Diatomaceous earth, sometimes referred to as “DE,” is a natural substance that is actually created from the remains of diatoms, microscopic water plants that are like algae. It contains such minerals as silicon, calcium, sodium, and magnesium. It has a consistency similar to talcum powder and is available at most garden suppliers.

This is a remarkable substance that is a desiccant – it actually dries out the waxy outer layer of fleas so they dehydrate and eventually die. As an added benefit, diatomaceous earth can eliminate other insects.

So yes, in some respects, it is a miracle cure for fleas. It’s a product we’re pretty proud of, and consider to be worth the investment in the long term, in the same way you’d invest in insulation. Never having to worry about fleas working their way deep into your home is a comforting thought for those with pets who love the outdoors.

But even though diatomaceous earth is a natural substance, its dust is dangerous to breathe for both humans and animals. Using it requires gloves and a dust mask. Be certain to read any cautions that come with the product and use it only as directed.

Outside the home, spread it around the foundation and entry points. Inside the home, spread it around windows, doorways, and baseboards and rub it into the carpet. If you use this method, always use gloves, a dust mask, and goggles, and leave the house for several hours after use. It is not safe to inhale this substance when any particles are floating in the air. Fish, birds, and animals should not be left in the house. When you return, vacuum thoroughly.

Some people spread diatomaceous earth directly on their pets, essentially using it as a flea powder. If you do this, be aware of the potential risks. Since it is a drying agent, diatomaceous earth can dry out your pet’s skin. It can also be irritating to the eyes and lungs. Make sure you are using “food grade” diatomaceous earth if you want to try it on your pet.

Watch the accompanying video for an interesting if lengthy explanation of diatomaceous earth.

Diatomaceous earth is one of the natural substances discussed in Flea Control: How to Get Rid of Fleas Naturally.