How to Get Rid of Gnats and Fruit Flies (9 Organic Ways)

best ways to get rid of gnats and fruit flies

Last Updated on December 6, 2021 by Kimberly Crawford

Gnats are winged insects with ¼-inch long bodies that are long and slender. They look like smaller flies but they’re actually already adults at that size. They belong to the weak flier families of Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae, and Sciaridae.

In regards to how to get rid of gnats and fruit flies, here’s what you need to know. You will typically find the non-biting variety of gnat in your home. There are biting varieties too.

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Where Do Gnats Come From?

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Gnats come from the nature around you but are attracted to organic material and moisture. The most common gnat types you’ll come across in your home will be fungus gnats, drain or phorid flies, and fruit flies.

You’ll notice that gnat infestations will increase more in the summer than the winter. That is not a coincidence. They typically enter homes in summertime to mate and find food. Your house is like their romantic restaurant before procreation, in a sense.

If your home has decaying organic material such as rotten fruit or leaves you haven’t swept up then you’ll get gnats scurrying along with them. They’re like insect vultures to such biodegradable garbage. They’re in fact commonly found hanging out in garbage cans, unsurprisingly enough.

They can also infest the areas of your home that are most moist, like your basement with leaky pipes. Or drains and wet sinks as well as wet potting soil. If you don’t clean up food spillage or if you overwater your grass, the gnats will come.

How Do You Stop Gnats From Flying Around You?

In order to stop your gnat infestation, you should hit them at their source. You should get rid of their food sources and make their potential breeding grounds uninhabitable. If your home is the romantic restaurant and hotel for their love-making, you should shut it down to keep them from visiting. Close shop and remove all sources of moisture.

Additionally, the common household gnat can become attracted to your own moisture. The carbon dioxide you exhale, the tears from your eyes, the mucus from your nose, your body heat, and perspiration. All of these are attractive to gnats. They also love sweet-smelling lotions, detergents, hairsprays, and perfumes.

Therefore, to keep gnats from flying all around you, you should bathe a lot. Use talcum powder to keep yourself dry. Don’t use perfume to mask your body odor. Instead, be sanitary and avoid working up too much of a sweat. Observe proper hygiene and avoid getting sick. The common cold can make you spill mucus that gnats love.

9 Home Remedies to Get Rid Of Gnats

Here are the ways you can get rid of gnats from the inside and outside the house as well as the plants in your garden or pots.

1. Take a Closer Look and Carefully Observe The Gnat Species

There isn’t a “one size fits all” solution in getting rid of gnats and fruit flies. You need to know what type of insect you’re dealing with first. These teeny-tiny bugs aren’t the same.

They’re attracted to different things so you can get rid of them in different ways. It depends on what you’re dealing with. You might have to remove infestations of fungus gnats, drain flies, or fruit flies when all is said and done. Or even all three at the same time!

Get up close and personal to see which gnat you’re dealing with. Fungus gnats are black with long legs. Fruit flies have red eyes and brown bodies. Drain or phorid flies have fuzzy, moth-like wings.

You can kill them with pesticide but it’s better to take down their food supply. Figure out which gnat you’re dealing with via context clues too. Fungus gnats love overwatered potted plants. Phorid flies fly around drains. Fruit flies like kitchen filled with ripe fruit.

2. Get Rid of Fungus Gnats by Cleaning Up Potted Plants

The fungus gnat is a small and black type of gnat in terms of appearance. It’s usually found around potted indoor plants. It’s specifically attracted to mold and fungus in the potting liner. It also feeds on decaying leaves. In order to get rid of them, you should clean up your plant’s dead flowers and leaves.

If the root of the plant itself has rotted away then remove and replace the plant itself altogether. This is because it will only end up as food for the fungus gnats. You must also replace the soil, the pot liner, or both if mold or fungus is present. Don’t leave the soil muddy either. Make sure it dries up between every time you water it.

3. Eliminate Fruit Flies by Eliminating Rotting Fruits and Veggies

The fruit fly is a kind of gnat that has red eyes and a small, light-brown body. It’s usually found in kitchens but can also end up in your garden. This is especially true if you’ve planted fruit-bearing trees.

They tend to swarm around fallen and rotting fruit on the ground during hot summers, in fact. It’s attracted to ripe fruits in your kitchen table or rotten fruits and vegetables in your garbage can. Remove liquids from your organic food trash before placing them into bags.

In order to get rid of fruit flies, you need to get rid of the fruit they so love. Cover up your biodegradable trash better. Ditto when it comes to your compost lid.

Dispose all organic food outside the home. Tie your plastic bag full of biodegradable trash really tight. Remove any overripe or rotting fruits and vegetables on your kitchen counter. When you see these gnat flies flying about that means you’re not doing a good job at cleanup.

4. Remove Drain Flies by Removing Moisture Around The House

Phorid or drain flies are gnats that walk in a jerky zigzag motion and have small bodies. They can be colored yellowish, dull brown, or black.

They’re typically found near your garbage can along with the fruit flies as well as sewers and drains. It’s not unusual to see phorid flies flying around with the common housefly, actually. At any rate, they’re specifically attracted to moist, wet, and unsanitary areas.

In order to get rid of them, sanitary home upkeep is a must. Fix your leaky faucets. Remove all sources of moisture and mold. Keep your home, kitchen, and bathroom as clean and dry as possible.

Again, remove all liquids from your biodegradable trash before throwing it out to keep these flies from being attracted by the moist, unsanitary smell. Organic garbage tends to rot faster in liquid anyway. Wipe down the outside of pipes and fill in crevices where moisture can get trapped.

5. Lay Apple Cider Vinegar Traps for the Gnats and Fruit Flies

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Aside from doing preventive measures, you can also go about eliminating the insects with some immediate action. An apple cider vinegar trap will work just fine.

It works in killing all sorts of adult gnats without using harmful chemicals. It works on all gnats, from fruit flies to fungus gnats. Pour vinegar and dishwashing soap into a cup or jar then mix thoroughly. Its smell attracts gnats of all types.

Cover the cup with plastic wrap. Poke holes into the plastic. The gnats will then crawl into the cup to their doom. As the gnats congregate into your trap, they should drown in vinegar with the soap preventing them from flying away.

They’re like moths to a flame, in a sense. After two days, dump the contents into the drain and start anew. Do this over and over until the gnat population has significantly gone down. You can use wine, beer, or ripe fruit instead of vinegar, but these attract ants too.

6. Kill Fungus Gnat Larvae with Peroxide, Sticky Traps, and Steel Wool

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Water you plants with a mix of 1 part of 3% solution hydrogen peroxide mixed with 4 parts of water. This will kill fungus gnat larvae on contact.

After pouring the solution to the soil, expect to see some bubbling. The bubbles indicate that the solution is working in killing those baby gnats. You can also use a combination of steel wool and sticky traps on your potted plants.

Cover your soil with coarse steel wool. This shreds apart any emerging gnat larvae and adult gnats that want to enter the soil for breeding purposes. Use medium coarse steel wool or higher.

Don’t get steel wool sponges because of their big gaps. You can also hang Post-It notes lathered with honey and taped to sticks. They serve as flypaper (or gnat paper) that traps the fungus gnats with their stickiness. This combination of techniques should eliminate all signs of gnat life.

7. Killing Fruit and Drain Fly Larvae with Flypaper and Sanitation

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Find the breeding ground of the fruit flies. Kill the larvae and breeding adults to prevent their population from growing. Because fruit flies live in fruits, dispose those infested fruits in your kitchen and fridge.

Hang up sticky flytraps on your existing exposed fruit to prevent them from becoming infested with fruit flies. Ditto when it comes to your vegetables. Throw out infected ones and protect the uninfected ones.

If there are phorid flies buzzing in your drain then your drain is filthy or clogged. Get a professional to remove any sludge from your drain. There might be blockage as well due to accumulated fats and lard.

This is the reason why you should never pour used cooking oil in your drain for disposal! These drain flies can also breed on the covers outside your pipes. Therefore, clean the outside with soap and water before wiping it up with distilled white vinegar for good measure.

8. Killing The Drain Fly Larvae from Within The Pipes

There are a variety of ways to go about killing drain larvae living beyond the drain or within the pipes themselves. You can pour ¼ cup or 60 milliliters of vegetable oil into your drain. Apply it on the edge of the drain as well to let it cling down the sides of the pipe. Use scotch tape to seal the drain closed. Allow it to remain for 24 hours or a whole day. Remove the tape the next day.

The gnats should end up stuck on the sticky part of the tape. If you don’t catch gnats this way, you can try again but this time leaving a gap of open space.

Sometimes, the drain flies won’t fly up unless they feel air coming from the opening. Do this until there are no more flies. Alternatively, you can use drain declogger to clean your pipes. This acid kills the larvae and melts any clogs or hairs in your drain.

9. Simply Clean Up Your Home and Become More Sanitary

If there are various bugs in your house, chances are you’re not keeping the whole place clean. Instead of depending immediate on a can of bug spray or DEET, you should learn proper home upkeep first.

Cleaning and sanitation is your first line of defense against gnats, drain flies, and fruit flies. Why? You’re sweeping and vacuuming up their food sources. You’re not letting moisture or garbage water remain in your trashcan, inviting fruit and phorid flies to stay.

Stick your produce inside the refrigerator. Eat those countertop bananas and apples before they become overripe or rotten. Put your fruits inside bins if you’re not going to eat them immediately. Also, clean your toilet, drain, or garbage disposal.

Make sure they’re free of gunk, sewage, and sources for bacteria. Use foaming drain cleaner to flush out your pipes. If there are leaks, have the plumber take care of them. Don’t overwater your potted plants either. Remove leaves and flowers that have fallen as well.

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What Is The Best Way to Get Rid of Gnats?

The best way to get rid of gnats is doing a combination of the above mentioned home remedies. They range from preventative to insecticidal. However, more often than not, cleaning up is your best bet. Replace your potting soil, clean up your kitchen so that there is no rotting matter around, and seal your drains and biodegradable garbage cans.

When you leave produce in the open, fruit flies will follow. This is especially true of sweet-smelling fruits. Even if they’re not yet rotten, fruit flies will appear. However, they’ll especially come in swarms for fallen or rotten fruits in your garden. Clean those up and store your fruits in the fridge.

Don’t forget to clean your fruits and vegetables before storage. Some gnats or fruit flies might already have infested them in the grocery. It’s better to be safe than sorry. You have the option of using insecticides on them but more often than not, that’s just overkill. Cleaning up your home is more effective.

Kind of Sprays to Kill Gnats

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Any insecticide is enough to kill gnats. In fact, particularly strong insecticides can kill most any bug within your home. The problem with chemical insecticides is that they’re too deadly and they can kill good insects, like spiders and bees.

When it comes to killing gnats, you need a spray bottle filled with vinegar, baking soda, water, and/or dishwashing soap. Make an environment-friendly spray as gnat pesticide.

You just need a spoonful of vinegar for every cup of water. Afterwards, spray it on these gnats on your plants, drain, or fruit. Just a few sprays will suffice. It can also be a soap solution. You can soak the plant with your soap spray this time around.

Mix a gallon of water with 2 tablespoons of liquid dishwashing soap. Preferably, get the lemon-scented variety. There’s also the alcohol solution. Also mix together rubbing alcohol or wine with water inside the spray bottle. It can be 1½ cups of water with ½ cup vodka. Or mix 1 cup rubbing alcohol with 1 quart or liter of water.

How to Prevent Gnats and Fruit Flies

Observe sanitary habits and hygiene when preparing, storing, and disposing food. Don’t overwater plants. Let the soil dry. If there’s dead material atop the soil, remove them. Dispose of dead flowers, twigs, leaves, and so forth.

Don’t leave your food out either. If you’re not going to eat, place them in your refrigerator. Clean your drinking glasses and dirty dishes ASAP. The leftover food there can attract gnats as well as flies and rats.

Even a hint of sauce, wine, or juice will attract these insects. Mop your floors whenever there are damp spots. Fix your faucets and pipes that leak. Use foam insulator in order to get rid of pipe condensation as well.

Your trash cans should be covered. Take the trash out as often as you can. Don’t let them stay put in your home, especially if they’re rotting food. Stinky dumpsters attract gnats and many other creepy crawlies.

When All Is Said and Done

Even though gnats do pose a disease risk—particularly the black fly and black gnat—the three pests discussed in this article won’t do you harm. Their presence does however serve as alarm bells for the state of sanitation and cleanup in your home. You haven’t done a good enough job at maintaining your home if there are gnats running about.

The two things that attract these three different gnat species to your home are moisture and decaying organic material. By getting rid of these in every way possible, you should be able to lower their populations significantly. Besides which, cleaning out moisture, plant matter, and trash should be part of regular home maintenance anyway.

9 ways to get rid of gnats and fruit flies

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