Vinegar Doesn’t Kill Silverfish – Here’s Why

A site reader has mailed and asked me, “Does vinegar kill silverfish?”

The answer is no. Vinegar doesn’t kill silverfish. Vinegar has acetic acid. It emits a strong scent that silverfish hate. And it keeps the silverfish away. 

Cinnamon, bay leaves, and lavender essential oils also produce scents that silverfish hate.

But the drawback is that when the scent is gone, silverfish return. 

So, vinegar is a silverfish repellent. Not a silverfish killer. 

Thus, using vinegar to kill silverfish will waste time and vinegar.

But products like diatomaceous earth and boric acid are natural silverfish killers. 

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a desiccant dust that penetrates the exoskeleton of silverfish. Upon entering their bodies, it absorbs silverfish’s moisture and bodily fluids. That causes internal dehydration and kills them. 

Scatter diatomaceous earth on areas where you’ve noticed silverfish activity.

Silverfish hide in cracks and gaps in damp areas of the house. They like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens. 

They can even sneak inside the crevices on the walls and ceilings of these areas.  Ensure that you fill those cracks with diatomaceous earth. It’ll help in killing silverfish hiding in these areas.

Boric Acid 

Boric acid works on silverfish in the same way as diatomaceous earth. Use it in the same way as you’d use diatomaceous earth. 

You can also scatter DE or boric acid in closets and dresser drawers where silverfish can hide.

Silverfish are fabric-eating pests. So, it’s common to find them in clothing storage sections in homes with silverfish infestations.

But do not forget to wash the clothes in hot soapy water and vacuum clean the storages after using these desiccant dusts.

Does Salt Kill Silverfish?

No, salt doesn’t kill silverfish. Unlike diatomaceous earth, salt cannot penetrate the exoskeleton of silverfish. 

But salt can also trigger dehydration if silverfish consume it. But I haven’t encountered any scenarios where silverfish have eaten salt.

You can test it out by mixing salt with a few cooked rice grains. Rice contains starch, which is a food source for silverfish. 

Does Bleach Kill Silverfish?

Bleach is a highly corrosive substance. And bleach kills bugs, including silverfish. 

Mix two tablespoons of bleach with two cups of water. Pour the mixture on the silverfish. 

It’ll kill silverfish instantly.

But I don’t recommend using bleach as a bug killer despite its usefulness. 

Bleach can damage skin and eyes if it contacts them. Also, pouring bleach down the drains to kill bugs is a bad idea.

It damages the drain’s interiors. It also kills the beneficial microbes in the drains that break down waste. 

And bleach produces harmful fumes when it mixes with ammonia and vinegar. So, don’t use bleach using these cleaning and disinfecting agents.

You can refer to this article from Healthline to learn more about the harmful effects of bleach.