Diatomaceous Earth for Roaches Guide

Diatomaceous Earth to fight roach infested areas

Roach infestations are a nuance. Dealing with these peeving bugs is nothing less than a nightmare. No matter what treatment you use, these insects won’t leave your house. But many homeowners vouch for diatomaceous earth as a wondrous roach-killing remedy.

So what is it and how can you use it? DE is a powdered form of algae fossils that can kill cockroaches within days and keep them from coming back. It’s versatile, effective, and, best of all, easy to use.

But how can you use diatomaceous earth to get rid of cockroaches? Spread it over roach-infested areas, and leave it. It’s that simple. The exciting thing is that you can also combine DE with different roach-killing remedies to get your desired results as soon as possible.

This guide explains step-by-step instructions to use this treatment correctly. So let’s start learning!

What Actually is Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a powdery extract from fossils of diatoms, which are sea-dwelling algae microscopic organisms. When they die, their silica-rich skeletons are deposited in the soil and riverbeds.

These deposits form sediments that are collected, processed, and used in many processes. The most popular use of this extract is to control pest infestations.

Is Diatomaceous Earth Effective for Cockroaches?

Diatomaceous earth is super effective for getting rid of roaches. The DE treatment may be lethal to these nudniks as it targets their exoskeletons. It can also be a better alternative to using toxic chemicals.

People also use DE to kill pesky bed bugs, fleas, and ticks. You can sprinkle DE in your home to protect it from future pest infestations.

How Does Diatomaceous Earth Work?

Diatomaceous earth works by dehydrating roaches. The powder is abrasive since diatoms have a unique glass-like silica skeleton. These skeletal remains help diatomaceous earth cut and damage the exoskeleton of roaches.

When a roach is exposed to DE, the compound works in two simple steps:

  1. The powder sticks to the insect’s exoskeleton and inflicts many tiny wounds. As a result, roaches face difficulty in breathing.
  2. The cuts and abrasions keep the roaches from absorbing moisture or staying hydrated. Thus, they dehydrate and die.

If a roach touches the compound, it will carry diatomaceous earth to its nest. When other cockroaches come in contact with DE, they may also die.

How Soon Can Diatomaceous Earth Kill Roaches?

Diatomaceous earth kills roaches in a matter of a few days or weeks, but the treatment does not show instant effects. So when you apply the powder, do not expect to see dead roaches in your house the next morning.

Diatomaceous earth also depends on these three factors for effective results:

Ideal Location for Treatment

You should place DE in areas where you often find roaches. These may include:

  • Wall bases
  • Corners
  • Cracks and crevices
  • Along window frames and doorways

If you miss these spots, roaches may not come in contact with the powder. Thus, your treatment can fail.

Cockroach Size

Diatomaceous earth can kill roaches faster if they are bigger. So, if a bug has a larger surface-to-body ratio, the compound can have more area to attack and kill.

In contrast, when it comes to smaller roaches like the German cockroaches, DE can take approximately three weeks to end the pest infestation.

Colony Size

Diatomaceous earth can not wipe out roach colonies immediately. If large roach colonies infest your house, you should brace yourself for a long fight.

That’s because it will take time for the compound to spread completely. Similarly, using insufficient DE can not kill all cockroaches. You must apply more powder or combine it with other roach-killing methods.

How to Remove Roaches With Diatomaceous Earth?

You can easily use diatomaceous earth to remove roach infestations. Follow these 8 steps to apply the treatment:

Apply DE on Dry Areas

Spread diatomaceous earth in dry places, such as your bedroom or kitchen, to let the compound work effectively. If you apply the powder in damp areas, DE may lose its ability to kill cockroaches.

Before you spread the treatment on any surface, you must check it for moisture. If the area is damp, you should dry it out.

Track Cockroach Pathways

The best way to apply DE is to spread it on places that roaches frequently visit. You can identify usual roach routes by looking for a few visible signs, particularly cockroach feces.

Their feces are cylindrical and may appear as tiny coffee grounds. Here are a few ideal spots to apply the treatment:

  • Entrance halls
  • Doorways
  • Trash bins
  • Food pantries
  • Corners
  • Under sinks

Apply DE in Thin Layers

You can spread a thin layer of DE on problematic areas. Doing so will make the powder look less noticeable, and the roaches will easily walk on it. When these bugs come in contact with the powder, it will easily stick to their legs and kill them more effectively.

Whereas if you apply a thick layer of DE, cockroaches will avoid going near the heaped pile of powder, let alone climbing or touching it.

Spread Over Entry Points

Besides applying diatomaceous earth in areas most visited by roaches, you should never forget about spreading DE at entry points. These areas may include gaps around your electrical outlets, window frames, doorways, etc.

Cover Basements and Decks

Roaches are hard to spot as they prefer to live in the dark and are not frequently visited spaces.

For instance, if you don’t use your basement often, it can be an ideal location for cockroaches to thrive. Thus, you should treat such spaces with diatomaceous earth to remove these bugs.

Sprinkle DE in Outdoors

Diatomaceous earth is safe to spread outdoors as it won’t damage your garden. Instead, treating your plants, grass, and mulch with DE can keep roaches away. All you have to do is sprinkle a thin layer carefully, and you’re good to go.

Reapply the Treatment

Eliminating roaches from your house takes time. To wipe out cockroaches completely, you should stay consistent and reapply diatomaceous earth after a few weeks. That’s because the treatment can be washed away by water or wind.

Reapplying the dust ensures that more cockroaches are exposed to DE.

Clean Up

Before you apply a new layer of diatomaceous earth, you should remove the previous treatment. This will ensure effective results and help you get rid of the bugs. For cleaning DE, you can follow these steps:

  • Sweep. Use your good old broom and dustpan duo to sweep DE off the tile and wooden floors.
  • Wipe. You can use damp towels to wipe off surfaces treated with diatomaceous earth.
  • Vacuum. Vacuuming can be the best option for cleaning carpets with DE from roaches. This keeps the treatment from spreading in the air and saves time.

What Are the Different Types of Diatomaceous Earth?

Diatomaceous earth comes in different types. While some DE forms can be safe for humans and pets, other types can pose serious health risks. Have a look at the following types of diatomaceous earth:


Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be the safest type of roach treatment since it contains 0.5% to 2% crystalline silica. It is usually used in:

  • Beverages
  • Toothpaste
  • Powdery products to prevent lumps

Although humans are safe near this dust, it is lethal to pests and insects. You can use this treatment in your home as your pets and kids can be safe while playing with the powder.


Filter grade DE contains approximately 60% crystalline silica. Thus, you and your furry pals can not be safe around this treatment. Manufacturers primarily use this diatomaceous earth to make pool water filters and dynamite.

Insecticides with DE

A few companies can combine insecticides with diatomaceous earth to make the ultimate pest-killing machine. Although this makes the food-grade treatment more effective, it can be dangerous for pets and children.

But if you live with a bunch of adults or alone, this type of DE can be more powerful in eliminating roach infestations. It can also come in handy for treating outdoors to keep pests away. Just make sure you don’t sprinkle the powder on edible plants like mint or tomatoes.

Tools to Use for Spreading Diatomaceous Earth

You need to work smartly when applying diatomaceous earth to your home. Leaving the dust in one corner of the room and hoping all roaches will vanish one day won’t fix your problem. Instead, you can pick up your tools and spread the dust around the house like a pro.

Here are 3 different DE application methods you can use:


Dusters are handy for caulking and applying diatomaceous earth along crevices, cracks, and tight spaces under your furniture. It can work like a gun for spreading the powder with control, so your treatment does not spill into unwanted areas.


Scooping diatomaceous earth can be great for applying the powder in specific areas in the home. Scoops can easily cover areas roaches love to visit. This may include spaces near garbage cans, under sinks, etc.


Using a sifter to spread diatomaceous earth is as easy as applying powdered sugar to your fresh baked cookies. The tool can be incredible for covering large areas with DE.

Treatments You Can Combine with Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth alone can be enough to kick roaches out of your home. But combining it with other effective treatments can make it more potent. Have a look at these examples:

  • Natural Repellants. Mix DE treatment with citrus sprays or chrysanthemum plants to keep the bugs away.
  • Boric Acid. This chemical can kill roaches without hassle. If you combine it with diatomaceous earth, cockroaches may disappear from your home within a few days.
  • Insecticide Sprays. You can spray insecticides outside your home to prevent pesky roaches from entering. Additionally, if a few cockroaches make it inside your house, diatomaceous earth will kill them.

Can Diatomaceous Earth Kill Roach Eggs?

Unfortunately, diatomaceous earth can not kill cockroach eggs. To get rid of roach larvae, you must seek help from DIY treatments or commercial pesticides.

Wonder why?

Roach eggs are enclosed safely inside their brown or black capsules. Their eggshells protect them well and do not allow DE to penetrate through the robust coverings.

Yet, all hope is not lost. You can still exterminate roach nymphs by sprinkling the potent treatment in a collection of cockroach eggs and letting them hatch. When the baby roaches crawl out of their shells, the treatment will stick to their legs and eventually kill them.


Does Diatomaceous Earth Work on Roaches?

Yes, diatomaceous earth kills roaches by damaging their exoskeleton. These abrasions keep the bugs from retaining fluids and dehydrating to death.

Can You Mix Diatomaceous Earth With Water and Spray It?

You can mix diatomaceous earth with water to use it as a convenient spray. The spray helps to spread the treatment in difficult corners and kills roaches. The powder may not be effective while wet, but DE can regain its bug-killing powers once the water has evaporated.

Can Diatomaceous Earth be Used Indoors?

Yes, you can use diatomaceous earth indoors as the treatment is safe. The powder works effectively to remove pests inside homes and outdoors. But before you buy a DE treatment, make sure it is food-grade DE. This type contains low levels of crystalline silica and may not affect the safety of your children and pets.


Diatomaceous earth can be a cost-effective treatment if you have a roach problem. Not only does the powder kill the bugs, but it can also protect your home from future infestations.

Here’s a summary of how you can use DE to remove cockroaches:

  • You can sprinkle DE on roach-infested areas, so the powder sticks to their legs and kills them
  • When using this treatment, you should ensure you are using food-grade DE
  • You can combine the dust with other roach-killing treatments such as boric acid
  • Dry the surface before applying the powder as DE doesn’t work if it contacts water
  • To kill roach nymphs, you should spread the dust over roach eggs. When the eggs hatch, roach babies will die because of dehydration
  • Different application tools, such as dusters and sifters, can help you spread the treatment conveniently