How to get rid of fruit flies using apple cider vinegar, homemade traps and expert tips

Want to know how to get rid of fruit flies quickly? They're everywhere at the moment – but it's super easy to be rid of them, and can be done with ingredients from your kitchen

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(Image credit: Getty)

Need to know how to get rid of fruit flies? 

We detailed how to get rid of flying insects if you're unsure about which winged beastie you're dealing with, but we think fruit flies need their own special mention as most households are plagued by them more often than not.

These tiny pests can be a real nuisance, circling round your dining table, getting stuck in kitchen lights, and just generally creating a mess. The trouble is that like all other species of flies they breed fast, so once a couple are in, you're guaranteed to have more, for a good while. 

On her blog, MarthaStewart.com, the housekeeping guru says: "Like other flies, fruit flies develop from larvae, and fruit-fly larvae must have moist, fermenting organic matter in order to survive."

Luckily, fruit flies are easy to get rid of – everything you need for the job is already in your kitchen.

  • Not sure you've got fruit flies? Houseflies are often confused with fruit flies. Find out more about them in our how to get rid of flies guide.

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(Image credit: Brooke Lark on Unsplash)
Are fruit flies harmful?

They can potentially make you ill, even though they're small. Just like other flies, fruit flies transfer bacteria from one surface to another. So, if you've got fruit flies on your fruit bowl, it's likely you've got their bacteria on your tea cups, wine glass and dinner plates, too.

Identifying fruit flies

The first thing to determine, is whether your problem is actually fruit flies, or whether you have a different type of fly in your house.

Are they congregating mainly around your sink? They're drain flies. Around your house plants? These aren't fruit flies either. Fruit flies stay true to their name, although you'll also see them devouring drink spills and, sometimes, even circling around your desserts.

Paul Blackhurst, Head of Technical Academy at Rentokil Pest Control explains more: "Fruit flies are nuisance pests, however they have the potential to cross contaminate food stuffs with bacteria and pathogens from unsanitary locations they’ve frequented such as rubbish bins, fermenting, decaying vegetation and drains."

"Also, the tiny fruit fly larvae once hatched feed directly on the over-ripened food, and if you inadvertently consume them they can cause discomfort and diarrhoea."

Read on for the best ways to rid yourself of these little critters for good.

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(Image credit: TARIK KIZILKAYA, Getty)

1. How to get rid of fruit flies with apple cider vinegar

One of the best ways to get rid of fruit flies is to try and trap them in a container of liquid, in which they'll eventually drown. Fruit flies particularly love the smell of vinegar and wine (it is the smell of fermenting foods they go for afterall.) The trick is to make sure that once you've lured them in, they can't get out.

You will need to do the following:

  • Use a tall jar with a funnel made from a sheet of paper, or a bottle with a narrow mouth, such as a wine bottle.
  • Fill your vessel about one-fifths with either wine or apple cider vinegar.
  • Watch them flock to their demise.

2. Listen to the pest control experts

We caught Rentokil's David Cross talking on Radio 4 recently and he came up with the best formula for getting rid of fruit flies for good: exclude; restrict; destruct; monitor.

Let's break that down:

  • Exclude: Keep doors and windows shut where possible. There are tons of these flies living outside and they can detect food that's on the turn.
  • Restrict: Keep food in the fridge where possible or covered if not.
  • Destruct: Use insecticides to kill adults; that will limit the spread.
  • Monitor: A bowl of apple cider left out will attract fruit flies – and help you see how effective your efforts at getting rid of them can be.

3. Make a homemade fruit fly trap

Our personal favourite for effectiveness is a sticky homemade trap with basic kitchen ingredients, and no funnels or bottle needed. Be prepared, though, it is a bit smelly.

Here's how to make your homemade trap:

  1. Fill your preferred container with a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and overripe fruit (we're talking fruit that's starting to get mushy and smell boozy).
  2. The more viscous the consistency, the better the trap, so keep adding the sugar until everything is really thick and sticky.
  3. Another great option is stale beer – use it on its own or add to the mixture. It won't smell pleasant, but the flies will be drawn to the stuff like to a magnet.

These following tips are also worth noting:

  • We don't recommend using ripe fruit in a jar on its own, as the flies will most likely get back out – having gorged on the fruit.
  • Make sure your ripe fruit hasn't gone mouldy and don't bother using other off food, as the flies won't like it (nor will you).

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(Image credit: Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash)

4. Keep your kitchen clean and tidy

We know it's pretty obvious but prevention is better than the cure and that really starts with a clean kitchen.

When you next don your rubber gloves, make sure you do the following:

  • Chuck any fruit that's beginning to decompose, and clean your fruit bowl to get rid of any juicy residue.
  • Take out your trash regularly, especially during the summer.
  • Scrub all surfaces regularly, getting rid of crumbies and spillages.

5. Eliminate the source of the fruit fly problem

Trapping the adult fruit flies is only half the battle. Eggs may still be lurking on other items in your home which will inevitably lead to more fruit flies to contend with.

With that in mind, the best thing to do is try to find and eliminate food and breeding sources where possible.

Flies also like dark and damp spaces, so ensure your kitchen is well lit and ventilated.

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