Do Silverfish Eat Clothes? How to Stop Silverfish From Eating Your Clothes.

We were rummaging amongst some old clothes looking for my favorite shirt and was sad to see it destroyed. I quickly noticed some Silverfish scurrying around in the bottom of the wardrobe. So we started wondering if silverfish eat clothes. So we did some research and here is what we found out.

So, do silverfish eat Clothes? Silverfish are attracted to your clothes and fabrics as they will eat starches that your clothes are either made from and cleaned with. They also thrive on dirt left on your clothes like sugary stains. They will eat clothes treated with starch and clothes made from fabrics like Cotton, Linen, Silk, Leather, and Rayon.

So by now, you’ve realized like we did that silverfish can do a lot of damage to your clothes and fabrics if not understood properly. But how can you protect your valuable clothes to ensure that this doesn’t happen?

To help, we have outlined some more information on why silverfish eat clothes, what are the signs of silverfish among your clothes, how to protect your clothes and how to get rid of them when found.


silverfish eat clothes

Why Do Silverfish Eat Clothes?

Silverfish have a basic diet that is focused on food sources made up of carbohydrates such as starches and sugar as well as protein.

They require these sources of nutrients to develop and grow and are unable to reach and mature to there adult form and their reproductive state without these sources of food.

So silverfish will eat clothes, not just to consume the material and fabrics, but for the starch, carbohydrate or protein-based substances often found in or on the fabric.

If you take your clothes to the dry cleaners regularly or use starch to press and iron any items of your clothes like shirts, silverfish will feed on any starchy residue left from the cleaning process on your clothing or fabrics to extract the starchy carbohydrates.

Don’t be fooled though, it is not your clean clothes that silverfish will look to feed on. Your laundry pile is at risk as their need for sugars, silverfish will feed on clothes and fabrics that are stained from sugar-based foods or beverages.

So keep an eye on any clothes stored in your wardrobes or dark areas that may have temperature and humidity levels that silverfish thrive in.

Be sure to keep an eye on clothes that are made of the following material liked by Silverfish:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Leather
  • Rayon

What Are the Signs of Silverfish Damage to Clothes?

By now, you have realized that the clean and dirty clothes in your home may not be safe from Silverfish. If the clothes or fabrics contain the right nutrients they will snack on them but it is important to remember, Silverfish aren’t the only insects that can damage your clothes. So it is important to know the signs of silverfish damage to clothes and fabrics so you can take the appropriate measure.

So, what are the signs of Silverfish damage to clothes and fabrics? The damage that Silverfish will do to these items is easily distinguished from other insects as they will leave a bite or scratch like marking on your clothes that are similar to how an insect will eat a plant leaf.

The Signs of Silverfish Damage to Clothes and Fabrics include:

  • yellow stains on your clothes
  • Silverfish droppings in your drawers and wardrobes
  • Scratch-like markings on clothes or fabrics
  • holes in your clothes
  • dead or alive silverfish near your clothes or in your drawers and wardrobes

Sometimes if you see these telltale signs and don’t see any silverfish you may assume that there is no silverfish around anymore because they haven’t seen silverfish around their clothes

Just because you don’t see them doesn’t mean they are not there. They are good at hiding, although you will eventually see a few if they are hanging around your wardrobes and drawers.

So just be vigilant and know the signs for silverfish damage to clothes and fabrics.

How to Protect Clothes and Fabrics from Silverfish

o help protect your clothes and fabrics from silverfish it is important to take preventative measures. These steps include knowing how to spot a silverfish infestation, maintaining a habitat in your home that reduces the chances of silverfish, and storing your clothing and laundry properly, establishing a regular inspection routine and taking measures to prevent silverfish so you can catch the early signs of damage and an infestation.

Below are four key ways to help you to prevent silverfish from damaging your clothes and fabrics.

1. Know the signs of silverfish and the damage they cause to clothes and fabrics

The number one signs of silverfish damage to your clothes and fabrics are seeing silverfish, whether they are alive or dead, in the place where your clothes and laundry is stored. Another clear sign of silverfish is there bite markings on your clothes but it is important to know that this is similar in pattern to the way clothes moths damage clothes and fabrics.

If you see any of these signs on clothes or fabrics, quarantine them, search and start searching for silverfish or other insects straight away.

As we have already discussed these signs in detail you may want to know other non-clothes related signs of a silverfish infestation. If so check out our complete guide to getting rid of silverfish here.

2. Check Clothes and fabrics before they come into your home

Avoid bringing any second-hand clothes that haven’t been washed before entering your home. If you have to bring them into your home or areas that may be great habitats for silverfish to thrive, inspect them properly to ensure they are not hitching a ride.

This is an important part of preventing silverfish as this is one of the most common ways silverfish have been known to enter homes.

3. Create an environment around clothes and fabrics that deters silverfish

Creating an environment that deters silverfish is a crucial factor in preventing them from coming in or multiplying in numbers in your home. Here are a few key steps to take to do just that:

  • Reduce humidity levels in your home especially in rooms where your clothes are stored
  • Don’t store paper in the same drawer or wardrobes as your clothes. As paper is another good food source for Silverfish.
  • Store any precious or valuable clothes and fabrics in sealed packages or containers to prevent silverfish from gaining access to these items.
  • Reduce potential food sources for silverfish like removing laundry baskets from bathrooms.
  • Clean your house often as this will reduce any food sources for silverfish
  • Keep your house in good order by making sure small insect entry points are sealed like around pipes, windows, doors, and baseboards.

4. Establish a regular inspection program around clothes and fabrics

Establish a regular inspection program of all wardrobes and drawers or anywhere your clothes are kept is good practice not only for preventing the early signs of silverfish infestations but also any signs of clothes moth infestations. Take all items out of your wardrobes, drawers and laundry baskets and make sure you clean these areas.

Check for silverfish in crevices and notches in wardrobes or drawers as these are ideal hiding places for them and their eggs.

Be sure to leave out some silverfish traps around or within these wardrobes and drawers or even where your laundry basket is kept to make sure you can easily check for them once you start your inspection. These traps are great as they can also trap other insects that will destroy your clothes if left unchecked.

If you’re wondering what traps are best to use – Check out our guide to the best silverfish traps here.

How to Get Rid of Silverfish in Clothes and Fabrics

So know you’ve learned how to prevent silverfish infestations around clothes and fabrics as well as spot the signs of silverfish eating your clothes. But that is half the battle with these insects so how can you go about getting rid of them.

To help get rid of silverfish in clothes and fabrics we’ve outlined how you can do just that when you find the signs of them as well as the best ways to get rid of them when you find them in your wardrobes, drawers or laundry basket.

Below are our top tips on how to get rid of silverfish in paper and books:

  • Quarantine and isolate any clothes or fabrics in the same room as the silverfish straight away. It’s best to use plastic tubs with lids or bags that can be sealed to ensure that you can vet all the clothes where silverfish may be.
  • Place any directly infested clothes in a plastic bag so you don’t contaminate any others and put them in your washing machine on a high setting. This will kill off any eggs and silverfish that might still be hidden away. Make sure you read the washing instructions first to make sure you don’t damage your clothes.
  • Dry your clothes and fabrics in direct sunlight until bone dry. Then place in a dry and ventilated container for post-inspection outdoors to ensure there are no silverfish left on your clothes before bringing them into the house.
  • Store your silverfish free clothes in sealed containers while you are ensuring the room that you are bringing the clothes back in to is silverfish free. Once you are sure the room has been protected bring your clothes back in.

Now that you have got rid of all the silverfish and their eggs, it is now time to turn your attention to the location you found them in.

So here’s how our suggestions on how to get rid of silverfish that you may have found in your wardrobe, laundry basket or drawers.

  • Don’t be afraid to use chemical-based control methods to kill off any remaining silverfish or eggs in and around your wardrobe, laundry basket, drawers and rooms you found the silverfish within.This is one of the most effective ways to remove silverfish and silverfish eggs is to use silverfish insecticide sprays. Just make sure you don’t apply them to your documents or books.However, not every insecticide spray is fit for all silverfish eradication purposes, which is why you should no which spray is best for your specific situation. That is why we have created a guide on the best sprays for getting rid of silverfish here.
  • Once you have used an insecticide spray or powder to get rid of any silverfish, place a number of traps in and around the room. Place them in wardrobes and drawers as well as at the bottom of your laundry basket. Be sure to leave some in the corners of the rooms to trap any remaining silverfish and to establish whether you have gotten rid of the silverfish from your DIY extermination methods.
  • If these methods don’t work and you just can’t seem to get a handle on your silverfish infestation you may feel you need professional help from a pest exterminator.If this is the case, be sure to check out our complete guide on how to choose a pest exterminator and make sure you are hiring the right professionals here.

If you’d like to understand how silverfish in a little more detail and how you can make sure they aren’t a problem for you at any point make sure you check out our complete guide here on how to get rid of silverfish in your home for more tips and suggestions.

Related Questions

Do Silverfish Put holes in Clothes? Yes, Silverfish can put holes in your clothes when they find starch or carbohydrates on or in your clothes. They will create holes when they bite your clothes in order to extract the food source from your clothes.

What Kind of Bugs and Insects Eat Clothes? Silverfish are not the only insects and bugs eyeing up your clothes as a food source. Moths and X are other common insects that are known to eat and damage clothes.

Do Silverfish Bite? Silverfish do not bite humans or animals. They may cause rashes or itchy areas on your skin if you come in to contact with them. They have been known to eat smaller Silverfish if they don’t have an abundance of food. 

Check out some of our other articles

What Are Silverfish? Everything you need to know about them

Do Silverfish Eat Paper and Books?

How To Get Rid of Silverfish (The Complete Removal Guide)


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