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What Do Silverfish Eat? A List of Things You Might Not Expect

An up-close view of a silverfish on white-painted wood.

Silverfish can be found anywhere in your home. They’re small and aren’t pretty to look at, but they can be hard to find since they like to hide in dark areas.

If you have happened to spot a silverfish or two, you’re probably wondering what brought them into your home.

What do silverfish eat? Silverfish will eat anything full of carbohydrates and starches, such as paper products, cereal, coffee, crumbs, grains, and sugar in addition to carpet, leather, plaster, fabrics, hair, dandruff, dead insects, soap, clothing, glue, and upholstery.

In the following, you’ll find a complete list of everything silverfish will eat and some tips on stopping them from ruining your things.

Silverfish Love Carbs and Water

Finding silverfish in your home is a very common problem. If you are spotting silverfish indoors routinely, head over to our “How To Get Rid of Silverfish” article to eradicate the problem.

Then, implement the tips found here to keep them away for good.

You’ll notice that all the items on this list are starchy.

These critters love foods with carbohydrates and will even go after things that aren’t considered food, such as books and clothing. 

Silverfish round out their carb-heavy diet with plenty of water. If your home has a leak or water comes in when it rains, silverfish will find their way inside.

They like humid areas, so expect to see them around leaks, sinks, and boilers.

Although it’s normal to be completely baffled at first as to why you have silverfish, once you know all the things that silverfish routinely munch on, it won’t be so much of a mystery anymore.

In the Kitchen

The kitchen can be one of the most common areas where silverfish are found because food sources are abundant.

Water is what initially draws the insects into your home, so if you have a leaky kitchen sink, they’ll find their way inside and will stick around because of the food.

Placing traps in strategic locations can work to catch the occasional silverfish before more move in and become a big problem.

You can find a list of the best traps for silverfish here.


You probably have plenty of cardboard in your home.

Cereal boxes, storage boxes, and brown paper bags you get from the grocery store are all appealing to silverfish.

Wet cardboard is a double whammy, so you should get rid of that as soon as you spot it.


Silverfish will be drawn to the box and will continue chewing through the cereal. Sugary cereals will be more appreciated since silverfish have a sweet tooth.


Ground or whole coffee beans will attract silverfish, especially if they’re kept in a brown paper bag.


If crumbs are dropped and aren’t picked up, silverfish will come running to them at night.

If you keep a rug under your dining table, vacuum it frequently because the insects might want to chomp on that, too.


All grains are loved by silverfish – rice, oats, corn, wheat, quinoa, you name it.

They might even eat through the packaging if they’re able to so they can get to it.


Silverfish like to eat sugary starches, including sugar itself. Cookies, muffins, and other packaged foods will attract the insects.

How to Prevent Silverfish in the Kitchen

The first step to keeping silverfish out is to make sure there isn’t any standing water. Frequently check for leaks around the sink, freezer, and all the pipes.

If you see water on the floor, find the source of it and immediately repair it. When you clean the floor, be sure all water is mopped up.

If you notice silverfish in your pantry, start storing all food in airtight containers.

Since cardboard boxes are a food source, they won’t prevent the silverfish from getting into your food.

Placing packets of herbs and using DIY essential oil sprays (learn how to make them here) can deter them from the area.

Cleaning with bleach routinely can be beneficial too. This article explains exactly how to use bleach to not only deter silverfish but to kill them as well. 

In the Living Room

Silverfish will eat more than food. In fact, most of what they eat isn’t food by human standards.

Silverfish can eat through pretty much anything starchy in your living room, so you’ll need to keep the area dry and clutter-free.


The glue in book bindings and the pages will attract silverfish and will keep them happy for a long time.

Since the insects are so small, they can easily squeeze between the pages and binding and eat away.


Silverfish will eat the carpet itself, but they also like the abundance of crumbs that accumulate over time.


Leather isn’t a silverfish’s first choice, but if they can’t find enough of other things to eat, then they’ll settle on leather.

Keep leather items like shoes and bags protected if you keep them in a humid closet.


Newspapers, magazines, and important paperwork are good for silverfish to have for dinner, especially if they’re piled up in a dark corner of the room.


Plaster is used on floors and walls of buildings to create decorations or as a coating.

It can also be used for art pieces and in pots for plants. There are many places in your home that have plaster.

Synthetic Fabric 

As is true with leather, silverfish will only go for fabrics like nylon or acrylic if there’s nothing else to eat.


Silverfish are more attracted to the glue behind the wallpaper than the wallpaper itself, but they’ll still eat it.

It’ll get damaged as they try to get to the glue, however.

How to Prevent Silverfish in the Living Room

Vacuum the room frequently and keep the moisture levels low. If necessary, use a dehumidifier to make the room drier.

Pick up piles of paper and check for silverfish damage periodically.

In the Bathroom

There are many reasons for silverfish to be in your bathroom – the number one reason being the abundance of water.

Silverfish can live for over a year without food as long as they have water, so they’re always going to seek humid areas.

Fun Fact: Sometimes the presence of silverfish can be a good indication of a major water leak, so check your pipes regularly if you spot these bugs.

There’s plenty of food opportunities in bathrooms too.

Hair and Dandruff 

Silverfish are gross little creatures – they find both hair and dandruff appealing to eat.

You probably won’t have to worry about finding them in your hair, but you might spot them around your hairbrush or wherever dandruff has collected on the floor.

Dead Insects 

They don’t always eat dead insects, but they’ll be on the silverfish’s menu if there isn’t anything else around.


Silverfish will eat soap and shampoo.

It might be too hard for them to get through bottles, but shampoo residue and bars of soap can easily be targets.

How to Prevent Silverfish in the Bathroom

Bathrooms are usually humid because of showers, so it can be difficult to keep them dry, especially if you have a busy household that uses the shower all the time.

Try taking cooler showers, so there’s less steam and ventilate the room afterward by opening the door and window.

A dehumidifier will help tremendously.

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There’s almost always water on the ground, which is why silverfish love bathrooms so much.

Always wipe up water after a shower or washing your hands, and check the pipes frequently for leaks.

Since they like to eat hair, sweep the floor and clean out your hairbrush often.

In the Bedroom

Bedrooms and closets are likely places to find silverfish because they tend to have dark corners and piles of clothing or books.


Silverfish will either eat the clothing itself or eat crumbs and stains that are left behind.

They’ll eat clothing made of cotton or silk, but they’ll go for nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic materials if they aren’t happy with everything else that’s available.

In addition, other items found in the bedroom may attract them too.

  • Glue: They’ll eat glue that’s found in books, wallpaper, and furniture.
  • Upholstery: Upholstered furniture will attract silverfish because of the fabric and the glue.

How to Prevent Silverfish in the Bedroom

The best way to keep silverfish out of your bedroom, closet, and other storage areas is to keep things in airtight containers.

If you have clothing you don’t plan on wearing for a while or bed sheets you’re not using, keep them in a plastic container with a locking lid. (These from Amazon are terrific.)

Upholstered furniture and rugs should be vacuumed once a week.

Silverfish lay their eggs in crevices, and this can include rugs and furniture if the conditions are right.

Vacuuming will pick up the eggs before they’re able to hatch.

Just be sure to empty out the canister outside so the hatched silverfish won’t be able to escape.

Final Thoughts

Silverfish eat a variety of starches that can be found throughout your home.

Keeping your home dry and your belongings stored in containers are the best ways to keep silverfish out.

They can’t hurt you, but they will be able to ruin your belongings, so prevention is key. Other prevention methods that actually get results can be found here.

You’ll also enjoy checking out all of our other silverfish articles to find the best ways to eliminate silverfish once and for all.