How to Get Rid of Silverfish in Your Home

silverfish on book binding

If you’re not sure how to get rid of silverfish in your home, you’re not alone: these critters can be tricky to eliminate! Silverfish bugs are experts at hiding in your house’s darkest corners, and they can survive for years on nothing but paper, adhesive, crumbs, and dust.

Ready to take action? Here are Wondercide’s best tips and tricks for stopping a silverfish infestation in its tracks.


What are silverfish?

Silverfish (Lepisma saccharina) are small, silver, tear-shaped insects with three distinctive tail-like appendages. Their name may come from the shiny “scales” that cover their bodies or from their undulating, fish-like movements. These extremely ancient insects reproduce frequently and can live for up to eight years. They are nocturnal, adept at staying out of sight, and capable of living up to a year without food! For all these reasons, they are common pests in homes worldwide.

Silverfish and health risks

Fortunately, silverfish do not pose many health risks to human beings. They do not carry disease. But do silverfish bite? Fortunately, no. They do not sting or bite humans or animals.

However, a silverfish infestation can worsen your indoor allergies. A protein called tropomyosin in a silverfish’s exoskeleton can combine with other allergens in your home to form a more severe “recombinant” allergen that can leave you itching, coughing, or sneezing.

What attracts silverfish to your home?

Silverfish will eat almost anything—dried grains, pet food, compost, dust, even other silverfish—but they thrive on starchy foods like paper, glue, and clothing fibers. They prefer to lay their eggs in dark, moist environments like sinks and drains and can also be found behind furniture and inside books.


Signs of a silverfish infestation

  • You notice silverfish in your home. Silverfish are nocturnal and adept at staying out of sight, so if you spot even one in your home, there’s a good chance you have an infestation on your hands.

  • You see small, irregular holes in your furniture, linen, wallpaper, books, papers or cardboard boxes. Wood, cloth, and paper are a silverfish’s favorite meals. If you notice damage to any of these items, silverfish may be to blame.

  • You spot their droppings. Silverfish feces look like little black peppercorns. Though they might resemble dust at first glance, silverfish droppings are distinctive. Their feces can also leave telltale yellow markings on paper or cloth.

  • You notice their skin sheds. Silverfish molt throughout their lives, so you might see tiny, translucent skin sheds if there are silverfish in your home.

  • You see their eggs. Silverfish prefer laying their eggs, which look like tiny yellow or white bulbs, in moist, dark areas like bathrooms and basements.

  • How to get rid of silverfish 

    There are many ways to repel silverfish and many try DIY options. The following may work however do not use these solutions in households with kids or pets.

  • Make a DIY trap. Try placing starchy food like bread or flour inside a glass jar that you have wrapped in tape. Leave your trap in an area where you’ve recently seen silverfish. The insects will be able to climb up the rough surface of the tape, but they will not be able to climb back out of the smooth glass once they fall inside.

  • Lure them into a newspaper. Place a damp, rolled-up newspaper in a location where you know silverfish congregate. After a few days, throw the newspaper away outside or burn it.

  • Set up sticky traps. Because they contain no poisons, glue traps are a good solution for silverfish found in kitchens and pantries. They are not especially attractive, but they can help get rid of silverfish. Be sure to keep these traps out of reach of kids and pets at all times!

  • Crush dried bay leaves in areas where you notice silverfish. The scent of bay leaves is like silverfish kryptonite. Do not use bay leaves if you are a pet owner, as they can be toxic if ingested by dogs or cats.

  • Treat with food-grade diatomaceous earth (DE). DE kills silverfish by destroying their exoskeletons. Try sprinkling DE in areas where you notice silverfish a few nights in a row for best results. However, be careful: DE dust can be problematic if inhaled.

  • Set up Borax/boric acid traps. Alternatively, spread boric acid in a thin layer in out-of-the-way places where silverfish are found. Use caution when handling Borax and always follow the guidelines on the label. 

    If you want a solution that’s proven to work and safe around the whole family, look to Wondercide.

  • Use cedar oil spray. Studies have shown that cedarwood essential oil repels and gets rid of silverfish. Wondercide’s Indoor Pest Control spray with Cedarwood Oil to address your silverfish issue. The spray also comes in three other scents (Lemongrass, Peppermint, and Rosemary), all featuring cedarwood oil, that are just as effective at dealing with silverfish. To choose your scent, check out Indoor Pest Control Sprays for Home + Kitchen

  • For quick kill of silverfish, keep Wondercide’s Ant & Roach spray on hand. It’s a great solution for targeted use. Once you kill the bug, wipe it up along with the residue from the spray and you’re done.

  • Tips for getting rid of silverfish in specific areas of your home

    How to get rid of silverfish in your bathroom

    Bathrooms are the most humid places in most homes, so silverfish love them. Dehumidification and ventilation of the space may help. Eliminate clutter, especially in dark, protected areas like bathroom cabinets and drawers. If you notice silverfish laying eggs in sinks or drains, remove the eggs with a HEPA vacuum.

    How to get rid of silverfish in your drains

    Though people often report seeing silverfish emerging from their drains, it is very unlikely that silverfish are living in your pipes. Silverfish love moist, humid air, but they don’t like to be submerged in water. More likely, the silverfish in your drain fell into your sink or bathtub while headed elsewhere and cannot crawl out because of the basin’s smooth sides. 

    How to get rid of silverfish in your books

    Rearrange your books often and keep the area around your shelves clean. If you must store books or papers in humid areas in your home, place them in airtight plastic bins.

    How to get rid of silverfish in your attic or basement

    Attics and basements can be ground zero for silverfish, but they’re usually not high-traffic areas for pets or children. Therefore, it might be worthwhile to get aggressive with silverfish treatment here. As ever, keep the area as free of clutter as possible. Vacuum, dust, and treat regularly.

    How to get rid of silverfish in your bed

    First, remove all your bedding, including the mattress cover, and wash it with hot water. Then dry it on the hottest possible setting. Air out your sheets often between washes. Reduce clutter around your bed to discourage silverfish from returning. 

    How to get rid of silverfish in your plants

    Though silverfish prefer the great indoors, they do sometimes congregate under yard debris or in moist soil. Silverfish are not generally harmful to gardens; they will eat other dead bugs or the occasional fungus, but they will not feast on your plants. However, to keep silverfish in your garden from infesting your home, declutter and prune your garden often and dry out any perennially wet spots.


    How to prevent silverfish from infesting your home

    A silverfish infestation does not mean that your home is dirty! However, there are things you can do to make your home a less hospitable environment for silverfish.

  • Clear your home of excess books, paper, cardboard, fabric, and items made with adhesive. If you need to store paper mementos, place them in plastic bins to reduce humidity.

  • Keep dry food in sealed, airtight containers. Sugars, grains, pet food, and dry snacks are all food sources for silverfish, so they should be carefully stored in your pantry. Clean up quickly and thoroughly after meals to avoid leaving crumbs on floors or countertops.

  • Keep clothing and linens in a dry environment. Store clothes that are out of season and linens that are not being used in sealed plastic bins.

  • Dust or vacuum often. Dust is primarily made of organic materials that silverfish can eat. Sweeping regularly is a good idea, but using a HEPA vacuum might be even better: it can safely remove silverfish eggs from your home before they hatch.

  • Keep the air in your home dry. If you live in a humid environment, consider investing in a dehumidifier for especially moist areas. Open your windows and cross-ventilate your home regularly.

  • Treat all cracks in your home with caulk. This can be useful both indoors and outdoors.

  • Keep a tidy yard. Collect and dispose of yard waste regularly. Cut back foliage that comes within a foot of your home’s foundation.

  • Kill Silverfish Quickly with Wondercide’s Plant-Powered Products

    Nobody wants to see silverfish infesting their beloved books or hanging out in their pantry. But when you are learning about how to get rid of silverfish, you’ll quickly notice that all methods aren’t created equal. Some DIY methods treat silverfish with only limited success, while stronger pest control products can be unsafe around pets and children. 

    Fortunately, Wondercide provides the best of both worlds: it is both effective and safe around the family when used as directed. Wondercide’s Indoor Pest Control and Ant & Roach sprays provide plant-powered pest control that’s proven to kill silverfish so you can get rid of them and move on to more fun times at home. 

    Learn more and shop other home products that are safe to use around the family when used as directed. 

    More Pest Control Guides from Wondercide:

      Back to blog
      1 of 3