How to Get Rid of Booklice

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  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-150
What You'll Need
Vacuum with nozzle attachment
Soapy water
Booklice insecticide
Extractor fan (optional)

Booklice aren’t actually lice at all. They are insects belonging to a group known as "psocids," and they don’t eat paper, either. However, these bugs do feast on the mold found in old books and on the glue used in the bindings. In addition, they feed on any food particles found in your kitchen, and they like moist, humid areas. While booklice are fairly harmless, they can be difficult to get rid of. Use the steps below to get started.

Step 1 – Understanding Booklice

There are around 100 different species of booklice in the United States, and they’re all pretty harmless. Hard to spot, these creatures are just 1/16 inch long and enjoy moist places with bacteria. They’re most often found in food items or particularly moist areas of your home. In addition, booklice do not have wings. After identifying that you have booklice, move on to the next step.

Step 2 – Removing Food

Since booklice love moist, humid conditions, these insects live well in a damp, unventilated food cupboard. Once there, their numbers can increase rapidly as they feed either on the mildew or the food itself. If you discover booklice in a food cupboard, dispose of all the infected food. Do not salvage any questionable items, or they could recolonize quickly. In addition, check on any cans or bottles with labels, as these insects can feed on their glue labels.

Step 3 – Cleaning the Cupboards

Once all the infested food is gone, you need to thoroughly clean your kitchen cupboards. Use a vacuum with a nozzle to get into crevices. Then, wash all cupboard surfaces with warm, soapy water and a clean rag.

Rinse well, and allow to dry thoroughly. Keep the cabinet doors open until dry. Make sure all humidifiers are off or not directed toward the cupboard. If your cupboard doesn’t have any ventilation, you should consider installing an extractor fan.

Step 4 – Using Insecticides

If all else fails, revert to using chemical booklice killers. Read the label to ensure your product is intended for booklice and other crawling bugs, and only use it according to the directions. Keep it away from all children and pets, and only use in well-ventilated areas.

Step 5 – Preventing Future Infestations

While most of these pests live in your kitchen, they can thrive in other spots, too. The only way to permanently eradicate them is to discover their breeding area and keep it continuously clean. This area could be an old upholstered chair, an ancient mattress in a spare bedroom, or an antique book collection. It’s best to get rid of these items if they are of little importance to you, but if you can’t handle parting with them, clean them thoroughly and keep them secluded in your house. With smaller items, you can sometimes kill booklice with home methods, like by putting the item in the freezer for a few days.