How to Get Rid of Silverfish: 14 Effective Ideas

14 ideas for how to get rid of silverfish. Silverfish are small, wingless insects known for their destructive feeding habits. They often ruin papers, clothing, and wallpaper.

They thrive in dark, damp environments, and getting rid of them can be challenging once they establish themselves. Furthermore these pests are hardy and can live without food for long periods, making them a persistent problem in homes.

Understanding the habits of silverfish is crucial for effective eradication. Specifically by identifying the conditions that attract silverfish, you can make your home less inviting to them.

Getting rid of silverfish involves reducing moisture levels, decluttering, and regularly cleaning to remove potential food sources. Furthermore combining preventative strategies with targeted removal methods offers the best approach to controlling a silverfish infestation.

Critical Takeaways for How to Get Rid of Silverfish

How to Get Rid of Silverfish

  • Identifying and modifying conditions that attract silverfish is essential for prevention.
  • A combination of natural, DIY, and chemical methods can effectively remove silverfish.
  • Ongoing maintenance and monitoring are vital to ensuring long-term control of silverfish infestations.

Understanding Silverfish

Before addressing how to manage silverfish, it’s essential to understand their habitats, behaviors, and reasons for infiltrating homes.

Habitat and Behavior

silverfish eating drywall and wallpaper

Silverfish are nocturnal insects that prefer dark, moist environments. Typically, you’ll find them in basements, bathrooms, and attics. Plus, you might observe these insects thriving in areas with high humidity levels. Furthermore, they are quick movers, have elongated, silver bodies with scales, and possess two long antennae.

Diet and Attraction to Homes

The abundance of their preferred food sources draws silverfish to your home. Furthermore, they consume proteins, carbohydrates, and starchy foods. 

Due to their dietary requirements, everyday household items like flour, book bindings, pasta, and cardboard are at risk. 

Additionally, they are fond of items rich in protein, like dried beef. They’ll also feed on cotton, linen, rayon, tissues, and cellophane. For this reason, they are a top contender for bugs you’ll find in clothes.

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Understanding the reproductive cycle of silverfish is crucial to controlling infestations. To illustrate, females lay a few eggs daily, which hatch into nymphs resembling smaller adults.

Due to their discreet egg-laying habits, often in cracks and crevices, silverfish populations can grow unnoticed. From egg to adult, the process takes about 3-4 months; however, if conditions are not favorable, the lifecycle can last for a few years. 

Signs of an Infestation

Early identification of a silverfish infestation is critical to effective management. Look for telltale indicators such as yellow stains, skins, and feces resembling black pepper droppings. A common sign is damage to paper or fabric items, which indicates their feeding activity. Furthermore, if you notice such signs, it suggests the presence of silverfish in your home.

14 Ideas for Preventing Silverfish Infestations (Including Natural Methods)

To effectively prevent silverfish infestations, focus on creating an environment that is less attractive to them by controlling humidity, sealing potential entry points, maintaining cleanliness, and adequately storing various items. Silverfish are considered nuisance pests since they are not known to spread disease.

Reduce the Relative Humidity

silverfish in a bathroom

Silverfish thrive in moist, humid environments, and their eggs need moisture to hatch. Since they are one of the common tiny basement bugs, the first step is dehumidifying your home using dehumidifiers, especially in high-humidity areas like bathroomsbasements, and attics.

Ensure good ventilation throughout the house, particularly around sinks, showers, and bathtubs. Regularly check for and repair any leaks. Use a dehumidifier to reduce your overall relative humidity in the home. You can place a small dehumidifier in any damp place in your home.

check out this amazon affiliate link. we earn a small commission if you finalize a purchase.

NineSky Dehumidifier for Home, 85 OZ Water Tank, (800 sq.ft) Dehumidifiers for Bathroom Bedroom with Auto Shut Off,7 Colors LED Light(Gray)
  • ADVANCED HOME DEHUMIDIFIER: Our dehumidifiers adopts semiconductor condensation technology with quiet working feature, efficiently for removing the moisture in the air, enjoy comfortable life
  • AUTO SHUT OFF: Smart dehumidifier with auto shut off function when the water tank is full or in a wrong position, perfect to prevent the water from overflowing when you did not notice, very safe and convenient to use when you are not at home
  • 7 COLORFUL NIGHT LIGHTS:Our dehumidifier for bedroom has 7 changing lights, which could be set steady on your prefer color, could serve as a nigh light, creates a sweet and romantic sleeping atmosphere for you
  • 2 WORKING MODELS: High speed mode with powerful speed for quickly and efficiently reduce the humidity. Night mode(sleep mode) with low speed operation, quietly working (<30db) while you are sleeping. Switch freely the 2 modes as your need
  • COMPACT DEHUMIDIFIER: This portable dehumidifier size approx: 8.3(L)*5.5(W)*14(H) inch, could cover a range of 800 sq.ft. Perfect to use as bedroom dehumidifier, closet dehumidifier,bathroom dehumidifier. Widely used in basement, garage, kitchen and other occcsions.
  • Use dehumidifiers: Place them in prone areas, like damp basements.
  • Ventilation: For less silverfish, use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Leak Repairs: Check and fix leaks promptly.

Sealing Entry Points for Silverfish Prevention

Prevent silverfish from finding their way in by sealing cracks and crevices around windows, radiators, baseboards, and door frames with caulking. This includes gaps in utility lines and pipes that enter your house.

  • Inspect Exteriors: Identify potential entry points.
  • Caulking: Apply around windows and baseboards.

Get Rid of Cardboard Boxes

silverfish crawling all over boxes in a cluttered closet, Store Linens and Clothing in Air Tight Containers

Since we all order things online in cardboard boxes, we are prone to bringing in silverfish. They can hide in the seams of a box from the warehouse and set up shop in your home.

The best way to prevent this is to collapse all boxes immediately and remove them from your house.

Keep All Pet Food in Airtight Containers

a photo of a bowl of dog food with a large silverfish near it- in a a modern kitchen.

Since I live with four dogs, there is always an abundance of dog food, so I know firsthand about proper storage! Personally, I use the Simple Human container for my dog food. Keeping it in a sealed container can also help keep roaches away. 

Get Rid of Old Newspapers

Silverfish feed on paper. You will likely have a silverfish issue if you have old papers lying around.

Use Diatomaceous Earth in Wall Voids

You can puff diatomaceous earth powder into wall voids or cracks and crevices. Remember to never put it in areas where it will become airborne. It is designed for cracks and crevices that you immediately seal after puffing.

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is an effective solution for controlling silverfish populations because it acts as a stomach poison when ingested by these pests.

Silverfish come into contact with boric acid as they crawl over treated areas, and the powder is lethal when they consume it through grooming. More importantly you must use it with caution and read the label on proper use. 

  • Boric acid disrupts the digestive system of silverfish, leading to their death.
  • It can be sprinkled in areas (out of reach of pets and children) where silverfish are frequently spotted, such as bookshelves, closets, and damp basements.

Regular Cleaning and Vacuuming

Keeping your home clean is critical in preventing silverfish. Vacuum regularly to remove food particles, dead insects, dust mites, and eggs from carpets and upholstery. Reduce clutter where silverfish might hide.

  • Vacuum: Focus on carpets, furniture, and crevices.
  • Declutter: Minimize paper and fabric accumulation.

Store Food Items Like Flour, Pasta, and Cookies in Air Tight Jars

Store dry goods like cereals in airtight containers to prevent silverfish from accessing food sources. 

  • Food Storage: Use airtight containers for pantry items.

Keep Linens and Clothing in Air Tight Containers

silverfish infestation in closet

Keep linens and clothing in sealed plastic containers to prevent damage. Remember: Silverfish can feast on cotton, linen, rayon, and other fabrics.

  • Belonging Storage: Keep linens and clothes in sealed containers.

Silverfish Traps

It’s essential to place sticky traps around your home to monitor for silverfish. While traps won’t solve a silverfish problem, they will help you understand which areas to focus on. 

  • Place the traps in every room of your home, including the closets
  • Be sure to put some in areas where you know the humidity is high, like bathrooms and kitchens.
  • Put many traps in crawl spaces.

Cleaning Lint Traps in Laundry Rooms

Since silverfish feed on fibers like cotton and linens, it’s essential to regularly clean out your lint trap and ensure no moisture around your washer and dryer. It’s good practice to leave the lid open on your washer so it can air out.

Herbs and Essential Oils in a Spray Bottle

Lavender, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaves are natural deterrents for silverfish. Additionally you may use these herbs in their dried form or the essential oils derived from them.

  • Lavender: Place dried lavender or sachets in closets, drawers, or any affected area to repel silverfish.
  • Peppermint Oil: Place a few drops in a spray bottle and use in areas where you see silverfish.
  • Cinnamon: Spread ground cinnamon or place cinnamon sticks in areas where you see silverfish.
  • Cloves: Put whole cloves in the corners of shelves or cupboards.
  • Bay leaves Scatter bay leaves in your pantry, bookshelves, and storage boxes.

Cedar Products

Cedar oil, cedar shavings, and other cedar-based products emit a scent that repels silverfish.

  • Cedar oil: Dab a small amount of cedar oil in infested areas or use it to create a natural repellent spray.
  • Cedar shavings: To deter silverfish, place shavings in small sachets or directly in areas such as closets and drawers.
  • Use cedar panels for closets: Line your closet with cedar panels. You can find these at DIY stores like Home Depot.

For Best Results, Call a Professional Pest Control Company

When faced with a persistent silverfish infestation that home remedies cannot contain, it’s time to consider professional pest control. Professionals offer the expertise and potent solutions to effectively remove these pests from your home.

When to Hire a Professional

You should hire a professional if regular methods fail or your silverfish problem recurs often, indicating a severe silverfish infestation.

If you notice damage to your belongings, such as books, wallpapers, or clothing, you should seek professional help. Another sign is spotting silverfish in more significant numbers or various stages of growth, which suggests a breeding population.

Treatment Options and Techniques

Professionals tackle silverfish infestations with a range of treatments and techniques:

  • Traps: Pest control services often use glue traps to monitor silverfish populations and locate areas of high activity.
  • Insecticides: A variety of targeted insecticides are great for silverfish control. These may include:

  • Environmental Management: Professionals may suggest changes to reduce humidity and other conditions favorable to silverfish.

Remember, a licensed pest control expert will provide tailored solutions ensuring the safe and effective removal of silverfish from your property.

Maintenance and Monitoring

Maintaining a silverfish-free environment hinges on routine home inspections and implementing ongoing prevention strategies. In addition, you can minimize the chances of a silverfish infestation by keeping a vigilant eye on potential hiding spots and employing consistent preventative measures.

Routine Home Inspections – Pay Attention to Dark Places

Consistent Inspections: The good news is that regularly checking for silverfish in damp and dark areas of your home, such as basements, attics, and bathrooms, will help you get rid of them. In the meantime, please pay close attention to hidden spots where they may reside, including cracks and crevices in walls and floors.

  • Monthly Checklist:
    • Inspect behind appliances and in cabinets.
    • Examine bookshelves, storage boxes, and stacks of papers.
    • Search under sinks for excess moisture.
    • Check for leaky pipes.

Ongoing Prevention Strategies

Environmental Control: Employ a dehumidifier to reduce the overall moisture in your home, making it less appealing to silverfish. Implement proper ventilation in areas prone to humidity, such as bathrooms and kitchens.

  • Prevention Measures:
    • Seal entry points: Use caulk to seal gaps around pipes, windows, and doors.
    • Cleaning Routines: Regularly vacuum and dust to remove food particles and silverfish eggs. Focus on carpets, upholstery, and areas where silverfish droppings have been found.

Trapping: Set up sticky traps where silverfish are commonly found to monitor activity and reduce their numbers. In addition inspect the traps regularly and replace them as needed.

  • Trap Placement:
    • Close to potential hiding places.
    • In areas where you have spotted silverfish.
    • Near sources of food or moisture.