Bed bug infestation of human habitats has been on the increase in developed countries. It’s possible to pick up bed bugs almost any place. They can even hide in luggage or personal belongings. These small, blood-sucking parasite crawl out at night and feed on your blood!
As a result, most people get a reaction after being bitten and develop itchy red bumps. So you definitely don’t want to keep them in your home for too long!
But how do you get rid of them?
Bed bugs can be very difficult to kill and they are becoming resistant to several household pesticides. Fortunately there are some all-natural non-chemical treatments that can be used.
Diatomaceous Earth has been reported to be one of the most effective solutions for bed bugs. Learn why it’s recommended to use Diatomaceous Earth for bed bugs instead of pesticides or essential oils.
What is Diatomaceous Earth (DE)?
Diatomaceous Earth is an off white talc-like powder that is the fossilized remains of marine phytoplankton. DE contains mainly silica and is non-toxic. It’s more than just a natural pesticide. Some people eat Diatomaceous Earth for therapeutic reasons!
How does it work to kill bed bugs?
Diatomaceous earth works by absorbing the oils and fats from insects. When a bug comes in contact with DE, it dehydrates them in just a few hours.
Does Diatomaceous Earth kill bed bug eggs too?
Not only DE kills bed bugs, it’s effective against bed bug eggs too. Adult female bedbugs can lay more than 200 eggs during their lifetime so it’s important to kill the eggs. The problem with eggs is that they are very tiny (about 1mm) with pale yellow skin. Thus they are very difficult to spot.
Why use Diatomaceous Earth for bed bugs?
Diatomaceous Earth has many benefits when it comes to bed bug infestation.
- Diatomaceous Earth has been reported to be one of the most effective solutions for bed bugs.
- Bed bugs cannot develop a resistance to it as they do with some pesticides.
- It’s probably the lowest cost treatment on the market.
- It’s safe, non-toxic, and chemical-free.
What to do first before using DE?
Before using Diatomaceous Earth, you should clean your entire home first:
- Steam clean your home (linens and furniture) thoroughly to increase the temperature. Bedbugs usually die at 50°C.
- Wash all fabrics (mattress pads, bedding, bed skirts, clothes, curtains, and so on) in hot water. Dry them on the hottest dryer setting. Store all washed fabrics in sealed plastic bags or containers.
- Vacuum your entire home to reduce the number of bed bugs especially where there are groups or clusters of bed bugs. However it’s important to remove the bed bugs from the vacuum when you are done so that they do not escape.
- It’s also recommended that you spray your belongings with a non-toxic bed bug killer spray. If you are not sure which natural spray you should buy, read this post about the best natural bed bug sprays.
Some people also use freezing methods, but it seems it’s not as effective as heating methods.
How to use Diatomaceous Earth to kill bed bugs?
Diatomaceous Earth is safe to handle, but you may want to wear a dust mask to avoid inhaling the dust.
- Apply food grade Diatomaceous Earth to any parts that may be affected by bed bugs (including cracks, crevices, rung holders, drawers, door jams, behind appliances and so on). Use an applicator and don’t pour the Diatomaceous Earth like sand.
- Remove electrical faceplates and use an applicator to inject DE behind electrical switches and outlets.
- For best results, it’s recommended to leave the Diatomaceous Earth for at least a week. Then you can remove it using a damp cloth, a broom or a vacuum with no filter. DE is hard and abrasive and can damage your vacuum filter quite easily.
Should you still call a bed bug exterminator?
Because bed bugs can hide very well, they are very difficult to spot.
If you have lots of bed bugs in your home, it may be easier to contact a pest control operator or more specifically, a bed bug exterminator. Bed bug exterminators are well trained to eradicate bed bugs as well as the bed bug larvae — preventing them from maturing into breeding.
However, most bed bug exterminators use pesticides to kill bed bugs. Concerns over the health and environmental effects of pesticides make the practice of chemically treating bed bugs problematic. In addition, the pesticide approach often requires multiple visits and it’s not always effective.
According to a 2005 survey, only 6.1% of companies claim to be able to eliminate bed bugs in a single visit, while 62.6% claim to be able to control a problem in 2–3 visits. Insecticide application may cause dispersal of bed bugs to neighbouring areas of a structure, spreading the infestation.
Are essential oils effective against bed bugs?
Claims have been made about essential oils killing bed bugs. However, they are unproven and are usually based on testimonials.
Essential oils, such as cedar, cinnamon, lemongrass, clove, lavender, rosemary or eucalyptus help repel bed bugs. They may be affective at killing them if there are not too many bed bugs in your home already.
If you want to try an herbal solution in your home, here is a bed bug spray recipe that is recommended by the Herb Gardener :
- 1 Cup Water
- 10 drops lavender essential oil
- 10 drops rosemary essential oil
- 10 drops eucalyptus essential oil
- 3 drops essential oil of clove (optional)
Place in a fine mist spray bottle, and shake well before using. Sprinkle your furniture, mattress and belongings. Please use essential oils with caution and check this page to learn about the properties of essential oils and how to use them.
Instead of contacting a bed bug exterminator, you can definitively try to kill bed bugs yourself using Diatomaceous Earth.
Here are good brands I recommend:
- Diatomaceous Earth Bed Bug Killer (by Safer Brand)
- Diatomaceous Earth Food Grade (by DiatomaceousEarth)
- Harris Bed Bug Diatomaceous Earth Powder (by PF Harris)
Be aware it’s a lot of work and the efficiency depends on the spread of the infestation and how well you do the job!
Bed bugs often come back and several treatments may be needed. It’s not always possible to eradicate bed bugs effectively as they can hide pretty much anywhere.
What’s your experience with bed bugs? Have you ever used Diatomaceous Earth to kill bed bugs? Feel free to share your experience with others in the comment section!