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10 Tips for Getting Rid of Fruit Flies

How to Keep Fruit Flies from Coming Back

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Fruit flies on a rotting peach.

Fruit flies on a rotting peach.

Getty Images/Larry Washburn

If you've ever battled a fruit fly infestation in your home (and who hasn't, really?), you know just how hard it is to get rid of fruit flies. These tiny pests breed quickly, and can survive long after you've disposed of all your suspect fruits and vegetables. Winning the battle against fruit flies requires patience and persistence.

If you're at your wits end with this nuisance pests, take a few minutes to read these tips for getting rid of fruit flies. You need to be thorough in eliminating all the potential breeding sites in your home.

1. Dispose of any rotting fruits and vegetables.
First things first. As soon as you see a few fruit flies, you need to purge your produce. Anything that is beyond ripe, oozing liquid, or has been cut or broken open must go. Don't just throw it in the garbage or compost bin, either (unless your compost bin is outdoors and located a distance from your house). Bag it up and take it outside to the trash. Then clean up any residual mess left behind.

2. Empty and clean recycling cans.
Fruit fly habitat is any place they can find something sweet or fermented, with a little moisture. Empty soda cans, wine bottles, and beer cans fit that bill perfectly. Once you've dumped the produce, turn your attention to the recycling bin. Take all your bottles and cans out for pickup. Then give the bin itself a thorough scrubbing to remove any residue of beer, wine, or juice.

3. Take any compost scraps outside.
If you compost your kitchen scraps, I applaud you. Everyone should compost. But if you compost your kitchen scraps and you have fruit flies buzzing about, it's time to clean out the compost bin. Until you get your infestation under control, you'll need to take produce scraps straight out to your outdoor compost pile. Empty any compost containers that you keep indoors, and give them a good scrubbing, too.

4. Replace old sponges, mops, or dishrags.
Fruit flies can breed on sour sponges or mops, too. If you haven't changed your kitchen sponge or your mop refill recently, replace them. Throw any reusable dishrags in the wash.

5. Clean your dishes immediately, especially wine or juice glasses.
Don't wait until the end of the day to wash your dishes, especially if they have residues of things like jelly or wine. At the very least, give the dishes a good rinse to remove any food or beverage bits. When you scrape leftovers into the garbage, be sure to take the trash outside promptly. If you have a dishwasher, rinse the dishes and load it, and run the load as soon as possible.

6. Check potato and onion storage bins.
Most people store potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables in a cool, dark bin or cupboard. If fruit flies persist, be sure to check these storage areas for old, rotting produce. Just one old potato is all it takes to keep a fruit fly population going in your kitchen. Dispose of any soft or mushy potatoes or onions, and give the bin a cleaning before refilling it with fresh ones.

7. Set a few vinegar traps in problem areas.
Sometimes the quickest way to eliminate a population of insect pests is to wipe out the reproductive adults. Fortunately, fruit flies aren't all that smart. If something smells remotely like fermenting fruit, they'll dive right in. Place a few cider vinegar traps around problem areas in your home, and you can quickly get rid of large numbers of fruit flies. You can make a vinegar trap in just a few minutes with things you probably already have in your home.

8. Fix slow drains and keep plumbing and garbage disposals free of organic matter.
Fruit flies aren't above living in the muck, and that includes the muck inside your plumbing. If you have any slow-moving drains in your house, there may be enough organic matter hanging out inside your pipes to support a breeding population of fruit flies. You can tape some plastic wrap over suspect drains for a few days to check for fruit flies. If you see adults on the underside of the plastic, you've got some breeding in your drain. Fix any drainage issues. Pour boiling hot water down problem drains to help loosen accumulated deposits. If accessible, you can also use a firm brush to scrub the inside of the pipe and free debris.

9. Give the kitchen a thorough cleaning.
You would be surprised where food bits can accumulate in a kitchen. If you have a particularly stubborn fruit fly infestation, it may take some elbow grease to eliminate all their food sources. How about the lip of your kitchen sink, could there be food bits underneath it? Clean the burner drip pans and lift the stovetop, if possible, to remove spilled food. Juice spills can leave sticky spots under the refrigerator.

10. If you do your own canning, make sure your jar lids are sealed completely.
This certainly doesn't apply to everyone, but fruit fly problems can sometimes be traced to an improperly sealed jar of fruit preserves or other home canning product. If you keep a supply of homemade jellies or sauces on hand, take some time to check the seals. You don't want to eat anything from an improperly sealed jar, anyway, do you?

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