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  • Stephanie Thomas

How To Apply Diatomaceous Earth (DE)

When it comes to Do-It-Yourself pest control solutions, one of the most common recommendations is diatomaceous earth, or DE. It's very popular among consumers because it is a natural product and it is not poisonous. However, it can still be dangerous to humans and pets if used incorrectly.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth is a type of naturally occurring, soft siliceous sedimentary rock. It is found in streams, rivers, lakes, and oceans around the world. It can be crumbled or crushed into a very fine powder due to its softness. Silica is a very common component of natural rock, sand, and clay, making up about 26% of Earth's crust. Once crushed, the powder has many uses, including polishing metal surfaces, filtering pool water, and is sometimes used as an ingredient in toothpaste.

Diatomaceous Earth as an Insecticide

The first pesticide products containing diatomaceous earth were registered in 1960. Today, DE products are registered for use to prevent or eliminate many pests such as bed bugs, fleas, cockroaches, scorpions, and more. Diatomaceous earth is very abrasive which causes damage to an insects exoskeleton and causes them to dry out and die.

How to Apply Diatomaceous Earth Correctly

  • Apply a thin layer of DE to door jams and window sills using a duster or paint brush.

  • Apply under sinks & in laundry rooms where plumbing enters the home.

  • Use a spray bottle and mix with water to apply a fine layer around the exterior of the house and cracks or crevices where insects can enter. Once it dries, it retains it's insect-killing properties.

Many people believe "the more the better" is the trick to ridding the home of unwanted pests, but in reality, less is more. When you apply too much, pests will simply go around it and excessive exposure to you and your family can be dangerous to your health.

What Are the Health Risks?

DE is a natural product, but it is also abrasive and it contains silica. Make sure you are using only Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth and always follow label instructions. It is also wise to take the following steps to minimize exposure.

  1. Wear a Mask. Inhalation can irritate nasal passages or cause coughing.

  2. Avoid Skin Contact. DE is absorbent and can cause skin irritation and dryness.

  3. Wear Safety Goggles. The fine powder can irritate your eyes.

  4. Avoid Pet Exposure. Just as DE can irritate your eyes and skin, it can cause irritation to your pet's skin, too.

In the event exposures do occur, be sure to follow First Aid Instructions on the label. For additional help, contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

As always, if you run into an issue that you need professional help with, text or call Happy Bees Pest Control at 602.529.8797.

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