Diatomaceous Earth Kills Bed Bugs

The truth about DE and bedbugs might shock you.
The truth about DE and bedbugs might shock you. | Source

The Verdict

Diatomaceous earth does kill bed bugs, but it takes patience. I have seen people do their own experiment, leaving bed bugs in a dish with DE and waiting to see if they die. When they are still alive after 24 hours, or a day or two, people assume it doesn't work. But, those experiments are not paying attention to how diatomaceous earth works. It takes patience to see results in action.

Using DE alone may not be enough, but it can be a useful part of the whole.

Guess What the Dark Spots Are!

The best way to trap bedbugs: A pill bottle.
The best way to trap bedbugs: A pill bottle. | Source

The Experiment

My investigation started with three dozen bed bugs that I trapped. Each one was kept in a special enclosure (even if one got out it could have been a disaster!).

Some were trapped in pill bottles, such as in the picture above, and others in an ant colony, which did not work as well as it does on ants! Inside of enclosure was a thick layer of Diatomaceous Earth (pool-grade in some, food-grade in others).

They were placed in each enclosure for observation. After checking them twice a day for a couple days I observed something odd: The bed bugs did not die right away, or even a few days later. It took 7-14 days to kill them.

I can see why people think it does not work. It is hard to be patient, but when it comes to killing bed bugs, it is worth it the extra time.

The conclusion of my experiment is that diatomaceous earth works great, but with large, embeded infestations it should be one part of a bigger plan.

Are You Using the Wrong Kind of DE for Bedbugs?

Pool grade DE is unsafe for bedbug removal.
Pool grade DE is unsafe for bedbug removal. | Source

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Works

Diatomaceous Earth is made from a material called silica. It is made up of small particles that seem smooth to us, but to a bedbug they are razor sharp.

As they walk across the DE, it cuts their abdomens. This causes them to become dehydrated and eventually die. It is very slow-acting. While most bedbugs will die in a week, some of them may live for over two weeks.

Diatomaceous Earth, Bedbugs, and Human Safety

How safe is DE in the fight against bedbugs? To answer this question, four families with bedbugs volunteered to try both food-grade and pool-grade DE.

Each family was given one or the other type for the experiment. Before the family members began the experiment, they were briefed on safety issues. For the most part, food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use around pets and children. However, this does not mean it is 100% safe.

Pool-grade DE is not safe to use in bed bug removal. It triggered one person's asthma in our experiment. As mentioned above, DE is made from silica. It may seem harmless to the touch but it is not harmless to the mucosal lining of our respiratory tracts. When an asthmatic inhales DE, it can damage their nose, sinus, throat, bronchi, and bronchioles.

Through my experiment with each family, I breathed in both food-grade and pool-grade DE. Even I felt the irritation of the pool-grade DE. On the other hand, no one became ill after using food-grade DE.

Warning For The Following: Asthma, COPD, and Other Lung Ailments

DE is useful as a part of a total bedbug elimination plan, but there are some people who should never use DE: Asthmatics, people with COPD, and those with other lung ailments should not be exposed to DE.

The irritation caused by DE can be very dangerous with people who suffer from lung conditions and severe sinuses. If you want to use it, talk to your doctor about the risks.

Mine was not a scientific study, and would have never met standards of one. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

Applying Diatomaceous Earth Inside Mattress Cover

Apply diatomaceous earth inside your mattress Cover. Using a special duster is much easier than using a jar.
Apply diatomaceous earth inside your mattress Cover. Using a special duster is much easier than using a jar. | Source

DE Bedbug Experiment Results

The effectiveness of diatomaceous earth depends on the severity of the infestation. In most cases, it will need to be used in tandem with spraying, sealing, and covering mattresses along with steaming and regular cleanings.

I suggest steaming the mattress before using the dust. Do not soak the mattress, but if it does seem damp, let it dry before applying DE. After you have steamed, place the mattress in a cover. Then use a duster to coat the inside of the mattress cover. As you can see in the picture above, we placed DE inside the mattress cover. Then the bugs are trapped and the DE cannot become airborne. The mattress cover should be checked daily for tears, which can be fixed with duct tape.

Diatomaceous Bed Bug Trap

Bed Bug Trap

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Comments 10 comments

Shell 3 months ago

DE does work, must be used with spray. Line baseboards, doorways and windows with DE. After you spray if they try to escape they will walk in the DE. Put lots of it under, around and on sealed box springs/mattress. Lots of vacuuming and drying everything on high heat. Check windows, curtains, blinds and screw holes. Found bed bug nest in screw hole of alarm clock and bottom piece of blind.

Have been fighting bed bugs since April, it is now July. Think we are finally overcoming them. Had to dispose of couch, was sad, but worth peace of mind. Lots of praying...horrible experience, will never be the same. Will most likely check my home for bed bugs for rest of my life. Had them for at least a year and did not know. Hope this helps someone else. Never give up!!

Desperate 3 months ago

I spread DE all over our bedroom. I literally covered the floors, bed, bed frame, floorboards and walls (that I could) with the stuff. We've evacuated the bedroom and have been crashing in the living room to avoid bites. I started the process June 17. July 8 I vacuumed the DE from the top of the bed and around the bedframe but left the stuff on the floors and such to sit longer. It is now July 10 and I walked in the room just now and found 3 bugs crawling on the top of the mattress. It's been almost a month! Shouldn't they be gone by now?! I used food grade. I'm desperate....

Frustrated! 5 months ago

Tonight is about night 12 of our initial DE treatment and I am still getting 10+ bites per night.... I "thought" we only had a small problem as there were no visible signs of infestation.... no bugs or residue are found in the daylight at all! But after being in bed for about an hour. I can flip on the lights and search under pillows and find 6-10 bugs. I have bombed our whole house, washed and dryed everything, and on a 6 day wash cycle for all bedding. The bedrooms and livingroom have been coated with DE... all rooms seem to be "clean" except one.... and it seems that there has been no reduction in nightly bites. I am so frustrated! Every night is a nightmare! Not sure how much more no sleep I can take! Suggestions?...

T Smith 7 months ago

grammar has nothing to do with the information Little budha, if that is all you have to say don't say anything at all. It doe work, but you have to use everything you can to through at them. Again when someone is trying to help don't insult them. Thank all of you

Susan Watson 13 months ago

I discovered an interesting plan of attack: Liberally line the floor around your bed, at doorways , windows and where carpet meets the wall - you don't want them to get under the carpet or climb a wall. You have just trapped them into one area. Next, place additional DE at bed posts and between your bed frame and box spring. (Idea is to force them to walk through a small mountain of it, guaranteeing death) Then, sacrifice a fitted sheet and wrap one strap of double sided tape (Roberts Linoleum is great) to keep the bed bugs from walking up for a meal at 3A.M. The tape prevents them from feeding, thus no maturing into adults that can lay eggs. It also gives you back a good nights sleep.

Now, be patient. It takes about 12 days -- but the diligence pays. I admit, I was so paranoid, I was laying on the bed as live bait, clocking every 30 minutes to see what was moving. The number count went down night after night and nothing after day twelve. They can be killed and without much expense.

mary615 profile image

mary615 24 months ago from Florida

I use DE to control ants in my apartment. I only use the product for human consumption. I sprinkle it wherever I see ants crawling.

Your videos did not play, BTW.

ST 2 years ago

I imagine the reason why DE is effective is because after they touch it and feed, their bodies expand and probably burst due to the cuts. In your experiment I don't remember reading if you fed them or not.

Bedbugabscond profile image

Bedbugabscond 4 years ago from United States Author

Lol, there is indeed a Coolville in Ohio. If you are ever there check out the Coolspot! They are too cool for bed bugs, so that's cool!

nicomp profile image

nicomp 4 years ago from Ohio, USA

There's a Coolville in Ohio? Kewl!

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

Interesting to know this, Bedbugabscound. It is a great warning also to those who suffer from allergic reactions to this chemical.

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    Melody Trent (Bedbugabscond)135 Followers
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    Melody is a CDC Committee volunteer and activist who has been fighting and educating others about bed bug infestations for years.

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