How To Apply Bed Bug 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.

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.

Bed Bug Powder: How to Use It Effectively to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Bed bug powders are a very effective way to kill bed bugs and get rid of them from your home for good. Most bed bug powders contain diatomaceous earth (DE) which is non-toxic and generally safe to use around the home. Many people use natural powders for killing bed bugs because they last for a long time and can help deal with recurrent or persistent bed bug infestations.

Waking up in the morning with itchy red bumps around your ankles and black specks on your bedding could be a sign that you have a bed bug problem. Because they are so tiny and only come out at night, bed bugs can be difficult to eradicate from your home. Unlike chemicals that poison the bugs and can be dangerous to humans, bed bug powders from food grade diatomaceous earth won’t harm you or your family. That means that you can use bed bug powders to get rid of these pesky critters while still staying in your own home.

In this article, you will find out all you need to know about using powders to kill bed bugs that have infested your home. I will also look at ways to spot the signs of a bed bug invasion and where to dust the bed bug powder for best results.

How Powders Effectively Kill Bed Bugs

Diatomaceous earth is the main or only ingredient in many bed bug powders. In fact, you can easily make your own powder at home to control bed bugs and get rid of them from your home for good. Bed bug powders and diatomaceous earth work as desiccants, which means that they dehydrate the bugs to kill them.

According to the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC), diatomaceous earth is a substance made from grinding up the fossilized remains of diatoms – a type of algae. This forms a white fine powder or dust that acts as a pesticide. DE kills bugs, ants, roaches, and other insects by sticking to their exoskeletons. This destroys their outer shell and causes the pests to dehydrate and eventually die. 1

The NPIC says that diatomaceous earth pesticide powders are registered for use against bed bugs, fleas, ticks, spiders, and cockroaches. Many studies into dust insecticides have shown their effectiveness in killing bed bugs.

The journalPloS Onereported that diatomaceous earth powder helps to kill off groups of bed bugs. Researchers found that the white dust sticks to the shell of bed bugs and is transferred to other bed bugs and nymphs. This causes bed bugs and nymphs to die and it can be an effective natural insecticide for bed bugs in hard to reach places. 2

Another study published in the journalInsectsfound that diatomaceous earth powder can help to greatly reduce large numbers of bed bugs. This was recommended as a cost-effective and practical way to kill off bed bugs. 3

Why Bed Bug Powders are Better than Chemicals

Bed bug powders don’t have to be ingested for them to be effective. This means that you don’t have to rely on the bugs ingesting the dust for it to be effective. All you need to do, is make sure and use food grade diatomaceous earth powder, keep it dry, and dust it around places where the bed bugs are lurking.

Professor Stuart Hill from Department of Entomology and Ecological Agriculture Projects describes diatomaceous earth as an ideal non-toxic pesticide. Prof. Hill says that bed bug powders have an insecticidal effect for as long as the powder is on the bed bug’s skin. It is also safe to use around the house and there are no recorded harmful effects to humans or pets. 4

In fact,food gradediatomaceous earth is so safe that you can add it to food to get rid of intestinal parasites and worms. You can also use diatomaceous earth to get rid of ants and other creepy crawlies.

Before you use diatomaceous earth powder to exterminate bed bugs, it’s important to know the signs of a bed bug infestation and where to look for them.

How to Tell if You Have Bed Bugs

Bed bugs can be difficult to spot and, if you don’t get rid of them completely, you can soon have a recurring bug infestation to deal with.

According to doctors from the Mayo Clinic, it can be difficult to distinguish bed bug bites from other insect bites. Some people even mistake a cluster of bed bug bites as just an itchy rash on the body. Bed bug bites usually cause symptoms like itchy red spots with a darker center, spots in a straight line or cluster, and they usually occur on the legs, arms, or face. 5 Bed bugs can leave a nasty cluster of bites on your skin that can last for a few days.

To look for bed bugs, the Mayo Clinic recommends looking for signs of them around mattresses, bed frames, headboards, or behind furniture beside beds. However, bed bugs also reside behind torn wallpaper, behind baseboards, or in the seams of pillows and cushions. 6

Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that signs that bed bugs are infesting an area are a distinctive musty smell, tiny blood stains on bed linen, evidence of feces and shed skin where the bugs are lurking. 7

How to Use Bed Bug Powder to Kill Bed Bugs

Once you have established where bed bugs are residing, you can use a natural bed bug powder to start eradicating them.

Here is a step-by-step guide to kill bed bugs for good and prevent a recurring infestation. Please remember, if you are using diatomaceous earth as your bed bug treatment powder, only use DE that is classed asfood grade(here is one example). Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe to use around the home and it’s an effective home treatment for killing bed bugs and fleas.

1. Identify the Problem

The first step is to locate where you have a bed bug infestation before applying the bed bug powder. You should thoroughly examine all cracks and crevices in your bed frame, along base boards, behind drawers, and behind torn wallpaper.

2. Remove Bed Bugs

The next step is to physically remove any bed bugs, fecal matter, shed skin, and eggs that can be seen around furniture.

Researchers from the Texas A&M University recommend stripping the bed and vacuuming the mattresses, box springs, bed frame, and anywhere else you found evidence of bed bugs. After this, you should discard the vacuum bag outdoors. 8

All sheets, pillowcases, and other bed linen should be washed in hot water and then put on a hot dryer cycle for at least 30 minutes to kill any remaining bed bugs and their eggs.

Hot steam is another recommended home remedy to eradicate bed bugs and you can use it after vacuuming. The hot steam can get rid of bed bugs from small crevices and cracks. It can also penetrate through the mattress lining and eradicate bug infestations inside the mattress.

Another practical way to destroy the irritating pests lurking in your mattresses is to encase your mattress in a specially designed bed bug-proof encasement. This will prevent bed bugs from coming out at night and biting people sleeping on the bed. Eventually, the bugs will die because they have no food source. In addition to encasing your bed items, you can also place bed bug traps (such as this one) under your bed legs to stop bed bugs crawling up.

3. Kill Bed Bugs with Bed Bug Powder

To completely exterminate all bed bugs from your living areas, you need to use bed bug powder. This will eventually remove all traces of bed bugs and help you sleep easier at night.

There are many commercial products listed as natural bed bug killing powders (here is one example). However, you can dust affected areas with diatomaceous earth which is just as effective as powders for bed bugs.

To get rid of bed bug with diatomaceous earth powder, this is how you should apply it:

  1. Make sure that all areas where you plan to sprinkle the bed bug powder are completely dry.
  2. Using a dusting applicator or sieve, lightly sprinkle the bug powder on all cracks and crevices where the bugs are hiding.
  3. Remember to lightly dust the bed bug powder on carpets, along the edges of baseboards, door frames, and behind furniture.
  4. Wait for 2-3 days and then vacuum the area thoroughly to remove any more bed bugs.
  5. Reapply the bug powder.

Make sure to wear a mask to prevent inhaling the fine dust and also read the next section about precautions when using bed bug powders.

As long as the powder for bed bugs stays dry, it will continue to dehydrate and kill the bugs. All it takes is for the bug to get a little of the powder on its skin for the remedy to work.

If you have a large bed bug infestation, there is always the chance that some bed bugs have migrated to other rooms. Therefore, to prevent bed bugs becoming a major problem, you should check other rooms.

Other places to do some “preventative bug dusting” include:

  • behind kitchen appliances
  • behind electrical outlet faceplates
  • behind drawers of furniture
  • at the corners and edges of rooms where carpeting the baseboards meet
  • in the seams of soft furnishings like sofa, cushions, and pillows

Precautions When Using Bed Bug Powders

Even though food grade diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic pesticide that really works for killing bed bugs, you should take some precautions when using it around the home.

Diatomaceous earth is a fine abrasive dust and you should avoid breathing it in when applying the white powder. The National Pesticide Information Center says that DE can irritate your nasal passages and cause eye irritation. This can result in watery eyes, itching, and redness around your eyelids. Also, irritation in your lungs could result in a dry cough. 1

Therefore, when using powders as a bed bug killer, you should wear a mask to prevent inhaling the fine dust.

Other Natural Bed Bug Control Methods

Using bed bug powders for bug control is just one effective tool in your fight against these invasive critters. There are other great ways to get rid of bed bugs naturally without having to resort to harmful chemicals.

Essential oils. Essential oils are a great way to get rid of various types of bugs around the home. Many essential oils contain compounds that act as a bug and insect repellent but won’t harm humans or pets.

For example, the journalInsectspublished studies on the efficiency of various essential oils in repelling bed bugs. They found that essential oils like lemongrass, peppermint oil, clove oil, and cinnamon oil, among others, were effective bed bug pesticides. 9 Also, tea tree oil has proven antimicrobial activity that can destroy cell membranes. 10

You can make a natural bed bug pesticide from essential oils by mixing 10 drops of lavender oil, 6 drops of lemongrass oil, 6 drops of tea tree oil, and 10 drops of thyme oil with some water in a small spray bottle. Spray liberally along cracks and crevices of your bed frames to get rid of bed bugs for good. Use the natural bed bug spray daily until all the signs of bed bugs have disappeared. Remember to shake the natural spray well before each application.

Just remember not to spray the natural bug repellent on areas that have been treated with DE. For bed bug powder to continue to be effective, it has to be dry.

Tea tree oil is also a great spot treatment to take the itch out of insect bites and prevent the itchy bump becoming infected. All you have to do is dab a tiny amount of tea tree oil on the itchy skin and let it dry. For other natural treatments, read my article about the best home remedies to get rid of bed bug bites.

Cold treatment. Bed bugs die off in extreme cold temperatures. The United States Environmental Protection Agency recommends freezing any bug-infested items that will fit in a freezer. So, you can easily exterminate bed bugs from bed linen, sheets, and pillowcases by leaving them in the freezer for 4 days. 11

Use bed bug sprays. There are commercial and homemade natural bed bug sprays to kill these nasty critters. You can find out how to make and use these sprays in my article about the most effective bed bug sprays.

For other ways to kill bed bugs, read my article about thetop 10 home remedies to get rid of bed bugs.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. NPIC. Diatomaceous earth.
  2. PLoS One. 2013 Sep 25;8(9):e75626.
  3. Insects. 2013 Nov 28;4(4):731-42.
  4. McGill. Diatomaceous earth – a non-toxic pesticide.
  5. MayoClinic. Bedbugs – symptoms.
  6. MayoClinic. Bedbugs – causes.
  7. WebMD. Bedbugs.
  8. TAMU. Bed bugs – do it yourself control options.
  9. Insects. 2014 Dec; 5(4): 849–859.
  10. J Appl Microbiol. 2000 Jan;88(1):170-5.
  11. EPA. Do it yourself bed bug control.

Bed Bug Powder & Dust

Insecticide dusts and powders can be used in small cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide, making them an important part of the bed bug treatment process. Dusts are long-lasting, saving you the hassle of constantly reapplying. Shop now for bed bug relief.

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Bed Bug Powder & Dust – Potent and Effective

There are two primary types of products to kill bed bugs, the first type includes things such as Steri-fab bed bug spray, and while these are great for many situations, they are not perfect for all infestations. The second kinds of product are bed bug dusts, which have their own advantages over sprays for killing these insects.

The Two Types of Bed Bug Powder

• Natural

This category includes such popular natural pesticide products as Diatomaceous Earth and Pyrethrin Dust. Both of these are naturally occurring products. Diatomaceous Earth for instance is mined out of the Earth’s crust, whereas Pyrethrin dust is a natural derivative of the chrysanthemum flower. Each of these has a different effect on the bugs, both of which are lethal. DE works by causing irreparable damage to the protective outer shell of the insect, which leads to dehydration and death. Pyrethrin acts on the nervous system of the insect, leading to convulsions and death when the bugs respiration can no longer be controlled. Although each product is lethal to bugs, they are 100% safe to use around humans and pets, as neither have the physiology necessary for toxic effects to result from exposure.

• Chemical

The most popular chemical type of bed bug dust is Tempo dust. It is formulated using the same active ingredient as the popular tempo line of sprays, but in dust form is better suited to treating many bed bug infestations. That is because it will settle more easily into the cracks and crevices where the bugs hide, and will maintain its strength as long as it is kept dry, which should not be difficult in most situations.

Bed Bugs Don’t Have To Be Hard To Get Rid Of

If there’s any pest that has a well-deserved reputation for being hard to get out of your home, it’s the bed bug. These flat brown blood sucking insects can create large nests deep within the fabric of your mattress and box spring, and once they’re inside a bed, they are there to stay until you forcibly remove them.
The methods you can use to get rid of the bugs vary and at Do My Own you are sure to find exactly what you need when you’re trying to figure out how to get rid of bed bugs. We have all the latest professional strength products along with free advice from our pest control experts who will guide you through each step of the process, from pre-treatment steps right through treatment and prevention of future problems.

Can’t find the product you are looking for? E-mail us and we’ll get it for you!

We sell professional do it yourself pest control (diy), exterminator and
extermination insecticide, pesticide, chemical and bug killer treatment
products to spray, eliminate and exterminate pests.

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such as Home Depot, Walmart or Lowes.

How to Effectively Kill Bed Bugs Using Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

Food grade diatomaceous earth is a natural non-toxic method to kill bed bugs and prevent them from invading your home. Diatomaceous earth (DE) powder is a naturally forming substance that helps to get rid of bugs quickly and effectively. One of the benefits of using this white powder for killing bed bugs is that it won’t harm humans or pets. Bed bugs can be difficult to eradicate from your home and you can use diatomaceous earth together with other bed bug extermination methods to get rid of the critters for good.

The abrasive action of diatomaceous earth powder destroys the bed bug’s exoskeletal system. The abrasion on the outer layer of these tiny pests causes them to dehydrate and very soon your bed bug problem will be gone for good. So, if you notice tiny black specks around your headboard, bedding, and in the corners of your mattress, you should think about using DE to kill off the infestation of bugs around your bed.

This article looks at how to use food grade diatomaceous earth as a natural pest control for bed bugs. You will also learn about bed bug infestation signs and when you should use DE or other bug control methods to eradicate the problem.

First of all, let’s look at what diatomaceous earth is and why diatomaceous earth is effective for killing off groups of bed bugs and preventing them from infesting your home.

What is Diatomaceous Earth (DE)?

Diatomaceous earth is a natural substance from the fossilized remains of diatoms – a type of algae. This is ground into a powder or dust to be used as a non-poisonous way to kill mites and insects.

The National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) says that food grade diatomaceous earth isn’t toxic when ingested. DE eliminates bugs and fleas by drying out their exoskeleton which causes them to dry out and die. However, for diatomaceous earth to remain an effective bug control method, it needs to be kept dry. 1

What Kind of Diatomaceous Earth to Use for Bed Bugs?

Diatomaceous earth dust that you use to kill bed bugs should be classed asfood grade(here isone example). The NPIC says that food grade DE has been purified and will not cause problems to humans and pets if ingested.

However, diatomaceous earth can cause some irritation to your lungs and respiratory system, so you should still wear a dust mask and clothing to protect your skin – especially if you have a large bed bug infestation and regularly use DE. The NPIC says that breathing in DE may cause irritation in the nose and eyes and may give you a cough and shortness of breath. 1

How Diatomaceous Earth Effectively Kills Bed Bugs

Diatomaceous earth has been used as a non-toxic pesticide since the 1960s. The destructive action of DE on bed bugs causes them to die after a few days of exposure.

According to Prof. Stuart Hill from the Department of Entomology and Ecological Agricultural Projects, food grade diatomaceous earth is an ideal pesticide for removing bed bugs from the home. Comparing toxic chemicals with DE, Prof. Hill said that the repellent nature of chemicals is short-lived, whereas DE is effective on bugs for as long as the dust is on the critters. 2

The journalInsectsin 2016 published a study into the effectiveness of diatomaceous earth dust for bed bug control. It was reported that diatomaceous earth could kill off 100% of bed bugs in a 9 to 15-day period. DE was also effective in eradicating bed bugs that had become resistant to chemical pesticides. 3

Therefore, because diatomaceous earth uses “mechanical” action to destroy bed bugs and other insect pests, it can safely be used around the home to control a bug infestation. Diatomaceous earth can also be used as a natural ant repellent and help rid your home of cockroaches. In fact, food grade diatomaceous earth is safe enough to ingest and get rid of intestinal parasites.

Signs of Bed Bug Infestation

To use diatomaceous earth to kill off all bed bugs in your home, it’s important to know about the life cycle of the tiny bugs and spot signs of a bedbug infestation.

Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD says that bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed and scurry over floors, walls, and ceilings. Bed bugs love to hide in dark places and are commonly found in mattresses, headboards, box springs, and in the nooks and crannies of bed frames. They come out at night to feed on blood and that is why, if you have a bed bug problem, you may notice tiny blood stains that look like black specks on your bed linen or pillow. 4

The symptoms of being bitten by bed bugs are red itchy spots on your body. Dr. DerSarkissian says that the tiny bugs generally bite around the ankles, but will pierce any part of the skin to gorge on blood. The bites can turn into red bumps on your skin that cause mild to severe itching on the affected part of the body.

Researchers from Purdue University say that other signs of a bed bug infestation are dark spots that are fecal matter around bed frames, on mattresses, and sheets. You may also notice shed skins or tiny eggs around areas where they like to hide. There may be a distinctive odor also. 5

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Killing Bed Bugs

Let’s look at the steps to use diatomaceous earth powder as a bed bug killer. This next section examines how to apply diatomaceous earth for bed bugs and what precautions you should take when using bed bug powders.

Step 1 – Find the Infestation

The first step to completely eradicate bed bugs from your home is to find out where the annoying pests are hiding.

Researchers from Texas A&M University say that usually bed bugs are found infesting bedrooms or other rooms where people sleep. So, you should look for signs of bug infestations around beds, mattresses, sofas, and sofa beds. 6

You should vacuum all areas of your home that show any signs of bed bugs inhabiting the furniture or bedding.

To help know where exactly to dust diatomaceous earth for bed bug control, the Department of Entomology at NC State University recommends examining the following places: 7

  • Carefully inspect all furniture.
  • Check all holes and slots of beds and dismantle the bed frame if necessary.
  • Check the seams of mattresses and pillows for bed bug feces and other signs of infestation.
  • Look behind drawers, under chairs, behind pictures, and behind dressers and closets.
  • Inspect behind the cover of electrical outlets.
  • Check cracks in baseboards.
  • If you have recently returned from vacation, thoroughly inspect all luggage and clothing that you had with you.

Step 2 – Encase the bed bugs

Before using DE for getting rid of bed bugs, you should encase any mattresses where you suspect bed bugs are hiding.

For this, you can purchase specially designed bed bug encasements that will prevent the bug escaping from the mattress, pillows and other bed linen placed in it (here is one example). Because the bed bugs don’t have any source of blood, they will eventually die off and no longer become a problem.

You should also wash your bedding in hot water and put in the dryer for at least 30 minutes to make sure that all bed bugs have been killed.

You can also use hot steam as an effective home remedy to eradicate bed bugs and you can use it after vacuuming. The hot steam can eliminate bed bugs from small crevices and cracks. It can also penetrate through the mattress lining and eradicate bug infestations inside the mattress.

Another thing that you may want to try is placing bed bug traps (such as this one) under your bed legs to stop bed bugs crawling up.

The next step is to use food grade diatomaceous earth to kill the bed bugs from furniture, beds, and other hiding places where they live.

Step 3 – Use DE to Kill Bed Bugs

Now is the time to put the bed bug killing power of food grade diatomaceous earth to work. This is what you should do to exterminate all traces of bed bugs from beds, sofas, and other furniture.

  1. Make sure that all areas are absolutely dry and free from moisture.
  2. Lightly dust all affected areas with diatomaceous earth powder.
  3. You can also dust over carpets, baseboards, pet’s bedding, pillows, and other soft furnishings.
  4. After 2 or 3 days, vacuum the area to get rid of any bug larvae, dead bed bugs, or eggs.
  5. Repeat the process of dusting diatomaceous earth powder on affected areas until all bed bugs are completely gone.

It will take some vigilance on your part to completely exterminate all traces of bed bugs from your home. You should also remember to continue using diatomaceous earth for a week or so after you are sure that the bed bugs are gone. This is to ensure that you have no further infestation from eggs that may have hatched during that period.

Safety Precautions When Using DE for Bed Bug Extermination

Although you can use food grade diatomaceous for bed bug killing liberally around the home without fear that it is toxic to humans and pets, there are some precautions you should take when using it.

Because diatomaceous earth powder is a very fine abrasive dust, therefore, you should avoid inhaling it. Prof. Stuart Hill advises using a dust mask to prevent inhaling diatomaceous earth if you are treating a large area of bed bug infestation. However, there are no other health risks reported with using food grade DE around the home for pest control. 2

Other Natural Ways to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

There are other natural ways to get rid of bed bugs that are non-toxic and safe to use in the home.

Tea tree oil. Some people have had success with using tea tree oil as a bed bug repellent and natural insecticide. A study in the journalMedical and Veterinary Entomologyfound that tea tree oil was effective at killing off various insects and also had a repellent effect. 8

You can make your own natural insecticidal spray by filling a spray bottle with water and adding 20 drops of tea tree oil. Shake well and apply to all parts of the bed where you think bed bugs are lurking. Just remember, not to spray onto areas treated with diatomaceous earth as the liquid will cause DE to become ineffective.

Tea tree oil has another use in your battle with bed bugs and the irritation they cause. Tea tree oil contains antimicrobial and anti -inflammatory properties that can help to treat bed bug bites. All you need to do to reduce itching from insect bites is this: put a drop or two of tea tree oil on the end of a cotton bud and dab this on the itchy bed bug bumps as a spot treatment. Tea tree oil is one of the best natural treatments for bed bug bites as it kill off any germs that may cause infection.

Use bed bug sprays. There are effective DIY and commercial bed bug sprays that contain natural ingredients. You can find out how to make and use these sprays in my article about the most effective bed bug sprays.

Extreme temperature. Researchers from the New Jersey Agricultural Experiment Station recommend laundering bed linen in hot water and then drying them in a hot dryer to kill bed bugs. Also, you could put small items of bedding like sheets, pillows, and pillowcases in the freezer for 4 days.

How to Prevent Bed Bug Infestations

The best way to make sure that you never have any bed bug problem is to prevent these nasty critters from infesting your home in the first place. Here are some effective tips on how to prevent bed bug infestation.

  • If you see dark marks or blood spots on your bedding, immediately check all areas of your bed, mattress, and bedding for signs of bed bugs.
  • When staying in hotel rooms, use a flashlight to inspect the bed frame and mattress for signs of bed bugs.
  • Before bringing in second-hand furniture, beds, or mattresses to your home, thoroughly examine the items to make sure there are no bed bugs in corners, joints, and seams.
  • Vacuum your luggage after returning from vacation.

For other ways to eliminate bed bugs for good, read my article about thetop 10 home remedies to get rid of bed bugs.

Read my other related articles:

Article Sources

  1. NPIC. Diatomaceous earth.
  2. McGill. Diatomaceous earth – a non toxic pesticide.
  3. Insects. 2016 Dec; 7(4): 74.
  4. WebMD. Bedbugs.
  5. ENTM. Bedbugs.
  6. TAMU. Bed bugs – do it yourself control options.
  7. NCSU. Bed bugs – biology and control.
  8. Med Vet Entomol. 2014 Aug;28 Suppl 1:33-9.

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