Diatomaceous Earth & Young Kids
November 20, 2017 11:16 AM   Subscribe

Fleas have sadly entered our world. I have diatomaceous earth coming today. I have little humans at home. I am nervous about how to use it safely, despite online research, as it is my first time using it.

I have googled and read as much as I can but I am still worried about safety because there are some mixed articles out there (wear a mask when depositing, put a lot down, put a little down, etc.). I have food grade DE on its way. We have mostly hardwood flooring but a few rugs and fabric-y couches and a fabric headboard. I know that it is best to keep it down longer due to the flea life cycle. I have washed everything fabric we have and the animals had capstar for a day and are on flea/tick medicine again (and we are finding dead fleas only).

Can I keep the DE on the rugs and couch etc. for several days with climbing kids or should I overnight it and vacuum each morning before the little humans are up?

Is there a best method for applying it. Some websites say wear a mask and use a sifter. Others say "sprinkle it around."

I am one of those people who needs a little more specific guidance to feel comfortable proceeding and would appreciate any advice you may all have.
posted by anya32 to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Unless someone in the house has allergy or lung issues, you should be fine pretty much doing whatever as long as it isn't getting obviously dusty in the air and you're only treating for a few days.

DE can also be a skin irritant, but again, absent any particular sensitivities, the worst that will happen is a bit of irritation as long as you are keeping an eye on things and not letting the kids rub themselves in piles of the stuff for hours.
posted by wierdo at 11:24 AM on November 20, 2017

It's nothing more than chalk. It's inert. You don't want to breath in a lot of it, but you don't want to breath in a lot of any fine powder.
posted by humboldt32 at 11:25 AM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

A year ago, I successfully used DE to treat fleas that were not responding to OTC flea medication for my cats.

I placed it under our couch cushions, under the couches, and in the piles of our rugs, using a stiff-bristled brush to rub it in where appropriate. You can use a sifter, but I just used my hands. I also sprinkled a little bit on my cats' backs near their tails and worked it into the fur.

DE is a really fine powder, and when you're placing it, a little might get into the air. If you use a lot of it in your carpets, it can also make little poofs when you step on it. The upshot of it was that our house was dusty for the week that we left it down. Fortunately, this was all it took for the flea lifecycle to run its course and we vacuumed it up without a problem. We encountered no ill effects and I wouldn't hesitate to use it around children, especially in moderate quantities.
posted by kdar at 11:27 AM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

Use a puffer then clear the house for about an hour as it settles down. Vacuum it up with a shop vac as it can clog regular vacuum. It mostly just smells and feels dusty in the air u til it settles.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2017

I have mild asthma and the DE was really not good for me, not good at all, so as someone said above, if your kids have lung problems then they might not feel great.... but more to the point, it didn't really help with the fleas.

So I'm going to suggest that you treat your pets with the GOOD STUFF from the vets - that's the only thing that worked in our situation.... DE is fine as an addition to other stuff, but I'm not sure it'll wipe out the fleas on its own!
posted by JenThePro at 11:36 AM on November 20, 2017

A good analogy just struck me: DE is kinda like a magic eraser. Rubbing yourself with it a bit won't cause harm, but if you scrub yourself with it for ten minutes it's going to really mess you up.

JenThePro is correct about the "good stuff," BTW. Where I live, most fleas are immune to every OTC insecticide except Capstar. You either make sure they never get started at all or you use one of the prescription meds. I believe the vet prescribed either Comfortis or Nexium for the dogs, and just having them be a roving flea murder palace and leaving the cats untreated was enough to kill them all in a couple of weeks.

I've been told Revolution is starting to lose effectiveness against fleas here, so I suspect sometime in the next 5-10 years it'll be useless in all of North America.
posted by wierdo at 2:20 PM on November 20, 2017

« Older Ya? Who else?   |   How to repair back pack straps Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.