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Natural Ways to Get Rid of Flies and Gnats

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Flies and gnats are great at invading your home and setting up camp. Even toxic chemicals don’t always do the trick – and you may not want them in your house anyway.

Fortunately, there are a number of non-toxic, effective ways to get rid of these little pests. Read on to learn how to get rid of flies and gnats.

Fly swatters with text overlay - How to Get Rid of Flies & Gnats


The first thing to do is make your home less inviting to flies so you’re attracting them the least you can to begin with.

  • Throw out or compost fruit (this includes tomatoes) the instant you see signs of rot. Flies love rotting fruit.
  • Keep counter top fruits under a food tent or similar covering that keeps flies out but still lets the fruit be exposed to air. (Most fruits should be kept in the fridge, and that should keep the flies away from them.)
  • Make sure all drains are clean and de-clogged, particularly at the garbage disposal. Rotting drain sludge and chopped food particles are just their thing. If your garbage disposal is putting out any odor, that could attract flies. Here’s how to clean a smelly garbage disposal.
  • Make sure all food garbage is going into a covered trash can or garbage disposal, not just an open waste basket. Sweet foods in particular – anything involving sugar – will attract flies. This includes the cans or bottles left over from sweetened sodas, too.
  • Check your window and door screens. Even a tiny hole in a window screen, or a tiny gap around the edges, will let flies in. Screens are your best weapons for keeping them out, so make sure those are in good shape.
  • Clean up spills immediately. Crumbs attract flies, as does sticky sweet soda slowly soaking into a carpet or floorboards. (Ants love it, too.)

Simple, non-toxic fly traps

The above steps should help reduce how many flies get into your home. Now we move onto setting traps to catch the ones you’ve already got.

The Vinegar Trap

  • Pour about one inch of apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar into a glass jar or dish.
  • Add a couple of drops of dish washing liquid in and stir it to dissolve.
  • Put the glass in an area that attracts flies and leave it overnight. Flies will be attracted to the vinegar and climb in, only to get caught by the dish washing liquid.

The Beer Trap

Very similar to the vinegar trap:

  • Pour one to two inches of beer into a jar.
  • Cover it with a lid or cellophane.
  • Punch holes in the lid or cellophane.

Flies squeeze in to get at the beer, but can’t get back out.

Troubleshooting your fly traps

If neither of these methods are working, it might be that you’re not putting them in the right area. When you don’t have an obvious trouble spot for flies, it can take some experimenting to figure out where they like to go at night. Of course, it’s also possible you live in an area where there are lots of flies and it’s really hard to control, in which case…

Store bought solutions

Fly traps you buy at the store work pretty much the same way as the DIY versions above, so there’s no reason to think they’ll work if the above methods didn’t. Fly paper is messy, in addition to not working very well. But there are some options other than traditional “traps.”

Your best bet is a bug zapper. There are so many versions of these: some are designed to be hung on a porch and attract buts, some are like tennis rackets you can swat at flies with, some are more like nightlights for indoor use. They’re very effective and relatively safe for kids and pets, but they do emit a small electric shock, so make sure you keep kids and especially really small pets away from them.

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