10 Best Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Fruit Flies

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When it comes to banishing fruit flies, these simple DIY and store-bought methods are quick and painless. Well, for you, anyway!

Stocking your home with fresh produce has a ton of benefits, but the pesky fruit flies that it attracts are not among them. Since fruit flies are drawn to ripened fruits and vegetables, you might find them flying around your kitchen when you’ve left out your items for a little too long. The bad news is that simply shooing them away won’t get rid of them, and you can drive yourself mad chasing them around, trying to squash them mid-air. The good news, however, is that we’ve got the scoop on how to get rid of fruit flies for good. Dealing with other pests, too? Once you’ve got the fruit-fly thing sorted, learn how to get rid of spiders and why you should never kill a house centipede.

Where do fruit flies come from?

Believe it or not, fruit flies are usually brought in by you. Yes, you! If one isn’t lingering on the produce you brought home, then you could have picked up a piece of fruit on which a female has already laid her eggs. Either way, they most likely hitched a ride home in your grocery bag.

Once they’ve snuck into your home, their breeding process begins (if it hasn’t started already). They breed almost as soon as they land, laying eggs underneath the surface of your precious produce. No matter where they breed, you’ll want to act fast. Female fruit flies can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, which can hatch within just 24 hours. Gross!

Pro tip: Think throwing away infested produce is enough to get rid of these pests? Think again. Fruit flies can (and will) continue breeding within trash bags, drains, and garbage disposals. Be sure to throw away rotten produce before your little friends move in for good. Then follow up with these simple ways to keep your home pest-free.

What’s the difference between fruit flies and gnats?

These tiny, flying pests are commonly mistaken for one another, but there are a few differences. For instance, fruit flies have a rounded body that ranges from tan to black and large, red eyes. They feed on ripe fruit and do not have biting mouth parts. Gnats, on the other hand, look like small mosquitoes with their long black bodies and dangling legs. Female gnats feed on blood, so you can expect some pretty itchy bug bites if you have gnats in your home. Gnats, by the way, get into your house via soil, so your new potted plant may be the culprit. If you happen to get bitten, try these home remedies for bug bites that actually work. And if mosquitoes are an issue, stock up on these mosquito repellents.

What’s the fastest way to get rid of fruit flies?

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to get rid of fruit flies. From DIY methods to store-bought options, eliminating these pests can actually be quick and easy. Once you’ve gotten rid of them, keep them away by regularly cleaning your countertops and sink drains, as well as quickly and thoroughly attending to spills. Also, wash your produce as soon as you get home to remove any eggs that may have already been laid. And lastly, either use or throw away any produce that is overly ripe or rotting. Now that you know the best practices moving forward, here’s how to get rid of fruit flies in your home ASAP.

Apple cider vinegar

This method is the easiest since it only requires one ingredient. Pour some apple cider vinegar into a small glass or jar. Then cover the top with plastic wrap and secure it with a rubber band. Using a toothpick, poke a few tiny holes in the plastic wrap, and set it out on the counter. The fruit-based vinegar will attract the fruit flies, and once they’re inside, they won’t be able to get back out.

Apple cider vinegar, dish soap, and hot water

Squirt a little dish soap into a glass. Add apple cider vinegar until the glass is one-third full. Let your tap run until the water is steaming hot, then blast it into the glass so a thick layer of bubbles forms on top. Once again, the flies are attracted to the apple cider vinegar. Meanwhile, the dish soap works to cut the surface tension of the vinegar, causing the fruit flies to fall in and drown.

Rotten fruit

Don’t have any apple cider vinegar handy? Try using the rotten fruit that’s attracting them in the first place. Just put some chopped fruit that’s past its prime in a bowl. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. Using a toothpick, poke a few holes in the plastic. The holes should be large enough for fruit flies to crawl in but small enough to keep them from getting out. Looking for other ways to get rid of rotten fruit? You might want to learn how to compost.

Beer and rotten banana

Put a piece of overly ripe or rotten banana in a jar. Pour in enough beer to partially cover the banana. Grab a cone-shaped coffee filter and poke a small hole in the bottom. Set it on top of the jar, folding the paper over the edges of the jar to hold it in place and trap the fruit flies. Here are more ingenious uses for coffee filters.

Milk, sugar, dish soap, and black pepper

Combine 1/2 cup milk with 2 teaspoons of granulated sugar. Heat it on the stove or in the microwave, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Stir in a squirt of dish soap (this makes the surface of the liquid somewhat sticky so the fruit flies can’t escape) and pour the mixture into a bowl. Sprinkle black pepper over the top. It could be hard to tell the difference between specks of black pepper and potential casualties, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the lack of fruit flies in your home after you try this trick.

Beer or wine

Don’t want that last swig of beer or that last glass of wine? Don’t dump it! Instead, leave the opened bottle on the kitchen counter. The fruit flies will be drawn to the fermented liquid but won’t be able to get out, thanks to the bottle neck. While we’re on the subject, take a look at these other chemical-free ways to get rid of household pests.

Terro Fruit Fly Traps

If you’re not into DIY traps, then try these ready-to-use traps from Terro, which lure in fruit flies with a non-toxic, food-based liquid. Once inside, the flies cannot escape. These traps come in packs of two and last up to 30 days.

Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch Fruit Fly Trap

Another store-bought option, Aunt Fannie’s FlyPunch Fruit Fly Trap uses a unique blend of specialized vinegar and ferment to attract fruit flies. Unlike the DIY methods, there’s no mixing or prep work involved. All you have to do is open the lid, place it on your counter, and let it do its thing. This trap lasts up to 30 days. When the deed is done, simply close the lid and toss it in the trash.

Green Gobbler Fruit Fly Killer

Fruit flies can lay their eggs in your drain pipes. So if you’re dealing with an infestation, you’ll want to treat your pipes in addition to setting traps. Pour one cup of this Green Gobbler citronella-based gel down your drain to instantly kill fruit flies, drain flies, and sewer flies. It is a non-caustic, non-corrosive formula, so it won’t corrode your pipes, drains, garbage disposal, or septic system. With more than 4,400 five-star reviews on Amazon, this product has happy customers raving that it’s “amazing” and “worth every penny.”

Zevo Instant Action Spray

Zevo’s Instant Action aerosol spray will kill fruit flies and gnats on contact. It can be used on indoor surfaces such as kitchen counters or floors, as well as outside. It’s made with plant-based oils and, when used as directed, is safe for use around people and pets. Next, find out how to get rid of ants for good.

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Marisa Hillman
Marisa is a freelance writer and product expert covering product reviews, gift guides, and sales for RD.com. She is a former educator turned professional shopper dedicated to finding the best sales and products on the market. She's contributed to WEtv, Popsugar, The Gourmet Insider and other publications. She lives in New England with her husband, three children, and two dogs.