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15 Uses for Diatomaceous Earth Around the House and Garden

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Diatomaceous earth (DE) is a naturally occurring, soft, siliceous sedimentary rock that has been crumbled into a fine white to off-white powder.

It’s made from the fossilized remains of tiny, aquatic organisms known as diatoms. Their skeletons are made of a natural substance called silica.

Over millennia, these diatoms have accumulated in the sediment of rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans, turning into what we now call diatomaceous earth.

There are two main types of diatomaceous earth: food grade and filter grade. Food grade DE is suitable for household uses.

DE is not only a versatile product for home and garden maintenance but also an eco-friendly alternative to chemical pesticides and artificial additives.

It’s non-toxic to humans and pets when used properly, making it a safe choice for families looking to reduce their chemical usage.

In this article, we will explore various ways DE can be utilized around the house and in the garden.

Uses Around the House

1. Natural Insecticide

Diatomaceous earth is an effective tool against household pests. Its microscopic sharp edges can pierce the exoskeletons of insects like ants, bed bugs, and cockroaches, leading to dehydration and death.

To use DE as an insecticide, simply sprinkle a thin layer of the powder in areas where pests are present, such as under appliances, along baseboards, and at potential entry points. Reapply after cleaning or after it gets wet.

2. Deodorizer for Pets and Carpets

DE can absorb odors and moisture, making it an excellent deodorizer for pet areas and carpets. Sprinkle DE on pet bedding or carpets, leave it for several hours or overnight, then vacuum it up.

This not only freshens the area but also helps to control fleas and ticks as DE can dehydrate these pests on contact.

3. Refrigerator Deodorizer

Place a small container of DE in the refrigerator to neutralize odors more naturally than baking soda. DE’s high porosity allows it to absorb smells effectively, keeping your fridge smelling fresh. Replace the DE every month for best results.

4. Spill Absorber

Diatomaceous earth is highly absorbent, making it ideal for cleaning up spills, particularly oily or greasy substances.

Sprinkle DE over the spill, let it absorb the liquid for a few minutes, then sweep or vacuum it up. This method is especially useful in garages or kitchens where spills are common.

5. Mold and Mildew Prevention

DE can help prevent the growth of mold and mildew by absorbing excess moisture in prone areas such as bathrooms and basements.

Apply a light dusting of DE on damp areas, and it will help keep the space dry and less hospitable to mold and mildew spores.

6. Polishing Agent

Diatomaceous earth can be used as a gentle abrasive for polishing metals like silver and copper. Make a paste by mixing DE with water, apply it to the metal with a soft cloth, rub gently, then rinse and dry. This natural alternative is especially useful for those who prefer eco-friendly cleaning options.

7. Skin Care Product

For a natural skin exfoliant, DE can be mixed into homemade scrubs to help remove dead skin cells and rejuvenate the skin.

Mix a tablespoon of DE with your regular facial cleanser for a gentle exfoliating treatment. However, be sure to use food-grade DE for any skin application to avoid irritation.

Uses in the Garden

8. Natural Pesticide

Diatomaceous earth proves its worth in the garden by acting as a natural pesticide. Similar to its use indoors, DE can control garden pests such as aphids, beetles, and slugs effectively.

Dust the plants lightly with DE, focusing on the undersides of leaves where pests often reside. It is crucial, however, to apply it when plants are dry and to reapply after rain.

While DE is non-toxic to humans and beneficial insects when dry, it should be used cautiously to avoid affecting bees and other pollinators.

9. Soil Amendment

Adding diatomaceous earth to garden soil can improve its drainage and nutrient retention. This is particularly beneficial for heavy soils that need better aeration.

Mix DE into the soil at planting time to help young plants establish their root systems in a supportive environment. The porous nature of DE also aids in retaining moisture, reducing the need for frequent watering.

10. Fertilizer

DE is not only useful for its physical properties but also for its mineral content. It contains silica, a vital trace element that can promote plant growth and resilience.

By mixing DE into your homemade fertilizers, you provide an added nutrient boost to your garden, enhancing plant strength and disease resistance.

11. Anti-caking Agent in Animal Feed

For those who keep poultry or livestock, diatomaceous earth can serve an important role in feed storage. It acts as an anti-caking agent, preventing feed from clumping together in humid conditions.

This ensures the feed remains fresh and is easier to distribute. Simply mix a small amount of DE into the feed to maintain its quality.

12. Preserving Bulbs and Tubers

Diatomaceous earth can protect stored bulbs and tubers from rot and insect damage during the offseason. Dust bulbs lightly with DE before storing them in a cool, dry place.

The DE will absorb any excess moisture and deter pests, helping to ensure that your bulbs and tubers remain healthy until the next planting season.

13. Fruit and Vegetable Preservative

Extend the shelf life of stored fruits and vegetables by dusting them with DE. This helps prevent spoilage and decay by absorbing moisture and deterring insects. Store treated produce in airtight containers to maintain freshness for longer periods.

14. Control of Slugs and Snails

Create a barrier with diatomaceous earth around garden beds or individual plants susceptible to slugs and snails.

The abrasive texture of DE irritates these pests, deterring them from crossing over into treated areas. This method is particularly effective in damp garden conditions where slugs and snails thrive.

15. Water Filtration Aid

Incorporate DE into homemade water filtration systems to improve water clarity in garden ponds or irrigation setups.

DE can trap dirt, algae, and other impurities, keeping water systems clean and functioning efficiently. This is particularly useful for maintaining healthy environments for aquatic plants and animals.

Diatomaceous earth offers a multitude of benefits for both indoor and outdoor applications, making it a valuable addition to any home or garden.

Its natural, non-toxic properties allow for safe use around children and pets, while its effectiveness in controlling pests, absorbing odors, and improving soil health makes it an indispensable resource for eco-conscious individuals.

By incorporating DE into your routine, you can enjoy a healthier, more sustainable way of living, reducing reliance on chemical products.

Whether you’re polishing silver, preserving your harvest, or protecting your plants from pests, diatomaceous earth provides a versatile, environmentally friendly solution.

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