The Woodsy Scent That Will Give The Axe To Your Silverfish Problem

Named for their shiny, silvery color, silverfish love to hang out in books, drawers, closets, and other dark hiding places. Silverfish can scurry around extremely fast, almost making them look like little fish "swimming" across your bookshelves and countertops. While they're generally harmless to humans, silverfish will invade your pantry in search of sugary cereals and starches and chew on items in your home, especially loose papers, books, wallpaper, and even clothing. What's worse? They tend to go for the expensive stuff like linen, silk, and cotton. 

Because they move around so quickly, it can be hard to catch and kill enough silverfish to eliminate them from your home, but there is one simple, natural, and effective repellent you can use: cedarwood. If you've noticed holes in your clothing, black droppings on your bookshelf, or live silverfish swimming in the corners of your cabinets, pick up a bottle of cedarwood essential oil and use it to drive the little bugs out from the shadows — and make your house smell great in the meantime. 

Silverfish can't stand cedarwood

How does it work? Silverfish and many other insects are repulsed by the strong, woodsy, and citrusy scent of cedar. While most humans find the smell to be clean, cozy, and nostalgic, it is overpowering to silverfish and will make them want to search for a less stinky place to call home. Thujone and cedrol are two compounds in cedar that insects actively avoid. In addition to repelling bugs with its scent, the natural resins in cedar prevent mold, mildew, and fungi growth, taking away the potential food source for silverfish.  

Cedarwood oil may do more than just repel silverfish; it could also help to dwindle their numbers for good. A study performed with Japanese cedarwood found that exposing the silverfish to 0.16mg of cedar oil killed 100% of them within 10 hours. At lower dosages, the cedar oil was effective at repelling 80% or more of the silverfish from the area and killed anywhere between 10% and 50% of insects that made contact. In other words, cedarwood is one of the most effective methods to get rid of silverfish and prevent them from coming back, especially if you're hoping to avoid the use of insecticides. 

Shake and spray to keep silverfish away

The easiest way to eliminate silverfish with cedarwood is to make a basic spray. Mix about 10 drops of high-quality cedarwood essential oil into 4 ounces of water. Shake the mixture up in a spray bottle, then use it to treat the areas where silverfish tend to gather the most. To rid your bookshelves of silverfish, first remove the books and dust them off, then wipe down the bare shelves with a generous amount of cedarwood spray. You can also spray the inside of drawers, closets, and cabinets or around doors and baseboards, where silverfish tend to sneak into your home. For an overall deterrent effect, consider adding a few drops of oil into a diffuser that will spread a light scent throughout your space. 

Cedarwood essential oil is generally considered safe for humans and pets, but be considerate of sensitive noses. Provide plenty of fresh air in another room when spraying with cedarwood oil. If you can't use cedarwood oil due to respiratory sensitivities, opt for wood furniture made from cedar whenever possible. Cedar furniture is resistant to moisture, decay, and pests like silverfish, and the wood itself emits a subtle and pleasant cabin-like scent. If you simply don't like cedar, other essential oils that may repel silverfish include cinnamon, clove, citrus, and mint.