How to Get Rid of Flies

Learn how to get rid of flies and ground them for good, indoors and out

Environmentally, flies can be a benefit. But when they invade your home and kitchen, flies are a nuisance that can carry a variety of diseases.

Use this guide to learn how to combine prevention with the best fly treatments inside and outside of your home and get rid of flies for good.

What Attracts Flies

House flies feed on a variety of foods, including animal food. They also can feed on decaying organic matter and waste. You will often see them swarming around outdoor animals, trash cans filled with decaying food, or outdoor restrooms.

Flies have a natural life span of approximately three months but are prolific breeders. Mature female flies can lay up to 900 eggs over the course of their lives, which will hatch within 12 to 24 hours. Left unchecked, flies can produce two or more generations per month during warm weather.

Fly Prevention

Flies can't be controlled unless you begin the treatment process with prevention methods. By cutting off fly access to the home and any food sources, you'll better be able to get rid of flies inside the home.

1. Check and repair screens and seal around windows. Flies can find their way into the home through very small gaps. In addition to sealing up windows, look for other places where the flies may invade:

• Add or replace weather stripping around doors
• Keep doors and windows closed whenever possible
• Look for and seal gaps in corners where walls meet

2. Rethink food storage. Store produce, breads and condiments in the refrigerator to help deprive flies of any food sources. Keep cereal, grains and sugar in airtight containers with tight-fitting lids. Do not leave open drink containers or wine glasses out; once empty, rinse them with warm water to remove any sweet residue that might attract flies.

3. Clean vigilantly. If you are collecting compost material in your kitchen, be sure the receptacle has a tight-fitting lid and is emptied regularly. You may also want to use compostable bin liners to make collection easier. Clean up spilled food from floors and countertops immediately and keep an eye out for pieces of food that drop under counters or appliances while cooking. Locate potential fly breeding areas - drains, underneath appliances, inside the dishwasher or any spot where there is moisture and food debris - and clean them thoroughly.

4. Maintain waste cans. Empty and scrub trash cans inside and out to remove any old food particles. Use trash can liners to help keep cans clean inside.  If you have a diaper pail, be sure to keep it tightly sealed when in use and to empty and clean it regularly.

5. Tidy up the landscape. Keep dead leaves and yard waste cleaned up, as these can harbor flies. Also, locate any manure or compost piles a minimum of 20 feet from the home to discourage flies from making a move indoors.

Treatment Options

There are any number of treatments that can be used to combat flies, but some are more effective as indoor fly treatment and others are strictly intended for outdoor use. Read all application directions and warnings on any fly killers or repellents and tailor treatment to specific areas.

Treatment Pros Cons

Fly Catcher

• Effective 
• Non-toxic
• Disposable

• Can emit an unpleasant smell
• Sticky traps can be visually unappealing (use enclosed traps for better aesthetics)

Fly Zapper

• Kills on contact
• Non-chemical 

• Fly particles must be cleaned up quickly, especially in food prep areas
• Only used on adult flies, not eggs or larvae

Fly Repellent Torch

• Serves dual purpose - provides light and repels insects
• Useful for outdoor living
• No open flame

• Limited range
• Only repels, does not kill insects

Natural Fly Repellents

Several natural substances have been shown to be effective as fly repellents. One common treatment uses cayenne pepper steeped in water as a spray treatment. Spritz in doorways and around window sills and the sharp odor will keep the flies away.

Pepper spray is non-toxic but the smell can also be unpleasant to people. A more appealing approach is to use garden plants to repel flies. Strong herbs such as lavender, mint and bay leaf can be planted in window boxes to discourage flies from entering windows. The plants can also be used as borders around the home and near doors, along with the flowers marigolds and nasturtium, which flies also strive to avoid.

While it can be helpful to find natural products to aid in fly prevention, a large-scale infestation may require the use of more stringent fly killers.