How to get rid of gnats once and for all – 8 simple methods loved by experts

These eight ways to get rid of gnats are tried and tested by the experts

A longbank of open kitchen windows above a counter with jars of dried goods
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Drawn in by moisture, fruit bowls, garden flowers, or garbage cans, gnats are on of the most frustrating pests to have in your home. 

Luckily, getting rid of gnats is a simple process, and with numerous ways to deal with gnats in the house, there is bound to be a method that works for you and your home. Just like getting rid of fruit flies, and getting rid of fungus gnats, many of the tricks are natural and use products already in your house – making getting rid of gnats easy in homes with young children, the elderly, and pets due to the lack of toxic chemicals. 

Here, we look at eight ways to get rid of all types of gnats from your home and prevent them from coming back.

How to get rid of gnats

One of the biggest mistakes to avoid when getting flies out of the house is relying too heavily on chemical killers. Not only can these be irritating for your skin and airways, but they can also damage your home. 

Instead, experts recommend these eight tried and tested natural methods and cleaning tips to eliminate gnats:

1. Make your own vinegar trap

Drowned fungus gnats in a bottle lid filled with water and syrup

(Image credit: Future/Ruth Hayes)

The simplest way to get rid of gnats is to make a homemade gnat trap to lure them in and drown them, begins Tom Dobrinska, a board-certified entomologist with Elrich Pest Control:

'Vinegar traps can be made by placing a small amount of apple cider vinegar in a clear bowl or jar. Cover the top tightly with plastic wrap and poke several holes in the top, which will allow the adult gnats to enter but will not allow them out. 

'There are also commercially available vinegar traps as well,' he adds. 'These will help eliminate the fruit flies one at a time.'

Apple Cider Vinegar | View at Walmart

Apple Cider Vinegar | View at Walmart
Apple cider vinegar is the best go-to for killing gnats and other flies that infest your home. It's also great for cooking, so it's fantastic to keep at hand in your pantry. 

2. Use peppermint oil sprays

brown spray bottle on window sill near potted plants

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Peppermint oil is a great natural pest control option, especially when made into a bug spray with water and a few drops of liquid dish soap. From getting rid of mice to getting rid of cockroaches, peppermint has the wonderful ability to deter pests from entering your home and bothering you in the first place.  

To use peppermint oil to get rid of gnats, spray the essential oil around your garden, windows, and doors to deter pests from approaching your property. This method is best paired with other preventative measures or removal methods to make sure your gnat problem is taken care of in its entirety. 

When using essential oils to deter pests, make sure you frequently reapply the spray to ensure longer-lasting effects – particularly in gardens after periods of rain. 

3. Make hiding places hostile

kitchen with dark dark gray cabinets, marble worksurface, artwork, wooden shelf and wooden fruit bowl

(Image credit: Space Content Studio/ Living Inside)

One of the first steps in dispelling gnats from your home is to make their common hiding places hostile. The best way to do this is with a homemade bug spray.

'Gnats prefer moist surroundings, therefore they are frequently found close to water sources or in places with high humidity levels,' begins Rich Mullins, plumbing expert at H2O Plumbing. As such, it is helpful to regularly flush out drains (especially if they have a garbage disposal) to stop gnats from living in your plugholes, he says. 

Pouring one cup of baking soda down your drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar, can help clean a kitchen sink drain and flush out the gnats along with it. What's more, it deodorizes your sink, so gnats are less likely to be drawn to your pipework. Be sure to cover the plug with a damp cloth so the vinegar-soda reaction works its way downwards through your pipes and doesn't flow over into the sink. 

As gnats are also drawn to the smell of sweet or ripe fruit, you might also want to mist a mixture of white vinegar and water around your fruit bowl to mask the sweet smell and keep them at bay, adds Sholom Rosenbloom, owner of Rosenbloom Pest Control. 

Cleaning Vinegar | $4.99 at Target

Cleaning Vinegar | $4.99 at Target
Having a container of cleaning vinegar in your cleaning cabinet is essential for all sorts of household chores. 

Rich Mullins

H2O Plumbing was established in 2003 by Richard M Mullins Jr.  They're equipped to handle many types of repairs and installations, and are skilled at working with up-to-date plumbing technology.

4. Try sticky traps to trap gnats

A square of yellow fly tape in an orange tree outside

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If you have noticed a sudden influx of gnats and they've never been a problem before, or if they're a regular problem that good housekeeping doesn't seem to sort, the most effortless way to get rid of them is to invest in a few sticky traps designed for the job. 

You simply place these where gnats have been seen; the gnats are attracted to the traps and stick to them, where they will die. Garsum Yellow Sticky Traps, from Amazon are the most highly rated. 

5. Encourage them out by opening (and closing) windows

Kitchen sink and window with green cabinets

(Image credit: Roundhouse)

Ironically, both opening and closing windows can solve your gnat problem. If the gnats are finding their way indoors from your yard (perhaps they've found a drain they particularly love, and it's near an open window), shutting or fitting a fly screen will help. 

If, however, gnats have gathered in a room and it's windy outdoors, opening up windows to create a breeze indoors will discourage them from hanging about. They are not great flyers and tend to dislike rooms with good air movement.

Whatever the reason for gnats in your home, it is important to remember that simply leaving a window open to encourage them out won't be enough if you haven't found what is luring them in, warns Mike Duncan, pest control expert, and technical manager at Truly Nolan Pest Control:

'While there are many DIY ways to control adult gnats with things such as sticky traps or a 50/50 mixture of soapy water and vinegar, these are strictly 'band-aids' to the real issue. Correcting the breeding source is the real key to stopping the insects from their continual invasion of your home.'

How to prevent gnats

Gnats buzzing in a group outside

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Prevention is always better than the cure, so trying to prevent gnats from coming in should be your first line of defence. 

Maintain a clean home

vinegar for cleaning

(Image credit: Getty images / Ivan Bajic)

The best way to get rid of gnats is to prevent them from coming into your house in the first place, says Gabriella Dyson, Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens. 

As we said above, having doors and windows open will encourage them in, but so will a number of untended household chores. So if you have a gnat problem, Gabrella suggests:

  • Empty the trash can regularly and keep outdoor trash covered and concealed
  • Wipe up spills as they happen to prevent sweet, sticky messes
  • Wash dishes or put them straight in the dishwasher and close the door
  • Store fruit correctly and throw out or use any overripe pieces as soon as you spot them
  • Keep leftovers sealed away in the fridge
  • Ensure your compost is covered
  • Keep drains clean and odor-free
Gabriella Dyson
Gabriella Dyson

Gabriella Dyson is Head of Solved at Homes & Gardens, editing and writing practical advice for homeowners in the process of cleaning, decluttering, or attempting home improvements and DIY projects. Gabriella previously worked on, writing features about issues surrounding historic and listed building projects.

Avoid overwatering plants

Houseplants on plant stands

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You may have noticed that there are a lot of gnats around your indoor plants. This is often because plant soil is moist, which can be a breeding ground for gnats. If you want to get rid of gnats in plants, these are probably fungus gnats, and you'll want to allow your plants' soil to dry out between watering to create a less hospitable home for them. 

'Fungus gnats or sciarid flies love damp soil, so the more you water your plants the more they will be attracted,' says John Stewart, from the technical team at eco-friendly pest control brand Green Protect. 'They normally feed on decaying organic material, but when found in our homes, they are a real nuisance. To prevent and control this species of fly, do not overwater your plants. You can easily monitor for the presence of these pests with yellow sticky traps. There are simple water level indicators or monitors that can be bought from garden centers to ensure that plants are not over or underwatered.

'However, if the flies are established, the larvae can be killed with biological control using nematode worms. The worms will seek and destroy the maggots, and they are safe to use around humans and pets.'

Using cinnamon in soil is also said to get rid of gnats in the house. 

Keep your home cool and dry

Air purifier in house with plants

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'Gnats are attracted to moist and dirty areas, so keeping your home clean
and dry is important,' reminds Rick Sun, pest control expert at Green Leaf Air. Thus, maintaining your home's humidity level is a must. 

Besides cleaning with vinegar to remove hidden sticky residues, be sure to also check for and fix leaks or dampness (getting rid of mold too, where needed), and consider investing in a dehumidifier for rooms that are regularly humid, such as a laundry room, bedroom, or bathroom. 


Are gnats harmful?

Most gnats are not harmful to humans, though some can give you bites a little, like mosquito bites. Fungus gnats are those that love your houseplants; in large numbers, they can damage plants' roots and growth. Fruit flies are attracted to rotten fruit but love any sweet liquids, such as vinegar and red wine. Drain flies can be found buzzing around your home's drains, while midges are more likely to gather around standing water, such as your backyard's water features.

Where do gnats lay eggs?

Gnats lay their eggs in the places they love to feed and hide, namely, dirty garbage disposals and drains, compost bins, garbage cans, and anywhere moist and humid. They will also lay eggs into rotting fruit and vegetables, including those in your fruit bowl or pantry.

Can gnats lay eggs in clothes?

Gnats may lay eggs in clothes if they are left damp and undisturbed for a period of time, so making sure your laundry room is equipped to dry your clothing properly is essential. If gnats have laid eggs on damp clothes, there is a chance that larvae (maggots) will hatch within a few days or weeks. 

If you find gnat eggs or larvae on clothing, do not throw the item away. Instead, lay the clothing out as best you can outside and sprinkle it with salt to kill the maggots. Once you wipe off the residue, put the clothing in a washing machine at a high temperature to kill any remaining bugs or bacteria before drying thoroughly. 

One of the biggest pest control mistakes you can make when dealing with irritants such as gnats is leaving the problem to worsen. It is highly unlikely that gnats will ever go away on their own if they find somewhere to live. You should act to get rid of gnats as soon as you spot one or two lingering around your home to avoid them multiplying rapidly. Check for entry points and trap and kill any offenders in your home before it becomes an infestation. 

Chiana Dickson
Content Editor

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for two years, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.

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