How to Get Rid of Silverfish [7 Ways to Eliminate Silverfish]

Silverfish can be easily caught and killed with a sticky bug trap baited with dry food. You can also kill silverfish by dehydrating them with salt, diatomaceous earth, or an in-home dehumidifier. Homemade jar traps are another quick way to kill silverfish. For a severe silverfish infestation, kill the pests with boric acid powder or pyrethrin-based pesticide. Once you’ve killed the silverfish in your home, keep them from coming back by using herbs or scented essential oils. Then, caulk gaps and cracks in your home to prevent silverfish from hiding and breeding.

How to get rid of silverfish

What Attracts Silverfish to Your House?

Silverfish are drawn to your home due to easy access to food and water. The food in your pantry—as well as many household items—are very attractive food sources for these bugs. Book bindings, wallpaper, and even dust are all edible to silverfish.

  • Silverfish see food and other household items as an attractive food source.
  • Humid or damp areas in your home are the perfect place for silverfish to live and breed.
  • A single silverfish can live for up to 8 years in your home.

Silverfish are also attracted to moist, humid areas. Basements, bathrooms, and some kitchens are the perfect environment for silverfish. The high humidity is particularly enticing to silverfish because dry conditions can kill them.

Is One Silverfish a Problem?

If you spot one silverfish in your home, it’s safe to assume there are many more silverfish you haven’t seen yet. Typically, seeing one silverfish means you have an infestation that should be dealt with quickly. A single female silverfish can lay up to 100 eggs in her lifetime. So, what seems like a harmless bug can become a large-scale insect infestation.

How Do You Know if You Have a Silverfish Infestation?

Any time you see a silverfish in your home, treat it as if you have an infestation. Silverfish are nocturnal and tend to hide during the day. So, if you see one in the daytime, it means many more are hidden in out-of-the-way areas. You may find a silverfish in your cabinet, bathroom, or among your books during the day. Most remain out of sight during the daytime.

Are Silverfish Harmful?

Silverfish are not dangerous to humans or pets. They do not carry diseases and are not capable of biting. However, they will eat your food, leave their droppings in your pantry, and destroy household items. While they don’t carry diseases, silverfish can be quite harmful.

  • Silverfish cannot harm or bite humans.
  • Silverfish are not known to carry diseases.
  • Some people are allergic to silverfish moltings and droppings.
  • Silverfish will destroy your food and some belongings.

In some cases, people can suffer allergic reactions to silverfish droppings and moltings. So, your seasonal allergies may not be seasonal at all—they might be due to a silverfish infestation.

7 Ways to Get Rid of Silverfish Permanently

There are many ways to get rid of silverfish in your home. Below are the most powerful methods to get rid of silverfish fast. We’ve included natural methods to get rid of silverfish and the strongest methods available for killing silverfish fast.

Use Sticky Traps

One of the easiest and most effective ways to kill silverfish is by using sticky traps. To use them for silverfish, simply follow these steps:

  • Use these sticky traps to easily catch and kill silverfish.
  • Place a small amount of oatmeal, pet food, or dry cereal in the center of each trap.
  • Position the traps to catch silverfish. Use them in the bathroom, kitchen cabinets, along baseboards, or in your basement.

Silverfish will be lured to the trap by the smell of food. Then, they will become stuck in the adhesive. Check your traps each morning for dead silverfish. Toss out any used traps and replace them until you no longer catch any silverfish. No silverfish in the traps means you’ve eliminated or drastically reduced the infestation.

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Kill Silverfish with Dehydration

Silverfish require moisture and humidity to thrive. In fact, silverfish are easily killed by dry environments. The best ways to dry out silverfish to kill them are:

  • Use a dehumidifier in humid rooms (bathrooms, kitchens, and basements). The dry air will kill and repel silverfish.
  • Sprinkle salt in cupboards and other areas—silverfish love to feed on salt, but it will dehydrate and kill them.
  • Spread this food-grade diatomaceous earth on pantry shelves to dehydrate and kill silverfish that walk through it.

Diatomaceous earth is one of the best natural products for killing silverfish. It is made of tiny fossils and is completely harmless to humans (as long as you use food-grade diatomaceous earth). By spreading a thin layer of diatomaceous earth on pantry shelves, any silverfish that walk through the powder will be killed.

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Make a Jar Trap

You can easily make a homemade trap for silverfish with items you have in your own home. Here’s how:

  • Use an empty glass jar, such as a mason jar.
  • Wrap the outside of the jar with masking tape.
  • Bait the jar with oatmeal, pet food, a small piece of bread, or other dry foods.

Simply leave this trap uncovered in any room infested with silverfish. The bugs will climb up the masking tape on the outside of the jar and fall inside in search of food. Then, they will be unable to climb back out. You can then dispose of the silverfish whenever you find them inside the jar.

Spread Boric Acid Powder

Powdered boric acid is an excellent silverfish killer. It is toxic to insects, killing them as they absorb it. In order to use boric acid for silverfish, follow these steps:

  • Use this boric acid powder designed for pest control.
  • Dust the powder along baseboards and other cracks where silverfish can hide.
  • Silverfish will be killed as they walk through the powder.
  • Do not apply boric acid in pantries or near food. 
  • Boric acid can be harmful to pets and children—only apply it in safe places.

Boric acid should not be confused with borax. Boric acid has far more killing power than borax. Just remember, although boric acid is an effective silverfish killer, you can use diatomaceous earth anywhere you would spread boric acid. The benefit of diatomaceous earth is that it is all-natural and harmless to humans and pets.

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Spray Liquid Pyrethrin

Pyrethrin is a chemical pesticide that is great for killing silverfish. Because it is a chemical solution, it’s recommended that you try natural solutions first, to avoid introducing chemicals into your home. However, pyrethrin is registered as safe for home use and is highly effective.

  • Use this pyrethrin spray to kill silverfish indoors.
  • Spray baseboards, walls, and other hiding places for silverfish.
  • Do not spray near food or inside tubs and showers.

In addition to silverfish, pyrethrin will kill other household pests. It’s a great way to wipe out a silverfish infestation quickly without calling pest control professionals.

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Use Scent Repellents

Several scents are natural silverfish repellents. If you use essential oils made with citrus, lavender, or cedar in a diffuser, it will drive silverfish out of your home. Similarly, you can leave open jars of herbs such as bay leaves, cinnamon, or cloves in your pantry to ward off silverfish. Here is a complete list of scents that repel silverfish.

  • Citrus
  • Cedar
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Bay leaves
  • Cucumber peels

Because silverfish love to devour books, it’s a good idea to sprinkle cedar shavings on your bookshelves. This will drive off the bugs and prevent damage to your belongings.

Seal Your Home

One of the best ways to keep your home silverfish-free is to seal gaps and cracks where silverfish can enter your home or hide once they get inside. The best ways to reinforce your home against silverfish invasion are:

  • Caulk gaps around windows—both inside and outside.
  • Add weatherproofing to exterior doors, to seal gaps at the bottom of the door.
  • Caulk gaps along baseboards, behind kitchen cabinets, and where plumbing fixtures meet the wall.

Silverfish not only enter your home through these cracks, but they also hide there during the daytime and lay their eggs in hidden areas. By sealing your home, you keep silverfish out. Plus, any bugs that get in will have nowhere to hide. Thus, they will die instead of reproducing.

Is it Possible to Get Rid of Silverfish?

You can get rid of silverfish easily yourself with several methods. The best ways to kill and repel silverfish are:

  • Use sticky traps to capture and kill silverfish.
  • Kill silverfish by dehydrating them with salt, diatomaceous earth, or a dehumidifier.
  • Make a homemade jar trap that entices silverfish to climb inside, then prevents them from escaping.
  • Spread powdered boric acid along baseboards and other areas where silverfish may hide.
  • Spray a pesticide with pyrethrin to kill silverfish.
  • Drive off silverfish with scents such as cedar, citrus, lavender, and cinnamon.
  • Caulk around windows and baseboards to keep silverfish out of your home.

Silverfish are easily caught and killed, making it relatively simple for you to control even a large infestation yourself. With these tactics, your home will be silverfish-free in a short time.

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