Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an all-natural flea control remedy that works to dehydrate adult fleas. When applied to the animal’s environment, as well as the animal itself, it is as effective as chemical alternatives. While chemical flea treatments are made up of poisons, diatomaceous earth works naturally to rid a pet of fleas.
What It Is: Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made from diatomite, the crushed, fossilized remains of a marine algae called a diatom. Food grade diatomaceous earth is used among farmers as a wormer, to rid animal feed of insects and as a nutritional supplement.
How It Works: DE, when used in flea prevention, cuts holes in the flea’s body as it moves across it, and as this happens, the fleas leak water which the diatomaceous earth absorbs. Because of this, the fleas dehydrate and die.
Types of Diatomaceous Earth: One formulation, containing crystalline silicate, is commonly sold for use in pools. This is not safe for use around animals or humans. DE for flea control should be USDA food-grade certified.
Considerations: When an animal or area that has been treated with diatomaceous earth gets wet, the efficiency of DE drops. Therefore, animals or bedding treated with DE should be kept as dry as possible.
Diatomaceous Earth vs. Chemical Flea Control: In tests performed by the USDA, as well as consumer trials, diatomaceous earth has shown to be just as effective as chemical insect control.
Safety Considerations: When applying DE to large areas, such as a pet’s sleeping area, a dust mask and goggles are recommended. If diatomaceous earth is applied directly to the animal, care should be taken to avoid any mucous membranes (eyes, ears, nose) that may become irritated.
How to Treat a Flea Infested House With Diatomaceous Earth
A variety of flea treatments are available on the market, but those looking for an all-natural approach should consider using diatomaceous earth to eliminate their flea problem. Diatomaceous earth is made from finely ground fossilized shells. When the fleas eat the substance, they act as razor-sharp crystals, causing the fleas to dehydrate and ultimately die. Safe to use around children and pets, diatomaceous earth is an effective, earth-friendly way to control your flea infestation in and around the home.
Purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth from the hardware, feed store or home improvement store. Be sure to pick up the powdered form.
Sprinkle the diatomaceous earth powder around windows, doorways and baseboards. You only need to sprinkle enough of the powder to leave a dusting. Sprinkle the powder on your carpets and rugs, as well, rubbing them in with your hands.
Vacuum all areas in which you applied the product after three or four hours to remove the powder and any fleas that may have died.
Repeat the process two or three more times, two or three days apart, to fully eliminate the fleas in the home. While the fleas are in your home, they will likely lay eggs, which the diatomaceous earth will not affect. In order to kill the fleas that hatch from the eggs, you will need to treat your house again about 10 days after the initial treatment in order kill all of the stages of the flea life cycle.
Sprinkle the diatomaceous earth all over your outdoor environment as well. If your home has fleas, chances are your yard has them, as well. Apply another treatment to the ground about 10 days after the first treatment in order to kill the fleas that have hatched from their eggs.
Some people spread diatomaceous earth directly on their pets, essentially using it as a flea powder. If you do this, be aware of the potential risks. Since it is a drying agent, diatomaceous earth can dry out your pet’s skin. It can also be irritating to the eyes and lungs. Make sure you are using “food grade” diatomaceous earth if you want to try it on your pet.
Watch the accompanying video for an interesting if lengthy explanation of diatomaceous earth.
Diatomaceous earth is one of the natural substances discussed in Flea Control: How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally.