How to get rid of gnats – 5 easy tricks using vinegar, candles and more

Clouds of gnats plaguing you inside your home? Learn how to get rid of gnats in your house and fungus gnats on plants with our advice

how to get rid of gnats
(Image credit: Getty/Drbouz)

Need to know how to get rid of gnats? You've come to the right place. 

Gnats can be really annoying. These tiny flying insects can bite, too, which is even more irritating both literally and figuratively. They frequently fly in large numbers, particularly at dusk, which can make taking advantage of the last of the daylight in the garden a miserable experience rather than pleasant one it should be.

If you need expert advice on dealing with other species you might find bothersome, destructive, or even a hazard to your health at home, our guide to how to get rid of flying insects has all information you need on evicting the flying invaders.

Actually, the word gnat covers many species, and some experts consider that only the ones that don’t bite should be included in the category. We, though, are going to be inclusive, and tell you how to get rid of both biters and non-biters because they’re a nuisance either way.

The British Pest Control Association explain more: 'The insect normally referred to as a gnat is actually a small mosquito - correct name: Culex pipiens. It is common in gardens on warm evenings. Another species, the true Window Gnat, is a slow-flying insect about 8mm long with wings more rounded than those of the mosquito.'

'The wings are strongly veined with dark tips. Eggs of the Window Gnat are laid on rotting fruit or vegetables or other moist food and the larvae may contaminate home-made wines or honeycombs.'

Want to say goodbye to gnats in your house for good? Read on for five tips to sort out these troublesome beasties.

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1. Make a homemade gnat trap with vinegar

We’re sorry to say it, but drowning them is another alternative to rid yourself of gnats in the form of fruit flies. You gotta do what you gotta do.

Here's how to make your own trap: 

  • You’ll need a wide saucer or jar and add either some apple cider vinegar, beer or wine (yeah, we’re not sure about using up wine that way either). 
  • Add a few drops of washing-up liquid and you have a home-made trap.
  • Et voila, watch them flock to their inevitable demise.

how to get rid of gnats - a candle on a table - john-mark-smith-q1NCOVSalOc-unsplash

(Image credit: John Mark Smith on Unsplash)

2. Make a candle trap

Simple yet effective, this candle trap trick is super easy to set up and appeal to the gnats' love of light. Another win is if you're hosting a gettogether, the candles will only add to the ambience (just don't look too closely or you'll see a gnat massacre occurring.)

Here's how to set up a candle trap: 

  • Set a candle into a half water filled candlestick holder.
  • Light the candle and switch off all your lights.
  • Depending on your disposition, watch or look away as the gnats flock to the light and get burned and fall into the water. 

How to get rid of flying insects in your home - white compost bin/caddy with food scraps - Getty

(Image credit: Daisy-Daisy, Getty)

3. Stop gnats multiplying

Figuring out how to get rid of gnats is a bit of a minefield but one of the best ways of reducing the number of gnats in your garden is to tackle the areas where they’ll reproduce. 

That means eliminating moisture as far as possible. Look for sources of standing water in your garden: buckets, pots and even wheelbarrows could hold water as could gutters, so sort these out first. Owner of a water butt? Get it a well-fitting lid. 

Decaying organic matter is also a no-no if you want a more gnat-free life. Make sure your rubbish is in well sealed trash cans as far from the house as possible.

  • Are the flies only congregating around your sink? Consult our how to get rid of drain flies to see if these are your winged culprits.

how to get rid of fruit flies - a fruit fly close up - GettyImages-1168455519

(Image credit: GettyImages-1168455519)

4. Tackle fruit flies

Gnats can be a nuisance inside your home as well as outside. In fact, the fruit flies you might have seen hanging around the overripe bananas in your bowl count as gnats, too. They don’t just like your fruit, either. Any decomposing food will attract them. 

To cut down their numbers, don’t let fruit overripen. Instead, get it eaten or get making banana bread and other fruity treats. Make sure you clean up crumbs, too, and drill the family to tidy up their scatterings.

Martha Stewart explains more, 'Fruit flies develop from larvae, and fruit-fly larvae must have moist, fermenting organic matter in order to survive. Therefore, the best protection is to throw away spoiled produce and unclog drains.'

After that, it’s worth getting yourself a fruit fly trap. There are plastic versions or those with sticky paper on offer.

Find out more about how to get rid of fruit flies in our guide.

BaiYou Fly Paper Fly Strips Fly Catcher Strips 16 Pack, Amazon

BaiYou Fly Paper Fly Strips Fly Catcher Strips 16 Pack, Amazon

These non toxic fly catcher strips will trap an array of flying insects to keep your home bug free.

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(Image credit: GettyImages-1190219661)

5. Check your houseplants for fungus gnats

Yes, those tiny flies that come from your houseplants are also gnats (we told you there were lots of species). To give them their full name, these ones are fungus gnats. They probably won’t damage your plants, but who wants them round the house?

To get rid of fungus gnats, first make sure you’re not over watering your plants. Let the compost dry out before you water again because the larvae of the fungus gnat like damp compost. Make sure you’re watering less over winter, too.

A sticky trap will attract them and eliminate them – along with the fruit flies – so add this to your anti-gnat armoury.

It’s also worth covering the surface of the compost in which your houseplants are growing with a layer of mulch. It’ll need to be of a suitable size for indoor use, but grit, gravel, or glass pebbles could all do the job.

  • Find out more about watering house plants and how to care for them to avoid running into gnats.

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(Image credit: Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash)

6. Turn out the lights 

Gnats are attracted to lights so switch off what you don’t need outside. Leaving the light on outside the front door, for example, will bring some species of gnats to your home, and it’s not them you want to welcome, after all.

You might also want to check whether any vents or other opening are allowing them indoors.

Sarah Warwick
Sarah Warwick

Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor writing for websites, national newspapers, and magazines. She’s spent most of her journalistic career specialising in homes – long enough to see fridges become smart, decorating fashions embrace both minimalism and maximalism, and interiors that blur the indoor/outdoor link become a must-have. She loves testing the latest home appliances, revealing the trends in furnishings and fittings for every room, and investigating the benefits, costs and practicalities of home improvement. It's no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house revamper. For, Sarah reviews coffee machines and vacuum cleaners, taking them through their paces at home to give us an honest, real life review and comparison of every model.