9 Scents That Silverfish Hate (And How To Use Them)

Insect feeding on paper - silverfish. Pest books and newspapers.

Silverfish are a pest that are especially terrible for libraries and homes since they enjoy eating paper and cloth. The scent of some herbs and common household items work really well at deterring them.

Silverfish use their sense of smell to identify food sources and shelters. You can use this to your advantage and utilize scents silverfish hate to keep them away. Scents like cedarwood, cedar oil, clove oil, citrus, lavender, cinnamon, rosemary, bay leaves, and peppermint can repel silverfish.

So, these scents when used appropriately can help keep these creepy crawlers away! Read on to see how to use these scents to keep silverfish far, far away.

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9 Scents Used To Deter Silverfish

While silverfish serve their purpose out in the wild, it does not mean we want them hanging around our home. The damage done to books and clothing can be irreparable, and they are known for breeding quickly. Especially in warmer, high humidity spaces with very little light. 

The best thing you can do for yourself when it comes to silverfish is to focus on prevention. While it is possible to get rid of them, it is better not to risk things you might not be able to replace. You can prevent them from getting into your space and creating an infestation.

Now, this is where these scents come in. They are useful in ridding your space of silverfish once they get inside, but they are quite effective at preventing them from wanting to stick around before they have a chance to make a meal of your books and old clothing.

Before using these scents, please contact a professional and do research before use in your home to ensure the safety of you, your pets and anyone else!

lepisma on the tattered cover of an old book. Insect feeding on paper - silverfish, lepisma. Pest books and newspapers.

Cedarwood and Cedar Oil Deter Silverfish

Cedarwood and cedar oil serve as not only a repellent for silverfish, studies have shown they can kill them out completely.

There was even a study done on Japanese Cedarwood oil, which focused on concentration level in a solution. Depending on concentration level, 80% or more of silverfish were either repelled or killed within the space where a mixture of the oil and water was sprayed. 

Cedarwood has a strong scent to it, which is something silverfish dislike. It is potent, and to these tiny pests, the higher the concentration, the worse the smell is going to affect them. 

Japanese Cedarwood, from the studies, seems to be the best option. However, due to the sensitivity of scent, using any cedarwood would be efficient. 

Clove Oil Keeps Silverfish Away

Another strong scent with a tendency to keep silverfish away is clove oil. Clove is potent and has an almost cinnamon, earthy scent to it. For silverfish, it becomes overwhelming. In fact, clove oil has some serious uses in your home if you are looking to rid yourself of pests like silverfish. 

Clove oil does well when facing silverfish because of the active component of it, called eugenol. This component is good at not only creating a strong lingering scent of clove, it can hinder any future silverfish from invading the space, but it will also kill out the ones already there. 

The downside to clove oil is it is toxic to humans, and can cause irritation to the skin if contact is made. It is a good idea to use gloves and goggles to make sure you are protected. However, it is not going to cause any damage to the environment or the indoor spaces if you are applying the clove oil as a deterrent for silverfish. 

Citrus Can Repel Silverfish

Citrus as a general serves as an excellent means to rid your home of silverfish. They hate citrus in all its forms. The most common citrus scents known for keeping silverfish at bay include lemon, orange, and nearly all other kinds of citrus fruit.

For a full list of the deterrents for silverfish, read our post: The 10 Best Silverfish Sprays, Traps, and Repellents!

The oils in these fruits can be turned into the ingredient Limonene, a common ingredient found in indoor pest control products. It is derived from citrus oils and is potent when dealing with most indoor pests. Including silverfish. 

The drawback of citrus oils is they cannot be used on or around plants, as there is a serious potential that the oils, especially limonene, can harm your plants. 

Lavender Deters Silverfish

It is not at all uncommon to have this particular scent pop up on the list. Lavender is known for its potent floral smell. Dried or essential oil form, this flower serves several household purposes. Including being so strong silverfish cannot stand the smell of it. The scent is almost suffocating to them. 

The great thing about lavender is it can be used in several different ways. From dried herbs to fresh live plants, and even essential oils. Of course, depending on where you are fighting off silverfish, some of these options are going to be way easier to use than others. 

Cinnamon Keeps Silverfish Away

Much like clove oil, cinnamon is potent and a great way to deter silverfish from hanging around in your home. While we humans might love the smell of cinnamon, the same cannot be said for silverfish. 

It’s too potent, and it tends to cause issues for them, and can even be enough to kill them if used correctly. You do have to be mindful of using cinnamon around other animals, and your plants. It is not safe for them either. 

Silverfish Hate the Smell of Rosemary

In all fairness, Rosemary is one of those herbs with the ability to chase off a variety of pests. Silverfish are certainly no different. Rosemary is a naturally potent herb full of oils and scents that can prove to be suffocating for silverfish, especially since they are prone to molting. 

It can disrupt their senses, and if used, while it is not as efficient in killing off an infestation, can certainly help prevent one! 

Keep Silverfish Away With Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are a dried herb capable of repelling silverfish. The scent of the bay leaves can interfere with their ability to find food, a mate, or anything else they use their very primitive sense of smell for. 

While it works better in its dried form, and cannot necessarily be turned into a spray, it is pretty easy to bring bay into the picture and leave it to do a good job at clearing out any silverfish potentially hiding out. 

Keep in mind, bay leaves are not a pesticide against silverfish. If you are dealing with an infestation, you might need to contact a pest expert before aiming for prevention and repelling. While you can naturally deter many pests, contacting a professional is necessary at a certain point.

Peppermint Will Deter Silverfish

Another common ingredient found in natural pesticides is peppermint. This is because the plant leaves secrete oil able to drive off anything from spiders to ants and even silverfish. 

The scent of the mint plant will disrupt transmitters with the silverfish, making it hard for them to use their senses to seek food or mates. The oil can prove toxic and fatal to pests such as silverfish as well. Peppermint oil is best used, instead of peppermint plants themselves.

This makes it a great addition to naturally repelling silverfish when you are trying to avoid a growing infestation!

How To Use These Scents To Repel Silverfish

Insect feeding on paper - silverfish. Pest books and newspapers.

Use Homemade Silverfish Sprays

Most of the scents mentioned can come in oil forms. These oils can be mixed with water or even vinegar to make a low-grade homemade repellent. The method for making this type of repellent is rather simple too, meaning anyone can do it in a pinch if they are in need. 

Simply take a spray bottle and mix a bit of the oils with the water or other liquid to dilute it. Give it a good shake to mix everything well and get to spraying. 

A spray is a good way to get into dark corners, and crevices you might not be able to reach with powders or satchels. The potency of many oils can help chase off any silverfish using these dark, damp spots in your home to hide and breed. 

The spray option also works well if you lose cedar oil or cinnamon oil because both are known to destroy the exoskeleton of the silverfish, killing them. 

The disadvantage of this option is it does require a higher level of upkeep. The mixture is not going to hang around for a long time, and it will require constantly coming back to place down another layer of the barrier to maintain your preventative care. 

Use Scent Satchels For Silverfish

Another common method of getting these potent scents where they need to be is making a satchel. It does not require as much upkeep, because the dried herbs used inside it will last for weeks and months. However, you do want to keep an eye out because once the scent starts wearing down, you will want to make a new one. 

Satchels are simple to make, and you can even purchase them ready to go at any hobby store. Taking one of the satchels, you will want to choose the herbs you want to use to repel the silverfish, and simply fill it. Once you are done, tie it off and place it in different corners of your home. 

One handy thing about satchels is they can be placed in spaces where you cannot safely use moisture-based products. This can work well in the back of dressers or cabinets, in your bookshelves, spaces you need to keep dry to protect whatever it is holding. 

Dry Herbs To Repel Silverfish

Another simple solution would be to place dried herbs where you want to keep silverfish away. Spruce of rosemary or a dried bay leaf can do wonders without having to do anything extra. The natural oils released by the dried herbs will put their scent out into the air. 

This is another solution requiring little effort, and dried herbs will last a long time without going stale or bad. You can place them in little hidden corners of your bathroom or closet. Not only will you get to enjoy the scent of them, but they are also going to keep silverfish from nosing around and damaging your things. 

This is an easy, do-it-yourself solution. It allows you to set and forget it for a while. Just make sure you are mindful of herbs known to be potentially harmful to pets or children when you leave them lying around. 

However, it’s a great option if you can guarantee what you are using is going to be safe for the ones you care about!

Commercial/Natural Silverfish Pesticides

There is a whole market for natural pesticides, most of them will include some of the oils mentioned above. If you are wary of using chemicals in your home or around your family, then aiming for something with more natural ingredients might be helpful. 

One, in particular, is Wondercide Natural Products Indoor Pest Repellent , which is made with cedarwood oil as one of its key ingredients. It also includes a few other more natural ingredients known for repelling indoor insects such as silverfish. Cedarwood, as a main active ingredient, will also aid you in killing out any infestation you might have.

Another good indoor option is Dr. Killigan’s Six Feet Under Non-Toxic Indoor Spray which is highly rated on Amazon and is scented with clove and cinnamon. Two scents are known for repelling silverfish. 

Not only is it scented perfectly to help you repel silverfish, one of the main ingredients is clove oil, which can suffocate silverfish through their exoskeleton. 

These are just a couple of the natural pesticides out there that utilize the scents talked about as a means of handling any pests indoors, including silverfish. 

That’s A Wrap!

When it comes to repelling silverfish, there are many different scents out there that can ensure your items are free of the gnawing mouths of these pests. 

From clove oil to cedarwood, and even more floral scents such as lavender are all perfect for chasing off this nuisance that has a real bad habit of eating at your clothing, books, and anything else covered in soft material and glue.

To recap, here are the scents that repel silverfish:

  • Cederwood
  • Cedar oil
  • Clove oil
  • Citrus
  • Lavender
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Bay Leaves
  • Peppermint

While many of these are simple solutions, it is also about using them correctly. Making sure you are getting these scents in all the dark places silverfish like to hide is the first big step. If you are not using your tools correctly, you may not have as much success. 

From straight herbs to oil blends you can place in a spray bottle, you have a few solid ways of applying these scents to the dark nooks and crannies of your home where silverfish like to hide. While they are extremely handy, they do require being frequently reapplied because they do not cling to surfaces the way chemical pesticides will. 

Use caution when applying, and if you are not sure, then reach out and ask a professional. Most pest control companies will happily guide you on the right path. 

While silverfish can be hard to shake off if you get them inside your home, there are plenty of scents and methods for distributing them. You can use these to help make clearing them out a little bit easier! 


Matsubara, E., Tsunetsugu, Y., Ohira, T., & Sugiyama, M. (2017). Essential oil of Japanese cedar (Cryptomeria japonica) wood increases salivary dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate levels after monotonous work. International journal of environmental research and public health, 14(1), 97.

Insecticides: Low Toxicity Options. (2017). Ladybug.Uconn.Edu. http://www.ladybug.uconn.edu/FactSheets/insecticides–low-toxicity-options.php

Silverfish and Firebrats. (2021). Agrilifeextensions.Tamu.Edu. https://agrilifeextension.tamu.edu/library/insects/silverfish-and-firebrats/

Silverfish and Firebrats. (2021b). Http://Npic.Orst.Edu/Pest/Silverfish.Html. http://npic.orst.edu/pest/silverfish.html

Silverfish and Firebrat. (2021). Plant & Pest Diagnostics.9i https://www.canr.msu.edu/resources/silverfish-and-firebrat

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