9 Handy Household Uses for Diatomaceous Earth

This naturally-occurring, affordable powder has a plethora of practical, eco-friendly uses.

An Ancient Cure-All

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diatomaceous earth uses

Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural substance that’s made up of silica from the shells of diatoms—microscopic bits of fossilized algae. It is mined from sediment deposits found in bodies of water and is a readily available resource. Diatomaceous earth has been used for centuries for food preservation, pest control, personal hygiene, and more. While it’s best to avoid breathing it in because it may cause respiratory irritation in some people, food-grade diatomaceous earth can be safely ingested by both domestic animals and humans.

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Outdoor Pest Control

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diatomaceous earth uses

Diatomaceous earth may feel as though it has a fine powdery texture, but each granule actually has sharp edges that are invisible to the naked eye. The edges cut into insects’ exoskeletons and simultaneously absorb oil from their bodies, which dehydrates them and eventually kills creatures like slugs, beetles, ants, and mites. Luckily, diatomaceous earth isn’t particularly dangerous to helpful pollinators like bees when sprinkled on the ground, but avoid applying any of the powder directly to flowers in order to keep bees safe.

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Indoor Pest Control

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diatomaceous earth uses

Diatomaceous earth has the same effect on indoor pests as it does on those found outdoors. It’s a chemical-free solution that gets rid of silverfish, ants, cockroaches, spiders, and bed bugs. Simply sprinkle the substance anywhere that pests tend to be found, like the cracks along baseboards and any small holes in the walls.

Related: An All-Natural Guide to Apartment Pest Control

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Houseplant Pest Control

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diatomaceous earth uses

Indoor houseplants infested with spider mites, fungus gnats, pill bugs, or aphids—or any other pest with an exoskeleton—would benefit from an application of diatomaceous earth.

Sprinkle the earth on the soil’s surface when it’s dry to the touch. Since it’s so absorbent, it won’t be able to absorb oils from pests if it has already absorbed moisture from wet soil.

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Soil Amendment

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diatomaceous earth uses

Make your own potting mix using diatomaceous earth for plants that require a more porous planting medium. It’s particularly useful for bonsai plants and with other houseplants grown indoors in hydroponic containers. It ensures the plant’s roots get more air while simultaneously improving drainage and creating looser soil. Diatomaceous earth doesn’t provide any nutrition, so fertilizers may be necessary.

Related: 12 Secrets for a Successful Indoor Garden

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Fridge Deodorizer

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diatomaceous earth uses

Soak up unpleasant smells in your refrigerator using diatomaceous earth. The powder’s absorbent qualities allow it to take in odors to keep your fridge smelling fresh. Fill a small open-topped container with about half a cup of diatomaceous earth. Swap it out every week or two for the best results. It also absorbs odors when it has been sprinkled at the bottom of a garbage can.

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Shoe Deodorizer

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diatomaceous earth uses

Along with refrigerators and trash cans, diatomaceous earth also does a great job deodorizing shoes. Take out any removable insoles and rub the powder into them. Sprinkle the inside of each shoe with about a tablespoon of diatomaceous earth. Let it sit for between 12 and 48 hours before using a vacuum to remove any powder residue that remains.

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Dry Food Preservative

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diatomaceous earth uses

Diatomaceous earth has a long history of use as a food preservative, and food-grade diatomaceous earth can be safely consumed by adults, children, and pets. Prolong the life of your dry goods and prevent mold and insect infestations by adding it to containers of grains, corn, and flour. Use about one teaspoon of diatomaceous earth for every pound of food and start by sprinkling a thin layer on the bottom of the container. Add a few inches of food, then repeat with another layer of powder. Continue this process until the container is full.

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Abrasive Cleaning Agent

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diatomaceous earth uses

The sharp edges of diatomaceous earth particles make it an effective abrasive cleaning agent. In order to make an abrasive all-purpose cleaner, put one part diatomaceous earth and five parts water into a spray bottle or bucket. Then apply the mixture to tile floors, grout, bathtubs, countertops, or any other area that needs a thorough scrubbing. Use a cloth or paper towel to rub it in, and then rinse the area with clean water.

Related: 5 Chemicals You Can Cut from Your Cleaning Routine

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Stain Remover

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diatomaceous earth uses

Due to how absorbent it is, diatomaceous earth makes an excellent stain remover. It’s particularly useful when dealing with liquid spills made up of oils and grease. It’s safe to use on carpets, hardwood floors, and concrete. For the best results, apply the powder in a thin layer immediately after the spill occurs. Then, wait for the spill to be absorbed. This could take between 2 and 24 hours, depending on the size of the affected area.

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