Diatomaceous Earth: Safe for Humans, Killer for Roaches

If you have been looking for a good form of pest control, you may have heard of diatomaceous earth (aka: DE). This amazing, all-natural product is an effective deterrent to cockroaches and a wide variety of other pests including:

  • Fleas
  • Ants
  • Aphids
  • Mites
  • Beetles
  • Slugs
  • Bed Bugs – More Here

Simultaneously, it is completely non-toxic to mammals, birds, and fish and can even be safely consumed. The fact of the matter is, you probably eat quite a bit of it now without even knowing it because DE is commonly mixed in with all kinds of grain in storage to prevent insect predation.

diatomaceous earth food grade DE

In this article, we will explore the use of DE to deter and kill cockroaches and other pests. We will also briefly discuss its therapeutic uses. Read on to learn more.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?

DE decimates bugs that have exoskeletons. Here’s how:

It’s Sharp!

If you look at tiny particles of DE through a microscope, you will see that they have very sharp edges. When crawling insects with exoskeletons encounter DE, it gets stuck between the joints of the hard, protective exterior skeleton or shell. The sharp edges cut and scratch the surface of the exterior armor and damage the soft tissue underneath.

It’s Drying

DE is extremely absorbent. In addition to damaging the hard, exterior hull of an insect, it also abrades and soaks off the oily, waxy coating that helps prevent the creature from becoming dehydrated. This causes insects to dry out and die.

This physical damage is effective in deterring and killing bugs with exoskeletons, such as cockroaches, fleas, bed bugs and the like. It is also effective in keeping creatures such as slugs out of your garden because they simply do not like to slither across the sharp, glass-like particles. If they do, they are injured and they dry out.

DE is sharp and damaging to insects and some other pests because of its silica content. This substance is the base component used in glass production. Even though these tiny, sharp particles are deadly to pests, in low concentration they are completely harmless to people, pets, birds, wildlife, aquatic creatures and fish.

For this reason, 1% food-grade diatomaceous earth can be used as a nutritional supplement, a pet dewormer, a flea powder, and an insect killer around the house and yard.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Really Kill Cockroaches?

diatomaceous earth kills roaches

Since roaches reproduce rapidly, spread diseases rampantly and thrive in and around human habitation, it is very important to take effective measures to keep them under control. Distributing DE around your premises is an excellent, affordable, safe way to stop roaches in their tracks.

DE is effective against both German Cockroaches and American Cockroaches, and this is a very good thing because both types of roaches have grown resistant to standard pesticides and insecticides, such as permethrin, boric acid and others. It is not really possible for them to become resistant to DE as it causes physical injury rather than relying on toxicity.

It is also possible to boost the efficacy of DE by combining it with boric acid so that the roaches that come in contact with the combination also carry the boric acid into their hiding places. The result is that the carrier roaches are decimated by the DE, and the roaches that come in contact with or consume their carcasses are killed by the boric acid.

If you decide to combine DE with boric acid, you must be careful about where you distribute it. Only put it in hidden, out-of-the way places (such as the backs of closets, far under appliances, etc.) Boric acid is dangerous to pets and people

Get a pest-killing diatomaceous earth here.

What Is DE Made Of?

The Active Ingredient in Diatomaceous Earth is amorphous silica dioxide or Silicon dioxide.

This white, powdery substance is made of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a unicellular form of algae. The powder naturally contains between one and two percent silica. At one percent, it is safe to consume and is considered “food grade.” This is the product you should seek out when looking for DE to use around your house and yard to fight roaches and other pests.

How Is Food Grade DE Used?

Grain producers add a great deal of food grade diatomaceous earth to grains in storage because it kills off weevils and other insects that often infest and destroy grain. DE keeps the grain safe and bug-free and adds a bonus of minerals.

Many farmers and “pet-parents” have found that clean, safe, inexpensive DE is excellent for keeping fleas, flies and other pests away from livestock and pets. It is also effective as a deworming agent.

It is such a safe substance that many very health-oriented humans make DE consumption part of their everyday health and fitness regimen. Adding as much as a quarter cup of DE to the diet daily is touted as being an excellent way to benefit bones and joints, eliminate parasites and assist in detox diets and colon cleanses.

Understand that, if you plan to use DE as a supplement, you must introduce it to your diet in very small amounts and increase gradually in increments. You must also be certain that you use food grade diatomaceous earth and not the type that has been altered for use in swimming pool filters. This substance is not safe to scatter around your house and yard or to consume.

Pool grade DE can contain as much as seventy percent crystalline silica, which is bad for you. In fact, people who work with it daily over an extended period of time can be at risk for developing cancer.

Don’t Inhale Food Grade DE!

Just as with any other dry, powdery household substance, you should take care not to breathe in DE when you are applying it. It can cause some irritation to mucous membranes, and if you have asthma or some other respiratory problem, inhaling dust of any kind is not a good idea.

You may wish to wear a painter’s mask or some other sort of filter over your mouth and nose.

Take common sense precautions to protect your eyes from the dust. Avoid tossing it about nonchalantly. Instead, apply it carefully to the areas you wish to treat.

How Do You Use DE To Get Rid Of Roaches?

diatomaceous earth kills cockroaches and other pests

The main thing to remember about using diatomaceous earth to get rid of cockroaches and other pests is that you need to “keep your powder dry”. DE loses its effectiveness if it gets wet, so you want to distribute it in areas that are protected from dampness.

The second thing you must keep in mind is that DE is not a pest bait. Insects are not attracted to it, so if you set it out in piles or jar lids you will not get results. Conversely, if you lay out a thick line of it, your results will not be good in terms of killing bugs with exoskeletons because they will avoid walking over it. This is a good way to create a “safe zone”, though. If you want to keep pests out of an area, encircling it with a thick line of DE can be very helpful.

To kill off roaches and other insect pests, you have to dust DE lightly and evenly around the area you wish to treat. Follow these steps for the most effective application.

Start With A Clean Slate

A good “spring cleaning” will go far to disrupt roach hiding places and get rid of and deter roaches.

  • Vacuum rugs and soft furnishings.
  • Wash bedding and draperies.
  • Sweep and mop.
  • Clean under and behind appliances.

Use natural cleaning products made with white vinegar and essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, cedar or eucalyptus oils to deter roaches and other insect pests naturally.

Fix Leaks

Roaches are attracted to dampness, so if you have a leaky roof, basement, toilet or plumbing, now is the time to fix the problem and dry out the area. Be sure that damp areas are clean and establish good air circulation in the area. Remember that DE will not work in damp settings, so eliminating dampness is very important.

Close Up Cracks And Crevices

Roaches and other pests sneak in through tiny gaps. Be sure to caulk cracks in your foundation, walls and around baseboards. Fit proper seals into any gaps around your doors. This will keep pests out and, incidentally, lower your utility bills.

Apply Diatomaceous Earth

Dust DE lightly around baseboards, under appliances, at the back of cabinets and anywhere else you have seen roaches or think they may hide. If there is a gap beneath your baseboard, use a spatula to push DE under the baseboard. A light dusting on the floor surrounding your pets’ food dishes (or anywhere else food is commonly present) is a good idea.

Poof DE Into Your Walls

You can use a special applicator or a soft plastic spray bottle with a long spout (e.g. a mustard or ketchup dispenser or a bottle intended for applying hair dye) to sprinkle puffs of DE behind your switch plates and wall plug covers.

Turn off the breaker for the room where you are working. Remove the switch plate and/or wall plug covers. Insert the spout of the bottle or applicator into the wall and squeeze the bottle a few times. Replace the covers.

Create A Safe Perimeter

Dust diatomaceous earth powder thickly all around your home’s foundation and across your door sills to keep roaches and other creepy-crawlies from creeping and crawling into your home.

Remember that DE outdoors will need to be reapplied periodically. Whenever it rains, wait until the ground is dry and reapply the product.

Blow DE Under Your House

If there is empty space under your house, cockroaches are sure to enjoy living there. Apply a light dusting of DE to the entire underside of your house by pouring a sack of it out near the opening(s) to your crawlspace. Blow the pile under your house with a leaf blower.

Generally speaking, a three-pound container of DE should be enough for this purpose, but if you can see that the DE did not cover the entire area under the house, you may need more. You may also wish to apply it from several locations if your foundation has openings for air ventilation.

Establish Good Housekeeping Habits

Keep clutter picked up and food put away. Sweep and mop regularly and reapply DE when you do to prevent a reoccurrence of your cockroach infestation.

Diatomaceous Earth Application And Applicator Tips In A Greenhouse And Around The Home

Repel Cockroaches & Other Pests

You can create DE based bug repellent stations for an effective insect control. Although DE loses its potency as a pest killer when it becomes wet, you can combine it with water and peppermint, lavender, lemon or cedar oil to make a pest repellent paste.

Just combine diatomaceous earth food grade and water to make a stiff paste. Add the oil of your choosing at a rate of about a dozen or more drops per ounce of paste. Scoop the paste into jar lids or small cups and place in areas where pests tend to travel or congregate.

The essential oil will freshen the air in your home while repelling insect pests, spiders, and even mice! When you notice the scent subsiding, refresh your repellent stations with a few drops of water and essential oil.

Where Can You Get Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth?

Just as with any popular, natural product, you can get DE at your local health food store, at garden centers and/or online. It is also available from animal feed suppliers. When you shop, you are sure to notice a vast variance in prices. A lot of this has to do with the venue you choose for shopping.

If you go to a drug store or purchase food grade DE packaged as a personal care product, you are likely to get a small container for a big price. The same holds true if you purchase it as a dietary supplement at a health food store.

If you go to an animal feed store or a garden center, or if you shop these venues online, you can purchase a big bag or bucket (10 pounds or more) for just a few dollars. If you plan to strew it around your house, this is a smart choice indeed!

Don’t worry that it will spoil. If you keep DE dry, it will literally last forever. As long as the product you purchase is 100% pure, food grade diatomaceous earth that contains less than 1% silica, it is a safe product that you can use with confidence.

DE Conveys A Wealth Of Benefits

Food grade diatomaceous earth is an all-natural, safe, effective product made of the remains of fossilized algae or plankton. It is a clean, white powder that is completely benign towards humans, warm-blooded animals, birds, fish, and amphibians.

It’s an absolute terror to bugs with exoskeletons, though! The sharp silica that makes up DE cuts through their shells, injures them and causes them to dry up and die. When you develop the habits necessary to keep roaches out of your home, you will also keep a vast array of other pests out.

Once put in place, DE keeps on killing insects indefinitely, as long as it doesn’t get wet. Just remember that it is not an insecticide, so it won’t kill them instantly on contact. Instead, consistent use and proper application on an ongoing basis will gradually kill off infestations of cockroaches and other pests and keep them at bay.