How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

By , Toby Amidor, Food Network’s Healthy Eats
Do pesky fruit flies hover around your fresh produce? Find out how you can get them out of your kitchen.

Fruit Flies 101

Adult fruit flies (Drosiphila melanogaster) range in size from 1 to 2 millimeters, have red eyes and tan or brownish body. They like to lay their eggs on fruit that’s getting ready to be harvested; that’s how they make it into your home, though they can come in through open doors and windows. Once in your home, these small flies will hang out near rotting fruit, especially old bananas hanging out on your counter. These flies reproduce quickly—they can lay up to 500 eggs over the course of their 1-week lifespan.

Other common breeding grounds for these bugs include decaying meat, large spills of sugary soda or alcohol, sink drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, trash receptacles, wet mops and dirty rags. 

What You Can Do
Besides being annoying, these pests can spread germs in your house. Although they’re not easy to eliminate, your first line of action is to get rid of their food and breeding ground. If you’re not sure where they’re breeding, tape a clear plastic bag over the opening of the suspect area (like your drain)—you’ll see fruit flies in the morning if they’re present.
Here are ways to eliminate their access to food:
  • Discard overripe fruit sitting on counters. Any cracked fruit or damaged portions of fruit and veggies that have been sitting out in your kitchen should be cut off before eating.
  • Store fruit and veggies in the refrigerator (only until you get rid of the issue).
  • Clean spills immediately.
  • Wipe counters and empty trash cans regularly.
  • Check recycling bin and make sure all containers are rinsed thoroughly—they may be breeding there.
  • Properly clean the inside of drainpipes in order to remove any decaying material the flies may be feeding off of.
  • Make sure windows and doors are properly screened.

Click here for more tips on how to get rid of fruit flies from Food Network.

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The easiest way to get rid of fruit flies is to pour a half cup of bleach down all your drain traps, let sit for 5 minutes and rinse. It kills the larvae which stops the life cycle. There is no need to leave unattractive bowls of vinegar laying around. Report
Best way I have found to eliminate them once they are in the house is find the source and throw it out! Get a dead banana and a few empty cans, put a few pieces of the banana and peel in each can (save some of the banana in a sealed bag in the fridge in case you need to do it again), put a sandwich bag over the can loosely so the bag has lots of room on top so once the flies get in they can't find the holes to get out, tape the bag firmly around the can, I also use a rubber band to be sure none get past the tape and use a corn cob holder to poke two holes at a time in about 3-4 areas in the bag on top. Don't put the holes in the obvious top where they will be searching once they get into the can. Leave out for max 4 days as the larvae will be walking around by then! Cover holes with tape and take outside to trash. If all the flies are gone, you're finished, if not, set up a few more and that should do it, no mess, no fuss, no harsh open bowls and few flies escape! Report
As others have shared setting out a bowl of vinegar with a squirt of dish detergent in it works wonders as a death trap for the flies (in addition to also following the good suggestions given in the article). I tried just vinegar and it didn't work. I don't know why adding the dish detergent is necessary but it is. Report
Flies, generally, do not like basil. I keep a plant or two in my kitchen to keep houseflies away, so a pot by the fruit may have the same effect on fruit flies. Report
The saran wrap is so they can't take a sip and fly off to lay eggs.

the vinegar attracts them most because they need a touch of it to either fertilize or lay the eggs. Can't remember. just something I heard a couple years ago. Report
I use to get fruit flies all the time when i owned a bar. A pest controll guy told me to start putting eucalyptus around the open bottle. Never had a problem after that. It's a chemical free way to get rid of them & smells much better than vinegar. Report
The best way is to put vinegar-cider vinegar works best-in a little bowl,put a seran wrap tightly around the top,poke littles holes and leave it on the counter.
You'll be suprised at how fast the flies get in there! Report
I also recommend pouring a tiny amount of bleach down your drain and then sealing the drain with saran wrap. It helps get rid of the flies in your garbage disposal! Report
I have used the vinegar and dish liquid for years and it is spraying around, no cleaning up, just replace the liquid from time to time and you are good to go. We call it a bug bath or bug juice.........whatever you call it, they go IN but don't come OUT!! Report
I don't believe it... I tried the vinegar and soap and it WORKED!!! Usually when I try something it doesn't work for me but this one is a winner. Report
I vacuum them out of the air! I leave the vacuum in the kitchen for a couple hours and every time I walk through, I move something so they start flying and suck them up. Gets rid of most of them. I also try to keep my fruit and tomatoes in paper bags when they're on my counter. Report
I used to work in the front office of a warehouse that had food items. We would put a lemon slice in a mug, cover with wrap poked with holes. Every day we would put the mug in the freezer overnight, and put another one out on the counter, switching morning and evening. Took a few days, but it was natural as we couldn't use chemicals because of the food in the warehouse. Report
Wow, this was very interesting! I didn't realize. Thank you for sharing. Report
Thanks for the info! Report
If you need to get rid of them in a hurry, I've found the best way is by spraying lysol or another disinfectant spray over the entire area- making sure that any food items are removed before- and then cleaning everything with a clean dish rag or paper towel. Come back in about 15 minutes, and repeat if necessary.

If you want to do it the "natural" way, fill a spray bottle 7/8 full with water, and fill the rest of the way with dish soap and use that to spray instead of the lysol. The lysol just kills them faster. Then, pour baking soda and vinegar down your drains to clean them, in case that's the culprit.

I've never had them more than a single day using those two techniques. Report
I am so happy to get this info. I live in Louisiana, and cannot get rid of them. They also hang around my cat's food. YUK! Thanks to everyone for these extremely useful tips. Report
So we went away for Labor Day weekend and came home to fruit flies! I had taken all our fruit off the table with us, so not sure where they came from! But this makes sense!!! Anyways, I found on Pinterest that you can do 50 / 50 of water and pine sol in a spray bottle and spray counters. I think it said for "outside" use, but I tried it in my kitchen and saw a huge difference of them. I still have some, so will try the vinegar and dish soap. Thanks for posting and thanks to Sparks for the article!!! Report
low flying airplanes? Oh my! Report
If you want them gone quickly due to guests coming or something, protect what you have to (such as electronics and the outlet for plugs) and spray them with water. It drowns them. You have to put the setting on your spray bottle at a strong mist to catch them flying. Then you have to run paper towels over everything you got wet. This will not kill eggs, of course, but it gets them gone temporarily. If you have children, they really love the job of getting rid of the fruit flies. Report
I too, use the vinegar and soap with great success. Report
My mother uses a pitcher plant near her fruit bowl. I've started to see a few fruit flies and have been considering buying a pitcher plant. When we had drain flies, I tried the vinegar trick and got no flies. Perhaps I used too much soap and they weren't attracted. Report
Thank you for the tips. Great for us that live in the tropical. Report
I have a small dish with apple cider vinegar and dish soap on my counter now and there are a lot of dead flies in it from today. Fresh solution every day seems to do it. I've never heard of covering it with clear wrap. It seems to work fine without it so I guess you could do either, Report
As a native Floridian, I can remember fruit flies when I was growing up. I remember the spraying of horrid smelling spray from low flying airplanes. I wonder what THAT did to OUR health?? But since air conditioning, I haven't had fruit flies inside the house. Knock on wood. I HAVE had them in the garbage can outside when something stayed in the can for a week. But thanks to you, if we lose power the next hurricane, I'll know what to do about them, because the nasty little things know how to weather the storm. Report
Leftover wine with soap also does the trick. Report
Appreciate the info. Report
I find that rum works the best. I usually put a small amount in a small shot glass, covered in plastic wrap with holes poked in it. I leave it close to where the majority of the flies seem to be residing. I just introduced the method to my mother who seems to be infested with them. Within hours, she had over 20 in one cup. I also find they are caught more so in a dark environment. Report
The vinegar trick definitely works... I've used white vinegar, red wine vinegar, and balsamic, they all work. I put a few tablespoons in a ramekin, with a drop or two of dish soap and set it on the counter (if the smell is too strong, you can even dilute it a little with water). It attracts them within minutes... I put out a fresh bowl each day until they are gone :) Report
An uncomfortable correction...fruit flies can live up to two months or more and can lay up to 500 eggs in one day. They can live for two or more weeks on just water and a tiny bit of sugar which is why it's so hard to get ride of them. Oh and just as an f.y.i. you add dish soap because the detergent decreases the surface tension of the water, so the flies can't stand on the surface. I've also seen the vinegar trick work with a glass and a funnel but I'm guessing the saran wrap will work nicely as well. Report
I despise those things. I guess I thought they were just nats. Dislike them too. I'm going to try the apple cider vinegar. Thanks Kittyroxx! Report
I am so glad I found this blog. These things have been driving me nuts. I cleaned, got rid of the fruit and emptied trash and they are still hanging around. I will set the "trap" for them. Thanks! Report
I just put the apple cider vinegar with a drop of dish soap in a small dish/saucer/pickle dish without covering it, and they find it and drown. Report
We do the same as Kittyroxx but with wine---what a way to go:) Report
If you have room in your freezer you might want to keep any banana peels, fruit/vegetable skins, etc. in a bag and keep them in the freezer til trash pick-up day. That way they won't stink up the refrigerator or be a nuisance in the kitchen trash--(even putting it in a separate plastic bag in the trash those things can still get in--very tenacious creatures) Will have to try the vinegar trick! Report
The best way to get rid of them quickly is to vacuum them up. Much quicker than the vinegar and dishsoap :) Report
the vinegar trick works beautifully... Report
Yup, they like vinegar, and fermented things. I can vouch for the effectiveness of the trap KITTYROXX suggests.

Little-known fact: what we call "fruit flies" (Drosophilidae) actually are "vinegar flies."

True "fruit flies" are in the Tephritidae family. :-) Report
Kitty I always thought it was just white vinegar to use...

We had to get rid of them when we moved into the our new apartment.....the people in the apartment behind left food and everything you could think of in their kitchen and their sink....took us forever to get rid of them.. Report
That's a great eco-friendly way of dealing with this issue. Will try if I find them around. Report
I have a little natural trick to get rid of fruit flies: I put some apple cider vinegar in a small bowl (regular vinegar works too, but apple cider vinegar is better), put a tiny drop of dish soap into the bowl, then cover it with plastic wrap, securing it with a rubber band around the bowl. Then, with a toothpick I poke some holes into the plastic wrap (just big enough for the flies to get in). Check the bowl in a few days; you would be amazed how many dead flies there are! Report
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