Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes. Diatomaceous Earth does kill bed bugs. It is capable of killing adults and nymphs.

DE does not kill eggs until they hatch. Once eggs hatch, the nymphs that come in contact with DE will Die.

It can be used as a powder and a liquid aerosol to kill bed bugs.

Research shows that after 24 hours, DE powder could eliminate 95% of bed bugs, with only about 5 grams of DE spread across a 3 x 3-foot area.

Likewise, DE liquid aerosols were able to kill 97% of bed bugs after 24 hours.

DE will kill bed bugs as long as they contact either the dust or aerosol spray.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock.

It is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms.

Diatoms are a type of algae with cell walls composed of a substance called silica.

The silica in DE is the ingredient that helps kill bed bugs.

Silica and DE are also used to treat high cholesterol and improve skin, nail, teeth, bone, and hair strength.

While DE is mostly harmless to humans, it can kill insects by destroying their exoskeletons and dehydrating them.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth work?

Diatomaceous earth kills insects by destroying their exoskeletons and causing them to dehydrate.

DE absorbs the oily and waxy outer cuticle layer found on the bed bugs exoskeleton.

Once the outer layer is destroyed, bed bugs will dehydrate and die.

To insects, DE has razor-sharp microscopic edges, but it is just like any other powder to humans.

Two things determine how effective DE is on insects.

First, bed bugs must make contact with DE for it to work.

Second, DE must be dry for it to remain effective.

To ensure that insects make contact with DE, place it in common hiding places.

It is also important that you only apply a thin layer, barely visible to the human eye.

If the layer of DE is too thick, bed bugs will avoid it.

What Safety Measures To Take When Using DE?

When applying DE, you should wear the following safety gear.

  • Face mask or dust mask
  • Gloves (for people with sensitive skin)
  • Goggles

Not much safety equipment is necessary when using DE. 

DE has a low toxicity for humans . 

The main concern when using DE is particles being suspended in the air. 

Inhaling DE can cause damage to your lungs. Likewise, DE particles in your eye can also be dangerous. 

How To Apply Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs?

1. Wash Bed Sheets and Other Drapery

To make this process more effective, you can wash your sheet and other fabric using hot water.

This will eliminate any bed bugs that are hiding within the fabrics.

Washing on hot is a much faster way of killing bed bugs, especially on surfaces that can be easily washed.

Remember to dry all items on high heat for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour to kill any surviving bed bugs.

Wash the following items before you begin your DE treatment:

  • Bed sheets
  • Pillowcases
  • Blankets
  • Curtains
  • Any other fabrics

2. Eliminate Contact with Walls

It’s best to eliminate any contact your bed frame, mattress, or other items are making with your bed frame, furniture, or mattress.

Bed bugs can use this contact to get on your furniture while avoiding any DE coverage.

This type of contact is common when beds or mattresses are against that wall or objects under your bed.

Bed bugs can hide inside these objects and then use them to crawl onto your bed to feed on you while you sleep.

3. Apply DE to Small Crevices

Apply a thin layer of DE to small crevices. This is easiest to do using a
bulb duster. 

Below are some of the key locations where DE should be applied to eliminate as many bed bugs as possible. 

Bed frame and Headboard
Common crevices where bed bugs hide on the bed frame include:
Where bed frame and box spring meet.

  • Where bed frame and headboard/foot board meet
  • Small screw holes or cracks in the bed frame or headboard/foot board
  • Overlapping metal or wood on the bed frame

It’s best to remove your mattress and box spring from the bed frame for the best results.

This will allow you to target all the areas on your bed frame very easily.

The next place you need to target is on your box spring.

This is one of the most common places that bed bugs hide.

On your box spring apply to DE to:

  • Seams on top or around your box spring
  • On Top of box spring
  • Under and inside the dust cover.

One of the most common places that bed bugs hide is inside or on the dust cover bridge on a box spring.

Applying DE here is difficult, but you can insert your dust bulb tip into the small gaps in the dust cover and inject dust as a precautionary measure.

This will target any bed bugs hiding inside.

Do this around 2-3 times on each side of the dust cover.

You can apply DE to the small seems of your mattress as well.

It’s best to avoid doing so because this can create dust when you get on your bed.

It is best to apply the dust to the gab where your mattress meets your box spring.

This means that any bed bugs that need to feed will have to walk through the DE to reach you.

It’s important that you either avoid using dust skirts or other bed sheets that hang around.

This will give the bed bugs a way to avoid the DE.

Furniture Legs
Applying a layer of dust around the legs of the furniture in your bedroom is anywhere else you suspect bed bugs.

This will prevent them from traveling to and from the furniture.

If they climb on or climb off the furniture, they will die.

It’s important to apply a thin layer around the entire leg.

Edges of Room
Apply DE to the edges around all the sides of your room.
This will target any bed bugs that may be hiding in small cracks or crevices.

This is especially helpful if the bed bugs are hiding in your carpet.

This will create a barrier around your home’s rooms to prevent bed bugs from traveling in and out.

Apply DE inside small crevices of your couch.

This includes:

  • Under cushions
  • Behind cushions
  • In small cracks
  • Corners of couches
  • Under couches
  • Around couch legs
  • Inside dust cover

Other Important Areas
I also recommend you apply DE inside any:

  • Holes in walls
  • Cracks around house
  • Wall sockets
  • Carpets

In some cases, bed bugs will hide their eggs in small crevices and holes for protection. 

4. Clean Up and Reapply

After around 7-10 days, sweep or vacuum up all DE and apply a new layer if necessary.

DE is slow acting, so it can take several days to kill bed bugs that come in contact with DE.

DE does not become less effective with time, but the dust will get disturbed over time and create gaps that bed bugs can travel safely.

It is also good to reapply DE several times to target any unhatched eggs.

Unhatched eggs won’t die when they contact DE, but the bed bugs will die as soon as they hatch.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can DE Eliminate All Bed Bugs?

DE does have a high mortality rate, but it should not be used as a stand-alone treatment for bed bugs.

Small gaps in DE treatment and difficulties with the application can limit the effectiveness with DE.

It’s best to use DE in combination with heat treatment.

When bugs scramble to get away from the heat, they will run into DE and die.

You can also use DE along with washing, steaming, and vacuuming treatment.

As a final way to eliminate bed bugs, you can apply a layer of dust around your home.

Does DE Kill Nymph Bed Bugs?

Just like adult bed bugs, DE will kill any nymph bed bugs that come in contact with DE.

When nymph bed bugs come into contact with DE it will destroy their exoskeleton and cause them to dehydrate.

Nymph bed bugs are ore susceptible and usually die faster than adult bed bugs.

This happens when nymphs are molting or shedding their skin; they have no protection against DE and will die much faster than adults.

Does DE Kill Bed Bugs Eggs?

DE does not kill bed bug eggs.

The hard exterior of bed bug eggs can withstand that sharp-edges od DE.

Nymphs that hatch and come into contact with DE will die, but eggs must first hatch before any damage is done.

Is DE Safe For Pets?

While DE powder is safe to rub on pets, you should prevent them from ingesting it.

Ingesting DE can cause minor irritation to the repertory tract for pets.

If ingested in large amounts once or gradually, DE can cause more severe problems.

It’s best to store DE in a secure location away from your pets.

Is DE Safe For Humans?

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe for humans to consume.

They can pass through your digestive system unchanged and does not enter the bloodstream.

That said, be careful not to inhale DE.

Just like any dust, inhaling DE dust can irritate your lungs.

But the silica found in DE makes it especially harmful.

Inhaling crystalline silica can scar your lungs (silicosis) and cause inflammation.

Silicosis is common in miners. It caused approximately 46,000 deaths in the community in 2013 alone.

Although food-grade DE contains less than 2% crystalline silica, long-term inhalation can still damage your lungs.

If a substantial amount is inhaled, people may cough and have shortness of breath.

The silica on DE can also irritate the skin and eyes.

Can You Use Too Much DE?

Yes, you can apply too much DE. Thick layers of DE will discourage bed bugs from walking through it.

For the best results, only use a thin layer of DE to kill bed bugs.

Thin layers of DE will allow bed bugs to talk freely without being disturbed by the DE.

What Insects Can DE Kill?

Diatomaceous earth can kill most bugs.

This includes roaches, ants, ticks, fleas, slugs, bed bugs, beetles, centipedes, spiders, etc.

Is It Safe To Sleep In A Room That Had Diatomaceous Earth Applied?


While you want to wear a mask when applying DE dust, DE dust settles within seconds of application.

As such, you shouldn’t have to worry about sleeping if you’ve applied it to your bedroom.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Still Work When It’s Wet?

Diatomaceous earth does not work when it’s wet.

That said, it will work again once dry if not washed away by water.

DE can be used as a liquid solution by combining DE powder with water and then spraying it on desired areas.

The DE application only becomes effective once it is dry.

Can I Vacuum Up Diatomaceous Earth?

Yes, you can vacuum diatomaceous earth.

It’s best to only use a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a wet/dry vac.

DE is a fine powder, which means it could get through cheaper vacuum filters and ruin your vacuum’s motor over time.

Can I put DE on my bed?

DE can be placed on top of your mattress temporarily or if you will not be sleeping on it.

While DE won’t hurt you when you lay on it.

If it is on the bed it will get thrown into the air and breathing in DE can damage your lungs.

It’s best to put DE in areas where it will remain undisturbed or where it won’t be projected into the air.

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