How to get rid of silverfish in your home

Two silverfish
Two silverfish (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’ve spotted tiny, silver bugs wriggling on your floors, chances are, you have silverfish. When you see these pests, you’ll need to know how to get rid of silverfish in your home, to avoid an infestation.

So what exactly are silverfish? These nocturnal insects literally get their name from their silver/greyish appearance, and fish-like movements. They tend to move quickly, burrowing in places where there is moisture or damp conditions. As a result, you’re more likely to find these critters in the bathroom, damp basements or any other humid places in the home. In addition, they often hide in dark corners, clutter or behind furniture, where they can lay eggs and quickly multiply — hence why it’s so important to know how to get rid of silverfish fast.  Although silverfish are generally harmless, these can cause havoc to the home. In particular, silverfish are capable of destroying books, wallpaper, carpets and clothes with their droppings. 

Luckily, there are simple things you can do to get rid of silverfish quickly. So, if you want to banish these tiny pests, here’s how to get rid of silverfish in your home.

Plus, here's 7 ways to get rid of earwigs and keep them away.

1. Reduce humidity 

Woman opening a window

Woman opening a window (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Since silverfish thrive in humid conditions, make sure you reduce humidity in areas in the home. Ensure bathrooms and kitchens are well-ventilated, by opening windows or using extractor fans. 

Keep moisture at bay by fixing leaking faucets or pipes, but if you do have consistent plumbing problems however, you may need to call in a professional to fix the issue. Another good option is to invest in one of the best dehumidifiers to help reduce the levels of humidity in a room, or leave the fan on.  

2. Seal any cracks 

Caulk gun sealing window base

Caulk gun sealing window base (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Silverfish find their way into homes through cracks and gaps around the home. Seal any interior or exterior window cracks with caulking, using a caulk gun. 

In addition, if your home has plenty of cracks or dark crevices, seal these up with caulk to prevent silverfish from coming through. Apply caulk inside cracks, holes or along baseboards particularly in trouble areas such as the bathroom or kitchen.   

3. Remove any food sources 

Food storage placed in the fridge

Food storage placed in the fridge (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Like most pests, silverfish prefer areas where there are food sources. Seal and store dry goods like pasta, rice, cereal, flour, and any other perishables in airtight, plastic containers, instead of boxes. In addition, wipe up any spillages or messes on the kitchen countertops or floors immediately, to prevent silverfish.   

4. Get rid of clutter

Cluttered space

Cluttered space (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Silverfish love to hide and feed off old papers, magazines or piles of books, so remove any piles cluttering up the floor. In fact, this might be the ideal time to declutter your home, and create more space. 

Discard any old or unwanted papers or magazines, or store in suitable storage boxes or place on bookshelves. The key is to remove any suitable hiding places for silverfish to lay eggs in.  

5. Repel them with cedar oil or spices 

Essential oil bottles

Essential oil bottles (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Silverfish hate the smell of wood, especially cedar. Sprinkle cedar shavings or use cedar oil in the areas where they live. In addition, strong spices are a good repellent for silverfish. Create small sachets of cinnamon, dried cloves, or any other strong smelling spices, and tuck them into the affected areas.  

6. Use lavender or citrus spray  

Squeezing a lemon into bowl

Squeezing a lemon into bowl (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly to knowing how to get rid of gnats, both citrus and lavender are strong repellents for silverfish. Dilute several drops of lavender essential oils or citrus with water in a spray bottle. Spray liberally in the affected areas, including inside drawers, closets, crevices or any other areas where there are silverfish.  

7. Vacuum and clean regularly 

Woman vacuum cleaning floor

Woman vacuum cleaning floor (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Once you’ve correctly stored foods, and declutter surfaces, make sure you regularly vacuum with one of the best vacuum cleaners, and clean every room of the home. Silverfish can still survive in your home for up to 8 years, living on paper, dead skin cells, and other debris. So make sure you’re on top of regular cleaning to banish those pests. 

How do I know if I have silverfish? 

A silverfish

A silverfish (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Even if you rarely see silverfish, there are tell-tale signs that they are around. Signs include yellow stains on clothing, especially synthetic fabric, small holes and droppings left on old paper or book pages.  

Dealing with other household pests? Find out how to get rid of fruit flies fast how to get rid of moths, or how to get rid of ants safely with household products. And check out our guide on how to get rid of fleas

Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!