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11 Must-Know Uses For Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powdery substance made up of the fossilized skeletal remains of diatoms, a common type of phytoplankton. You can find DE in many commercially-available products, like water filters, skin care products, toothpastes, anti-caking agents, and abrasive cleaning products. Beyond that, there are plenty of useful ways to use DE around the house!

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

But before we get into those uses… I should specify that we’re speaking about FOOD GRADE diatomaceous earth. Food Grade DE largely consists of “amorphous” silica, the safer form of silica. It is also monitored to ensure the absence of heavy metals, and other things you wouldn’t want to accidentally ingest.

Related: How to Get Rid of Silverfish At Home

Without further ado, here are some fascinating ways you can utilize DE around your home.

Ways to Use Diatomaceous Earth Around the House

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

  • You may have already heard that you can use DE as an effective form of pest control. DE compromises the waxy coatings that cover an insect’s exoskeleton, until they ultimately die of dehydration. If you have insects in your home, just sprinkle a bit of DE into cracks, corners, and window sills where the little pests are present.

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

  • Make an exfoliating facial scrub! Just mix together aloe juice, water, or milk with a bit of DE, and gently massage onto your skin. DE provides a great boost of minerals to your skin, and its abrasive quality will leave your skin feeling soft and smooth.
  • DE can help eliminate an infestation of bedbugs. Sprinkle DE on your mattress, pillows, and bed frame to ensure that all bedbugs are eliminated!

Diatomaceous Earth

  • Add DE to your homemade deodorant! Melt together 1/2 cup of coconut oil and 1-1/2 tablespoons of beeswax, then add 1/2 cup of DE, 1/2 cup of cornstarch, and 10 drops each of lavender, lemon, and frankincense essential oils. Pour into a container and allow to solidify. Many people prefer using DE over baking soda in homemade deodorant, because it can be less irritating to sensitive skin.

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

  • Add a small handful of DE to your bathwater for super soft skin!

Diatomaceous Earth

  • You can add DE to your homemade toothpaste, too! Mix together 3 tablespoons of coconut oil, 3 tablespoons of DE, 25 drops of peppermint essential oil, and 2 teaspoons of vegetable glycerin.
  • If you have a composter or a compost pile, you can add DE to help control odor and pests.

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

  • Dust your dog’s bedding with DE to control fleas, ticks, and other pests.
  • Sprinkle DE into your toilet bowl when cleaning it. The abrasiveness will give you an extra boost of scrubbing power.

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

  • Deodorize your garbage can or refrigerator by placing a small container of DE inside. DE is great at absorbing odors, and it will also keep insects out. Replace with fresh DE every 1-2 weeks.

Uses for Diatomaceous Earth (Also Known As DE)

  • And finally, many people ingest DE daily with water or in a smoothie. Some swear by it for strong and healthy skin, nails, and teeth, while others consume it as a detoxing agent. While the FDA has categorized DE as “Generally Recognized as Safe,” that recognition only applies to its use in filtration (like in swimming pools). Ultimately, there is little to no information available that supports or opposes the safety or efficacy of ingesting DE. So I encourage you to use your best judgment on this one. :-)

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • My husband wanted to try diatomaceous earth about 12 or so years ago. He had read about it and wanted to put it in our coffee. He put it in with the grounds. I said I would try it and didn’t give it much thought after that. A few months later I noticed my nails were as hard as rocks. I’ve always had weak nails, so this was amazing to me.

    We used to put it in our yard over ant hills. They were the kind that bite, and we didn’t want them biting us or our dogs. This stuff worked great!!

    Thank you for the reminder, Jillee. I’ve gotten away from DE for some reason and was recently talking with a friend who uses it. I need to add it to the list. There must be different quality levels of it. I bought it a few years ago and wasn’t able to find the same brand we bought previously. It was not the same at all as far as strengthening my nails. Thanks again Jillee!!

  • DE is great stuff. I put it in a empty Parmesan cheese shaker and sprinkle on my geraniums. It kills the little green caterpillars that chew up all the flower buds. Good for aphids too. I don’t like spraying poison in my yard.

  • We use two types of DE, One we get from the feed store and the other from the health store or online. Both are food grade but the one from the feed store is coffee cream brown or tan-ish colored. The one from ealth store or online is a fine white powder we use in our shakes mostly for joint and bone su3pport as we are getting older.

    Farm animal use: As we feed our farm animals, we add a small portion/scoop with their feed as a natural wormer here in the south-east and it also helps control the fly population around the barns as well as other undesirable insects like fleas.

  • I was intrigued by the idea of using DE to clean toilet stains. I have a big bag of non-food-grade DE that I bought to kill insects. Could I use that to clean the toilets? I’m having real trouble getting the “ring” mark off the porcelain.

  • I bought some D.E. at our local farm supply store a while back—going on several years now—it was by far the cheapest place to buy it. I **think** it was around $20 for a pail that was 10 lbs. My DH & I were very happy to learn about D.E. and that it was to get rid of internal parasites, as we are both combat vets that picked up godonlyknowsireallydon’twannathinkaboutit from the middle east.

    Well the food grade bucket we bought is a bit on the ‘crunchy’ side shall we say?! It is not pleasant to chew, as it is not a fine powder. It was a bit like eating sand on the play ground as a kid. My question is this: does anyone know if it will ruin my coffee grinder? I have not used it yet as I have one for coffee & one for spices. I would hate to lose either one if the D.E. doesn’t do well in it. I might just have to pick one up from a thrift store. I wanted one to use for charcoal anyhow, so one that could be used for D.E and charcoal for around the house I think is the way to go. Any feedback from Jillee or other readers would be much appreciated though. Have a blessed day!!

    • I’m dazed and confused to hear your ‘dirt’ is crunchy! It should be fine powder, like talc. The food grade products shouldn’t be a problem to whir in a grinder, just be careful when you open it as it’s ‘dusty.’ The dust shouldn’t be breathed in, but a bit of common sense takes care of this problem — just don’t put your face too close to it!

      I’ve used this stuff since 2014 and find it intriguing, in that many people report dramatic health improvement, which isn’t my experience. But I DO feel better, overall, have more energy, sleep better, etc. and don’t plan to give up using it. I give it to my animals as well. I -2 T. for me in the morning mixed in a few ounces of grape juice, 1 t. on the dog and cat food. Remarkable stuff, I’d think with your travel history, it will be a relief to know you’re not playing host to anything, and this product will do the trick!

      • Thank you for responding Judith and thank you for your insights. To be honest, my D.E. or “dirt” as you called it, is food grade, but we bought it at the local farm store in the section for horses. I think that is why it is a bit coarser—horses don’t care, but seem to be rather delicate. It says on the bucket it is food grade, so I was never worried about ingesting this product. I have always been a firm believer that animal products in general are fine for humans, with a bit of common sense involved.

        After buying the D.E. my DH & I tried it in oatmeal. It was rather unpleasant, but the dog loved it. I am sorry that you didn’t have the drastic changes that I have so often heard about from people. I do believe the benefits are worth it so I will persevere in my quest to make my D.E. usable. And yes our world travels are what prompted the purchase and intended use.

  • Used internally DE also works great for any type of joint problems. A teaspoon in 8 oz of water or juice everyday is what I use, works great!

  • My food-grade DE is noticeably darker. I made the deodorant recipe above and it’s black. It went on black and has stayed black on my skin, shirt and bra. I hope it washes out easily. I really like the smell of it though! I may try a different recipe for deodorant with the above EOs. It didn’t irritate my skin at all either. Just a little darker than I like! :O)

  • I’ve never heard of it, but I’m going to give it a go.
    Finding some on eBay now.
    Sounds like it will be great for our orchard & garden, as well as maybe trying some for health & home.

  • Because of the inhalation dangers, DE should NOT be sprinkled on mattresses & pillows! When used for pest control, it is considered to be for “crack & crevice” applications. That being said, when we had bedbugs, I did put it very lightly under the bottom sheet, between the mattress & boxspring, & on the sides & bottom of the box spring, where the bedbugs were prone to hide- just not on the surfaces our bodies came in contact with.

  • Used internally for pets and people it will remove parasites/worms. It is also high in silica that the body needs. Silica is great for hair and skin. Because the micro-particles are sharp be careful shaking the fine powder when using around the house or on pets or yourself because the powder can cause damage if it gets into eyes and lungs (in animals and humans). Don’t allow it to fly about in the air, keep it low and contained and you will be fine.

  • My family has been using St Gabriel’s Organics DE for pets t control for a while now. It’s a miracle worker. You can order it on Amazon or home depot online in most states

  • Hi Jillee! So many uses for diatomaceous earth that I never thought of before! If I remember right, my husband bought ours at a local farm supply store. We mix it in with our stored wheat and other grains to prevent pests, and sometimes sprinkle it around and on plants in the garden. I really appreciate all the tips. Pinned to a couple different boards. Thanks!

  • Yes, you must ensure that it has “food grade” on the label. I first learned about DE when I moved into my apartment building and within six days discovered a couple of bedbugs in my bed!!! First time I ever saw one in my life, and I’m 71. When I went to the internet to search for info on getting rid of bedbugs, I found a website about DE. Of course the apartment managers had their exterminators come in a spray the apartment, but after they did that, I went around and placed DE around the perimeter of the apartment, in spaces and nooks and crannies around baseboards, etc. Also, it’s good to refresh once in a while. Make sure to get it into the radiators and also the holes for the pipes coming into your apartment.

    At the same time, I read about the health benefits of DE. I suffered for years with Inflammatory Bowel, but right from the first dose of DE I ingested, I had no more trouble. I take a heaping tablespoon in water every day.

    If you can’t find DE at your hardware store gardening centre, try your nearest health food store (or Amazon as suggested in other posts.)

  • Whatever you do in obtaining DE, MAKE SURE IT REALLY IS FOOD GRADE – it should say so PROMINENTLY on the label and/ or the description on an online site!!
    The ‘OTHER’ FORM OF DE is one used for swimming pool filters (like sold at home stores like Home Depot) and you ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT THAT ONE ON YOUR SKIN, YOUR ANIMALS SKIN OR SLEEPING AREAS, NOR IN YOUR BODY!! VERY toxic.
    Amazon.com has FOOD GRADE DE, and is where I got mine. Amazon also has the ‘duster’ for it, which is handy.
    At some point during each summer, we start getting bitten in our bed/bedroom by some little no-see-um critter we likely bring in from outside on our clothes which makes its way from the carpet to the bed. So I ‘dust’ DE for about 2-3 ft around and slightly under the bed edges (NEVER ON THE BED, as you don’t want to be raising dust IN the bed to be breathing while sleeping!) and leave it for about a week when I vacuum it up. No more bites and completely takes care of the issue until the next summer.
    Thanks Jillee, I will certainly try some of these other ideas for DE!!!

  • I have been ingesting DE every day for almost a year and can attest to how well it works. It’s not only for hair, skin and nails but, also my stomach and bones no longer have pain. I started on a very low dose, 1/4 top a day for 2 weeks. Then 2 doses of 1/4 top a day for 2 weeks drinking lots of water and taking this 1 hour before eating anything. You can also take 1 hour after eating. After a full year of research on FOOD GRADE DE, I now take 1 tblsp a day, give this a try, you’ll be happy you did so.

  • FYI… fleas will laugh heartily at your feeble attempts to influence them with DE. And will be laying eggs at the speed of light at the same time. Not only will you have an infestation, you’ll have messy DE to clean up.

    • My Vet had two large dogs that were in the back yard in Florida ( lots of bugs) in the day time and inside at night. She said she never had a flea problem with her dogs or in her house.

      She put DEbon her rug and worked it in with a stiff bristle broom (the old fashion broom). She never mentioned using it on the dogs. She recommended this to her clients.

      Fleas live in yards and houses and only jump on animals or usfor a snack or two.

    • Living in Fl, and having multiple pets, I developed a severe flea infestation. DE was the ONLY product that eliminated it. I put the DE in a shaker container and put.on pets, carpet, furniture, under mattress pads and pillow cases, in floor cracks, on draper, under furniture etc. I have not had a problem since then and it has been over a year. Is it messy? Well, kind of but not sticky or difficult to vacuum. It.is also environmentally safe .

      • I was on a website for DE that warned about vacuuming too much of the DE into your vacuum cleaner as it can be damaging to the motor. I don’t know how much would be “too much.” However, I took a chance with my old vacuum cleaner and haven’t noticed anything yet. Of course, it goes without saying, change the filter and empty the vacuum cleaner.

      • Karen, I’m so happy that you’ve had success with DE. I have a lot of indoor/outdoor pets that are vet treated monthly. I have also had TERRIBLE flea infestations in my home for the last 3 summers. The first time, I tried DE plus any other ‘natural’ solution I could research and try, only to waste my money, effort and precious time in the flea life cycle. And yes, DE is quite capable of clogging your vacuum cleaner. To say that my experience is invalid is foolishness. May your fleas situation never flourish.

    • You’re so very wrong about the fleas. I never had problems with fleas with my 2 indoor cats in Bakersfield, CA but when I moved to the Central Coast in CA, I could not control the fleas that had inadvertently been brought into my house. Both cats had reactions to Advantage. Frontline is totally ineffective to the fleas in this area. Bathing with flea shampoo, baby shampoo and Dawn detergent were at best, a temporary relief lasting only a few days. My use of chemicals is minimal. I’ve used food grade DE on feral kittens under 6 months when I was involved in a spay/neuter/return cat program in Bakersfield and forgot I had it hidden in my cabinet. I now powder my indoor cats once a week which doesn’t dry out their skin as the weekly shampoo does. I’m no longer getting flea bites. I can attest that FOOD GRADE DE does work!!!

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