3 Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Fruit Flies

By blog team member, Kiran. To learn more about Kiran, check out our team page!

A few weeks ago, I had a pretty gross situation in my kitchen. I was having a few girlfriends over for coffee, and I wanted to serve a fruit salad. One cantaloupe, some grapes, strawberries and a honeydew from a quick trip to the store, and I was set. I diced and sliced and was ready for my company the next day. But when I pulled out my quick creation in the morning, it was accompanied by some visitors I was not expecting: fruit flies. Yuck!

I was embarrassed and felt like my kitchen was *dirty*. But the worst was yet to come. In the next two days they seemed to quadruple, and I was frantic with these pesky little critters.

While I didn’t have a massive outbreak by any means, it was the worst one I’ve personally had. The good news is that I managed to clean up the situation with a home remedy, which I want to share with you. But first – lets talk a little more about these little buggers.How to get rid of fruit flies from 100 Days of #RealFood

About fruit flies

Not to be confused with gnats, fruit flies are commonly found in homes, restaurants and supermarkets. They lay their eggs near the surface of fermenting foods or other moist, organic materials – comforting, right? The University of Kentucky’s College of Agriculture, Food and Environment has a great writeup on fruit flies which explains that the tiny larvae continues to feed near the surface of the fermenting mass of the fruit or vegetable, allowing you to cut away that portion of the over-ripened food to discard the developing larvae. They also explain that they can lay about 500 eggs, and the entire lifecycle from egg to adult can be completed in a week. EEEEK!!

Not surprisingly, fruit flies are attracted to ripened fruits and veggies in the kitchen as well as drains, garbage disposals, beer and/or soda cans, trash bins and more. While they certainly are a nuisance, they also have the potential to contaminate food with bacteria that they can carry with them.

Avoiding fruit flies

An obvious way to avoid fruit flies is to keep all produce refrigerated. This was one of my problems; once we had a few of them in the kitchen, they found my fruit basket that I keep on the counter. Need I say more? They also find their way to the garbage can and cores and such that are tossed in. While we don’t currently compost, my brother’s family does and they actually tie up bags of their compost and keep it in a drawer in the refrigerator to avoid rotting, smelling and, you guessed it, attracting fruit flies. So … to keep these buggers away, remember to:

  • Keep countertops and sinks clean
  • Take trash out on a regular basis
  • Don’t leave fruit and veggies sitting on the counter for long periods of time
  • Refrain from keeping empty wine bottles or beer cans in a recycling bin in the house for long periods of time

Home remedies that really work

  1. Apple cider vinegar and dish detergent
    I was somewhat unsure of this method, but it worked like a charm. I took a mason jar, put some dishwashing liquid in it combined with some apple cider vinegar (about 8 drops soap to 1/2 cup vinegar). I covered the top of the jar with plastic wrap and poked holes in it. Low and behold, those suckers made their way into that sweet smelling apple cider vinegar … and never made it out. Score!Lisa and Jason have even had luck with omitting the plastic wrap and using smaller quantities (about 4 drops soap in 1/4 cup vinegar). You’ll need to replace the contents after a day or two since the vinegar loses it’s effectiveness.
  2. Wine
    Didn’t like last night’s wine? Or maybe you did but you just want to set up a spot to trap those suckers. Leave just a few drops at the bottom of the bottle and leave the bottle (without a cork or top, naturally) on your counter. Fruit flies will be attracted by the aroma; they’ll enter in to the wine bottle and won’t be able to make their way out.
  3. Overripe produce
    Put a piece of overripe fruit in a jar and top it with plastic wrap, again, poked with small holes. Place these jars around your house in problematic areas and say sayonara to those little suckers. Once the jar is full of the fruit flies (or full enough to your liking), submerge the jar in a bucket of soapy water for 10-15 minutes before throwing out contents. If you don’t have plastic wrap, create a paper funnel (taped shut) and place it in the jar, ensuring it’s not touching the bait. The fruit flies won’t be smart enough to fly out. Pour warm water mixed with dish soap to drown the fruit flies.

Have you had fruit flies in your house? How did you get rid of them?

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52 thoughts on “3 Ways to Get Rid of Pesky Fruit Flies”

  1. I capture the fruit flies in a jar then escort them outside and release them. There is no reason to drown them.

  2. I use an empty plastics water bottle, put red wine in it, then put the plastic over the top and poke holes. Best way ever!!

  3. I keep a bottle of Glenfiddich around for the critters. A tablespoon or two of good peaty scotch in the bottom of a jar… then cover the jar with saran wrap poked with holes. The little buggers like the peat I think… and it works like a charm. One bottle will practically last you a lifetime, unless you decide to share with them.

  4. Seems fruit flies really love to congregate on halves of lemon left on counter. So, use a good piece of lemon in a jar for a catch trap.

  5. My question is, what about fruit you shouldn’t refrigerate? Fruits like bananas, or apples? I would like to refrigerate my fruits to avoid fruit flies. What do you do about fruits you don’t put in the fridge?

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      Hi Maggie,
      I have been soaking my fruits/veggies that need to stay out in a vinegar/water bath in my sink before leaving out and/or washing them with Branch Basics.

    2. I have reusable produce bags I use when I purchase fruits/veggies at the supermarket (rather than those plastic bags on the roll). The mesh is SUPER fine. I leave my banana’s in the bag cinch it tightly closed and wrap the cinched end under the bananas to seal it off as much as possible. Works like a charm. We constantly fight fruit flies because of our compost and affinity for fresh fruit and while the cider vinegar/dish soap works great to eliminate the adults, the mesh bag keeps them away entirely. I think I got the bags at the container store.

  6. Just a note. I fought fruit flies with no success a few years ago only to find that they were similar but actually ‘drain flies’ and to get rid of them I had to treat my sink and drain. My husband actually did the research and discovered it because I was so frustrated they weren’t going away. Wasn’t actually fruit they were breeding in, although I was using a lot of fresh produce. Here in central Florida we generally refrigerate all our fruit, it just seems more refreshing.

  7. Vinegar with dish soap, wine, soy sauce, ripe fruit – I’ve used it all with some success.
    The biggest difference is FOAM.
    The simplest way is to use foaming hand soap and squirt a nice foam ‘head’ on top of the liquid. You can just keep squirting more as the foam breaks down every few hours. The fruit flies get stuck in the foam and drown.
    It is gratifying to find so many little critters.
    Clean the kitchen and sink drain – as others have described.
    Remember that you must continue to keep your ‘trap’ active for 9 days after you see the last fruit fly to catch the new flies after they hatch.

  8. It’s not super humane but the best method I’ve found is just to suck them up with a vacuum. If you do it every day, pretty soon you don’t have a problem. This especially works if you have a sudden influx of flies or get behind in changing out your vinegar solution.

    1. Hahaha! We had infestation a few months ago and it was driving me insane. I tried every home remedy I could find, and they just. kept. multiplying. Some friends suggested a vacuum, because that’s what they use for typical houseflies. That had NEVER occurred to me before. It was like magic. I wanted to kiss them! I felt like a crazy lady wandering around my kitchen with a vacuum hose, but it worked! So glad I’m not the only one!

  9. After trying various DIYs without success, I decided to try to head fruit flies off at their start. I realized my problem stemmed from compost buckets with imperfectly sealing lids. I invested in some new plastic storage containers and it did the trick. I also started storing non refrigerated produce in my basement where it is cooler to get it to last longer and that eliminated fruit flies as well. I still get a few now and then (2-4) during warm spells, but I am pretty good at wacking them.

  10. We use option 3 and specifically, we find that using a small amount of banana (ripe or not) does a great job. We use either used plastic containers or use a small plastic drink cups (we keep a bunch on hand). When putting the plastic wrap over the top, we use an elastic band to hold it tight. When poking the holes, use the tip of a sharp knife to make small slits – holes made with, say, a toothpick are usually too small. The flies can’t find their way out even with the slits. Don’t make any holes around the edges though. Then we dispose of the whole trap after a couple of days. It’s not exactly the best environmental solution because of the plastic, but it works almost right away.

  11. Kombucha! I brew it, and was having a fruit fly problem. It’s very similar to the vinegar solution. I put about an inch of kombucha in a ramekin and add 1 drop of dishwashing liquid — do not mix it (didn’t work when I did). In about a week, all the fruit flies were gone, and haven’t returned.
    I had tried the same method with vinegar after seeing it in action at a friend’s, but it did not work for me.

  12. I have had the best luck with ACV, a few drops of dish soap, and a powerful squirt of water from the faucet to make lots of bubbles! The flies get stuck in the foam, and it catches far more flies than when using plastic wrap. Every couple of hours, give another quick squirt, and change out the solution daily.

  13. I’ve done this in one form or another and it works. But my biggest problem in the autumn, winter and early spring is how to get rid of the gnats that come in with the plants which have vacationed outside on the porch or deck during the summer. I’ve used the really sticky yellow cards, and they sort of work. And some get caught in the fruit fly traps. I spray the soil with soap and water solution and even a neem oil solution. But nothing works really well. We have gnats flying all over the house and after 2 decades my family is ready to throw me out with the plants. (not really, but the REALLY don’t like the gnats, and I don’t either. But I so enjoy my plants.

    1. I’ve had that same problem. I found when I repot the plants entirely and then bring them in I don’t have an issue. I try to get as much of the old dirt off the roots as I can. Good luck!

  14. I have an adorable bottle leftover from balsamic vinegar. Has a wide spot at the bottom and a long, narrow neck. Even has a little lid with small holes. Perfect for catching fruit flies. I put vinegar in the bottom. I’ll start adding soap, sounds like that helps even more! But it’s cute and doesn’t look weird on the counter, at least not until it’s full of flies!

  15. The little buggers lay eggs in the kitchen and other sink drains! Avoid the draino and other harsh chemicals. Instead, pour straight baking soda, follow with white vinegar and plug the sink. Leave it overnight and run the hot water for a few minutes the next morning.

  16. Not a home remedy but there is a cute little fruit fly trap you get in the pest section at Walmart made by Terro I think, looks like a little apple, put it on your counter and you are good for a month! Much simpler, tiny, and catches tons of fruit flies.

  17. I tried the three remedies listed and while they reduced the number they did not eliminate them. My plumber said the problem is often food left in the garbage disposal so he said dump bleach or drano down the drain and other drains and that got rid of them completely! I know not a “natural” solution but I was at my wits end!

  18. Only one fruit fly went into the jar with plastic. The same water, acv, and dish soap in a shallow bowl caught about 50 in the same length of time.

    My most successful move is vacuuming them as they fly away. They land high so I get those, too! I spent an evening doing this. It was so satisfying. I also use an electric flyswatter through the swarm that rises when you disturb them.

    Plus, I put about 2 Tbsp of Clorox in a spray bottle with several cups of water. I spray the inside of the sink. They will not come to any residue of water left in sink or dishes. NO, vinegar won’t work. Fruit flies like vinegar. They are repelled by Clorox, even powders with Clorox.

  19. Two and a half years ago I started washing any produce I brought home that I would be leaving out in the counter with our dish soap (we like the Attitude brand) and rinsed thoroughly. We have had maybe 3 fruit flies since then. I kid not! I think getting rid of the stuff on the produce at the start is the key.

  20. We use a similar mixture. Every few days I mix a tsp of honey with 1/2 cup vinegar and a few drops of dish soap. I put this in a glass jar on the counter with no plastic wrap on top. It works like a charm and also attracts flies at times.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for pantry moths? Some started in our house after my husband opened a box of contaminated dog biscuits. I can’t seem to get rid of them even after using some family safe traps.

    1. The pantry moth traps only get the males, letting you see you still have moths, as if the flying around would not give you a clue. Plus, the pantry moth traps only get 1/8 of the male moths that even fly around near them.

      I put everything in mason jars with lids.
      Use an electric flyswatter on moths I see.
      vacuum the carpets.
      clean every scrap and minute food from counters and floor.
      They will get into boxed food, so put it all in freezer bags, box and all.
      The moths like paper and cloth, too. So, watch your good clothes, like any sweater.
      I found larva on a pair of pants not washed in a timely manner.
      I found a moth on one grain of dry oatmeal I missed. I also found three huge boxes of oatmeal with moths inside!

      Next, I plan to get some cedar for inside my cabinets to repel them, keeping some of the food free of moths. The moths will lay eggs under the label of cans!! d

      This has been going on for five years.

  21. My compost bucket has a detachable clear lid. I just leave the lid open with all the compost goodies inside. I come back later when the flies are unsuspecting (mwah ha ha!) and quickly put the lid on, then shake it around to see if I’ve caught any. If I see any, I’ll take the bucket outside to release them.

  22. I use Teriyaki sauce. I discovered this by accident one day, when I left a small pitcher of sauce out on the counter over night. The next morning there were lots of fruit flies in it. They like the sweet but it’s too thick for them to get out of it. No plastic needed.

  23. I used to use the ACV in a mason jar method (with paper funnel on top)…. It definitely worked but seemed tedious to do that every couple days and have a silly looking container on the countertop. I was determined to find another solution when a friend shared her tried-and-true recipe. I have used it ever since and it works like a charm!
    (measurements aren’t super important, just a splash of each)
    T or so of vinegar (white or ACV)
    tsp sugar
    couple drops of dish soap
    mix in a shot glass and fill rest with water.

    Inconspicuous, no paper funnel, no lingering vinegar smell like I had with the mason jar amount sitting in the kitchen & you’ll have 30 in there by tonight!

  24. I don’t have a ton of leftover mason jars to spare, but I’ve had great success creating fruit fly traps by cutting an empty plastic water bottle in half, then inverting the top half into the bottom, like a funnel. I’d add apple cider vinegar and soap to the bottom half of the cut bottle, and the top became a kind of funnel to trap them inside. Worked great.

  25. I have also used a vacuum with the crevice tool attachment to suck them right out of the air. It gets rid of a lot of the very quickly when they have gotten out of hand. It is also super satisfying.

    1. Kiran Dodeja Smith

      LOLOLOL … great idea. There is something so satisfying about catching them, right?! I love looking into my jar every few hours to see how many we’ve caught. #myissues ;)

  26. I had a MAJOR fruit fly issue, and unfortunately none of these worked for me. I ended up purchasing a fruit fly trap off Amazon, and it worked better than any of the home remedies. Also, we found the flies congregating on the windows, so it appeared they were coming in from outside (bizarre, I know!), so we sprayed the windows with cleaning solution, and that worked as well.

  27. Cheap wine in a dish. We do not use the soap just the vinegar, cheap wine or any kind of juice in a bowl with the plastic wrap on top with holes.

  28. We have a fruit fly problem right now! My husband is allergic to vinegar so we don’t have any. Would spiced apple cider work?

  29. Solution #1 gets rid of the fruit flies once they are present, and yes it works great in small quantities and without the plastic wrap. The reason it works is that the flies are attracted to the cider vinegar and land on it, but the dish soap reduces the surface tension so that they cannot walk on it! Neat trick. We have a tiny salt bowl and we use maybe 2 TBsp of vinegar with a few drops of dish soap.

    However the best thing to do is prevent them to begin with. We get a big CSA delivery every Wednesday and this year the amount of apples and pears has been massive. I fill up the sink with cold water and add about 1/4 cup of white vinegar and soak the fruit for a few minutes, being sure to spin around any floating apples. I drain it all in a colandar and then it’s ready to eat. No rinsing required (there’s not enough vinegar to taste) and not only are fruit flies neutralized but so are mold spores. It goes a long way to extending the life of our fruit bowl.

    1. Wow, vinegar is a wonderful thing! I had to use it this past week to deal with head lice (eeeewwww!) I will definitely start adding the dish soap to the acv.

  30. You don’t need to put plastic wrap over the cider vinegar if you’ve mixed in dish detergent. The detergent breaks the surface tension of the vinegar, which prevents the flies from alighting on the surface of the liquid and then flying off. Flies sink into the vinegar and drown.

  31. I use ripe fruit and wine to catch them in any container covered with plastic wrapped with holes punched in it. Once a day we let them go outside because we don’t feel comfortable killing them. It’s entirely possible I release the same ones more than once (since we leave a window open for the cat), but it works really well!

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