How to get rid of flies in the house using homemade traps and more

Learn how to get rid of flies in the house using homemade traps, apple cider vinegar and more clever ways to stop them coming inside, for good

An image with yellow background and vectorized graphic of flies buzzing around black text
(Image credit: Future)

One fly alone can feel like the most annoying thing on earth, and when another (or five) join the party, you'll want to know how to get rid of flies in the house, pronto. Although most flies don't carry disease, some can spread pathogens like E.coli, cholera, and typhoid. And, generally speaking, we've seen where flies go and it's not a bug that you want in your space.

Getting rid of flying insects often starts with eliminating any environmental factors attracting them in the first place, usually food sources, but there are other clever ways to keep flies away from your home also. Paul Blackhurst, head of technical academy at Rentokil (opens in new tab) says: 'Flies are one of the UK’s most common causes of food poisoning so it is particularly important to protect food preparation and dining areas in your home.'

So read on for all the nifty ways methods on how to get rid of flies in the home including cheap hacks to deter the buzzers before calling in the pros.

A woman wearing yellow and white striped t-shirt preparing a homemade apple cider vinegar solution using fresh apples and coarse sea salt

(Image credit: Getty/TARIK KIZILKAYA)

How to get rid of flies in the house naturally

You might think flies are reasonably harmless - and of course, you'd be right - but they are also incredibly annoying, frustrating and unhygienic when they come in their hoards.

So, how do you get rid of them at home if there's no time to call in the pest control experts? These handy natural remedies should make life that bit easier.

1. How to get rid of flies using apple cider vinegar

Although you can use pesticides and insecticides, they won't be effective over the longer term, and many houseflies are now resistant to them anyway.

The product you need to get rid of house flies effectively is actually apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is known for its beneficial health properties and antibacterial action, but did you know that it's irresistible to house flies? The idea is to trap them in an apple cider vinegar bath and drown them.

You will need:

1. Apple cider vinegar: this is the cheapest ACV on Amazon (opens in new tab))
2. Dish soap: Check out our best washing up liquid guide
3. Cling film: use Compostic on Amazon (opens in new tab) as an eco-friendly alternative to plastic wrap
4. A deep food bowl

Method:

  1. Mix apple cider vinegar with equal parts washing up liquid to form a sticky mixture. 
  2. Cover with cling film tightly and make holes big enough for flies to pass through.
  3. Place in a spot the flies frequent. They'll be attracted into the bowl by the smell of the vinegar, but won't be able to get out because of the washing-up liquid. 

Top tip: as with all other household pests, prevention is better than cure. If you have lots of houseflies, it will most likely be because food is being left out on a regular basis. Make sure your countertops are clean and any leftovers are securely put away in your kitchen trash can.

2. Make your own fly paper

There are a ton of different sticky fly papers you can buy on Amazon (opens in new tab) and most are very effective at trapping indoor flies, but you can also DIY your own if you have no time to waste on even next day delivery. DIY flypaper isn't going to win a design award any time soon but it's actually pretty effective. Hang it in the places you spot houseflies buzzing around and if you're that way inclined, watch them flock...

Here's what you'll need to make homemade flypaper:

1. Brown paper: grab this paper roll from Bryco Goods Store (opens in new tab)
2. Scissors
3. Saucepan: take a look at our best saucepan sets
4. Cookie sheet: this tray on Amazon (opens in new tab) is good for sheet cakes too
5. Tongs: grab these from Tribal Cooking store on Amazon (opens in new tab)
6. Drying rack: discover the best dish drainers ranked by us
7. Parchment: Reynold's (opens in new tab) is also good for baking projects
8. 1/4 cup honey: Amazon own-brand will do (opens in new tab)
9. Granulated sugar
10. Water

How to DIY fly paper:

  1. Cut your brown paper into strips
  2. Heat up a saucepan with the honey, sugar and water and stir constantly until the sugar is dissolved
  3. Remove pan from the heat and dip the brown paper strips in the mixture until saturated
  4. Use your tongs to very carefully (it'll be hot!!) remove the strips on to a drying rack with a parchment-lined cookie sheet beneath.
  5. Allow the sticky strips to air on the rack until completely dry. Et voila, homemade sticky paper to place around the problem areas. 

Warning: Keep away from pets and kids because these bad boys are extremely sticky.

3. Make a fly trap with an empty soda bottle

Another idea consists of making a funnel with an empty soda bottle to trap the houseflies so they can enter but not escape. Intrigued? This will also work if you're wondering how to get rid of fruit flies.

You will need:

  1. An empty soda bottle
  2. Scissors
  3. Overripe fruit, sugar, honey or sweet-scented dish soap

How to:

  1. Using an empty plastic soda bottle, cut the plastic bottle just below the tapered neck, turn the tapered neck upside down and insert into the bottle base.
  2. You can keep the lid on but you'll need to punch a hole through it so the flies can enter (the lid will help make sure they can't escape)
  3. Fill with your bait of choice: overripe fruit, 50:50 water sugar mix, sweet-scented dish soap or honey mixed with water to make a sticky solution.

4. Trap flies using a Ziploc bag

According to an avid cleaner on British cleaning queen Mrs Hinch's (opens in new tab) Facebook group, all you need for this trick is a Ziploc (opens in new tab) sandwich bag and some loose change.

Racking up more than 2000 likes, the cleaning whizz's tip came with quite a lot of credibility from the other disbelieving fans, and it's as simple as this: 

'I've seen a few people mention on here about a bag of water with coins in to stop flies from going in the house. Today I decided to give it a go. I had nowhere to hang the bag so just put it on the ground. The doors have been open since 7.30am and I haven't had one fly in the house – even when making food. It’s a big thumbs up from me.'

And, if you really want to know the behavioral science behind this, Ray Brosnan, founder of Brosnan Property Solutions (opens in new tab) can explain. He says: 'The water and the coins together will form a prism that creates a huge number of rainbow colors which will overwhelm the flies.'

Water fly deflector by Delao

(Image credit: Delao)

5. Trap flies with water-filled glass bulbs

You may have seen street food vendors displaying glass bulbs filled with water. While it's not the most aesthetically-pleasing stand decoration, the sunlight reflecting off the water-filled container confuses flies and repels them away from the food you're buying.

Worth a go.

If this all sounds a little too shabby chic for your liking, you can buy a stylish version, like the Anti-Fly Sphere 3.0 by Delao (opens in new tab) pictured above.

A white kitchen with casserole dishes and sink by window

(Image credit: Roam In Color on Unsplash)

6. Keep your house clean and tidy

It seems obvious but keeping up with chores and ensuring you clean the kitchen will help keep flies at bay as there will be less leftover food and general debris to attract them.

First things first, keep your sink area clear of dirty dishes, standing water and soggy dishcloths which will draw your unwanted guests in.

Using your best vacuum to sweep your floor regularly will also help to deter the buzzers as you'll pick up debris that may be hard to see with the naked eye but are tempting treats for them.

Lynsey Crombie, a.k.a. Queen of Clean (opens in new tab) recommends: 'If you do get an infestation of flies, vacuum first, cleaning behind furniture and shelving because that’s where flies like to hide; then wash down surfaces with a disinfectant spray or wet wipes to pick up any fly eggs.'

Wanna know how to vacuum like a pro? Our step-by-step will detail the best method for your domestic duties and will also help get rid of ants who are spotted doing the pheromone conga trail!

A grey Russian blue breed adult cat hunches over a small white plate of wet cat food

(Image credit: Getty/Catherine Falls Commercial)

7. Clean pet equipment regularly

After finding out that flies tend to lay their eggs on poop and it only takes 24 hours for those eggs to hatch, we don't need any more motivation to keep on top of scooping up after our pets.

It's also important to keep your pet's food covered when not in use and if your pet has polished off their dinner, clean out the remnants as crumbs are just as attractive as a generous bowl of chow. If they're unlikely to finish their food at set mealtimes, consider feeding your mog or dog smaller portions throughout the day, or invest in these collapsible pet bowls with lids from LUTER on Amazon (opens in new tab). This way, they're not taking up valuable floor space, and you don't accidentally knock food over with your feet.

And, it might be worth investing in a good handheld vac to sweep up bits from their pet mattress if they like to take their foodie treats to bed (or if they make a mess with their litter tray). If you're a fur mom or dad, our expert cleaning tips for pet owners make for essential reading.

A country kitchen with open shelving, food containers and wood work top

(Image credit: Getty/Andreas von Einsiedel)

8. Store food away and keep on top of trash 

Blackhurst explains that: 'Flies are typically attracted to unhygienic areas and places, and in the house they most commonly frequent kitchen areas where leftover food and rubbish is collected,' 

'Food waste should be disposed of frequently, and before bins start overflowing. If you collect food for composting using a kitchen compost bin (opens in new tab), then ensure it is stored in a container with a lid, and that it is also taken outside in a timely manner.'

'In the spring, it’s important kitchen doors are closed and that there are enough fly eradication measures in place to cope with the arrival of these pests.'

It's also a good idea to store food in cupboards and sealed containers, and to ensure that any spillages are cleaned promptly since any sugar will attract flies into your home. Use this as an opportunity to audit your store cupboard and replace torn cardboard/paper packaging for the best pantry storage containers and Instagrammable pantry shelving ideas.

Taking out the trash more often and cleaning your bin regularly in the warmer months will make for an even more unwelcoming environment for them.

A potted indoor houseplant on a windowsill

(Image credit: Getty)

9. Find out where the flies are coming from

It's normal for a few flies to enter via open windows and doors but if you're seeing a lot more than that, consider fly screens if you haven't got them already or if you do, examine them for any holes or damage and get repairing.

Andrew, Porwol, owner of gardencentreshopping.co.uk (opens in new tab) says: 'There are high end versions that work really well.'

'One of the reasons I recommend these is that you can have them up during fly season and take them down during the winter. Fly or mosquito nets tend to make a room darker, need constant cleaning, and normally need to be replaced annually. With these magnetic fly screens (opens in new tab), you can simply attach them to the doors or window you have open rather than having them throughout your home.'

They can fly through even the smallest cracks and crevices so it's also important to seek those out and fill them for an all-out ban. You can use steel wool (available on Amazon) (opens in new tab) to fill big areas but for smaller cracks, we recommend using caulk silicone sealant (opens in new tab) to fill them, which is easy to paint over after.

'If you've done all of these things and you're still having fly problems, take a look at your kitchen sink's drain,' says Leonard Ang, CEO, iPropertyManagement Leasing (opens in new tab).

'Food particles stuck down there can be enough of a meal to invite flies, and the drain is a nice, enclosed space for them to hide. Luckily, this one is an easy fix. Pour your choice of drain cleaner (opens in new tab) down the sink and you'll take care of the flies and their food in one easy step.'

Umbra white hanging planters near window

(Image credit: Umbra)

10. Deter flies with herbs and plants

If you grow herbs outdoors, consider planting an indoor herb garden also as many plants, especially those that have strong oil contents, are disliked by flies and will act as natural repellents. 

Plant basil, grow lavender, consider buying lemongrass (opens in new tab) and placing pots of homegrown mint inside the house in spaces that are most blighted by flies. Your home will smell divine if nothing else.

If you're short on space or don't have a green bone in your body, consider buying these scents in essential oil format rather. You can spritz them in areas of concern using a cheap glass spray bottle (opens in new tab), or use the solutions in your best essential oil diffuser to fill the air with an aroma that's pleasant for you – but not for house flies!

11. Invest in citronella candles

If you're looking for ways to get rid of flies that look AND smell good – consider buying the best candles for the job. Unfortunately, this means swapping your cult designer wax fragrances for something a bit more practical for the task on hand.

'One of the easiest and nicest ways to keep flies out of the house is to fill the house with citronella candles,' says Shane, founder and CEO of awesomestuff365 (opens in new tab).

'They smell nice to us, which is a bonus, and they repel flies as well as other insects, including spiders. A few small citronella candles at the windows and open doors should do the trick to keep them away.'

Another bonus is that they'll help to get rid of mosquitoes in the home if you're sick of these blood-sucking beasts and their bites. Yankee Candle's outdoor-inspired collection (opens in new tab) of home frangrances are blended with citronella are a lot more stylish than your metal tealight containers.

12. Fill empty tealight containers with cinnamon

It seems a waste to bin all of those metal containers that wax tealights come in. So if you're looking for ways to reuse a candle jar try this spicy hack from Brett White, CEO of Addicted to Veggies (opens in new tab).

As well as the plant oils we mentioned, flies detest cinammon in all forms. So if you'd rather have your home smell like Christmas in the middle of summer with a candle, fill an empty tealight holder with either ground cinammon (opens in new tab) or Whole Foods Cinammon sticks (opens in new tab) – both available on Amazon.

13. Install an electric fly zapper

Animal and insect lovers look away now! Sometimes flies just don't get the hint with our natural, non-lethal methods to fly away. So if you need to zap 'em dead, there are loads of electronic indoor insect zappers on Amazon (opens in new tab) that'll help to get rid of wasps too.

These work by using blue light to attract flying insects before emitting a dose of electricity. RIP bugs. While a little cruel, you could also buy one of those tennis racket-shaped, battery-operated manual fly swatters (opens in new tab)... some of you might also find the sound of fried flies a little satisfying, while for others, it's a little gross.

14. Replace your lightbulbs

This bright idea comes from Mohammad Ahmed, interior designer at The Home Guidance (opens in new tab). He says: 'To repel flies even more effectively, replace the white light bulbs in your home with a pale yellow variety. Flies love blue light, but they hate yellow. Another way to get rid of flies is to relocate them by using blue light.'

Many of the best smart light bulbs (like the ones from LUMIMAN Store on Amazon (opens in new tab)) are app-controlled so that you can change the color of the light from yellow (when it's peak fly season) back to a more natural warm white.

Garlic bulbs hanging in kitchen wall using jute rope tie

(Image credit: Getty/Sunan Wongsa-nga)

15. Hang onions and garlic

It's not just dracula that hates garlic... Flies also dislike aliums and hanging garlic around your kitchen is the perfect display idea for foodies for a chef-esque aesthetic.

'One of my favourite ways to keep flies out is to hang an onion or two up in a cabinet or other area that has a lot of traffic.' says Reeko Curl, pest exterminator, The Pest Control (opens in new tab).

'The smell tends to repel them, and even when you’re not home they can’t stand it!'

What are flies attracted to?

Flies are attracted to food sources, especially things like meat so lingering pet food and bins can be number one perpetrators when it comes to attracting flies into the home. 

Light of course is another big attraction to flies: 'Cluster flies are attracted to light and warmth,' says Blackhurst.

'During the day they with gather in numbers on sun-warmed, south-facing walls. During cooler weather cluster flies will crawl into crevices, lofts and wall voids where they will stay dry for hibernation over winter.'

Anna is Content Editor at Real Homes. She moved to the world of interiors from academic research in the field of English Literature and photography. She is the author of London Writing of the 1930s and has a passion for contemporary home decor and gardening. At Real Homes, she covers a range of topics, from practical advice to interior and garden design. 

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