How to kill maggots: effective techniques to get rid of fly larvae naturally, and with bleach

Learn how to kill maggots if you've discovered you have an infestation and want to get rid of them as soon as possible

A modern white kitchen with slim black bar stool and grey recycling trash cans
(Image credit: Wesco Living UK)

Let's cut to the chase, you want to know how to kill maggots having just discovered an infestation. And we can't say we blame you. Maggots and house flies go hand in hand and, not only are maggots completely gross, but having them in your home, bins, or garden isn't hygienic considering the fact that they can carry E. coli and may make you, or your family, unwell. 

Thankfully, you can quickly kick maggots to the curb using vinegar, boiling water, and other ingredients you'll likely have lying around the house. Get your Marigolds on people, we're about to dive in and show you how to get rid of maggots.

How to get rid of maggots

First off, we're sure you know what they look like, but if you're in any doubt about how to identify these bugs in your home, buckle up because the description isn't pretty. You're looking out for small cream / off-white-colored worms that are about half an inch long, with mini ridges (aka annuli) on their bodies. Typically, if you're a bit lax with your bin schedule or you've left food to expire, you'll see these wriggling about en masse.

You will need:

1. Your kettle (opens in new tab)
2. Baking soda:
buy bicarb on Amazon (opens in new tab)
3. White vinegar:
a natural cleaner and condiment (opens in new tab)
4. Table salt:
cheap sodium will do (opens in new tab)
5. A lime:
Amazon Fresh has lots of citrus fruit options (opens in new tab)
6. Rubber gloves:
get these longer-length Marigolds (opens in new tab)
7. Antibacterial wipes:
remove germs in a swipe (opens in new tab)
8. Mesh food covers:
cover your fare (opens in new tab)
9. Paper towels:
soak up bin juice and other liquids (opens in new tab)
10. Antibacterial cleaning spray:
like this from Method (opens in new tab)
11. Microfiber cloths:
pick your favorite soft dustcloth (opens in new tab)
12. Your best washing-up liquid:
dish soap does wonders (opens in new tab)
13. Thin bleach:
kills bugs and bacteria (opens in new tab)
A mop (opens in new tab) or steam cleaner (opens in new tab)
15. A plastic carrier bag /
dog poop bags (opens in new tab)
16. A
handheld vacuum cleaner (opens in new tab)
17. Eco-friendly insecticide:
shop neem oil from Natria (opens in new tab)

Modern green shaker kitchen cabinetry with brass handles and blue and white kitchen trash cans inside

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

1. Boiling water

None of our approaches are particularly vegan-friendly, but hey, they certainly get the job done. One of the easiest methods for killing maggots is to simply pour a kettle full of boiling water over the maggot infestation, as this will kill them instantly.

Then, you can drain off the water – if you've found maggots in your bin, for example – and clean the area effectively. Quick, simple, and effective. If your garbage container whiffs a bit, you can add a little distilled vinegar (opens in new tab) to the hot water (1:3 ratio) to get rid of any pungent smells.

Follow up by sprinkling a good amount of baking soda (opens in new tab) over the crime scene. Cleaning with bicarb will also eliminate any unsavory scents from food that's gone a little funky, and is naturally anti-bacterial too.

2. Use vinegar, salt or lime

Another easy way to kill maggots is to use ingredients that will (effectively) cause them to shrivel up (similar to getting rid of slugs)...maybe try not to think about that one too much.

For the best results, we'd recommend covering the maggots with a liberal amount (read: a hell of a lot) of your weapon of choice. Leave it to work its magic and come back a few hours later to scoop away the debris using an outurned carrier bag or dog poop bag (these eco-friendly, leak-proof refuse sacks from Earth Rated on Amazon (opens in new tab) have handy tie handles). Hasta la vista mister maggot.

3. Treat them with insecticide 

Picture the scene: you've spent a substantial amount of time nurturing your herb garden, tending to your tomatoes, and keeping the slugs away from your strawberries only to discover that your local maggot community has stormed the castle. Let battle commence.

Spray your plants with a good amount of insecticide – they used to do something similar in the Middle Ages, but with hot oil – and watch the maggots run. Sweet, sweet victory.

If you are looking for an eco-friendly cleaner and non-toxic garden pest control, neem oil (opens in new tab) is a planet-friendly product that is also used to get rid of aphids on your roses and other precious plants.

How to stop a maggot infestation in the first place

If you're finding them in your kitchen bin at home it's likely that they've got there via flies who've laid eggs on food that's been left out – from leftovers of your dinner, fruit rotting in the fruit bowl to uneaten dog/cat food. So, in hot weather when flies are in the house, it's vital not to leave fresh produce out.

If you do need to keep snacks and or pet food on hand, either protect it with a fine mesh cover (opens in new tab) or consider having it out for shorter periods of time (storing it in your refrigerator if you've got space). 

And, if food has been left out, and you've noticed flies about, putting it straight outdoors into the food bin outside will be better than emptying it into the indoor bin. Whether you hang a carrier bag on the door handle or have a pedal/touch sensor trash can, blue bottles and other adult flies will find any opportunity to lay their grubs.

Other key areas to look out for include your kitchen floor and countertops. So if you need to sanitize these surfaces, be prepared to invest in the best mop (or steam cleaner) to clear debris off the ground and clean your counter with antibacterial wipes (opens in new tab). Of course big bits (like rice grains and veg scraps) can be sucked up with your handheld vac.

Christina joined the Real Homes team as a digital writer in June 2021. Prior to this, she worked for Good Homes magazine and home interest events including the Ideal Home Show and Grand Designs Live. She lives close to Epping Forest and is spoiled for choice with lush green spaces, but loves her own English garden that adjoins her ground-floor maisonette, complete with a floral melange of roses, lavender, jasmine, and an apple tree.

With contributions from