How to Eliminate Gnats from Your Home

Gnats stuck to a yellow sticky trap

Tiny flying insects are colloquially known as gnats, even when they’re quite different in appearance and habit. However, they all cause the same kind of annoyance and can spread bacteria from areas like the bathroom to food sitting out on the counters or table. Dealing with gnats doesn’t have to involve buying specific pesticides or traps from the store. There are plenty of homemade traps and slow-acting solutions to get rid of all types of gnats for good. Particularly intense infestations most likely deserve commercial traps for immediate help and long-term changes to keep the insects from returning.

What Kinds of Gnats Flourish in the Home?

There are four main types of gnats that can reproduce in the home. While other gnats that bite can enter the home from outdoors, these gnats hatch inside instead. The four types are:

  • Drain flies, or the Psychodidae family of insects, resemble tiny moths with rounded wings. As their name suggests, they lay eggs in the drains so that their larvae have a safe place to grow. They can spread bacteria from drains in the bathroom or under equipment and land on other surfaces.
  • Fungus gnats, from the Mycetophilidae or Sciaridae family, are narrow like mosquitos but much smaller. They like the potting soil that houseplants grow in, especially when it’s kept damp, but they can arise from wet drains as well.
  • Phorid flies from the Phoridae family are similar in appearance to a winged flea due to large back legs and tend to hop a few times before taking flight. They’re common in both homes and businesses because they hatch in the trash, rotting food, waste products, and leaks in the soil below a structure.
  • Fruit flies from the family Drosophilidae have a thick rounded body and distinctive red eyes. While they often hatch on rotten fruit, as their name suggests, they can also lay eggs in trash, alcohol containers, or even damp rags in the kitchen.

How To Reduce Gnat Levels Over Time

Tomatoes slowly going bad on kitchen countertop

As you may already guess, the habitats preferred by the four types of gnats also tell you how to prevent their appearance or banish existing infestations. While traps and sprays can knock down the population of larvae and flying adults, only removing the conditions that attract gnats will stop the cycle for good. It can be tricky to search out all the sources of spoiled food, hidden trash, or leaking water that is setting off the gnat cloud in the first place. With a complex infestation of multiple types of gnats at once, you may need to relocate potting plants, clean up the bathroom drains, and find that lost orange that rolled behind the refrigerator to end it for good.

Homemade Traps for Gnats

Homemade gnat trap mixture in a clear glass bowl with gnats in it

Using materials that you already have around the home can help reduce the number of adult gnats in particular right away. Pouring bleach and water mixed 50/50 down drains will eliminate any larvae in them, and finding and removing fruit or food is key to reducing other gnats. To attract fruit flies, phorid flies, and some types of fungus flies, try a fruit juice, wine, or beer-based trap. Pour a little of the liquid into a shallow container like a bowl. Add a few drops of dish soap so that flies that touch the surface become trapped. If you see too many phorid flies, in particular, hopping away still, try a two-liter bottle cut in half. Tuck the top half into the bottle to create a funnel that the gnats can’t fly back up.

Store-bought Solutions for Gnat Problems

A store bought gnat trap by a bowl of fruits in a kitchen

Heading to the pest control part of a hardware store gives you the widest range of options for controlling gnats in the home. Sticky traps and strips work well for catching gnats buzzing around a particular area. Some liquids and sprays can be used in areas that are hard to dry out or sanitize, such as the drains under refrigerators or in crawl spaces. Light traps can work well as a renewable option because some gnats are drawn to UV light and will drown in a small water tray set just below it. Handy sprays kill off adults and target larvae when applied to the recommended areas.

Don’t let gnats make your home seem less sanitary than it is when there are plenty of options for managing them. These small annoyances tend to be a spring to summer complaint in most parts of the country. If nothing else, you should see them disappear when winter arrives, giving you time to plan for prevention for the next warm season.

While do-it-yourself projects can be fun and fulfilling, there is always a potential for personal injury or property damage. We strongly suggest that any project beyond your abilities be left to licensed professionals such as electricians, plumbers, and carpenters. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and we assume no responsibility or liability for the contents of this article.


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