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Fruit flies are pesky little insects that seem to appear out of nowhere to feast on over-ripened fruits and vegetables. They are small and quick, which makes them nearly impossible to swat.
Fortunately, there is an easy and effective 3-step method to get rid of them using a common household ingredient, apple cider vinegar.
- Step 1: Pour approximately a half cup of apple cider vinegar into a small bowl.
- Step 2: Add a few drops of dish soap.
- Step 3: Place the bowl near the fruit flies and wait a day or two.
The sweet, pungent odor of apple cider vinegar attracts fruit flies to the bowl. The dish soap cuts the vinegar’s surface tension, which causes the flies to sink and drown upon contact with the surface of the liquid mixture. It’s as easy as that!
For more details on how to prevent and get rid of fruit flies, including variations on this method and alternative methods, keep reading.
Click the links below to go straight to a section.
- The 3-Step Method Explained in More Detail
- Why This Method Works
- Variations of the Apple Cider Vinegar and Soap Method
- Other Methods To Try If Apple Cider Vinegar Doesn’t Do The Job
- How Do Fruit Flies Get Into Your House in the First Place?
- How to Prevent Fruit Flies
When I first noticed fruit flies in my kitchen, I turned to Google and YouTube to learn how I could kill them quickly without spraying every inch of my kitchen with toxic chemicals.
I discovered dozens of tips and tricks, but the one that seemed to surface the most is the apple cider vinegar and dish soap method. It’s simple, effective, and only requires a few supplies that most people already have in their home.
The best part is that it works really well. I highly recommend this method because I’ve used it several times myself.
Here are the three simple steps:
Step 1: Gather the supplies.
You’ll need a half cup of apple cider vinegar. I use Bragg Organic Raw-Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (link to Amazon) because it has a very sweet odor, and as long as you buy the one that says ‘With the ‘Mother’ on the label, it contains the properties it produces during the fermentation process.
You’ll also need a few drops of dish soap and a bowl or jar.
Step 2: Combine apple cider vinegar and dish soap.
Combine approximately a half cup of apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dish soap in the bowl and place it close to where you see the fruit flies.
If they are present in multiple areas or you have a significant infestation, scatter a few bowls in each area. The more traps you set, the more likely you will capture and kill all of the flies.
Step 3: Wait a day or two.
The traps won’t capture the flies instantly. You need to give them a chance to find the scent. You can expect to see flies floating in the bowl within 24 hours but give it at least 48 to work its magic.
Fruit flies are very tiny, which makes them extremely difficult to kill with a swatter. To effectively eliminate them, you have to understand them. Their primary sources of food are fruits and vegetables that are beginning to rot, and they are attracted to fermentation and sweet odor.
Apple cider vinegar is the perfect bait for fruit flies because it not only has a sweet and pungent odor, but it is fermented too. Both sweetness and fermentation attract fruit flies, and the combination of both is irresistible.
I use Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar ‘With the Mother’ (link to buy on Amazon), which means it’s unfiltered and contains the healthy bacteria produced during the fermentation process. It’s rumored that this type of apple cider vinegar is most effective because fruit flies feed off of the enzymes, proteins, and healthy bacteria that it contains. In my research, though, I found that regular filtered apple cider vinegar works perfectly fine too.
The few drops of dish soap play an equally important role. The properties of dish soap break the surface tension of the mixture so that flies can’t sit on top of the liquid and fly away.
Think of surface tension as a film on top of the liquid. This film enables liquid to resist an external force, such as a fly. It occurs because the liquid molecules on the surface don’t have similar molecules to adhere to on all sides (one side is air); therefore, they adhere stronger to the liquid molecules directly around them.
The important thing to understand is that adding dish soap breaks the surface tension and causes the flies to sink and drown immediately upon contact with the liquid. Without the soap, the flies could sit on top of the vinegar and escape easily.
To summarize using a fishing analogy, the apple cider vinegar draws the fruit flies into the bowl, playing the role of the bait, and the soap makes sure they don’t get away, playing the role of the hook.
There are a couple of other ways to get rid of fruit flies with apple cider vinegar that are worth trying.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar and a Paper Cone
With the cone method, pour apple cider vinegar into a jar and roll paper into a cone funnel.
Place the paper cone into the jar with the narrow end facing down so that the bottom of the cone is above the vinegar.
This method works because the flies will be able to enter the jar through the wide end of the cone but won’t be able to escape since the other end is narrow.
This method is somewhat effective, but not as effective as the apple cider vinegar plus soap method because you run the risk that some flies will find their way out of the narrow end of the cone.
Plus, it’s easier to put out a bowl of apple cider vinegar and dish soap then it is to make a paper cone.
Using Apple Cider Vinegar and Plastic Wrap
The second is the plastic wrap method.
With the plastic wrap method, pour apple cider vinegar into a jar or bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.
Place an elastic band around the jar to hold the plastic wrap in place.
Then, poke several small holes in the plastic wrap. The holes allow flies to enter but make it very difficult for them to escape.
This method works, but I’ve found it less effective than the apple cider vinegar and dish soap method because the plastic masks the odor of the vinegar slightly, and the small holes make it more difficult for flies to find their way into the trap.
Both the cone and plastic wrap methods are worth considering; however, based on my trial and error, I highly recommend testing the vinegar and dish soap method first.
If you don’t have apple cider vinegar in your house or you’ve tried these methods, and none of them got rid of your fruit fly infestation, there are several other methods to test out.
Use different bait
Based on my experience, I believe apple cider vinegar is the best bait, but if that doesn’t work, swap the vinegar with red wine or fruit, bananas work best.
You can use red wine or fruit with both the cone and plastic wrap methods.
I’ve heard of people putting fruit in with apple cider vinegar. I haven’t tried this yet, but that is another option for more intense odor and sweetness.
Spray them with chemicals
Add rubbing alcohol to a misting spray bottle and spray away. You can also use Windex or Clorox cleaning spray.
This method will kill the fruit flies instantly, and all you have to do is wipe them off the counter or floor.
The two problems with this method are that you have to make direct contact with each fly, and you put yourself at risk of breathing in chemicals.
If you choose to try this method, wear gloves and a dust mask and make sure you have the proper ventilation in the room.
Buy traps made specifically for fruit flies
You can buy fruit fly traps online or in stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s. The one that gets the best reviews is made by a company called Beap Co., which you can buy on Amazon at this link.
It’s very affordable and comes with six traps that last for 30 days each. The main advantage of buying these traps is that they are smaller and more discreet than a jar or bowl.
The way they work is a combination of the apple cider vinegar plus soap method and the cone method. The traps have a funnel shape at the top that allows flies to enter, but not exit. The mixture is simply apple cider vinegar with soap/chemicals to cut the surface tension.
These traps are cheap, so if the other DIY methods don’t work, it’s worth giving this a shot.
Call a professional
If all of these methods fail and you still have fruit flies swarming your produce, trash cans, and sink, call a professional.
Although fruit flies are generally not harmful, they multiply extremely fast and can carry viruses that could make you ill if you mistakenly ingest enough of them.
If you can’t get rid of them on your own, don’t let the infestation linger, call a professional and have them take a look. If you’re not sure who to call, you can get free, no-obligation quotes from reliable pest-control experts on HomeAdvisor.com.
There’s a chance that what you have is more severe than fruit flies, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Fruit flies still appear even though I keep my house pretty airtight, which got me wondering, how do they get into my house?
Fruit flies are attracted to any material that is damp and fermenting. They are most commonly found near over-ripened fruits and vegetables (hence the name, fruit fly), but they are also attracted to alcohol, sugary sodas, damp mops, rags, and trash cans.
One of the most common ways to attract fruit flies is to leave over-ripened bananas like this on the counter. When the skin of the banana starts to split, it can become a feeding frenzy for fruit flies.
Fruit flies enter your home in two ways:
- Through a door, window, or crack. Since they are so tiny, they can fit through most screen doors and windows. This scenario is most likely to happen if you live near a farm or grow fruits and vegetables in your yard.
- The more common scenario is that you bring the flies into the house without knowing it. Fruit flies lay their eggs on the skin of produce at the grocery store. Once you bring the produce into your home, the eggs can hatch within a week, and, just like that, you have fruit flies.
There are several simple steps you can take to prevent fruit flies from appearing in your house.
- Wash fruit and vegetables thoroughly as soon as you bring them home, especially ones that you store on the countertop. It might seem odd to wash the skin of a banana, but doing so will remove any fruit fly eggs that could be on the surface.
- As fruits and vegetables become ripe, put them in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling.
- Keep a lid on your trash can and empty it often. I intentionally use a small trash bin, which forces me to empty it twice a week.
- Clean and disinfect your kitchen often. Like I mentioned before, fruit flies are attracted to damp areas where rotting and fermenting are present. If you prevent that in your home, your chances of getting fruit flies will significantly decrease.
Thanks for reading our guide to getting rid of fruit flies with apple cider vinegar!
We know how annoying fruit flies can be, so we hope these methods work as well for you as they have for us. If you know of any other effective ways to keep your house fruit fly free, let us know in the comments below.
If fruit flies aren’t the only unwanted guests in your home and you’re dealing with ants too, check out these 7 Natural Remedies to Get Rid of Ants.
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