How Long Does Bed Bug Powder Last

How to Use Bed Bug Powders

Bed bug powders are among the most commonly used tools in bed bug treatments. Diatomaceous earth in particular is well-known for its natural composition and for being relatively safe to humans. However, there is a lot of misinformation online about how bed bug powders work, and how you should use them. In this brief overview, we’re going to set the record straight and offer some simple instruction on how to use bed bug powders in your home.

Diatomaceous earth is a fine white natural powder made from fossilized diatoms, a major group of algae that have existed for over 180 million years. Residual powders work by clinging to the bed bugs’ waxy exoskeleton, absorbing the nutrient-rich lipids on their shells and causing them to dehydrate. The beautiful thing about using diatomaceous earth is that it works indefinitely as long as it stays dry; if exposed to water, it loses the abrasive quality that makes it an effective bed bug killer.

How NOT to Use Bed Bug Powders

First off, let’s cover where you should and should not be applying the powder. A lot of tutorials and discussions online suggest that you should scatter diatomaceous earth all over your bedroom. Some people pack piles of powder around their bed legs, hoping to stop the bugs from reaching them in their bed. Don’t do this. You’re just making a mess that’s going to be an enormous pain to clean up later.

The idea to scatter powder all over the place comes from the false notion that diatomaceous earth will kill bed bugs really quickly, or wills top them from reaching you and feeding on you. Unfortunately, diatomaceous earth actually takes about a day or two to kill bed bugs once they come in contact with it. The powder is also shown to be less effective in open areas than it is when applied into tight cracks and crevices that bed bugs are slipping in and out of. With powder in those cracks, we ensure that more of the powder will get the chance to stick to the bed bugs’ waxy shells.

Instructions on how to apply a powder are always included on its label. A really important step before you use any type of insecticide, including powders, is to read over the product label and MSDS. These documents are included with any insecticide that’s registered with the EPA, and they outline some very important safety guidelines and instructions on using the powder. People talk about powders like diatomaceous earth as something that’s harmless to humans, but that simply isn’t true. There is still a risk of harmful skin and lung exposure if you don’t apply it properly, so do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to study the label before you use the powder.

Crack and Crevice Treatment

As discussed before, your powder application should be focused on cracks and crevices in the room that bed bugs are likely to be hiding in or traveling through. Places like baseboards, floorboards, and where the carpet meets the floors are great examples: they are easy hiding and transit spots for bed bugs, and powder is well suited there since it can settle deep down into those spaces in a way that sprays can’t.

Some powder products, like our 7-ounce bottle of JT Eaton diatomaceous earth powder, have an applicator built in. All you have to do is cut off the plastic cover from the tip of the applicator so that this little opening is exposed. Then just turn the bottle over, get the tip of that nozzle close to where you want to apply the powder, and give the bottle a very gentle squeeze. We don’t want to overdo this, as a lot of powder comes out with each puff. We can repeat this in short spaced out intervals so that we end up with a fairly even application.

While you could do your powder treatment with that built-in nozzle, our preferred method is with a professional powder applicator. This simple and affordable device gives us a couple of advantages over puffing powder straight out of the bottle: it has a long straw that allows us to get deep into cracks, crevices, and wall voids, and it emits smaller, more even amounts of powder with each puff. To use the applicator, we simply pop off the rubber cap on top, fill the bell about halfway with powder, and put the cap back on to seal the bell. Flip the applicator over so the bell is underneath the straw, take off the cover on the tip of the straw, and give the bell a gentle pump to start applying powder.

Wall Voids and Other Places

Once you’ve treated the cracks and crevices along the edges of your floors, you can move on to other key spots in the room. You can apply most bed bug powders along door frames, underneath appliances, under the edges of rugs, and the joints and interior areas of wooden furniture. Again, be sure to double-check the product label to see where you should be applying the product.

To better reach the insides of the walls, you can apply many powders behind the faceplates of electrical outlets and light switches. Simply unscrew the face plates and puff some powder into the wall through the openings between the exposed hardware. Be sure not to put any powder into the electrical outlet itself. This is a handy way to reach bed bugs that have managed to get into the wall to hide or to travel between rooms.

This overview covers the basics on how to use an insecticide powder in a bed bug treatment. Remember that this does not represent a complete treatment solution, as bed bug powders will not eliminate an infestation on their own. You need to treat the powder as part of a combined treatment process that involves a number of other tools. Also, keep in mind that this overview does not replace the need to study the product label and MSDS that comes with your powder.

How to Use Bed Bug Powders

Bed bug powders are among the most commonly used tools in bed bug treatments. Diatomaceous earth in particular is well-known for its natural composition and for being relatively safe to humans. However, there is a lot of misinformation online about how bed bug powders work, and how you should use them. In this brief overview, we’re going to set the record straight and offer some simple instruction on how to use bed bug powders in your home.

Diatomaceous earth is a fine white natural powder made from fossilized diatoms, a major group of algae that have existed for over 180 million years. Residual powders work by clinging to the bed bugs’ waxy exoskeleton, absorbing the nutrient-rich lipids on their shells and causing them to dehydrate. The beautiful thing about using diatomaceous earth is that it works indefinitely as long as it stays dry; if exposed to water, it loses the abrasive quality that makes it an effective bed bug killer.

How NOT to Use Bed Bug Powders

First off, let’s cover where you should and should not be applying the powder. A lot of tutorials and discussions online suggest that you should scatter diatomaceous earth all over your bedroom. Some people pack piles of powder around their bed legs, hoping to stop the bugs from reaching them in their bed. Don’t do this. You’re just making a mess that’s going to be an enormous pain to clean up later.

The idea to scatter powder all over the place comes from the false notion that diatomaceous earth will kill bed bugs really quickly, or wills top them from reaching you and feeding on you. Unfortunately, diatomaceous earth actually takes about a day or two to kill bed bugs once they come in contact with it. The powder is also shown to be less effective in open areas than it is when applied into tight cracks and crevices that bed bugs are slipping in and out of. With powder in those cracks, we ensure that more of the powder will get the chance to stick to the bed bugs’ waxy shells.

Instructions on how to apply a powder are always included on its label. A really important step before you use any type of insecticide, including powders, is to read over the product label and MSDS. These documents are included with any insecticide that’s registered with the EPA, and they outline some very important safety guidelines and instructions on using the powder. People talk about powders like diatomaceous earth as something that’s harmless to humans, but that simply isn’t true. There is still a risk of harmful skin and lung exposure if you don’t apply it properly, so do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to study the label before you use the powder.

Crack and Crevice Treatment

As discussed before, your powder application should be focused on cracks and crevices in the room that bed bugs are likely to be hiding in or traveling through. Places like baseboards, floorboards, and where the carpet meets the floors are great examples: they are easy hiding and transit spots for bed bugs, and powder is well suited there since it can settle deep down into those spaces in a way that sprays can’t.

Some powder products, like our 7-ounce bottle of JT Eaton diatomaceous earth powder, have an applicator built in. All you have to do is cut off the plastic cover from the tip of the applicator so that this little opening is exposed. Then just turn the bottle over, get the tip of that nozzle close to where you want to apply the powder, and give the bottle a very gentle squeeze. We don’t want to overdo this, as a lot of powder comes out with each puff. We can repeat this in short spaced out intervals so that we end up with a fairly even application.

While you could do your powder treatment with that built-in nozzle, our preferred method is with a professional powder applicator. This simple and affordable device gives us a couple of advantages over puffing powder straight out of the bottle: it has a long straw that allows us to get deep into cracks, crevices, and wall voids, and it emits smaller, more even amounts of powder with each puff. To use the applicator, we simply pop off the rubber cap on top, fill the bell about halfway with powder, and put the cap back on to seal the bell. Flip the applicator over so the bell is underneath the straw, take off the cover on the tip of the straw, and give the bell a gentle pump to start applying powder.

Wall Voids and Other Places

Once you’ve treated the cracks and crevices along the edges of your floors, you can move on to other key spots in the room. You can apply most bed bug powders along door frames, underneath appliances, under the edges of rugs, and the joints and interior areas of wooden furniture. Again, be sure to double-check the product label to see where you should be applying the product.

To better reach the insides of the walls, you can apply many powders behind the faceplates of electrical outlets and light switches. Simply unscrew the face plates and puff some powder into the wall through the openings between the exposed hardware. Be sure not to put any powder into the electrical outlet itself. This is a handy way to reach bed bugs that have managed to get into the wall to hide or to travel between rooms.

This overview covers the basics on how to use an insecticide powder in a bed bug treatment. Remember that this does not represent a complete treatment solution, as bed bug powders will not eliminate an infestation on their own. You need to treat the powder as part of a combined treatment process that involves a number of other tools. Also, keep in mind that this overview does not replace the need to study the product label and MSDS that comes with your powder.

Bed Bug Powders and Dusts Review

Dusts are one of the most effective means of getting rid of bed bugs. When can they be better and more effective than sprays? We’ll figure out down to the tiniest detail which products are to be used and how to do this properly and at the end of the article, you will find a comparative review of the five best bed bug dusts & powders.

Table of Contents:

How Does it Work: What Do the Scientists Say

Dusts are handy when it is pointless or dangerous to use liquid insecticides. Powdery products have a long-lasting action while liquids lose their properties after drying. Moreover, they are safer than many killer sprays.

As the University of Michigan experts explain,dusts are the best choice for treating crackswhere bed bugs like to hide, such as behind headboards, along the bed frame, and under the baseboards.

How to apply dusts

If dust is applied in these areas, the bed bugs will become coated in the dust and won’t be able to escape. Dusts can be puffed in behind electrical outlets and switch plates and used in the empty spaces behind walls to catch bed bugs travelling from one room to another.

They will do not only for local treatment of cracks and crevices. You can also treat large territories with dusts as it is very cost-effective. The only drawback is that everything will be covered in dust and you will have to deal with mess for a while waiting for the results. Sprays, on the other hand, are cleaner and user-friendlier.

How Diatomaceous Earth Kills Bugs

Diatomaceous earth is made of diatomaceous algae fossils shredded to a flour-like state. As the University of Florida scientists explain, an insects’ chitinous cover is coated with a thin and waxy protective layer. Once diatomaceous earth comes in contact with said insects, it absorbs wax and damages the chitinous cover with its sharp particles. This leads to dehydration of insects and consequent death.

Diatomaceous earth acts quickly enough killing only those individuals with which it has come in direct contact. However, this treatment is absolutely useless against any insect pests in a damp environment as moist diatomaceous earth completely loses its properties.

Is it safe for humans and pets?

Yes. The product is safe for humans and pets unless it get into their eyes, lungs and other mucous membranes.

NB: Use proper diatomaceous earth!Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center specialists warn:“Look for DE for insect control – it is not the same product as diatomaceous earth used in swimming pool filters, which is dangerous to breathe.”We’ll give an example of such proper diatomaceous earth below in our review of the 5 best powders and dusts.

What is the Difference between Silica Gel and Diatomaceous Earth?

Widely retailed silica gel is also considered effective by scientists. This crystal substance can be shredded, if needed. It hits the insect, removes the protective wax layer and dehydrates the chitinous exoskeleton while accumulating. In this way, the impact of diatomaceous earth and silica gel on parasites are nearly identical. Both substances target a variety of pests.

As the same specialists from Texas comments,both of these dusts are low risk to humans, and work by desiccating, or drying out, bed bugs which come in contact with it. Silica aerogel is, in some studies, superior for this purpose. It is sold under various trade names including Tri-Die™ and CimeXa™.

However, there is an important difference between the two.

  • Diatomaceous earth is an inert abrasive substance. 100% diatomaceous earth is more active than silica gel. Even if a treatment contains diatomaceous earth only, it will be sufficient for killing parasites.
  • Silica gel is an inert non-abrasive substance that comes in granules, meaning that unlike diatomaceous earth, it doesn’t damage the actual chitinous cover. It is often combined with other insecticides like pyrethrins and pyrethroids.

How to Use Bed Bug Powder: 5 Rules

Such products are usually applied under the skirting boards, down the cracks, behind the sockets and in other inaccessible places. Determine the scale of infestation and identify all the places where insects have been seen as well as their routes (for instance, through sockets and wall voids). Then begin the operation.

  1. Prepare the room for treatment: pack any food and children’s clothes, and don’t let kids and pets inside. Vacuum clean the floor, furniture and carpets.
  2. Squeeze your bottle containing the dust or a manual powder duster; apply a thin layer of dust down the cracks and holes. You can also use a broad brush or a tampon for this. When carrying out the treatment, make sure you wear gloves and a mask. If using a powder duster seems more convenient, fill it only for two thirds in order not to clog its spout.
  3. Treat the bottom of the carpet, behind the skirting boards, closet walls, doors, sockets, places behind paintings and any other spots where insects can hide. Treat the inside of the furniture by applying dust through holes, armrests and edges.We recommend that you leave the diatomaceous earth for as long as possible.A fortnight will be ideal. Move on to point 4 after that.
  4. Wash any open spaces after treatment with water and soap. Vacuum clean the exterior of the furniture, floors and carpets. Wash your hands and face with soap. If your vacuum cleaner is equipped with bags, get rid of the used ones.
  5. Don’t despair if the insects are still visible after this clean-up. Just repeat the treatment.

When Powders Are More Effective Than Sprays

Dusts are more effective thanks to their long-lasting effect, which is essential when eliminating multiplying insects. Several weeks will be required for getting rid of bed bugs, including the individuals that will hatch later. Liquid insecticides cease to work once they dry up.

As we have mentioned above, dusts are great for use in cracks and inaccessible spaces, especially on furniture that should not be drenched. You can also use them if the infestation covers a large territory. The only issue is that it will create a lot of mess as the dust will be everywhere.

Comparative Chart of Bed Bug Powder and Spray Effectiveness

TypeAdvantagesDisadvantagesBest Use
PowderQuick action
Long-lasting effect (for up to 6-8 months).
Cut-rate and cost-efficient
Penetrates deep into any cracks.
Loses its properties in moist environments (powder with deltamethrin does not)
Causes a mess as everything will be covered in dust.
Is convenient for treating both inaccessible places (behind the skirting boards, down the cracks) and large territories.
SprayIs suitable for both local treatment, large territories and vast spaces.
Has quick action.
Is a user-friendly method.
Dries and loses its killing properties quickly.Treat bed, furniture, luggage and large territories if required.

Find the best sprays in our review of 5 best bed bug killer sprays.

Top-3 Bed Bug Powders

Both pure dusts and dusts with added insecticides are sold. First, we will review three 100% organic products based on diatomaceous earth and silica gel. After that, we will take a separate look at two insecticides.

Diatomaceous Earthis sold in both large packs (Safer) and smaller bottles (Harris) with a convenient fine spout that allows spraying down the narrowest cracks. Which one is best for you? That will depend on the area of infestation. Go for a large pack if that area is large. Have the parasites just appeared? Then a small tube will do. Both products promise to kill larvae and adults within 48 hours.

Safer DE – For Large-Scale Infestations

A 4 lbSaferpack is a very popular and 100% natural product which you have often encountered in our reviews. It is used for getting rid of cockroaches, fleas, earwigs, silverfish, crickets, millipedes and centipedes. Its main advantage is that insects cannot develop a resistance to it since there are no chemicals to build immunity from. Read all customer reviews to learn more.

No convenient application devices are supplied, so you will have to make a separate investment for such a device. The good oldPest Pistol powder duster.

Harris DE – For Smaller-Scale Infestations

8 ounces ofHarris Diatomaceous Earth Powderis available in a bottle with a narrow spout for convenient use. It has enough positive feedback on and a rating of 4 stars out of 5, The manufacturer claims that it acts for a few weeks as long as it is dry.

Unlike diatomaceous earth,silica geldoes not damage the chitinous cover. Instead, it sticks to the insect and thus dehydrates and kills it.

CimeXa Organic Insecticide

This insecticide consists of 100% amorphous silica gel and is more expensive than previous products. Just like diatomaceous earth, it targets a variety of pests: bed bugs, fleas, ticks, lice, roaches, ants, firebrats, silverfish, spiders, mites and drywood termites. It can be used both dry and dissolved in water for spraying. It is not yet very popular, but 75% of reviews are accompanied by the highest mark.

Why are Deltamethrin or Pyrethrins Added To Silica Gel-Based Dusts?

Some dusts are mixed with insecticides for enforcing and accelerating their lethal action:

  • A dust combined with pyrethrins or pyrethroidshas a dual action: physical (dehydration) and impact on the nervous system (it paralyses the insect), as the University of Michigan specialists observe.
  • Deltamethrin (pyrethroid)allows a product to act even in an extremely damp environment as it is a waterproof active ingredient.

Precautions when using dusts containing insecticides

Unlike 100% natural diatomaceous earth and silica gel, such insecticides may be used only in non-food areas.

Delta Dust Multi Use Pest Control – Is Effective Even in Moist Environment

This dust supplied in a 1 lb tube has great reviews in comparison with similar products and a high rating of 4.4 stars out of 5. Its target pest list includes 30 various species including many household and garden pests. Its active ingredient is 0.05 deltamethrin which lets it act even in moist environments. A single pound will cover an area of 2 000 square feet. According to the manufacturer, the killing effect is retained for up to eight months.

Drione Pest Insecticide Dust – Dual Effect

Amorphous silica gel-based dust with pyrethrins by Drione has been awarded an user rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. It contains 1% pyrethrins and 40% silica gel. This combo-set includes a 1 lb tube with the actual substance and a duster. The product will deal not only with bed bugs, but also with ants, cockroaches and a dozen other pest insects. It promises that the long-lasting effect will last over 6 months.

Customers comment:“Bedbugs hate Drione! Hate, hate, hate. It works primarily by drying them out and it is a slow process. They will avoid it like it is painful for them to touch. I made a blockade in every bedroom doorway to prevent them from moving from 1 room to another.”The product can kill individual insects quickly enough, but removal of a full-scale invasion will take a couple of weeks. Read all the reviews to find more helpful tips about using Drione.

The manufacturer warns that Drione should not be used inside or around ventilation and heating. Don’t spray it inside an AC!

Drione (dust + powder duster):Check the current price

Best Bed Bug Powders and Dusts Comparative Chart

ProductActive IngredientActionEffectivenessPrice
Safer DE

DEDamages the chitinous cover and causes death by dehydration.Highly effective. Initial results will be visible within 48 hours if used properly in a dry place.(4 lb)

Harris Diatomaceous Earth Powder

DEDamages the chitinous cover and causes death by dehydration.(8 oz)

CimeXa

Silica gelCauses death by dehydration.Quick paralysing, slow killing.(4 oz)

Delta Dust

Silica gel + deltamethrinParalyses and causes death by dehydration.(1 lb)

Drione

Silica gel + pyrethrinsParalyses and causes death by dehydration.(dust + powder duster)

Which one from natural powders is stronger and more effective: DE or silica gel? And why?

While diatomaceous earth and other desiccants are recommended by the EPA as part of the integrated bed bug management and control, their effectiveness is still questionable when used alone. In the laboratory environment, diatomaceous earth has shown that it is, in fact, able to kill bed bugs when applied continuously in labeled amounts. However, some studies showed poor performance of DE when applied short-term or in smaller amounts.

The researchers from the University of Kentucky made a series of field trials to test the efficacy of diatomaceous earth which was used as a sole treatment. Unfortunately, the results were discouraging, showing that in some cases the bed bug population even increased. The scientists explained the DE poor performance by assuming that bed bugs’ ability to resist the desiccation was due to them being prone to retain moisture for a long time and replenishing their water reserves by consuming more blood.

These same researchers repeated the field tests by employing silica gel instead of DE, only this time, with amazing results: “abbreviated exposures (as brief as a few seconds) to barely visible deposits [of bed bugs] resulted in 100 percent mortality of adult bed bugs.”

So why the silica gel is more effective?

In fact, the researchers from the University of Kentucky, offer a very interesting explanation: the insecticides are often transported with the electronics to prevent moisture from accumulating around the packages during shipping. And since silica is comprised of tiny fluffy particles that come electrostatically charged, they stick to the insects’ shells much better and “absorb the cuticular waxes of insects onto the dust particles”, unlike DE, which acts as an abrasive.

And what’s wrong with DE?

The experiment which was conducted by the researchers from the University of Kentucky proved DE to be rather ineffective. Why? Because they decided to act as though the rooms were treated by regular consumers, do-it-yourselfers. The researchers purchased cosmetic and paint brushes from retail stores and applied a thin layer of DE across the furniture, or whenever they saw insects’ activity. Just as a regular consumer would have done.

This method, however, didn’t bring any positive results and was ruled out as completely ineffective. The reason behind this is that when applying DE, you’ll need to apply a relatively thick layer of powder to be effective. This brings us to a major disadvantage of DE since no one would be happy to see their room fully smeared and covered with insecticide powder. Also, in case you’re living in a humid climate, DE would be just as ineffective.Thus, silica beats DE in this battle.

As for the effectiveness of bed bug powders in comparison with other methods (sprays, traps, vacuuming, heating): None of them should be used alone because only a combination of methods will result in a successful treatment.

How long should the treatment with bed bug powders last?

According to the researchers from the University of Kentucky, a single treatment with silica is enough to target the major population of bed bugs, however, a second and third thorough application would guarantee the efficacy of decreasing the population by 90%.

How long does bed bug powder take to kill?

DE is claimed to kill the bugs within 48 hours, but as the recent research has shown, it might not work at all if you apply it in a very thin layer. Silica will kill the bug within seconds if applied right on a bug and will stay potent for at least 12 weeks after application (continuing to kill the remaining population).

Does a bed bug powder kill bed bugs’ eggs?

Nope, you will have to use other methods to target eggs specifically or apply the powder after an initial treatment to target hatched up eggs.

Usage tips

Do not apply the powder all over your bedroom, you’ll just create a mess that will be hard to clean up

Apply the powder to crevices, cracks, along the seams of the mattress, baseboard, floor and headboards, along the walls, so there’s more chance the power will stick to the bug’s shell

Research has shown that silica gel is more effective when applied as a dust than an aqueous suspension

Apply the dust with a brush where puffing doesn’t seem like a viable option (seams, crevices, folds)

Use other methods (like sprays) and monitor the bed bug population using the bed bug traps (or monitors)

Bed bug powder for mattress

In case you’re looking for a specific recommendation that would surely kill all the bugs traveling around your mattress, then go for CimeXa (silica gel), it’s so potent, you’d be surprised.

Bed bug powder for carpet

Delta Dust from Bayer (silica gel + deltamethrin) should be applied with a cosmetic brush or a hand duster (any other suitable appliance, really) under and along the edges of the carpet. Apply it lightly and uniformly.

Bed bug powder safe for babies

None of the stuff is really safe for babies. However, most powders are claimed to be non-toxic and safe around pets and children, provided that none of your household members swallow or consume the powder by any other means, like licking. If you’re really that much concerned about the safety, then use Harris Bed Bug Powder with diatomaceous earth, which is considered as a somewhat natural alternative to other chemically-ridden pesticides. However, don’t get your hopes too high, since DE might not deliver as well as you might expect.

Precautions

According to the CDC, “factors that most frequently contributed to insecticide-related illness were excessive insecticide application (18%), failure to wash or change pesticide-treated bedding (16%), and inadequate notification of pesticide application (11%).”

That being said, it’s very important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and never overapply the powders.

Also, according to the EPA pool or food-grade diatomaceous earth can be harmful when you breathe it in. The pesticide version reduces the hazard by using a different size of diatoms.

Now, you’ll say, wait a minute, you’ve just recommended it for use around babies. And you’re right. We, in fact, did. But we talked about the DE that’s approved by the EPA. Harris items are all approved, so you don’t have to worry about that. This precaution concerns people who seldom purchase items from street vendors, garage sales, etc, because it’s important to find out if the product you’re about to use has been tested for safety and, of course, effectiveness.

Inhaling too much bed bug powder can result in nausea, diarrhea, headaches, dizziness, vomiting. In case that happens, please, call 911 immediately.

What is the most effective bed bug powder?

Anything that contains silica and which should not be diluted with water will be super potent at killing bed bugs. Our best bet is Delta Dust (Silica gel + deltamethrin).

Bed Bug Powders FAQ

Can you use flea powder to kill bed bugs?

Yes, you can, because such powder usually contains diatomaceous earth or silica gel. Both are effective against fleas and bed bugs.

Does baby powder kill bed bugs?

There is much irrelevant information about baby powder or talc on the Internet. Talc is said to repel bedbugs. Some conclude that baby powder can kill them just like silica gel. The scientists do not confirm this idea, but they note that baby powder can also be used against bed bugs as a supplementary treatment.

As Michael Merchant from Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service clarifies, some devices, like the Climbup Interceptor, require redusting with a very small amount of talcum powder to make them slippery again and reduce the bed bug’s chance of escape. Note that talc is not toxic to bed bugs, but simply makes it harder for them to climb out of the cup. The talc should be barely visible, and more is definitely not better.

Can you get rid of bed bugs by using powders only?

No, getting rid of parasites requires a complex approach, meaning that a mattress cover should be used and washing clothes and cleaning of all the infected areas is required along with powder treatment. Your bed and mattress are the breeding ground for the bed bugs. Begin treatment with these places. We have systematized all the important tips in a single article. Read our guide about how to get rid of bed bugs.

How to Make Bed Bug Powder for $30 and Where to Spray

What’s in the Powder?

Bed bug duster for Diatomaceous Earth

Bed bug powder is simply food grade Diatomaceous Earth and is ground fossilized algae-like plants called diatoms which is non-toxic. When placed into a duster such as a plastic ketchup container and gently blown into suspected areas, it effectively kills bed bugs (and works on fleas & ants as well).

There are two types of diatomaceous earth (DE), one is food grade (the good stuff) and pool grade which is dangerous to breathe. This is the same stuff farmers use to keep insects out of their grain. There are even claims that you can breath in as much food grade DE as you like and not risk lung damage, but I would NOT chance it. The absorbent quality may also cause significant drying of your hands, so play it safe, wear a face mask and gloves when spraying.

DE is also referred to as bed bug dust, mother earth, or fossil shell flour, it’s the food grade DE that they are talking about.

How Does It Work?

Mother Nature’s natural bed bug killer is a white power containing microscopic razor sharp edges that damage the bug’s protective covering, it then absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of a bug’s exoskeleton causing dehydration.

By using a duster to force the power into nesting areas, the bugs come in contact with the powder and are as good as dead!

So does it really work? Yes, without question, but you have to do multiple applications spread out over many weeks!

Not sure where to spray? No worries, we show you exactly where to find them 🙂

How Much Does it Cost?

Ah, the big question! Can you believe it only runs about $12 for a 2-pound bag and you can buy it from almost any local feed and supply store? This is why pest control companies would rather you not know about it 🙂

Some exterminators and online stores sell repackaged versions of this, jack the price way up, and claim their product is better than what you can buy yourself. Read the label to learn the truth 🙂

If you don’t want to run around buying the powder and duster, then consider this 2 pound bag and duster from Amazon.

How Long Before They Die?

Changlu Wang, Timothy Gibb, and Gary W. Bennett from Purdue University did an excellent study on the cost and effectiveness of using Diatomaceous earth on infested apartments containing thousands of bed bugs. Also tested was chlorfenapyr spray but it was not as good as the powder.

Bed bug powder in climb up protector trap

They treated by using a mattress encasement (including the box spring) and with steam. They also made sure to put the legs of chairs, sofas, nightstands, and anything else into bed bug interceptor traps like that shown in the image above.

If you don’t want to make your own, you can buy a 4 pack of climb up protectors from Amazon.

It took ten weeks, and they re-steamed and reapplied the powder when necessary; because death is not immediate, the females may be able to deposit eggs which will hatch and become active. It is these hatchlings (instars) that you need to stay on top of.

The study found that bug interceptors trapped an average of 219 bed bugs per apartment and were a valuable part of the treatment program.

In the study, 16 equally infested units were selected and half the units were 100% bug free while the remaining units were 98% free; another application would likely have taken care of the rest but the study was limited to 10 weeks, so we won’t know for sure. Total extermination costs averaged $470, but this amount can be greatly reduced using generic products, such as:

  • Using dust mite mattress encasement rather than one made for bed bugs (they are the same but you pay more for one)
  • Using food grade DE found at feed and supply stores rather than something with a catchy “green” label
  • Making your own bed bug climb up protectors / interceptors rather than buying pre-made traps
  • Buying a generic steamer (or renting) besides one made for infestations (just make sure the heat & attachments are the same)

We have plenty of success stories using these methods, just remember that these pests are not going to die overnight; it can take a few months to treat a large infestation properly, but don’t give up, you will succeed!

Visitors have successfully eliminated bed bugs using this same method, and the truth is, you’ll have to do most of the prep work if you were to hire a professional exterminator.

How to Apply Bed Bug Powder

You are going to make two solutions, and alcohol spray to kill them on contact, and one combining just the water and powder, and one duster of just powder. The water and powder are for those that cannot tolerate breathing in straight dust; this spray will not be effective when wet but once the water evaporates, it leaves only the dust and will become an effective insecticide.

Dry or wet, play it safe and always wear a mask when spraying.

1. Make the Power and Spray

You’ll need two sprays, a duster, and vacuum:

  • A mixture of %40 alcohol (ethyl alcohol works), %40 water and %20 dish soap [this spray kills them on contact]
  • A mixture of 2 heaping tablespoons of diatomaceous earth to 32oz water [this spray works only after water evaporates]
  • A duster filled with diatomaceous earth [the powder]
  • A powerful vacuum with attachments you’ll use for sucking loose bugs out of their hiding places.

This do it yourself bed bug spray is non toxic

Bed bugs love to hide and do a great job at it! Victims have gone months without signs only to discover months later that an infestation was right next to them – Know where to look.

What is nice about this type of pest control is that should the bugs retreat to another areas, like the apartment next door, the bugs will eventually die from dehydration after having come in contact with the dust – it only requires a little to kill the bug.

If you would like to buy a spray rather than make your own, check out this odorless non-staining bed bug spray from Amazon.

Make sure you have cleaned everything, see this list of treatment preparation tasks before we start applying the bed bug dust – but BE CAREFUL to not get the electrical outlets wet or use conductive attachments!

2. Spray the Powder

It’s time to have fun! Spray the mixture on any bed bugs you see which should kill them on contact. Use a flashlight and look for signs of bugs, such as eggs, stains (looks like someone dotted the area with a black marker). If you find eggs (they look like tiny rice, use a fine tooth comb or masking tape to collect them. Make sure to place any eggs in a zip-lock bag with a little dust and immediately place them in your outside trash container. Vacuum up the fallout.

You’ll want to spray the bed bug powder into all the cracks and crevices you vacuumed – a light dusting will do fine.

Now use your duster (filled with food grade diatomaceous earth) and dust into the bottom of the mattress box spring – you can choose to make a small hole in the fabric or simply dust through the fabric to prevent damage. I prefer making a small incision and getting it into the box spring rather than having a film of white powder on the outside. MAKE SURE you are wearing a dust mask and gloves!

The most important part of this whole process is repetition – do it all again a few weeks later to make sure the powder stays effective.

Testimonial to the Power of Diatomaceous Earth

A great testimonial to the power of Diatomaceous Earth by T.M

First off I want to say my review is 100% true 100% legit. Hate trying to read articles on the net about something that go out its way to falsify information.

Got bed bugs cause I was staying in a lot of different hotels because of my job. At first my wife kept complaining about bites but I was never getting bitten so I thought maybe it was something else. Well after about a year of infestation I finally started getting bit. Checked bed for sign of bed bugs and to my surprise, I couldn’t find anything. Finally one day i spotted an adult bug running across the bed and that was the last straw!

After a lot of researching it finally came down to the Diatomaceous Earth (DE) solution. I don’t have children or pets and just don’t like chemicals around myself period if not necessary. The infestation we had could be considered moderate. Like some of the other reviews say, it is a slow killer. So if you looking for an instant solution then use another method.

Blow bed bug powder into electrical outlets

Fortunately for us the bugs were in our bedroom only. So I first stripped down bed washed all sheets, blankets, etc in hot water and dried on hot like recommended. Since we weren’t gone to be in the room I basically layered everything with diatomaceous earth; in-between box springs, under my mattress, entire carpet area of the room including under the bed, my bed railing, headboard front and back, dressers front and back, *some in the wall outlets*, my entire room was covered in a layer of bed bug powder. I slept in our living room for a month but hey, had bugs for over a year so a month of not sleeping in my bed was worth it!

After two weeks from the initial treatment, I vacuumed up everything except for under the bed area. Got a hot wet soapy towel and wiped down all the furniture to clean up the DE and vacuumed the TOP of my mattress. I left the DE on the backside of my headboard on the bottom of my mattress in between my box-springs, the carpet under the bed, and of course inside the box springs. Then I put a red sheet on my bed for the next two weeks. I would come check it and find what looks like small white cotton pieces which are actually the baby bed bugs just curled up and dead. So finally removed that sheet rewashed and am now sleeping in my bed bug free room!

For those who completely remove the DE from infested areas, the eggs that are there hatch over time and you may end up re-infested, that’s why I didn’t remove it all. So the babies that hatched got exposed and died off as well. I will keeping the layers that are left there and will reapply more in a few months just as a preventive measure. There is no reason for me to go in those places so DE can stay there.

If you use the DE please PLEASE wear a dust mask. I’m a hard-head and don’t listen and applied without one. Well the powder floats in the air very lightly and before I knew it, my nose hairs were covered in it! For next two days my lungs were hurting.I got a 4lb bag of DE at Lowes for less than $10. Like I said it’s not an instant solution but it is a great solution. 1 month total to get rid of a medium bed bug infestation – well worth the time!

Diatomaceous Earth: Natural Bed Bug Control

Bed bugs live in warm locations and often make their homes in bedding, clothes, carpets, and furniture. You, their constant supply of food, are why bed bugs enjoy these locations. To check for them, look over mattress and furniture seams and the surrounding areas for black fecal matter and blood smears.

Treat Bed Bugs With A Natural Pesticide

Diatomaceous earth is an effective bed bug powder. It’s also cheap and free of harmful chemicals. It’s easy to apply around your home and safe to apply near food, pets, and children.

Diatomaceous earth (DE) kills bed bugs by absorbing the oily, protective layer that covers their exoskeletons. Without this protective coating, bed bugs will dehydrate and die within a few hours.

How Do I Treat for Bed Bugs?

Effective natural bed bug treatment comes down to six simple steps:

  1. Steam Clean Your Home
  2. Wash All Fabrics
  3. Vacuum Your Home
  4. Apply Diatomaceous Earth
  5. Clean Up
  6. Repeat as needed

Shop Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth

Before beginning, bug proof your home by sealing up any places bed bugs could enter, such as cracks or crevices.The chances of re-infestation are much lower if you do this first.

Step 1: Steam Clean Your Home

Bed bugs cannot survive in temperatures above 130 degrees fahrenheit for more than a few hours. Steam clean your linens and furniture thoroughly with a steam cleaner to increase the temperature.

Step 2: Wash All Fabrics

Put all fabrics through the wash on very high or very cold temperatures. Dry on a high heat and store all washed fabrics in sealed plastic bags or containers.

Step 3: Vacuum Your Entire Home

Vacuum your carpets thoroughly. If possible, also use a carpet cleaner to remove any bed bugs from the carpeting.

Dismantle furniture as much as possible and vacuum every surface, paying particular attention to your furniture’s seams and frames. Get tight spots with your vacuum’s hose attachment. After vacuuming, you may reassemble your furniture. Consider using a total encasement mattress cover on your bed.

Step 4: Apply Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth works as both a tool for prevention and treatment. Apply DE by following these steps:

  1. Find areas around your home where you suspect bed bugs may be hiding or may return to.
  2. Use an applicator to apply diatomaceous earth along moulding, in drawers, in any cracks or crevices, behind appliances, along windowsills and door jams.
  3. Remove all electrical faceplates and use an applicator to puff DE behind electrical switches and outlets.
  4. Cover furniture and mattresses with a thin layer of DE and work it into the furniture, mattresses, and carpeting with your hands.

Step 5: Clean Up

We recommend leaving the diatomaceous earth applied as long as possible. Although it’s far from a fashion statement, keeping a constant barrier down against bed bugs will help ensure your victory. Even though DE can kill a bed bug in a few hours, it might take a long time for all the bed bugs to be exposed, and DE only affects adult bed bugs, so you have to leave it applied long enough for the bed bug eggs to hatch.

After a couple weeks, you can wipe it all off and vacuum it up. A word of warning here: diatomaceous earth is very hard on traditional filtered vacuums. Unless you’re only cleaning a small section, we recommend using a shop vac to avoid burning out your vacuum’s motor. For more information on cleaning up diatomaceous earth after you’ve applied it, check out our DE clean-up article here.

Step 6: Repeat as Needed

If the bed bugs persist, don’t lose hope. Repeat the steam cleaning, vacuuming, washing, and applying diatomaceous earth until the problem subsides.

Follow these steps in every part of your home. Repeating these steps is necessary to break the cycle of infestation. If you continue to use diatomaceous earth in your home, it will help prevent future infestations.

How long does bed bug powder last

How Long Does Diatomaceous Earth Take to Kill Insects?

The amount of time that it takes diatomaceous earth to kill insects varies greatly depending on factors such as particle size, temperature, relative humidity, the type of insect as well as the extent of the infestation.

Diatomaceous earth may need to be left down anywhere from 1 day to a week or more in order to be effective against an infestation.

Although each situation will be different, in many cases results have been seen with…

Bedbugs within 24 hours of properly applying the diatomaceous earth, with more substantial results after 5 days (120 hours).

Beetles such as Merchant grain beetles and Darkling beetles within 7-21 days. Note: for darkling beetles it is best to apply DE soon after manure removal in poultry facilities when mobility among the beetles is highest. This will ensure that the beetles come in contact with the diatomaceous earth.

Silverfish within 7-14 days. Note: the removal of clutter prior to treatment is recommended in order to improve effectiveness.

Black ants within 24 hours

Red ants within 16 hours

Be sure to monitor the infestation. Once you have reached the desired result, simply vacuum up the used food grade diatomaceous earth.

Note: it is important that you re-apply the DE if any area that you have applied it becomes wet as the product will wash away very easily.

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