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How to Use Diatomaceous Earth for Fleas

Persistent scratching, irritated skin, and telltale small black dots: these are all signs that your home or dog has fleas. Not only are these pests annoying, they can also cause serious health problems like infection, anemia, and tapeworm. But flea killers sold at stores aren’t always safe either. In fact, thousands of dogs are believed to have died from exposure to flea treatments over the years.

Before turning to commercial flea killers, some pet owners opt for natural remedies instead. One such alternative is Diatomaceous Earth, a natural compound that is much safer for both dogs and humans than chemical insecticides.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a type of sand that contains microscopic sea organisms, called diatoms. Over millions of years, these algae become fossilized in the earth surrounding bodies of water like rivers and oceans. The earth is then harvested for its high silica content, a naturally occurring chemical compound that has many uses in food, around the home, and in industrial settings.

There are two types of diatomaceous earth: food-grade diatomaceous earth and filter-grade diatomaceous earth. Food-grade diatomaceous earth is used as an anti-caking agent and an insecticide in food production. It can also be purchased for household use. Filter-grade diatomaceous earth is toxic and has varied uses, such as in water filtration.

How it works

Since diatomaceous earth is a natural and non-toxic compound, it doesn’t work like most chemical insecticides. The silica particles in diatomaceous earth are sharp and abrasive, and when they come into contact with fleas, they cause tears in the pests’ exoskeletons. Then, the compound absorbs oils from the fleas, drying out and killing them.

How to get rid of fleas with Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is an effective way to control fleas around the home and prevent further spread once your dog has them. With a few easy steps, you can effectively remove all trace of fleas from your home in just a couple days.

If you choose to follow this protocol, make sure you purchase food-grade diatomaceous earth, which is safe for your family and pets. Filter-grade or pool-grade diatomaceous earth is toxic and should not be used around the home. Here is our favorite and the one we often use around our homes:

DiatomaceousEarth 10 LBS FOOD GRADE Diatomaceous Earth - 100% Organic All...
  • Diatomaceous earth you can trust - Our obsession to create the purest food Grade diatomaceous earth affects every aspect...
  • The only official supplement - we are the only producers of food grade diatomaceous earth products that meet all...
  • 100% organic - all of our products are certified organic by the organic minerals review Institute

1. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth around your home

Once you’ve acquired food-grade diatomaceous earth, sprinkle a layer over all areas of your home that could have been exposed to fleas. Try to identify all the areas where your dog likes to spend time. This might include the carpet, sofa, beds, pillows, and dog beds. Don’t forget hard-to-reach areas like under tables.

2. Let the Diatomaceous Earth sit for a few days

Due to the nature of how diatomaceous earth kills fleas, it won’t work instantly. Give the compound a few days to do its job. The more time you let it sit, the more fleas will come into contact with the particles.

3. Vacuum the treated areas

After a few days, vacuum all the areas where you applied diatomaceous earth. In addition to vacuuming up the diatomaceous earth particles, you’ll be removing the dead fleas and larvae that have been left behind by the treatment. Make sure to use a shop vac since diatomaceous earth’s sharp particles will be tough on your household vacuum cleaner’s filter.

4. Reapply as needed

For particularly bad infestations, you may need another diatomaceous earth application to effectively get rid of all traces of fleas. Carefully inspect your dog, the carpet, and any furniture for evidence of remaining fleas and larvae. If needed, repeat the above steps until all fleas are gone.

Frequently asked questions

Can you apply diatomaceous earth on your dog?

While diatomaceous earth is an effective way to get rid of a home flea infestation caused by your dog, you should never apply diatomaceous earth directly to your pup’s skin or coat. Even though it isn’t toxic, this chemical can irritate your dog’s eyes, nose, and lungs if accidentally ingested. However, there are some pet-safe flea treatments available from pet suppliers that contain diatomaceous earth and can be used directly on animals.

Is diatomaceous earth harmful?

Food-grade diatomaceous earth is not generally considered harmful to pets or humans. However, it may cause some irritation to the eyes and respiratory system if directly inhaled.

What are the benefits of diatomaceous earth?

Diatomaceous earth is used for many benefits aside from flea treatments. It’s a safe and effective pesticide and preservative that is often used in many stages of food production. Around the house, it’s used as a stain remover, deodorizer, and garden pest remover. One study has even shown that diatomaceous earth can help support healthy cholesterol levels.

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Written by Wesley Wheeler

Wesley has over 10 years of residential and commercial pest control experience dealing with every kind of pest. He ran his own pest control company for 6 years and now shares his knowledge online.


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  1. Can diatomaceous earth be used outdoors such as spreading it between the spaces of a wooden deck. I have fleas under the deck

    • Kathy – the word insecticide should not be confused with pesticide. Insecticides are products that can kill targeted insects, whether it be naturally or chemically. On the other hand, pesticides encompass all chemical pest control products. In the case of DE, it’s a natural agent that can kill insects, so it’s safe for humans (as long as you don’t inhale it or consume a bunch of it).

  2. I know people that had great results getting rid of bed bugs and cockroaches. BUT I had a severe flea infestation and had absolutely no success with diamataceous earth. .My apartment floors looked like the beach for over a week with no results at all. I vacuumed it up probably after 10 days and the fleas were just as bad as ever.

  3. You LIE !! I have 2 bags & I sprinkled it on HEAVY to the basement carpet & it’s been sitting for over 2 weeks. It looks like a bakery down there & they still Come out of nowhere !! Rediculas ..Your product is Absolutely Useless

    • Raymond – Sorry to hear about the experience. Tough infestations often require repeating the above steps (vacuuming, reapplying DE, etc). This is not our product, but there are a lot of studies showing the efficacy of DE against pests including fleas.

  4. We have never had a problem with fleas like the one we are having now. And we are looking forward to seeing this solution work.

  5. Hello,
    So, if the diatomaceous earth is lying around your place for a few days (especially in areas that your pets frequent) won’t the animals (and yourself!) breathe it in? My work puts the earth in its chicken food to help egg production, but I’ve heard that if you get it up your nose or in your lungs it can be very bad. I don’t want my cats going through that!


  6. For the guy commenting, “YOU LIE!”. Maybe try cleaning your house first before caking your floors and crevices with pounds of substance. Those of us who take time to read directions have been successful in eliminating our various issues.

  7. I have 6 dogs and 3 cats and although I’ve treated my yard twice this spring (with seven granules) I’m still having a flea outbreak . If I sprinkle diatomaceous earth all over my floors and furniture and leave it for days will it make my dogs and cats sick from breathing, licking and laying unit?

  8. Let’s give it a shot…I deep cleaned the house, washed both my dog and cat, and just got done sprinkling the carpet with baking soda & salt and rubbed it in. Hoping that the salt and DE combo will kill them faster…but knowing my luck it will have an opposite effect 🤣

  9. Hi, Some people have said that food grade DE can be fed to the pets and even rubbed onto them to kill the fleas, is this true? There’s seems to be different opinions and I’m getting a bit confused

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