Using Silica Gel to Kill Bed Bugs: Does It Work?

Bed bugs are notorious for being able to adapt to different insecticide formulations. Lately, this has sparked a renewed interest in the development of powders that kill these parasites by dehydrating them.

No one wants to have bed bugs in their home. So, if you have a bed bug problem, you might be wondering if silica gel kills bed bugs and how effective it is. You’ve come to the right place! In this article, we’ll answer the most common questions people have regarding this natural bed bug elimination method. Let’s dive in!

Bed Bugs: Our Unwanted Roommates

For a long time, bed bugs have been those unwanted parasitic insects dwelling in homes, feeding on the blood of humans and our beloved pets. The common bed bug, Cimex lectularius, prefers human blood over the blood of other hosts.

From our furniture to our clothing and other textile materials, bed bugs can dwell anywhere in the home. Since they’re most active at night, your mattress is the most likely place to find a bed bug infestation.

Bed bugs will crawl out from the crevices of the mattress while you’re sleeping to feast on the exposed skin of your legs, arms, neck, and even your face.

These insect bites may go unnoticed since bed bug bites are painless and people can often mistake them for a rash. If red bumps have appeared on your skin overnight accompanied by itching and redness, you may have bed bugs.

What is Silica Gel?

Silica gel is a soft, white, powdered form of silicon dioxide (a.k.a. silica). It is a non-crystalline, porous material.

Silica gel has many uses. It’s most commonly used in:

  • Drying Agents (Desiccants)
    Silica gel is used to prevent the accumulation of moisture in stored products.
  • Anti-Caking Agents
    It’s an additive that prevents the formation of lumps in granulated or powdered pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and food.
  • Insecticides
    Silica gel is a great pest control measure because of its harmless effect on mammals.

Silica Gel as Bed Bug Control

Nowadays, people use all kinds of insecticides to control and kill bed bugs. A few of the most common substances used for this are neonicotinoids (which affect the nervous system) and pyrroles (which decrease energy production). Those who prefer more natural solutions usually reach for diatomaceous earth. But diatomaceous earth isn’t actually the best thing to use as a low toxicity bed bug remedy. Silica gel is.

Diatomaceous earth is a dehydrating compound that showed immense potential in laboratory studies. And yet, when the researchers applied it to a real-life bed bug infestation, the results weren’t promising. The real-life application sadly didn’t replicate the impressive results achieved in the lab.

This is why researchers have begun using silica dust as a way to control bed bugs. Silica powder’s light, fluffy texture and electrostatic charge allow it to easily get stuck on the bed bugs that are crawling over the different surfaces where the dust has been applied. This makes it a much better bed bug control method.

Silica dust, however, can be too lightweight. This resulted in the powder remaining suspended in the air rather than getting stuck on the bugs. Adding petroleum distillate and other similar additives to the silica powder or incorporating it into liquid sprays helps to weigh it down. This will help the dust adhere to the bed bugs as well as any surfaces that you apply it to.

How Does Silica Gel Kill Bed Bugs?

Like many insects, bed bugs have an exoskeleton. This not only protects the bugs but also helps them stay hydrated.

Silica gel is great for getting rid of these bugs since it actually removes the thick protective outer layer on bed bugs that helps them conserve body moisture.

How is silica able to do that? Bed bugs have a waxy layer on their cuticle. Silica dust destroys that waxy layer, causing the bugs to dry out and die from dehydration.

Can I Use Silica Gel to Kill Bed Bugs?

The answer to this question is an overwhelming “Yes.” You can and should! Unlike some insecticides like boric acid that must be ingested by the insects for it to work, desiccants like silica gel are safe and very effective tools for killing bed bugs.

Some other reasons why you should try silica gel dust when trying to control and manage a bed bug infestation are:

  • Because of its low toxicity to mammals (approximately as dangerous as table salt), it’s less harmful to humans.
  • It poses little inhalation risk
  • It penetrates the cracks and crevices where bed bugs hide.
  • Silica gel is a much better long-term solution than most.
  • Studies have shown that it has long-term residual effects, particularly in less humid environments.

Silica Gel Dust as a Preventive Tool

Besides helping you kill bed bugs, silica gel dust can also help you keep bed bug infestations from spreading.

You’ll need to apply it around the perimeter of your home as well as around and under sofas, beds, doors, and even in corridors.

This will help you be sure that the bed bugs won’t migrate to other parts of your home. It’ll also make sure that they don’t return once you have dealt with your current infestation.

On top of that, the dust that you apply to treated areas has residual effects, too. These residual effects can last for over a year. This is another added bonus of using silica gel dust to combat bed bugs. Just make sure that you periodically reapply the silica dust to keep your home bed bug free!


Jeremiah Riel

One of the better, safer alternatives to getting rid of bedbugs is spraying 70-90% isopropyl alcohol to all your bed, box spring, under bed, and furniture. The alcohol kills the bedbugs on contact. You then have to vacuum very thoroughly to get any and all eggs. You need to open up your windows and wear a respiratory mask when spraying the alcohol because the smell is very strong and can irritate your lungs. Be especially careful if you or a family member has some type of respiratory condition such as seasonal allergies, asthma, COPD, etc. The great thing about the isopropyl alcohol is that it’s non-toxic after it dries, so it’s completely safe for children and pets. The only issue with spraying furniture is you will ruin the finish on nice furniture if it’s made of stained wood. To avoid ruining our new furniture in the kids’ room, we only sprayed the interior and portions underneath that are not visible. Look for small deposits of eggs higher up on walls also. We had a bedbug infestation at our first house in South Carolina, and were able to successful rid ourselves of the pests by using these techniques repeatedly. We did this about once/week for 4-6 months to do the trick. We knew they were gone because we no longer had the pesky bites and our kids stopped complaining of being “itchy.” There wasn’t much hard evidence to suggest we were bedbug free, except for no longer getting bites. We continued to live in this house for another year or 2 without the bedbugs returning. I think we picked them up in St. Maartin on vacation or at another infested hotel from a vacation.


    Yes indeed, isopropyl alcohol is another efficient way of getting rid of bed bugs.

Pratap Reddy

Dear Karen,
thank you very much for the article.

We are facing horrible time due to Bed Bugs infestations in our home.
Pls clarify the following at the soonest:

1) Can we mix Silica Gel powder with Isopropyl Alcohol (99% purity) and spray. If so, in what proportions (ratio).

2) Otherwise, can we mix Silica Gel powder with Water and spray. If so, in what proportions (ratio).

I wait for your kind and prompt reply.


    Silica powder (and other bed bug powders for that matter) is the most efficient when dry, so I wouldn’t recommend you mixing silica with isopropyl alcohol, water or any other liquid. You can, however, use silica and isopropyl alcohol separately, because each of them is a good and efficient way how to banish bed bugs.


Silica is an extremely effective way of dealing with a bedbug infestation. Any type of liquid spray is a ” contact” killer to my knowledge.

It’s all about perimeters. Dust your residence very lightly with silica. DO NOT get carried away with it. Bed bugs do not generally wander around in open sight.

Dust around the base boards of each room. Dust around access points of anywhere one might sleep, beds, soffas etc. It does not take a lot. No need to treat open areas. They do not walk where we do:)


Hi Karen,
Can we spray silica gel powder with deltamethrene and tetramethrene mixed in water all togethe and left appartment closed for 5 hours,
And if it possible then what quantity we can use per litre or per 5litre
Please advise


    As I mentioned in a previous comment, silica gel powder is the most efficient when used dry. And, since both deltamethrin and tetramethrin are potent insecticides on their own, I’m not sure how healthy it would be to use all three of these potent ingredients in your home at once. I would recommend you consult a pest control professional before using this combination in your apartment.


I got rid of a terrible infestation in a rooming house in less than a week with Maggie’s bed bug powder. It’s 98% silica dioxide powder. I dusted cracks, my mattress and the floor around my bed, bookshelves and doors with it and didn’t even receive a single bite that same night. God bless Maggie’s Farm and silica dioxide. Super effective when nothing else worked. And the 4 oz bottle was very cheap. More than enough for a few years worth of treatment. Hope it helps someone else out.


i’ve used hotshot bedbug killer and after a good dose of that stuff sprayed over the matrass ,I then springle some boric acid power around and it worked. At first I would spray everytime I got an itch,just over the top of the bed and under the cover ,that would stop them for two or one week after about three months,no more pest, sleeping good now .try it.


Where can I purchase Silica Gel?


    Depends on where you live and what stores you have in the area. It can also be purchased in various online stores.

Betty's Bugging Out

I have tried four different treatments for getting rid of my head lice and ran across an article that said silicon dioxide works, so I am at this very moment trying this method… using a puffer, I covered my whole head, scalp, and hair with the powder while wearing a mask and closing my eyes. I then put an old T shirt on, turning it inside out and wrapping it around my head like a turban and taped it into place. I will wait 8 hours and then wash my hair. I know that silicon dioxide jell kills bedbugs, and I believe this will work. If you decide to try this, be sure and be careful not to breath the dust or get it in your eyes as it can cause irritation. Also, I would not recommend this as a treatment for children. I am not actually recommending it for anyone as I don’t even know if it will work – and I don’t know how others may react to it but just wanted to share my excitement about possibly finally getting rid of these awful pests biting my head!

    Robert Siegel

    I want to hear if Betty’s head wrap treatment finally worked. She wrote a wonderful descriptive paragraph story and I really want to hear the ending to it. Bob S

Lim Wen Jiing

Is Cilica Gel effective in killing bed bugs in a high humidity environment like Singapore (humidity level is above 80%)? Thanks.


    Silica gel might be less effective in environments with high humidity. Other than this aspect, there are some other things you might want to consider before choosing to use silica gel to fight bed bugs. First of all, it’s a contact-killer, meaning it won’t affect bugs that happen to avoid it. Using silica powder instead might give you a higher efficiency. Also, keep in mind it won’t kill the eggs, just the individuals that have already hatched.
    All that being said, we wouldn’t want to discourage you from using silica gel or powder, since they are some of the best products to use (considering the low toxicity to humans and ability to actually kill the bed bugs), as long as you can get bugs to come in contact with them. You can also try using this method, combined with another one. To have a better understanding about what your options are, we suggest reading this article.


Can you use the packets that are in things you buy? I mean reuse them? Crush them?


    The powder should be able to stick to the bugs to do the harm. Therefore, it should have the right texture. For best results, you should stick to the powder, however, if you already have these packets, and would like to experiment a little (keeping in mind that they might end up not solving your problem), I don’t see why that would be a bad idea. Also, if you do decide to go through with the plan, it would be highly appreciated if you shared your experience with us.

Mj Jj

Tested silca gel that comes packed with telecom equipment and it is effective. All you need is to crush them to obtain fine texture.


I am prepping my house for bed bug treatment however
I am told that there is a treatment that can also go inside the bags. The treatment will the bed bugs and their eggs and 3liminqte the need for washing and it is eco-friendly however no one will tell me what it is can you help.


i need help. I got bedbugs about 4 yrs ago when someone else had them in the apartment complex. We packed up the apartments except for empty furniture, had someone come in to clean the rugs, and then a bug man come in and spray. I still had bedbugs after they were done. Have used some Hotshot, Ortho, other treatment s and bed bug bombs. Tried to spray every two weeks or at the rate on the insect killer. I never got rid of them but kept them down until I was in too much pain and the spraying became eradic.
I have spent a fortune, used all sorts of treatments for a long enough time that they should all lbe dead (as much poison as I have sprayed in this apartment I should be ) .I sprayed the baseboards , under on the bottom and inside of furniture inside closets on ceilings and corners of walls, round door frames, everywhere I could think of that they could be laying eggs. Using Harris powder and then diatomaceous earth has to dry them out which takes time and there were many more babies born than the powder ever killed adults. Plus it destroyed the motor in my good vacuum cleaner. Will the alcohol treatment ruin the rugs and curtains? What mixture would I want to use. If I have to spray for a while, will it ruin what I am spraying? Do I want to use a spray bottle or a garden spayer to do the whole house. Do I need to spray the whole house at one time with alcohol or silicone or could I do it a room a day? If I use silicone the alcohol the next time, isn’t that going to get the silicone wet and kill it’s effectiveness? I am desperate and this time I want to kill these things. After they are dead, what do I do to keep them gone. I wash everything or put it thru a hot dryer before I go out anywhee so I am not carrying any unwanted thing with me in public. All information will be very much appreciated.


    Have you tried reading out article about getting rid of bed bugs? We have compiled methods of getting rid of them. Perhaps you should take a look. Also, it might be a good idea to treat the whole home at the same time, if possible.

    When it comes to ruining the things you’re spraying on, it depends on materials. Try googling whether the materials those things are made of are compatible with whatever you’re about to put on them (in case of pest control products, check the labels, you can usually find information about what surfaces the product can be used on).

Terri Posey

Is silica powder or gel safe for cats?


    Silica isn’t toxic to them on its own (as a matter of fact, it’s being used in cat litter due to its ability to soak up water). But you should still be careful. For example, if you’re dealing with silica packs, they might become a choking hazard. I’ve also heard it might cause a slight stomach-ache in some cases. Still, it’s considered to be safe overall.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published*