What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Diatomaceous earth, also called DE, is a cream-colored powder that is the fossilized remains of ancient marine phytoplankton.The benefits of DE in the garden, home, and yard are numerous.
How DE Works
Although DE contains some beneficial trace minerals, it is almost pure silica. Under a microscope, DE appears to be glass shards. DE gets under the shell of any beetle-type insect—such as fleas and cockroaches—and then dehydrates the insect and the insect dies. Because this is not a chemical effect, but rather is a physical one, there is no resistance buildup like there is with chemical poisons. However, it does not harm mammals.
The Benefits of DE in the Garden
1. I use in the garden because it dries out unwanted bugs and insects. It can absorb one and a half times its weight in water and will dehydrate these insects. When wet, DE is not effective against unwanted bugs, but if not washed away by heavy rains, it will work again once it dries out.
2. I sometimes will put a ring around young plants because bugs do not like to cross a DE barrier. This prevents cutworms from girding my plants.
3. When my garden is attacked by flea beetles, I outline my garden with DE.I just sprinkle it around. To make a shaker container, I use a quart mason jar. I take a canning lid, poke holes into the top, and screw it into onto the jar filled with the DE and sprinkle away!
4. I sometime make liquid slurry of DE and spray on damaged plants. I am careful not to spray the DE on any blooms or blossoms because even though DE will not kill earthworms it can kill honeybees and ladybugs.
The Benefits of DE in the Yard
1. I sprinkle DE around slugs and snail trails.
2. I dust it on anthills.
3. Sometimes during epidemic infestations, I dust my entire lawn to get rid of mites, chiggers, crickets, and other lawn pests.
4. I spray wasp nests and ant trails with a mixture of DE and water.
The Benefits of Using DE Inside My Home
1. I squirt, shake, sprinkle and spread DE anywhere in my home where I find cockroaches, silverfish crickets, ants, flies, and carpet beetles. Because it is nontoxic, it is safe around children and pets.
2. To prevent bedbugs, I sprinkle my mattress with DE.
3. I sprinkle DE in my home-stored grains to keep them dry and bug free. I add 1 cup for five-gallon buckets of wheat or rice or one teaspoon to each quart jar of these grains. I could wash the DE off these grains when I am ready to use them, but I do not because they are safe. Not only is DE safe, but DE also provides me with 27 trace minerals.
The Benefits of using DE in the Kennel
1. Instead of using chemically toxic shampoos and powders or an equally toxic flea collar on my pets, I just rub DE into my pet’s fur to dry out any fleas.
2. I mix DE in my pet and farm animal food. DE will not only keep the food free of insects but it will keep out moisture and prevent mold as well. It does not injure animals. In fact, it has the added benefit in that it kills internal parasites. Again, because it contains 27 trace minerals, it is an added benefit for my pets’ health.
The Benefits of Cleaning with DE
1. I use DE to deodorize garbage can and the refrigerator. I sprinkle it in my shoes to reduce odor there. If I find bugs in the garbage, I sprinkle some DE into a can. There is no more bugs, no more odors.
2. If I had a cat, I could use it in the cat litter box.
3. Because DE is micro-abrasive, I make a paste for scrubbing. It is even gentle enough for polishing silver.
3. I use DE to dry up greasy spills. I just sprinkle it on the grease. The DE absorbs the grease and all I have left to do is to wipe it up.
4. I deodorize my carpet by sprinkling DE onto it. I let it sit for about half an hour and then vacuum. If I had house pets, I would get the added benefit in the fact that it kills fleas.
A Word of Caution Concerning DE
In the house and garden, however, DO NOT use diatomaceous earth packaged for swimming pool filters. Use only food grade DE. DE that is not food grade may contain excessive amounts of crystalline silica. If there is more than 0.01% of crystalline silica in the DE, according to OSHA, it is a potential carcinogen. Only by buying food grade DE will you have the guarantee that the DE you have has less than this amount of crystalline silica. In addition, it is a good idea to wear a filter mask when handling this dusty product because inhaling DE may cause lung problems if inhaled over long periods.
Reap all the Benefits!
Using food grade DE around the house to help protect you, your yard, your pets and your livestock. with all these benefits of food grade diatomaceous earth, you'll wonder why everyone isn't using it.
Cygnet Brown (author) from Springfield, Missouri on March 04, 2013:
Thanks for the thumbs up everyone!
Vickiw on March 04, 2013:
Hi cygnetbrown, I have used this in my garden too! I have not used it for any other purpose, and I was glad to see your caution, that one should use a filter mask when handling it, as it is dusty, and has silicone slivers.
I had no idea it could be used for so many different purposes. Especially interesting for gardeners!
Angelo52 on March 04, 2013:
There sure are a lot of uses for diatomaceous earth. I heard about it once a long time ago - probably in Mother Earth magazing of the 70s -and forgot all about it. Voted up and shared.
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on March 04, 2013:
We used this extensively last year and it works as well as you say it does. Good job my friend! This hub gets my seal of approval. :)
torrilynn on March 04, 2013:
i never knew what you meant by diatomaceous earth
until i read your hub about it and the benefits of using it in
your garden. thanks for the info and great advice.