5 Scents That Fruit Flies Hate (and How to Use Them)

Male Fruit Fly Sitting on Leaf

Imagine you’re reaching for a delectable banana on your kitchen island table. You begin to peel it when you hear buzzing. Oh, no! You look closer at the banana and find that not only is the fruit overripe, but fruit flies are also having a snack.

Fruit flies have a strong sense of smell, which they use to find accessible food sources like bananas, apples, drains, garbages, fruits and vegetables. You can use this trait to your advantage by utilizing scents fruit flies hate, such as peppermint, basil, lavender, lemongrass, and citronella oil.

Keep reading to learn more about these scents and how to keep fruit flies away from your delicious fruits and vegetables for good!

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Why Are There Fruit Flies In My House?

While there are many types of flies, fruit flies are incredibly small. They are around ⅛ inch long, so it can sometimes be difficult to see them from a distance. It’s only when you get closer that you will see them buzzing around, and you will be able to hear them too. 

Fruit flies lay eggs near the surface of various types of foods or anything that is moist. They can lay up to 500 eggs at one time! This is why when you see one fruit fly, there will most likely be more quite soon because the eggs will hatch.

In truth, fruit flies often breed in moist places like drains, trash cans, garbage disposals, wet cleaning mops and rags, and inside bottles and cans that still have liquid residue within. You may not even realize it, but these are ways that fruit flies can sneakily find their way into your home.

If any slightly overripe fruits or vegetables have been brought into the house after a grocery shopping haul, you can be sure that fruit flies may already have been on these items and will now begin to reproduce. Fruit flies can also enter via screen doors, so it is important to have tightly sealed screens in place. 

It can be frustrating that fruit flies are inside your home or within your garden but just know that there are simple ways to get rid of them.

Fruit Flies Hate Peppermint

The first scent that repels fruit flies is the wonderful scent of peppermint. Peppermint is a cross between water mint and spearmint. The oil from peppermints is taken from the flower and leaves of the peppermint plant.

The oil is then bottled up and sold in many different forms.

One study found that peppermint oil, along with a few other naturally occurring oils, repelled fruit flies.

A useful way to use peppermint to banish fruit flies is to use it in its oil form. You can purchase a bottle of the essential oil itself if you’d like. Once you get a hold of this product, you can fill up a spray bottle with the oil and spray it around the areas where fruit flies tend to congregate or where you have located them in your house.

However, the downside with this is that using pure peppermint oil can get expensive.

Another option is to purchase a pre-made spray with other fruit fly fighting ingredients like Wondercide’s Peppermint Indoor Pest Control Spray.

The spray also contains notes of cedarwood oil and sesame oil as its base ingredients, to boot!

Keep in mind that NO spray or scent is better than actually removing the root of your fruit fly problem. Make sure you search for their breeding ground, which may very well be inside your drain or near some rotting fruit.

Basil Deters Fruit Flies

If you like cooking, chances are you use the basil herb a lot in your recipes. Basil is a fragrant herb that is used in many types of cuisine throughout the world. You may think the smell of basil is wonderful and conjures images of favorite foods, but for a fruit fly, not so much.

If you plan on using scents to repel fruit flies, then basil may just do the trick for you.

You’ll want to place basil plants around your kitchen or around the fruits and vegetables that tend to be the attraction.

It is a very easy and simple process. You can purchase something like Click and Grow’s Smart Garden, which has one of its intended uses as growing basil indoors.

You can grow the basil around areas where you commonly find fruit flies around your house, such as your kitchen and windowsill. The scent that you may find so appealing will not be so for the fruit flies. The basil will deter them from coming near your fruit or vegetables, and it will make for a pretty house plant!

Keep in mind, the scent of the basil needs to be stronger than the fruit fly attraction. So if you have stinky, rotting fruit or vegetables on your counter next to a basil plant, this isn’t going to do heck all.

Remember, scents can work for fruit flies, but they’re tricky. Remove the SOURCE of the problem and deter them with scents as well for an effective 1-2 combo.

Fruit Flies Dislike Lavender

Lavender is another wonderful scent that is often used for anything from perfume and cologne to a car air freshener. While it may be a pleasant smell to take in, the scent of it is something that fruit flies hate.

Look into getting some lavender essential oil. Once you do so, you can add a few drops into a spray bottle with some water. Use it gently around the areas where it is necessary. You may also choose to buy a diffuser and use the essential oil inside that. Both methods are effective.

After some time, you will notice that fruit flies will not gravitate to any of the fruit fly-infested areas. Again, it depends on if the lavender is strong enough to cover up the fruit fly attractant scent.

Lemongrass Oil Repels Fruit Flies

The same study we mentioned earlier where peppermint repelled fruit flies also found that Leptospermum petersonii (lemon-scented tea tree) also repelled fruit flies from apples, albeit for a few hours.

Now, the lemon-scented tea tree is, of course, different than lemongrass. However, the scents are rather reminiscent of one another.

Adding some efficacy to lemongrass oil, another study found that stable flies and mosquitoes were effectively repelled from a target with lemongrass applied.

So, what’s the takeaway?

Simply put, flying things genuinely don’t like lemony scented things.

Feel free to test out actual lemongrass oil or even lemon-scented tea tree oil.

However, if you’d like to save time with a ready-made product, then take a peek at Wondercide’s Lemongrass Indoor Pest Control Spray.

The spray is made from essential lemongrass oil, so you can be sure you are using an authentic product. To add – it’s quite similar to the Wondercide peppermint oil spray we mentioned above, but with lemongrass replacing the peppermint!

Fruit Flies Hate Citronella Oil

Like the other mentioned scents, citronella is a strong scent that will safely ward away fruit flies and many other pests.

A fantastic product is the Green Gobbler Fruit Fly Goodbye Gel. Essentially, this form of citronella is going to get rid of fruit flies at the SOURCE. Something the rest of the scents don’t quite do.

The most effective way to use the Green Gobbler gel is to take 1 cup (8 oz.) of the product and pour it slowly down your drain. Do this after the last time you have used the drain. The gel has citronella oil which will coat and stick to the inside of the pipes. Not only will this process get rid of fruit flies, but it will be an immense help in eliminating the source from which the fruit flies are coming.  

Make sure you repeat this process every day until the fruit flies are gone once and for all.

How to Keep Fruit Flies Away For Good

It is important to note that once you see fruit flies swarming around something, you need to quickly remove all breeding areas.

This is imperative because only getting rid of the fruit flies you see does not mean that the fruit flies you do not see will go away too. Removing the area where they are laying eggs is the way to eliminate this pest problem once and for all.

So now that you have learned about five scents that fruit flies hate, we’re going to take a dive into what you should do and should pair with these scents to keep fruit flies out of your home, out of your gardens and yards, and away from your food for good!

Constant Cleaning and Throwing Away Trash

The cost of cleaning out your home and throwing away old garbage is not only free but highly effective too! Plus, it will force you to get around to chores you’ve been putting off for a while.

All overly ripe and partially eaten fruits and vegetables should be immediately eaten, refrigerated, or they will need to be discarded. They could possibly be the source of the fruit flies, so it is best to eliminate them as a possibility.

Look through all of the areas where you store fruits and vegetables both in your refrigerator and kitchen pantry as well. 

Take out your trash every night and empty the recycling receptacle as well. 

Check around your kitchen and dining areas for any spilled liquids because that is a source of fruit flies as well.

If you stay on top of your cleaning and monitor the ripeness of your fruit, your house should be fruit fly-free in no time.

Use a Garbage Guard to Seal Fruit Flies

The Terro Garbage Guard is a small but effective tool in warding away fruit flies. 

Simply take the product, remove the adhesive strip, and stick it to the underside of your garbage can lid. The vapors from the guard will release themselves into the garbage and then immediately eliminate fruit flies as well as any other insects.

The guard will also solve the problem of any infestations that may be happening within your garbage. The best thing of all is that you do not have to do any work! Let the guard take care of the hard part for you. 

Utilize Fruit Fly Sticky Trap

There are also other products that are convenient and incredibly easy to use that people absolutely rave about.

The Garum Yellow Sticky Trap is an odorless product that catches fruit flies as they fly around plants and gardens. Just take off the adhesive tape and place the yellow sticky trap in your indoor plants or your outdoor plants. Simply let the trap do its job. 

The product is eco-friendly and lasts a really long time. Not only that, but you can get different fun shapes like a bird or cat or butterfly!

The downside to the sticky trap is that you won’t remove the source; rather, just get rid of the fruit flies that stick to the trap.

Use an Apple Cider Vinegar Trap Against Fruit Flies

Something as simple as a commonly used household product like apple cider vinegar can also help you with your fruit fly infestation. 

You can be creative and build a fruit fly trap. It’s way easier than it may sound.

All you have to do is take an empty jar and put a rolled-up piece of paper inside it. Make sure the paper looks like a funnel. Then, place some drops of apple cider vinegar inside the jar. Alternatively, you can seal the jar with plastic wrap but remember to poke holes in the wrap. 

You should hopefully see fruit flies inside the jar soon. The vinegar attracts them, and they will most likely fall into this clever trap.

Eliminate Fruit Flies Using Boiling Water

This method is as simple as it sounds. Boil water and pour it down the drain in your kitchen and bathrooms or wherever you see fruit flies may be nesting.

You can try this every day until you think the fruit fly problem has been resolved. Also, try out combining vinegar and pour the mixture down the drain as well.

Give this one a try!

Use Dish Soap to Trap Fruit Flies

For this method, take a bowl and put in some vinegar, and add a few squirts of dish soap. You may be surprised, but fruit flies are attracted to vinegar, and the dish soap will cause them to drown.

Since vinegar and dish soap are universally used in the majority of households, you don’t need to worry about diving into your pockets to try out this technique.

Be patient, and this trick should do the job just fine!

Be Gone, Fruit Flies!

Alright, now you have learned quite a bit about fruit flies, how they enter your home, scents that they detest, and a few simple methods of eradicating them from your personal space forever.

So let’s do a quick recap about everything and make sure you know all your options so you can get this stuff taken care of!

Fruit flies sneak into your home through already ripe fruit and vegetables, moist places where they congregate, or even through screen windows and doors that are not firmly in place. 

Five easily accessible scents that most likely will smell nice to you but not to fruit flies are:

  • Peppermint: get essential oil and spray it around the infested areas
  • Basil: buy mini basil plants and place them around your house 
  • Lavender: use essential oil and pour it into a spray bottle
  • Lemongrass Oil: utilize essential oil around fruit fly attracted areas 
  • Citronella Oil: pour Green Gobbler gel down your drains

Effective methods that you can try to get rid of fruit flies for once and all are:

  • Be very diligent about consistent cleaning and maintenance of trash.
  • Garbage Guard: simply place on the underside of your garbage bins
  • Sticky Trap: put it in the pots of your indoor and outdoor plants
  • Apple Cider Vinegar: pour it into a jar with a funnel
  • Boiling Water: pour the water down drains
  • Dish Sap: place it in a dish with a few drops of vinegar

So give these various scents and techniques a try. You never know which one will work the best, so don’t give up and keep trying.

REMEMBER. Pair the scents with long-term deterrents. Don’t leave rotting fruit out! Here’s to saying good riddance to those fruit flies once and for all.

See ya next time!


aldacchino, F., Tramut, C., Salem, A., Liénard, E., Delétré, E., Franc, M., … & Jay-Robert, P. (2013). The repellency of lemongrass oil against stable flies, tested using video tracking

Hidayat, Y., Heather, N., & Hassan, E. (2013). Repellency and oviposition deterrence effects of plant essential and vegetable oils against female Q ueensland fruit fly B actrocera tryoni (F roggatt)(D iptera: T ephritidae). Australian Journal of Entomology, 52(4), 379-386.

Jouandet, G. C., & Gallio, M. (2015). Olfaction: Catching more flies with vinegar. Elife, 4, e10535.

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