How to Get Rid of Gnats

Rose Morrison

May 1, 2024

woman aggravated over gnats

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Eat healthier. Keep fresh fruit on the counter. Bring the outside in with plants. Deal with gnats and fruit flies entering your home and taking up residence. It’s a battle for everyone. The tiny flying creatures don’t sting or bite but are annoying nonetheless. They can also contaminate food. 

Most people looking for a way to get rid of gnats may mean fruit flies. The two creatures look quite similar but one exists on plant fungus and the other on rotting or fermenting foods such as fruit. We’ll look at methods to remove both from your home as fast as possible. 

Here’s how to get rid of pesky bugs and ensure they stay away. 

Why Am I Getting So Many Gnats in My House?

The first step to ending gnats and fruit flies in the house is to identify the source attracting them. Fruit flies and gnats look very similar. They are both small, flying creatures but are two different kinds of insects. 

closeup of a gnat

When people complain about gnats in their house, they either mean fruit flies buzzing around their kitchens or fungus gnats munching on their house plants’ soil. Both seemingly come out of nowhere fully grown. The U.S. Food and Drug Administrations are one of the most common contaminating agents of wine, fruit, and tomato canneries.

Fruit flies swarm to any rotting or fermenting food. They love bananas and apples. Since adults lay their eggs on the surface of the fruit, you’re likely seeing them hatch out after bringing them home from the store.

If you see gnats swarming food in a grocery, steer clear of it. Locate where the flies congregate to know what to get rid of. If you are truly dealing with gnats, they’ll likely congregate around one or more of your house plants versus fruit in the kitchen. 

What Is the Quickest Way to Get Rid of Gnats and Fruit Flies?

Gnats and fruit flies are two different things. The way you get rid of them varies. Most people looking for a solution to gnats mean fruit flies. However, fungus gnats are a problem for many. If you have house plants in your home, you may be battling a gnat problem. 

closeup of a gnat trap; image licensed from Canva Pro by L.S.

Fungus Gnats

For gnats on your houseplants, your best bet is to lure them to sticky cards you place on a tiny stake in the soil. They’ll stick to the card as they flit around the plant. You then throw the deceased bugs and the sticky card in the trash, replacing it with a new one as needed. 

Other options include adding diatomaceous earth to the soil and repotting your plants. You can also try drenching the soil, letting it dry out a bit and then repotting. Unfortunately, some of those methods can also harm the plant you’d like to save. 

Fruit Flies

Getting rid of fruit flies may be a bit easier. Throw out any rotting fruit or matter that might draw the flies to your kitchen. You’ll still need to get rid of the adult flies, however. Some techniques to try include:

  • Setting out a deep glass with a bit of wine mixed with vinegar. The wine draws them and they get trapped and drown.
  • Set out sticky traps.
  • Wipe down all surfaces where they might have landed to get rid of any eggs. 
  • Clean the interior and exterior of trash cans. 
  • Put any new fruit or veggies in the fridge or the microwave to keep them away from any remaining flies. 

Fruit flies repeat a vicious cycle that makes them difficult to remove from your home. They hatch, lay eggs, hatch, lay eggs and so on. They lay as many as 500 eggs at a time, so getting rid of them takes effort. 

Put in a few days of intense work and you’ll see the fruit flies disappear. Fungus gnats may take a bit longer to go away as the eggs hide in the soil before hatching. 

What Repels Gnats in the House?

Fortunately, you can repel gnats in the house with a few natural substances that won’t harm your food supply. Some scents gnats  avoid include vinegar, vanilla, pine, eucalyptus and lavender. As always, use caution around pets and children when using any type of herb or disinfectant. 

For plants, avoid overwatering. Gnats love moisture so if you water only as needed, it will help. You can buy solutions or mix up your own with one part hydrogen peroxide to six parts water. It will rid your plant of any fungus and kill gnat larvae and eggs, preventing the continued issue. 

You can also pack the top of the soil with dry sand or diatomaceous earth to discourage flies from laying eggs. 

How to Get Rid of Gnats and Fruit Flies for Good

Standing in front of an open fridge filled with fruit

What if you try all of the above remedies and gnats or fruit flies still flit around your house like they own it? It may be time to move plants outside and eliminate any potential food sources. You can place all produce in the fridge and empty the trash several times a day. 

Wipe down every surface with disinfectants. Your first steps are getting rid of the food source and the adult flies. Once you’ve conquered the creatures laying all those eggs, you can focus on getting rid of the larvae and eggs before they have a chance to mature. 

You’ll have to wipe down surfaces several times a day, throw out trash after each meal or even take things immediately to outside bins, and pay attention for any new outbreaks. 

The Best Way to Get Rid of Gnats

The best methods usually attack the problem from different angles. You might put out sticky traps, add the hydrogen peroxide solution to the soil, stop over watering and repot your plants. While seeing the pesky creatures disappear overnight is the dream, it’s critical to stick with the process until all signs of gnats and their offspring are permanently removed. 

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