Do silverfish eat clothes?


Do silverfish eat clothes? That's the pressing question as you find yet another mysterious hole in your favorite shirt. 

I'm Dr. Killigan, here to guide you through the often misunderstood world of silverfish and their impact on your wardrobe. These elusive pests are shrouded in myths, but today, we'll cut through the confusion and unveil the truth. 

Are your clothes at risk, and (if so) how can you protect them? Join me as we explore effective strategies to safeguard your textiles from these secretive creatures.

Silverfish: Unraveling the myth of fabric damage


Following the pressing question of whether silverfish eat clothes, let's delve deeper. Many of you might feel uneasy discovering silverfish near your beloved garments.

However, it's crucial to debunk a common myth: silverfish are not inherently fabric destroyers. "Do silverfish eat clothes?" While it's understandable to worry, the truth is that their primary diet consists not of clothes but of starchy substances.

Here’s what silverfish prefer to eat:

  • Glue in books and wallpaper paste: They are particularly attracted to the starches found in these adhesives.
  • Sugary residues and starches found in pantries: Includes spilled foods, opened packages, and even crumbs.
  • Dead skin cells and hair: These provide minor protein sources when more preferred foods are scarce.
  • Dandruff and other small organic debris: Adds to their varied diet in environments where other foods might be limited.

    Expanding on their dietary preferences:

    • Grains and stored cereals: Silverfish often infest pantries where they access cereals, flour and other stored grains.
    • Pet food: High in proteins and carbohydrates, pet food can be an attractive source of nutrition for silverfish.
    • Natural fibers: While not their first choice, in the absence of preferred foods, they might incidentally nibble on items made from cotton, linen, rayon, leather or silk. 
      Clothing moths commonly cause holes on clothes

      These dietary habits make silverfish opportunistic scavengers rather than dedicated fabric foes. In the rare instances where they turn to natural fibers, the damage is usually minimal, affecting only hidden parts of garments like cuffs, collars or seams.

      Fact: When silverfish might incidentally damage natural fibers, the damage is usually minimal and localized.

      Helpful tip: Holes in clothing are most commonly caused by carpet beetles and clothing moths, or their less common counterparts like cockroaches, crickets or termites (or possibly silverfish). It’s important to correctly identify the pest to apply the most effective prevention and treatment strategies.

      Addressing common concerns

      You might wonder, "If silverfish aren't eating my clothes, what precautions should I still consider to protect my wardrobe?" While it's true that silverfish prefer starchy substances, understanding their environmental preferences helps us prevent any risk, no matter how small. Let’s explore how simple changes in your home can create a hostile environment for silverfish and other potential pests.

      Fortifying your fashion: A shield of strategies

      To defend your wardrobe against any of these potential pests, I offer you these tactics:

      • Food source management: Remove their preferred food sources by sealing cracks and crevices, like those around pipes or behind appliances, and keeping your living spaces free of starchy residues, like crumbs or spills. Remember, a clean space is a pest-free space. 
      • Moisture control: Numerous insects, like silverfish and carpet beetles, thrive in moisture. Maintain dry conditions in your closets and storage spaces with dehumidifiers and proper ventilation. A dry environment deters pests and protects your garments from mold and mildew.
      • Secure garment storage: Store vulnerable garments in airtight containers, like sealed bins or vacuum bags, safeguarding them from intruding insects. Consider Dr. Killigans Cedar Planks as an added layer of natural protection – their aromatic properties repel pesky moths while leaving your clothes smelling fresh.
      • Garment care: Regular washing and proper storage of garments can significantly reduce the risk of infestations. Wash clothes according to their care labels and store them dry and airy to prevent attracting unwanted guests. Remember, a well-maintained wardrobe is a less inviting one. 
      • Use Six Feet Under Non-Toxic Plant-Powered Insect Spray: Six Feet Under kills more than 50 insect species on contact and residually for up to 30 days. Spray it on floors, in entry points and elsewhere around the house to proactively stop pests in their tracks.  Proactive protection ensures your fashion treasures stay safe from creepy crawlies.

        By adopting these measures, you'll transform your wardrobe into a bastion of fabric safety, a veritable fortress against the incursion of many potential intruders.


        Silverfish, nor any other pest for that matter, need not be the bane of your wardrobe. Implement these proven strategies today, from moisture control to targeted treatments like Six Feet Under Plant-Powered Insect Spray. Embrace peace of mind, knowing your cherished garments are safeguarded from fabric foes. Dr. Killigan is here to equip you with the knowledge and tools to reclaim your textile haven. 

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