Over the last couple years, people have been blasted with such a large amount of different flea removal methods that it’s become difficult to determine what’s best for your flea problem. Some experts are adamant that only flea insecticides will work and ridicule those that thing otherwise while others advocate a completely natural approach. While both have their pros and cons, this article is going to investigate a substance called diatomaceous earth (sometimes called “DE”) that has over a decade of successful results for killing fleas in homes around the world. I recommend you read the entire post but if you are in a rush and want to skip to the usage instructions, please click here. Let’s start with the most common question, what is it and is it safe?
What Is Diatomaceous Earth and Is It Toxic?
Back in 1830s, an old farmer discovered hard substance that he initially thought was limestone. However, after further investigation of its chemical makeup, this soft, often crumbly deposit was actually diatomaceous earth in its natural form.
While a history lesson doesn’t help you kill those fleas that have been bothering you, it’s comforting to know that since people behind to extract these deposits, it has been used for a large variety of farm, industrial, and even food based situations where it has proven to be an extremely valuable asset. Additionally, this substance is very cheap and can be purchased at most supermarkets. We will discuss specifics on this a little later but be assured, it’s definitely not going to cost much!
Since you have likely done some research on diatomaceous earth before reading this article, it’s highly probable that you have come across people on forums, blogs and even social media getting rather vocal about the dangers of diatomaceous earth. Is there anything to worry about?
Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for My Family and Pets?Please note, as an introduction to this section, let me just make one thing crystal clear. You can purchase diatomaceous earth in a variety of forms (remember we mentioned it has a large variety of applications) and one such use is for cleaning pools. This is often referred to as “pool grade” diatomaceous earth and it’s important that you don’t use this!
So what should be used instead? Simple answer, when purchasing diatomaceous earth online or in a brick and mortar store, make sure you get the “food grade” product. Unlike the other varieties and mixes, this is completely safe for the family and will not cause any problems in the house. Even though you may have read that DE can cut your lungs if inhaled, this is completely false and if you find anyone who thinks otherwise, ask them to contact me and I will set the record straight for them. Need some additional reassurance? No problem, your wish is my command
Based on my research, I have found that diatomaceous earth is a very commonly used with grain storage as it keeps pests away. Since this substance is also absorbs water and humidity, it also keeps things nice and dry. After digging around even further, it seems that it can even also be consumed in small quantities to deal with various ailments! Why does this matter? Well it gives you the confidence that you can use it for flea control without stressing about potential complications with health.
Since diatomaceous earth is completely non-toxic, how on earth can it kill fleas? Well that is a great question and the good news is that there is a satisfying answer!
How Does Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas and Does It Really Work?Ready for another simple answer? Instead of poisoning the buggers, it actually cuts their exoskeleton (their hard outer shell) and sucks the water out their bodies. Since their body needs this to survive, they die after a short amount of time. What do you think of that?!
Going into a little more detail, the diatomaceous earth is formed from algae with siliceous shells. When extracted, they are already dead, but their shells remain. These are razor sharp and while they are too small to even have a small effect on humans, they are deadly to pests. In fact, food grade diatomaceous earth can even be used to kill other pests like bed bugs, chiggers and gnats so feel free to try it elsewhere if you are having a problem with those in your home. Here are a few more implementations for flea control where diatomaceous earth is very useful.
- It can be used for killing fleas in your garden. Just remember to use it when the grass is completely dry as moisture will significantly reduce its effectiveness.
- Diatomaceous earth is extremely effective for killing fleas that are hiding in carpets, either in your home or even outside where your pets might enjoy taking a rest. If you don’t have any carpets, it can also be used on hardwood floors as a very effective way to kill off any flea infestations that may have found its way into your life.
- Situations where you want to use natural methods for flea control. There are many dangerous of using flea poisons, both for your pet and the people in your home. While it is sometimes required, it’s always good to give a couple tested home remedies first before taking a drive to the nearest shop for flea products, especially when they work as well as diatomaceous earth does!
5 Minor Concerns for Using Diatomaceous Earth
- I don’t recommend rubbing it on your pet’s skin on a daily basis (I have heard of people doing this) as it can cause dry skin, itchiness and dehydration. It’s better to treat fleas on your dog or remove fleas on your cats by using alternative methods. As for smaller pets (like young kittens, puppies, rabbits, hamsters, etc.), please keep them away from DE as due to their small body mass, it can be dangerous.
- Since DE is commonly used in your carpets, it can be a bit difficult to clean up and I recommend using a decent vacuum cleaner and brush to do so.
- Keep it away from moisture. As previously mentioned, this significantly reduces its effectiveness.
- Only use the “food grade” Diatomaceous Earth for flea control and stay away from the “pool grade” one. If you cannot find any in your area, consider using borax for fleas as its also safe, works well and is very affordable.
- If you have major asthma, keep in mind that the powder may cause some irritation so keep your asthma pump handy and cover your nose and mouth with a damp cloth while applying DE.
- Be careful of diatomaceous earth products that mention its concentration is less than 90%. In higher quantities, crystalline silica (which is often the reason for the deficit) can cause toxicity and this needs to be avoided if you are going to be using it for flea control. Ideally, try and purchase a product less than 1% of other ingredients (the purer the better) as this will ensure it’s completely safe for humans and pets.
- When using diatomaceous earth for killing fleas in your home, don’t put any household fans or anything that creates a draft as it can blow the fine granules all over your home, making it a nightmare to clean.
Ok enough chit chat. It’s time to get down to business! Here are a few easy steps that you can follow to get rid of fleas in your home using diatomaceous earth.
- Give all your carpets a brush (stiff bristles) and a thorough vacuum. This will aggravate the fleas and get them moving about in preparation for your natural flea powder attack.
- After reviewing the cautions for using DE (in this article), simply sprinkle the powder where fleas are usually found. This could be in the grass in your yard, your carpets in your home or even the areas where your pets sleep and play. I highly recommend that you rub the powder into the carpets with a broom to make sure it reaches the fleas. I have had a number of readers asking about the density of DE that is needed. My answer is that it should be enough to finely cover the surface and if you are unsure, a little more is better. Just be careful you don’t get too much powder puffing into the air when you apply it to the targeted area.
- How long does it take for diatomaceous earth to kill fleas? Well research shows that once the fleas come into contact with the powder, they usually die about 4 hours later. However, I recommend leaving it for 12 hours before vacuuming up all the powder (and any dead fleas) to ensure they die.
It’s really as easy as that. Since flea eggs hatch after about a week of being laid by female fleas (in most scenarios), it’s recommended that you repeat this process once a week for a total of 3-4 weeks. This will prevent a repeat infestation after you get rid of the adult fleas.
Where to Buy Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas
Thoughts on purchasing diatomaceous earth for fleas online at Home Depot or Amazon? – If there are “limited brick and mortar” shops that sell it or if they are selling a mix of DE and other substances, buying from Home Depot or Amazon is my preferred way of obtaining diatomaceous earth as it’s very affordable and you are safe from scams or dodgy products. However, you still need make sure you only purchase the food grade product and you will also need to check the concentration (ideally it should be as pure as possible, preferably around 99% to ensure its safe for pets and for the family).
Buying diatomaceous earth from Walmart or Lowes – This is definitely a great option, especially if there is one of these outlets near your residence. Again, all the previous pointers need to be reviewed (above) but to add to them, don’t purchase any DE products that are marked for “pest control”. Why not? Well although these will probably kill fleas faster, they are usually not safe for your animals as they often contain other toxic elements such as flea insecticide.
Other than those outlets, remember that you can definitely purchase it from your local shops in your area. As long as you make sure its quality stuff, it doesn’t really matter where you get it, as long as its going to do the job without risking anyone’s health.
Success Stories – Diatomaceous Earth Fleas Reviews
Here are a few encouraging success stories for using this powder for effective flea removal. Hopefully this will give you the confidence to start using it if you are not convinced already.
“This product is everything the previous reviewers stated and then some. My cat had been suffering from fleas for the majority of the summer and every flea spray I purchased failed miserably. Within 24 hours her biting and scratching had minimized to almost nothing… my home is officially flea free.” – BlackDiamond from Home Depot
“When I got this package, I immediately sprinkled the 3 inside dogs. I have been using the chihuahua as the “control” because he has short white hair and fleas are easy to see on him. I HAVEN’T SEEN ONE FLEA SINCE I APPLIED diatomaceous earth!!! I’m sooo relieved! Finally, I can get my house back under control!” – Emily Brooks from Amazon
“I had some fire ants who had decided to move in to our house and I also have been trying to kill the fire ants outdoor with various poisons and nothing had a very good success rate, I heard of diatomaceous earth and that it is safe to animals and kids, so I gave it a shot and it killed off ants inside and out in two days. AWESOME!” – Beejorn from Home Depot
What About Using Boric Acid for Fleas Instead of Diatomaceous Earth?
This is definitely an option as boron based products are very effective for flea control. Borax and boric acid are slightly stronger and I have personally used it to kill fleas around my home over the past couple years. However, they have a few more health concerns and so you need to use it with caution. While the decision is still yours, I recommend using DE instead of borax for your flea removal needs. UPDATE: I have written an article on using borax for fleas (on this blog), check it out if you want to know the details and how it compares to DE.
In conclusion, using this simple and natural powder can do wonders for household flea problems. The power of diatomaceous earth for killing fleas in the home and yard has been proven over the years and regardless of what you may have been told, it does work and its very effective. Thanks for reading my article on using diatomaceous earth for fleas and I encourage you to share this article with your friends. Remember, if you have any questions, you can always leave a comment and I will get back to you!