Some things simply feel inevitable in life. Each week starts with a Monday, food will never heat up right in the microwave, and houseflies will somehow get into your home. The problem is, house flies pose a health hazard: they can carry in bacteria and germs, and contaminate food or water. Not to mention, they’re a nuisance!
What smells do flies hate? Primarily – cinnamon! It’s the best way to repel flies naturally, as an alternative to pest spray, which could be harmful. Other ways to naturally repel flies are potted plants, apple cider vinegar, or good old-fashioned fly traps. Lavender, eucalyptus, and citrus are also good fly repelling scents, so you can use an essential oil to help keep flies away.
(Of course, you’ll also want to make sure your home is neat and tidy so you don’t attract fruit flies and other insects. Deep clean your home regularly, or get professional house cleaners to clean it for you!)
Need help repelling flies in your home? Here are seven tried-and-tested ways to repel flies – and a few other preventative measures, too.
Do flies hate cinnamon? You bet. As one of the best fly-repelling scents, cinnamon is a natural way to deter flies from hanging out in your home. The smell is overpowering, and some of its components can be toxic to flies.
Of course, your favourite cinnamon-scented candle won’t quite do the trick, but you can use other forms to repel flies – and other insects! – from your home.
Bundle a handful of them together and stick them in a mason jar without a lid (or any other open container). Larger rooms will need more sticks to properly diffuse. But the scent will act as a natural repellent, dealing with a fly infestation handily. Just make sure to change sticks about once a month, since they’ll eventually dry out.
Cinnamon essential oil
Use a diffuser with cinnamon essential oil to get your room smelling warm (just be ready to crave some cinnamon baked goods, too). Or you can create a spray by mixing several drops of cinnamon essential oil in two cups of water to create a handy cinnamon spray for flies. Spray the mixture in problem areas to deter flies from gathering.
For a quick fix, you can sprinkle ground cinnamon on a low burner to release the scent. This will disperse a strong cinnamon scent for a short while, driving any pesky flies away.
Light up a few cinnamon incense sticks since flies hate the scent. It acts as natural fly repellent (almost like a cinnamon air freshener for flies!) and makes your room smell great at the same time.
2. Potted Plants
Several herbs and plants naturally repel flies, and you get the double benefit of having some herbs or flowers on hand to use! You can grow lavender plants outside, or keep a fresh bouquet in a vase. Basil is a versatile herb, and flies hate the scent and taste of it. Mint, bay leaf, and lemongrass are also excellent for repelling flies, and are useful in many recipes.
In addition to repelling houseflies, these indoor plants also naturally repel spiders. It’s a win-win!
3. Natural and Essential Oils
Certain scents are great for repelling insects and for keeping flies away. Create a spray by mixing two cups of water or vodka and several drops of your chosen essential oil. Eucalyptus oil is a good option, but you can also use lavender, citrus, pine, clove, peppermint, and thyme essential oils. Most flies hate these scents, so the oils will act as a fly repellent.
You can also smear some essential oils on the window and door frames — just make sure it’s out of reach of any pets, since some essential oils might be toxic to them, too!
NOTE: If you don’t want to use essential oil, you can use dried versions of herbs and spices. Dried cloves, lavender, and thyme will also create a smell that will keep flies away. They make great decorations, too!
4. White Wine or Vodka
Liquor can also be used to get rid of flies! Mix one part white wine or vodka to one part scented dish soap, which will create a substance toxic to flies. (Apple-scented dish soap is the most effective!) The dish soap scent will attract flies, then the liquor will kill them. Leave a dish or container out to deal with a fly problem and keep flies away. Just don’t put the mixture anywhere a pet can get at it!
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
What a wonderful, multi-use item apple cider vinegar is. It’s good for your health and flies hate it. There are several methods to keep flies away that involve ACV, so pick the one most convenient for you to make and use.
The spray consists of two parts apple cider vinegar in one part cold water. Gently mix the solution, then spray it on all relevant surfaces around your home – window frames, doorways, ceiling fans, kitchen counters – to repel flies. Make sure to let it air dry, not wipe it off. Repeat for several days for maximum potency.
Next time you drink up a one- or two-litre plastic bottle, save it! Then cut it in half and place apple cider vinegar in the bottom, with a few drops of dish soap. Turn the top part of the bottle and flip it upside-down, then insert it into the bottom part to create a funnel. This traps flies inside after they’re drawn in by the vinegar. Place the trap in problem spots, and change it out as necessary.
NOTE: If you don’t like the scent of apple cider vinegar, you can use sugar water – it also attracts flies into your fly trap!
6. Cayenne Pepper
Be careful with this one — you want to hurt the flies, not yourself! Mix cayenne pepper (ground or powdered) with warm water in a spray bottle and shake. Spray the solution around any fly-populated areas of the house. If any gets in your eyes, rinse immediately with water (and if it’s bad, see a doctor!).
7. Fly Traps
You can pick up some commercial fly paper at a nearby grocery or hardware store, or make your own! Dip brown paper bag strips into equal parts glucose syrup, sugar, and water melted in a saucepan. Let dry, and ta-da! DIY fly traps. Hang them up near windows and other problem spaces. Change the fly paper once the stickiness wears off.
Other Preventative Measures
There are other actions you can take to prevent flies from gathering in your home. You can minimise the ‘appeal’ of your home to flies, and stop them from coming in before you have to drive flies away.
Clear away food debris
Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher, and regularly take out the rubbish. Food debris attracts flies (especially fruit flies), so getting rid of the source will prevent them from coming and looking.
Clean up after pets
They’re a loveable handful, but part of pet care is making sure we clean up after their litter. Flies tend to lay their eggs in the ‘droppings’. So while it sounds icky, scoop up after your pets and dispose of the litter properly, and keep any cages or beds clean too.
Keep entryways properly sealed
Check for any gaps in window screens, or windows popped open. The same goes for any doors and vents. Plus, keep rubbish bins and units tightly shut so they act as food sources for any flies hanging around.
Good old-fashioned fly swatter
Need we say more?
Keeping your house free of flies is about more than knowing what smells do flies hate – it’s better to prevent them coming in than having to repel flies later. But if you do have a fly problem, try a natural repellent to keep flies away. Cinnamon for flies is one method, but essential oils, vodka, cayenne pepper, and other methods work too. They’ll also repel other insects, which is a plus. And finally, you’ll have a home that smells great – and is fly-free, too!