Where to buy diatomaceous earth (and what to use it for)

You're going to want this in your housekeeping cupboard

A selection of cleaning materials including bicarbonate of soda and fresh lemons cut in half
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you are wondering where to buy diatomaceous earth, you are in luck, as the best place to grab it (and in bulk too) is online. This powdery wonder product has so many uses, that those of us who have discovered its benefits likely get through a fair bit. 

Maybe you have identified some unusual bugs in your home and want a planet-friendly way to get rid? Or perhaps you like to make homemade cleaning abrasives that contain ingredients you have sourced and checked yourself? Either way, a big bucket of diatomaceous earth in your store cupboard will always come in handy.

What is diatomaceous earth? Sounds fancy right? Simply put, it is a powder made from ground up sedimentary rock. This high-silica rock is made predominantly from fossilized algae called diatoms – hence the name. And, its properties are thanks to it being mineral rich, porous and abrasive. 

It does some pretty funky stuff if used correctly, so read on to grab and bag and make the most of this natural cleaning/pest killer.

Where to buy diatomaceous earth?

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  • Amazon: great for bulk buys, find selection of sizes including a 5gal. tub
  • Lowes: find garden pest and food grade options here
  • Target: get 2lbs for as little as $23
  • Walmart: buy options for bug control or for your pool

Other places that sell diatomaceous earth include pet stores and health retailers. If you need it for personal and pet hygiene uses, choose food grade options that are lower in silica.

A large group of ants on white ceramic kitchen sink with yellow rubber gloves and dish washing brush in background

(Image credit: The Maids)

What is diatomaceous earth used for?

Let's brush over some of the more industrial uses – these are the ways you can use diatomaceous earth in the home.

Firstly, as a mild abrasive, you can mix it with various things to make your own cleaning products. And not just cleaning for the home, but your person too. Some people make toothpaste out of diatomaceous earth. Just make sure it is food grade if it may be ingested.

If you keep chickens (or even goats and cattle) diatomaceous earth can be added to their feed to prevent caking and ward off insects. Again, if this is to be eaten, choose a food grade version (preferably one marked for agricultural use).

It is also a great growing medium. In some cases it is used alone, but mostly it is added to soil to keep indoor plants looking their best. It retains water well, but also offers good drainage, and the pest beating properties keep household bugs at bay. It can also be applied topically. For example, if you are growing peppers and see signs of pests, just sprinkle some on the leaves.

Got a swimming pool to keep clean? You can get diatomaceous earth filters.

Finally, and central to many of its uses, it is a less toxic form of pest control – well, not less toxic for the insect. It means you can avoid bug sprays that are noxous to humans and pets. It works by damaging the exoskeleton of arthropods (think millipedes, mites, ants and anything else that has an outside skeleton), but can also kills the likes of slugs and snails. However, it must not be heat treated or over a certain particle size to work in treatment of pests.

Golden pothos houseplant next to a watering can in a beautifully designed home interior.

(Image credit: Grumpy Cow Studios / Getty)

Which pests can you tackle with diatomaceous earth?

Because it essentially dehydrates the body of insects and molluscs, it can be pretty effective at wiping out anything below a certain size. 

Read our pest control guides to see how to use it to get rid of a number of common household critters:

ladybird on forget-me-not flowers

(Image credit: MarkMirror / Getty)

How to apply diatomaceous earth

If using in animal feed or as a planting medium, simply mix into the feed or substrate. Likewise, if making cleaning products, find a suitable recipe online.

For treating insect infestations you can either dab on with a duster, or use a powder duster such as this one from Amazon to pump it on the affected area. Just avoid inhalation.

Is diatomaceous earth toxic to humans and pets?

Most of the diatomaceous earth supplied for home use is safe for use around humans and pets (unless your pet is a stick insect or similar...). However, do note that if the diatomaceous earth you buy is high in crystalline silica, it is dangerous to the lungs and can cause silicosis – a potentially deadly lung condition.

Do not threat though. The diatomaceous earth you are likely to buy for home use is what is known as amorphous silica which is much safer to use.

Still, we don't recommend breathing the powder in if avoidable, but it can safely be ingested. 

Lindsey Davis
Editor in Chief, Homes Ecommerce

Lindsey is Editor of Realhomes.com and Editor in Chief for Home Ecommerce at Future. She is here to give you aspirational, yet attainable ideas for your home and works with her team to help you get the best buys, too. She has written about homes and interiors for the best part of a decade for brands including Homes & Gardens, Ideal Home and Gardeningetc and isn't afraid to take the inspiration she finds at work into her own space – a Victorian terrace which she has been (slowly) remodelling for the last eight years. She is happiest sipping a cup of tea with a cat on her lap (if only she had a cat).