10 Amazing Uses for Diatomaceous Earth Around the Home

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Uses of Diatomaceous Earth
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Tell your kids it’s “skeleton powder.” Or that it slashes and dehydrates bugs to death! If you have boys especially, they may look at your natural pantry with a whole new respect!

You won’t be lying  … Diatomaceous Earth (or DE for short) is all that and more! Here are all the (not so gory) details on this natural remedy wonder for anyone with pets or a family.

What Is Diatomaceous Earth, Anyway?

DE is, as mentioned, a white powder naturally occurring from the fossils of diatoms (a type of algae found in river bed and lake beds). The diatoms form a very hard shell of silica in a tubular shape.

When dry, Diatomaceous Earth appears very fine and soft to the naked eye but microscopically it has some very unique qualities:

  • High Silica Content: These fossilized diatoms have a very high silica content (which is used to build hair, skin, and nails).
  • Hard as Nails … or Diamonds: DE is very hard (only two points lower than diamonds on the hardness scale). It looks like a tiny cylindrical tube with many holes in it when viewed through a microscope.
  • Holds a Strong Negative Charge: DE has a very strong negative charge, which makes it purifying and beneficial in several ways.

Since the 1960s DE has been commonly used in things like toothpaste, as an anti-caking aid, for clarifying beer or wine, and to eliminate pests naturally. In fact, you’ve likely consumed products that contain traces of DE without even knowing it! While I’m usually not a fan of hidden ingredients, DE is one we don’t need to worry about.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its share of controversy … not all of it warranted.

How Do I Know DE Is Safe?

In this article, I’m referencing Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth, which the FDA classifies “Generally Recognized As Safe” for human consumption, even when pregnant or nursing. It is NOT the industrial grade type used in pool cleaning. Much of the misunderstanding about the benefits of DE stems from the difference in these two types. The industrial grade is toxic to humans and should be avoided. It is also toxic to workers who collect it.

Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth is purified and amorphous, not crystalline. It is inert and harmless (as long as you’re not an insect with an exoskeleton).

What Does Diatomaceous Earth Do for the Body?

For the human body … and even for animals … DE is an ally. Thanks to its strong negative charge diatomaceous earth binds to unwanted toxins in the digestive tract. On the skin, it acts as an oil binder, a purifier, and an exfoliant.

For unwanted bugs and insects, it’s quite another story.

Does DE Kill Insects?

In a word, yes! Many use Diatomaceous Earth as a natural pesticide. Its sharp and strong structure allows it to puncture and drain the exoskeleton of insects from their protective fats and oils on a microscopic level. This causes them to dehydrate and die (while humans and animals are left completely unharmed).

10 Ways to Use Diatomaceous Earth

Uses for diatomaceous earth-skin hair and nails-pest controlSome sources claim that DE is a cure-all for everything from parasites to viruses and everything in between. They claim it eliminates free radicals, remineralizes bones, and halts aging in its tracks.

I haven’t found any research to back up these claims, but there are studies on silica and other compounds found in DE. These are the benefits that seem credible based on the available body of evidence:

1. As a Natural Alternative to Pesticides

Most pesticides and insecticides work by poisoning the pest. Unfortunately, chemicals that are harmful to small pests can also be harmful to humans and carry risks. Insects can also develop immunity over time.

DE works mechanically on:

  • fleas
  • bedbugs
  • cockroaches
  • ants

Just sprinkling a little DE around the house bonds to and absorbs parts of the waxy coating on the exoskeleton of these insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. Sprinkle a perimeter around the exterior of the house and also indoors where problems are observed.

The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act classifies DE as safe for household use. The Environmental Working Group classifies it as safe for household and beauty use as well.

2. To Treat Fleas on Pets

I will be forever grateful for DE and its help when we had a horrible flea infestation. We adopted a rescue kitten and she brought along a few thousand close friends … FLEAS.

The fleas quickly infested the entire apartment we were living in at the time and with a new baby and toddlers, it was a HUGE problem. I didn’t want to use any type of harmful pesticide either since my kids were crawling around on the floor.

To stop the flea outbreak, we sprinkled DE all over our carpet and soft surfaces several times a day. The only potential concern with DE is irritation from inhalation, so I wore a dust mask when sprinkling it around the whole house. I worked the powder into the carpets and let it sit for about an hour. Then, I vacuumed it up. I repeated this a few times a day for 4 days until the fleas were gone. (Yes, this is a messy process!)

We also killed the fleas on the kitten by carefully dusting her with DE a few times a day, avoiding the eyes and nose.

We now dust all of our animals with DE before and after going hiking with them in the woods, or if they show any signs of fleas.

3. Fighting Bed Bugs

Were you hoping bed bugs weren’t real? Well, sorry … they definitely are and don’t discriminate against even very clean homes!

DE is well documented for its ability to eliminate bedbugs. Even pest control companies sometimes use DE for removing bed bugs safely. Follow these steps if you see or fear bedbugs. For good measure, I sprinkle DE on mattresses each time I change the sheets to help ward off bed bugs and other pests.

4. As a Source of Silica

DE is 84-90% silica with over 20 trace minerals that are difficult to obtain in today’s world and needed by skin, teeth, and hair. A study from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Pharmacy showed that silica may help increase hair growth and thickness when taken regularly. The skin also uses silica and deficiency may lead to dry or brittle skin.

Studies show that dietary silicon is beneficial to bone and connective tissue, though the specific form in DE is not well studied. Evidence shows a positive association between dietary silicon intake and better bone mineral density, though the exact reason is unclear. One theory is that silicon helps the body synthesize collagen (which the body uses in joints, connective tissue, bones, and skin).

More research on the direct effects of DE on silica levels is needed, but silica itself is indisputably good for hair, skin, and nails.


5. To Assist in Detoxifiction

This is where claims start to get murky. On the one hand, there are thousands of products that claim to remove “toxins,” without clearly defining what “toxins” are. Since “toxins” is a term that could apply to a wide range of substances, these claims are difficult or impossible to measure.

On the other hand, there is evidence that diatomaceous earth may have a measurable affect on several substances that harm the body, including reducing aluminum and other heavy metals.

DE’s high silica concentration may also contribute to the detoxification claims. Some evidence suggests that silica may help fight free radical damage in a similar way to antioxidants. This may be due to its ability to remain stable and carry a negative electrical charge, attracting positively charged free radicals. Though largely unproven by actual research, this mechanism is likely the basis of the claims that it reduces oxidative damage and has anti-aging effects.

6. To Fight Parasites and Bacterial Overgrowth

When a family member was battling SIBO his practitioner had him drink DE daily to help bring his gut bacteria back into balance. There isn’t much research on DE’s ability to remove parasites in humans, but it is well documented in animal studies.

In one commonly cited study The Oxford Journal of Poultry Science examined DE’s role in reducing parasites and improving egg quality in organic and free-range chickens. The study essentially concluded that hens fed DE had better eggs and fewer parasites relative to controls.

If you happen to be a chicken struggling with a mite problem, DE is a great remedy. The method in humans is less clear, but many people have used DE internally to fight other types of intestinal parasites. Anecdotal reports abound of DE’s benefits in human parasites as well, but more research is needed.

7. As a Way to Reduce Cholesterol

Amazingly, the most well-researched benefit of DE for humans is not often mentioned. In fact, the only study I found that looked at DE as a dietary supplement dates from 1998 and examined its role in improving cholesterol levels. The results are fascinating:

  • Participants all had a history of high cholesterol
  • They took diatomaceous earth multiple times a day for 8 weeks
  • At the end of the study, the subjects total cholesterol had got down by 13.2%
  • LDL (“bad”) cholesterol decreased the most
  • HDL (“good”) cholesterol increased slightly

The researchers concluded that while the results were promising, further studies are needed with larger groups and a control group. Anecdotal reports abound of people who used DE to help with cholesterol levels. A family member saw a 30 point reduction in blood pressure numbers from using DE.

8. In Sensitive Skin Deodorant

I’ve been making my own natural deodorant for years now (using this recipe) and love it. Some people react to the baking soda in the recipe, likely because it is so alkaline and may irritate certain skin types. This recipe is a great sensitive skin alternative using diatomaceous earth in place of the baking soda.

9. To Fight Foot Fungus

DE is naturally drying and may reduce moisture. I couldn’t find any studies to back it up, but a friend claimed that sprinkling it in her socks daily helped her beat a decade-long battle with toenail fungus.

10. Mixed in Beauty Products

A bonus use for DE!

I personally love using diatomaceous earth on my skin in beauty products. My skin tends to be naturally oily, so I often add a little bit of DE to homemade facial cleansers and face masks to remove some excess oil. Bonus: It makes a nice natural exfoliant!

Cautions and Risks

It is VERY IMPORTANT to only use food-grade diatomaceous earth for consumption. Other forms of DE are not considered safe and can be harmful to the lungs if inhaled. Many of the misconceptions about diatomaceous earth comes from confusing these types. Food grade DE is recognized as safe by both the FDA and the EWG. Industrial grade has many uses but is not safe for human use or to inhale!

Avoid Inhaling INDUSTRIAL Diatomaceous Earth

Studies have shown that long term exposure to industrial DE can be dangerous. While it isn’t a good idea to inhale any form of powder, the same level of caution isn’t necessary with food grade DE, as this National Pesticide Information Center fact sheet explains.

Diatomaceous “Detox” Reactions

DE may cause die-off symptoms, so it is important to work up slowly. Some people don’t respond well to DE, and I always suggest working with a knowledgeable health professional for any kind of acute problem or when doing any kind of detox.

How to Take DE

At our house, adults take 1 tablespoon per day on an empty stomach (we worked up to this from a teaspoon over a period of weeks) and kids take a teaspoon per day (they started with 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon).

Where to Buy Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth (& How It Tastes)

We use this brand since I was able to verify that it is food grade, though many local co-ops and feed stores carry food grade DE as well. It has a chalky/silky consistency and tastes like a very mild mixture of dirt and chalk, but we are able to just mix in water to take it daily. It can also be mixed into juice or coconut milk.


I am not a doctor and I don’t play one on the internet. Diatomaceous Earth has been recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration, but it is not intended to treat, prevent, cure or diagnose any disease, so use at your on risk.

Have you ever use Diatomaceous Earth? What did you use it for? How did it work? Share below!

Diatomaceous earth is a chalky powder of fossilized diatoms. It is helpful for eliminating bed bugs, fleas and other pests and is a powerful beauty remedy.

Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


431 responses to “10 Amazing Uses for Diatomaceous Earth Around the Home”

  1. Michelle Kasteler Avatar
    Michelle Kasteler

    I’d love to see some of the citations from the research your referred to. Thank you for doing all that leg work.

  2. Kim Avatar

    When I click on the link re. “we use this brand,” it opens to amazon and there are several brands all in a row. Could someone let me know what brand Katie is referring to? Or anyone have a recommendation. I looked at the Harris brand, but even on their website it says they cannot recommend it for humans for legal reasons and market it as a anticaking agent. So not sure I wnat to consume it or give it to my pets. ANy insight and reocmmendations would be very appreciated! All the stores in my area are out of theirs, and I’m hoping to find a good brand online and it needs to ship to Canada. Thanks!

  3. Debbie Avatar

    I have been trying to clear toenail fungus and would like to know of treatments using DE and the process. I have been consuming DE for well over a year but it hasn’t changed the toenail fungus. Suggestions?

  4. Karen Mitchell Avatar
    Karen Mitchell

    Great post, thank you Kathie!
    I’ve had a lot to do with the natural pet social media community for a good 7 yrs…I’m like you, Katie, I research a lot. Ive been researching to assist others in their research and have 13,000 followers.
    I’m not against DE and I’m not 100% convinced that its for all dogs..I’m kinds sitting on the fence you could say.
    DE has had a lot of controversy amongst most holistic and integrated vets. They say that DE causes leaky gut, it cuts away at their stomach lining etc. None of them have proof or cannot show studies of this, so I don’t know where they get their info from.
    I don’t think half of them have done their research thoroughly. The supplier I get mine from, they have 3 different grades, grades as in how big the particles are. I get the finest one they have, now this powder is super fine, as fine as any other powder. I can’t see it damaging my dogs gut.
    Now, I’ve never argued with them as I want to keep the peace with them, lol.. If I did, I may be banned from their pages etc and I don’t want that.

    If people wish to give it to their pets, then allow them I say. I just tell them to make sure they do their research thoroughly…and always contact the manufacture to make sure that they don’t produce other substances at the factory and also ask the manufacture to see the tests for the arsenic, lead and cadmium etc contamination results.

    I transitioned to a 100% natural protocol 6 yrs ago, my oldest, a golden turns 11 this year. I also have a 9 yrs old shih tzu cross and he son who turns 6 this year. OMG, this year has flown by, it only seems like a few months ago I we celebrated his birthday!
    I do include DE in my dogs natural protocols and take it myself.
    2-3 days before full moon I’ll add a dose to their meal. Sometimes I pop some in their water bowl for 2-3 days. Then I carry on for a few days after the full moon.
    They’ve never had worms or a flea problem..I’ve never had to treat for fleas, I don’t use DE inside as a preventive and I don’t use DE topically. Would I if I had a flea problem? Yes, I probably would, but I would only use it as a topical if nothing else works… and I know there are other things that work.
    I also use neem oil/powder in my protocols, as well as fresh garlic, turmeric, grated carrot, ground pumpkin seeds. Like I mentioned all my dogs are on a raw diet and they get these mentioned often, as well as a few other supplements such as milk thistle, moringa, hemp oil, etc

  5. Gina Avatar

    I want to start taking this again, but I’m nervous of contaminants. Being from the ground could it have lead, heavy metal etc? I’ve read betonite clay can:/…

  6. Kathy Avatar

    I take about 1 1/2 Tbs a day, mixed in food. I have been using off and on for about 4 years now. I started it to increase my mineral intake but have seen improvement in my RA, leaky gut is gone, and now finally seeing thicker hair (yaaay)! Give it time. Don’t just take for weeks, take for months. For me it seemed to tackle my issues one at a time. First leaky gut, then reduced RA symptoms, now finally hair…
    Just a side note for those with auto immune diseases; Last year I started taking frankincense oil that I put in vegan gelatin capsules. Wow! Does this ever work great on reducing inflammation in the body! Better than turmeric.
    Between that and eating plant based, I am now off the xeljanz…

  7. Betty A. Daley Avatar
    Betty A. Daley

    I am not a physician but I am another type of healthcare worker. I had to quit my job about 20 years ago because I devloped primary lymphedema tarde in both legs. I have several clusters of fluid-filled nodules on the fronts andbacks of both legs. About three years ago, several of the nodules on both legs ruptured due to infection. My doctor tried different antibiotics and treatments to no avail. I was wrapping my legs in high grade surgical dressing (and changing it several times/day) to keep the oozing from the nodules inder control. This went on for nearly 4 months. I was seeing my doctor weekly, begging for help. During the 4th month I stumbled upon an internet artical about food grade diatomaceous earth. I was familiar with industrial grade DE but here was some I could ingest that might help. I had tried everything else. I brought some home and started slowly taking it and after THREE DAYS (yes, THREE DAYS) my legs were healed and no longer open and oozing. I have not had any trouble with them since and I feel and look better in general.

  8. April Avatar

    Hi I know these posts are old but I currently have a flea problem we are using DE all over cause I have ms so I don’t want to poison my nervous system using sprays lol. We leave it for a week then vacuum everywhere. Just wondering what kind of vacuum you used for this? Ours crapped out cause of all the fine dust but we also needed a new one anyway. We have central vac with a bag now but some powder still gets through the bag to the filter. Also how did you treat your sofa and other furniture if they get into the cushions?

    1. gw Avatar

      use HEPA filters and consider a wet/dry vac with a little water in the canister to capture – avoid breathing the dust (long and prolonged breathing the dust can lead to silicosis)

  9. Kristen Avatar

    My daughter has had Cándida/gut issues since birth. At 3 she had a stool test and it showed a parasite. We didn’t want to give her an antibiotic so we opted for DE treatment for one month. After retesting the stool, the parasite was gone and she felt much better. I am a believer!

    1. julie Avatar

      Hi Kristen. I’m interested in your experience. My daughter has a parasite as well and I’d like to try DE. May I ask how you gave it to your daughter? Mine is 10 and I don’t think she’ll agree to drink it in water – tastes bad.
      Thank you!

      1. Linda Avatar

        Mixing it with peanut paste makes it easy to give to your children. Then make sure they drink some water

  10. Katherine Avatar

    Love how detailed and well researched your articles are. I wondered if you knew anything about the aluminum content in D.E.?
    My kids and I both take it periodically and I switched brands…. the new stuff lists the trace minerals with aluminum being listed at 2% which seems really high to me.
    I have read some stuff about the silica binding the aluminum which presumably renders it non-toxic.

    I was wondering if you had any thoughts.

  11. Cara Avatar

    Hi! Have you heard, or had personal success with using diatomaceous earth for pinworms (specifically in toddlers)?

  12. Cristin G Avatar
    Cristin G

    Do you still use DE in your routine? Any updates or changes you would make?

  13. Sherri Avatar

    Wellness mama – I got an email recently from the website I order DE and it stated that the FDA, which I really don’t put much stock in, said that DE is not good for children under 18 due to amount of lead build up. My husband and I was wondering your thoughts and also the fact that they are always trying to knock natural and organic products. Our children have been taking it with seemly no problems. They are 10, 7, & 3. We give the 10yr old 2tsp. and the other two 1 1/2 tsp.

  14. Kara Avatar

    I have read on Pinterest found articles that I am suppose to only use DE for a few weeks and then break for a few weeks before starting again.

    1. Do you use the same principles? Is so or if not, what is your long term regimen?

    2. Do you use and/or recommend probiotics and natural clay in conjunction with your regimen (recognizing you mention regularly your use of probiotic supplementation regardless of using DE)?

    3. Any other recommendations or updates regarding DE since this post?
    Many thank you’s for your outstanding blog,?

  15. Rebeca Avatar

    Did you give 1/4 tsp to your 3 years old kids?whed did you start giving your kids?thank you

  16. Grace Avatar

    Hi Wellness Mama! So, from what I understand from this post, this food- grade DE is safe to consume during pregnancy/ nursing? Do you think this would be a better & comparable replacement for Bentonite Clay during pregnancy/ nursing? It seems there are differences of opinion on the safety of Bentonite Clay during pregnancy/ nursing.

    One more question. The DE in the amazon link is unavailable. So, this says it’s a Roots Naturally Product, so I presume I ought to just order it from their website directly, right? Thanks, Katie!

  17. Sarah Avatar

    Do you ingest DE by stirring it into water and drinking it that way?

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