Often, people are not even aware they have Silverfish until they find tiny holes in clothes or a book with half-eaten pages. These little nocturnal insects are sneaky and can be found anywhere from your bedroom or kitchen to your bathroom. Never fear. I have found something that has worked and taken my infestation in my wardrobe to practically non-existent: lavender oil.
For some reason Silverfish are repelled by the scent and will stay away. This method may not last forever, but it will be enough to clear them out and keep them at bay for months. It may even wipe them from your home.
I purchased some concentrated lavender oil from my local grocery store and diluted it with some water: About a tea spoon of lavender oil to half a small spray bottle of water or thereabouts.
This amount works perfectly for wiping down walls and spraying onto the carpet. It is safe as it does not contain chemicals that other insect replants seem to include. The process of getting rid of these pests is not easy though and will take some time and commitment.
- My first step was take everything out of my wardrobe. This is a massive task in itself, but if you are going to do a job it needs to be done right, or it just wont work. Silverfish hide in everything. This includes taking everything out of boxes and inspecting the contents. I had some wine glasses left in the box stored away and opened the untouched box to find some Silverfish nestled in the glasses with little black dots (eggs!). If you find clusters of what looks like dirt, it may actually the eggs.
- Basically once the cupboard is empty you need to vacuum or wash the floor thoroughly as there will potentially be a lot of new silverfish waiting to hatch. Once you have done this (a couple of times for good measure) wipe the walls and shelves down with the lavender oil mix and spray some into each corner of the cupboard and on the floor or carpet. Allow to dry (if you don't, you may get mould or mildew). This step is essential as it will keep new ones from entering and if there are a few still in there, hopefully drive them out.
- Go through all boxes even if they are shut. If there is no airtight seal, these little creatures can get in so it is necessary to open each box, empty the contents, thoroughly sort through, and clean them out. It doesn't hurt to wipe it out a second time with some lavender/water mix to just get the scent in there. Be especially mindful of shoe boxes as the paper stuffing that comes with shoes seems to attract Silverfish. If possible change your cardboard shoe boxes for plastic and throw out the shoe stuffing.
- Inspect your clothing. shake it all out and brush down. You may even need to wash the garments. This is a very laborious task, but if you have an infestation, it is necessary. If you are just being proactive, then washing your clothes should not be necessary. Just sort well. If you have folded clothing in your wardrobe, be sure to unfold and shake as they are often hidden in creases and will stick well to fabric.
- Before putting all items back into your wardrobe, do another check. Throw out any boxes or books that have visible signs of being eaten by Silverfish. Also if you have had clothing that has holes, it will definitely need to be washed before mending. This is also a good time to de-clutter, as the more items you have in a space, the easier it is for these pests to get in and make a little home.
I followed up with these steps about six months later. Whilst I still found the odd few Silverfish, it was nothing to what I had found the first time. Also, I had no more damaged items in my wardrobe, which was a relief. Ever since, I make sure to re-do this method once a year and rarely if ever do I find any.
- Make it a habit to spray some lavender oil around the skirting boards or cupboard doors to refresh the scent and keep those nasties away in between your big cleanings.
- Try and leave areas as clutter-free as possible.
- Keep paper to a minimum. If you do need to store it, try using plastic containers that are air-tight. There are a few key things that Silverfish are attracted to, but paper is one of them.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
retromellie (author) from Australia on March 03, 2019:
I would try your local health food or specialist aromatherapy store as the ones in Australia have a very good range available. Kind regards Melissa
email@example.com on March 03, 2019:
great job. Where so I get therapeutic grade orange oil?
Agata on November 24, 2018:
Hi! Does it work with citrus oli as well?
Miss V on September 16, 2018:
I think lavender is much more effective for silverfish than cedar. I had cedar blocks in my closet for moths but still had silverfish; after finding this site I cleaned out and sprayed my entire closet with lavender oil and haven’t seen any since. I re-spray the corners every month or so.
Lisa Galvin on September 16, 2018:
Do you think Cedar will keep it away too?
Lisa on December 07, 2017:
I’m staying in a room for an extended period of time. I brought many items to keep me busy (books, card making supplies, binders of sheet music, knitting, and of course, clothes). Everything is on the floor. Everything is in a cardboard box or a cloth bag. I have seen at least 3 silverfish a day/evening. Some are huge and some are tiny. There are black dots everywhere. I cleaned out the cupboards because I thought there was coffee in it. I don’t drink coffee. I thought there was a coffee mess back in the cupboard. I now know think it is silverfish excrement. I am going to lavender everything starting today. I don’t want to take these creatures back to my house. Do you have any suggestions on how to clean out all my books, card making supplies (it is all paper, kept in a cardboard box), and cloth bags? Thank you.
cynthia on September 25, 2016:
The place I am living in is infested with silver fish. I have never seen any in cupboards or in drawers with clothes. We are moving and I have stuff in storage to bring, like xmas stuff, fall décor, ext..I don't have the strength to go through every box. I am worried how ever that we may bring them with us. I heard cedar oil will keep them away. Keep in mind I have 2 cats to protect. Please help!!!
Kitty on August 01, 2016:
I have had some old books stored in the garage in a cardboard box. I was dusting the books off so that I could put them in an antique breakfront. I noticed silverfish in the box, but none on the books. :-( Is there something I can do to ensure that the books I put on the breakfront glass shelves do not have bugs??
Sue Neve on July 11, 2016:
We are movng to a new home being built and was wondering if i should spray this solution in all cupboards shelves and in the attic if that will work too. We wont have carpets as im allergic to dust and am asthmatic. Tks from a lther Queenslander
Micha on April 24, 2016:
Is there a way to infuse cardstock with lavender oil to hang tags from hangers?
retromellie (author) from Australia on January 29, 2016:
My goodness I'm sorry to hear your having such a horrible infestation. The lavender oil has really helped me but it takes a few cleaning attempts so you don't miss the eggs.... I would suggest getting rid of as many paper and cardboard sources you can and spray the lavender oil everywhere and maybe weekly giving a couple of weeks before cleans.... Really shake out rugs and clothes that can't be washed also which should definitely help with the infestation. In the bathroom wipe down the shelves with lavender oil also and rember anything that looks like dirt is most likely eggs so clean as much as possible. Good luck with your problem and I hope if the situation is not already improved it is done so asap I know how horrible they can be :(
Gloria on August 25, 2015:
I need some help! I have silverfish n my master bedroom & bathroom. They coming out of the air vents. I had a pest control co come out 2 my house. The pests r n my attic. Do u have some suggestions? I went out 2day and purchase the the lavender oil. They co said the co would b 25k. Smh!!!! Help!!!!
retromellie (author) from Australia on July 15, 2014:
Hi, thanks for your comment! I do live on Queensland which can be very humid and hot at times....I have had silverfish in both the bedroom and bathroom and hence have cleaned out both areas, however if you have not had any issues in your wardrobe I wouldn't worry to much. I would keep a close eye however on your clothes or books and if you notice small holes or smattering a of what appears to be dirt on surfaces or in boxes then I would take action as that could be the start of an infestation. Maybe as a precautionary measure spray some lavender on the floor of your wardrobe every so often to deter them from entering that space! I hope I have helped a little, all the best :)
Rox on July 15, 2014:
Hi, do you stay in a very humid area? I don't stay in a humid area, thus have only seen the nasty pests (silverfish) in my bathroom, as i climb out the shower and the bathroom is filled with steam. That's why I would just like to know, do i still have to clean all my wardrobes out, throughout my house or only the bathroom?
retromellie (author) from Australia on October 01, 2013:
Hi Shinysparkle thanks of your comment, Yes this is definitely a pet friendly solution and as an added benefit lavender is good to help you sleep so I have read! I am not sure about adding a few drops of lavender oil to the paint unless you are using a very dark colour - I am not certain but it may cause the paint to discolour slightly so maybe do a test patch first....otherwise I can't see it hurting although paint fumes are quite strong so may overpower the scent anyway? All the best to you though, I really hope this proves to be a good solution for you also! :)
shinysparkle on September 25, 2013:
Thanks so much for your incredibly helpful tips... I will be putting these to good use! I really did not want to use poisons/toxins (as I have pets), but was desperate for a solution. Since I will also be repainting my bedroom closet too, I wonder if adding a few drops of lavender oil to the paint would help long term?
retromellie (author) from Australia on August 01, 2013:
Hi Sam, mine was quite bad but it was just in the wardrobe - occasionally there were others around the house, but this treatment worked great for me and I only focused it on the wardrobe. Your infestation sounds a lot worse though and that's terrible that they can survive that much poison! The lavender oil acts as a repellant so maybe try spraying it on all entrances to the house including windows and doorways to see if it will deter new ones....also very careful cleaning would be needed a couple of times...I found groups of black dots that looked like dirt in corers of my wardrobe and found out they are actually the eggs so copious vacuuming to fight the eggs as well as the living ones is necessary. I really hope you get it sorted though, they are such horrible destructive things and I know your frustration....don't give up though, the lavender is a safer method and definitely worth a try, however I am not sure it will completely irradiate them for sometime if the infestation is that serious :S sorry! Let me know how you get on....all the best!
sam on July 27, 2013:
Retromellie how bad was your infestation was it just in your wardrobe, I took a council house in November and im in july now and still not moved in because the infestation was so bad, they were behind skirting boards, under lino in kitchen been finding in what will be my bedroom I have had the house fumigated 6 times and still finding odd ones last week I had a leak in my kitchen anyway tonight I went on to the house to check no leak I swept under the cupboards in the kitchen and found 5 they were dead as there is that much poison about but still where are they coming from I have one of those insect plugs in kitchen too...................im losing the will to live with this house
retromellie (author) from Australia on July 23, 2013:
HI JenniferFantroy.....I am not sure you can really ever get rid of insects in their natural setting, but I have sprayed the lavender oil solution in the doorways and on window sills to stop them coming inside....If its on outdoor furniture again spray the solution around the areas or tuck in a tissue dabbed with lavender oil which will also act as a repellent....! I hope this helps! All the best! :)
JenniferFantroy on July 18, 2013:
Thanks for the tip!
How do you get rid of them outside? Do you spray the outside with the same solution?
retromellie (author) from Australia on July 17, 2013:
yes silverfish are nasty! Nia I found this the only method to work for me.....although I had to do it twice to get rid of them entirely and this was spaced out in between clean outs just to ensure no eggs slipped through! Its good because there is no nasty chemicals used! Goodluck if you decide to give it a try!
lifeintheworld from The World on July 10, 2013:
Silverfish are GROSS.
nia on June 26, 2013:
Does it really work