You’re here because you want to know how to use diatomaceous earth for fleas. Join the (itchy) club. Diatomaceous earth – or DE, as its friends call it – is no doubt one of the most popular flea remedies on earth.
It’s not just fleas, mind you – DE is often used as natural pest control to treat various kinds of pests. But it’s not a pesticide. In fact, it’s just a powder made up of the fossilized algae.
So how does it even work?
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?
Diatomaceous Earth sounds like a strange and unnecessarily difficult-to-spell substance but it is so-called because it is made of the fossilized remains of aquatic, single-celled algae called diatoms.
Interesting, you say, but does it kill fleas?
Well, yes – and no.
By that, we mean that diatomaceous earth does kill fleas but only adult fleas. That’s because diatomaceous earth is a physical control that can only kill bugs with an exoskeleton.
How Does Diatomaceous Earth Kills Fleas?
On a microscopic level, this fine white powder is nothing but jagged edges and sharp points. For a flea, crawling over this powder will cling to and scratch the outer layer of their bodies, the exoskeleton, and cause them to lose water.
Eventually, this leads to dehydration and death.
If that sounds cruel, you’re not itchy enough. On the other hand, if that sounds like the exact fate you’ve imagined for the fleas biting you and your loved ones – DE can be one of the best weapons you have in your arsenal to combat fleas.
But keep in mind that it’s not a speedy bullet solution and it is not the only weapon you should use. Because as great as DE is, it does have one important limitation…
Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Flea Eggs?
Adult fleas have exoskeletons that make them vulnerable to DE. When they come into contact with the powder, the tiny particles slowly but surely suck out the moisture from their bodies until they dehydrate to death.
But juvenile fleas are another story.
Fleas go through four stages in their life cycle: eggs, larvae, pupae, adult.
Want to see what fleas look like in every life stage?
The only time in their life cycle that fleas possess an exoskeleton is when they are adults, so this is the only time they will be vulnerable to DE.
Diatomaceous earth won’t kill flea eggs, larvae and it definitely won’t kill the pupae. Which is why DE is not a quick solution when it comes to fleas.
How Long Does It Take Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Fleas?
It doesn’t take diatomaceous earth very long to kill a flea once it’s made contact with it. Once the powder is on an adult flea’s body, it will be dead within four hours.
But remember: it’s going to take some time for all the adult fleas in your home to come into contact with the DE powder. That’s why we recommend that each time you apply, you let the powder sit and do its job for 24 to 48 hours before vacuuming it up.
Add to that the fact that the majority of the flea infestation is made up of flea eggs, larvae and pupae – all of which can take several days to weeks to mature into adult fleas – and it can take awhile for diatomaceous earth to kill all the fleas living in your home.
Exactly how long it will take to get rid of fleas with diatomaceous earth depends on the severity of your flea infestation, but you should plan to regularly apply diatomaceous earth every week for about 3 to 4 weeks until you are sure that all the juvenile fleas have hatched and been killed.
As you can see, diatomaceous earth is not the quickest solution for getting rid of fleas. That being said, it is an all-natural and cost-effective way and there are definitely things you can do to speed up the flea killing process.
Like what? If you want to keep it natural, vacuuming and steaming are brilliant weapons against fleas since the vacuum will help remove fleas in all life stages. A steam cleaner is also an all-natural way to kill fleas in all life stages.
And if you are willing to use non-natural methods alongside diatomaceous earth, you can speed up the process with the best flea killers on the market.
How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas
As insects that require a high level of humidity to thrive, fleas are especially susceptible to diatomaceous earth. So what’s the best way to use this wonderful non-toxic control method against the bloodsucking pests?
Well, let us count the ways. Here are the most effective ways to use diatomaceous earth to get rid of fleas!
DE Pet Powder
That’s right – you can apply diatomaceous earth directly to pets, using it to dust your cat or dog to kill fleas.
Because diatomaceous earth isn’t a chemical pesticide, it’s not harmful when ingested. Especially if you find the type labeled as food grade. This stuff is safe to consume. Which is good, because dogs and cats will consume it if you put it on their fur. Cats especially.
When applying diatomaceous earth to your pets, make sure not to get it into their eyes. Sprinkle the powder over them, then work it into their fur with your fingers or a brush.
Make sure that the dust gets all through their coat and reaches all the fleas. It might be best to do this outside to avoid making a mess in your living room.
Because animals groom themselves, you’ll need to reapply the diatomaceous earth on a regular basis, especially to cats. And while it’s unlikely to solve the problem by itself, diatomaceous earth will go a long way to helping you win the war against fleas.
DE Wet Treatment
One of the interesting properties of diatomaceous earth is that it can be mixed with water without losing its efficacy. Of course, the DE won’t be effective when it’s wet but once the mixture dries, the powder will be just as deadly to insects as it was before it got wet.
That means you can mix the DE with water to make application easier and then once it’s dry – voila! Let the flea killing begin.
There are a couple of ways to use this to your advantage.
For Your Pets
One is that if you don’t want to dust your pets with the product, you can instead mix it with water and bathe them with it. Approximately 1 cup of DE per gallon of water should give you the right concentration.
Once you’ve bathed the animal, let the mixture dry on their fur so that it stays active.
Obviously, this advice is aimed more at dogs than at cats. If you can get your cat to take a bath willingly, you obviously have magical powers and can just make the fleas disappear without the need for any products at all.
For Your Home
The fact that diatomaceous earth remains effective after getting wet also makes it easy to apply around the home. You can mix it with water in a spray bottle and spray it around doors and windows, heat pipes, high shelves where cats go, and anywhere else you might expect to find fleas.
You can even use it outdoors. This makes diatomaceous earth one of the most versatile flea control treatments available.
Carpet Flea Powder
If there is one thing fleas hate, it’s modern minimalist design trends. Hardwood and laminate floors are something fleas try to avoid when house hunting.
Instead, these pesky fleas look for carpet. And the deeper the rug, the better.
Adult fleas never leave the host animal that they feed on. But often, flea eggs will be dislodged when animals scratch their bites. These eggs often fall to the floor, and disappear between the fibers of the carpet. The eggs then hatch out into flea larvae.
The larvae feed on flea dirt, the partially digested feces of the adults. When they’re ready to become adults themselves, they form a cocoon to shelter them while they pupate. Then, when the development is complete, they emerge from this cocoon and climb to the top of the carpet fiber, where they will then leap onto a passing animal and begin to feed.
Essentially, carpet makes an ideal flea nursery.
Sounds frightful, right? But there is a pretty simple solution – you can deal with this by dusting your carpet with diatomaceous earth. This will kill any adult fleas that are currently active in the carpets and also kill the young adult fleas emerging from their cocoons.
It’s a great way to try and break the flea lifecycle and slow down their rapid reproductive rate.
Pre-Vacuum Flea Killer
It’s also a good idea to vacuum regularly when dealing with fleas. Not only will the vacuum pickup and kill fleas, but the vibration caused by the machine can stimulate flea pupae to hatch.
That means newly hatched adult fleas can come into contact with the diatomaceous earth you’ve applied earlier.
So vacuuming and application of diatomaceous earth are two methods of flea control that work very well together. Just remember to reapply the diatomaceous earth to the carpet once you’ve vacuumed it.
Yes, it can be a lot of work. But it will all be worth it when you and your pets stop having itchy flea bites on your bodies.
Even if you don’t have carpet, diatomaceous earth can be useful around the home. Use it to dust pet beds and other areas where your animals spend a lot of time, since these are likely to have been infested by fleas.
You can also use it along baseboards and on furniture, since fleas often hide in these areas.
Outdoor Flea Control
Because diatomaceous earth is non-toxic, you can use it both inside and outside the home. Fleas often live outdoors, especially in warmer climates.
This is frequently how an animal develops a flea problem. Lying down in shaded areas of the garden can cause a dog or cat to catch fleas and then bring them back inside the house.
Dusting these kinds of areas with a thin layer of diatomaceous earth will kill any fleas that may be hiding there before they come into contact with your pet.
The downside of this is that all the white powder may make your garden look like a bakery just exploded. Also, you’ll need to reapply after any rain.
Fortunately, diatomaceous earth isn’t hugely expensive and is generally easy to get hold of, so you don’t need to be stingy with it. Spread the stuff around and rejoice as you slowly turn back the tide of bloodsucking insects.