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What is the Best Way to Kill Silverfish?

By Thomma Grindstaff
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are numerous ways to kill silverfish, including the use of boric acid and diatomaceous earth. Silverfish can be captured and killed using glasses wrapped in masking tape and filled with sugar water as bait. Another way to get rid of silverfish is to spray a mixture of bleach and water in the areas where they live or points where they access a home. The best way to control silverfish is to make one's home inhospitable to these insects.

Boric acid is an effective means of silverfish extermination, though it's a low-grade toxin. Children and pets must be kept away from areas in which boric acid is used. The powder should be sprinkled where silverfish have been noticed. Particular attention should be paid to areas where silverfish like to hide, such as under sinks and in cracks and crevices. More boric acid can be sprinkled every two weeks as needed to kill silverfish.

Another way to kill silverfish is to use food grade diatomaceous earth, a powder that is nontoxic to mammals but lethal to insects. Composed of the fossilized remains of phytoplankton, diatomaceous earth gets caught in the crevices of an insect's exoskeleton, and as the insect moves, the particles act like blades to slice it up. To control silverfish, diatomaceous earth should be placed in areas where silverfish have been noticed and where they can hide.

One can build a silverfish trap by filling a glass or a jar halfway with water, to which two or three teaspoons of sugar are added as bait. The glass or jar should be wrapped with masking tape so that silverfish can climb up the sides to access the sugar water. When the silverfish fall in, they will die because they cannot climb up the slick interior sides of the glass or jar to get out.

Bleach is an effective way to kill silverfish. A person can mix, in a spray bottle, one part bleach with two parts hot water. To get rid of silverfish, othe areas where they live and crevices in which they hide can be sprayed with the bleach and water mixture every two or three months. Another tip is to pour the mixture down drains to kill silverfish that may be crawling up pipes and seeking entry into a house.

The best way to control silverfish is to make a house as inaccessible and inhospitable to them as possible. Cracks in a home that allow them access must be sealed. Silverfish eat mold and mildew, which is made worse by moisture and humidity, so a home can be made less appealing for silverfish through the use of dehumidifiers and air conditioners. Large stacks of paper should be thrown away, since they are both a hiding place and a food source for silverfish. Salt and cloves, which silverfish try to avoid, can be placed in trouble spots or at access points to the home.

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Discussion Comments

By anon966307 — On Aug 19, 2014

DE is safe around pets *only* if you buy the food grade kind, and not the kind used in pools.

By anon353261 — On Oct 29, 2013

I use DE and it is absolutely safe, according to everything I have read. You do want to be sure to avoid getting it into your eyes, but it is the best non-toxic, chemical-free product I have found. We use it for flea control. It can be used effectively for any bug with an exoskeleton.

By fBoyle — On Oct 19, 2013

@burcidi-- Try wiping down drawers and walls with bleach and water. That's how I got rid of silverfish in my kitchen. Some people just squish them when they find them, but I can't do that. I don't know if exterminators deal with silverfish, but you could ask.

By fify — On Oct 19, 2013

@burcidi-- I've heard that children and pets should be kept away from diatomaceous earth. It might be dangerous if they consume any of it. You should only be using the food grade one, but still, keep children and pets away.

It takes a while to work, but the best method for getting rid of silverfish in my opinion is putting cloves or Epsom salt in areas where they hang out. Cloves and salt are absolutely safe and they're effective.

By burcidi — On Oct 19, 2013

There are a lot of silverfish at my house, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom. I see them in the bedroom sometimes too. The climate is very humid where we live. Even though I keep everything clean and dry, I can't seem to get rid of them.

I think I'm going to try diatomaceous earth. It sounds like a safe and effective method. Diatomaceous earth is safe for pets to be around right?

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