How to Get Rid of Silverfish – 5 Minute Guide

Although they don’t carry diseases and are harmless enough to humans, silverfish can still present a serious problem if they invade your property. Silverfish can multiply quickly and, in numbers, can soon destroy your property.

Books, photographs, wallpaper, curtains, and clothing are a few of the items you’ll be putting at risk if you allow silverfish to take hold in your home.

This simple guide will give you the information you need to get rid of silverfish for good before they become a severe problem.

Continue reading to discover:

  • Where to look for silverfish
  • Signs of silverfish activity
  • Simple steps you can take to get rid of silverfish permanently
  • Commercial and homemade silverfish traps

Where Are Silverfish Likely to be Found?

Before you can take steps to get rid of silverfish, you need to know how to spot them to ensure you’re able to free them from every nook and crevasse in your home.

For the most part, silverfish prefer to live in dark, moist places where the damp is common. If there are food sources for them in these places, silverfish can thrive there.

As a result, the most likely places to find these little beasts are basements and attics because they tend to be damper areas of the home where paper items like documents, books, and photographs are stored.

Paper products contain sugar and starches that silverfish crave and seek out for their diet.

If you have found silverfish in your home, you should also check for any holes or cracks caused by water ingress because that could be how they entered your home in the first place.

Signs of Silverfish

The bugs themselves are tiny, fast, and usually keep themselves hidden in dark areas, so they can be challenging to spot. Therefore, your best bet is to keep an eye out for other signs that silverfish have been in your home.

The common signs of silverfish are tiny holes left after they have nibbled in papers, books, and wallpaper. Yellow stains on material items are also tell-tale signals that silverfish have been active in your home.

Steps for Getting Rid of Silverfish for Good

Fortunately, there are many methods you can employ to rid your home of these pesky little bugs, and many of them are cheap, simple, and can be done without expert help.

1) Eliminate Food Sources

The first place to start is to starve the infestation of their food sources.

Search through your entire home to identify areas where it looks like silverfish have been feeding. You will be looking for small droppings, holes in paper items, and yellow stains.

Once you have identified an area of silverfish activity, you can go about removing all of their potential food sources. Remove any paper items and food packets that are open, then seal them away where the bugs can’t access them.

If it seems like the silverfish have been feeding on items that can’t be removed or sealed away, like curtains, wallpaper, and clothing, then you can sprinkle the area with a deterrent instead.

I will discuss deterrents in detail later, but a commonly used and effective one is diatomaceous earth.

2) Combat Damp and Moisture

As mentioned earlier, silverfish thrive in damp areas and, most likely, gained initial entry to your home via such an area. To get rid of the silverfish completely, you’ll need to seal off their entry points and rectify any damp problems.

Search all the most likely places in your home where damp could be causing holes or cracks in the walls and ceilings. Check around pipework in your bathrooms, cupboards, and kitchen units, as well as all the dark areas of your basement and attic.

What you are on the lookout for are all areas of excess moisture and potential damp.

If conditions like damp aren’t fixed, silverfish will continue to find their way into your home, and you could even be facing more severe issues like mold or structural damage in the future.

3) Remedies for Killing Silverfish

The first two steps in the guide will go a long way to keep silverfish at bay and stop them from multiplying considerably. However, you probably want to be rid of the pests as quickly as possible, so finding more active approaches to killing them could be required.

Of course, the most effective pest removal method is to call in an expert exterminator, which is recommended for larger-scale problems. Fortunately, there are a handful of DIY home remedies you can try if you want to get rid of silverfish yourself.

Diatomaceous Earth

I briefly mentioned this substance earlier as it is one of the most effective and widely-used methods for controlling silverfish. Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring, non-toxic powder made from the sediment of fossilized water plants.

The great thing about diatomaceous earth is that it’s entirely safe for humans and pets. In fact, it is often touted as a dietary supplement. On the other hand, it is absolutely lethal for silverfish.

The powder works by dissolving the bug’s waxy outer coating, which allows them to hold moisture. Once the coating dissolves, the silverfish essentially dehydrate and die very quickly.

Diatomaceous earth is used by sprinkling small amounts of it around infested areas like cupboards or bookshelves. You’ll just need to be sure to change the powder regularly to keep it working.


Another method for killing silverfish via dehydration is salt. The bugs are attracted to salt and will readily eat it. Unfortunately for them, the sodium will quickly strip their bodies of moisture and dehydrate them.

Salt can be ideal for use in damp places since it can also help absorb the excess moisture from the area and kill the silverfish.

Essential Oils

Another effective and all-natural method for ridding your home of silverfish is the use of essential oils. They won’t directly kill the bugs but can act as an excellent deterrent to drive them away from your house for good.

Silverfish hate the scent of essential oils like citrus and lavender.

You can mix some oil with water and use a spray bottle to apply it anywhere you might find silverfish, like under sinks, inside cupboards, and even around the edges of your rooms.

The plus side is the oils are totally harmless for humans and will make your home smell beautiful.

Cedar Shavings

The reason for using cedar shavings is essentially the same as the essential oils: silverfish detest the smell and will naturally avoid any area where you place the cedar.

Of course, placing cedar shavings around your home can be a little unsightly and messy, so you might only want to use them in damp, darker areas like the basement.

Simply vacuum the shavings regularly and replace them with fresh ones until you stop seeing signs of silverfish activity.


One final scent-based deterrent you can try is spices. Strong-smelling spices like cloves or cinnamon will repel silverfish, so try putting some small packets of these spices in trouble spots around the house.

4) Remedies for Trapping Silverfish

Another quick and effective method for getting silverfish out of your home without killing them is to trap them and remove them directly. Here are a few options you have for trapping silverfish:

Commercial Traps

Several commercially sold bug traps will catch silverfish.

However, many commercial traps are designed to lure the silverfish and then poison them, which means they can contain pesticides, so be sure to read labels properly and take precautions to keep children away from any traps.

Homemade Newspaper Traps

Spray a few standard newspapers with water until it is relatively damp but not to the point of falling to pieces. Roll the newspapers up and place them around the places where you have seen silverfish activity.

The damp rolls of paper provide perfect shelter and food for silverfish and will lure them inside.

After a few days, you can collect the bug-infested newspapers and throw them away with the silverfish inside.

When collecting the papers, it is best to do so during the day when the bugs are less active. You should also make sure you pick the newspaper up and put them directly into a bag before the silverfish don’t have a chance to escape.

Homemade Jar Traps

You will need to grab some mason jars, bread, and masking tape for this DIY remedy.

Wrap the outside of your jars in masking tape and place some torn-up pieces of bread inside.

Leave the jars standing overnight in areas where you have silverfish, particularly in places where they have found food in the past, like a bookshelf or pantry.

The bread will attract the silverfish. Thanks to the masking tape’s rough surface, the bugs can easily climb inside the jar. However, once they are inside the jar, it will be impossible to climb back out because the glass is too slippery without the masking tape.

As you can see from the steps and remedies outlined above, there are multiple simple ways of getting rid of silverfish.

There is no need for them to become a massive problem, pick a few of the methods discussed in this article and put them to use as quickly as possible.

Alright, that’s it for this article, here are a few hand-selected articles that you might also find interesting reads:

11 Things to Consider When Hiring an Exterminator

7 Super Important Things Spiders Do For Us
Small Roaches in House – What You Should Do (Complete Guide)

Steve Foster

Mad about bugs and wanting to publish as many articles as I can to help educate people about these amazing beautiful creatures! For more info check out my about page

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