How can something so small drive you crazy so fast? Here’s how to get rid of gnats quickly and easily!
These tips and tricks are how to get rid of most gnats and fruit flies that are attracted by rotting fruit, trash, moisture in houseplants, etc.
If you are wondering how to get rid of gnats in plants, they could be fungus gnats. While these remedies will work the same to get rid of many types of gnats that you see, be sure to check out my solutions for how to get rid of fungus gnats to prevent them in the first place.
How to Naturally Kill Gnats
There are different methods of killing gnats naturally. They are:
All of these different ways of how to get rid of gnats work. It depends on your preference, and how much time you want to spend in taking care of the problem.
- Systemic treatments might work more effectively over the long term, but they’ll take several days to see results. That is because you put something in the soil to kill gnats from reproducing.
- Traps will capture fruit flies and house gnats over time (in a matter of hours or days) without any effort on your part. But you have to wait for the gnat to go to the trap.
- Sprays will kill gnats immediately. But you have to constantly be on the hunt to find them and get rid of them.
Apple Cider Vinegar Gnat Trap
This trap is made from ingredients you have in your kitchen. So it’s among the easiest ways to get rid of gnats immediately. I personally haven’t had success with it, but other people say they do.
- Add enough apple cider vinegar in a shallow bowl to a depth of about 1 inch. (This can be cheap ACV. It doesn’t have to have “the mother.”)
- Squeeze 4-6 drops of dishwashing liquid into the bowl.
- Stir together.
- Leave uncovered. Place this bowl near where the fruit flies are swarming. You will soon see them land in the bowl.
Why Are Gnats Attracted to Vinegar?
Fruit flies and gnats are attracted to vinegar because it smells sweet to them (but not to us). So they’ll be drawn to it irresistibly. (Same with honey or sugar, too.)
But once they land on the vinegar, they’ll be stuck. That’s because the dish soap captures them so they can’t get away. (It’s the same concept as our pet safe ant killer using dish soap.)
Using Honey or Sugar to Attract Gnats
You can modify this apple cider vinegar trap to have honey or sugar, too. It definitely will lure gnats in , especially if you feel that the gnats are not attracted to vinegar in your home.
I don’t use this recipe as my first choice, just because it uses more ingredients and the sugars might attract more insects, such as black flies and ants. Try it and see if you like this gnat bait better, though:
- 3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. white sugar (or 1/2 tbsp. honey)
- 4-6 drops dishwashing soap
- 1/2 cup warm water
Mix all of these items together and place in a shallow bowl, uncovered, where gnats are a problem.
Why warm water? You need the sugar or honey to dissolve in the trap. They don’t dissolve as easily or rapidly in cold water.
Sticky Traps for Gnats
I tried to resist sticky traps for quite a while, because I didn’t want big yellow things in my houseplants. But what I’ve found is that over time I don’t even look at the yellow traps anymore. And I can arrange them behind a leaf or trunk to hide the yellow traps.
What we did find is that these yellow sticky traps for gnats work crazy good! It’s so simple. And it’s a leave it and forget it solution, which I love.
Plus, there are no chemicals or pesticides on these sticky traps for gnats. There are no worries about pets or children being exposed to nasty ingredients accidentally. Gnats are just attracted to the yellow, and the sticky tape catches them and prevents them from flying off.
Just adding one trap can catch gnats for weeks to come. After a couple months, my stick traps were still sticky and attracting gnats.
I used this brand of gnat sticky traps and really love it (you don’t have to buy the multipack unless you have a lot of plants or gnats).
Systemic Gnat Killer
Adding a biological larvicide that kills fungus gnats’ larvae is the perfect way to kill any future gnats. If you can wait out the life cycle of any gnats that have already started flying around, then a systemic insecticide is a smart choice.
These products are mixed into water or sprinkled on top of the soil.
The biological control prevents fungus gnats from breeding. It uses Bacillus thuringiensis israliensis (Bti) which is a naturally occurring bacterium that kills fungus gnat larvae, as well as mosquitoes and black flies.
This is important because while you might feel like you won by killing the gnats flying around your home, there could be more gnats about to be released from potting soil that you can’t see.
These biological controls aren’t insecticides. They simply alter the breeding ability of the gnats to prevent them from becoming a nuisance. You might be familiar with this type of systemic product in controlling mosquitoes. There are mosquito dunks that you can add to pools, fountains, bird baths, etc. that naturally prevent mosquitoes from breeding. This is the same type of product.
I have used these granules in my potting soil to prevent fungus gnats from breeding. It uses Bti to kill fungus gnat larvae and I really do think that it worked. After a week or so, there seemed to be less problems with pesky gnats in my house.
Keep in mind, this product says Mosquito Bits but it has also been approved to kill fungus gnats.
Gnat Spray for Plants
Sometimes you just want a spray to kill problem bugs immediately and on contact. After all, no one wants to wait for a sticky trap or systemic gnat killer to work when they are entertaining in an hour.
Thankfully, there are safer insecticides that use the power of plants and nature to kill bugs, including gnats.
I’ve used Garden Safe products with great success. If you’re looking for a spray to kill bugs on contact and when you specifically see them, then this insect spray is a good choice.
Vacuuming Up Gnats
Yep, you can actually vacuum gnats, too. Who knew?
This works best if you have a concentrated amount of gnats in one area. For instance, around a basket of bananas or apples.
Using a hose attachment, simply use the vacuum in the air around the gnats and try to capture as many as you can!
Monday 2nd of March 2020
Fungus gnats came into my house via a potted amaryllis that I got as a gift at Christmas. Its happened twice so far. The amaryllis came from a reputable grower but when I called in a complaint their response was to send me another. So beware!
Monday 15th of July 2019
This is so useful! I've been looking for ways to get rid of my gnats without spraying harmful chemicals around my house! So these are great! Thank you!!
Friday 2nd of August 2019
Glad it helped you, too!
Deborah Pich Lilly
Wednesday 12th of December 2018
I am currently battling gnats in my house plants. i knew that Miracle Grow potting soul I use for all my outdoor plants had gnats. But I didn’t think about it when i bought indoor plant Miracle Grow for my houseplants. I am going nuts with the gnats. After reading about others problems with Miracle Grow I will never buy it again!!!! I have been use ing Lavendar spray, and a Raid product I had in the house because I was desperate. But from reading I now see I need to get something to mix with water and kill all those larvae in the soil. Good luck to you. And never buy Miracle Grow again, I know I won’t.
Friday 17th of November 2017
Thanks for all the comments. I recently notice them in my plants that have in my plant room in my basement. I've tried suggestions from the gardeners online including dishwasher mixed with water, Neem oil, peroxide and water. covered all the plants with play sand that I bought from Home Depot, and today I went down to check on the plants, and to my frustrations, I saw a few lying around in the sand and a few larvae on the sand. My thoughts are, did she laid her larvae on the sand because she could not get down, and is she flying around to get down in the sand. I am frustrated at this time as I am growing hydroponic and aquaponic, plus some in pots. I would appreciate any help.
Wednesday 2nd of August 2017
I had gnats, not knowing what they were, I used to treat with a mixture found on Pinterest, water and peroxide which kills the larvae, and then cinnamon on top of soil, apparently the adults don't like cinnamon, seemed to work, little did I know that I was enabling the problem because I was using Miracle Grow potting soil, when I bought new plants. Also lastyear added outdoor patio plants, this year Miracle Grow garden soil and potting soil and I am swarmed. Research led to Miracle Grow as culprit. I am now using the Garden spray that was listed above, treatment with the peroxide and water, cinnamon and yellow sticky traps. Seems to be getting better has only been a week. Ran across this article to STERILIZAE SOIL http://homeguides.sfgate.com/microwave-potting-soil-48342.html HAVE NOT USED IT. fyI, good luck.