15 DIY Solutions To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies Invading Your Kitchen

Photo: Anatoliy Karlyuk, Arif_Vector / Shutterstock
woman and fruit flies

During the warmer months, fruit flies can be a real pest.

It starts out fairly innocent. You spot a great deal on a big sack of onions at the local grocery market and stock up. A few days later, you start to see a tiny fly here and there around where the onions are stored.

Soon, they multiply. Suddenly, they are everywhere. What can you do? While you can continue to swat them away, a better solution is learning how to get rid of fruit flies, once and for all.

What causes fruit flies?

The main thing that causes fruit flies is a moist film of fermenting material. it could be anything from ripened fruit and veggies to drains, garbage disposals, and even empty bottles.

The flies are attracted to the damp areas where they often lay their eggs, which can cause an infestation in a matter of days. So whenever possible, get rid of anything that could be a source for these pests.

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Fruit Flies vs. Other Pests

First, it's important to confirm whether or not you're dealing with fruit flies, because treatment for getting rid of them differs from something like fungus gnats or drain flies.

Drain flies have fluffy dark wings that are round and held flat on top of the body. Their antennae are fluffy and feathery, like moth antennae.

“Drain flies look like tiny black moths and can often be confused with fruit flies because both lay eggs in drains,” advises Wesley Wheeler, owner of Bug Lord, a DIY pest control website. "In fact, another name for drain flies is moth flies.”

Fungus gnats, on the other hand, are roughly 1/8" in size, and have a similar resemblance to mosquitoes (just smaller). Adds Wheeler, “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.”

And then, there are fruit flies, which Wheeler describes as “very quick and elusive, and are usually found in kitchens where there is ripening fruit and garbage.” They can also quickly be identified by their characteristically large red eyes.

How To Get Rid Of Fruit Flies

You can use household items for many of these methods. And then, you'll no longer have to worry about those pests flying around your food.

Of course, the overall best way to keep fruit flies away is to keep the area clean. And while it doesn't hurt to set up some precautionary measures, sometimes all you need is a simple fix to remove these pesky bugs.

1. Throw out any and all rotting food.

Promptly discard any rotting food, as this is where fruit flies lay eggs (which can be up to 500 at a time). “Be sure to take the garbage outside and tie it up, too, instead of simply tossing it in your kitchen trash can,” warns Wheeler.

Since fruit flies hate clean areas, observe cleanliness and throw away any infested ripe fruit or vegetables that are sitting out in your kitchen.

2. Practice proper food storage.

Try not to leave fruit or veggies out in the open. A fruit bowl on the counter is aesthetically pleasing, but it's also an open invitation for a breeding ground of fruit flies.

Cover your food whenever possible. Store your fruits and veggies in tight-lid containers so your food can stay as fresh as possible without attracting pests. Also, store food in containers when you place them in the fridge; this will also help with cross-contamination.

3. Take out the garbage regularly.

Another pretty obvious way to get rid of your fruit fly problem is to make sure your trash never gets too bad or overstays its welcome in your home. Take the trash out every other day if you can; this will help stop the attraction of fruit flies.

If every other day doesn't work, at least do it once a week. You don't want your garbage to start fermenting in your home. it can really leave a smell.

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4. Clean the sink drain.

In addition to setting traps, you can also use a commercially available fruit fly drain cleaner.

“Just 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 suggests.

5. Wash your produce.

Grocery stores are a prime breeding ground for fruit flies. So once you get home from the store, be sure to wash any produce you purchased. This will wash away all the likely eggs that have been laid before they hatch in your home.

It's also good practice to wash your fruits and veggies before you eat them to get rid of any germs or bacteria they have collected within the store.

6. Deep clean your kitchen/living spaces.

If you have any type of bug, a deep clean is always a good idea. Doing this will make your home squeaky clean; that way, nothing would be attracting the fruit flies or allowing them to breed in your home.

Deep cleaning will get rid of germs, bacteria, and anything that may have spilled.

7. Set up traps around the area.

If you've noticed far too many fruit flies, you can also opt for store-bought traps. These traps work by attracting the flies into a container using a sweet liquid, from which they are then unable to escape.

8. Take precautions beforehand.

Ultimately, it’s easier to stop a fruit fly attack than fix it. To prevent fruit flies to begin with, get rid of overripe produce, take out the trash regularly, don’t leave food out during the day, and wash your produce as soon as you bring it home.

“You’re going to want to make sure there’s nothing lying around that’s attractive to fruit flies,” adds Beth McCallum of Oh So Spotless.

In addition to precautions, you can also set up DIY traps to get rid of fruit flies. So, if fruit flies do start to move into your home or even begin infesting your kitchen, there are a few things you can do.

9. Bust out an old beer.

Leave a bottle of old wine or beer out near where the fruit flies were spotted.

“They’ll be lured in by the stale beverage, but the narrow neck of the bottle acts as a natural barrier to keep them trapped,” suggests Tal Shelef, co-founder of Condo Wizard.

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10. Use dish soap.

Fill up a few jars or glasses with apple cider vinegar so they’re about halfway full. “Add in a drop of liquid dish soap to each jar and mix together,” says McCallum.

The flies will be attracted to the sweet scent of the vinegar, but the layer of sticky dish soap will prevent them from getting out of the liquid. As an extra measure, cover the glasses with plastic wrap and punch 10 holes into the top with a toothpick.

Adds McCallum, “Make sure the holes are big enough for the fruit flies to get through. They’ll either struggle to get back out, or they will drown in the liquid mix.”

11. Make a trap using apple cider vinegar and plastic wrap.

Apple cider vinegar combines two things fruit flies love: apples and vinegar. Fill a bowl up with both ingredients and wrap plastic wrap around the top, sealing the edges with a rubber band.

Poke some holes in the top and wait for the suckers to creep in. Once the flies go into the bowl, they won't be able to find a way out.

12. Use white vinegar to attract fruit flies.

While vinegar is a well-loved ingredient in recipes ranging from salad dressings to marinades and desserts. But it's also a staple item for household chores.

“If you find fruit flies in your home, put one cup of vinegar in a glass and cover it with plastic wrap,” advises Ron Shimek, president of Mr. Appliance. Poke some holes in the top, and gnats and fruit flies will find themselves trapped in the glass.

13. Make a trap using a paper cone, vinegar, and old fruit.

For this trap, you'll need vinegar, a piece of paper, some old fruit, and a jar.

In the bottle, you'll want to pour a little vinegar and the old fruit inside of the jar. Using old fruit can lure those pesky fruit flies into your trap. Then, roll the piece of paper into a cone and stick it into the jar, placing the narrow opening down.

14. Put orange slices in water.

If you don't have vinegar, you can place orange slices in water instead.

According to Stephanie Mantilla, founder of Plant Prosperous, “Instead of leaving the jar top open, place plastic wrap over the top with some holes cut into it.” Fruit flies will be able to crawl into the jar, but are unlikely to fly back out again.

15. If all else fails, use a fly swatter.

“I cured my severe fruit fly infestation, thanks to the cleverness of my 8-year-old granddaughter who asked if she could kill some with my electrified fly swatter racket!” says Christine Traxler, MD. It's a brilliant idea because fruit flies don't have the natural tendency to avoid this kind of device.

“Within minutes, dozens were killed with a loud snap when they struck the racket. It was a good sport for about a week, and now I have no more (after having a kitchen with hundreds of them in it). It works and it's also very fun to do,” Traxler concludes.

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Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.