How to get rid of silverfish with home remedies, Mrs Hinch top tips and more

At your wits' end wondering how to get rid of silverfish naturally? You can wave goodbye to this pesky pest with these simple tips and tricks.

How to get rid of silverfish - silverfish on book - Getty
(Image credit: Getty)

You've come here to learn how to get rid of silverfish so we'll delve right into the detail.

If you've found these skin-crawling insects in your home, we feel your pain. These small silver insects like to come out at night and live in dark places so they can be pretty hard to spot. Getting their name from their silver colour and fish like reflexes, they move fast which adds to their creepiness rating.

They love to live in moist places where there's plenty of dust and debris and feed on pretty much anything they can get their antennae on, like unsealed dried food and clutter. Usually the first sign of a silverfish problem, is when you start to see bite marks in paper, cardboard and goods with glue (a rich source of protein for them). If you spot remnants of silverfish, such as molted scales, droppings and yellow marks, that's a sure-fire sign of an infestation. 

If this doesn't sound like the unwelcome guests you're dealing with, consult our How to get rid of pests guide to get a sense-check.

Experts at Rentokil explain more: 'Silverfish are serpentine insects that require damp and humid conditions and thrive in kitchens, laundry rooms, bathrooms and other dark, isolated areas. Fixing leaks in pipework, improving ventilation and using dehumidifiers can help discourage silverfish.'

Let us guide you through all the ways to get rid of these super creepy crawlies.

how to get rid of silverfish - bathroom taps - unsplash

(Image credit: Abigail Lynn - Unsplash)

1. Try Mrs Hinch fans' top tips

The Mrs Hinch "army" revealed how to get rid of silverfish Mrs Hinch Cleaning tips Facebook page

One revealed that a leak in a pipe was the source of their problem, while another mentioned that an accumulation of cardboard was the main attraction for silverfish. 

One fan wrote: 

'Have you had leaks anywhere? The previous owners of our house had a continual leak from the bath that had seeped through to the floorboards, we've fixed the leak aired it all out and recarpeted upstairs - only seen one since so hoping its (sic) done the trick.'

Another recommended a pest control product called Dethlac spray which is an insecticide that when sprayed on surfaces, dries to a hard clear film, which kills insects within a few hours.

Worth a go, eh?

how to get rid of silverfish - a woman peeling cucumber - Unsplash

(Image credit: Catherine Atwood - Unsplash)

2. Opt for natural repellents

Like many insect invaders, there are a number of natural ways to get rid of silverfish, including some sweet-smelling scents that we love. It's a win-win really. 

Give these natural repellents a whirl:

  • Essential oils: Cinnamon and cloves and cedar are just a few of the whiffs that silverfish loathe. Drop the essential oil where you've spotted them, or make a simple spray with water and 20 - 30 drops of oil.
  • Cucumber: Silverfish hate cucumber... who knew? The next time you're peeling a cucumber for a salad, use the peels and dot around the infested areas. 
  • Citrus fruits: The peel of lemon and limes are just too much for silverfish so as above, use the peel in areas you've spotted them or mix lemon juice with water to make a nifty spray.
  • Salt: After being attracted initially to the salt, the silverfish will become dehydrated and die.

how to get rid of flies - a country kitchen with open shelving, food containers and wood worktop - gettyimages

(Image credit: Getty)

3. Keep food sealed

The first port of call when figuring out how to get rid of silverfish is to make sure they have no food to nibble on in the first place.

Since they love to munch through your dry produce just like pantry moths, investing in some airtight mason jars, tins and containers will well and truly bar them from the buffet.

Storing foods in sandwich bags and cardboard boxes just won't cut it as the sneaky pests will likely chew through them to get to the good stuff.

white dehumidifier in a utility room

(Image credit: Zanussi)

4. Reduce humidity

Silverfish thrive in moist, humid environments, so your next move will be to take away their favorite conditions. Investing in a decent dehumidifier in damp basements, sealing up any leaking pipes, and making sure the bathroom is well ventilated, should make them feel suitably unwelcome. 

Use caulk to seal up any cracks sealing up exterior cracks with caulk and clear  gutters so water can run down and away to avoid any damp.

  • Need a new dehumidifier? Check out our guide to the best dehumidifiers so you can bid farewell to those big bad silverfish. 

5. Use Diatomaceous earth

When silverfish come in contact with diatomaceous earth, the white crumbly powder consisting of the fossilized remains of diatoms (a particular class of algae) destroys their outer waxy coating, causing them to dry out and die.

We recommend sprinkling it in the evenings around the floorboards, skirting or baseboards in your home, and any other places you’ve spotted signs of silverfish.

wooden drawers in canalside arts and crafts home

(Image credit: Kasia Fiszer)

6. Clear the clutter

Silverfish are big fans of a hidey hole and they're sure to find plenty in a cluttered home. Gobbling up your old newspapers, magazines and books are their vices so if you're into keeping every single piece of paper, we recommend a good old-fashioned clear out. But don't throw away these three things.

Silverfish also have a penchant for perusing your wardrobe as Cleanipedia's Head of Content Alice Shaw-Beckett explains more: 

'... the silverfish is a tiny menace to your wardrobe. They love chowing down on protein-packed fibres like cotton, silk, and linen, and are attracted to clothes with food and bodily fluid stains.'

Go through your clutter, getting rid of things you haven't looked at or needed in ages  and store any papers in sealed folders or tightly sealed containers. And tackle your wardrobe by making sure your expensive pieces are either vacuum packed away or covered in a garment bag.

If ever there was a reason to declutter, this is it.

7. Try a trap

If you follow the above to a t, try dotting your i's with a few trusty traps to make sure they are long gone. Hide the traps where you've seen the critters, paying particular attention to desk drawers, under the sink and bookshelves, as well as attics and basements.

Warning: If you decide to use boric acid traps, keep them away from kids and pets, and where you store food, as it can be toxic if swallowed.