How to Get Rid of Gnats

By Kealia Reynolds

Though harmless, gnats are a common household nuisance that swarm around overripe food and actively reproduce in moist spaces, like your bathroom or kitchen sink. Simple household remedies will eliminate your gnat problem, but you may need to hire an exterminator for larger infestations. Here’s how to identify a gnat problem, how to get rid of gnats quickly, and the steps you can take to prevent future gnat infestations.

How to identify gnats

Gnats are tiny flying insects that have six long legs and one set of wings. The gnat species encompasses a variety of small flies, including fruit flies, drain flies, and fungus gnats.

  • Fruit flies—These yellow-brown flies have red eyes and feathery-looking wings.
  • Drain flies—Typically light grey or brown, drain flies have a fuzzy, moth-like appearance.
  • Fungus gnats—Mostly black in color, fungus gnats have very long legs and antennae compared to the rest of their body.

While some gnat species like fungus gnats prefer houseplant soil, others like fruit flies will seek out decomposing food on counters or in the trash. You can also find gnats in moist environments like kitchen sinks and bathrooms.

Natural Solutions Get rid of gnats by setting out an apple cider vinegar trap

How to get rid of gnats: natural solutions

If you have children or pets, natural homemade remedies may be your best defense at getting rid of gnats. Try the following chemical-free methods:

  • Set out apple cider vinegar—Find a Mason jar and fill it with apple cider vinegar. After filling the jar, place plastic wrap over the opening and secure it with a rubber band. Poke tiny holes in the plastic wrap with a nail or toothpick. Because gnats are attracted to the scent of vinegar, they will fly into the jar and become trapped. Dispose of the vinegar trap after a couple of days.
  • Make a red wine trap—Using a small drinking glass, pour in red wine until the glass is three-quarters full. Add a drop of dish soap and stir it in gently with a straw or spoon. Gnats are attracted to wine and will try to sit on the liquid’s surface. Because the dish soap breaks the wine’s barrier, the gnats will fall straight through the liquid and drown.
  • Mash up banana slices—Mash one or two overripe bananas and place them in a bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke holes in the covering with a toothpick. Then, leave the bowl on your kitchen counter. Gnats are attracted to overripe food and will enter the trap, ultimately getting stuck. Throw the remnants in the trash once all gnats have disappeared.
  • Set out rotten fruit—Similar to the banana trick, place rotten or overripe fruit in a plastic container and cover it with plastic wrap. Make sure you poke tiny holes through the top with a toothpick or nail. Put the container on your kitchen counter or in your pantry. Since gnats are attracted to rotten and damaged fruit, they will swarm to the container, enter the trap, and get stuck. Dispose of the container once all of the gnats have died.
  • Invest in a non-toxic lure—This type of gnat trap is an all-natural commercial solution that gets rid of gnats and fruit flies. Try the Bye Bye Fruit Fly natural lure—simply pour this solution in a ramekin or small bowl and leave it on the counter by your fruits or vegetables. Gnats and fruit flies will flock to the solution and drown in it. When all of the fruit flies have died, pour the solution down the drain.

Chemical Solutions Pour bleach down your kitchen sink to remove drain gnats and their eggs

How to get rid of gnats: chemical solutions

When using chemical solutions, always take safety precautions—like protecting your eyes with goggles and keeping chemicals away from small children and pets. Here are a few chemical methods for eradicating gnats from your home.

Pour bleach down the sink

Drain flies thrive in dark, damp conditions like kitchen or bathroom drains. Not only will they manifest in these areas, but they’ll also lay their eggs in the sludge that accumulates in a drain. To get rid of these flies, dilute a cup of bleach with water before pouring it down the drain.

As an alternative to bleach, pour a couple tablespoons of baking soda down the drain followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let the mixture sit for several hours before running any water.

Use an insect fogging product

If you’re dealing with a larger infestation, consider using an insect fogger to eliminate the pesky bugs. To prepare for fogging, close doors and windows, turn off your HVAC unit, disarm your smoke detector, open cabinets, and cover or remove exposed food. Use only one fogger per room.

Consider using the Hot Shot Fogger—it kills gnats on contact, leaves minimal messes, and neutralizes odors. Leave your house while the fogger is working—usually it takes up to three hours— and make sure to take your pets and children with you.

At the end of the day, some pest infestations call for professional help, so don’t lose hope if you’re still having problems with gnats in your home. Another option to consider for a large gnat infestation is to hire a professional exterminator. A pest control specialist will assess the problem and recommend possible treatment options to eradicate the gnats.

Prevention Clean dishes as soon as you're done with a meal to remove a gnat's food source

How to prevent future gnat infestations

To avoid dealing with gnats in the future, ensure your home is protected against these pests.

  • Tend to your potted plants—If you have indoor plants, fungus gnats may be living in them. Since these gnats are attracted to moisture, invest in top-quality pot soil and don’t overwater your houseplants.
  • Get rid of damp areas—Look around your home for any damp areas, particularly in your kitchen and bathroom. Drain gnats thrive in damp environments, so keep these areas as dry as possible by regularly wiping down the sink and counters with dry towels and spraying disinfectant.
  • Clean up dirty dishes—Get in the habit of cleaning dishes as soon as you’re done with a meal and removing them from the sink.
  • Regulate your trash—Contain the odor of your trash by investing in a covered trash can. If you don’t have a covered trash can, consider placing newspaper over your garbage to conceal the odor. This goes for your outdoor cans as well—if the ones outside your home are open, gnats can feast on rotten food and enter your house through open windows or cracks in doors. Cover your outdoor garbage with a lid or newspaper to prevent gnats from living off of your discarded food.
  • Eliminate the gnats’ food source—Stick produce in the refrigerator or inside airtight containers as often as possible. It’s also a good idea to rinse fruits and vegetables as soon as you bring them home from the store. Produce may have gnat eggs or tiny larvae, which can lead to an infestation.
  • Check doors and windows—If you notice gnats outside your home, check all of your doors and windows to ensure they’re properly sealed with no gaps. If you need to leave windows open, use a fly screen with a tight mesh to prevent gnats from entering your home.

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