How to make a simple gnat trap and other all-natural ways to get rid of gnats in your houseplants, kitchen, and bathroom drains.
Finding a cloud of flying, black gnats in your home is never fun — especially if those gnats bite. Before you call professional pest control, here are some ways to get rid of gnats naturally, with or without using vinegar, and tips to keep gnats out of your home for good.
How to Get Rid of Gnats
The first step in eliminating gnats in your home is figuring out what’s attracting them. Gnats seek out moisture and odors, so make sure you don’t have leaky plumbing and tackle any mildew issues in your home. Also, check that your window screens fit well and repair any torn ones. Then identify the other issues attracting gnats so you know how to get rid of them.
Most gnats near houseplants are fungus gnats, which are attracted to moisture and decaying matter in potting soil. To get rid of these gnats, combine 1 cup of water, 1 tablespoon of baking soda (bicarbonate), and 3 drops of dish soap in a spray bottle. Mist the top of the dirt lightly with this mixture after each watering. The dish soap helps the mixture suffocate the gnat while the baking soda dehydrates and eliminates fungus gnat larvae.
To prevent gnat infestations of your potted plants, avoid overwatering, remove dead leaves, provide adequate air circulation, and repot plants that have grown too big for their container. If the gnat problem continues, try adding a sticky gnat trap to each plant’s soil. (I use these for basil and herbs that I grow in my kitchen throughout the year.)
Gnats that you find hovering near your sinks are most likely drain flies. This insect lays its eggs in the biofilm and other residues in drains, and they are especially attracted to odors. To get rid of them, combine equal parts household bleach and water in a pitcher and pour it down your drain to kill the eggs and bacteria. Clean smelly drains monthly and use a disinfecting cleaner on kitchen and bathroom sinks every week.
Near Pet Beds and Litter Boxes
Gnats often swarm near cat litter boxes and pet bedding. Wash your cat’s litterbox at least once a month, and scoop its waste weekly. To eliminate gnats near your pet’s bed, launder bedding weekly in hot water, adding vinegar to the rinse cycle to destroy gnat eggs. Do not use fabric softener, though: it contains protein-based surfactants that attract pests. This homemade flea spray also works on gnat eggs.
Near Your Computer
Gnats and other flying insects often mistake the blue light of electronic screens for daylight. If gnats swarm near your computer and phone at night, turn on a bright light across the room and place a homemade gnat trap, so it shines directly on the liquid’s surface. The light will lure the gnats away from your screen, and the trap will eliminate them.
Near Your Kitchen Trash
Some gnats are attracted to odors and decaying things like old vegetables and rotting fruit. So, it’s not uncommon to find them swarming around your trash can. Make a practice of emptying the trash every night, washing your trash can weekly to keep gnats out of your kitchen and switching to a trash can with a lid to reduce odors.
How to Make a Gnat Trap
Time needed: 2 minutes.
This homemade gnat trap is great to use if you have kids or pets since it’s all-natural and covered, so they can’t easily get into it. The holes let gnats and fruitflies into the trap, where they’ll try to land on the liquid’s surface. The dish soap creates a tension that keeps them stuck in the liquid, so they’ll drown.
- Add apple cider vinegar to a jar.
Pour enough vinegar to fill the jar one-third of the way, then add a few drops of liquid dish soap. To get rid of gnats without using apple cider vinegar, substitute red wine or fruit juice. Add a piece of overripe banana if you’d like to trap fruit flies.
- Cover the jar with cling film
Stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the mouth of the jar and fasten it in place with a rubber band. Use a toothpick or safety pin to poke several holes in the plastic.
- Wait and Refill as Needed
Empty and refill your homemade gnat trap daily until you go a few days without finding more gnats in the trap.
More Natural Ways to Trap Gnats
If you don’t have everything to make the homemade gnat trap recipe, you can still eliminate gnats using other items around your home.
1. Homemade Fly Paper
To quickly make a homemade flypaper sticky trap, wrap a piece of cardboard with double-sided tape. Poke a hole in one end, insert a piece of string, and hang the homemade flypaper where you need it. Replace as needed. If gnats are swarming near your houseplants, wrap the tape around a long stick and insert it into the plant’s soil to catch gnats.
2. Light on Water
Another simple way to get rid of gnats in your home uses a bowl half-filled with water and a few drops of liquid dish soap to create surface tension. Position the bowl under a bright light in a dark room — the light on your stove’s hood range works great for this. Alternatively, make a candle trap by placing a pillar candle in the center of the bowl. Then turn out all the other lights. The reflection of the lightbulb or candle’s flame will lure the gnats and any other flying bugs in your home, but the dish soap will trap and drown them.
An easy solution for a stray gnat, fly, or mosquito that’s bothering you is to spritz it with hairspray. The spray’s sticky mist will immobilize the gnat’s wings, so it falls to the ground and leaves you in peace. Sweep it up and enjoy a home with no biting gnats to bother you.