How To Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Follow these steps to get rid of fruit flies naturally by eliminating their breeding grounds and using homemade traps to kill them. Then, keep fruit flies from coming back with some easy, practical steps.

Though it does take consistency and effort, you can get a fruit fly infestation under control and keep them away for good.

Some Facts About Fruit Flies

They Live Longer than You Think

There’s a myth that fruit flies live and die in 24 hours. It turns out, their life cycle can be over two weeks. They begin life as tiny eggs laid on the surface of fruits, buried within rotting fruit, or inside poorly sealed containers.

Within 48 hours, those eggs turn into larvae — also known as maggots — that start feeding right away. After another 5 days or so, the larvae reach adulthood and are ready to get busy with other fruit flies.

And then they live another 50 or so days! Some species even live for several months.

They Breed Like Crazy

Imagine you have a suitable breeding ground for just four females in your kitchen. At 100 fruit fly eggs per day, you’ll have thousands of flies in your home in a week.

So, when it comes to getting rid of a fruit fly infestation, you can’t really wait for them to die. And there are good reasons why you should kill them quickly.

They Carry Disease

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. You’ll find them near the bathroom and kitchen drain, too, as well as around toilets and other sources of water.

They Lay Fruit Fly Eggs in Your Food

Guess where fruit flies most love to breed? Your fruit, vegetables, or any other food left on the counter. Those fruit fly eggs quickly grow into microscopic larvae (maggots).

And what happens to those larvae? You eat them.

If that sounds unappealing to you, then read on for ways to stop a fruit fly infestation and keep them from coming back.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies for Good

As with any attempts to get rid of household pests, a lazy approach won’t work. So, read through these steps and follow them diligently.

Use These Homemade Fruit Fly Traps

One of the easiest ways to kill fruit flies is to drown them into a bowl filled with liquid. I’ve used several different kinds of such traps. Here are the three I’ve found most successful to get an infestation quickly under control.

With new fruit fly eggs hatching daily, you’ll need to keep the traps clean and in place for a couple of weeks. If you prefer a “set it and forget it” approach, many readers report having success with commercial fruit fly traps.

Apple Cider Vinegar Fruit Fly Trap

A shallow bowl of apple cider vinegar left on the kitchen counter attracts fruit flies with its scent. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap (or a lid) in which you’ve poked a few small holes with a toothpick. The flies will go in, but they won’t come back out. Change the vinegar daily.

Red Wine Fruit Fly Trap

A bottle with an inch or so of red wine or beer is practically a magnet for fruit flies.

Add a paper funnel at the top so they fly in but can’t easily get out. Use a kitchen funnel or roll a piece of paper to form one and insert the narrow end into the bottle. Tape it in place if needed. Change daily.

Soapy Water Fruit Fly Trap

A bowl of water with just a drop of dish soap left under a light at night attracts fruit flies, gnats, and mosquitoes that have found their way into your home. (The light over your stove is perfect for this.)

The light’s reflection on the water lures them in but the soap creates a surface tension that keeps them from flying away. Change every morning.

How to Kill Drain Flies

Some fruit flies hide in sink drains. So do gnats.

It’s not convenient to place a trap in these. Instead, pour a 50-50 mixture of hot water and white vinegar down drains to kill drain flies and fruit fly eggs they’ve laid. Do this daily until they’re gone. (Here are more ways to clean stinky drains where pests like to breed.)

How to Keep Fruit Flies Away

Once you’ve done the work to kill fruit flies, keep them from coming back with these preventative measures.

1. Keep Counters Clean

Fruit flies will feast on spilled food, crumbs, spilled juice — just about anything. Clean your counters at least once a day, so they don’t turn into a snack bar for the pests.

Try this homemade natural all-purpose cleaner or its granite-safe alternative.

2. Wash Fruit Right Away

Fruit flies piggyback their way into our homes on bananas and melons more than any other fruits. Wash any produce that you plan to leave on the counter as soon as you get back from the store. (Here’s a homemade fruit and vegetable wash to use.)

3. Cover Fruit Bowls

A fruit bowl on the counter is a great way to encourage your family to eat healthy snacks. If left uncovered, though, it turns into a single’s bar for fruit flies.

If you do leave a bowl of fruit on the counter, cover it with a cake dome, an upturned bowl, or even plastic wrap to keep fruit flies from it.

4. Deal with Odors Immediately

If it stinks, it attracts fruit flies. Clean your drains, garbage cans, pet bedding, litter boxes, and toilets regularly. For help locating potential sources of odors, check out this list of 48 places in your home that can stink.

5. Repeat For Two Weeks

Remember how female fruit flies lay 100 eggs or more per day? With new eggs hatching every day, you’ll need to be diligent for a couple of weeks about using traps, depriving them of food, and keeping them from favorite breeding places.

Once you’ve got the fruit fly infestation under control, keep using traps and cleaning surfaces for another week to make sure there are no fruit fly eggs waiting to hatch.

Comment Policy

Comments are moderated. I try to moderate comments as quickly as possible but it may take up to 72 hours.

I welcome and encourage questions and discussion. However, I will not approve comments that are off-topic, repetitive, or which request information already covered within the article; contain hateful or threatening language, advertising or spam; or which try to solicit personal information from other users of this site.

Comments may be removed in the future if the information they contain or seek becomes outdated or gets incorporated within the article itself. Anyone who violates this comment policy may be blocked from making future comments.

73 Comments

  1. Mariette's Back to Basics says:

    Dearest Katie,
    As always, very to the point and practical tips for living and eating healthy!
    Thanks for these tips.
    Hugs,
    Mariette

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thank you, Mariette! Hugs to you, too. 🙂

  2. 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 🙂

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

  3. 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.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Oh, No See Ems are the worst!

  4. 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!

    1. Katie Berry 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?

    2. 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. :/

    3. I know this is old, but we discovered that flypaper works wonderfully when placed near a small dish of apple cider vinegar. It really helped while we dealt with the culprits (fruit bowl and trash can, for us).

    4. Katie Berry says:

      That’s an excellent tip. Thank you!

    5. Use a solution of Borax and water put in your drains. When the flies drink it causes premature death and inhibits egg laying.

  5. ShadowAmanda Armstrong says:

    Hi
    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

    1. Katie Berry 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!

    2. Have you been flushing your drains with boiling water? If not that could be the issue.

  6. Thank you for the tipes it help me and my family I hope it works for other people

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

    1. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Satish Dutt says:

    Many thanks for useful tips.
    Kind regards.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re quite welcome!

  11. My refrigerator is full of these dead tiny flying bugs. Are these fruit flies?

  12. As far as teenage boys smelly feet, my grandmother learned many many moons ago that if you soak the feet in a 50/50 solution of cheap bleach and water about 10 to 15 minutes EVERY DAY and eat high iron foods (like a handful of raisins every day) the smelly feet will go bye-bye.

  13. I have a bad fruit fly issue in my bathroom. (Brand new house) ugh!!! I opened my window on a chilly morning yesterday, at my lunch break the bathroom was FULL of them!
    I too am a clean freak, I have read your whole article throughly and have done all of it. And know to continue doing the drain cleaning for a few weeks.
    My problem is WHY aren’t my 2 bowls of apple cider and dish soap loaded with the nasty little things this morning . I don’t get it I’ve used this potion before in past years when you get a few here and there in the kitchen. Now with that said I do not have a cover on my balls or saran wrap but I have never done that. These little suckers in my bathroom seem to just swarm around the bowl and want to go in but they’re not. What can I do about this as I type this I’m watching them , And my mirror!!! I’m getting frustrated I have two bowls of apple cider potion sitting on my bathroom sink I expected them to be loaded and my problem to be under control I don’t know what to do

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Lisa, you’ve got me stumped! Are you certain they’re fruit flies? I know it seems silly to ask, but you’d mentioned the swarm came on a chilly morning and fruit flies tend to go dormant when it’s cold. Coming in through your bathroom window then covering the mirror is odd, too, since it’s not a food source nor even one of their ideal habitats. Whatever they are, I can tell they’re driving you nuts!

      Try this: leave the bathroom window closed and set a bowl of the apple cider potion on your bathroom counter. Be sure to add the dish soap! Arrange a lamp of some kind so it shines directly onto the surface of the potion in the bowl. Turn off all of the other bathroom lights so it’s dark in there, and close the door. (If it’s at all possible, cover the mirror — maybe tape newspaper to it — so the only surface reflecting the light is the liquid in the bowl.

      The reflection of the light in the surface of the apple cider potion should attract the bugs to it and they’ll try to land, just like they do on your mirror. The soap will create a surface tension that keeps them from escaping, and they’ll drown. Leave that overnight and you should wake up to a bowl filled with their little dead bodies.

      Best of luck, and please let me know how it works!

    2. I have been dealing with a similar issue in my bathroom. I figured out that I was using too much dish soap in the uncovered shallow bowls of apple cider vinegar. I also found an empty water bottle with red wine and a paper funnel caught more than anything else. In the past ACV worked best but these little guys seem very into red wine!! I am putting the water bottle traps in the bathtub and by the sink and I have caught tons. Good luck!!

    3. Katie Berry says:

      You bring up a great point about using too much dish soap, Joie. I harp on that quite a bit: more isn’t always better, and when people are following DIY tips or making homemade cleaners they really need to follow the measurements precisely. Love your suggestion about using a funnel. I’ll give that a try!

    4. It seems like they develop a dislike for it after awhile. In my case, apple juice really attracted them. So I put apple juice with a drop or two of dish soap in a funneled jar and caught 10 within minutes!

  14. I tried the vinegar/dish soap trick and it did not work. What I did find by accident is they seem to like soy sauce. I keep soy sauce on the counter in one of those tall square class bottles with a pull out spout designed for salad dressing, olive oil, etc. So, I pour out some soy sauce and a bunch of fruit flies come with it. The bottle is full of fruit flies so I would suggest trying that in one of those store bought traps you can get for a few bucks.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Huh. I wonder if it’s the fermentation that’s attracting them, like the wine trap?

  15. Yep, I have the same fruit flu problem. My freezer is full of them!!
    Do they just fly in when I open the freezer door? If not, how on earth do they get in??

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I have no idea how they get in there. It always shocks me to find them, though.

  16. Elisabeth lehrer says:

    Seems like putting out a trap is also inviting more to come in the house.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      They can’t smell from that far away.

    2. Well there is one way I always catch gnats and fruit flies, who can refuse anything in a red Dixie cup right? Especially my coke or Dr Pepper! Every single time! Makes me so mad…lol within an hour or so!

    3. Katie Berry says:

      So true!

  17. How do i get rid fruit flies in the bathroom toliet bowl i think they are in the tiny holes where the water comes out of when i fluhies the toliet.they seem to be around they r in my face.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Those aren’t fruit flies, they’re drain flies. You need to get in there with a good pumice stone and scour under the rim to get rid of any buildup and eggs then be sure to scrub it daily with a toilet brush and cleaner for a couple of weeks.

  18. I have what feels like a silly question. Once the flies are caught in the trap and seemingly dead. How is it best to dispose of them? I am nervous about dumping them down my drain, but don’t want to dump these substances on my lawn either.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I just flush it down the toilet.

    2. I flushed them down the toilet. Scrub the toilet with bleach & put bleach down the drains & close the drains. Also I used those drop in tablets that go in the toilet tank as well. I cleaned the refrigerator really well taking all the drawers & shelves out, throwing away anything that wasn’t sealed tightly then wiped down all food containers/packages before I put everything back into the fridge. ?

  19. Dear Katie,
    I love your avatar. It’s super cute! ❤ OK, I’m just gonna admit this. I’m pretty much hiding from those filthy ******* upstairs. I just can’t. I’ve been dealing with them for a week now, and actually, they’re pretty smart. I’ve done the banana mush, gross mess, used my good honey on ’em, and they hang out on the outskirts of whatever bowl, container I’m using at the time.
    I got some apple cider vinegar, added soap, same thing. I thought they were gone once I got rid of a banana that I was going to use for bread, but. . . no! They are still (now) hanging out on the yogurt container in the sink.
    It’s comical in a way, esp. since I’m kind of a neat freak. Thank you for your sage advice. Please wish me luck as I prepare to put my “big grl pants” on and treat this as if it’s a crime scene.
    Have a great week!
    xos from MA

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Best of luck!

  20. I bought a electric fly pest thing off amazon it stuns them we get from 10 to 15 every day it’s left on day and night they go towards the light they even end up upstairs I’ve had them on me in the night and they like landing on the warm bed even had them on my face and in my hair of a night they are making my skin crawl I’ve tried the apple cider thing it didn’t work I’m going to try some drain blocker but do not think there coming up the sink I feel like it’s never going to stop the house has some mould and they love that we get more when we’re cooking or if the mould in places does not get washed off places but I’m going to try the soy sauce and wine thing next I know they are attracted to cider really badly

  21. Tom hatch says:

    I did the same thing with my vacuum but I sprayed bug spray inside the vacuum and make sure I killed them

    1. Katie Berry says:

      That is seriously dangerous. First off, vacuums spew air as they work so you’re essentially filling your air with pesticide every time you use the machine. Secondly, bug sprays contain flammable ingredients and, since vacuums tend to get hot, you’re creating a fire risk. Finally, the stuff in bug spray may very well damage your machine.

  22. Kathi Lee says:

    Hi. I have tried the dawn dish detergent and rotted fruit in a dish, and the only place they really plague me is in front of my computer, doing my job, they try to get up my nose or in my face. The only way I can keep them from going for my face is to wear, like, a respiratory mask. So, are these not the usual fruit flies?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Your computer has a bug! Sorry, bad joke. But, no, these probably aren’t fruit flies. They’re most likely a kind of gnat. My guess is that, like me, you eat lunch at your computer now and then. They love crumbs and dust. So, I’d start by powering down and unplugging your keyboard. Clean it by turning it over then tap it repeatedly until you don’t get any more crumbs. (This might take a while.) Vacuum it with the dust attachment. Once that’s done, grab a Q-tip and some rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and og around and between the keys to remove grime. Give it a wipe when you’re done and let it dry before plugging it back in.

  23. I wish I could share your post because I’m finding it quite useful.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Not sure why you can’t share it. Do you see all of the sharing buttons above and below the post?

  24. I know this is old but I went on vacation for about a week and I had like maybe 2 or 3 fruit flys in my room at the time so I left the cider thing there. I came home today and looked in the bottle to see at least 30 in the bottle and now there are still some flying around and there are now also little striped orange yellowy ovals stuck to different surfaces. I’ve done as much research as I could and I’m not sure how I need to get rid of these, I don’t even know what they are! There are hundreds of them all over my room and they don’t move or anything but I’m afraid to go near them Incase it’s like some egg or pupa.. if anyone knows how to get rid of these please tell me! I’m panicking!

    1. Maybe these aren’t fruit flys? I don’t eat any sweet things in my room, usually just chips or lunches.. they also fly in front of my face while I’m on my phone! Is this normal?

    2. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Ana,
      They may be fruit flies, or they could be gnats. I’d keep using a vinegar trap until you don’t see them anymore.

  25. I was thinking what about putting apple cider vinegar in a bowl in your oven at night time and leaving the oven door open a tad and only the oven light on….the next morning shut the oven door and turning the oven on full blast and burning the mofo fruit flies. Lol ?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      LOL

  26. I’m very curious if anyone really tries covering their fruit bowl– does the fruit just get over-ripe from the build-up of gases? I would need a pretty big cake dome to cover mine, so I want to think about it before I buy one.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Susanna,
      You could always try keeping just a day or two’s fruit in the bowl under the cover while refrigerating the rest. That way, the fruit won’t have a chance to rot, either.

  27. Christopher Perry says:

    This article says to pour boiling water or vinegar down the drain. Your article on getting rid of smells says to never pour boiling water down the drain. Which is it?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Christopher,
      I’m sorry for the confusion. The conflicting instructions will be updated. Pouring boiling water down the drain is fine on occasion — we all do it, for instance, when draining pasta. It should not be done on a regular basis, however, since the PVC pipes in most homes are not intended to hander such high temperatures.

  28. Faye Emordeno says:

    Anything to purchase to put down the drains that is super fast?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Faye,
      I don’t really have any recommendations that aren’t already included in the article.

  29. I just came across this because I have thousands in my home and I have tried everything to get rid of them but nothing is working. They seem to be really bad at night. Please help!!!!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Maria,
      I really don’t have any tips that I haven’t already shared in this article. I hope they help you!

  30. I just came across this article. Most of the fruit flies in my home are coming from the kitchen and bathroom sink drains. I’ve used commercial (non-toxic) traps to catch the ones that have already hatched. To stop the eggs from hatching in the drains, I pour baking soda and vinegar down the drain. I let that sit for a few minutes and then pour boiling water down the drain. Once that it done, I keep the drains closed to stop the ones that aren’t killed from being able to fly out. It seems to work pretty well.

    Also, if none of the solutions in the article are working, you may not have fruit flies. Check your houseplants for gnats or other flying insects of the same size. You don’t have to get rid of the plants. I’ve used some commercial (non-toxic) sticky plant stakes to catch those.

  31. I kill the ones I see with a shot of Windex! If they’re on a surface, I wipe it up. If they’re in flight, they go down (then you gotta find it and wipe it).

    Definitely not classy, but I seem to get random ones. 1 here, 1 there and it’s usually bathroom or kitchen, where I always have bottles of windex multipurpose.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Jill,
      I hope you’re making the requisite “pew pew pew!” noise when you do that. 😉

  32. in the summer I keep garden tomato bounty on the counter and, inevitably, some start to rot. This past summer I ended up with a HUGE fruit fly infestation at one point – there were clouds of them. Never seen anything like it. I removed the offending articles, but they were still there. Of course I had company coming in a few days. I put out the vinegar traps and it helped some. I also put out those old-school sticky ribbon traps (made for houseflies mostly) which actually worked like a charm. Between the ribbons and the vinegar, I caught a LOT in a few days to where it was manageable again and eventually all went away. Just wanted to share the tip on the sticky ribbon in case someone needs to get rid of a lot in a short time. It really helped, though they are pretty gross! Caught some houseflies and pantry moths too – bonus!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Thanks for sharing that great tip, Sue!

  33. I have these little suckers everywhere! I have tried everything to get rid of them and nothing seems to work! Help!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Which specific steps or fruit fly traps described above have you tried?

  34. My fruit flies love the mirror and I’ve noticed for a few years now that they love the smell of nail polish!
    They always swarm when I am painting my nails.
    Is there a trick to cleaning fruit when they are already in the house? I know they’re going to go nuts as soon as I bring the fruit out and I’m hoping someone knows a way to keep them at bay?

Leave a Reply
Comments are moderated. Your comment is pending moderator approval.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *