Silverfish are some of the most common house pests and can cause a significant amount of damage to your paper, fabric, and wood items. Although they aren’t dangerous, they’re annoying and unpleasant. Luckily for you, though, getting rid of them is simple.
How to get rid of silverfish? The silverfish is one of the easiest pests to get rid of. They’re nocturnal, and all you need is patience and an understanding of how they live in your home: their food sources, points of entry, humidity level. Once all these things are taken care of, it’ll be easy getting them out! There are a few traps you can buy for them too!
Let’s talk about silverfish and the best ways to eliminate them from your home permanently.
What Are Silverfish?
Many people have seen silverfish in their homes. Still, not everyone knows that silverfish is a common name for over 18 species of insects from the zygentoma family. However, many of these insects have similar characteristics, and the most common one is Lepisma saccharina, the common silverfish.
Silverfish are small wingless insects that have existed on earth even longer than cockroaches. They’re prevalent house pests since they eat paper products, wood, sugars, and dead insects.
So, let’s get into the details so that you can get into the brain of these tiny, annoying pests.
Related: What Is a Cockroach?
What Does a Silverfish Look Like?
Silverfish are light gray, and their bodies have scales that make them look like tiny, silver-colored fish, hence the name. Their heads are wider than their posteriors, making them look a bit like a wingless, elongated teardrop, and they have three long appendages on their rear end.
These appendages look just like golden-brown hairs. One is straight, while the other two point in opposite directions away from the insect’s body.
How Big Are Silverfish?
Silverfish are not very big, usually around 0.85 cm (0.33 in) long. They molt many times as they mature, leaving behind dry, crispy exoskeletons. Their narrow, slender bodies make it easy to climb into tight cracks and crevices where they can hide and live undetected for a while before you notice.
Where Do Silverfish Come From?
In nature, silverfish hide beneath cool, damp stones, leaf piles, and other debris. Then, once the sun goes down, they emerge from their lairs at night to search for food. There are over 370 species of silverfish worldwide, and you can find them in almost every country or continent globally.
Because silverfish like humid, warm environments, they often end up inside people’s homes.
Types of Silverfish
With so many types of silverfish, how do you know what kind lives in your area? Here’s a list of some of the most common types that invade people’s homes:
- Lepisma saccharina – the common silverfish (most common in human households)
- Thermobia domestica – the household firebrat
- Ctenolepisma lineata – the grey silverfish (most common in hot regions)
What Do Silverfish Eat?
Silverfish are scavengers in nature and eat plant fibers, starchy vegetables, dead insects, decaying organisms, and sometimes, other silverfish. Indoors, silverfish eat paper products, like books, cardboard, and glossy paper. They also eat fabrics like cotton, linen, rayon, and artificial silk.
Silverfish invade people’s homes because humans unknowingly provide silverfish with some of their favorite foods.
Are Silverfish Dangerous?
Silverfish are not dangerous. Some people falsely believe that silverfish have stingers, but they can’t even bite people. Silverfish don’t carry diseases or pathogens. Thus, they’re relatively clean pests that can’t give you any medical issues.
In addition, silverfish have no venom, and they aren’t poisonous to eat, so you shouldn’t worry about pets or children if there are silverfish in your home. The worst that they can do is eat your favorite book or invade your pantry.
What Attracts Silverfish?
Warm, dark, humid spaces attract silverfish since they don’t like to come out in the open during the daytime. Silverfish are small and easy to kill, so they want to hide until they can go undetected in the dark of the night.
Food sources also attract silverfish. If you have dead insects, open food containers, or cardboard boxes in your home, they’re more likely to stay.
How Do You Get Rid of Silverfish? Step by Step Instructions
If you want to get rid of silverfish, you may think that a chemical insecticide is the best method. However, suppose you kill the silverfish living in your home and don’t remove their bodies. In that case, they might end up feeding other silverfish, or worse, a new pest attracted to the protein in the silverfishes’ bodies.
If you want to get rid of the silverfish using the best methods possible, do the following steps below:
Step 1: Eliminate food sources. The first step is to clean. Put all scrap paper in enclosed dustbins, eliminate cardboard from the area, vacuum up crumbs and other dead insects, and put starchy foods in airtight containers.
Step 2: Dehumidify. Silverfish like humidity, so the dryer your home is, the more likely it is that your pests will die or leave. Install humidifiers, close your windows on humid days, or install plastic sheeting on concrete floors.
Step 3: Seal your rooms off. Since silverfish can fit into tight spaces like gaps in walls or floors, behind baseboards, inside crevices in window sills, and ventilation spaces, you may want to consider sealing all possible entry points with silicone caulk to get rid of the pests permanently.
Step 4: Set traps. Traps are the best way to get rid of silverfish since you can directly remove the insects’ bodies. Keep reading to learn more about the best traps for killing silverfish.
Getting Rid of Silverfish in Some Specific Places?
Silverfish like damp spaces with plenty of food sources, but often, you’ll need to target them in specific places in your home, which may require a particular method.
To get rid of silverfish in bathrooms, cupboards, closets, drains, attics, basements, and areas with tons of books, you’ll need to clean well and target the infested areas with insecticides and traps that are designed to work in these certain spots.
Let’s go over how to quickly and safely eliminate silverfish from their favorite haunts.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in a Bathroom?
Silverfish love to live in bathrooms since they’re so humid and often dark. To get rid of the silverfish, follow these steps:
Step 1: Keep your bathroom as dry as possible. This one may be difficult, but there are a few ways you can keep your restroom from staying damp. Place a shower mat outside your shower, and dry off your countertops every time you use the bathroom. You can turn on the overhead vent anytime you are in your bathroom.
Step 2: Clean regularly. Since silverfish like to eat paper and other dead insects, keeping your bathroom clean should discourage them from setting up camp there. You can use a garbage bin with a well-fitting lid to keep the insects out and clean your bathroom every week with a potent disinfectant to scare off the bugs.
Step 3: Set traps. To kill the silverfish in your bathroom, set traps like bowls for them to drown in, or try some of the others mentioned later in this article.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in a Closet?
To get rid of the silverfish in your closet, follow the steps:
Step 1: Clean all of the items in the closet. Laundering all of your clothes or linens may be a pain, but if you want to get rid of your pests for good, you’ll need to wash everything in the closet. That’s because silverfish have tiny, unnoticeable egg sacs that stick to items like fabric, cardboard, or walls. So, you should wash all fabrics in hot water and wipe down other items like boxes and decor with a disinfecting cleaner.
Step 2: Vacuum. Once your closet is relatively empty, vacuum it well, paying attention to corners, shelves, baseboards, and the walls. Suck up any insects, exoskeletons, or silverfish that you see and dispose of the vacuum bag in an outdoor garbage can right away.
Step 4: Set traps. To keep the bugs out, put some traps on shelves, beside corners and baseboards, or behind large shelves or boxes.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in Cupboards?
To get rid of silverfish in cupboards, follow the steps:
Step 1. Clean well. The first step is to remove silverfishes’ shed skins and eggs from the cabinets to prevent them from coming back. Use vinegar or antibacterial cleaners to clean your cabinets, spraying the cleaner directly into cracks, corners, and crevices where they like to hide. While you are at it, you may want to clean all of your dishes or other items in the cupboard.
Step 2. Put spice sachets in your cupboards. Silverfish use smell to find food, so putting fragrant herbs in your cabinet can help deter them. Put cinnamon, cloves, bay leaves, eucalyptus, and other strong-smelling herbs in a plastic bag, then poke several holes in the bag to release the odor. Or, rub some essential oils on the seams of your cupboard.
Step 3. Eliminate cardboard and paper. If there are cardboard boxes or paper items in your cupboard, move them or put them in airtight plastic containers to keep the silverfish from eating them.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in Drains?
Silverfish often end up in drains, where food and debris accumulate. To eliminate them from your drains, follow these steps:
Step 1: Pour hot water down the drain. If you want to kill the silverfish and any eggs, pour some hot water down the drain. Still, it’s essential to note that boiling water may damage plastic pipes, so let boiling water cool a bit before you send it down.
Step 2: Clear slow-running drains. If your drain is running slowly or if it’s clogged, silverfish are more likely to congregate in your pipes. That’s because the cause of the clog might just be the perfect snack for silverfish. Use a drain cleaner to clear the drains, which will kill the silverfish in the process.
Step 3: Put tape over your drain at night. Use masking tape or clear packing tape to make a silverfish trap over your drain. Cover the drain completely, and leave it overnight. The insects that try to crawl out will get stuck in the tape, making it easy for you to throw them out.
Step 4: Use drain traps in all of your drains. To keep food, insects, and hair from falling into your drains, where silverfish love to find their next meal, put a fine-mesh drain trap in your sinks and tubs.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in Kitchen Cabinets?
Silverfish often end up indoors because they’ve found a good food source, so seeing them in your kitchen cabinets is very common. To eliminate them from your kitchen cabinets, follow these steps:
Step 1: Clean, clean, clean! It’s easy to leave crumbs, empty food containers, and dirty dishes in your kitchen, but those are some of the silverfishes’ favorite places to get food. Empty your cabinets and clean the inside. Then, wipe down food containers and boxes with vinegar to remove any egg sacs.
Step 2: Seal your food containers. Silverfish can get into tiny spaces, including cereal boxes, flour bags, and so much more. Even if there are silverfish in your food, seal the containers right away to prevent the insects from spreading. Always keep grain items in sealed, airtight canisters, and use clips to seal bags. When possible, put your food items in plastic, glass, or ceramic containers to keep silverfish from eating them.
Step 3: Clean your cabinet with citrus-scented cleaners. Right now is the best time to treat your kitchen cabinets to citrus cleaners like pine-sol, lemon oil, or orange oil. These cleaners can only go so far in preventing silverfish but combined with the other tips here, using strong scents to scare the bugs off will help.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in Attic?
Dark, musty attics are one of the silverfishes’ favorite places to stay since they are damp and often have plenty of places to hide. To get the silverfish out of your attic, follow these steps:
Step 1: Declutter. Silverfish love to hide in tiny spots, so clutter is a no-go if you want an insect-free home. Remove all of the clutter that you can, replacing cardboard boxes (which silverfish love to eat) with airtight plastic totes. Seal paper items in plastic bags or containers, and pull any stacks of things away from walls.
Step 2: Vacuum. To get rid of old silverfish skins and their eggs, vacuum the attic very well. Ensure that you get every little crevice around corners, floorboards, baseboards, and walls.
Step 3: Dehumidify. To keep the silverfish away, use a dehumidifier to remove moisture from your attic.
Step 4: Seal off points of entry. Use silicone caulk to seal window frames, cracks in floorboards, holes in the walls, or any other suspicious spot that a tiny silverfish could get into.
Step 5: Set traps. Traps will go a long way to kill any silverfish in your attic. Keep reading to learn more about the best lures for silverfish.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in a Basement?
Out of all indoor spaces available, silverfish prefer basements. That’s because they’re so damp and dark, giving silverfish everything they need to go undetected. To get them out of your basement, follow these steps:
Step 1: Seal. Basements are known for their cracks, crevices, and hard-to-reach spots, but that’s what silverfish love about them. Use silicone caulk to seal holes in the floor, gaps between walls and the floor, around vents, near windows, and any other spot where silverfish could hide.
Step 2: Clean. To remove all of the visible silverfish eggs and skins, vacuum the entire basement better than you ever have before. Be extremely thorough, vacuuming off boxes, furniture, behind appliances, behind pipes, under rugs, and, basically, everywhere you can.
Step 3: Seal up paper products and fabrics. If you have stacks of cardboard boxes, books, extra linens, clothes, or other fabric and paper items in your basement, get rid of them or seal them in plastic containers. Make sure that there’s no exposed cardboard since silverfish like to eat it.
Step 4: Always run a dehumidifier. To keep the silverfish out, always keep a dehumidifier running in your basement.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish in Books?
If there are silverfish in your books, surely you want them gone ASAP. To get the silverfish out of your books and keep them out, follow the steps below:
Step 1: Put books in plastic bags.
Step 2: Seal the bags and put them in the freezer for at least three days, killing the silverfish.
Step 3: Clean your bookshelves, treating wooden shelves with citrus-scented wood cleaners.
Step 4: Put your books back on the shelves.
Step 5: Sprinkle diatomaceous earth beneath your shelf and around it to kill silverfish.
Step 6: Put sticky paper traps or other traps behind or underneath your bookshelf.
Step 7: Rearrange your books often and wipe the shelves down with antibacterial cleaners.
How To Get Rid of Silverfish Naturally?
One natural method that works just as well as any other is diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is an all-natural silica-based powder that scrapes and scratches almost any kind of crawling insect. The abrasive powder dehydrates the insect, forcing it to ‘bleed out,’ so to speak. Because it’s all-natural and so effective, it’s my go-to when fighting any kind of pest invasion.
Silverfish also dislike strong-smelling herbs and citrus scents. However, using powerful odors can only go so far in preventing silverfish, so it’s best to use them in conjunction with another method. Some of the best fragrances, herbs, and essential oils to use, include:
- Orange, lemon, and lime juice and oils
- Mountain mint
11 Best Silverfish Repellents To Buy
If you want a quick, foolproof method for repelling silverfish, try these products, which are available on Amazon. They’re sure to get the silverfish population in your home under control.
- Natural Product - Composed of a half pound of 100% ground...
- OMRI Listed - Listed with the Organic Minerals Research...
- Supports a Great Cause - Harris donates 10% of profits to support...
- Ready to Use - Puffer tip allows for easy application in hard to...
- Made in the USA – Mined in Nevada and packaged in Georgia
Diatomaceous earth is an ideal perimeter treatment. Use it to target silverfish ‘hot spots’ or sprinkle it around your baseboards to kill all of the pests that crawl by! This Diatomaceous earth is perfect for indoor and outdoor applications, and it comes in an easy-pour bottle that makes killing bugs a breeze.
- ELIMINATES HOME INVADING PESTS – This bug spray for home works...
- ORGANIC & NATURAL – Made with Natural, Organic, and non-toxic...
- FAST ACTING – Eco Defense is not only Fast Acting but also Long...
- SAFE – Safe to use all around your home. Eco Defense is a...
- MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - Formulated by professional exterminators...
When it comes to using pesticides, you shouldn’t have to use harsh chemicals in your home. This biobased spray is perfect for any area indoors, and it’s ideal for households with children and pets. This spray is ideal when treating childrens’ rooms or spaces where dogs or toddlers like to hang out.
- KILLS & REPELS. A preventative and a treatment, this pet-safe...
- PROTECT YOUR HOME. This versatile bug control spray is also an...
- SAFE FOR DOGS & CATS. Pet-friendly, this spray is gentle enough...
- PLANT-BASED AND POWERFULLY EFFECTIVE. Using natural essential...
- EASY-TO-USE. This eco-friendly biopesticide can be sprayed easily...
Wondercide is one of the best natural pest control brands on the market, and this spray is the gentlest of their formulas. You can use this indoor spray for kitchen cupboards and hard-to-reach spaces, and it always repels and kills all silverfish on contact.
- Boric Acid 20.0%
- Dekko Silverfish Paks are to be used in residential housing...
- Dekko Silverfish apply at approximately 2 oz per 100 square feet...
Designed just for use on silverfish, these small packets are simple to use. It is also recommendable for almost any DIY silverfish-control application. Just stick the pack in your basement, attic, cabinets, or practically anywhere, and wait for the silverfish to eat the baited poison.
- NATURALLY REPEL PESTS – A patented encapsulation process...
- LONG-LASTING PROTECTION - Our 12 PACK of Pest Control Pouches...
- NO MESS, EASY TO USE – Simply place 1 odorant pouch in any...
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Eco Defense pest blocks are some of the best and most well-rated easy-application pest repellents available on the market. They work against so many different rodents and insects that you can’t list them all here. These pouches are perfect for sensitive areas like pantries, closets, or in containers of fabrics since they’re all-natural and easy to place.
- Keep the most common types of ants, roaches, spiders, flies,...
- Use inside and outside your home with our naturally derived,...
- Apply easily and quickly with just a few simple sprays to begin...
- Harness the expertise of professional exterminators with our...
- Rest assured with our satisfaction guarantee—we stand by our...
Exterminator’s Choice is another excellent non-toxic spray that repels rather than kills insects. Since it’s an excellent repellent for a wide range of insects, it is recommendable for spraying windows and the perimeter of your home with it every month to prevent any more insects from entering your home.
- Great Value - 1 Gallon allows for repeated applications to...
- Extended Trigger Sprayer - Use included extended trigger sprayer...
- Long Residual - Continues to kill german roaches, ants, moths,...
- Odorless Formula - Odorless and non-staining formula will not...
- EPA Registered - Registered with the Environmental Protection...
Harris Home Pest control is a chemical spray that works exceptionally well. Just spray it around the perimeter of rooms and around the outside of your house to keep bugs out! Of course, you can turn to Harris when there is an actual infestation in your home since it’s less child and pet-friendly than some of my other go-to sprays.
- Ecoraider botanical bio-insecticide technology, rated 1 by...
- Kills 100% of ants within 1 minute, it also breaks down ants’...
- For use both indoor and outdoor to control existing and invading...
- Uncompromising effectiveness outperforms traditional pesticides
- Toxin-free and dermatologically safe, child, pet, bird and fish...
This spray isn’t just an all-natural repellent. It kills insects on contact, too, making it a fantastic option for treating infested areas. Spray it on baseboards, under furniture and kitchen appliances, and in your bathroom. Once a silverfish crawls in the dried spray, it’ll die within 6 minutes.
- Cedar Balls for Clothes Storage. These balls are what you want...
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- U.S.A. Design & Testing. Our wood cedar balls are grown and...
Cedar is one of the most hated scents when it comes to insects, so stick some of these balls in closets, kitchen cupboards, boxes of paper or fabrics, or in a decorative bowl on your bookshelf to keep silverfish at bay.
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This all-natural spray is perfect for application in bathrooms and under sinks where silverfish like to hide with its potent minty smell. It kills silverfish for up to 4 weeks, making it easy for you to eliminate the pests before you have to reapply them.
- Extra Concentrated for Long-Lasting Protection
- Natural Ingredients Proven Effective in the Real World
- Large 16oz Bottle
- Powerful Essential Oil
Mighty Mint is a lot like MDX Concepts spray, but it’s much more of a repellent. The mighty Mint spray also has a strong minty smell and all-natural, organic ingredients. It is good to use in kitchens and bathrooms to prevent silverfish from setting up camp.
All of these repellents and insecticides are safe to use in your home, and they’re sure to stop silverfish dead in their tracks.
Other Silverfish Pest Control Products
There are plenty of products on the market for killing and repelling silverfish, but how do you know that they’ll work? The following contents are sort of professional opinions about what to turn to when faced with a silverfish infestation.
1. Silverfish Traps
Silverfish traps are some of the most effective methods for removing silverfish since you won’t want their dead carcasses lying around in your home.
Generally, Max-Catch Pest Trap is very recommendable. These reliable, tried-and-true sticky pest traps will catch silverfish at night when they come out of hiding, and it’ll trap spiders and other insects too!
- Rat glue board
- Country of origin: United States
- No assembly required
- Brand name: Catchmaster
With a folding cardboard top, you won’t have to worry about getting stuck to the glue. In addition, these glue traps are perfect for sliding beneath furniture, where insects like silverfish hide during the day. In my opinion, they’re an all-around ideal trap that’ll keep your home pest-free with minimal effort.
2. Silverfish Sprays
When you want to treat sensitive indoor areas like kitchens and bedrooms, you can always turn to INFESTICS Organic Home Pest Control Spray.
- ELIMINATES HOME INVADING PESTS - Naturally Kills and Repels Home...
- ELIMINATES HOME INVADING PESTS - Naturally Kills and Repels Home...
- FAST ACTING – Infestics is not only Fast Acting but also Long...
- SAFE – Safe to use all around your home. Infestics is a Natural...
- MONEY BACK GUARANTEE - Formulated by professional exterminators...
This all-natural spray is just as strong and effective as any toxic insecticide. Still, it’s safe to use around pets, food, children, and clothing. When treating room perimeters, you can spray it down into baseboards, cardboard boxes, and around vents and windows when targeting silverfish.
3. Silverfish Insecticide
For a powerful, chemical approach, you can turn to Delta Dust Insecticide. This Odorless, non-staining insecticide can be used for indoor areas, which works well for silverfish, who like to live around the walls of your home. It works for 8 months after the initial application, so you can be confident that all of the silverfish will be dead and gone before you have to reapply it again.
- DELTA DUST CAN'T BE SHIPPED TO NY OR CT
- For Sale By Pestcontrolpross.. Please See Pestcontrolpross Amazon...
- Active Ingredient: 0.05% Deltamethrin Target pests: Ants,...
- Application area: 1 lb. delta dust treats approx. 1000sq/ft.
- You MUST ALWAYS READ THE LABEL BEFORE USING THE PRODUCT!!
How To Keep Silverfish Away Forever?
Here are eight tips for how to keep silverfish away forever:
Step 1: Keep your house’s perimeter sealed to keep silverfish from entering.
Step 2: Place dehumidifiers in damp areas of your home.
Step 3: Keep your home clutter and debris-free to eliminate hiding spots for silverfish.
Step 4: Seal all food containers in plastic, glass, or ceramic containers.
Step 5: Keep your bookshelf clean, and rearrange your books regularly.
Step 6: Avoid using cardboard boxes for long-term storage and opt for plastic totes.
Step 7: Empty waste bins weekly to keep paper and food debris away from silverfish.
Step 8: Keep sticky traps beneath your furniture to catch silverfish early.
Silverfish aren’t dangerous, but they’re annoying, and they can damage your paper and fabric items if you let them. Preventing them from coming into your home is the most crucial step in prevention, so repair holes and cracks in your foundation, baseboards, and walls.
Keeping your home clean and using traps is another excellent way to drive silverfish out. If you follow these steps, you’ll never have to worry about bugs in your home again!
List of Sources
Phillips, E. F., Gillett-Kaufman, J. L. (2018). Silverfish – Lepisma saccharina. University of Florida.
MSU (2011). Silverfish and Firebrat. Michigan State University Plant & Pest Diagnostics.
Meyer, J. R. (2020). General Entomology. NC State University.
Yates, J. R. III, (1992). Silverfish. The University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Jackman (1981). Silverfish. Texas A & M Agrilife Extension.