Got holes in clothes? Well, silverfish are often the hidden cause behind this aggravating damage. This article explores why these insects are drawn to your fabrics and provide focused solutions to keep your wardrobe intact.

Key Takeaways

  • Silverfish that get in your house can seriously damage clothing by feeding on natural fibers and materials rich in starch, sugar, and protein, including those stained with food and body oils.
  • Effective prevention against silverfish includes thoroughly cleaning garments before storage, using secure materials for storage that silverfish cannot penetrate, and maintaining a clean, dry, and well-ventilated environment.
  • To control and eliminate silverfish from infested clothing and your home, wash or freeze affected items, utilize dehumidifiers, seal entry points, employ natural deterrents or insecticides, and consider professional pest control services for severe cases.

Silverfish: The Fabric Destroyers

Silverfish - The Fabric Destroyers

Silverfish may sound like something out of a fairy tale, but these tiny wingless insects are a real-life concern for anyone with a closet full of clothes.

Silverfish thrive in the humid nooks of our homes, such as attics and bathrooms, and can grow up to ½ inches long with their distinctive light grey and blue coloration. Although these fabric pests are relatively small, their ability to damage clothing is significant. Their gnawing habits often leave textiles with a distinctively shaved appearance, and they’re not the only culprits.

Other bugs that eat clothes and can pose a threat to our wardrobes are:

  • Clothes moths
  • Carpet beetle larvae
  • Clothes moth larvae
  • Adult clothes moths
  • Adult carpet beetles
  • Case bearing clothes moth
  • Webbing clothes moth
  • Adult moths

In fact, clothes moth larvae prefer to feed on natural fibers, making them a particularly troublesome pest for those with a penchant for wool and silk garments, including the clothes moth.

Why Silverfish Eat Clothes

The reason silverfish are drawn to our clothing is not out of a penchant for fashion but rather for the banquet of starch, sugar, and protein-rich materials in the fabric. Garments starched or bearing the marks of food and beverage spills are akin to a silverfish feast, making them eager to eat clothes and create holes.

The combination of natural fibers like linen, cotton, viscose, rayon, and silk, with the organic residues left from our daily lives, such as sweat, spills, and body soil, creates the perfect storm of sustenance for these fabric-eating bugs.

Susceptible Fabrics

While silverfish have a taste for a wide array of materials, they show a particular fondness for natural fibers. Cotton, linen, silk, and wool are their preferred choices, as these materials are rich in the nutrients silverfish crave. Even synthetic fibers aren’t safe when blended with natural ones, making various everyday garments susceptible to their relentless nibbling. Some examples include:

  • Cotton shirts
  • Silk blouses
  • Wool sweaters
  • Linen pants
  • Leather accessories

At the end of the day, the most at-risk fabrics include a broad spectrum encompassing everything from woolen sweaters to fur coats and even certain synthetic blends.

Signs of Silverfish Infestation in Clothing

Signs of Silverfish Infestation in Clothing

Detecting a silverfish infestation in your house early can save your wardrobe from ruin. Look out for irregular fabric holes – a telltale sign of silverfish activity. Small yellow stains on clothing are indicative of their presence, a byproduct of their digestion process. And, of course, encountering live or dead silverfish in your closet seals the deal; an active infestation is at hand.

Do silverfish cause holes in clothes?

Yes, silverfish can cause holes in clothes by gnawing at the surface of textiles, leaving them with a shaved appearance and other signs of damaged fabrics.

Why do I have silverfish in my laundry room?

Silverfish are attracted to warm, damp environments like laundry rooms due to the high humidity levels they need to survive. Additionally, they are drawn to such areas because of the endless food supply and wet conditions they provide.

How do I get rid of bugs eating my clothes?

To get rid of bugs eating your clothes, wash and dry them on the highest heat possible to remove the bugs, and freeze the infested items in sealed plastic bags for a few days to kill bugs and their eggs. After freezing, allow the items to thaw at room temperature and clean them according to the fabric's specific recommendations.

What fabrics are most susceptible to silverfish damage?

Natural fibers like cotton, linen, silk, and wool are most susceptible to silverfish damage, especially when blended with synthetic materials. Be cautious with these fabrics in areas prone to silverfish infestations.

Can silverfish damage artificial or synthetic fibers?

Yes, silverfish can damage artificial or synthetic fibers when blended with natural fibers that silverfish are attracted to. Be cautious when storing these types of fabrics together.

Preventing Silverfish from Damaging Your Clothes

Preventing Silverfish from Damaging Your Clothes


The adage ‘prevention is better than cure’ holds regarding safeguarding your clothing from silverfish. Washing clothes thoroughly before storage is crucial; it eliminates the tempting traces of body oils, sweat, and food residues that silverfish find irresistible. For storage, opt for materials that silverfish can’t penetrate, like nylon-wrapped containers or fabric pouches with secure closures.

Some tips to prevent silverfish infestation in your wardrobe include:

  • Wrapping storage boxes in nylon netting to prevent bugs from gaining access
  • Using natural repellents such as cedar and lavender to keep your wardrobe smelling fresh while deterring silverfish
  • Regularly maintaining a clean, dry, and well-ventilated wardrobe

Following these tips, you can keep silverfish at bay and protect your clothes from having holes damages.

How to Treat Silverfish-Infested Clothing

In the unfortunate event that silverfish have already made a meal of your garments, all is not lost. Here’s what you can do:

  1. To prevent further spread, begin by isolating the affected clothing in a plastic bag.
  2. Washing these items in hot water will kill any lurking silverfish eggs and larvae, provided the fabric can handle the heat.
  3. For more delicate fabrics that may shrink or damage in hot water, freezing them for 72 hours can be just as effective.

Subsequently, a thorough wash with a suitable detergent will help to eliminate any residue from the infestation, including food stains.

Silverfish Control Strategies for Your Home

Humidifier as Silverfish Control Strategies for Your Home

While protecting individual clothing items is important, controlling the silverfish population in your home is paramount. Here are some steps you can take to keep silverfish in check:

  1. Use dehumidifiers and maintain adequate ventilation to create a dry environment, as silverfish thrive in damp conditions.
  2. Seal entry points like gaps and cracks to prevent silverfish from accessing your living spaces.
  3. Use natural deterrents like cedar chips or lavender sachets to repel silverfish.
  4. Consider using safe insecticides specifically designed to target silverfish.
  5. Commercial insecticides with residual effects might be necessary if you’re dealing with a stubborn infestation.

By following these steps, you can effectively control the silverfish population in your home and protect your clothing.

Decluttering, regular cleaning, and proper storage of pantry and paper goods will further help to minimize silverfish habitats and food sources. Additionally, keeping the home exterior free of debris will discourage silverfish from nesting close to your house.

Additional Tips for Protecting Your Wardrobe

Remember that vigilance is key as you arm yourself with the knowledge and strategies to protect your wardrobe from silverfish. Regular inspections of your wardrobe and storage areas can catch problems early, and good cleaning habits will reduce the allure of your clothes to these pests.

Also, managing humidity levels in your home, notably where clothes are stored, can significantly diminish the likelihood of a silverfish invasion.

Professional Assistance for Silverfish Infestations

Pest control expert for silverfish infestations

Sometimes, despite our best efforts, a silverfish infestation can persist or become too severe to handle alone. When home remedies fall short, it’s time to call in the professionals. Pest control experts, like A.N.T. Pest Control of New Lenox, offer eco-friendly solutions that can provide more comprehensive treatments and silverfish control solutions. For instance, A.N.T. Pest Control targets not only the pests but also their breeding grounds and potential entry points with a detailed treatment plan designed for safety and effectiveness.

Look for services that offer guarantees and conduct routine inspections to ensure your home remains free of silverfish and future infestations. Contact A.N.T. Pest Control to help you get rid of your silverfish pest problems.

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New Lenox, IL 60451


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