My Chef Friend Taught Me This Genius Hack to Keep Fruit Flies Away

published Mar 2, 2023
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When I first moved to the South from California, one of the biggest adjustments (in addition to the culture shock) I had to make was to the preponderance and size of the bugs. There were the fire ants that I’d only read about in books that now popped up in my backyard. There were the ubiquitous summer cockroaches that scurried away (audibly!) whenever anyone flicked on their carport light at night. The cicadas’ nighttime symphonies were totally new to me, and made me wonder just how many must be hiding to make such a racket. 

I’m used to the bugs now (and Tennessee bugs have nothing on Georgia and Florida bugs, in my opinion), so I feel like I’m in the clear. Except for one kind of bug that’s almost inescapable, no matter where you live: fruit flies. I never seem to know quite where they come from, but when they “visit” they do so in ever-multiplying droves that make the kitchen far from a peaceful place to fry up some pancakes or chop carrots. And fruit flies aren’t just irritating — they can pose a health hazard because they can contaminate clean areas in the kitchen with dangerous bacteria like E. Coli, salmonella, and listeria. 

Sure, you can make a variety of homemade traps to capture them, and it’s vaguely satisfying to get rid of them this way, but never having them in the first place would be my preference, and I bet it’s yours, too. To cut down on fruit fly issues, it helps to be vigilant — keep drains clean and garbage cans regularly emptied — and keep a close eye on fruits and vegetables to see if it needs to be eaten, refrigerated, or tossed. But, there’s another unexpected strategy I learned recently that can help you in the battle against fruit flies.

When talking with one of my best friends, who also happens to be a chef, I mentioned something about bananas and she off-handedly said something about spraying the ends with alcohol. Wait, what? My friend then explained that she likes to keep a spray bottle of isopropyl alcohol on hand for disinfecting items and for spraying the ends of bananas because it is a favorite spot for fruit flies to lay their eggs. (Note: Alcohol is highly flammable, so please use caution when spraying it inside the home and avoid using it nearby open flames.)

Once brought into the home, these hitch-hiking eggs are a fruit-fly invasion waiting to happen. Since bananas aren’t typically stored in the fridge (which would stop the eggs from hatching), these eggs are a very likely source of fruit fly problems. But a simple spritz with alcohol kills the eggs instantly.

And if you still find yourself sharing space with fruit flies (they will make a beeline for any ripe fruit they can smell), this same alcohol spray will get rid of them, too.