"How do I clean up diatomaceous earth?" is actually a pretty common question we get around here. The best way to remove DE from your house will vary depending on the surfaces you've applied it to. We've put together five simple methods we recommend using when it comes time to clean up your DE.
If you have applied DE on smooth surfaces like wood floors, tiles, countertops, baseboards, or in cupboards, you've got the easiest job of the group.
Take a damp towel and simply wipe away the DE, just like you would if you were cleaning up some spilled flour. Shake the towel off either outside or over a trash can and put it through the wash. We'd recommend washing any towels used in a separate wash to avoid mixing any traces of DE with your clothes. After one wash you'll be fine to add them in with other items of clothing again.
Take a broom or brush and sweep the DE into a dustpan and then remove to the trash can. If you find you get too many airborne particles, try getting a spray bottle full of water and lightly covering your floor before sweeping. You don't want to soak the DE, just give it enough liquid to hold it to the ground.
Vacuuming is probably the best all around choice for carpets and cloth. But there are certain limitations to what a typical vacuum cleaner can do to clean up DE. If you're not careful, you could ruin your old vacuum cleaner in your attempts to clean up your floor.
If you don't have one handy, we highly recommend renting a shop vacuum from your local hardware store. These vacuums are powerful, have great suction, and are designed to deal with large amounts of debris. We find that the Home Depot has some of the best rates and rental services around.
If you don't have easy access to a shop vac, you'll want to use a filterless vacuum to suck up the DE lying around your home. DE is so hard and abrasive that it can destroy a vacuum filter in just a few minutes. If you don't have a filterless vacuum, you can use a regular vacuum so long as you clean out the filter every few minutes as you go.
Generally we advise against the use of filtered vacuums because it is hard to know when the vacuum cleaner's filter starts to go. If you are going to use one, be very cautious about how much time and how much DE you vacuum.
"BUT I HAVE DE EVERYWHERE IN MY HOME," I hear you say. "I SEE LITTLE 'POOFS' OF IT EVERY TIME I WALK OR MOVE OR SIT DOWN." Don't worry, we have one final solution. Most DE applications can be cleaned up with a vacuum and towel, but when it really gets ingrained in your carpet and your vacuum isn't up to snuff, it's time to rent a carpet cleaner. Carpet cleaner rentals like Rug Doctor are fairly common and have reasonable rates.
Cleaning up DE is simple, just make sure you are taking the appropriate precautions and using the right tools for the job.