How to Use Diatomaceous Earth to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Written by Lisa Bohler
Published: December 3, 2023
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bed bug infestation

You do not have to travel to pick up bedbugs; they can be gotten from any cloth-covered furniture.

©simon berenyi/Shutterstock.com

Bedbugs are parasitic insects that most people associate with dirty rooms or motels. However, bed bugs are present in clean rooms and offices. Diatomaceous earth for bed bugs is a simple home treatment.

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These bugs feed on blood. They can leave itchy, red welts or skin lesions on your body. You will require patience, persistence, and aggressive treatment strategies to eliminate these insects from your living space.

How Bedbug Infestations Begin

A black suitcase placed flat in a white hotel bathtub by a savvy business traveler. Bed bugs are unable to climb the smooth walls of the tub

Placing your luggage in a motel room’s bathtub stops bedbugs from entering it.

©Myra Thompson/Shutterstock.com

Bed bugs are most frequently found behind the headboards of beds, on mattresses, and on the boxsprings. They are not exclusive to the bedroom. They live on upholstered surfaces with your pet and can live for months without feeding. An infestation begins with one bug following you home.

Bed Bug Life Cycle

  • Females lay eggs each day. One female lays between 5 and 12 eggs daily and up to 500 eggs. The eggs are hidden in cracks and crevices.
  • In a week, the egg will hatch. The bug is now a nymph.
  • A nymph completes five stages before becoming an adult.
  • The nymph must feed on blood to move from one stage to another. Under the right conditions, a nymph reaches maturity in five weeks.
  • Adult bed bugs mate, and the process begins again.

Unwanted Guests

Bed bugs prefer upholstered furniture but they can be found on wooden furniture also.

Bed bugs are unwanted guests that can live on most surfaces.

©iStock.com/Matteo Lanciano

Bed bugs are opportunistic. As their population increases, some hitch a ride on human clothing, accessories, and pets. These hitchhikers are going to start new infestations in other homes.

Most infestations have up to 200 bugs. However, there can be between 1,000 and 5,000 bugs in one home. When a female bug that has bred hitches a ride into a home, it lays its eggs, and the population explosion begins. Each week, a group of eggs hatches, and every five weeks, a group of bugs breeds.

Avoiding Bed Bugs

  • Keep upholstered items off of floors.
  • Avoid sitting in public areas with upholstered chairs.
  • Store luggage and bags off the floor.
  • Reduce clutter to reduce hiding places in your home.
  • Clean laundry hampers regularly.
  • Avoid used furniture.
  • Seal cracks and crevices around walls and doors with caulk.
  • In hotels and motels, inspect the bed before sleeping in it.
  • Place clothing on hangers in the closet instead of on a chair or the floor.
  • Treat your home with diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth( Kieselgur) powder in jar for non-toxic organic insect repellent. Using diatomite in garden concept.

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for humans and still effectively removes bed bugs.

©FotoHelin/Shutterstock.com

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a safe and effective way to remove bedbugs. Diatomaceous earth effectively eliminates bed bugs because it is made up of silica and is abrasive. The powdery silica sticks to the bedbugs when they walk through it. A bed bug has a protective waxy layer on its body. However, the silica is absorbed. It also gets between the insect’s exoskeleton and the organs. The abrasion created by the silica cuts and damages the bug’s organs.

Benefits of Using Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs

  • It is safe for humans and their pets.
  • The powder has no foul odor.
  • Cost-effective treatment.
  • The application does not require a licensed pest control specialist.
  • You can remain at home and use your furniture while the product is present.

Warning

Diatomaceous earth can be purchased in food, pool, and garden grades. Inside your home, use food-grade only. Pool-grade and garden-grade products are dangerous to humans and pets. The food-grade product has a lower concentration of crystalline silica.

Most Effective Ways To Use Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs

Before you place the diatomaceous earth around your home, preparation of the surfaces is required.

  • Wash your bedding in the hottest water possible and dry it on high heat.
  • Seal all bedding that is not being used in plastic containers. Storing in garbage or large zipper bags is also effective.
  • Move furniture so that there is space between the furniture and the wall.
  • Prevent pillows and bedding from touching the walls or the floor.
  • Wash pet bedding and dry it on high heat.
  • Bathe your pet with warm, soapy water. Blow-dry the pet after bathing.

As A Dry Powder

Wear gloves and a face mask before applying the diatomaceous earth for bed bugs. Diatomaceous earth is safe to use. However, you should wear a face mask to keep you from breathing the powder into your lungs.

On Mattresses and Boxsprings

Check for bed bugs - mattress

©Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock.com

  • On the mattresses of the beds in the house.
  • Put powder on the boxsprings of the bed.
  • Around the bed, make sure to apply it around each leg.
  • Along the edges of the walls at the bottom of the baseboards.
  • On the doorframes and door openings into the room.
  • Along the windowsills.
  • Around the doorframes of every room.
  • Under the cushions of any furniture in the house.
  • In closets under any luggage or baggage.
  • Inside any luggage or baggage.
  • On top of carpeting.

Use a Salt Or Pepper Shaker To Apply

A saltshaker is the perfect utensil for applying diatomaceous earth.

©HandmadePictures/Shutterstock.com

Diatomaceous earth for bed bugs can be easily applied by placing it in an ordinary salt shaker and spreading it. Using a standard salt shaker allows you to sprinkle a fine layer without touching the product while doing the application.

Mix With water, And Apply With A Spray Bottle.

what smells do mice hate

A mixture of diatomaceous earth and water makes a liquid bedbug repellant.

©Sergio Rojo/Shutterstock.com

Mixing the diatomaceous earth for bed bugs with water allows you to apply the product easily into cracks around baseboards, above door frames, and in hard-to-reach places. However, the powdered form of the product is more effective at eliminating bugs, and it works more quickly.

How Often To Apply Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs

When applying the diatomaceous earth to carpeting and rugs, it should be vacuumed out of the rugs every seven days. Once you vacuum the product out of the rug, apply a new layer of diatomaceous earth and leave it for seven days. You will need to repeat this process for four weeks.

FAQs

How long does it take for the diatomaceous earth to get rid of bed bugs?

The time it will take for the bed bugs in your home to be eradicated will depend on how many bugs you have, the temperature in the home, and how well you prepare the area. Typically, it takes between 2 and four weeks to eliminate small infestations of less than 1000 bugs.

Is it safe to sleep in the bed after applying diatomaceous earth to it?

It is safe to sleep in your bed after applying food-grade diatomaceous earth. It would be best to sleep in the bed so the bed bugs will be enticed to walk through the powder.

Does diatomaceous earth kill bed bugs at all life stages?

The diatomaceous earth must get on the insect to work. It does not have any effect on eggs before they hatch. Also, it can take 6 to 10 days before a newly hatched nymph starts to feed.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Matteo Lanciano


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About the Author

Lisa Bohler is a writer for A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on mammals, amphibians, and reptiles. Lisa has been writing and researching animals for over 12 years and holds a Bachelor's Degree in English and Creative Writing from Liberty University, which she earned in 2021. A resident of Texas, Lisa enjoys fishing, gardening, and caring for the animals on her small hobby farm.

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