How to Get Rid of Gnats at Home

Last update August 14, 2018

Sick and tired of those pesky little insects buzzing around your fresh fruit bowl, nesting in your flower pots, or flying around your sink? Want to banish them for good? Below, we offer a number of effective methods as well as simple solutions how to do it quickly and easily. With some diligence, you can prevent gnat infestations and make your home an insect-free space. 

Know Your Enemy: Home Gnat Types

Home Gnats

Gnats are not actually harmful. However, if you let them live on their own and do nothing, these pests will quickly plague your dwelling since they reproduce extremely quickly. You will hardly be able to eliminate larger infestations on your own, which might eventually result in a necessity to hire a professional exterminator. Hence, rather than letting gnat colonies be turning into an uncontrollable sway, it is best to start combating them once you notice their presence in your house.

Generally, gnats are small flying insects that reach about 1/10-inch in length. Tiny in size, they all look pretty similar. Yet, they are not the same. Gnats fall into different species and to know how to get rid of them, it’s essential to figure out what type has attacked your living space.

There are three gnat types you might commonly come across in your dwelling:

  • Fruit flies are the smallest type of gnats. They have brown or yellow-brown bodies, red to orange eyes, yellow thin legs, and small narrow wings. As the name suggests, fruit flies are attracted by rotting fruit and overripe foods.
  • Drain flies look like little moths. They have short black legs, brown bodies, fuzzy brown-gray wings, and small antennas. These insects congregate around sinks and drains in kitchen, bathroom, and laundry rooms.
  • Fungus flies are often confused with mosquitoes. Featuring slim dark gray bodies, long legs, and long wings, they really do resemble mosquitoes. Yet, they are smaller in size and they don’t bite. Insects of this type are lured by damp potting soil and they usually nest in flower pots.

How to Deal With Gnats: Making Traps and Using Other Effective Remedies

Setting a trap

When you have identified what type of gnats is currently sharing your home with you, it will be much easier to select the gnat-removal strategy that will be right and effective for you. Currently, there exist a whole lot of methods used to kill gnats, requiring a minimum of your time, effort, and money. These methods range from ready-made bug traps and bug sprays to a number of feasible DIY solutions. To narrow down your choice and help your work out the right gnat elimination strategy, we’ve made up a list of most popular and most efficient techniques to combat those annoying little intruders in every room of your home.

Setting up Ready-made Traps

Various tpes of bug traps

Living in a detached house, it's almost impossible to avoid insects completely. Fortunately, the modern market presents a wide range of traps of all sorts allowing you to capture those invited guests and force them out from your dwelling. Here is a list of the most common traps:

  • Special non-toxic lures. It’s a chemical solution that has a sweet, fruity flavor designed specifically to eradicate fruit flies. In order to set up this trap, all you need to do is find some bowl (preferably disposable one), fill it with the solution, and put it in the area exposed to gnats. The trap will attract flies instantly and they soon will be drowning in the sticky mess. It’s worth saying that chemicals that this liquid contains generate no harmful volatile organic compounds or toxic elements.
  • Electronic pest control devices. These are electric units that use LED lights to attract and kill gnats and fruit flies. They contain no toxic insecticides or pesticides and are absolutely safe for people. Hence, these devices are suitable for kitchens, dining rooms, and other living areas and are a great choice for dealing with larger gnat infestations.
  • Bug zappers. Fitted with UV lights, these traps attract flying insects and then kill them with a high-voltage electric shock. Such tricky traps efficiently repel not only gnats but also mosquitoes, house flies, and other flying pests, and work great for large areas as well as outdoor spaces.

Making Traps

DIY gnat traps

When you don’t have to tackle clouds of different gnats hovering around your house, and there are only several fruit flies or drain gnats circling in the kitchen or bathroom, you can easily eliminate them by making DIY gnat traps using the objects that can be found in any home.

  • Vinegar traps. It’s a homemade technique effective for all types of gnats. To make this trap, you’ll need a used can, jar, or any tall plastic container with a wide opening (a cut 2L plastic bottle will do as well), some apple vinegar, liquid dish soap, and water. Mix water and vinegar in 1:1 proportion and add some liquid soap. Pour the mixture into the container and put it in the area where the concentration of gnats is the highest. Lured by vinegar smell, pesky insects will fly towards their death. Once they get in, the soap won't let them escape. 
  • Red wine traps. Don’t know how to get rid of fruit flies that have occupied your kitchen and dining room? This kind of trap is one of most effective for fruit flies and extremely easy to make. Just pour some red wine into a container and that’s it. You can also mix in some soap to cut off escape routes for the gnats to fly away. And there is no need to use any expensive wines, the cheapest will work the same.
  • Fruit traps. You can fight the enemy with his own weapon. Gnats are attracted by overripe fruit, so you can use it against them. Take some rotting fruit or mashed overripe banana and place it in a plastic bowl. Close it with a plastic wrap and make a number of holes in it using an ordinary toothpick.

Other Methods

Other efficient remedies
  • Use home-made repellents. Widely used in beauty, health, and cleaning industry, essential oils offer an array of benefits, with the ability to repel insects naturally being one of them. Lavender, peppermint, clove, lemongrass, basil, and eucalyptus are the types of oils which are most often used to deter home gnats. To make the trap, put some herbs in a small fabric sack or teabag and sprinkle several drops of oil over it. Then hang the sack where the number of gnats prevails. The traps of this kind will not only help you to force gnats out of your home but will also fill your dwelling with exceptional all-natural aromas. 
  • Keep your sinks and drains under control. Slimy deposits in drainage systems create a favorable environment for drain flies to lay their eggs. Hence, it is necessary to regularly scrub drain pipes from the inside to get rid of organic matter, clean drains with bleach solutions, and rinse them with almost boiling hot water. Doing all of this helps remove the grease and grime from the pipes as well as prevent drain fly infestations.

Keep Annoying Gnats Away From Your Home Plants

Killing gnats that attack plants

Houseplants look good to the eye and help create a homey and cozy atmosphere in our houses. Yet, if not duly cared, instead of pleasing your eye with their beauty, they can become a nesting place for prying fungus gnats that reside and reproduce in damp soil. To not let that happen, follow these simple steps and keep fungus gnats at bay.

  • Stick to the proper house plants watering regimen. Let the soil dry completely before watering since wet soil not only attracts gnats but also promotes mold.
  • Make a gnat spray using two glasses of lukewarm water and a teaspoon of light dish soap. Sprinkle it over the plant leaves and leave for about 3 hours. Then rinse with clean water. You can also use some special insecticidal soaps available in garden shops.
  • Use tiny worms called nematodes to control gnat larvae. Nematodes are safe for people, plants, and pets. To introduce them to the soil, mix them with the water before watering your houseplants.

Stop Gnat Infestations: Preventive Measures

Preventing gnat intrusions

It is always easier to prevent the problem than to solve it. The same is true when it comes to gnat infestations. By applying several simple preventive measures, you will not let gnats enter your house again.

  • Remove sources that attract gnats. Don’t leave dirty dishes in a sink. Dispose of rotten foods and take away leftovers. Store foods in tightly closed containers. Quickly tackle spills and food messes. Duly cover your garbage bins and discard the garbage bags on a regular basis.
  • Keep gnats outdoors. Use door and window screens. Make sure they do not contain tears, cracks, or holes. Remember to use a fine mesh because some gnats are small enough to sneak through mesh screens. 
  • Watch for damp areas around your house. Especially, it relates to kitchens and bathrooms where gnats appear most often. Check for leaking pipes and keep tile, stone, and wooden surfaces dry. Don’t let the water stand in bathtubs and sinks. Clean drainage systems to avoid clogs that welcome gnats. To control the humidity level in your bathroom and remove excess moisture, we recommend that you take advantage of a dehumidifier.