Swarms of flies inside our homes or outdoors in our backyard or garden can be seriously distressing.
And flies can be incredibly hard to get rid of even if we fumigate the whole house with super powered – AND super toxic – fly spray.
The flies just keep coming back.
But it is possible to get rid of flies fast – and for good – naturally without toxic chemicals.
I have got a huge guide for you here on how to get rid of flies fast naturally. It covers everything from flies on windows and in drains to flies under floorboards and up chimneys PLUS flies outside.
It also explains how to get rid of everything from tiny fruit flies to cluster flies and blue bottles.
Use the index below to help solve specific fly problems.
But first check out my tips on the :
These two tips solve most fly problems super fast with natural ingredients in our kitchen cupboards. And because they work so fast, they stop flies from breeding at hyper-speed which prevents our fly problem becoming hundreds of times worse.
So to get rid of flies in your home or garden fast make this fly trap and fly spray straight away and then come back for any extra help needed.
I do hope these tips help. Let me know how you get on & shout if you have questions. For more help getting rid of everything from ants and mosquitoes to slugs check out my other natural pest control tips.
Best Quick DIY Fly Trap
This quick DIY fly trap is super simple but it really does work.
I keep one in my kitchen all summer long but have also used them get rid of horribly huge fly infestations.
The fly trap gets rid of everything from fruit flies and gnats to blow flies inside and outdoors. I also use them to control mosquitoes.
Fly Trap Supplies
All you need to make the fly trap is :
- Small jar (a 1lb jelly jar is ideal)
- A4 sheet of scrap paper
- Sticky tape
- Dish soap
- Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
How To Make DIY Fly Trap
To make the trap :
- Half fill jar with water
- Add a few drops of dish soap
- Add a teaspoon of ACV
- Make a scrap paper cone
- Tape it together so it sits :
- flush in jar rim
- just clear of water
- Snip the bottom if too long
Why The Fly Trap Works
The sweet, yeasty smell attracts flies but the dish soap :
- changes the surface of their wings so they can’t fly back out
- AND blocks the spiracles flies breathe through.
Once trapped in the liquid, the vinegar kills them off.
Apple Cider Vinegar is a great bait but if you don’t have any, these other fly trap baits all work well.
Keeping 1 or 2 fly traps on the go stop flies taking hold. But for a sudden infestation put 3 or 4 traps in each room they are in. I have killed hundred of flies in hours this way.
Quick DIY Fly Spray
Killing flies fast is key because they breed incredibly quickly. One female lays hundreds of eggs meaning 10 flies can become 1,000 in no time at all. So make this quick DIY fly spray to use alongside your fly traps.
The fly spray is especially useful if you have flies on windows.
Fly Spray Supplies
- Spray bottle
- Dish soap
- White vinegar
If you don’t have vinegar use rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit) or vodka.
How To Make DIY Fly Spray
To make the DIY fly spray simply:
- Combine in your spray bottle :
- 1 cup of vinegar
- 1/2 cup of water
- 2 tablespoons of dish soap
- Shake well
Spray on any landed flies BUT be careful to spray :
- At arm’s reach from yourself
- Away from anyone else or pets
If there’s lots of flies wear goggles to remove risk of getting in your eyes.
Stronger Spray For Big Flies
For lots of big cluster flies or blow flies you can up the strength of your DIY fly spray by adding :
- 2 tablespoons rubbing alcohol (surgical spirit)
- 2 tablespoons salt
Make sure salt is well dissolved so it doesn’t block the nozzle.
Again use carefully:
- Spray away from your body
- Don’t spray near anyone else
- Don’t spray near pets
- Wear goggles for eye protection
There’s more tips here on how to make and use a strong DIY fly spray.
More DIY Fly Traps
I swear by my quick DIY fly traps but these other DIY fly traps will get rid of flies naturally fast if you don’t have vinegar or empty jars to hand.
Plastic Bottle Fly Trap
You can make a great quick fly trap from old small plastic bottles.
I use them outdoors to keep flies off my spinach and collards and to get rid of mosquitoes.
Cling Film Fruit Fly Trap
This cling film fly trap is great for fruit flies plus tiny phorid and drain flies.
All you need is a small bowl, cling film, dish soap & some fruit juice.
To make the trap :
- Pour a splash of juice into the bowl
- Add a few drops of dish soap
- Mix to combine
- Cover bowl with cling film
- Punch small holes in cling film with skewer, fork or tiny screw driver
The flies crawl in via the holes for the juice but the dish soap suffocates them and damages their wings so they can’t escape.
There are more tips on simple cling film fly traps here …
Bread Bag & Banana Fly Trap
This is another quick DIY fly trap that will get rid of fruit flies fast.
It can work for bigger flies as well.
All you need to make the fly trap is :
- Empty bread bag
- Piece of banana
Put the banana at the bottom of the bag and then lay the bag flattish on a kitchen counter. The end needs to be open a little for them to get in.
Leave the bag out overnight.
Next day slap your hand down on the bag end to close it before the flies can escape. Tie the bag end and chuck it in the outside bin.
A similar sized plastic bag will work but add a bit of bread with the banana because the yeasty smell helps attract the fruit flies.
DIY Fly Paper
Sticky fly paper is a classic way to trap flies indoors and you can make your own cheaply from natural kitchen ingredients.
But TBH fly paper is a faff to make. Or at least by my standards, it is.
If you love DIY give it a go with these below. But if not stick to fly traps.
Best Bait To Put In a Fly Trap
All sorts of baits will attract flies into DIY fly traps so you almost certainly have stuff in your kitchen you can use to make a trap and start getting rid of flies immediately.
The key thing to remember is most indoor flies are attracted to :
- Fermenting yeasts.
Fruit vinegars like ACV are great baits as they combine the two. Personally I begrudge the flies good ACV I’d rather keep for my own gut health.
If like me you prize your ACV too highly or don’t have any try these :
- Very ripe fruit
- Fruit juice
- A bit of bread
- Dregs of wine!!
- Jam / jelly
- Plain vinegar
And for more bait tips check out these tests on which fly trap bait work best …
How To Trap Flies Without Killing Them
I have been sharing natural pest control tips for a good while now and I know not everyone is up for killing the bugs that get into our homes and cause problems.
If that is you I still have a quick DIY fly trap that works well.
All you need to do is
- Half fill a jam jar with some bits of bread & over ripe fruit
- Make paper cone with small end
- Place in jar so it fits snugly
- Flies crawl in but can’t escape
So you will be able to take the trap outside and release the flies as far away from your home as possible.
There are more tips here on how to get rid of flies without killing them.
How To Find Out Where Flies Are Coming From?
It is always best to get rid of as many flies indoors as we can super fast with quick fly traps and DIY fly spray to break the breeding cycle.
But if flies are already breeding we need to find out where the flies are coming from to tackle that area.
Use the links below to learn how to get rid of flies in different parts of your home :
- Flies on windows
- Flies in drains
- Flies on house plants
- Flies in lofts & attics
- Flies under floorboards
- Flies behind washing machines & dishwashers
- Flies in chimneys
Separately there are tips on how to get rid of flies outside.
Flies On Windows
Big and tiny flies cluster on windows.
They are easy to splat with a swat or rolled up newspaper. And it’s a good spot to zap them with DIY fly spray.
But large and small flies on windows can be an ongoing problem.
Large flies swarming on windows are typically cluster flies. They come in for warmth & leave smelly droppings on frames that attract their mates.
Small phorid flies breed rapidly in damp or damaged window frames.
To clear flies on windows for good :
- Spray with DIY fly spray
- Focus on frame horizontals
- Leave for 15 minutes
- Wipe away dead flies & any “gunk”
- Clean window frames thoroughly with a damp, dish soapy rag.
Repeat this process daily for a week to remove all eggs and larvae.
Flies In Drains
Sink and shower drains are common sources of flies inside our homes.
Fruit flies breed in drains but the problem is usually drain flies, a small moth like fly. They breed in both kitchen drains with built up waste and little used bathroom drains.
Pour boiling water & dish soap down drains often to prevent blockages and keep drain flies at bay.
For a drain fly infestation :
- Put down plug hole :
- tablespoon of baking soda
- cup of vinegar
- Quickly put plug in
- Leave for 5 minutes
- Pour a kettle of boiling water & dish soap down the drain
- Pour boiling water & dish soap down drain 2x a day for a week
The baking soda “explosion” dislodges eggs and larvae from gunk in the the drain so they can be washed away by boiling water.
For a big infestation you can use bleach to get rid of fruit flies in sinks but for a less toxic solution I use a hydrogen peroxide based laundry powder that also shifts blood stains.
Flies On House Plants
House plants – and grow your own seedlings started inside – can sadly be a big source of flies indoors.
Typically flies on house plants are fungus gnats who lay eggs in soil.
Each female can lay 150 eggs in 2 weeks so act fast on first sight of them to prevent a huge problem.
But we need to be careful not to harm plants in getting rid of the flies.
Follow these quick steps to get rid of flies on house plants safely, fast :
- Put fly trap jars among plants.
- Spray around the plants with water containing a teaspoon of dish soap & teaspoon of baking soda (bicarb).
- Hang fly paper.
- Protect soil with:
- thin layer of gravel
- or removable plastic bag cover
- Water lightly & avoid sitting water.
- Turn heating down – ideal breeding temperature for gnats is 21-26c / 70-80f – and save money on energy bills whilst you are at it.
- Move seedlings outside once temperature exceeds 18c/65f.
- Use neem oil as natural anti-fungal pest control.
Warm weather and wet soil always attract breeding gnats so drought friendly house plants are a better bet long term for keeping flies away.
Flies In Loft & Attic
Infestations of big flies in lofts and attics are pretty common.
It can feel disgusting but the good – OK not quite so horrid – news is they are typically cluster flies not blow flies so they are not – usually- feeding and breeding on human or animal waste in there.
They are just hibernating.
Cluster Flies In Attic
Colonies of cluster flies typically enter attics in autumn as the weather cools. You may not be aware of them until you hit the loft to get Christmas decorations or some such and they all emerge at once!!
A sickly bad smell in your attic is also a sign they are hibernating.
You can get rid of any flying around with DIY fly spray.
But otherwise you need something to get rid of them when you are not there. Liquid fly traps aren’t a great idea in attics so as an alternative try :
- Fly paper
- Dust spraying with diatomaceous earth which is also great for ants
- Electric fly zappers
If you call in professional pest control they will use fly foggers that release gas to fumigate them. They typically use pyrethrins a naturally derived but pretty hard core ingredient. If you’re confident with most DIY you could make a homemade bug fogger.
Blow Flies In Loft
Although infestations in attics are typically cluster flies, they can also be shiny blow flies.
Blow flies are a sign something – e.g. bird or squirrel – is dead up there. To get rid of the blow flies – which do spread disease – find what they are feeding on and get rid of it.
Be sure to wear disposable gloves and then follow the flies!!
How To Keep Flies Out Of Attics
To prevent cluster flies returning to hibernate in autumn :
- Look for & block entrance gaps
- Install ultra sonic repellers
- Or in early autumn spray the attic with fragrances they hate :
Flies Under Floorboards
Flies emerging from under floorboards can be super distressing.
It is often a sign something is dead down there and in some cases you will need to lift floorboards to deal with it. Use the smell test to tell :
- Dead mice smell pretty nasty.
- Dead rats smell hideously foul.
If you can stick the mouse smell, it will go in 10 days or so. But rats decompose slower and can reek and generate flies for 6 weeks so it is often worth lifting floors to clear.
It is hard to keep mice out but do fix damaged vents, drains and other access points where rats can get in.
Flies Behind Washing Machines & Dishwashers
Flies behind washing machines and dishwashers are typically drain flies, although leaks and dampness behind the machines can allow gnats and phorid flies to breed.
To get rid of flies behind washing machines and dishwashers :
- Use DIY fly spray and quick DIY traps to kill adult flies fast
- Check drain hose is not blocked at connection to main drain
- Run machine empty on hot wash with a cup of vinegar
- Pull out machine & check for leaks, tightening pipe connections
- Clean thoroughly behind machine & dry off the area
- Put down diatomaceous earth behind the machine
Flies In Chimneys
Big flies emerging from chimneys are usually blow flies or cluster flies
If the flies are green or blue and shiny, they are probably blow flies feeding and breeding on a dead bird and you will need to dislodge the bird to get rid of the flies.
If the flies are grey-brown and dull, they are probably cluster flies hibernating for the winter but not breeding. If your fire place is usable, you can smoke them out with a fire.
How To Get Rid Of Flies Outside
We have to be careful getting rid of flies outdoors not to kill every other bug in the garden whilst we’re at it.
Sadly that’s what bug sprays can do.
But there are plenty of quick non toxic ways to keep flies away outdoors that really do work.
The trick is to use a two pronged approach with :
- smells they do NOT like
- BUT also smells they love.
The smells they don’t like are great for keeping flies away when we’re just sitting out enjoying the sun. But when we are eating – especially meat – we need to use smells they love to lure them as far away from us and our dinner as possible.
These tips will help you do both.
Keep Flies Away With Citrus & Cloves
To keep flies away outside simply cut a lemon – or other citrus fruit – in half and stud with cloves, and put in the middle of the table or wherever you are sitting in the garden :
Keep Flies Away Outside With Just A Few Pennies
This weird tip for keeping flies away outside works for lots of people.
All you have to do is :
- Add a cup of water to a ziplock bag
- Chuck in a few copper pennies
- Hang bag near where you’re sitting
Bizarrely the flies stay away!!
DIY Fly Repellent Spray
Spraying ourself with fly repellent spray is a good idea if there are mosquitoes about busy biting.
Obviously, you can buy DEET based repellents and the EPA maintains these are safe for human use and that DEET is valuable for controlling e.g. Lyme Disease.
But if you do avoid DEET you can make your own DIY fly repellent spray easily with simple ingredients.
In a small spray bottle combine :
- 1/2 cup witch hazel
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon of rubbing alcohol or alternatively vodka
- 2 droppers full (100 drops) of any of these essential oils :
Witch hazel and rubbing alcohol are both useful natural ingredients. Witch hazel gets rid of blackheads and rubbing alcohol removes ink and grass stains naturally.
I am not a big essential oil fan at all but keeping a few like lavender and citronella to keep bugs away and repel mosquitoes is a good idea.
If you do use essential oils check out the post below for more tips on making DIY bug spray …
Keeping Flies Away From Food Outside
Some big flies are more attracted to the smell of meat than they are repelled by lemon or lavender and the like. That can making eating outside a nightmare.
So if you struggle with big flies swarming your table put a trap WITH meat in it as far away from where you are going to sit as possible.
You can add the scrap of meat – or fish – to a jar & cone trap like the one below filled with a little water and dish soap. Some people swear by raw shrimp as a bait.
Alternatively you can make a soda bottle trap which may be safer in the garden where it is more likely to get knocked.
How To Recognise Different Types Of Fly
We don’t need to be total fly experts to get rid of flies effectively.
Acting super fast with quick DIY fly traps and DIY fly spray is almost always the best bet.
But sometimes for a persistent fly problem we do need to dive deeper and understand what flies we are actually dealing with. This guide to common flies will help:
- Phorid flies : tiny black
- Fruit flies : tiny brown
- Drain flies : small grey moth like
- Fungus gnats : small mosquito like
- House flies : mid to large sized dullish brown buzzy flies
- Cluster flies : large grey swarming
- Blow flies & blue bottles : large shiny green or blue flies
Phorid flies are small black flies similar to fruit flies.
They lay eggs on all sorts of decaying organic matter from waste food in bins and drains to damp rotting wood such as window frames or skirting boards or basement fittings.
Phorid flies breed fast so don’t ignore the first few you see.
Thoroughly clean with a damp soapy rag anywhere you see them emerging to remove larvae and eggs. If they are in window frames wipe down daily for a week to ensure all eggs and larvae are cleared.
Prevent re-infestation with an ongoing fly trap.
Fruit flies are tiny brown flies attracted to a range of sweet fruit and fermenting or yeasty food including bread.
They can breed in your fruit bowl!
So to prevent fruit flies it is worth rethinking your fruit bowl and storing more fruit in the fridge.
But fruit flies can also breed in bins and waste disposals so emptying and cleaning out often is key to getting rid of fruit flies for good.
A DIY fly trap in the kitchen will stop them taking hold in summer.
Drain flies are small grey moth like flies who breed mostly in built up waste in kitchen drains and in little used basin and shower drains.
They can also breed anywhere else with standing water including forgotten mop buckets!!
The best way to avoid drain fly infestations is to:
- reduce food waste in drain by scraping plates thoroughly
- pouring a kettle of boiling water & dish soap down drain weekly
- get rid of any standing water
- run a dishwasher clean monthly to prevent waste build up in connecting pipe.
If you do have an infestation:
- Put DIY fly traps near sinks
- Blast eggs & larvae off drain walls by putting down drains :
- Tablespoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
- Followed by a cup of vinegar
- And then wash away with boiling water and a squirt of dish soap.
You can confirm suspected drain flies by taping over the plug hole at night with sticky tape of some sort. In the morning drain flies will – supposedly – be stuck to the tape. But if you suspect they are there, I would just clean the drain out anyway rather than faffing around trying to catch them!!
Fungus gnats are tiny mosquito like flies who breed in damp soil.
They are usually a problem indoors because of house plants but also breed in food waste, bins and drains.
They are easy to get rid of with a DIY fly trap but they are very likely to come back if you don’t follow these these tips on flies on house plants.
House flies are bigger brown buzzy flies They are much bigger than e.g. fruit flies but a bit smaller than cluster flies and blue bottles.
They are attracted by food – especially meat & fish – and food waste but also by all sorts of animal waste. They can breed in animal waste, garbage and even grass clippings.
They can spread disease via food they land on so we do need to:
- keep on top of anywhere they might be breeding
- use DIY fly spray to get rid of them
- or an outside fly trap
- cover food if they are around.
Cluster flies are large grey flies – bigger than house flies – that swarm inside in autumn to hibernate in for example attics and chimneys.
The swarms are annoying but cluster flies do not spread much disease or breed indoors.
They breed in soil and are typically the big flies you will see flying low in the garden in the spring even if there is no animal waste around.
Use the tips on flies in attics to get rid of cluster flies.
Blow Flies & Blue Bottles
Blow flies – also known as flesh flies, blue bottles & green bottles – are big buzzy, shiny flies.
They spread disease – including salmonella – and are usually a sign of animal waste or dead animals.
If you have pets or livestock – I have backyard chickens – or visiting foxes it is pretty hard to keep blow flies away outside but keep them as far away from food as possible by clearing animal waste quickly.
A swarm of blow flies indoors is – horribly – almost always a sign of something dead under floorboards, up chimneys or in attics. They are not usually caused by mice which decompose quickly and it is more likely to be a rat, squirrel or large bird which needs to be removed as the blow flies will remain until it is.
Rats can end up dead behind all sorts of appliances including washing machines, dishwashers and ovens so use the blow flies as your guide on where to look!!!
All fly infestations are distressing but blow flies are the worst. You are allowed to scream. I certainly did.
It can also make sense to get help if you are not brilliant at DIY. But be aware that pest control firms will often not do the work to find and remove the carcass, they just put down poison and block holes. Check before they come.
And there you go a big guide to how to get rid of flies naturally fast.
I really hope it helps. Please do leave me your feedback and questions.
And for more natural pest control tips check out these guides :
- Natural Mosquito Repellents
- DIY Mosquito Bite Remedies
- Get Rid Of Ants Naturally
- Get Rid of Slugs & Snails Naturally
- Keep Cats Out Of The Garden
Original image sources under Creative Commons : www.rawpixel.com, plughole, flies, gnat, drain fly, fruit fly, phorid flies, washing machine, house fly, banana
I have an invention of flies for the 5th time outside on my deck patio this is the 3rd year and it has been the worst. I have used a few mastic container that I purchased in Home Depot comes with a packet of some sort of stuff that dissolves in water and flies are attracted to it but the smell after the 2nd week is horrendous. This time is so bad I decided to purchase an electric fly killer which also has worked but not completely. I poured bleach Thru out the entire deck and after all that and 3 weeks later the old flies does and new babies are back. There is no explanation from orkin pest control why they are there. No dead animals and no fruit around my patio. My next move will be to purchase basil and lavender plants and see if that helps
The flies really are so distressing aren’t they? This might sound like a daft question but have you just tried really washing down the patio with soapy dish water? The amazing think about simple washing up liquid is that it changes the surface tension of things so most insects hate it and it’s very good at detaching things like fly eggs. Flies unfortunately are a bit like hair nits – their reproduction cycle is so quick that unless you shift the eggs they’ll keep coming back. If you can dish soap the patio down every day or so for a couple of weeks you might break be able to break the egg cycle. I haven’t tried this but from what I know about flies – !!! – it might do the trick. To kill the adult flies I really do recommend jars of washing up liquid & vinegar in some water. I have got rid of massive infestations with these. They drown themselves in it and it doesn’t smell. I do hope this helps, best wishes Alice
Maria Rochard says
My house is infested with flies. I feel like I live in Amityville Horror. They just keep swarming. I’ve tried everything. So upset I packed up my dogs and set off 12 bug bombs. Aside from moving and an exorcism, I feel disgusted, dirty and desperate!
It really is depressing isn’t it. There are times when they’ve really taken hold that you need to take drastic action as they just breed so quickly. Can you work out what the source of them? If they are small flies, there’s probably not one thing causing them but for any big flies nearly always an underlying problem like drains or dead rodents that kind of thing.
I use tea tree oil. Just dab it here & there. Flies & mosquitoes hate it. We even rub it on our skin when camping/fishing & are fly & mosquito free. Dab it on the tables if having a barbie or picnic. Works a treat.
Lesley pearson says
I have had to combat a fly problem outdoors for years, every summer! I have worked very hard to get rid of them before it gets out of control. The other day I saw a fly outside and didn’t have my fly spray near me so I grabbed the dawn spray to clean dishes, for some reason! Well, I sprayed the fly and it literally became paralyzed and dead on the spot! I couldn’t believe it. I sprayed a mosquito and same thing!
Dawn power wash dish spray apple scent.
It works better then any bug killer spray I have ever purchased!