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What is Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas?

Bowl of diatomaceous earth on a wooden table

Flea infestation is one of the biggest problems for dog owners. This is because these tiny parasites are difficult to eliminate. They can stay dormant for a while and will cause a re-infestation because of their irritating lifecycle. For this reason, canine owners are always looking for an effective solution to counter these pests. Diatomaceous Earth is a natural ingredient that can do quite well in this regard. Read on to learn what it is and how you can use it to kill fleas.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

It is a silky, sand-like powder that is made from the fossilized remains of diatoms. This one-celled algae decay over time and turns into soft sedimentary rocks that are mined and converted into powder. It looks like shards of glass and has sharp edges that are ideal for penetrating the hard shells of fleas.

Diatomaceous Earth can be divided into different categories based on the levels of crystalline silica in it. For example, food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (which is often used for killing fleas) contains 0.5-2% crystalline silica in it. On the other hand, filter-grade Diatomaceous Earth can have more than 60% of crystalline silica in it. It is very toxic for animals as well as humans and should never be used for flea treatments.

According to an estimate, more than 150 products of Diatomaceous Earth are available in the market. All of them are made from food-grade Diatomaceous Earth and can be used to counter flea infestations in one way or another. They are safe even if your pooch consumes them. Therefore, they can be applied directly to their fur without the danger of toxicity.  

Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas?

microscope view of a flea

Diatomaceous Earth does kill fleas in some instances but it’s not regarded as the most reliable treatment. This is because most experts feel that there isn’t enough data to support the claims of these products. The working principle of Diatomaceous Earth is to penetrate the exoskeleton of fleas and dry them out. It absorbs the lipids on the protective layer of the parasites and makes them vulnerable to the environment.

The major problem with this substance is its effectiveness against the eggs and larvae of fleas. Diatomaceous Earth can’t eliminate fleas in those stages of their lifecycle. Hence, the chances of a re-infestation are significantly higher as compared to some of the other treatments.

Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Fleas Instantly?

A clock hanging on a painted brick wall

It is difficult to give an exact answer to this question. Diatomaceous Earth works really well for adult fleas and will kill them within a few hours after contact. However, its efficiency decreases considerably for fleas that are in other stages of their lifecycle. Therefore, you should expect Diatomaceous Earth to kill fleas instantly only if they are adults.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas?

Bowl and spoon full of diatomaceous earth on a white surface

Diatomaceous Earth must stay dry at all times to make sure that it’s effective against fleas. Although it is safe for humans and dogs (food-grade), blowing it around the house can be uncomfortable for both parties. Therefore, it’s recommended to follow the product instructions carefully to maximize the chances of success. Some of the most useful tips for applying Diatomaceous Earth for fleas are discussed below.

Find the Areas of Concern – The very first step is to find the regions of your home that are inhabited by fleas. You will need to check the carpets, furniture, your dog’s bed, backyard, and every crack and crevice of the house.

Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth – Once you have identified the areas of concern, spread a layer of Diatomaceous Earth over those surfaces. Make sure that you sprinkle the powder in a thin, uniform coating to get the best possible results.

Leave the Powder for a Few Days – It is important to let the powder stay there for some days because Diatomaceous Earth takes some time to kill fleas. Letting the powder sit there will also attract and terminate more fleas.

Vacuum the Areas to Remove Fleas – After a few days, vacuum all the affected areas of the house to remove the powder and dead fleas. Make sure that you vacuum thoroughly because any leftovers can result in a re-infestation.

Repeat the Process – It’s quite likely that all the fleas and their eggs won’t be removed in a single iteration. Therefore, you will need to re-apply Diatomaceous Earth for eliminating the remaining parasites. You can repeat this exercise once a week for 2-3 weeks to ensure that all the fleas are gone.

How Effective Is Diatomaceous Earth on Fleas?

dead fleas scattered on a white background.

The abrasive particles of Diatomaceous Earth are ideal for damaging and penetrating the hard exoskeletons of fleas. Once these hard shells are torn apart, these parasites become vulnerable and will die very quickly. According to some experts, adult fleas can die as quickly as 4 hours after contact with this natural substance.

However, the effectiveness of Diatomaceous Earth becomes questionable when it’s dealing with larvae and eggs. This is because it can’t kill fleas in those stages and will not be able to prevent a re-infestation. Similarly, this material is not very useful if you are looking to apply it as a precautionary measure. 

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