How to Get Rid of House Flies and Prevent a Pest Infestation

You'll never have to swat another fly again.

<p>Stockfoo/Getty Images</p>

Stockfoo/Getty Images

If your home has been invaded by house flies, this guide will help you eliminate them and prevent more flies from swarming in. House flies are a common nuisance, comprising about 90 percent of flies in homes. Although they do not bite, house flies carry millions of microorganisms on their feet that can spread pathogens and food-borne illnesses.

Luckily, there are safe and natural ways to prevent and get rid of house flies in your home. We asked experts for their best tips to stave off these pesky insects. You can implement many natural fly remedies by using items around your house. If you have a severe problem and the home remedies don’t work, we’ve included chemical solution options, too.

Meet the Expert

What Causes House Fly Infestations?

Although house flies do not bite, they can be detrimental to human health because they carry pathogens on their bodies and in their feces. They can also spread food-borne illnesses through their contact with food. That's why getting rid of them is important. In order to get rid of house flies, it's important to understand why you're getting them in the first place. According to entomologist Peter Irenicus, founder of The Holy Habibee, there are three leading causes of house flies.


House flies are attracted to decaying food and organic matter on which they can feed. This includes food scraps, garbage, excrement, and decaying organic matter. Uncovered trash, pet waste, and compost can all attract flies. They assemble and lay eggs in areas with poor sanitation with fecal matter and trash.

Breeding Sites

Flies lay their eggs in moist organic matter, such as garbage, manure, compost, or rotting vegetation. If your home is near fly breeding grounds like a farm, garbage dump, or slaughterhouse, you may become an unwelcome host to many house flies.

Openings in Homes

Flies can enter homes through unscreened windows or doors or other unsealed openings in search of food or warmth. Be mindful of any cracks or holes, and be sure to patch them up tightly. Check all crevices around doors and window frames where cracks are more likely.

How to Get Rid of House Flies

If you have a house fly problem in your home, take solace—there are many ways to eliminate the pesky critters. The good news is that you can get rid of house flies with items you probably already have lying around your home.

Natural Remedies

There are many eco-friendly natural ways to deter house flies in your home. Try these natural remedies to get rid of flies for good:

  • Mix apple cider vinegar and dish soap. Use equal parts dish soap and apple cider vinegar, and put the solution in a bowl or jar. Sprinkle sugar on top to further entice the flies. The dish soap will break down the flies and kill them, while the vinegar attracts them. If you don’t have apple cider vinegar, try stale wine or beer, says Irenicus, as the aging scents attract flies.

  • Plant herbs near doorways and windows where flies have gathered, advises Irenicus. Herbs such as basil, mint, bay leaf, tansy, and rue repel house flies and offer a natural deterrent to make your home an unattractive place for flies.

  • Essential oils from plants such as lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemongrass can act as fly repellents. Place the essential oils in diffusers or mix with water and spray in areas of your home where flies congregate.

  • Fly paper is an easy way to trap and kill house flies. Hang the two-sided sticky paper in places where flies gather, and it will attract and trap them. You can dispose of the strip of dead flies once you’ve got them all or periodically put up a new strip if you have more left to catch.

Chemical-Based Solutions

If you’re having a persistent fly problem that won’t go away, chemical-based solutions can be a fast way to get rid of house flies. “Chemical solutions for controlling house flies involve different compounds that are designed to target and get rid of these pests effectively,” says entomologist Michel Johnson, founder and owner of Ciao Bedbugs.

Some common insecticides for killing flies include pyrethroids, which are synthetic versions of natural insecticides found in chrysanthemum flowers, Johnson says. These chemicals inhibit flies’ nerves when they touch them, causing paralysis and death. Imidacloprid is another chemical often used in bait fly traps. It also targets the flies’ nervous systems and kills them.

Light traps are another way to get rid of house flies. These work by attracting the flies to light in the back of the trap and trapping them or using an electric zap to kill them.

Professional Pest Control

If you seem to have a very big fly problem on your hands, it might be time to call a professional pest control service. An expert can come assess the infestation and the breeding environment in your home. They have the experience to know what potential causes to look for that you may have missed, as well as the specialized tools necessary to tackle even the most stubborn infestations.

A professional pest control service will likely start by conducting a thorough inspection of your property. Depending on what they find and the extent of the infestation, they will develop a treatment plan. This plan may include a combination of removal methods, from insecticide sprays to baiting systems. In severe cases, they may even recommend fumigation.

How to Prevent House Flies

The best way to get rid of house flies is to prevent them from entering your house in the first place. Make sure your home is secure with the doors and windows sealed. Ensure that your screens have no holes or rips.

Clean up Trash and Litter

Inside your home, you can make your house less attractive to flies by cleaning up all food waste and crumbs (from humans and pets), securing all garbage in trash cans with liners and lids, and emptying your garbage and recycling frequently. If your pet uses a litter box or indoor area for a toilet, clean the area often.

Clear Potential Breeding Grounds

Keep outdoor areas clean by picking up pet waste and food and putting tight lids on your garbage. Perform regular inspections of your outdoor spaces to ensure there are no house fly breeding grounds, Irenicus says.

“Periodically check for potential breeding grounds such as rotting food or stagnant water and address them properly,” he says. “This also goes for the home gardeners with a compost pile: Turn it regularly to discourage flies from laying eggs.”

Use Lights Wisely

Lights can also attract flies, so limit your lights at night, turning off unnecessary lights both outside and inside. Be mindful of any cracked windows or doors when you have the lights on inside at night. If it's dark outside and bright inside, the bugs will flock inside however they can.

However, not all lights are created equally. There are some lights that actually repeal bugs. Consider using yellow bug lights to repel house flies, Irenicus says. These types of lights are on your side.

Seal Entry Points

Make sure that any cracks or creases in your walls or windows are sealed up, so flies can't get inside. You can use caulking or weatherstripping to effectively seal any gaps around doorframes or winfow frames, for example. Also, check to make sure all of your windows are properly closed (especially at night) and, if they are open, that you have screens installed. Be sure that there are no holes in any window screens that can let bugs through, either. Taking these simple steps can help deny flies entry points into your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

What instantly kills flies?

While there are plenty of ways to get rid of house flies, the easiest way to kill them is with a chemical-based solution. Spraying flies with pesticides can immediately kill them. Although, it's worth noting that not all sprays will prevent flies from returning.

What do house flies look like?

House flies—musca domestica—are an insect in the family Muscidae and order Diptera. They have gray or black bodies, large red eyes, and two nearly translucent wings. Their bodies are around 0.2 to 0.3 inches long. House flies have slightly hairy bodies, and females are larger than males.

What is a sign of a house fly infestation?

If you see many house flies, you may have an infestation. Additionally, you may find eggs. Females lay batches of about 100 eggs on food waste, rotting meat, and feces. The eggs hatch quickly, in 12 to 24 hours. The hatched flies are legless and white, called maggots, and they develop into pupae, then adult flies. On average, adult flies live just two to four weeks but can reproduce rapidly.

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

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