Can Diatomaceous Earth Kill Cockroaches?

Posted on: 20 July 2018

If you're looking for a natural pest control solution to get rid of cockroaches that is safe to use around you and your pets, then you may have heard that some people use diatomaceous earth as an alternative to standard pest control treatments. Is this an effective way to wipe out cockroaches, and will it work for you?

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth is a powder made from sedimentary rocks that contain diatoms. Diatoms are basically single-celled algae organisms. Diatomaceous earth is often used as a pest control product for animals. For example, some people use it to deflea their cats; farmers often add it to feed grains to keep insects at bay. It may also be used by humans who have problems with parasites, such as worms.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work on Cockroaches?

While diatomaceous earth looks like a fine powder, it is actually mainly made up of tiny pieces of silica. Silica is sharp, so when a cockroach gets diatomaceous earth on it, the powder can work its way under or through the cockroach's shell. Ultimately, it can cut through the body, at which point the cockroach dehydrates and then dies. A cockroach that has walked through diatomaceous earth may also pass it on to other cockroaches when it returns to the nest. They will then also die.

How to Use Diatomaceous Earth on Cockroaches

If you want to try diatomaceous earth, then sprinkle it in very light layers in areas where you've seen cockroaches or where you think they may be congregating. Don't put down piles or thick layers; cockroaches won't walk through anything other than a very light dusting.

Tip: Bear in mind that there are different grades of diatomaceous earth. To protect yourself and your pets, make sure to use a food-grade product that is safe for humans and animals.

Will Diatomaceous Earth Solve Your Cockroach Problem?

While diatomaceous earth will ultimately kill any cockroach that encounters it, it may not be able to deal with every cockroach in your home. For example, it may not be enough to eradicate a large colony.  Plus, diatomaceous earth only works if it is dry—if you have cockroaches living in damp or humid areas in your home, then they won't necessarily be affected by the powder if it gets wet.

Even if you manage to get rid of your current cockroaches, your problem may be a longer-term one if you can't work out how the cockroaches are getting into your home. You can kill the ones that live with you now; however, diatomaceous earth won't stop new cockroaches from coming in in the future. 

It's certainly worth giving diatomaceous earth a go; however, for a permanent solution to your cockroach problem, it may be a good idea to also call out a pest control specialist. Pest controllers can help you get rid of any cockroaches that are managing to avoid your diatomaceous earth or that are living in areas where it won't work; they can also help you work out points of entry so you can block them up.