Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Dusting with Diatomaceous Earth

So, yeah.  I had an interesting experience last night.

You see, ever since we moved back to our house, we've had a problem with fleas.  The people who rented our house had a dog, and boy howdy the fleas are insane.  They haven't bitten any of us or anyone who has come to visit (that I know of!) but they are eating poor Charisma alive.  And twice I saw a flea actually jump on me.  This is unacceptable.

So I started researching how to get rid of them.  We don't want to use a bug bomb because the chemicals are horrible and we have pets and kids around these parts.  So I was researching natural remedies.

One of the ideas I came across said to spread diatomaceous earth on the carpet.  If you don't know what it is, you can google it for more info.  But basically, from what I understand, it's coral (or something) crushed into a very fine powder.  People and animals can eat it and it helps skin and hair, helps with digestion (basically it sweeps the gunk out of your intestines) etc...  Anyway, I happened to have a very large bag of the stuff, so I thought I'd give it a try.  Oh! The reason it works to kill fleas is because it scratches the protective coating off their bodies and they shrivel up and die.

So I start spreading the DE all over the carpet.  I had read that it is best to wear a face mask, but I'm not one to follow directions.  Unless it's a recipe, in which case I'll follow it to a T.  Well, actually that's not true.  I always alter it a little bit.  But that's neither here nor there and I have wandered off on a tangent.

Back to my carpets.  So I'm liberally throwing the stuff all over the carpet.  It's very dusty.  Extremely dusty. I probably should have worn a mask.  It's sort of filling up the whole room with dust, so everything looks hazy.  But I'm intent on killing those dang fleas DEAD! Did I mention I started this project at 10:00 at night? Yeah.  Smart cookie, I am.

After I've spread the stuff I go to vacuum it up.  I had planned to leave it overnight, but once it was on the carpet I knew I had to get it vacuumed up ASAP otherwise the whole house would be covered in it from the dog and kids tracking it all over.  So I get our trusty little vacuum out and start trying to clean it up.  I'm pretty sure I burned the motor on that poor thing right up.

This is what it looked like after I had vacuumed.  It's not great lighting, and you can't really get the full effect.  Basically, the vacuum just made nice, neat little lines through the DE on the carpet.


  
Shoot.  What do I do now? The vacuum smelled horribly of burning rubber and wasn't doing anything to suck up the DE anyway.  And there was still enough on the floor that it could do serious damage to the cleanliness of the rest of the house.
Luckily for me, my sister had loaned me her Kirby.  Soooo I put him to work.  He did a better job.  Sucked up much more of the DE.  See?

Hooray! Yippee! Looks great, right?
Wrong.

What you can't see in this picture is that there is still approximately 12 pounds of DE stuck in the carpet.  There is also a fine film of the stuff covering EVERYTHING.  The couches.  The TV.  The dining room table (which is adjoined to the living room).  The computer cabinet. The windows.  The coffee tables.  It's EVERYWHERE.

So now I have to figure out if I should dust first or try to get Kirby to be more of a man and do a better job.  See, I guess maybe I had user error the first time around.  Apparently if all is well there will be a little green light that's on while Mr. Kirby does his job.  And there wasn't any light on when I was vacuuming last night.  And I sort of was clued in that something wasn't quite right when tough Kirby wasn't picking up crumbs that I could see.  He's supposed to be a sucking machine, and he wasn't living up to his reputation.

So I'm thinking this will be a long process.  Dust. So we can sit down without looking like we have powdered sugar all over us.  And so we can breathe without getting DE in our lungs.  But then, I still have to vacuum which is going to stir up MORE dust.  So I'll have to dust again.  I hate dusting. Really, really hate it.

But that's what you get when you start harebrained projects in the late hours of the day after many stressful and exhausting hours with demanding, grumpy children who cause you to dive face first into a bag of peanut butter M&Ms.  And bake scones at bedtime.  And then eat more than your fair share.

I tell you what, if I see a flea or see the dog scratching... well, I'm just gonna have a break down.  That's all.  And then I'll be forced to continue baking and eating these delicious scones.
Trust me, the picture doesn't do them justice. I don't have a fancy Canon DLR or Nikon or whatever else people use to make their food look so good you may or may not be tempted to lick your computer screen.

I'll let you know how this all turns out.  In the meantime, I'm off to eat another scone and drink more coffee.

23 comments:

Jen said...

You are great at writing. I love to read your posts

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you plugged up the bag on that Kirby! Diatomite powder can be really fine (like 5 to 10 diatoms = the thickness of a hair). The good news is that you should leave it in place for a few hours before vacuuming it back up - sounds like some of it will be in place for a few weeks (or years). Those fleas will flee in terror of your diatomaceous might.

Next time (hopefully there is none, but . . .) use less DE and make sure you use insecticide or animal feed grade (not filtration grade).

Stephanie Hyde said...

Hi,
I work for a company that sales diatomaceous earth and I was wondering if you'd be willing to post a link to our products on your website. By doing so your readers would be able to easily see where they could purchase DE and gain more information about its uses.

If I don't hear back from you before, I'll contact you again next week.

Thanks,
Stephanie

Anonymous said...

Just an FYI - you are supposed to leave it on the carpet for a co uple of days. I vacuum first, then sprinkle it on and leave it. Unless you have pets, you probably got rid of them the first time. Also, as someone mentioned, it can be pretty rough on your vacuum filter. Hope you didn't burn out the motor.

Bernadette Galloway said...

I loved your story. Very down to earth & just what I needed to read before I made the same mistake. Thank you so much for sharing your experience.

Anonymous said...

The fact that you did your "dusting" without a mask really concerns me. I have been researching DE for days and find that even the food grade DE is hazardous to your lungs and eyes. The damage can be permanent and not show up for years. I would talk to a respiratory doc if I were you. The pest control professional said that a thin layer works best and to apply it with a duster or in a sock to get the smallest amount out. Best of luck. I too am dealing with fleas.

Anonymous said...

I 'm currently going through this nightmare, myself and my hubby went on a vacation for 3 days, so i thought to myself: " Now will be a nice time to spread the DE all over the carpet , so that the fleas will die while we are away" . I can't begin to describe the amount of stress i have been going through since we got back yesterday . Our Eureka vacuum has broken down,it started smelling like melted rubber before it broke down , and there is dust everywhere, plus my hubby is thinking i was crazy to have put DE all over the house because of fleas( well… he's not the one been bitten by fleas, i still don't know why i'm the only one that gets bitten), and NO, we do not have pets!!!

I came online, 'cause i'm so tired and frustrated with my apartment and carpet covered with DE, I must have inhaled a lot of DE as well.I guess i'll go to Walmart to rent a rug doctor, hopefully this will work.

Anonymous said...

Did you ever figure out how to get it out? A relative came over to my place and decided to "help" me by literally dumping it everywhere - six months later, and there's still literally little 1" high piles of it in all the corners! We can't shampoo, either, because you need to vacuum before you shampoo.

Anonymous said...

I have three cats. I'm almost blind, terrible eyes. I noticed itching ankles a week ago and looked closely at my ankles. Little bugs. Turned out to be fleas. I can't afford the $50 a month for Advantage so my cats have to just have flea baths. Apparently fleas took over my house for five years. I researched how to get rid of them. Put 11 flat dishes with water and Dawn around floor. Killed 400 (I counted) the first day. Continued on with that daily. Spread Salt and Soda over carpet heavily. Still got fleas in my dishes. So had to go further with D Earth and Zodiac flea powder. In the bedroom yesterday where I would usually find black spots on sheets and a few fleas in the bed I found NO black spots and just a few dead fleas. It's working in the bedroom. After I found fleas I put all three cats outside. I found out the fleas were USING humans. They were in our hair. It's the worst thing that's happened to me in my life. I am fighting that with constant flea combing, apple cider in hair, washing constantly. I feel like I'm winning the battle with d earth. Haven't vacuumed it up but I do have a carpet shampoo. Did that when I first learned of fleas but that didn't get rid of them 100%.

GLove said...

Hi there, I just spread the DE all over my house and vehicle. I'm wondering how many days should I , leave it down before u sleep it up? To me it only makes sense to leave it down 2 weeks to defeat ant eggs that may attempt to hatch. So far it's working better than anything else I tried. Oh and borax made my 6 year old lose his voice and my daughter had a very swollen throat. Not safe to breath in.

GLove said...

Typo. Defeat any flea eggs that may hatch

Anonymous said...

From the looks of your carpet, you were spreading it WAY to thick. You just need a very thin layer, which should be vacuumed after 2-3 days, then repeated. And contrary to what everyone is saying, it is not dangerous. We've been using it for awhile, and out friends we got this from, have been using it dally for over a year, and they have young children. It can dry your skin a bit, but it isn't going to hurt you.
This is one of the best sites I've found at explaining how to use it.

http://www.thebugsquad.com/fleas/diatomaceous-earth-fleas/

Anonymous said...

I do want to add though, that although not harmful, you should wear a mask like it says, as it can bother your throat and eyes for a bit if it gets in them. But I would put it in a shaker, light sprinkle it on the carpet, (sprinkle it down close to the carpet, don't throw it up in the air), then working in with a brush.

Anonymous said...

How are things progressing for you?

Reading your blog and all of the posts have brought me back into my body after weeks of dealing with the apocalypse, I mean my home and DE.
Turns out I developed serious allergy to DE! I am taking very strong antihistamines
now but required 2 weeks of prednisone initially.

Slow but sure things will improve. I have enlisted some pros to assist due to the health aspect.

I owned a cleaning service for 17 years. After a week i came ups with this plan;
- clean ALL surfaces with wet towels/mop including ceilings.
- vacuum 2 days later
- rinse and repeat until my allergy symptoms subside.

On a side note there are zero bugs in my home.

Anonymous said...

used DE on my carpets and couches to get rid of fleas also. Big mistake, am now getting rid of all carpets and furniture because the dust is making all of us sick. We are all experiencing respiratory illnesses, all have been to the doctors repeatedly Strongly advise not using this stuff in your home

Aallen7950 said...

Bad experience turned out okay with a lot of work. I didn't read any directions when using the de so I seriously just threw the stuff every where in my house! Carpets, hard wood, tile, couch. It was such a night mare!!! This stuff covered everything every little surface in my house was covered from the dust settling. So here's where what I had to do to clean it... First things first I had to sweep And it was awful and so dusty!! I swept the carpets out and the couch. After that I let the dust settle again. The swept everything again. After I broke out the mop. I moped 3 times!!! Using everything from bleach to fabulosa!!! Still had the white powder looking stains on the tile and hard wood! This point I was freaking out that nothing was going to clean this up!!! But then I thought okay im going to try one more time to get this floor back to normal! So I mixed hot water, a little dawn, and a little oil! I got down on my hands and knees and and started scrubbing with a sponge then immediately drying as I moved trough out the house. I used this on my base boards as well. Here's where the good news kicked in! It worked!!! My floors look back to their original selfs!! Now I did have to use a bleach cleaner on my surface counters and dry with a paper towel. Then I went over my wood furniture with soap and water dried it then used furniture polish to get it looking healthy again. My rugs I had to spray with a little water and vacuum then took them outside and beat with a broom to get the rest of it out. This process was horrible and back breaking!!! But I have to say I have a dog and 3 cats. Fleas are gone! I did put this on my animals not a lot though just a sprinkle and I gave them a good scratching to set it in. It didn't bother them and they are as happy as ever. I also took the de and put it all in my yard where my dog plays. Next time I will definitely use an old baby powder bottle and do the light sprinkle!!! I hope this helps anyone who was in my shoes!! Just stay calm and get to cleaning it takes a while but it is do able!!

DE DISASTER said...

OMG! I feel like a need to have my head examined! But after going through this, I don't need a confirmation to know that I was NUTS to try this! It all started when I got used furniture and put it in my house. I think thats how they got in. I noticed my dog scratching more and more. Then I found fleas on her. I researched online about flea powders. I tried one but to no avail. I came across de. I went to Lowes, bought Safe Garden brand de and began to sift it onto my carpet. It said to leave it on for 24 hours. No problem. The problem occured when I tried to vacuum it up. I, to, burned up by vacuum. I bought a bagless vacuum which fills up so fast I don't feel like I can get anything clean. I have wiped EVERYTHING down with damp cloths. Then when I vacuum it seems to stir up the dust so I have to wipe everything down again. So, you get the picture. I can't afford new carpet! The good thing is I am single but I do have a cat and dog. I am upset with myself. I don't see an end to this anythime soon. Dust. Vacuum. Dust. Vacuum. I even opened my windows because I was afraid of keeping the de contained within my house. My house smells like dust. It did bring in some fresh air which I think I needed. It certainly hasn't made anything worse. Do I need to stop vacuuming for awhile,like for days, or vacuum daily? But for how long? Please send ANY ideas you may have. Stressed to the MAX!

DE DISASTER said...

OMG! I feel like a need to have my head examined! But after going through this, I don't need a confirmation to know that I was NUTS to try this! It all started when I got used furniture and put it in my house. I think thats how they got in. I noticed my dog scratching more and more. Then I found fleas on her. I researched online about flea powders. I tried one but to no avail. I came across de. I went to Lowes, bought Safe Garden brand de and began to sift it onto my carpet. It said to leave it on for 24 hours. No problem. The problem occured when I tried to vacuum it up. I, to, burned up by vacuum. I bought a bagless vacuum which fills up so fast I don't feel like I can get anything clean. I have wiped EVERYTHING down with damp cloths. Then when I vacuum it seems to stir up the dust so I have to wipe everything down again. So, you get the picture. I can't afford new carpet! The good thing is I am single but I do have a cat and dog. I am upset with myself. I don't see an end to this anythime soon. Dust. Vacuum. Dust. Vacuum. I even opened my windows because I was afraid of keeping the de contained within my house. My house smells like dust. It did bring in some fresh air which I think I needed. It certainly hasn't made anything worse. Do I need to stop vacuuming for awhile,like for days, or vacuum daily? But for how long? Please send ANY ideas you may have. Stressed to the MAX!

Unknown said...

Omg this original post is SO me! We thought all this time it was our 2 dogs infested and it's been our carpet. Crap! Didn't want to use the chemical powder die to our being TOXIC to everyone so spread DME everywhere around 10 at night! Lol A light dusting wad not possible and it's literally everywhere. Good news, the fleas are no longer biting and jumping on us. Think I burnt up my cheap/free Hoover vacuum and thank God it's not my Dyson. I had to write because I was lmao totally relating to everything you said. Mental note: need thin holed shaker next time. Lol I'm off to buy a big shop vac....have seen waaay less fleas though. ☺

Unknown said...

Omg this original post is SO me! We thought all this time it was our 2 dogs infested and it's been our carpet. Crap! Didn't want to use the chemical powder die to our being TOXIC to everyone so spread DME everywhere around 10 at night! Lol A light dusting wad not possible and it's literally everywhere. Good news, the fleas are no longer biting and jumping on us. Think I burnt up my cheap/free Hoover vacuum and thank God it's not my Dyson. I had to write because I was lmao totally relating to everything you said. Mental note: need thin holed shaker next time. Lol I'm off to buy a big shop vac....have seen waaay less fleas though. ☺

Unknown said...

For anyone still reading this, we bought a shop vac and an extra filter to vacuum all the DE up and it worked wonderfully. Good luck!

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Oh fleas. Aren't they a blast!!
So about 2.5 years ago I had a pretty good infestation in my basement from my untreated cats.. I have anxiety brain and decided to rip out all the carpet, wear white socks to catch fleas, and set many water/light traps to track progress. I also vacuumed like a maniac and treated my house twice with unhealthy sprays.
So fast forward to today and I am on day 35 of treatment. This time around I am a little more calm. Checking my cats, trying to check my Bernese Mt. dog, wearing my socks and vacuuming a lot. My laid back husband will NOT let me spray crap and will NOT let me lay the powder down because in reality, it is all unhealthy. Trust me when I say if I could I would burn down my house. (well not really)
Even though it's icky, really it's just a bug (I'm learning). Plain vacuuming and treating of pets will eventually kill them off since they do not live on us humans. It just takes time. 2-3 months if you have a pretty mild problem and 3-5 if it's not so mild. My vet has allowed us to use capstar when needed and treat with Advantage 2 (for cats) and Advantix 2 (for dog) every 3 weeks until we have a good freeze here where I live.
Thank you for your post, it gave me a chuckle!!