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How Long Does It Take For Diatomaceous Earth To Kill Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most annoying and difficult pests to get rid of. If you’re looking for a natural option to kill bed bugs, diatomaceous earth may be your solution.

But how long does it take for diatomaceous earth to kill bed bugs? I’ll give you some tips on how to ensure their efficient extermination. 

How Long Does It Take For Diatomaceous Earth To Kill Bed Bugs

What Exactly Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powdery substance that originates from the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of algae.

These diatoms are primarily made up of silica (silicon dioxide), a natural occurring material found in the earth’s crust.

The fossilization process turns these diatoms into a fine, abrasive powder that is both lightweight and porous.

There are different grades of diatomaceous earth, but the one relevant for home use, especially in pest control, is food-grade diatomaceous earth.

  • Food-grade: Safe for consumption by humans and animals.

This type of DE works as an effective desiccant. Upon contact with insects, such as bed bugs, the sharp edges of the diatom remains can pierce their exoskeletons, leading to dehydration and eventual death.

  • Dehydration: The primary method through which DE kills pests.

DE’s natural origin and mechanical mode of action make it a favored choice for those seeking non-chemical pest control methods. However, you should use it carefully as it can act as a mild irritant.

Remember, when purchasing diatomaceous earth, to verify that it is indeed food-grade, ensuring it is safe to use around your home.

Why Do We Need To Kill Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs are small, elusive pests with a hard exoskeleton that allows them to thrive in various environments.

These insects are notorious for infesting spaces where humans reside, particularly where you sleep. Why is it essential to eliminate them? Let’s explore.

Firstly, bed bugs subsist exclusively on blood, posing a risk to your health. They typically emerge at night and can leave you with multiple itchy bites.

Their presence in your mattress, linens, or even cracks and crevices of the bed frame can lead to sleep disturbances and skin discomfort.

Bed bugs reproduce rapidly, with females laying hundreds of eggs in their lifetime.

This can turn a minor issue into a full-blown infestation quickly, making it essential to address the problem as soon as it’s detected.

Bed bug populations tend to burgeon in hard-to-reach places within your furniture, requiring vigilant inspection and prompt action.

  • Hygiene: These critters are not known to be vectors of diseases; however, their droppings and shedding skin can contaminate your linens and living space, undermining the cleanliness of your home.
  • Economic Impact: Tackling an infestation often requires professional extermination services, which can be costly. Ignoring the problem can result in a larger financial burden over time.
  • Psychological Effects: Knowing that bed bugs are lurking in your home can lead to stress and anxiety, impacting your overall well-being.

How To Prepare for Diatomaceous Earth Application

How To Prepare for Diatomaceous Earth Application

Before you start applying diatomaceous earth to tackle bed bugs, proper preparation is crucial for effective results.

The preparation process will ensure that the diatomaceous earth can reach the locations where bed bugs hide and that it remains effective in those areas.

Cleaning and Organizing:

  • Vacuum: Begin by thoroughly vacuuming your home. Pay special attention to mattressescarpetslinen, and areas around your bed frame and furniture where bed bugs are likely to inhabit.
  • Wash Linens: Clean all your linens, including clothes and bed sheets, in hot water and dry them on the highest dryer setting. This will help kill any bed bugs or eggs present in your fabrics.

Preparation of the Area:

  • Remove Clutter: Clear the area of any clutter to minimize bed bug hiding spots and ensure maximum exposure to diatomaceous earth.
  • Dust Removal: After vacuuming, use a damp cloth to wipe down surfaces. This will help the diatomaceous earth stick to the surfaces where bed bugs are likely to crawl.

Application Readiness:

  • Instructions: Follow the instructions on the diatomaceous earth packaging carefully.
  • Protective Gear: Wear gloves, a face mask, and protective goggles during application to prevent skin, eye, and respiratory irritation.

Applying Diatomaceous Earth Effectively

When using diatomaceous earth to combat bed bugs, ensuring effective application is key. Here are the steps to apply diatomaceous earth with precision:

  1. Identify Target Areas: Focus on places where bed bugs reside, such as in and around your mattresscarpetsbaseboardsfurniture, and any visible cracks or crevices.
  2. Apply Thinly: Distribute a fine layer of diatomaceous earth over these areas. A thick layer can be noticeable and avoidable by bed bugs.
    Location Application Technique
    Mattress Light dusting, especially seams and edges
    Carpets Sprinkle and brush lightly into the fibers
    Baseboards Direct line along the edge
    Furniture Dust into crevices and under cushions
    Cracks/Crevices Inject powder using a dispenser or puffer
  3. Minimize Disturbance: Once applied, try to disturb the treated areas as little as possible. Regular movements can displace the diatomaceous earth.
  4. Safety Precautions: Wear protective gloves and a mask, if possible, to prevent inhalation or irritation from the diatomaceous earth, which can be drying to the skin and harmful if inhaled in large quantities.

For optimal effectiveness, let the diatomaceous earth sit undisturbed for at least several days to a week.

Bed bugs must come into contact with the substance for it to work, and while some may die within hours, others may require longer to be affected.

How Long Does It Take For Diatomaceous Earth To Kill Bed Bugs?

How Long Does It Take For Diatomaceous Earth To Kill Bed Bugs?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring substance that is effective in killing bed bugs. The time frame for diatomaceous earth to eliminate these pests can vary.

Factors Influencing Effectiveness:

  • Concentration: The potency of DE used in the area.
  • Distribution: How well DE is spread over the infested area.
  • Environmental Conditions: Humidity and temperature may affect DE’s performance.

When you apply diatomaceous earth, it works by damaging the exoskeleton of bed bugs upon contact, leading to dehydration and death.

However, DE doesn’t kill bed bugs instantly. It can take several days to several weeks depending on the conditions and the thoroughness of the application.


  • Initial Contact: Bed bugs may die within 12 hours after direct contact with DE.
  • Complete Eradication: Some reports suggest that a period of 9 to 15 days is required for DE to kill off 100% of bed bugs, including the more resistant ones.

Stages Affected:

  • Adults and Nymphs: Most vulnerable to DE.
  • Eggs: DE is less effective; manual removal may be necessary for complete control.

For maximum effectiveness in bed bug control, it is recommended to use diatomaceous earth as part of a comprehensive strategy, combining it with other methods like manual cleaning and vacuuming.

Can Bed Bugs Survive Diatomaceous Earth?

When you apply diatomaceous earth (DE) to areas infested with bed bugs, it acts as a desiccant, targeting the exoskeleton of the bugs.

The abrasive nature of DE absorbs the oils and fats from the cuticle of the bed bug’s exoskeleton, leading to dehydration.

This process is not instantaneous; it requires the bed bugs to come into contact with the powder long enough for it to take effect.

Despite its effectiveness, some bed bugs may escape treatment and survive for several reasons:

  • Insufficient Coverage: If DE isn’t applied to all areas where bed bugs hide, some may avoid contact with the substance.
  • Inadequate Contact: Bed bugs must come in direct contact with diatomaceous earth for it to work. Simply scattering the powder may not ensure that all bed bugs pass through it.
  • Life Cycle: Bed bugs in the egg stage are not affected by DE. After hatching, if there is continued exposure to DE, the nymphs can be eliminated.

To maximize the efficacy of bed bug eradication with DE, consider the following tips:

  • Thoroughly dust areas where bed bugs are likely to crawl, such as mattress seams, box springs, and around bed frames.
  • Allow the powder to remain for several weeks, as DE continues to be effective as long as it’s dry and undisturbed.
  • Repeat the application process to catch any newly hatched bed bugs and those who might have avoided initial treatment.

Can I Sleep in My Bed with The Diatomaceous Earth?

Can I Sleep in My Bed with The Diatomaceous Earth?

When you treat your bed with diatomaceous earth (DE) to combat bedbugs, you might wonder if it’s safe to continue sleeping in the same bed.

Handling DE Safely

  • Always opt for food-grade diatomaceous earth for bedbug treatment.
  • While applying, wear a dust mask to prevent inhalation of the fine powder.

Post-Application Precautions

  • Allow the diatomaceous earth to settle before reusing the bed.
  • Minimize direct skin contact with the powder.

Bed Preparation Before Use

  • Ideally, DE should be lightly applied to the mattress.
  • After application, it’s best to cover the mattress with a fitted sheet or a mattress protector to decrease direct exposure.

Exposure Concerns

While DE is generally considered safe to be around, sleeping directly on a bed coated with diatomaceous earth isn’t advisable due to the risk of inhaling the dust. Prolonged inhalation of DE can cause irritation to your airways.

Precautions Description
Protective Barrier Use bed covers to minimize DE contact.
Room Ventilation Keep the room well-ventilated to reduce airborne dust.
DE Thickness A thin layer is sufficient and safer than a heavy application.
Regular Checks Monitor the DE coverage and add more as needed, following the same safety protocols each time.

How Quickly Can Using Diatomaceous Earth Get Rid Of Bed Bugs?

Diatomaceous earth is an effective way to get rid of bed bugs, but it is important to take the necessary safety precautions and apply it correctly.

With the proper preparation and application, diatomaceous earth can kill bed bugs within 12 hours of direct contact.

However, some may require several days to weeks for complete eradication. To ensure maximum effectiveness, combine diatomaceous earth with other methods such as manual cleaning or vacuuming.

Make sure you use food-grade DE and handle it cautiously, avoiding prolonged exposure or inhalation of large amounts of dry dust particles.