Getting Rid of Fleas with Diatomaceous Earth

What You'll Need
Face mask (for humans and pets)
Diatomaceous earth

Fleas are the bane of any pet lover's home. Veterinarians will recommend pesticides and flea collars, but the chemicals in these can harm your pets, your children and your health. Also, pesticides are a temporary fix that will allow the fleas to come back time and time again. A natural alternative is the application of diatomaceous earth. This nontoxic, natural material will eliminate fleas in your home and on your pets without any harsh chemicals and can provide continued protection with just a layer in your carpet.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is made up of microskeletons of deceased diatoms, a type of algae. The powder is much like a very fine sand. It cuts at the waxy layer that covers fleas and keeps it from losing water. Also, the diatomaceous earth blocks up and damages the fleas' respiratory holes. So diatomaceous earth causes the fleas to die from dehydration and lack of air.

There is a version of diatomaceous earth used in pool care, but this version is heat and chemical treated. When treating for fleas, use the natural form of diatomaceous earth which is available in health food stores and at websites for natural products.

Step 1: Treat Your Pets

Cover your mouth and nose with a mask. Do the same for your pet. Diatomaceous earth is nontoxic, but you don't want it in your lungs. Sprinkle the powder down the length of your pet's spine. Brush or rub the powder down the sides of your pet, along its tail, and down its legs. For a minor infestation, one treatment may be enough. The fleas on your pet should die in 24 to 72 hours. For severe infestations, reapply every 3 days until combing your pet finds no further fleas.

If your pet shows signs of tapeworms, especially for recently collected strays, feed your pet some diatomaceous earth. Repeat a small dose daily for 2 or 3 weeks until your pet's stool shows clean.

Step 2: Treat the Inside of Your Home

Diatomaceous earth can be used to kill the fleas nesting in your carpet, furniture, and bedding. Sprinkle the powder over any surface in your home. Be sure to apply it in hidden corners and behind furniture. Where possible, brush the powder into the fabric and carpet pile. Wait 4 days and then vacuum your home. This will remove the diatomaceous earth, but also collect the dead fleas and their eggs and larva. If your home still shows signs of fleas, fell free to repeat the treatment.

Step 3: Treat the Outside of Your Home

Diatomaceous earth can also be used to destroy fleas in your yard and on your deck. Sprinkle the powder around your home, especially in areas where your pets spend their time. The only problem is that diatomaceous earth is not effective when wet. It works best on bare ground, gravel, and concrete and must be reapplied after rain or watering for continued protection.