Mosquitoes flying around

How to Get Rid of Silverfish in the Bathroom

March 27, 2023

By Daniel Baldwin, BCE, CCFS, CP-FS

Silverfish are nocturnal insects that can infest any area in a home, but these critters prefer the warm, humid environment that a bathroom offers. Although silverfish are considered merely a nuisance pest, they can damage items in your home, contaminate food products, and trigger allergies in some people. Learn more about what attracts these pests to your bathroom and ways to eliminate silverfish in a bathroom.

silverfish on a white background

What are silverfish? 

Silverfish are wingless, primitive insects that got their name because of their silvery coloring, tiny scales, fish-like shape, and wriggling movements they make. Another name given to these pests is “bristletails” because of the long, stubby bristles on the back ends of their bodies. 

These pests have six legs and two long antennae. They measure up to ¾” long and have a flat,  oval-shaped body that’s wide at the head and slender at the bottom, where 2-3 bristles extend outward. One of the bristles sticks straight out from the middle of the posterior, with the other two curving in opposite directions. 

Silverfish are nocturnal creatures that have existed on earth for millions of years. They only come out of hiding at night unless disturbed or threatened. 

What do silverfish eat?

These critters prefer starchy materials, especially paper and wood. They’ll also feed on glue, cellulose, fibers, hair, linens, and dead insects, including other silverfish.

Do silverfish bite?

Although these pests are threatening-looking and sometimes mistaken for centipedes, silverfish don’t bite people or animals. They can run very quickly and will wriggle away to safety if disturbed. 

Do silverfish carry diseases? 

Silverfish aren’t known to be disease carriers, but they can contaminate food items they’re attracted to, such as flour, cereals, and other stored foodstuffs. 

These pests do shed their tiny scales. These sheddings contain a protein called tropomyosin, which can trigger respiratory allergies in certain people. Some individuals may also be allergic to the droppings of silverfish. 

Why do I have silverfish in my bathroom?

You might find silverfish bugs in your bathroom because they love warm, damp areas. These insects need moisture to survive and reproduce, so bathrooms are often the perfect environment for silverfish. Sinks, showers, toilets, leaky faucets, and tubs all provide the conditions silverfish need to thrive.

three silverfish at the bottom of a glass

Where do silverfish come from in bathrooms?

SIlverfish get into homes through tiny holes, cracks, and gaps in walls, window frames, doorways, and around pipe openings. They often enter through small points of entry that have been damaged by water, such as clogged gutters or leaks in a foundation or pipes. 

These pests can also get inside if they’re hiding in boxes, firewood, or other items you bring into the house. 

How to get rid of silverfish in the bathroom 

It’s difficult to get rid of silverfish without professional help because these pests can live for as long as eight years, with females laying as many as 300 eggs during their lifetime. 

Seeing one or two silverfish in your bathroom indicates an infestation may be forming. An infestation is a nuisance and annoyance, but over time, silverfish can also damage things in a bathroom, chewing on rugs, shower curtains, bath mats, towels, and wallpaper. It’s also alarming to come across one at night when you or a houseguest turns on the light.

You can take some steps to keep silverfish away in a bathroom and prevent them from coming inside in the first place. 

  • Vacuum, wash, and dry any carpet or rugs in the bathroom often, as these hold moisture and contain fibers and cellulose that silverfish eat.
  • Change towels and other linens regularly.
  • Don’t keep newspapers, books, magazines, and other papers in the bathroom.
  • Make sure your bathroom fan is working properly to help reduce moisture in the air.
  • Seal up any points of entry that silverfish can use to get into your home.

How do I get rid of silverfish in my bathroom sink?

Silverfish are rapid movers but have trouble climbing upwards on smooth surfaces, like porcelain sinks. The critters may become trapped in your sink because they can’t climb up and out. They don’t live in, come up in, or travel through your sink’s drains, but silverfish are initially drawn to a bathroom sink because that’s where the water is—whether there’s a faucet dripping or the sink is wet from the last use. 

One way to keep silverfish away from your bathroom sink is to dry the area after each use and repair any leaks as soon as possible.

How do I get rid of silverfish in my bathtub?

You may see silverfish in your bathtub for the same reasons these pests end up in a sink: they become trapped seeking the moisture in a tub, and then can’t find the traction to climb back out. Fix leaking bathtub faucets and ensure your drain works well so all water empties from the tub after bathing. You can also place sticky traps around the area to catch silverfish.

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