Home » How to Kill Silverfish: 11 Clever Silverfish Killers to Use

How to Kill Silverfish: 11 Clever Silverfish Killers to Use

If you find yourself desperately searching the Internet for articles on how to kill silverfish, you’re long past the stage of trying to identify them, repel them or keep your home free from these unwanted pests.

Welcome to the creep-crawly infestation club, grab a cup of insecticide from the table at the back and take a seat.

Tackling a silverfish infestation can be trickier than some other common household pests. Why? These creepy crawlies are built for survival. That’s probably why they have managed to remain in existence for around 400 million years.

You can wait for the odd straggler to rear its antennae and scurry across your kitchen floor, but even if you kill it – it’s likely just a drop in the ocean of silverfish.

Luckily, there are a variety of ways to turn the tide.

Can You Kill Silverfish?

A silverfish is not difficult to kill. Sure, it may be fast but speed is pretty much its only defense. You can easily crush it under your shoe, give it a good wallop with a book, or simply spritz it with some bug spray. Voila. A dead silverfish.

The bigger challenge is dealing with an entire silverfish infestation. Silverfish have long lifespans compared to most of their insect counterparts. With the right temperature and humidity, silverfish can live up to 8 years!

During that long and annoying life span, a single female silverfish can lay over 100 eggs. That gives you an idea of just how quickly a silverfish infestation can spiral out of control.

Add to this the fact that silverfish can eat pretty much anything and are the reigning champions of bug hide-and-seek. Now you can see just how difficult it can be to kill off an entire silverfish infestation.

But the good news is that it can be done. The bad news? It’s going to take work.

How to Kill Silverfish: Tips and Tricks

When it comes to silverfish, you can’t do a sloppy half-job. You need to go into it with a comprehensive mindset. One that goes beyond killing one, two, or even a handful of silverfish.

Think big. Be ambitious. Your goal is to kill every silverfish currently living in your house. Because even a couple of silverfish left alive can re-create a whole new infestation.

Here are a couple tips on how to kill silverfish:

There’s never just one. That one silverfish you spotted scurrying across the bathroom floor is just the tip of the iceberg. These creepy crawlies reproduce in bulk so if you’ve seen one, trust that there are more nearby.

This is doubly true if you’ve noticed peculiar signs like yellow spots on books and clothes, wallpaper peeling off, and even holes in papers and cardboard boxes. Those are signs of an advanced silverfish infestation.

A good offense is the best defense. There are lots of things that attract silverfish. But attempting to remove the various causes of silverfish is not going to be enough. That’s because silverfish can eat, well, everything.

In the worst circumstances, they can even survive up to a year without food. So when it comes to silverfish, prevention is not enough. These buggers need to be killed.

Use more than one silverfish killer. Speaking of killing silverfish, you have a lot of options when it comes to silverfish killers. They are not mutually exclusive. We recommend that you use a combination of them to get rid of your silverfish problem.

So what kills silverfish? Let’s dive in.

What Kills Silverfish?

Silverfish may be built for survival. But so are we. And we didn’t get to where we are today by tolerating the critters that bug us.

Plus, silverfish have been a common household pest for so long that we have perfected some very effective ways to kill them. So what works?

When it comes to silverfish killers, there are a lot of options. But all of them fall into the below categories.

  • Silverfish pesticides. The best silverfish pesticides are usually pyrethrin or pyrethroids, such as cypermethrin, deltamethrin, bifenthrin, cyfluthrin, tetramethrin, and phenothrin. These pesticides kill silverfish on contact and provide residual protection that continues to kill silverfish that make contact with it.
  • Powders to kill silverfish. Silverfish cannot jump or fly, they must walk in order to get anywhere. Which is why using a powder to kill silverfish makes sense. You can create barriers in your home with the fine powders so silverfish have no choice but to make lethal contact. The best part is that many of the best silverfish killer powders are all natural.
  • Silverfish poison. A very strategic way to kill silverfish is by setting out poisonous baits for the creepy crawlies to consume. This eliminates any risk or danger to you and your loved ones and allows you to target silverfish specifically.
  • Sticky silverfish traps. Sticky traps works exactly the same for silverfish as they do for mice or roaches – when a silverfish crosses its surface, it gets stuck. These are non-toxic, all-natural silverfish killers you can strategically place in silverfish hotspots.
  • Environmental controls. One of the most underrated ways to kill silverfish naturally is by simply controlling the environment.

Like all methods of pest control, the above ways to kill silverfish work best when used in clever combination with one another. In fact, we absolutely recommend that you choose a silverfish killer from each category above.

13 Best Silverfish Killers Reviewed

To help you make the choice, here are the best silverfish killers on the market. Let’s start with the natural options.

What Naturally Kills Silverfish?

The good news when it comes to silverfish is that most infestations can be cleared using all-natural methods. So what natural silverfish killers work? Here’s a roundup of the best ones.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is pretty much the serial bridesmaid of the pest-killing world: always present but rarely given its chance to shine. It’s likely that diatomaceous earth is often overlooked because it acts differently from what we’d usually expect of an insecticide or something of its ilk.

How does it work?

Rather than instantly killing the pest it comes in contact with. Diatomaceous earth instead latches on to the insect’s body or legs and slowly dehydrates it from the outside in, killing it over time. This makes it a pretty solid foundation on which to build your silverfish killing arsenal.

How do you use it?

Application of diatomaceous earth is pretty simple (and is safe for use in the home):

  • Simply sprinkle the powder in choice locations where silverfish are likely to congregate, set up homes or lay eggs.
  • For best results, try spaces behind cookers, ovens, fridges and in the gaps and crevices around your home (even in the space behind wall sockets).
  • You can also create a silverfish barrier by dusting a fine line of diatomaceous earth along your baseboards. This creates a perimeter that silverfish can’t cross without meeting its doom.

Remember that silverfish love the dark, quiet and moist spaces in your house. Concentrate your efforts there.

Is it pet safe?

Diatomaceous earth is perfectly safe if ingested by humans or pets – just make sure you get the food grade stuff. Inhalation is another matter. Like most airborne particles, inhaling diatomaceous earth can irritate the nose and nasal passages so wear a mask when applying.

Boric Acid

Like its friend diatomaceous earth, boric acid is another commonly used powdered silverfish killer. It’s also useful for a whole host of other leggy invaders that might squeeze into your home.

How does it work?

Boric acid is faster acting and a little more aggressive than diatomaceous earth and will likely kill off silverfish shortly after they pass through the substance. That’s because boric acid acts in two different ways:

  • It dehydrates the outer shell of the silverfish, resulting in a gradual dehydration.
  • It is also poisonous to silverfish when ingested so when silverfish eat dust, other silverfish, or paper that has been sprayed or dusted with boric acid, their fate will be sealed.

How do you use it?

When it comes to using boric acid for silverfish, you’ve got options:

  • Scatter the powdered form in dark corners and other silverfish hotspots and use it to line baseboards, exactly like you would do with diatomaceous earth.
  • Mix the powder with water for easier application in hard-to-reach places.

There are different grades, types and brands of boric acid available out there, but for added effectiveness, you want to be looking at some of the granular baits.

Most of these contain carbohydrate or sugary ingredients which attract the creepy crawlies that feed on such things as part of their diet. And what do silverfish love? Starchy, sugary meals.

The most effective is Niban Granular Insecticide Bait – it’s easy to use and sprinkle and it wipes out silverfish infestations fast. ​

Is it pet safe?

In terms of applying, it’s really just the same as diatomaceous earth – however, remember that this compound is actively poisonous, so it’s worth some extra care if you have pets in the home.

Accidentally ingesting boric acid in small quantities is harmless for most adult humans but it can be poisonous for small pets and children.

So only use boric acid in harder to reach spaces, or dilute it with water to spray into cracks and crevices if you are concerned about the wellbeing of any domestic animals.

Dekko Silverfish Bait Packs

On a similar note; some homeowners may wish to try something a little less messy, such as Dekko silverfish bait packs.

How does it work?

In essence, these packs are paper soaked in boric acid solution which will attract any nearby silverfish for a quick nibble.

The rest is history, as they say.

How do you use it?

Place the ready-made packs in dark, damp places that silverfish like to hide in and replace regularly.

Is it pet safe?

These packs make boric acid easy to use and because it’s contained in the packs, allows you to specifically target silverfish, rather than leaving boric acid powder exposed for your pets to lick.

But although the potency of the boric acid is fairly low, household pets may still suffer some upset should they find their way to eating them, so again: diligence is necessary!

Natural Silverfish Spray

Natural silverfish spray works just like any traditional bug spray – you see a silverfish, you spray it. Result? Dead silverfish.

How does it work?

The only difference is that these sprays are made up of entirely natural ingredients that happen to be potent enough to kill and repel silverfish. Which ingredients? There are a lot of choices on the market but our favorites are:

  • Wondercide Indoor Pest Control Spray – get it here. This spray uses cedarwood oil and peppermint oil as its main active ingredients to kill and repel silverfish.
  • Mighty Mint Insect and Pest Control – get it here. A high concentration of peppermint oil is the active ingredient in this potent spray.
  • Orange Guard Home Pest Control – get it here. Another natural spray that uses d-Limonene (orange peel extract) for a quick knockdown for insect pests. It also provides a bit of a residual effect so will continue to kill silverfish for a little while after it’s sprayed.

How do you use it?

You can spray natural silverfish directly onto the buggers if and when you happen to see one in action. You can also use the sprays for a preventative effect to keep silverfish away from closets, storage boxes, kitchen cabinets, and so on.

Is it pet safe?

Natural silverfish sprays are safe for use around pets. But they are not necessarily safe for use on pets. There are a number of essential oils that are toxic for dogs and others that are toxic for cats.

Silverfish Traps

Sticking with the old MouseHunt method of traps and lures, silverfish traps are another natural way to kill silverfish.

best silverfish traps

These are fairly rudimentary devices, but very useful for keeping any pesky bugs (not just silverfish) out of your pantry or other areas that they may contaminate.

What are the best silverfish traps?

We’re going to be honest with you. The best silverfish traps aren’t necessarily silverfish traps. For example, our favorite one on the market right now is marketed for brown recluse spiders but works alarmingly well for silverfish. Here are the best ones:

  • Catchmaster Insect Trap and Monitor – get it here. It’s marketed for brown recluse spiders but does a great job of catching silverfish.
  • S&T Insect Traps – get it here. Another one that’s marketed for spiders but is great for silverfish and any other creepy crawlies that come into contact with it.
  • GreenWay Spider & Silverfish Trap – get it here. This one is marketed for spiders and silverfish. Works well for silverfish but it on the pricier side.

How does it work?

Essentially, the traps are cardboard structures with a very powerful sticky agent which holds any nomadic bug captive once it comes in contact with the surface. Some of these traps come infused with an alluring scent or taste to bait the bugs, but many don’t.

How do you use it?

That said, it’s very easy to bait them yourself; simply place some bread or sugary water etc. on the inside of the glue trap and wait. Make sure you check then regularly. Most of these traps will last months without losing their sticking-strength, but just remember…the longer you leave it, the ickier it’s going to be when you have to dispose of it.

Is it pet safe?

The added bonus here is that there are no chemicals or harmful agents to be worried about introducing into your home. That being said, it can be irritating if your furry friend gets it stuck to himself. In that case, just use a bit of olive oil to free your pet.

Vacuum Cleaner

Although keeping a clean home and using your vacuum as a mean of pest-control is usually deemed more of a prevention tactic rather than a killing move, don’t underestimate how useful the simple hoover can be in actively combating an infestation.

How does it work?

All those gaps, holes and spaces in walls, skirting boards, sills, behind ovens and so forth; how else are you going to get in there and actively kill off any little hives of silverfish that might be hiding? Not to mention their eggs.

How do you use it?

Use the vacuum as well as the nozzle and any attachments you have to get into nooks and crannies and suck up any dust, crumbs, and silverfish and their spawn.

A vacuum with a HEPA filter is hands down the best thing you can use as it’ll allow you to suck up dust mites as well – removing yet another silverfish food source. Get the hose in to all the cracks you can find and clear the place out and do so regularly.


Last but not least, here is an incredibly underrated natural way to kill silverfish: dehumidify them to death.

How does it work?

Silverfish are usually a sign of a moisture problem. These sneaky creepy crawlies not only love high humidity levels, they need moisture in order to develop and reproduce properly.

Studies show that the optimal humidity level for silverfish reproduction is between 75% to 97% relative humidity.

Since a dehumidifier pulls moisture out of the air, they can make a big impact on reducing humidity levels in closed spaces like the bathroom, closet, utility room, or basement.

How do you use it?

Choose a dehumidifier that covers the square footage you need. You can find mini, portable dehumidifiers that cover small areas like 225 square feet. Or you can opt for a beast of a dehumidifier that can easily suck moisture out of an area as large as 4,500 square feet.

If you’d rather not get a dehumidifier, another great option is to opt for moisture absorbers like the Vacplus Moisture Absorber Box. These are perfect for quickly sucking moisture from small spaces like closets and bathrooms.

Is it pet safe?


What is the Best Pesticide for Silverfish?

Most silverfish infestation can be cleared using a combination of the natural ways to kill silverfish mentioned above. But if you have a persistent, pervasive silverfish problem that just refuses to go away – it may be time to bust out the big guns.

So what is the best pesticide for silverfish? Here are our top options.

Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer

It’s not just silverfish – this easy-to-use insect spray will wipe out most creepy crawlies that dare enter your home. We’re listing this as the top choice because it’s a ready-made professional-grade silverfish pesticide that most homeowners will have no trouble using.

How does it work?

The active ingredients are bifenthrin and zeta cypermethrin, both synthetic pyrethroids that work as fast-acting neurotoxin in insects. But this spray doesn’t just have a quick knock-down effect – it is great because it provides residual protection.

That means that once it’s sprayed and dried, it’ll continue killing silverfish that make contact with it for up to 12 whole months.

How do you use it?

Although it’s true that once an infestation has taken hold of your home, it’s likely that most of the culprits you see will have been born under your roof, it’s still worth remembering that that initial silverfish family came from outside.

This is why one of the strongest moves throughout the extermination process is to spread powerful insecticides on the outside and perimeter of your home, if only to make sure the problem doesn’t get any worse.

So the best way to use Ortho Home Defense is as a perimeter spray. Treat the foundations of your home, taking special care to focus your efforts on any entryways – door gaps, window gaps, and other cracks and crevices.

Suspend SC

If you’re ready to get serious, this professional-grade pesticide is the only thing you’ll ever need for any sort of pest problem, silverfish included.

How does it work?

Powerful insecticides like Suspend SC will work very quickly. The active ingredient is deltamethrin, another pyrethroid that has a quick knock-down effect which essentially kills the silverfish as soon as it comes in contact with the chemical.

It also has a long residual effect so you’ll only have to spray it once or twice a year.

Obviously, this potency is why more powerful insecticides are recommended for outside use rather than domestic. But this one is safe to use both indoor and outdoor – just remember to take all the necessary safety precautions and wait until it dries before you bring your children and pets back indoors.

How do you use it?

This silverfish pesticide is not a see-a-bug, spray-a-bug kind of pesticide. Nope, this professional-grade pesticide does require you to mix it yourself. We recommend a 1-gallon hand-pump yard sprayer for application.

For treatment, use it as a perimeter spray and spray a 3-feet perimeter around the entire house. Pay special attention to entry points like doors and windows as well as any cracks and crevices you notice.

Of course, as ever, you must follow the safety and application guidelines of your insecticide – safety should always come first with poisonous compounds! Unless you’re a silverfish yourself, in which case…Sorry, pal.

PT P.I. Aerosol Spray

Last but not least, for domestic use, aerosol pesticides for silverfish are incredibly useful. Aside from being much cheaper and more varied in the marketplace, they’re also much more practical for the small pest battles.

How does it work?

This aerosol spray comes with little straws that you can use to inject the active ingredient, 0.5% natural pyrethrins, deep into the nooks and crannies that silverfish hide and breed in.

How do you use it?

With a handy aerosol can, you can easily target all of those small, cramped spaces and gaps around the home that silverfish just love to haunt. This makes your pest-killing a lot more controlled and deliberate, rather than hosing large spaces and hoping for the best.

Spray it into every crack and crevices, gaps in the baseboard, in little nooks and crannies around kitchen cabinets and bathrooms.

All of this being said, don’t be fooled into thinking that it’s not still a harmful chemical compound. Try to avoid getting any in your eyes or lungs and use in a well-ventilated area.

What About Silverfish Home Remedies?

Sometimes the best methods are those that you’ve devised yourself. There’s a bunch of different tricks and tactics you can take that won’t cost you any money and use simple household items to rid you of your silverfish problem.

Here are some simple silverfish home remedies you can whip up in no time.

Sticky jar silverfish trap

One of the most popular DIY silverfish traps is to find a large, glass jar and wrap masking tape or something sticky around the outside to give a foothold for any inquisitive silverfish. Inside the jar, leave a delicious treat, like something starchy, sugary or even old bits of bread or food matter… Mmm…

This simple little trap lures the silverfish up the outside of the jar, in to the food and then holds them captive, as the glass interior walls are too slippery and smooth for the creepy-crawley to climb back out again.Simply toss the contents away and repeat!

Burn the news

Another handy little trick is to bunch up an old newspaper (or wallpaper, cardboard etc.) into a tight bundle. Soak the paper in water, or even sugar-tinged water for the extra bait factor, and leave it in an area that you’ve already identified as being rich in silverfish – or just somewhere you suspect, such as your basement, kitchen or bathroom.

Leave this sodden pile overnight. Any local silverfish will be unable to resist such a bountiful offering from the gods above and will likely burrow their way in for food and shelter.

The next day – without unrolling the paper – simply dispose of the trap as you see fit, or even burn it if it’s dry enough to really make sure that they won’t be returning any time soon. Repeat this process as often as you like!

DIY silverfish sticky traps

Making your own sticky traps or ‘roach motels’ is actually a lot easier than you might think. This tactic does require the purchase of some boric acid if you want that lethal edge, however.

Simply mix up a concoction of flour and water into a sticky paste. The flour will also act as a huge bait for any hungry silverfish, too, and sprinkle in some of the boric acid if you wish. Once you’ve got your lethal cocktail: spread it on some cardboard sheets or index cards and lay the traps in specific areas.

Although cheap and useful, the stickiness of the homemade traps will not last too long, so you’ll probably have to repeat this process more often than you would with one of the store-bought sticky trap solutions.

Silverfish Pest Control

Last but not least, there is always the professional silverfish extermination route.

If the silverfish infestation is incredibly bad, or you simply want to make sure that the job is done right the first time, then it’s definitely worth looking at what professional solutions are available to you locally. After all, there’s only so much work a few sticky cards can do.

How does it work?

A qualified exterminator worth their salt will first examine your property and assess the severity of your silverfish problem. After your house has been given the thorough go-over, the professional should explain what they think the best course of action is, what this involves, how long it will take and any other important details.

Although, generally speaking, hiring in external help is a solid move and will likely greatly help your problem – it might not prevent it from returning. Always ask about this before the job begins: some companies will also add in prevention services, or at the very least offer you some bespoke advice on how to limit your risk of a silverfish renaissance!

How much does it cost?

If you do decide to opt for professional help, be prepared to pay a fairly sizeable sum. Nationwide, the cost for professional silverfish removal can range from $150 all the way up to $650, depending on the size of the problem. Remember that you’re paying for their time, equipment and credibility – and if you’ve done your research, it should be worth the investment.

Tip: If your problem is tame enough, try some DIY and home remedies for yourself before calling for help. There’s no point paying for something you might not need!

No longer must you live in fear of the silvery threat living in your home’s darkest, tiniest and rankest spaces. The power has been bestowed upon you. Go forth and kill, kill, kill. Or phone somebody to do it for you, whichever works.

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