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How to Get Rid of Flies

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Author Icon Written by Brenda Woods Updated 03/22/2024

The vast majority of flies that may take up residence in your house are not harmful, but they can be a nuisance. Most homeowners want them gone as soon as possible. In this guide, we will cover how to get rid of flies and steps you can take to keep them away. If you feel your fly problem is already out of control, we recommend contacting a top pest control company for professional assistance.

This video from The Home Depot offers some tips on how to keep flies away from your house, including focusing on outdoor fly control using fly catchers, fly zappers, or repellent torches.

Identifying Common Flies

While many methods for getting rid of flies may work for multiple varieties of insects, it’s important to identify the type of fly in your house in order to prevent the infestation from coming back. Some fly species reproduce indoors, so it is not enough to kill mature adult flies—you must also eliminate the eggs and larvae. Here are some of the most common and widely distributed fly species.

Although fruit flies are useful for scientific research thanks to their short life cycles and simple genetics, they’re a real pain if they get in your pantry. Fortunately, these flies are mostly just annoyances, but they reproduce quickly and can sometimes carry bacteria from one surface to another. Common breeding sites include even small amounts of old produce outside of the refrigerator, like those found in a poorly cleaned garbage can or disposal.
These yellow-brown flies are very small—only about 1/10 inch in length. They live for about 50 days, but female fruit flies can start reproducing about 12 hours after they hatch. You’re most likely to see fruit flies in the late summer and early fall.
House flies, true to their name, are perhaps the most common indoor fly, and they can be found nearly everywhere in the world that humans live. They tend to congregate on garbage and animal waste, and they can bring germs with them wherever they land. They also contaminate food with their own waste and saliva, making a house fly infestation an immediate health hazard. Although they don’t carry disease on their own, they can potentially transmit germs from infected people.
These flies are about 1/4 inch long and have gray or black bodies with big red eyes and a single pair of wings. They normally only live for 7–10 days, but a single female house fly can lay up to 500 eggs in that time. Like fruit flies, house flies are most common in late summer and early fall.
If you’re seeing flies in your bathroom rather than around food, you might have an infestation of drain flies. These pests feed on the bacteria found in damp plumbing, so they can thrive near a sink or bathtub drain or around a leaky pipe. While they don’t bite or spread disease, they can be hard to get rid of. They’re most commonly found in humid areas of the world.
Though drain flies are sometimes confused with house flies, their wings have a distinctly furry, moth-like appearance. They live for about 20 days and only breed once, but since they often lay their eggs deep in drains, where they can withstand dehydration for weeks, these flies can be a persistent problem.

Ways to Get Rid of Flies

Here’s how to get rid of fruit flies, house flies, and drain flies.

Fly Traps

Since fruit flies and house flies are both attracted to the sugar in produce, it’s easy enough to make your own fly traps out of common household materials. Follow these simple steps to create a trap.

  1. Find a bowl or jar to serve as a trap.
  2. Bait the trap with a sugary substance. Apple cider vinegar attracts flies, as do pieces of fruit.
  3. Cover the opening of the jar with plastic wrap and use a pin to poke small holes in the wrap. This will trap flies by luring them in with the scent and preventing them from escaping. If you don’t have plastic wrap, create a funnel shape out of a piece of paper with a small opening at the end. Use tape to secure the funnel and place it point-side down in the jar. Flies will be able to get in but not out.
  4. You can also fill a jar with about an inch of apple cider vinegar topped with a teaspoon of dish soap. The flies will land on the mixture to feed but will be unable to escape.

Natural Drain Fly Control

Drain flies are usually harder to control than other types because of where they nest and reproduce, and their eggs are often unharmed by water and common cleaners. Trapping adult flies usually won’t solve the problem, as they’ve likely already laid eggs. Instead, clean drains manually with your favorite organic or synthetic cleaner and plenty of old-fashioned elbow grease.

If you have metal pipes, you can also control drain flies by pouring a pot of boiling water down the drain once or twice a day for a week.

Synthetic Chemical Fly Control

While you can’t pour pesticides down the drain in an attempt to control drain flies, you may have some luck with chemical unclogging products like Drano. These won’t kill the flies themselves, but they may flush out any obstructions where the flies may be breeding. There are also enzymatic drain cleaners that will kill the bacteria and scum that drain flies feed on and lay their eggs in.

If you’ve cleaned and sanitized your home and you’re still having fly problems, get rid of house flies with chemical bait stations. However, don’t start actually spraying chemicals around your home until you’ve consulted with pest control professionals.

Call the Professionals

Some pest problems ultimately require professional help. Pest control providers will identify the species you’re dealing with and apply the most appropriate solutions. Often, they’ll identify where or how the flies are entering your home and remedy the problem to keep flies from coming back. Many even offer organic or pet-friendly options, so don’t hesitate to ask for help.

FAQ About How to Get Rid of Flies

How do I get rid of lots of flies in my house?

You can use fly traps, natural drain fly control, and synthetic chemical fly control to get rid of flies in your house. If those methods don’t work, it may be time to call in the professionals. 

What gets rid of flies the fastest?

A homemade trap can help you quickly get rid of flies. Follow these steps to make your own:

  • Find a bowl or jar to serve as a trap.
  • Bait the trap with a sugary substance such as apple cider vinegar or pieces of fruit.
  • Cover the opening of the jar with plastic wrap and use a pin to poke small holes in the wrap. Flies will be able to get in but not out.

What is the fastest way to get rid of flies outside?

To get rid of flies outside, try using fly catchers, fly zappers, or repellent torches.

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