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Does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Mites?

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Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a naturally occurring substance, has gained popularity in recent years for its versatility and eco-friendly properties. Among its many applications, one question often arises: “Does Diatomaceous Earth kill mites?” The short answer is yes, DE can indeed eliminate mites effectively. But how does it work, and what precautions should you take while using it? Let’s delve deeper into these aspects.


Yes, Diatomaceous Earth (DE) can effectively kill mites. It does so by causing abrasion and damage to the mite’s exoskeleton, leading to the loss of body fluids and resulting in the mite’s death due to dehydration. Always ensure to use food-grade DE and apply it in dry conditions for the best results.

What is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that can be easily crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder. It consists of the fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled microalgae. The typical chemical composition of oven-dried diatomaceous earth is 80–90% silica, with 2–4% alumina and 0.5–2% iron oxide.

DE is used in various applications, from filtration aids in chemistry and brewing to mild abrasives in toothpaste and skincare products. However, one of its most notable uses is as a mechanical insecticide, controlling and possibly eliminating pests like bed bugs, mites, cockroaches, ants, and fleas.

What are Mites?

Mites are tiny arachnids that belong to the orders Acariformes and Parasitiformes. They can be found in various environments, such as soil, water, plants, and animals. Some mites, like dust mites, can cause allergic reactions in humans, while others, like Demodex mites, can live on human skin without causing any harm. However, an infestation of Demodex mites can lead to skin irritation and inflammation.

How does Diatomaceous Earth Kill Mites?

DE kills mites through a mechanical process. When mites come into contact with DE, the particles attach to their cuticle, causing abrasion and damage to the protective waxy layer of the mite’s exoskeleton. This damage leads to the loss of body fluids, ultimately resulting in the mite’s death due to dehydration.

Safety and Precautions

While DE is generally safe and non-toxic for humans and pets, it’s crucial to take some precautions. First, always use food-grade DE, as it is safe for consumption and can be found in various products like toothpaste, skincare products, and water filters.

Second, wear personal protective equipment, such as gloves, goggles, and a face mask, when applying DE to reduce exposure to your skin, eyes, and lungs. Additionally, keep DE away from babies and small children who might be more sensitive to its effects.

Finally, remember that DE works by dehydrating insects, so it is most effective when applied in dry conditions. Wet DE does not have the same drying effect needed to combat pests.

Application of Diatomaceous Earth for Mite Control

To use DE effectively for mite control, first clean the infested area. Then, spread DE in cracks, crevices, nest box areas, and along perches where mites may hide. You can also add a thin layer of DE to the top of the dust bathing area for animals to self-treat themselves. Repeat the application process with every coop cleaning or after rainstorms, as DE is most effective when dry.


In conclusion, Diatomaceous Earth is a natural, non-toxic, and effective solution for mite control. Its ability to dehydrate and kill mites mechanically makes it a preferred choice for many households. However, remember to use it responsibly and take necessary precautions to protect yourself and your loved ones from potential irritations.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use Diatomaceous Earth on my pets to kill mites?

Yes, Diatomaceous Earth can be used on pets to kill mites. However, ensure that you are using food-grade DE and avoid applying it near your pet’s eyes and mouth. After application, keep an eye on your pet to make sure they are not exhibiting signs of discomfort or irritation.

Is Diatomaceous Earth harmful to beneficial insects in my garden?

While DE is effective in killing many pests, it can also harm beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs if they come into direct contact with it. Therefore, it is recommended to use DE judiciously and avoid areas frequented by beneficial insects.

How long does it take for Diatomaceous Earth to kill mites?

The time it takes for Diatomaceous Earth to kill mites can vary depending on the infestation level and the humidity of the environment. However, you should start to see a reduction in the mite population within a few days of application.

Can Diatomaceous Earth be used to kill other types of pests?

Yes, in addition to mites, Diatomaceous Earth is effective against a variety of pests including bed bugs, cockroaches, ants, and fleas. It works by damaging the protective exoskeleton of these pests, leading to dehydration and death.

Can I use Diatomaceous Earth indoors?

Yes, Diatomaceous Earth can be used indoors to combat various pests. However, be sure to minimize inhalation and avoid application in areas where food is prepared or where small children and pets may come into contact with it.

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