How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

These tiny pests are a major nuisance—but they're pretty easy to get rid of.

<p>werajoe/Getty Images</p>

werajoe/Getty Images

Drain flies are a nuisance to deal with at home. No one wants to see a bunch of tiny insects when going to wash their hands, take a shower, or take out the trash. The good news, however, is that drain flies are generally considered harmless—and the problem is only temporary if you know how to deal with it. So, we asked three experts to explain what causes these annoying pests, and how to get rid of drain flies for good.

Related: How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies and Gnats in Your House

What Causes Drain Flies?

According to Joseph Wade, VP of Operations at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, if you have standing water, you might see these tiny flies in your drain. “They thrive in these environments, and also seek out decaying organic matter, including food, skin cells, and hair,” he says. Wade explains that they can be found in your kitchen sink, garbage disposal, and even in your shower drain. “Given the number of drains they can live off of, drain flies are prone to reproduce quickly, leading to infestations in no time,” Wade warns.

Alessandro Gazzo at Emily’s Maids, agrees, and says if you have drain flies hovering around your drain, there’s probably some food debris or organic matter in there. “For example, maybe you poured some food with grease down your kitchen drain, and it solidified inside when it went cold, and that’s where they’re feeding from.” He says organic material and standing water are the two items they need to lay eggs and grow. In addition, Gazzo says the time of year could also be a contributing factor, as drain flies are more common during summer months.

How to Get Rid of Drain Flies

Regardless of how drain flies found their way into your home, fortunately, there are several methods that you can use to get rid of them.

Thorough Clean

Since you now know that drain flies are attracted to stagnant water and organic material in your drains, your job is to make those drains uninhabitable. “To eliminate them, start by thoroughly cleaning your drains to remove slime and debris,” advises Gene Caballero, co-founder of GreenPal in Nashville, TN. He recommends using a pipe brush and a gel cleaner designed for drain cleaning to remove any gunk, and then flush thoroughly with boiling water.

Baking Soda, Vinegar and Hot Water

Another option is to use a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Caballero says pouring one cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by one cup of vinegar, can help break down organic matter. Keep in mind that when you pour baking soda down the drain, followed by vinegar, it’s going to create a volcanic effect. Let the solution sit for five minutes and then pour 2 cups of hot water down the drain.

However, Wade cautions against using boiling hot water since it can damage your plumbing.

Hot Water and Vinegar

Wade also recommends just pouring hot water down the drain. “This will help kill unhatched eggs or larvae and get rid of those that are buzzing around,” he explains. After pouring hot water down the drain, he recommends pouring one cup of white vinegar down the drain as well. “Finally, rinse off the drain with water again if you’d like to get rid of the strong vinegar smell,” Wade says.

Unclog Sinks

If you have a clogged or slow-moving sink, you’ll need to unclog it to get the organic matter out. This may entail using a hair clog remover tool, known as a drain snake, or you may need to clean the P-trap.

Related: How to Unclog a Sink Drain—6 Different Ways

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol can be used to clean your earbuds, as well as your cell phone. However, according to Gazzo, it can also be used to get rid of drain flies. “For a week, before you go to sleep, pour around ¼ cup of isopropyl alcohol down the drain,” he recommends.


Bleach is another option, and Gazzo recommends pouring a tablespoon of bleach down the drain. “Both alcohol solutions and bleach solutions are definitely cheaper [than commercial solutions] and you probably have them already at home,” he says. (However, be careful when using bleach, and keep in mind that some experts advise against using bleach because it can create a chemical reaction that could be hazardous to your health—although a tablespoon is a relatively safe quantity.)

Related: 8 Cleaning Products You Should Never Mix

Commercial Solutions

If the above solutions don’t provide the desired result, Caballero says you might want to consider an insecticidal treatment specifically designed for drain flies.

Gazzo recommends an enzyme drain cleaner or bio sanitation foams. “The instructions usually involve pouring a small amount at bedtime for one or two weeks,” he explains. “Even after you stop seeing the fruit flies, continue the foam or enzyme cleaner for one week afterward to make sure you completely remove them.”

Also, no matter what solution you use, Gazzo says you need to apply it to every single drain in your home (shower, sink, tub) even though you may not see anything in the other drains.

He also recommends covering your drains with a silicone stopper to keep the flies from escaping the drain.

Fix Leaks

In addition to clogged sinks, leaks can also create standing water. “To protect your home against drain flies, start by fixing leaks throughout the home—especially in bathrooms and the kitchen,” Wade advises. Regardless of how small the leak is, he says it’s imperative to address it immediately. “If left alone, not only will this lead to more drain flies and bugs, but also hike up the monthly water bill and contribute to water waste.”

Call the Pros

If you think you’re out of your league, or don’t want the hassle of DIY solutions, there’s another option. “The other way to get rid of drain flies and prevent them from reoccurring is to schedule regular maintenance on your pipes, including drain cleaning with environmentally safe BioBen or a descaling service from a professional plumbing company,” Wade says. He notes that drains are essential to the performance of your home’s plumbing system and recommends a yearly professional cleaning. “This will also help prevent future clogs and eliminate any buildup that may have accumulated."

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