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. Carolan Ross Avatar
    Carolan Ross

    Excellent info about diatomacous earth here, thx Wellness Mama again, one of the best natural health resources on the net.

  2. Kristen Avatar

    My 4 year old daughter had a stool test, and it showed a parasite. We used DE for 3 months going up from a tsp to a tbsp 1-2 times per day and increasing over the three months. Her last stool test was clear of parasites. It also helped her yeast levels.

  3. Chantelle Avatar

    Yes , I use DE on my cats to stop fleas . One of our cats is allergic to commercial flea poison , so we decided on a more natural method which worked great . Kitties are happy and they love been dusted down with the powder.

  4. Mary Avatar

    I started using DE at 1/4 tsp in my breakfast smoothie in March of this year. It’s now late September. I took it as a silica supplement only. In three days I expelled a large tapeworm and 2 large round worms and several other small worms as well as round worm eggs. Before this I had debilitating fatigue for many, many years, but once the worms were gone I had energy I haven’t felt since I was a child. It was wonderful. However… even though I only took this 1/4 tsp for a few days, I’ve been left with what is looking like it’s going to be a permanent digestive issue. The diarrhea started slowly but became worse after a couple of months. Now I’m saddled with a horrible external hemorrhoid from the daily diarrhea, one that will have to have be surgically removed when, and if, I can get rid of the diarrhea. I can’t sit down, I have to lie down because of the pain of that hemorrhoid. I’ve lost over 30 lbs and I’m afraid to eat because the diarrhea is now severe and just about everything triggers it. I haven’t had a normal bowel movement since the week after I started the DE. The doctor believes the DE caused a microscopic colitis, which is not curable. A word of caution, DE is mildly abrasive and can cause some people harm. I wish I hadn’t taken it. I housebound now because of this issue.

  5. Robyn Avatar

    Hi I am in need of some clarification because I have never used DE before and we have fleas and two young children. I read first your article on pest control methods and read about DE in that article you referenced the brand Natures Wisdom food grade DE. I ordered it. But now I just read this article and you have referenced a different brand. So did I order the wrong kind is the Natures Wisdom not good to use? I’m confused now… thank you!

  6. Rhonda Avatar

    CAn you put this on your body to get rid of body lice? How did you apply it? Do you have an email so I can show you some pictures? I will not share it

  7. Deb Avatar

    I am so happy to read this, I have been looking for something to kill worms as I have been seeing them in my you know what after I go and after I did a stool culture at the doctors and they said there was nothing in it I still saw them. So I got some of this at the feed store and have taken it twice. Saturday I took it in the am at the same time as I took 2 TBL of a detox mix of 50/50 honey/apple cider vinegar with 8 crushed garlic cloves that I made in a jar and shook for 5 days straight before using and I had a huge die off.. I was aware of the cause of my illness as I have lymes disease and have had this happen several times over the last 6 years 🙁 but I was sicker than I have ever been with a reaction so I was unsure if I did something wrong.. and yeah.. I did.. I took a heaping teaspoon of the de in my yogurt to start and it was too much.. still not feeling great today but after reading this info I cut it back to half a tsp and will see what happens.. I will say that I know it is working as I have had several bm with evidence in them.. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!! You can not imagine how horrible I have been feeling and how much better my intestines and stomach is already starting to feel.. the bloating is going down and other than running a fever (which I do when the lyme flares so I cant tell which is causing it) I feel so much better and I have only been using it a few days.. I am eternally grateful for the info and all of the responses that have helped me piece together how exactly to get myself on track.. I can not wait to see if it helps my bone density results when I have my scan in may.. my last one was so bad they put me on pills to try and keep me from having any more fractures and I am hoping I will be able to get off some of the drugs they have me on for my poor health.. which I keep telling them are making me feel worse. each time they give me a drug it causes something else to go wrong.. I have osteoporosis from high doses of prednisone they gave me in my 30s for heart issues that they misdiagnosed as lung issues and I was not even aware that prednisone could cause osteo 😮

  8. Jenny Avatar

    I have digestive issues probably candida and Im recovering from Lyme. I really wanted to take this and started to but, after 1 week, it dried me out. Not to be too personal but it gave me fissures. This happened to me with what I used to eat and I quickly changed my diet to include more moisturizing/water based foods like banana, avocado and celery plus all veggies, very low grain. It has also dried out my hair with only being on it for 1 week! I drank plenty of water 1 t. 2x /day. LOTS. Then I read that too much water can actually dry you out! I wish there were a doc who could help in my area.
    I could only find scant info on these drying side effects.
    Could anyone give any insight on these drying side effects?

    1. Pamela Avatar

      So weird Jenny! I am also a recovering Lyme patient… seems like the recovering Lyme patient is like saying recovering alcoholic since it never seems to end. I was diagnosed with Lyme in 2011 and since then have been in many phases of health. I have gone back to supplements that seemed to do nothing in 2012, and lo and behold, now work like a miracle! What I mean to say is I get different responses to food and supplements as I get healthier or sicker (moldy environments, off the diet wagon). So, if you try DE again in a year, I would not be surprised by different side effects.
      Anyway, I would try searching for emollient herbs to help moisturize your body, and astringent herbs so you can minimize them. Maybe you are taking DE and have a lot of astringents in your protocol (or take coffee or tea to get through the day which are very astringent), and it may be a bad time to add DE? Anyway, one time I made a mixture from Wellness Mama and my husband asked why my face was shiny! Turned out the herbal tea mixture had a few emollient herbs. BTW, mullein is very emollient and helps lungs function normally.
      I am not a doctor but I have a certificate in herbal retail management from ACHS.

  9. Joanne Avatar

    In her candida protocol, Christa Orrechio says to take first thing in the morning one tsp of bentonite clay mixed with one tsp diatomaceous earth in a glass of water. Shake in a covered jar to mix. Don’t eat for an hour. Do this for only six weeks according to her. Drink lots of water so it doesn’t make you constipated.

  10. Jessica Avatar

    I am interested in starting bentonite clay and diatomaceous earth after reading your posts on them. Have you ever consumed the two at the same time? Should I alternate days? What do you think is best? Thanks!

  11. Corrina Avatar

    In the evening I usually take the oils and then drink Golden tea for inflammation and arthritis pain. I often put the DE in it. Will the DE work the same on a stomach full of oils and almond milk? Should I consider taking the DE before?

  12. Corrina Avatar

    HI, I love this blog and it is my go to for family health information and to answer any health questions. I feel like you do a great job researching and presenting accurate and helpful information. So I have what may be a long ind complicated question.
    I am trying to get my health under control. One by one I have added lemon water, golden tea,DE, phytoplankton, and several seed oils from Activation Products to my daily routine. Everything except the Oceans Alive is to be taken in the morning and the evening. On an empty stomach I presume. So my question is this.- Do they interfere with each other and what is the best order to take them. I am thinking, lemon, DE, oceans alive, and then the oil last so it doesn’t coat the DE or dilute the lemon. Shortly after I usually make a smoothie. Is it the same at night? I am just not sure what to do. I would love your thinking on this. Maybe it would be helpful if you gave us an idea of what you do each day and the order.
    Thanks again for your wonderful blog!

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar

      Thanks so much for reading. I do in the same order. I don’t do DE every day now, but usually a few times a week and I do the lemon water and then then phytoplankton. The oils don’t have to be on an empty stomach so I’ll often add those to a salad or veggies after cooking.

      1. Corrina Avatar

        Good to know because I was waiting quite awhile to have breakfast. Thanks again!

  13. Gina Avatar

    Would it be ok to put the food grade DE in veggie capsules for ingestion? I have a really hard time drinking it mixed with water, juice & smoothies due to the way it smells and tastes, but I really don’t want to miss out on the benefits either. Would mixing it with something like ACV (which I also hate the taste of) or e.v. coconut oil and putting it into the caps do the trick?

  14. Lizabeth Wiinamaki Avatar
    Lizabeth Wiinamaki

    Earthworkshealth has much better prices than the company you mentioned

  15. Millason Avatar

    Katie, I love how you always take the time to do extensive research for all of your posts. Thank you for clearing the air between food-grade DE and industrial DE. This post was sooo useful!

  16. Taline Galstian Avatar
    Taline Galstian

    Hi Katie!
    My 7yr old has had Pinworms for well over a year now. We have tried everything and anything and nothing has worked for us. I want to give her DE, however, she is an extremely picky eater and won’t have anything to do with DE. I’m trying to find different ways to get her to ingest It. What would some of your recommendations be? Will it work if I sprinkle DE and bake with it to mask the taste? Thanks for your help!!

    1. Christi Ann Avatar
      Christi Ann

      I simply mix it into milk with added honey. The texture of the milk may be a little thicker, but there is no discernible taste.
      By starting with a little and increasing gradually, I don’t think it would be noticed. I have also added some chicory tea, for it’s benefits.

    2. Jillian Avatar

      It is completely hidden in a smoothie. I make my kids a smoothie with frozen berries, a banana and pineapple juice as a treat. A spoonful of DE in there is totally un-noticible. Easy way to get it down the hatch with kids in my experience.

      Hope this helps!

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