8 Best Ways To Get Rid Of Gnats

Gnats, fruit flies — no matter what you call them, we can all agree that they're gross and downright annoying when they take up residence in your house. Depending on the variety, they can be more attracted to certain rooms or items in the house, too. Some may congregate in your kitchen, while others will hover around your houseplants, or they may prefer to stay close to your drains. If you're especially unlucky, you might have them in every room of your house.

No matter where they are, we've rounded up the eight best ways to get rid of your pesky gnat problem. If your problem is bordering on an infestation, you may need to employ several of these methods all at once. Don't give up too quickly, though. As much as we'd all love to, it's virtually impossible to get rid of gnats overnight. These annoying pests are famous for their staying power and they can be difficult to eliminate completely, so you'll need to be patient, per The Washington Post.

1. Make a trap with apple cider vinegar

Gnats can't resist the tangy, sweet smell of apple cider vinegar. It's the perfect ingredient to entice them, and as a bonus for you, it's affordable and easy to find at your local grocery or big box store. According to Country Living, you'll need just a few items to set up this trap.

Grab a small, shallow dish (a ramekin works great) and fill it with a one to one ratio of warm water and apple cider vinegar. Add a spoonful of sugar and stir thoroughly. Next, add several drops of dish soap. Set the dish in an area where you've seen lots of gnats, and wait for it to work its magic. They'll fly in to sample the sweet concoction, but they'll be trapped by the dish soap. You might be appalled and horrified when you see just how many end up in the dish. Keep the ingredients handy so you can refresh the mixture every few days.

2. Hang up fly paper

Affordable and effective, fly paper will catch any — you guessed it — flying insects and trap them on its sticky surface. Hang strips in high traffic areas where you've seen lots of gnats, then sit back and let them do the work. If you've never used fly paper, be forewarned that it's very sticky, so hang it with care. You don't want it anywhere that's within reach of small children or pets.

Another thing to keep in mind is that fly paper shouldn't be used outside, warns HGTV. Even though the gnats likely originated outside, you run a high risk of trapping other winged creatures, especially helpful pollinators like butterflies and bumblebees.

Instead, focus on hanging fly paper in your kitchen. Some good locations include above the trash can, near the sink, and above any produce that sits out on the counter. Furthermore, fly paper is one of the solutions that works well in tandem with another. So if you've set out your apple cider vinegar traps, go ahead and hang some fly strips nearby for a double whammy of protection.

3. Clean your drains

Have you noticed that your gnat problem seems to be originating from the drains in your house? If so, Country Living says you're probably dealing with drain flies, and they require a different method of treatment. Apple cider vinegar probably won't be strong enough, so Bob Vila suggests bringing in the heavy duty stuff: bleach.

Before you just grab the jug and dump it down the sink, you need to protect yourself properly. First, make sure you're wearing rubber gloves, have proper ventilation in the room, and put on a mask to protect yourself from the powerful fumes. Next, dilute the bleach; Bob Vila says 1/2 cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water is a good ratio. Pour it down the drain and let it sit for a while before you turn on the faucet. You'll want to continue this process until you no longer see the gnats in your kitchen or bathroom.

4. Lure gnats with rotted fruit

If you're about to toss the brown, squishy bananas sitting on your counter, don't get rid of them just yet. It may seem counterintuitive to use something that attracted the gnats to begin with, but it actually makes sense — you've already got everything on hand and you know the gnats want it, so it's a win-win!

Grab the rotting bananas (or any fruit you have on hand that's starting to turn) and place them in a big bowl, instructs Popular Mechanics. Mash them up, and then cover the top of the bowl with plastic wrap. Secure it, and then poke small holes across the top (a toothpick works great for this). The gnats will eagerly fly into the trap in pursuit of the rotting fruit, but they won't be able to figure out how to escape. If you want to bolster the trap even further, hang some fly strips above it to catch any gnats that might manage to escape through the plastic wrap.

5. Don't overwater houseplants

While it's understandable to want your houseplants to thrive and grow, there's a fine line between watering and overwatering. If you water too much, you're likely to see gnats around your plants because they're drawn to the decomposing organic material in the soil, says Better Homes & Gardens. The two are connected because too much moisture speeds up the decomposition process, so it creates the perfect, welcoming environment for gnats. While you can't backtrack once the damage is done, you can treat the current gnat problem and be more aware of your watering habits going forward.

Besides using some of the methods we've already listed above, there are sticky strips that are specially designed for usage around houseplants. This is an effective, low cost method but be forewarned — you'll likely need to replace the strips frequently until the problem is under control. Better Homes & Gardens suggests placing the sticking strips directly in the soil of the houseplant (just watch out for its leaves so you don't damage them), or you can hang them overhead. When you're buying the sticky strips, look for ones that are non-toxic and double-sided, then let them get to work.

6. Buy a bug zapper

Bug zappers aren't just for outdoor use and catching menaces like horse flies or mosquitoes. They can also be an effective tool in your fight against gnats in the house. A quick search on Amazon shows a plethora of different models, sizes, and price ranges, so you can find one that's perfect for your needs. Zapper technology has come a long way from the large, loud options from years ago. Plus, the new models are much safer and specifically designed for indoor use with compact sizes, UV light, and glue boards instead of electric zaps, according to Country Living.

Once you purchase your bug zapper, place it in the highest traffic area for gnats, such as by the trashcan or near any produce on the kitchen counter. You can add a small dish of the apple cider vinegar mixture near the zapper to serve as a lure and guarantee maximum effectiveness.

7. Make a candle trap

Although this trick isn't as widely-known, that doesn't make it any less useful. What's even better is that you've likely got everything you need around the house, so you won't have to buy anything special or expensive for this trap. According to Popular Mechanics, this method is particularly effective at night.

You'll need one or two tall, taper-style candles and a candle holder for each of them. Next, fill a wide but shallow dish with water (a disposable pie pan works well). Place the candle holders into the water, light the candles, turn off any overhead lights, and let the flickering flame do all the work.

What's this trap going to do, exactly? Popular Mechanics explains that the gnats will be attracted to the flame, so they'll likely fly into it and burn. Even if they avoid incineration, there's a good chance they'll drop into the water below and drown. For safety reasons, this is one trap you'll want to keep far out of reach of children or pets.

8. Spray insecticide

If you're not having much luck with the homemade remedies and you're desperate to solve your gnat problem, you may need to turn to a more potent remedy like insecticide. You can either apply it yourself or hire a pest control company to come to your home, especially if the problem is severe.

When purchasing an insecticide, it's especially important to read the label carefully and use extreme caution if you have children and/or pets in the home. If you're bringing in the big guns, you certainly don't want to be spraying their chemicals willy nilly all over the produce in your kitchen.

You can find an appropriate insecticide at your local home improvement or big box store. There are varieties specifically geared towards gnats and are formulated to be safer for use in the kitchen. It's important to note that you never want to mix insecticides by using several kinds all at once. Choose one brand's formula and stick to it. If it doesn't work, give your home plenty of time to air out before you consider spraying a new insecticide.