Diatomaceous earth is fine powder made from fossilized microorganisms — but it’s more than just an easy way to give your kids a microbiology lesson. It’s the Swiss army knife of natural home care products, and it has applications in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, and more. Bonus: the substance is so safe and non-toxic, it’s frequently used in water filtration.
To get your DIY juices bubbling, here are 16 ways you can make the most of your diatomaceous earth.
Note: you should only get “food grade” diatomaceous earth if you intend to use it around your house. This is distinct from “pool grade” diatomaceous earth, which is coarser and designed to help filter pool water.
Diatomaceous earth-based deodorants are popular with people with sensitive skin or who just like to DIY everything in their medicine cabinet. The mineral has natural odor-eliminating and moisture-absorbing properties, so it’s a great way to smell fresh without using harsh chemicals. Check out this great recipe for diatomaceous earth deodorant from diatomaceousearth.com.
Want to give your brushing session an little extra abrasive power? Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on your toothpaste. The fine powder will give your teeth an industrial strength scrub.
However, please note that you probably shouldn't do this every day. Once a week is fine, but if you do it too frequently, it might make your gums raw.
3) Exfoliating Facial Scrub
Store-bought facial scrubs can be obnoxiously expensive, but you can bring out your freshest looking skin just by mixing diatomaceous earth with a little bit of coconut oil. The resulting paste works as well as the jars full of stuff you can find in stores — at a fraction of the price.
4) Repel Bed Bugs And Fleas
Pest infestations in your home are maddening. But it's possible to clear your home of insects without using pesticides. Since diatomaceous earth absorbs oils, a small sprinkling of the stuff can cause bugs to shrivel like raisins and die, even though the substance is harmless to humans and pets. If your home is under siege, thoroughly clean your bedding, carpets, and upholstery, then dust these surfaces with diatomaceous earth.
5) Garden Pest Control
Of course, its usefulness in killing bugs isn’t limited to indoors. If you have a garden that’s being gnawed on by pests, then you can use diatomaceous earth to reclaim your veggies. Since it's a natural, non-toxic substance, it’s also perfect for your organic garden.
6) Refrigerator Deodorizer
Diatomaceous earth absorbs odors. That’s incredibly valuable when you have an old fridge that is filled with the smells of years’ worth of groceries.
To improve the odor, first find a container (like a coffee can or a mason jar) and stick a few holes in the lid. Pour diatomaceous earth in the container, slap on the lid, and stick it inside of your refrigerator. As the air slowly circulates, you should notice it start to smell more neutral in about a week.
7) Garbage Deodorizer
The same principle applies to your garbage can, too. If you think the odor has become intolerable, just leave the same container of diatomaceous earth in your waste bin for a couple days. It won’t smell like daisies afterward, but it will smell a lot better.
8) Scouring Powder
Are you struggling with a stain that refuses to go away, even with scrubbing and more than enough soap? Sprinkle some diatomaceous earth on the stain, and scrub it in. The extra abrasion might help you get perfectly clean cookware again — plus, it easily rinses away once you’re done.
9) Flower Preservation
If you want to keep the handiwork of your flower garden year-round, you can use diatomaceous earth to dry out your flowers. First, hang your flowers upside down in a dry place for two days, which will start the drying process. Then dry them further by placing them in an airtight container with diatomaceous earth, and leave them for three days. Turn the flowers over, then leave them for another three days.
By then, your flowers should be thoroughly dry enough to last a long time.
10) Nail Fungus Killer And Shoe Deodorizer
Do your shoes sometimes resemble a petri dish? Hey, don’t be embarrassed. Fungus thrives in conditions exactly like the inside of your shoe. However, there’s one crucial ingredient that all fungi need in order to thrive: moisture.
By sprinkling diatomaceous earth in your shoes, you’ll steal away that moisture and neutralize foot odors at the same time.
11) Food Storage
If you have a large grain or bean harvest that you’re planning on keeping for a while, you can use diatomaceous earth to keep it fresh. It prevents dry foods from clumping and stops bug infestations. You should use about two cups for every 50 pounds of dry grain.
12) Camping Protection
A camping trip can be quickly ruined by an ant invasion. However, if you make a circle of diatomaceous earth around your tent, it’s like the Great Wall of China, but for ants. Just pour diatomaceous earth liberally around the perimeter of where you sleep. Its moisture-absorbing abilities will discourage insects from crossing.
13) Oil Spill Cleanup
Interestingly, diatomaceous earth can hold up to twice its weight in liquid. That makes it useful when you accidentally spill oil on your driveway. Just coat the spill in diatomaceous earth and let it soak the oil up. Then, sweep up the diatomaceous earth and throw it away. When you clean the area with hot, soapy water afterwards, it’s much less likely to leave a permanent stain.
14) Water Stain Remover
Notice a buildup around your water faucets? Mix together lemon, vinegar, vegetable oil, and diatomaceous earth in a small bowl. With a damp cloth, use that substance to scrub the deposits away.
15) Copper Polish
Do your copper pots look dull? A mixture of vegetable oil, vinegar, and diatomaceous earth can return it to its store-bought shine. Just rub the mixture vigorously into the pots until you can start to see that copper color come back.
16) Silver Preservation
If you have antique silver you only use on special occasions, it’s important to guard against silver tarnish. When silver gets exposed to too much moisture, it dulls very quickly. But if you lightly dust your finest flatware with diatomaceous earth before you put it into storage, it will intercept the moisture before it has a chance to spoil the silver shine.