Borax vs Diatomaceous Earth for Bed Bugs {We Choose A Clear Winner}

Are you looking for the most effective way to get rid of Bed Bugs? Borax vs Diatomaceous Earth for Bed Bugs. Which is better?

There are plenty of advocates for each side of this coin, but would you like us to take a side in this debate?

In this article, we will compare Borax and Diatomaceous Earth to find their similarities, differences, pros and cons while choosing an overall winner.

Borax vs Diatomaceous Earth for Bed Bugs

Borax takes longer to absorb and works better when pests ingest it, but bed bugs only wish to ingest blood.

Diatomaceous Earth pierces into the exoskeleton of bed bugs on contact more efficiently and creates many abrasions to absorb all moisture from within a bed bug.

Borax can also be used wet while Diatomaceous Earth must be applied dry. We recommend Diatomaceous Earth over Borax for bed bugs.

How To Compare Borax and Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs

We are trying to determine the best course of action to eliminate bed bugs. We’re weighing out two popular and effective methods. If you’re unsure about which one to pick, you’ve come to the right place.


  • EPA registered products
  • Recommended for indoor & outdoor use
  • Non-toxic
  • Dehydrate exoskeletons on bugs to kill them


  • Borax takes up to 2 weeks to kill Bed Bugs.
  • Diatomaceous Earth kills bed bug colonies in 2-3 days.
  • Borax works when wet and is better outdoors.

What Is Borax?

Borax is known under the following names:

  • sodium borate
  • sodium borate decahydrate
  • sodium tetraborate decahydrate

It is a natural mineral and hydrate salt of boric acid used for hundreds of years to kill insects. It’s easily available in most supermarkets.

The exoskeleton of insects that come into contact with Borax will dehydrate and crack open. Insecticides like Borax dry and kill pests.

Does Borax Kill Bed Bugs?

Yes. The only issue we have found is that Borax takes longer to kill entire colonies of bed bugs compared to Diatomaceous Earth.

You may need up to 2 weeks while continuing to notice bed bug bites until Borax has completely dried and killed the infestation.

It’s recommended to continue using Borax for up to 2 weeks to fight the bed bug population in your home.

What I Should Know About Borax

  • Derived from Sodium Borate
  • No additives or preservatives
  • Inexpensive and widely available 
  • Unsafe for ingestion or inhalation
  • May irritate eyes and throat
  • Easy to spread in cracks and crevices
YouTube video

What Is Diatomaceous Earth?

This fossilized byproduct from animals is also an age old insecticide known as Diatomaceous Earth.

Diatoms are tiny aquatic organisms and their fossilized form helps to dry out exoskeletons of insects much like Borax.

There are food grade options and insect grade packages as well. Both work effectively with continued use.

Can I Use Diatomaceous Earth On Bed Bugs?

Yes. The problem is that bed bugs are great at hiding. You will need to find any openings and sprinkle this dry powder in any area you suspect to contain bed bugs.

Results may happen in 2-3 days or as long as 1 week. Wear a mask and gloves to reduce your exposure to inhaling this dry powder that can cause sore throats or itchy eyes.

What I Should Know About Diatomaceous Earth

  • Used in food preparation in food-grade form
  • Lasts for years when kept dry
  • Kills most insects and bed bugs with contact or ingestion
  • Safe to apply around the house

Do Bed Bugs Need To Eat Diatomaceous Earth or Borax?

No. Bed bugs or other pests do not need to ingest or digest either of these two powders.

They feel soft, but both contain tiny edges that are sharp enough to create tiny cracks in the exoskeleton of bed bugs. In a matter of 24-72 hours, any exposed bed bug will dry up and die.

All moisture is absorbed and this is how Diatomaceous Earth and Borax and been used safely for decades.

What Are The Pros And Cons of Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs?

It’s helpful to you and us when making the right decision for a safe and natural solution to our bed bug problem to find out the pros and cons first:


  • Non-toxic around pets and children
  • Kills many pests from fleas to bed bugs
  • May take 24 hours to 7 days
  • Only direct contact needed without ingesting
  • FDA and EPA approved
  • Able to be spread over large areas


  • Must be kept dry
  • Wet applications do not work
  • Messy
  • Should not be inhaled

What Are The Pros And Cons of Borax For Bed Bugs?

Here are some advantages and disadvantages to choosing Borax for your bed bug problem:


  • Cheap and easy to find
  • Can be used wet with water in a spray bottle
  • Works on contact and when ingested on bait
  • Non-toxic to humans
  • Lasts a long time


  • Works slower than Diatomaceous Earth
  • Should not be ingested by humans or pets
  • Contact killing not as effective as applying it on bait

Which Is Better: Diatomaceous Earth or Borax?

The answer to this question depends on your pest issue. Let’s focus on bed bugs. Since this is an indoor problem, we tend to lean closer to using Diatomaceous Earth instead.

  • Borax works better outdoors and still works when it gets wet.
  • Diatomaceous Earth kills bed bugs and other pests faster than Borax.  
  • Borax can be applied to bait and works faster when ingested. 
  • Any contact with Diatomaceous Earth is all it takes for bed bugs to dry up and die. 
  • Diatomaceous Earth is messier than Borax when you dust your home with it instead of spraying Borax with water. 

Does Borax Kill Bed Bugs?

Borax is not your best option for killing bed bugs. The main issue is that bed bugs don’t react to Borax as quickly as other insects do.

Borax is better used as a stomach poison. This means you should consider using a bait and applying Borax on it for ingestion.

Nevertheless, Borax acts slowly to interfere with the digestive system of a bed bug and slow its metabolism down to a crawling halt.

This takes several days, meanwhile you continue to get bit by these pesky critters. How can you use Borax on bait when bed bugs want to eat your blood? This is why Borax is not your best bet for killing bed bugs.

What Is The Best Way To Kill Bed Bugs With Borax?

Borax could be applied with water in a spray bottle, but it works better when dry. Many insects will consume Borax sprinkled on bait, but bed bugs only want your blood.

This means you will have to spot the bed bug colonies and sprinkle Borax directly on their bodies to dry them out.

The powder is used to absorb moisture on their bodies inside and out. It also causes them to suffocate. If you can’t see the bed bugs, it will be hard to lure them over to making contact with Borax.

Tips To Kill Bed Bugs With Borax

  • Sprinkle a thick layer of Borax on your mattress. 
  • Spray it with water. 
  • Include Borax in a hot water wash for all linens and bedding. 
  • Toss Borax between floorboards, cracks, in and under carpeting. 
  • Wear gloves and a mask.
  • Keep away from pets and their bowls. 

Is Diatomaceous Earth For Bed Bugs Better Than Borax?

Yes. Diatomaceous Earth works more aggressively. It cause wounds and abrasions with the jagged edges of each granule. The bed bug dies faster on contact.

Diatomaceous crumbles as a fossilized version similar to sharp sedimentary rock. The pieces are rough and they scratch the exoskeleton of bed bugs or other pests.

The layers peel away and the absorbing nature of this powder sucks in all moisture.

The eggs are harder to kill with Diatomaceous Earth, but this powder has proven to be effective over Borax in many comparison tests for adult bed bugs.

Will Borax Kill Bed Bug Eggs?

Unfortunately not. The eggs of bed bugs are secured and cannot be killed by using Borax. The best methods of using this powder to create an enticing bait for insects to consume.

Bed bugs and their eggs are not looking to consume any bait. Larval bed bugs will survive on any debris or fecal matter from adult bed bugs.

There is a study where bed bugs and their eggs survived in a bag full of Borax for weeks without dying. The details of this study are not clear enough to say that Borax is ineffective, but we believe there are better alternatives.


The winner of the natural approach to killing bed bugs when comparing Borax with Diatomaceous Earth is clearly the latter.

Diatomaceous Earth kills bed bugs faster and does not rely on it being ingested. The powder is more jagged and pierces better into the outer layer of bed bugs who pass over it unknowingly.

Borax is effective when sprayed onto sheets, mattresses or applied dry as a powder. Use Borax as a topping on bait for hungry little pests, but save the Diatomaceous Earth for killing bed bugs.


Thanks for visiting for the best information to help you to make the pest control process easy, safe & affordable. 

Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable