These DIY tips will rid your home of these pesky pests once and for all.

By Aly Walansky
July 15, 2021
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As I live alone, I have never been one to stock up on items like produce. If I bought too much, it'd go bad before I got to use it. But with tightening budgets and the desire to avoid too many grocery store trips, it has become essential in recent months to buy more at a time.

Buying a bag of onions or apples rather than one here and there undeniably saves in costs, but another problem entirely can arise: Those onions or apples, after they sit out for a while, may start to turn, and they will most certainly let out a siren call for pests like fruit flies.

Who among us hasn't walked into our kitchen and felt our hearts drop as those tiny flies circulate? For better or worse, fruit flies can happen to all of us — even those fastidious about using produce quickly in order to avoid the pests.

If and when your home is invaded, it's time to act to get rid of the fruit flies. Quick action at the first sight of fruit flies can curb the problem before an infestation gets out of control. We asked experts to share how to get rid of fruit flies, and we're revealing their DIY tips below.

Fresh fruit in red bowl
Credit: Nancy Rose/Getty Images

1. Identify the Fly

Part of the problem with fruit flies is that they look a lot like other types of flies, and how you get rid of each does depend on what they are.

"It's important to confirm whether or not you are in fact dealing with fruit flies, because treatment for getting rid of them differs from something like fungus gnats or drain flies," says Wesley Wheeler, owner of Bug Lord.

So how do you tell the difference? Drain flies look like tiny black moths and can often be confused with fruit flies because both lay eggs in drains. "They have fluffy dark wings that are round and held flat on top of the body, and their antennae are fluffy and feathery like moth antennae," Wheeler says. In fact, another name for drain flies is moth flies.

"Fungus gnats are roughly one-eighth inch in size and have a similar resemblance to mosquitoes — just smaller," Wheeler says.  They have long legs and a lackluster flying ability, so you may see them stumbling around and spending more time scurrying along house plants and windows. Fruit flies on the other hand, Wheeler adds, are very quick and elusive, and are usually found in kitchens where there is ripening fruit and garbage. They can quickly be identified by their characteristically large red eyes.

Close up of a fruit fly.
Credit: Getty Images

2. Use Deterring Scents 

Fruit flies hate several rather nice smelling natural scents, including peppermint, lavender, eucalyptus, lemongrass, and clove. "You can hang dried herbs in paper tea bags or muslin sacks around the house, or add essential oils of these plants into a diffuser," says Nicholas Martin, founder and editor-in-chief of Pest Control Hacks. A fun added bonus is that your home will smell really pleasant after doing this.

3. Change Dishcloths and Sponges Regularly 

Sponges may be essential kitchen items for keeping things clean and tidy, but the reality is they are magnets for food leftovers. "They are accumulated inside even if you don't see them," Martin says. And you know what? Fruit flies breed on them. Replace these items weekly to prevent that. 

4. Keep the Kitchen Clean 

That means taking care of crumbs, tiny cooking leftovers, dust, stains, dishes. "All these are highly attractive to fruit flies and many other insects, so keeping your kitchen sparkling clean is an essential step," Martin says.

5. Toss the Rot

If those bananas or onions are starting to look iffy, it's time to toss them before they become a breeding ground for pests. "Promptly discard any rotting food, as this is where fruit flies lay eggs — which can be up to 500 at a time," Wheeler says. That means you should also immediately take that garbage that's filled with rotting fruits and veggies outside and tie it up, too, instead of simply tossing it in your kitchen trash can. 

6. Cover Fruit Bowls 

Fruit flies are extremely sensitive and can sense when there's fruit and vegetables they can get to. They can even do this from afar, according to Martin. That's why covering them with a cake dome, cloth, or plastic wrap is a good plan.

7. Use a Fruit/Vegetable Wash 

Believe it or not, fruit flies can travel to your home right on the produce you get from the store. "Leaving unwashed produce on the counter, you just let the flies feast and breed nonstop," Martin says. To prevent that, you can simply wash new produce with a vegetable wash and water before putting them in their bowl or containers for sage keeping.

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8. Set Up Traps

A fruit fly trap can get the problem under control pretty quickly. Many store-bought traps perform really well, says Wheeler, pointing to the Terro Fruit Fly Traps specifically. It's simply a sweet liquid that attracts the flies into a container from which they are unable to escape. 

You can also make your own fruit fly trap though. It's not difficult to make your own fruit fly trap, and it can be a little cheaper and more satisfying than buying a commercial trap.

"The best way to make your very own fruit fly trap is to use a small jar like a mason jar, and put about a cup of apple cider vinegar into it," Wheeler says. Then add a few drops of dish soap. That is all there is to it.

"You can also add a funnel to the top of the jar which makes it easy for flies to enter, but very difficult to leave before touching the liquid," Wheeler says.

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9. Clean Your Drains

Brace yourselves: Ultimately, there's no way of knowing how many fruit flies and eggs are inside your drains. Flushing out those drains can get things under control.

To do this, just use a commercially available fruit fly drain cleaner. Treat it like Draino, and pour it right down the sink, following the directions on the packaging.

"Green Gobbler is one example of a gel-based drain cleaner for fruit flies. It's created from natural citronella oil, so it won't hurt you or your pipes, but it will kill the flies hiding there," Wheeler says.

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