advantage of these properties of DE against other harmful insects such as fleas, cockroaches, ants and all mites.


Does Diatomaceous Earth kill bed bug Eggs ?

Diatomaceous earth does not kill bed bug eggs. This is why you should let DE in the infested room for more than a month. This way, you can be sure to kill the larvae and eggs that have reached their hatching stages. And that they have crawled through DE, which will kill them by dehydrating them. Due to its long term effect, DE can kill several generations of bugs in a colony.


How long does Diatomaceous Earth take to kill Bed bugs ?

According to scientific studies, depending on the dose of Diatomaceous Earth, bed bugs would die on average after between 9 to 15 days.

Bed bug Eggs can hatch up to 15 days after being laid. The larvae must imperatively be eliminated. DE will have to stay in the infested room for several weeks. In order to ensure the extermination of a new generation of those critters.

DE transported by the bug in the nest can contaminate other bugs and cause dehydration in the colony.


What kind of Diatomaceous Earth kills Bed bugs ?

There are two types of diatomaceous earth and one of them is toxic to humans:

Non Calcined (or Uncalcined) DE is natural and has not undergone any transformation. Food grade, it is used in organic farming. In small quantities, uncalcined DE  is therefore not toxic to humans or animals. However, like any other product, it must be handled with care and must not be inhaled. Always read the user manual provided by the manufacturer for clear instructions.

The calcined diatomite powder was transformed by heating to 800-900°C. It then becomes toxic to humans and animals and is generally only used to absorb moisture or as a filter for swimming pools.

To kill bed bugs, choose food grade diatomaceous earth(white powder). food grade DE should be Non-Calcined.

You should avoid using pool grade or garden grade diatomaceous earth (DE) in your home.


Where to buy diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth is found in all supermarkets alongside insecticides. It is also available on the internet and in some organic shops. You won’t be able to use this white dust against those pesky insects if you choose it calcined. It would be toxic to you, your loved ones and your pets. So be sure to check the type of DE when purchasing it. To find the best DE available in the market you can check our Best Bed bugs Powders Buying Guide.


How to use Diatomaceous Earth to get rid of Bed bugs

For optimal use of diatomaceous earth against bed bugs, it is advisable to start by cleaning the room to be treated with a vacuum cleaner. You should clean all areas that are likely to be invaded by them. For hard-to-reach places like the corners of the bed, cracks in the wall or under furniture, you can use a steam cleaner.

When finished, remove all residue with your vacuum cleaner and immediately empty the contents into an airtight bag to dispose of outside the house.

Before you start sprinkling the DE, wear a mask and goggles.

DE acts as a bed bug repellent. To put it simply, they will avoid going where there is this product. So it’s a way to keep them away from you!

In addition to being deadly to those bloodsuckers, DE therefore makes it possible to “lock” the bugs’ attendance of infested areas, and to cut off its crossing points.

Then, come back into the room and generously sprinkle the white powder in specific places such as:

  •   The cracks in the walls
  •   Along the baseboards
  •   Carpets and mattresses
  •   Inside power outlets
  •   Place DE around the 4 bed legs to form a protective barrier.
  •   At the foot of your furniture
  •   Inside deep furniture cracks (if a credit card can fit in the crack, so can a bed bug!)

Once you have treated your home with the soil, wait 1 week and vacuum everything. Repeat the treatment several times until you see no signs of those bloodsuckers.

Be careful, as DE is a very fine powder, it can quickly clog the filters of your vacuum cleaner, so empty the vacuum bag regularly.


How to sprinkle diatomaceous earth for bed bugs?

Diatomaceous earth should not be placed in too large a quantity. Otherwise, it would act as a repellent and they would avoid it as much as possible. So be careful not to spread it in large quantities, but just a thin layer, which should be still enough to kill those pests.

Do not forget to close windows when you are sprinkling DE. To avoid air circulating, as DE is volatile.

You can spray DE using a duster for a better distribution. A duster will be useful to place DE in cracks and crevices. Spots where they like to nest. This precise distribution of the product will kill them by mechanical action.

Ambient humidity and on the treated surface significantly reduce the performance of this white dust. You should make sure water does not come into contact with the DE that you sprinkled in your room. And you should know that air humidifiers may decrease the effectiveness of DE due to the brought moisture.


Can diatomaceous earth be vacuumed?

Using a vacuum cleaner without filters to remove the white powder that you spread throughout the room. A vacuum cleaner without a filter is essential, because diatomaceous earth is very abrasive and may damage the filter of a normal vacuum cleaner.


Can I sleep with diatomaceous earth on my bed

You can sleep in a room where you have sprinkled diatomaceous earth. Many studies have been conducted on this subject which have proven the fact that it is not toxic for our organism. Due to its low concentration of crystalline silica, DE for food is also not toxic to the lungs when inhaled.


Can you use Diatomaceous Earth to prevent getting Bed bugs when you are Traveling ?

You would think that spraying it in your luggage, when you are back from traveling, to avoid bringing back bedbugs, is a good idea.  But that’s not the case. Indeed this product, non-chemical, has a long term action because those critters do not die instantly but in several days. In addition, you would have to sprinkle your suitcase and all its contents, your clothes, your books, your toiletry bag. Etc  so that the probability of a bedbug walking on DE is high enough. There are other ways to avoid those bloodsucking insects when traveling.


Diatomaceous Earth vs Baking Soda for Bed bugs

Baking soda is a chemical compound that is made up of hydrogen, sodium, carbon and oxygen. Like Diatomaceous earth, Baking soda is not harmful to your health and is an economical and easily accessible product. However, unlike DE, no scientific studies have yet proven that baking soda is deadly to bed bugs. You can have a look at our article dedicated to efficiency of Baking Soda on Bed bugs, if you want to know more about this topic.


How to use Diatomaceous Earth on the Couch to kill Bed bugs?

Sprinkle diatomaceous earth, a natural insecticide, at the foot of an infected couch so that those bloodsuckers will not be able to escape. Sprinkle some more DE in the cracks and crevices of the couch. Because this is the location where those critters like to hide. If possible try to wash the cushions and cover on high heat.


Can I put Diatomaceous Earth on Pillows for bed bugs?

Diatomaceous earth is a natural pesticide: it has residual long term effect but is non-toxic to humans. The only precaution to be taken is to wear a mask and gloves during application, if large spaces are to be treated, to prevent inhalation of large quantities of DE. So as dust, DE is not toxic but it is better not to inhale large quantities of it. It is best that you do not place DE on pillows where you will be sleeping.


Advantages of Diatomaceous earth for bed bugs

  •   An excellent natural insecticide for home and pets
  •   Very efficient against those bloodsuckers with a long term residual effect
  •   Naturally abrasive scouring powder for cleaning many interior and exterior surfaces
  •   Relatively cheap and easy to find in store or online
  •   It is effective not only against bed bugs but many other pests such as cockroaches, ants, ticks and fleas.
  •   Natural deodorizer for bins, carpets or shoes (to sprinkle at the bottom).
  •   Provides many health benefits when consumed occasionally (can lower bad cholesterol). Warning: make sure your the diatomite powder is not calcined and Food grade
  •   In the garden, DE is very effective in getting rid of small pests that love damaging plantations


Disadvantages of Diatomaceous earth for bed bugs

  •   Using diatomaceous earth against bedbugs is truly effective against bed bugs. It will be difficult to exterminate those pesky insects with the one and only DE if the level of infestation is advanced. It also has some disadvantages that can hinder its effectiveness:
  •   The treatment with DE is long and tedious: the powder being absorbent, it soaks up moisture from the room and then loses its effectiveness. It is therefore necessary to reapply the dust regularly, otherwise it will no longer be efficient against them.
  •   The room should be evacuated so that the product is not inhaled.
  •   The treated rooms must be prepared: before spreading this dust against those bloodsuckers, it is imperative to clean the infested rooms. Remove sheets and mattress cover. Thoroughly vacuum all corners. In the bedroom, don’t forget the mattress and box spring! Then pass the steam cleaner, insisting on the baseboards, floor, mattress and box spring.
  •   It is not convenient to live for several weeks in rooms where diatomite powder is all over the place.
  •   And despite all this, we still have to cross our fingers that no bug has survived the treatment! The battle is therefore far from won, but do not be discouraged.

Diatomaceous earth is very effective in combination with other DIY Bed bugs treatments

Like other home remedies, using DE has its limits. The white dust alone will not be enough to eradicate an infestation of bed bugs at an advanced stage.

If you want to get rid of bed bugs by yourself, you should include Diatomaceous earth in your arsenal. However you should use other methods such as :

The use of a protective cover on your mattress. It traps any remaining bugs and prevents them from reaching you while you sleep. So you benefit from a really effective protection against the bites of these insects during the night.

Steam cleaning the room. Steam cleaners project high-temperature water over surfaces that kill bed bug larvae, eggs and nymphs. Dry steam is very effective for those bloodsucking instects on mattresses, box springs and sensitive fabrics.

Vacuuming the infested room. Vacuum cleaners can be of paramount importance in reducing the number of bugs in contaminated rooms or surfaces.

Washing and drying clothing and bedding on high heat.  Heat is lethal to those blooduckers. It is therefore recommended to wash and dry clothes in the machine at the highest temperature possible (140°F/ 60°C), opting for a complete cycle.

If your laundry cannot withstand washing at 140°F, then put it in the freezer at -20°C for 2 to 5 days. And for all very sensitive fabrics, you just have to iron them without washing them.

Using Bed bugs interceptor cups beneath your bed legs to isolate your bed from the outside bugs.

You can find all of these steps in our Complete DIY Bed bugs eradication Guide.


In this article we described How to use Diatomaceous earth to get rid of bed bugs. We definitely advise you to add this powder to your arsenal for a Do it yourself battle against bed bugs.