Frugal Methods of Ridding Your Home of Silverfish

by Reader Contributors

Frugal Methods of Ridding Your Home of Silverfish photo

Silverfish can be a tough bug to battle. Our frugal readers share their most effective methods of ridding your home of silverfish.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
I live in a condo and have had problems with Silverfish for the past four summers. I have spent more than a thousand dollars on exterminators and none of them have been able to get rid of them. I have patched and sealed every visible crack and opening in my home to try to keep them out, but that hasn’t worked either. There are no water leaks in my home. All starches, books, linens, etc., have either been sealed up in plastic or removed completely from the home.

Do of your readers know how to get rid of these disgusting pests? If I can’t kill them, I’d at least like to keep them out of my home. Frugal methods would be most appreciated.

Use Diatomaceous Earth to Eliminate Silverfish

Silverfish (and any other crawling-bug pests like cockroaches, earwigs, ants, centipedes, etc.) can be safely, efficiently and cost-effectively controlled with diatomaceous earth (available in specialty garden stores). It looks and feels like talcum powder and usually costs less than $10 for a 5 pound bag (a lifetime supply). It is non-toxic to humans and pets since it scratches the outer casing or breathing structure of insects and bugs, causing them to dehydrate. A pest only has to walk through some of it and they are as good as dead! As long as it remains dry, it is effective continuously, forever.

Just apply a thin line of diatomaceous earth along baseboard cracks – or anywhere else pests appear, or dust a specific area. If you know what your particular pest likes to eat, you can also make simple “traps” with a dish of diatomaceous earth and some tasty bait placed where you have the problem. One of the best methods of continuous pest control is to dust the space between your walls or under cabinets.

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Try Cloves

Sprinkle WHOLE, not ground, cloves where you have silverfish. Apparently, they do not like the scent and will leave you (and your belongings) alone.
Donna P.

Boric Acid Worked for Us

The only thing that I have found to work for most creepy crawlies – roaches, silverfish, ants, etc., is boric acid (the main ingredient in Roach Pruf). It is cheap and it lasts as long as it does not get damp. It is a powder that can be poured into cracks, dusted under sinks, and blown under the stove and refrigerator. You can buy it at most hardware stores.

Just buy a plastic picnic ketchup/mustard bottle with a pointed top that closes. This works best for getting it into the tight places where it needs to go. If the powder gets damp, just reapply. It will take a few weeks for all of the bugs to die, but you probably won’t see them again. The powder sticks to their legs and then they drag it back into their nests where it kills others as well. Good luck!
Julie P.


I also had a problem with silverfish in my basement. One trick that helped me was to moisten a newspaper (so that it was damp but not soaking), roll up the newspaper and tie it with an elastic. Do this at night and the next morning slowly open up the newspaper (it should be full of silverfish). Next either burn the newspaper or empty into a garbage can outside the house. Do this every night until the newspaper no longer has any silverfish in it.
Stefanie P.

Use Salt

Try sprinkling regular table salt around your baseboards and all drain pipes and other cracks and crevices. Besides being cheap, salt is not as harmful as other pesticides to children and pets if they should come into contact with it. Of course you will need to repeat this from time to time.

Close Your Drains

Keep your drains closed when they are not in use. I was surprised at how that helped around here.

A 4-Step Approach for Ridding Your Home of Silverfish

  1. Eliminate mold in house.
  2. Dehumidify.
  3. Vacuum often.
  4. The silverfish may be coming from neighboring condos. Speak to neighbors.


Try Cedar Shavings

Try cedar shavings or cedar pieces. My husband said that he had some at one time and that was how he got rid of them.

Reviewed August 2021

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