How Long Does It Take Bed Bug Powder To Work

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.

J.T. Eaton Kills Bedbugs and Crawling Insects Powder (Diatomaceous Earth – residual powder)

Bed Bug Supply Review – see what our experts have to say about this product

JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs Powder is one of our best selling powders and offers great value, quality and is one of the longest killing bed bug products on the market.

We suggest using our Professional Bed Bug Applicator to apply JT Eaton Bed Bug Powder, which helps to apply the powder with better control and into hard to reach areas. JT Eaton Powder should be applied after the room is steamed and J.T. Eaton Bed Bug Killer (pyrethrin killer), Bedlam Plus and JT Eaton’s Bed Bug Killer II (deltamethrin) have been applied and are fully dry. Powder is designed to go into places where the sprays cannot including inside electrical outlets and deep cracks in wall voids, behind picture frames, below the edges of carpeting and rugs, etc.

What we really like about the JT Eaton powder is as long as it’s left undisturbed, it will continue to kill indefinitely and only needs to be applied just once during a ed bug treatment. Please see the picture below illustrating where to use each of the J.T Eaton bed bug products. Before applying any of the JT. Eaton bed bug products, we recommend using our Professional Bed Bug Steamer on the edges of the room and inside cracks and crevices (allow to dry for one hour or until fully dry).

J.T Eaton Bed Bug Powder works by treating every deep hiding place bed bugs may attempt to seek refuge in (resulting in no place to hide without being killed). When a bed bug crawls into a treated crack or crevice they are instantly coated in powder, which adheres to their out membrane cutting them up and eventually leading to the bed bugs death due to dehydrations and asphyxiation. Bed bugs are made up of 65% water so it doesn’t take a lot of powder to dehydrate and kill them. Bed bug powder can be abrasive to the skin and like any dust should applied carefully to reduce the amount stirred up in the air (a dust mask and eye protection are recommended for application). We offer a Professional Applicator, which offers better control when applying the powder and allows the user to gain access to hard to reach areas.

Apply the bed bug powder directly into the cracks of baseboards, into crevices and inside walls by removing the electrical plates (do not powder into the electrical outlet). Apply powder only into cracks and crevices (places where bed bug hide) and not all over the place in large powder mounds. If applied properly, you shouldn’t be able to visibly see the powder. Always follow the product’s label for proper usage and precautions. Unless the powder is disturbed, wet or vacuumed up with a HEPA equipped vacuum, an additional application is not needed. Again, powder should also be applied after the room is steamed and the first application of JT Eaton Kills Bed Bugs Red Bottle Contact Killer and either our Phantom Aerosol, Bedlam Bed Bug Spray or JT Eaton Bed Bug Killer II (blue bottle) is applied. Bed bug powder should be kept dry and away from moisture to be effective.Always read and follow the instructions on the product’s label to ensure proper and safe usage.

Product Information

Diatomaceous Earth is made up of ground fossilized material, which acts like tiny razor blades that cut open the outer layer of the bed bug causing them to dehydrate and asphyxiate.

The powder can applied inside indoor cracks, around electrical outlets, inside walls, between carpet and the wall and around electronics. Unlike other diatomaceous earth powders, JT Eaton is labeled for use against bed bugs ensuring effectiveness.

Founded in 1932 by Jasper T. Eaton, the company started as a mail order house for pest control products for professional use.

Stanley Z. Baker purchased the company in 1949. Never satisfied, Stanley developed new and innovative products for professional pest control operators.

In 1962 Stanley invented the paraffin bait block which is the industry standard today.

Again in 1979 Stanley developed the first glue board as we know them today. Before that, some professionals used the radiators of their cars to melt industrial glue and spread the glue across wood planks or tar paper.

Getting Rid of Bed Bugs with Baking Soda

W ho wants to deal with insects in their home? You’ll find a variety of them such as ants, roaches, millipedes, and scorpions, to name a few. A bug that is especially horrible and annoying is the notorious bed bug. These creatures live in your home and can sense body heat coming from humans and animals, as well as the carbon dioxide you exhale. They’ll find you, almost always when you’re sound asleep, then bite you and feast on your blood, leaving behind irritating bumps everywhere. The good news is that it’s not impossible to get rid of them. There are several different methods to get rid of bed bugs, one of which uses a natural product, baking soda.

Table of Contents

A Natural Method

Baking soda is a salt compound known as Sodium Bicarbonate. Its formula is NHCO3, and, true to its name, is composed of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. You’ll find it in nature in places like mineral springs. Looking like a fine powder, on the microscopic level baking soda is actually tiny crystals, individually sharp but together in a grouping they feel soft and powdery.

Uses for baking soda are many. People use it for cleaning their house, baking, odor control, and even medicinal purposes like healing acne. Who’d have ever thought it could be used for pest control as well?

Why use baking soda?

Baking soda is one of the most benign compounds you’ll find. Not only is it safe for human consumption, it won’t harm your skin when it comes in contact with it. When dealing with a bed bug invasion, many products use chemical pesticides that are toxic to humans and pets and can even burn your skin or eyes. Baking soda is a good alternative, since it’s basically harmless.

There are other powders out there that can also get rid of your bug problem. One looks very similar, although it’s made of a different substance. Click here to learn more about Diatomaceous Earth for bed bugs.

How it works

With pest control, baking soda works in more than one way:

  • Digestion: When baking soda warms up, the chemical bonds begin to break down and the composition will change, releasing carbon dioxide gas. If an insect ingests the baking soda, this gas will release into their digestive tract and eventually burst the lining, killing them.
  • Exoskeleton:Crystals in baking soda can sometimes be sharp enough on the microscopic level to cut the underbelly of bed bugs. When this happens, the amount of damage they accumulate can cause eventual death.
  • Dehydration: Baking soda is a salt and can absorb things such as odors and moisture. When an insect comes in contact with it, it sucks water out of them, dehydrating the bug to the point of death. And it doesn’t even need to ingest the powder for this to happen, as simple contact with it can do the job.

Liquid ammonia is used to clean with, among other things, including pest control. If you’re wondering, “Does ammonia kill bed bugs?”, you can go here to find out.

Does Baking Soda Kill Bed Bugs?

Chemicals aren’t the only things that can kill insects. Even though baking soda isn’t a chemical, it can kill bed bugs. Organic, all-natural products are out there that will have a powerful effect on them, just like a store-bought insecticide. Essential oils and DE are two of those products, along with baking soda.

If used correctly, baking soda can kill bed bugs, although it won’t be instantly. And despite the fact that you’ll have to diligently stay on top of the application, the plus side is that there won’t be any kind of dangerous chemicals sitting around your home

Top 3 Ways to Use

So how can you use soda properly to kill your bed bugs?

There’s more than one way:

    Paste:Mix soda and water together in a bowl until a paste forms, about the consistency of honey. Use a brush and paint the paste wherever bed bugs might hide, such as mattresses, box springs, couches, arm chairs, bean bags, etc. Don’t forget to get inside crevices and cracks. If there’s holes anywhere in a piece of furniture’s frame, apply the paste around the hole and when the bed bugs come out to find you, they’ll have to walk right through it. Every few days, vacuum up the dried paste and start again until your infestation is gone.

Sprinkle:Sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda around all furniture and inside cracks and small spaces. Even the carpet can be treated – spread a layer of the powder all over it. Vacuum up and repeat every three days. Remember that a vacuum is an important part of getting rid of bed bugs, as it removes them from your home instantly. By using it daily, you’ll get bugs that come out of hiding, putting a major dent into your problem.

Borax, derived from boric acid, is a popular product you can find in most stores. People use it for things like cleaning and even making slime. For more information on boric acid for bed bugs, click here.

If you’re ever unfortunate enough to find out your bed is being invaded by insects, go try and natural product. It’s cheap, it’s harmless to you and your pets, and it works to kill insects. Thanks to this versatile sodium compound, you’ll be able to sleep with peace of mind, hopefully never to wake up to nasty bites again.

You can find further details of Bed Bugs Control here.

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!

How Diatomaceous Earth Kills Bed Bugs

Melody enjoys sharing her personal experiences with others. This is an unendorsed product review by a customer.

Diatomaceous earth does kill bed bugs and roaches, but it takes patience. Food-grade bug-killing powder is a mineral that rubs away bugs’ defense systems and outer shells, leading to dehydration and death.

I have seen people do their own experiments, leaving bed bugs in a dish with DE and waiting to see if they die. When they are still alive after 24 hours, or a day or two, people assume it doesn’t work.

But those experiments are not paying attention to how diatomaceous earth works. Using DE alone may not be enough, but it can be a useful part of the whole.

My DE Experiment

My investigation started with three dozen bed bugs obtained from volunteers’ homes. Each one was kept in a special enclosure; if even a single one got out, it could have been a disaster!

Some were trapped in pill bottles, such as in the picture above, and others in an ant colony, which did not work as well as it does on ants! Inside of the enclosure was a thick layer of diatomaceous earth (pool-grade in some, food-grade in others).

DE Takes a While to Work

They were placed in each enclosure for observation. After checking them twice a day for a couple of days, I observed something odd: The bed bugs did not die right away, or even a few days later. It took 7–14 days to kill them.

I can see why people think it does not work. It is hard to be patient, but when it comes to killing bed bugs, it is worth it the extra time.

The conclusion of my experiment is that diatomaceous earth works great, but with large, embedded infestations it should be one part of a bigger plan.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?

Diatomaceous earth is made from a material called silica. It is made up of small particles that seem smooth to us, but to a bedbug, they are razor sharp.

As they walk across the DE, it cuts their abdomens. This causes them to become dehydrated and eventually die. It is very slow-acting. Some may feel this sounds cruel, but it is not half as cruel as what bedbugs do to people.

Diatomaceous Earth Longevity, No Expiration

With umpteen types of bed-bug power on the market, it can be difficult to know what to buy. Different brands formulas incorporate chemicals and other ingredients into their products. The truth is that the kind of dust that kills bed bugs is food grade diatomaceous earth, and most brands use this as their active ingredient. The problem is that you end up getting less and spending more.

DE stays active indefinitely unless it becomes contaminated. Diatomaceous earth is a mineral, thus it does not have an expiration date. Over time the fine sedimentary dust may lose its effectiveness if it absorbs too much moisture and contaminants.

There is no reason to waste money on small containers of power that need to be replaced often. That is why I am only willing to review and recommend specific brands of DE. If you have already bought yours, you can still use the information here to understand how to use it.

My preferred brand of DE is Perma-Guard Pure Diatomaceous Earth Fossil Shell Flour. For under $60, you get a 50-pound bag of the powder 1-liter liter shaker. Why spend more on other products when you really don’t need the powdered down version when you can get straight DE.

This one bag may be the only one you need to buy. It should last through the end of infestation. Some people claim it works in a matter of days. I did not have that experience but did see bug death within a week. This continued for a long time until all of the bugs were dead.

This brand isn’t just a bed bug powder. It has many other household uses. It doesn’t just work on these blood suckers; it works on fleas, ants, roaches, spiders and more. Many people use this product for farm-animal and pet-flea dust.

Diatomaceous Earth, Bedbugs, and Human Safety

How safe is DE in the fight against bedbugs? To answer this question, four families with bedbugs volunteered to try both food-grade and pool grade DE.

Each family was given one or the other type of DE for the experiment. Before the family members began the experiment, they were briefed on safety issues. For the most part, food-grade diatomaceous earth is safe to use around pets and children. However, this does not mean it is 100% safe.

Pool-grade DE is not safe to use in bed bug removal. It triggered one person’s asthma in our experiment. As mentioned above, DE is made from silica. It may seem harmless to the touch but it is not harmless to the mucosal lining of our respiratory tracts. When an asthmatic inhales DE, it can damage their nose, sinus, throat, bronchi, and bronchioles.

Through my experiment with each family, I breathed in both food-grade and pool grade DE. Even I felt the irritation of this type of DE. On the other hand, no one became ill after using food-grade DE.

Warning: Asthma, COPD, and Other Lung Ailments

DE is useful as a part of a total bedbug elimination plan, but there are some people who should never use it: Asthmatics, people with COPD, and those with other lung ailments should not be exposed to DE.

The irritation caused by DE can be very dangerous with people who suffer from lung conditions and severe sinuses. If you want to use it, talk to your doctor about the risks.

Mine was not a scientific study, and would have never met standards of one. Readers can draw their own conclusions.

DE Bedbug Experiment Results

The effectiveness of diatomaceous earth depends on the severity of the infestation. In most cases, it will need to be used in tandem with spraying, sealing, and covering mattresses along with steaming and regular cleanings.

I suggest steaming the mattress before using the dust. Do not soak the mattress, but if it does seem damp, let it dry before applying DE. After you have steamed, place the mattress in a cover. Then use a duster to coat the inside of the mattress cover. As you can see in the picture above, we placed DE inside the mattress cover. Then the bugs are trapped and the DE cannot become airborne. The mattress cover should be checked daily for tears, which can be fixed with duct tape.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

I have foam robber mattresses; do bed bugs hide in or around those?

Bed bugs are attracted to the CO2 we breathe out. For us its a byproduct of cell respiration, but for bed bugs its a guide to where we are. Their nests are often built in proximity to the head of our beds. Regardless of what material our mattress is made of, they are likely to hide close to their prey.

In regards to bed bugs, the difference between the two is the lack of seams on foam mattresses. If the foam mattress has large pores, bed bugs can hide inside of them. If there are missing chunks or damage, again its a hiding spot.

If your foam mattress is well made with small pores and no damage, then it should be easy to wipe away any bed bugs or nests. However, this might make it more likely that the infestation in the bed frame itself will be larger.

Does diatomaceous earth kill fleas and ticks?

Yes, diatomaceous earth kills both fleas and ticks. In fact, many gardeners and homeowners use it on their lawns and around their gardens to kill a variety of pests. This fine powder works to kill fleas and ticks the same way it works to kill bed bugs. The tiny dust will cause abrasions that cause the flea or tick to develop tiny cuts. This will lead to dehydration, which will kill them.

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Comments

Peggy Dyer

I have been reading all the comments and I know this is the worst thing I ever had. I have to take my Zolpidem to get any sleep. When I first realize I had a Flea and Bed bug infestation. I call the exterminator he came out, so I thought well that is good. A week later I am still fighting them, called him back, he sprayed again, he said sometimes we have to spray the second time, I waited 2 weeks and still had all kind of bugs, bugs with wings, bugs that looked like a small worm and little reddish brown bugs, I had never seen anything like this in my life. Well it is almost Christmas and I still have bugs. I have tried so many sprays, foggers, powders. And home remedies. I am praying that Jesus will make these critters leave. I can’t take much more

Barb

How much D.E. did you inhale? And you said you inhaled both and did not suffer? Are you still okay today?

Melody Collins

9 months ago from United States

Ogb, you can find it at most hardware stores, and even some supercenters carry it now. You can also order it online from Amazon or other vendors.

[email protected]

Where do buy that diatomaceous at?

CortnieAB

Will Diatomaceous earth with red lake and calcium work for bed bugs? I bought this at tractor supply. I have 5 dogs in home. I have been fighting this battle for over a year. Just bought the DE with red lake calcium it’s got a little better just wondering if it’s going to work? It’s a brown powder. Please let me know your input please.

Mom A

Thank you so much for your insight!

A few years after using the product I and some kids have developed breathing an dlung problems as well as bleeding noses in some cases, I couldn’t sleep in the rooms that still contained this dust in heaters and hidden spots, and I cleaned it out of the beds numerous times but it continues to harm us.

People should be aware that it can cause plenty of human damage over long term and cause kids to have breathing problems later on in life.

Chris

DE does work but you have to be consistent. It took a long time, lots of work, but it can be done. Follow the steps and stay on top of it and you will get rid of the nightmare. Even when they are gone I still continue the routine, I never want to see them again.

BloodySweetness

For those of you fighting bed bugs, keep your chins up. They can be beat without calling an exterminator. It just takes some elbow grease, patience and perseverance.

1. Wash and dry EVERYTHING on high heat. Hot water, hot dryer. If it can’t be washed or dried, seal it in a ziptop bag with a good amount of de, shake it and leave it for at least a month. 2 is better. Curtains, tablecloths, bedding, rugs, stuffed animals, pillows, etc.

2. Buy a bed bug mattress cover for both your mattress and box springs.

3. While your mattress and box springs are off your bed frame, thoroughly coat every surface, crack, crevice, screw hole, etc of your bed frame, headboard and footboard with de. Turn over any slats and put de under them.

4. Once your bed is back together, dust the spot where you put your box spring and mattress to put on the cover. Wait a few minutes, then vacuum thoroughly the entire room. Dispose of vacuum bag/debris away from homes. Preferably in a zip top bag. If you have a burn barrel, that will work, but burning carpet fibers stink!

5. Reapply de to the carpet or floor of your room. Apply a thick coat, not a light dusting. Yes, you will leave white footprints, but which would you prefer? Dust around the feet of your bed.

6. Dust all other furniture in the room, preferably all furniture in the house.

WEEKLY PLAN: vacuum, wash and dry all soft objects and bedding, again in hot water and hot dryer.

Reapply de on floor, lampshades, baseboards, outlet covers, table legs and, here’s the hard part, move your box spring and mattress and dust the bed frame again.

Plan to do this weekly for 6 months to a year to prevent reinfestation. It only takes 1 male and 1 female to start the nightmare all over again.

You will notice a significant improvement after the first couple of weeks, and you may not see a bed bug after as short as a month. Do not slack off the weekly routine!! Again, it only takes 2 bed bugs. And their two main drives are to bite you and reproduce. They WILL find each other and they WILL make babies.

Melody Collins

2 years ago from United States

Asthmatic, thank you for sharing your experience. Many others have had similar experiences to yours. Asthmatics experience a wide variety of triggers. There is no research on asthmatics exposure for asthmatics. I am glad to hear that it worked for you.

Asthmatic

I have severe asthma and survived diatomaceous earth just fine. Exposure to it beats exposure to bedbugs.

Stacy Fuson

I had an issue with bed bugs when my children went to their father’s home and brought back some friends. And we have had tried everything in our home to get rid of these blood suckers. But nothing worked. I’ve tried bleach cleaning steam cleaning and vacuum cleaning all at once. And 3 days free of the bugs but they always came out of hiding and was feeding on is again. So we got rid of everything in our home. The beds couches chairs anything they can live on or in we gave up and they still came back. So we are trying the DE and it’s been 3 days and I have seen 3 alive and so I put them in a cup and started noticing how weak they seem to be and how they aren’t moving as much now and it’s been an hour. I look in the cup and it seems as if they are in so much pain. So I’m going to see how long it really takes to kill them. I’m using Safer brand 100% silicon dioxide other oxides and 100% Amorphous Silica.

Aboveitall

Never ever Fog!! That just sends the bugs deeper in your walls! And never evacuate your room to avoid starving the bedbugs bedbugs can go months and months without a blood meal. So it’s better to do your full cleaning and then put the DE powder down and sleep in your bedroom to draw out the bed bugs only for them to get trapped in the dirt and die.

Ellie

Bought a house that was filled with furniture and clutter and to my horror, bed bugs. Major infestation!! Removed EVERYTHING from the house including carpet and began a plan of attack. Washed every wall and ceiling and then painted. Bombed twice with foggers purchased from Walmart and have spread DE everywhere. Haven’t seen any live bugs in 5 days but I’ve found a couple of dead ones along the base board. I think I’m winning the war! The last live bug I found, I put in a jar with DE and on day 2 the bug was dead so I know it works. I just don’t know when I can declare the house completely safe and bug free!

theresamayfield74

I came up with a plan of attack

DE and vinegar treatment of my room

DE is cleaned and reapplied weekly

And vinegar is sprayed daily

I also sleep clothed from head to toe with gloves. No exposed skin, no meals.

I also bath daily in a Vinger bath.

I spary my self with a mixture of lavender oil and eucalyptus oil before leaving my home. All my clothes I wear daily get redried for 60 min. Before I wear them.

My encased mattress gets steamed daily and vacuumed daily.

I’m nursing the old bites and wac thing for new ones. 2 wks in to this extreme attack and I seem to be winning!

Will update in a few weeks

Shell

DE does work, must be used with spray. Line baseboards, doorways and windows with DE. After you spray if they try to escape they will walk in the DE. Put lots of it under, around and on sealed box springs/mattress. Lots of vacuuming and drying everything on high heat. Check windows, curtains, blinds and screw holes. Found bed bug nest in screw hole of alarm clock and bottom piece of blind.

Have been fighting bed bugs since April, it is now July. Think we are finally overcoming them. Had to dispose of couch, was sad, but worth peace of mind. Lots of praying. horrible experience, will never be the same. Will most likely check my home for bed bugs for rest of my life. Had them for at least a year and did not know. Hope this helps someone else. Never give up!!

Desperate

I spread DE all over our bedroom. I literally covered the floors, bed, bed frame, floorboards and walls (that I could) with the stuff. We’ve evacuated the bedroom and have been crashing in the living room to avoid bites. I started the process June 17. July 8 I vacuumed the DE from the top of the bed and around the bedframe but left the stuff on the floors and such to sit longer. It is now July 10 and I walked in the room just now and found 3 bugs crawling on the top of the mattress. It’s been almost a month! Shouldn’t they be gone by now?! I used food grade. I’m desperate.

Frustrated!

Tonight is about night 12 of our initial DE treatment and I am still getting 10+ bites per night. I "thought" we only had a small problem as there were no visible signs of infestation. no bugs or residue are found in the daylight at all! But after being in bed for about an hour. I can flip on the lights and search under pillows and find 6-10 bugs. I have bombed our whole house, washed and dryed everything, and on a 6 day wash cycle for all bedding. The bedrooms and livingroom have been coated with DE. all rooms seem to be "clean" except one. and it seems that there has been no reduction in nightly bites. I am so frustrated! Every night is a nightmare! Not sure how much more no sleep I can take! Suggestions.

Susan Watson

I discovered an interesting plan of attack: Liberally line the floor around your bed, at doorways , windows and where carpet meets the wall – you don’t want them to get under the carpet or climb a wall. You have just trapped them into one area. Next, place additional DE at bed posts and between your bed frame and box spring. (Idea is to force them to walk through a small mountain of it, guaranteeing death) Then, sacrifice a fitted sheet and wrap one strap of double sided tape (Roberts Linoleum is great) to keep the bed bugs from walking up for a meal at 3A.M. The tape prevents them from feeding, thus no maturing into adults that can lay eggs. It also gives you back a good nights sleep.

Now, be patient. It takes about 12 days — but the diligence pays. I admit, I was so paranoid, I was laying on the bed as live bait, clocking every 30 minutes to see what was moving. The number count went down night after night and nothing after day twelve. They can be killed and without much expense.

ST

I imagine the reason why DE is effective is because after they touch it and feed, their bodies expand and probably burst due to the cuts. In your experiment I don’t remember reading if you fed them or not.

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