How To Kill Fruit Flies (and prevent them, too)

How to kill fruit flies from
It’s one thing to know how to kill fruit flies quickly, but what’s even more important is knowing how to prevent fruit flies from infesting your house in the first place. Today, I’m going to tell you how to do both…naturally.

If you’ve ever had fruit flies in your kitchen, you know they breed at unbelievable speed. There’s a myth that they live and die in the span of 24 hours, but actually the life cycle of a fruit fly can be over two weeks, and some species live several months. During that time, each female can lay over 100 eggs per day!

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Imagine if you have a suitable breeding ground for four females in your kitchen. At 100 eggs per day after they’re old enough to breed — usually when they’re three days old — you’re looking at thousands of fruit flies in your home!

Kill Fruit Flies Because They’re Gross

Fruit flies don’t just eat your food, they also carry disease. If you have a cat litter box in your home, you’ve probably seen a few flitting about when you’ve gone to scoop kitty’s business (though a covered cat litter box does help). You’ll find them near bathroom and kitchen drains, too, as well as around toilets and other sources of water.

Now, guess where they’re headed next? To their favorite breeding grounds: your food! In addition to all of the places just mentioned, females also love to burrow into your fruit, vegetables or any other food left on the counter. Once cozy, they get to laying their eggs. And guess where those eggs are going to end up? That’s right: if you’re not careful, you’ll eat them.

If that sounds unappealing to you (and it certainly sounds disgusting to me!) then you need to take action the instant you spy a fruit fly flitting around your house.

How To Kill Fruit Flies With A Trap

One of the easier ways to kill fruit flies is to bait them into a bowl filled with liquid. I’ve used several different kind of these traps. Here are the three I’ve found most successful:

Fruit flies can lay 100+ eggs per day. Guess where they like to lay them most? Your food!

1. A shallow bowl of apple cider vinegar left near their favorite breeding grounds attracts fruit flies with its scent. Cover it with a piece of plastic wrap (or a lid) that you’ve poked several holes in. The flies will go in but they won’t come back out. Change at least once a day.

2. A bottle with a paper funnel will entice them to fly in, but they won’t figure out how to get out. A beer or wine bottle works particularly well for this since fruit flies are particularly attracted to those scents. Make the funnel from a piece of paper rolled into a funnel and insert its narrow end into the bottle. Make the narrow end small enough that flies can get in but not big enough for them to get out. Tape it in place if needed. Change daily.

3. A bowl of water with a couple drops of liquid soap left under a light at night (the light over your stove is perfect for this) will attract both fruit flies and mosquitoes that have found their way into your home. The things will aim toward the light, because it attracts them, but the soap will create a surface tension that prevents them from flying away. Change every morning.

How To Kill Fruit Flies In Drains

Some fruit flies make their home in areas where it’s just not practical to place a trap. Examples include shower drains, bathroom sink drains, toilets, etc. To get rid of fruit flies in these areas, pour boiling water (or boiling white vinegar) down drains and toilets. Also, make sure your drains are clear of hair and other debris that create ideal breeding grounds for these pests. (See How To Clean Stinky Drains for more tips.)

How To Prevent Fruit Flies

1. Keep counters clean. Fruit flies don’t just like to eat fruit. They’ll feast on spilled food, crumbs, spilled juice… just about anything. Wipe your counters at least once a day with a microfiber cloth and all purpose spray so they don’t turn into a snack bar for the pests.

With new eggs hatching daily, you’ll need to keep the traps going and your prevention measures in place for 2-3 weeks.

2. Wash bananas and melons. Fruit flies piggyback their way into our homes on these two fruits more than any other, so wash them in my homemade fruit and vegetable wash as soon as you get back from the store to get rid of flies and their eggs. (If you’ve ever seen a banana spider, you’ve probably been doing this already. Ew!)

3. Cover your fruit bowl. Like most moms, I leave a bowl of fruit on the kitchen counter to keep healthy snacks within reach for my family. If left uncovered, that fruit bowl becomes a “single’s bar” for fruit flies. Now I put it on the platter part of my cake dome and put the cover on. Since it’s clear, we can still see the healthy snack options but the flies can’t feast on them.

4. Control things that smell bad. No, I don’t mean your teenage son’s feet (though if you figure out how to get those to stop smelling bad, please share your tip!) I mean the other sources of odor in your home: drains, garbage cans, pet bedding, litter boxes and more. (See How To Deodorize Your Home Naturally.)

Repeat, repeat, repeat.

Now, remember how I mentioned that female fruit flies lay over 100 eggs per day? With new eggs hatching every day, you’ll need to be diligent for at least a couple of weeks about killing fruit flies with traps. Most importantly, if don’t let up on your efforts to prevent them and you’ll eventually get the infestation under control.

Equipment You May Need:


  1. Zadi Ankit says

    We had a lot of fruit fly problem at home and I use apple cider vinegar…works like a charm.
    Thanks for the tips :)

  2. matt brafford says

    Good tips, also use the two ( apple cider vinegar and dish soap) at the same time. This attacks and breaks surface tension.
    Another issue if you live in the Southern portion of the United States is “no see em’s or Punkies. These are super small black, or brown or grey files, that bite, and can get through almost any screen, and will go through any home screen.
    They love water, shade and wet damp soil. Like Fruit Flies they lay 100’s of eggs a day, and are super hard to get rid of.
    Here are some tips for your readers.
    1. Like the above Fruit Fly traps do the same. Use the stove light, Apple Cider Vinegar and one drop of soap, in a bowl. But add fruit to it, (old berries work great) and give it about 3 days, and leave about half the fruit exposed out of the Apple Cider in the bowl.
    IMPORTANT: Use plastic wrap or paper, and poke tinny holes in the paper, and secure tightly to the bowl, with tape if you have too. The holes should be done with a needle and make about 25 to 30 holes. And do not touch or hit the bowl until you are ready to throw out the contents of the bowl.
    WHEN YOU GO TO THROW IT OUT: When you go to throw away the bowl contents it will look like nothing is in there, but they are there, ( if you have the bowl on a dark surface you might see white or grey salt specks of the dead “no see em’s”). Before you touch the bowl or hit the table its on, DRIP OIL over the holes, VERY IMPORTANT. This will clog the holes and when you pick up the bowl, any live ones that try to run will get caught in the oil. If you do not do this, some will escape and you will have to start all over again. I learned this the hard way.
    When you throw them out, do so at least 100 ft away from your house, or they will come right back to you.
    For huge infestations, you must get a carbon dioxide trap, and they are expensive, ($300 to $500 USD).
    Use the above traps and give it about 2 to 3 weeks, they work wonders, at least it did for me.

  3. Canna Miss says

    What if this doesn’t work? We have tried EVERY single remedy we could find and they aren’t falling for any of them. Now we have a full on infestation in our house and there seems to be more every single day. We’re freaking out!

    • says

      Have you gone through cleaning every one the things mentioned above, including cleaning the drains and been diligent about doing those daily for at least a week?

      Other culprits might include onions if you store them in your kitchen. At the store yesterday, a swarm of the things went flying when I reached for an onion. The potatoes were just as bad. (I wound up going to the green grocery for mine instead.) So check yours.

      Dirty garbage cans also give them great homes. Be sure the trash goes out daily, and give your kitchen can a thorough washing.

      Anyone else have ideas?

      • Canna Miss says

        Yeah, we’ve done all that. I discovered this cleaner (Awesome from Dollar Tree) that stops them in their tracks. We spent HOURS spraying them yesterday. We cleaned the entire house, dried everything so there was no standing water, poured bleach down all the drains, removed every piece of food and stuck it in the fridge. They seem a LITTLE better today but I still think it’s going to be quite the journey to get them out. We think there might also be something we’re missing. Our basement leaks when it rains and our landlord refuses to fix it, so that could be the problem, and there’s nothing we can really do about it. :/

  4. ShadowAmanda Armstrong says

    I have done everything I can find to get rid of fruit flies and they still come back. They are coming in from outside Im sure, but I cant live with windows sealed shut all year long. I dont have fruit, I am ocd with cleaning, and yet they keep appearing. Everytime I ask how to stop them returning the answers dont help, they just say how to catch them and be thorough to stop them breeding. If they are coming in from outside what the heck do I do?
    If you can offer any advice Id love to hear. Thank you

    • says

      If you’re certain they’re coming in from outside, try this: first, clean your window screens and sill, then wash your windows using my homemade window cleaner. Add 5 drops of lemongrass, cedarwood or basil essential oil to that mix when you clean.

      Then, combine 1 cup water and 15 drops of lemongrass, cedarwood, or basil essential oil in a spray bottle. Spray your windowsills, both inside and out, daily with this mixture. Fruit flies do not like these essential oils, so using them regularly on your sills, and when cleaning your windows, should help keep them away.

      Best of luck!

  5. huckaday says

    Ketchup is a great bait too! Putting the traps in the freezer (after plugging the holes) kills them very quickly and you can reset your trap again without taking it apart. Fruit flies don’t do well in the cold, so we are lucky that we have a cool winter to kill them off here. I feel for you people who live in year round warm weather having to deal with them! Yuck.

  6. says

    To get fruit flies quick. I use my Kirby vacuum hose attachment. They aren’t very fast. I can get an entire colony in about 15-20 minutes. If u have plenty of light and light colored walls they are easy to see and easy to catch even mid flight.

    • Tere says

      This is a great idea; the only other thing I would add is to be SURE to EMPTY the machine immediately after doing this, outside. When I used to have a flea problem, I would put a cut up flea collar inside my vacuum, then let the vacuum do its work. IMMEDIATELY dump the vacuum or change the bag, adding another part of the cut up flea collar. If your machine uses bags, yes, this can be expensive, but it works. Make sure your animals are also treated at the same time, using the same tips you can find elsewhere. I think I’ll go vacuum some fruit flies and then some of the other ideas here.

  7. Ana says

    I’ve tried everything but there in my bedroom and in the kitchen and they won’t leave. Please tell me how I can get rid of them fast

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