Diatomaceous Earth + Water Mixture: Can it Kill Bed Bugs?

We’ve long known of the miraculous powder, Diatomaceous Earth. This powder is extremely popular for the reason that it is almost infinitely useful in so many different ways. DE is often touted as a great pesticide, but is this true? Will diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs really be effective in eradicating bed bug infestations in your home? Bed bugs are a truly annoying bunch – incredibly difficult to get rid of, and truly irritating to live with. No wonder so many people look towards any method they can to get rid of these insects.

diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs

DE is a popular method of treatment when it comes to getting rid of bed bugs. But is it really effective? Well, it’s true – diatomaceous earth does indeed kill bed bugs and ogther insects, due to how rough and scratchy it is on the microscopic level. Today, we are here to discuss everything you need to know not just about diatomaceous earth, but also about how it works to kill bed bugs. If you want to know whether diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs is effective…keep reading!

What Exactly is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is known by many names. It’s called diatomaceous earth, but it is also known by D.E., or even just diatomite. D.E., in essence, is a powder that’s completely natural. It’s made from rock, or basically the fossilized remains of marine creatures called diatoms (it’s these fossilized carcasses that then compacted into rocks). This powder is used in a huge variety of things. For example, it seems like it’s used in tooth paste, as polish, in commercial cat litter, and as a pesticide.

D.E. Is currently massively popular, and it’s not hard to see why. People often suggest it for all sorts of things – from use in the household to even as a health supplement. Now whether it works or not…well, that’s fair game.

Diatomaceous earth is fine, and it seems like corn flour. But, the similarities end there. This soft powder, unlike corn flour, feels rough and abrasive when you touch it. DE is sharp and rough on a microscopic level, which is why it can kill insects. This is also precisely why diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs can be effective.

Will D.E. Kill Bed Bugs?

The exact function of diatomaceous earth when it comes to killing insects is sometimes misunderstood. Many people probably think that DE dries out insects. To a degree, yes, this certainly is correct. But the exact mechanism of the insects drying out is kind of different. DE won’t dry a bug out by dessicating them (almost like how rice will dry wet electronics). Rather, this powder will kill insects on contact instead.

Bed bugs and other insects like ants have an outer shell (their exoskeleton). This shell keeps the water and moisture in the insects’ body. To be able to accomplish this, their shells are coated in a rather waxy layer. It is this layer of wax that keeps the water in the insects’ bodies. Now, this is where DE comes in. Like we mentioned earlier, diatomaceous earth has really rough edges that is really in contrast with its fine appearance.

scratching off wax

DE basically functions as a pesticide by scraping off the waxy layer on insects’ shells. It won’t scrape all of it off, and it certainly won’t destroy an insect’s shell. But a bug coming into contact with this powder is enough to create gaps in the waxy barrier. Simple gaps are already enough to dry the bug out as the moisture leaves its body. Because this is how DE functions, the insects must come into contact with the powder in order to be effective. So you see, DE is fatal to insects not when it is ingested, but rather when it is touched.

So is diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs effective? To a degree, certainly. Find out more below!

Is Diatomite Fatal To Bed Bugs?

diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs

The way in which diatomite works has already been studied many times over. In fact, it is scientifically proven. However, when used in practice, DE produces almost mixed results. This is because this powder will only kill on contact, and many insects (including bed bugs) have developed a way to cope with this. Through many millenia of evolution and even through the past century or so of life, insects that are frequently in domestic areas have learned how to avoid harmful and toxic substances and situations. Many insects have even learned how to avoid pesticides and other toxic things such as tea tree oil. In fact, insects and bed bugs will even avoid areas that are DE treated. Rather surprising yet impressive, if you think about it!

It is for this reason that DE is not 100% effective in practice. Bed bugs can sometimes be repelled, and as such they avoid DE treated areas. Mortality rate then drops to roughly 36%.

Diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs will also take time to work. This is because water won’t instantly evaporate after the insect comes into contact with DE. In fact, sometimes it can take days before the bug dries out. Sometimes, it may take even longer (especially if the insect’s exposure to DE was limited).

Will Diatomaceous Earth Attract Bed Bugs?

The short answer to this question is no. In fact, it seems like bed bugs actually get repelled by diatomite. DE as a matter of fact does not attract these insects in any way, shape or form. For you to be able to kill bed bugs with DE, they need to walk through it. But as they have learned to cope, bed bugs will walk around it instead. Because of this, some brands of DE will be sold mixed with chemicals that will encourage the bed bugs to move.

For example, some brands will contain synthetic bed bug pheromones that sound the alarm, causing the insects to run and scatter around quickly. In doing this, bed bugs will run around faster through DE treated areas, increasing the probability that they will come into contact with the powder.

Diatomaceous Earth Mixed with Water for Bed Bugs

When you want to treat an area with DE, there are a number of ways in which you can do it. For example, you can simply sprinkle the powder through areas where you know the bed bugs will pass through. But you can’t simply leave the powder in a pile and expect the bugs to come right through. Instead, you have to adjust by leaving DE sprinkled in areas where the bugs will maybe pass through.

Remember: before you begin sprinkling or spraying diatomaceous earth around, it is important that you make sure there are no pets or children around in the immediate vicinity. Also, you must wear a face mask to keep the fine particulates of DE out of your system. While this powder is generally harmless, you still do not want to ingest or inhale it!

Here are the two main methods on how you can use DE:

  • First of all, you can choose to sprinkle DE in the right places. You can leave trails or lines of it to ensure that the bed bugs will need to cross through.
  • Another thing you can do is to use diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs. You can create a slurry, using two cups of water mixed with 8 tablespoons of diatomite. Put the solution into a spray bottle, and it’s basically ready to use. When using this method, remember that the DE is not effective until it is dry, so make sure you account for the drying time! Shake the bottle vigorously and frequently as you use it.

Where to Apply Diatomaceous Earth

As we have previously mentioned, it is certainly important where you put the diatomite. You want to put it in places where the bed bugs will have to go, because as a result you will be able to kill more of them. For example, you want to put the powder in places that are most likely routes from your bed to their hiding place. We’ve come up with a few suggestions as to where you can put DE below:

  • Across your box spring is certainly a great place to apply this powder generously. If you don’t have a box spring, another place you can put DE is all over your bed frame. Most of these bed bugs will live under your mattress, so covering your box spring or your bed frame will make a huge difference in killing these pests. Additionally, you can repel any further bed bugs from coming to your bed.
  • You can also choose to sprinkle the DE on the area around the feet of your bed frame. Bed bugs will have to walk through the diatomite in order to climb up your bed. There are also little plates or containers that you can fill with DE then put underneath your bed’s feet.
  • One more place we can suggest that you put this powder is around your furniture. Bed bugs rather like living underneath your side tables or bedside cabinets. If you sprinkle DE around the piece of furniture, the bed bugs will have to walk through it for them to get where they want to go.

Can I Use Diatomite on My Bed?

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The answer to this question is certainly yes – you can indeed. But you don’t want to put it on your bed itself, you wouldn’t want to be lying down on this stuff. You certainly don’t want to be inhaling it either! The best place for you to spray or sprinkle this powder is under your mattress, on your box spring or bed frame. In doing this, you can be generous in using the powder. It will stay in place until you change your sheets. Consequently, the bed bugs that are in your mattress will have nowhere to go but through the powder.

You can also use some of the powder on your mattress, but in doing so you must be careful not to inhale the powder. We suggest using DE on your mattress before using an encasement to minimize the chances of you accidentally inhaling the powder. This way, you can kill any bedbugs in the mattress, and you then keep them from ever coming back!

Another thing you can do is to mix some essential oils with your spray. Adding essential oils to the diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs will make an effective spray that can kill the bugs right on contact. You can use this homemade pesticide spray to kill the bed bugs on your mattress and all around your bed. Also, you can use this spray to treat your room in general. Just be sure no kids or pets are around when you start a-sprayin’ (and make sure you are wearing a mask!).

Is Diatomaceous Earth Really Helpful?

Again, DE does work to an extent. It will help in certain cases, but it won’t necessarily have 100% mortality rate because bed bugs have learned to avoid it. Therefore, sprinkling this powder in the right places is the ideal way to make sure they will be walking through it. Also, be sure to reapply DE every so often to ensure that the bed bugs still have to walk through a huge maze of it.

Once in a while, we suggest picking up the vacuum and getting rid of all of the DE, along with any insect carcasses from the dried up bugs. Then, once you’ve gotten rid of all of it, you can reapply a fresh batch.


Diatomaceous earth mixed with water for bed bugs can be effective, but it’s not always 100% of the time. So if you plan to use this method, complement it with other effective ways to get rid of bed bugs. In doing this you’ll be able to fight off your infestation – naturally!