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How Long Does It Take Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Fleas?


Reading Time: 8 minutes

If you’re experiencing a flea infestation, you’re probably confused about whether to use chemical or natural products to rid your home of these pesky insects. The problem with chemical products is that they may contain harsh substances that can hurt your family’s and pet’s health. Additionally, some of these chemical products can’t eliminate flea larva and pupae.

On the other hand, natural remedies like diatomaceous earth (DE) can help you get rid of fleas safely in your home. But how can diatomaceous earth kill fleas? When these insects contact it, the tiny abrasive particles in the fine powder will damage the tough outer shells (exoskeletons) and stick to their bodies, absorbing moisture till they dry up and die.

Now, after going through the mechanism of action of this flea remedy, let’s see how much time does it take to kill these creatures using diatomaceous earth. We’ll also walk you through tips on how to use it in home, yards, and on pets.

Short Answer

Adult fleas start to die as soon as four hours after touching the diatomaceous earth powder. However, it may take 48 hours to get them killed, which is why you should leave the powder for this time so that it can do its job.

The particles may also get rid of flea larvae, but you’ll need to repeat the process for several weeks and maybe months to ensure that flea pupae or eggs are gone as well.

Why Use Diatomaceous Earth

There are many advantages to using diatomaceous earth fine powder. Because of its microscopically sharp edges, it can get rid of fleas, but it won’t hurt you because the sharp edges are so small. However, it’s like crawling over broken glass for an insect; it’ll pierce its skin and kill it within hours or days.

Why Use Diatomaceous Earth

In addition, this powder is ideal for wall gaps and interior voids of furniture or equipment that can be filled with it. Also, it’s suitable for use around the edges of floors, carpet, and in deeper crevices.

Which Diatomaceous Earth Should I Choose?

When shopping for diatomaceous earth for pest control, keep in mind that there are two main types: pool-grade and food-grade. Both are classified as pesticides. Pool-grade diatomaceous earth has been treated in ways that make it more dangerous for humans and other large animals to touch or breathe.

That’s why you have to make sure to buy the food-grade DE. This type is entirely safe for your family and pets and shouldn’t cause any problems in your house.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth to Get Rid of Fleas in Homes

To use the diatomaceous earth fine powder as an effective flea remedy in your home, you need to follow specific procedures within a specific time frame. This ensures the success of the whole process.

You’ll have to identify the areas in your home that are infested with fleas, as well as any areas where your infested pet has spent a significant amount of time.

For instance, you can inspect your furniture, pet bedding, floors, crevices, cracks, and under sinks. Also, if the infested area has bedding, carpeting, or other textiles, you may want to vacuum it first to get the fleas moving.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth to Get Rid of Fleas in Homes

After identifying the infested areas, start by sprinkling the food-grade DE in a thin layer over these areas. However, if you’re applying the powder onto the carpet, you need to work it into the carpet using a broom to ensure that the powder gets deep into the fibers. And if the areas are challenging to reach, you can apply the powder using a duster or a puffer bottle.

Remember that you should vacuum the powder and dead fleas off the infested areas after using DE. But, if the treated area is out of your reach, you can leave the diatomaceous earth powder as it is, and it’ll act as one of your flea preventatives.

Using It on Bed Mattresses

Since we sleep on bed mattresses, it makes sense that people might be worried about spreading this powder on them. But there’s no need to worry; the process is simple and safe.

To begin, steam clean the mattress and, if possible, take it outside and leave it in direct sunlight for not less than 4 hours.

Then, make sure that the bed isn’t touching the wall and that no bedsheets are touching the floor. Now, sprinkle the food-grade diatomaceous earth on the mattress and bedding, paying particular attention to any bedding creases.

It’d help to dust some of the powder into the mattress’ box springs. Also, for maximum flea protection, let the diatomaceous earth on for some time after applying it.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in Yards

Similar to indoors, you need to identify the areas in your yard where the infestation is most visible. The infested areas are usually the source of the problem, which is why it should be your primary focus when applying diatomaceous earth.

After discovering the areas infested with fleas in your yard, you can start applying the powder. However, try to wait for a dry weather period before beginning the treatment process, as diatomaceous earth is most effective in dry states.

You can then apply it by throwing handfuls of the powder over the infested areas and letting it float down to coat the entire space. You can also mix approximately 1- 4 tablespoons of diatomaceous earth for every gallon of water and spray the mix onto the lawn, shrubbery, and anywhere else the pests might be.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth in Yards

However, note that the powder applied this way will only be effective if the weather remains dry for at least one week. This will allow it to return to its potent powder form and start to attack the fleas.

So, generally, don’t be concerned if you don’t see immediate results because it can take a few days before you notice a change in your yard. In fact, it can take 7 to 17 days to get rid of fleas in your yard, but it produces long-lasting results.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Safe for Use on Dogs and Cats?

Yes, diatomaceous earth is considered a safe powder that can be used on animals. So while it’s fatal to bugs, it’s harmless to animals. Therefore, don’t worry about using this powder on your dogs and cats to get rid of fleas; you can apply it directly to their coats for flea prevention.

You can start by rubbing the powder into your dog’s fur. Next, with the powder on its fur and skin, let it move around for a few days. Then, give your pet a thorough bath with shampoo after a few days. Note that the diatomaceous earth should be kept out of the pet’s mouth and eyes.

Also, as we mentioned before, you have to use food-grade diatomaceous earth to kill fleas on your pets because they may lick their coats. But anyway, before you use any new diatomaceous earth product on your pets, it’s important to double-check with your pet’s veterinarian.

Using Diatomaceous Earth on Pet Bedding

Although it’s safe to use diatomaceous earth on pet bedding to get rid of any fleas, prolonged exposure can have a minor impact on your pet’s skin. That’s why you need to wash your pet bedding with hot water every week to remove the powder’s remains and also for better flea prevention.

It’s worth mentioning that fleas won’t develop resistance to diatomaceous earth because this substance kills through mechanical means rather than chemical ones.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Damaging to All Stages of the Flea Life Cycle?

If your home becomes infested with fleas and you begin using this fine powder, you should be aware that it may take some time to ensure that the fleas are gone for good. This is due to the presence of various stages in the flea life cycle; hence, different stages during an infestation.

A flea’s life cycle can be divided into four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The total life cycle will take anywhere from a few weeks to many months, depending on the humidity levels and the environmental temperature.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Damaging to All Stages of the Flea Life Cycle?

As we mentioned, once adults fleas are contacted with diatomaceous earth, they’ll take between 4 and 48 hours to dry and die. However, you should repeat the treatment from 3 weeks up to several months to ensure that all eggs have hatched and all adults and nymphs have been killed.

There’s a chance to quicken and strengthen the effect of this treatment if you create a mix of diatomaceous earth, refined sea salt, and Borax powder and use this mix on your carpets, pet bedding, furniture, yards, and lawns.

Concerns for Using Diatomaceous Earth as a Flea Control

Because diatomaceous earth powder is commonly used in carpets, it can be difficult for you to get it off. So try using a good vacuum cleaner but nothing too fancy; a bag-based vacuum is ideal because the power can become stuck in more “modern” systems.

Also, if you have severe asthma, remember that the powder may irritate your nose and mouth, so keep your asthma pump nearby and hide your mouth and nose with a wet cloth while applying the powder.

And when using diatomaceous earth, keep any household fans or anything that creates a draught away from it. This is because they’ll blow the particles all over your home, making cleaning a nightmare and also reducing the chances of killing the irritating fleas.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Side Effects of Excessive Pool-Grade Diatomaceous Earth Exposure?

Pool-grade diatomaceous earth can affect the nasal passages and the nose if inhaled for too long. Also, people may suffer from coughing and shortness of breath if an extremely large amount is inhaled. In addition, it may irritate and dry out the skin. And because of its abrasive nature, this powder may irritate the eyes.

Where Can I Buy Diatomaceous Earth for Flea Control?

Food-grade diatomaceous earth for fleas is primarily available at hardware and pet supply stores, as well as online. The most common form of this powder comes in bags but can also come in bottles and jars. As mentioned, if you intend to use this flea control powder at home or on your pets, make sure to buy food-grade DE.

Furthermore, pet parents should ensure that they’re purchasing an EPA-approved product from a reputable distributor. They should also choose a product that states that it can be applied directly to pets.

How Long Does Diatomaceous Earth Stay Effective?

Diatomaceous earth is similar to a sponge. When applied to a surface, it absorbs everything it comes into contact with, and in our case, it’s fleas. However, it’ll eventually reach a point where it’ll no longer be likely to absorb any extra fleas and will lose its strength.

But, depending on where you use it and whether the area where it’s applied is dry or not, it can take anywhere from months to years to lose its strength.

Can I Mix Essential Oils With Diatomaceous Earth?

Yes, you can mix them both. But as mentioned, make sure it’s a 100% food-grade diatomaceous earth.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Work in Humid Environments?

Yes, but in a less effective way. To function properly, it must be dry; it shouldn’t be wet or mixed with water to make a spray.

What Kills Fleas Instantly?

One of the most common products is Nitenpyram, which is known as Capstar. It’s an instant, effective flea treatment for dogs and cats. It works in just 30 minutes. However, make sure to contact your pet’s vet before giving it any medicine.

Is It Safe to Sleep in a Room With Diatomaceous Earth?

Yes, it’s completely safe to sleep in a room where there’s diatomaceous earth around. You can even sleep on mattresses that are filled with DE.

Can Diatomaceous Earth Products Kill Other Insects?

Yes. Diatomaceous earth works well against other insects such as bed bugs, crickets, ticks, cockroaches, and more.

Bottom Line

If you’re having a flea infestation on your hands and don’t want to turn to chemical substances to get rid of it, then you can use diatomaceous earth since it’s one of the best natural solutions for flea infestations.

Whether you need this potent powder to fight fleas on your pet or eliminate these biting bugs from your rugs, furniture, and beddings, it’ll save you in all scenarios. However, make sure to buy the food-grade diatomaceous earth because it’s not toxic for humans and pets.

Also, keep in mind that every infested area shall take a different time to be flea-free; it depends on several factors such as humidity and the cycle of the fleas. The diatomaceous earth has a quicker effect on adult fleas; it can get rid of them in just 4 hours.

But to completely rid yourself of fleas, you’ll need to continue the treatment techniques described above for weeks, if not months, to make sure that all flea eggs, larvae, and pupae are removed. This way, you’ll save your pet and yourself from reinfestations and, consequently, from future painful flea bites.