You may have heard about diatomaceous earth as a flea treatment and are wondering what exactly is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous Earth is basically fossils of diatoms that live in water. It is soft and fine like talc as well as porous (I use it to make essential oil air fresheners because it holds the scent for so long). Diatom fossil remains form a heavy layer on the floor of lakes, rivers and oceans. Their skeletons are made of silica, a natural substance, and silica is what makes up Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous earth and fleas on cats (or any animal) don’t get along well. Diatomaceous earth is a toxic substance to small insects like fleas. It will rid your pet of these nuisances.
There are many uses for diatomaceous earth beside flea control such as:
- beauty masks
- internal parasite control
- water purification
- body detox
- improves joint, bone and ligament health
- cleans nails, teeth, and skin
- …and much more
Diatomaceous earth as flea control
Diatomaceous earth has become widely used. Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for pets, livestock and humans (read Is diatomaceous earth safe for cats below). The product is easy to use and the food grade product contains no chemicals. I administer once a month during the summer as with any other flea product. I live in Connecticut so during the winter, I don’t see any fleas. You might live in a different area or have seen fleas during the winter months but I check them every so often with a flea comb and I’ve aways come up flealess!
Does diatomaceous earth kill fleas?
Yes, it does.
Does diatomaceous earth really kill fleas?
Yes, it really does!
How does diatomaceous earth kill fleas?
Diatomaceous earth is a fine powder made from crushed diatom fossils. Diatoms are a type of fossilized phytoplankton that has razor sharp edges like shards of glass. The sharp edges cut the fleas exoskeleton and the insect dehydrates and eventually dies.
Will food grade diatomaceous earth kill fleas?
Yes, food grade diatomaceous earth will kill fleas. Both food grade and non-food grade diatomaceous earth have the same razor-like edges. The difference between food grade and non-food grade diatomaceous earth are additional harmful chemicals in the non-food grade product. Therefore it is important to always buy food grade diatomaceous earth.
Does diatomaceous earth kill flea eggs / larvae?
No, it does not. That is why it is important to do a follow-up treatment within a week if you have a current infestation as the fleas will need to hatch first. If you are only using it for prevention, then once a month is sufficient from my experience.
How fast does diatomaceous earth kill fleas?
48 to 72 hours
Is diatomaceous earth safe for cats?
Yes, both topically and internally. I have been using it topically for almost two years on my cats. I have also been putting it in their food a couple times a week to use as worm prevention. You can read about diatomaceous earth as a dewormer here.
Both the CDC and the National Pesticide Information Center have fact sheets on Diatomaceous Earth. The CDC fact sheet for Amorphous (Freshwater) Diatomaceous Earth states that there are no known chemical dangers and no short-term effects from exposure (there are long term effects). There is one phrase of caution “harmful concentration of airborne particles can, however, be reached quickly when dispersed” which is true. However, I’ve been using this stuff for a while and my assumption is this is in relation to large quantities.
The National Pesticide Information Center states that amorphous diatomaceous earth is quickly eliminated from lung tissue whereas crystalline diatomaceous earth is smaller and build up in the lungs. The product we use is amorphous (or freshwater) and is food grade. Crystalline is not food grade and is usually used in pool treatments and pesticides. Click here to read my food grade diatomaceous earth reviews and be sure to buy the proper product.
How to use diatomaceous earth for fleas on cats
Wear gloves as it is very drying. Diatomaceous earth is very drying (it is a mild abrasive) and will dry out both your cat and your skin. Sometimes I don’t wear gloves and notice little areas of dry skin on my fingers afterward. To avoid this wear gloves.
I take a spoon and just put about a quarter teaspoon on their lower back and rub it in gently so as not to create too much dust. A couple sprinkles from a salt shaker and a good rub will work well too. The cat’s movement will spread it around enough and the fleas won’t sense a topical chemical like commercial flea products so they will walk right through it and commit suicide. I go about halfway up the back because I don’t want to get it in their eyes. It is not good for the mucous membranes (eyes and nose) so but sure to apply it inside away from any breeze.
I did get it in my eyes once. The only thing that happened was my eyes got very itchy, irritated and red for about 4 hours. It was uncomfortable but I didn’t die or go blind. Lol. That’s not to say I would take a whole bag and dump it on my face because that would probably be much worse. Just take your time, be careful and you and your cat will be fine.
REMEMBER: Less is more!!! You don’t need to change your black cat into a white one. Very little goes a long way. Actually, if you use too much, the fleas will avoid the area and not die. A light dusting is sufficient.
If you have carpet, you should vacuum first and then apply a thin layer of diatomaceous earth and vacuum it up after about 72 hours. I don’t have any carpets in my house. I have all wood floors so I’ve never had to treat the floors. A word of caution. DE is hard on vacuums so a shop vac is your best best.
I give the diatomaceous earth a few days to do it’s job and then apply coconut oil to their fur because of the drying effects. I just melt a little in my hands (it has a very low melting point) and rub it on them. You can use olive oil too if you don’t have coconut oil. My cats like both oil and coconut oil and it is good for them. I do this for a couple of days. They will look a little greasy for a little while but it helps with the dry skin.
This is what I do for prevention but if they are infested then you need to reapply within a week. Since diatomaceous earth doesn’t kill flea eggs or larvae, you need to get the new batch of buggers once they’ve hatched.
Have you used diatomaceous earth before? What is your experience with diatomaceous earth and fleas on cats? Leave a comment below and let me know! Cheers!