If you see small flies in your kitchen or around your indoor plants, they’re probably fruit flies or gnats.
Fruit flies and gnats are small fly species, with many similarities as well as unique traits. Fruit flies are mostly attracted to vegetables and fruits. Gnats are generally seen near moist soil or your compost pile. Fungus gnats can be found near indoor plants.
These small flies are common during the summer season in homes, restaurants, markets and anywhere that food is allowed to rot and ferment.
Fruit flies can shorten the life of your expensive, organic fruits and vegetables, while gnat infestation can damage both ornamental and edible plants.
An outbreak of fruit flies or gnats can be very annoying to deal with. Many people use toxic insecticides, but they can be harmful to your health. Instead, try some natural remedies to get rid of them.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of fruit flies and gnats fast.
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
A popular and effective home remedy to get rid of fruit flies as well as gnats is apple cider vinegar. They are attracted to its smell and quickly get trapped in it.
- Pour apple cider vinegar into a Mason jar or similar container. To release more of its smell, you can heat the apple cider vinegar and then use it.
- Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and stir it well. It will help kill the flies.
- Cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap.
- Poke the plastic with a fork or toothpick to make holes for the flies to enter the jar.
- Place the jar where the gnats or fruit flies are swarming.
- When the jar fills up with dead flies, dump the contents, wash and refill it.
If you do not have apple cider vinegar, simply use white vinegar.
2. Red Wine
As fruit flies love the smell of red wine, you can use it to trap them. Red wine will surely get the flies intoxicated!
- Mix ½ cup of red wine and 1½ cups of water.
- Pour the solution into a small container.
- Wrap the top of the container tightly with plastic, then punch a few holes in it.
- Put the container where you see the most flies.
- The flies or gnats will be drawn to the smell and they’ll drown in the mixture as soon as they make contact.
- When the jar fills up with dead flies, dump the contents and clean the container with warm soapy water.
You can even leave a little bit of red wine in its original bottle and let it sit out.
3. Rotten or Overripe Fruit
Just like apple cider vinegar and red wine traps, you can use rotten or overripe fruit to make a fruit fly trap.
- Put several pieces of very ripe or rotting fruit in the bottom of a glass jar.
- Cover the mouth of the jar with plastic wrap and poke holes in it with a toothpick or fork.
- Place the jar where you see the most flies.
- After a few hours, you’ll see the jar is filled with flies. Submerge it in a bucket of warm soapy water for about 10 minutes so that the flies cannot fly back.
- Repeat as needed.
4. Lemongrass Essential Oil
You can use the strong-smelling lemongrass essential oil to keep both gnats and fruit flies at bay. This is intended to be used as a preventive measure, since the oil itself will not kill flies that are already present.
- Pour 2 cups of hot water in a clean spray bottle.
- Add 10 to 15 drops of lemongrass essential oil in it.
- Spray this solution around your kitchen counters, near your indoor plants and other places where you have noticed these flies the most.
This homemade spray also works to deter spiders and ants.
5. Lemon-Scented Liquid Dish Soap
A lemon-scented, soapy solution is another good option to keep your indoor plants free from gnats. The gnats will be attracted to the lemony smell and the soap will kill them.
- Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon-scented liquid dish soap in 4 cups of water.
- Transfer the solution to a spray bottle.
- Spray this soapy solution on the infested plant to kill the gnats.
- Finally, mist the leaves and stem of the plant with clean water to get rid of the soapy solution.
6. Milk, Sugar and Pepper
Another tried and tested homemade trap for fruits flies can be made with milk, sugar and pepper. The fruit flies will be attracted to the mixture and drown in it.
- In a saucepan, combine 2 cups of milk, 4 tablespoons of ground pepper and 8 tablespoons of raw sugar.
- Simmer the solution on low heat for 10 minutes.
- Pour the mixture into a shallow dish and place it where you see the most flies.
- When the dish is full of flies, dump out the contents and wash it.
- Repeat as needed.
To save gnat-infested houseplants, you can also use honey. The sweet smell will attract the gnats onto your trap, and its sticky texture will prevent them from escaping.
- Attach a toothpick to one side of a bright-colored index card.
- Smear the other side of the card with a thin layer of honey.
- Put the card into the soil of your infested houseplant.
- Throw away the card once it fills up with dead gnats and replace it with a new one.
8. Vegetable Oil
You can use vegetable oil to trap and kill gnats that you see coming from the drain in your kitchen sink.
- Pour about ¼ cup of vegetable oil into your drain, and rub some oil around the edge of the drain.
- Use tape to close the holes of the drain.
- Leave it overnight.
- Remove the tape the next morning. You will notice gnats stuck on it.
- Repeat for a few more days.
If you are dealing with gnats around your kitchen or bathroom sink, bleach is a good option to try. However, if the gnats are breeding deep within the drainage system, bleach will not solve your problem.
- Remove everything from the sink.
- Put a cup of bleach in the sink.
- Wear eye and mouth protection and run very hot water.
- Allow the bleach to drain.
Note: Do not mix bleach with ammonia, as its toxic vapors can be harmful to your health.
10. Keep Your Kitchen Clean
To prevent fruit flies and gnats from entering your house, keep your kitchen clean.
- Avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink, especially at night.
- Keep any trash cans properly covered.
- Do not keep bags of trash in the house overnight.
- Wipe down the lid and surfaces of garbage containers with a disinfectant solution.
- Keep your kitchen counter and dining area clean. Clean up food spills right away.
- Do not allow moisture to accumulate on kitchen counters or other surfaces.
- Keep food containers tightly sealed.
- Clean newly purchased fruits and vegetables as soon as you get home. Keep them in the refrigerator.
- Tightly close your bread bags and put cookies into a sealed cookie jar.
- Discard stale water standing in your indoor plants or pots.
- Toss old flowers and greenery from your vases.
- Keep your kitchen sink’s drain clean to prevent food morsels from accumulating in it.
- Seal all cracks in doors and windows.
- If needed, buy a gnat trap to get rid of fruit flies and gnats.
- If fruit flies and gnats have infested a large area, outside or inside, then fogging is the most practical option.
- Don’t over-water houseplants, as the moist atmosphere will attract more gnats.
- As gnats love moist places for breeding, keep damp corners in the kitchen and other areas of the house clean and dry.
- Put nets, curtains or screens on the windows and doors.