The Expert Guide to Get Rid of House Flies in a Flash (It’s Truly Effective)

published Feb 29, 2024
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
House Fly & Glass Reflection Closeup
Credit: photointrigue / Getty Images

In the spring of 2023, my neighborhood on the north side of Chicago had a problem: a temperature change above Lake Michigan floated into our streets and caused fly eggs across the area to hatch. Suddenly our homes were all filled with flies, probably flying in from the alley dumpsters as we enjoyed the warmer weather. It was fine for a day or two. But on the third, fourth, and fifth days of nothing but flies, we were all fed up. Luckily, we knew what the cause was — but getting rid of them was a different story. 

Quick Overview

How to Get Rid of House Flies

  1. Find the source.
  2. Clean up the problem.
  3. Fix any issues that might allow flies to thrive.
  4. Use traps, swatters, or natural methods to get rid of flies.
  5. As a last resort, use chemicals (if you’re comfortable with that).

If you’ve done all you can to get rid of flies, but they are still around, it might be time to call in an exterminator.

Here’s what the experts say to do if you need to get rid of flies in your home.

Causes of Flies in the Home

If you don’t have a weird Lake Michigan weather pattern waking up all the flies, you’re likely dealing with some rotting food or plant matter, or stagnant water in or around your home.

“Leaving food uncovered or not disposing of garbage properly can invite house flies,” says Elizabeth Shields, operations manager of Super Cleaning Service Louisville. “Also, standing water in pet bowls, clogged drains, or leaky pipes is an absolute no-go. Another thing to watch out for is overripe fruits and vegetables. They smell so good, even for us humans, but for house flies, it’s like a feast. Leaving your windows and doors unsealed is a big problem.”

If you compost, flies may be attracted to that waste. Dirty dishes in the sink can be a beacon for house flies as well, and so can excess moisture around the house. They can also fly in from your neighbor’s home if they have an infestation.

How to Get Rid of House Flies

Follow this step-by-step guide for getting rid of house flies.

Step 1: Find the source.

“The best way to do so is first to investigate where they’re coming from,” says Delah Gomasi, CEO and director of MaidForYou. “It could also be the quality of the soil in the garden, especially if you’re using manure. If they’re in the kitchen, it’s due to spoiled food.”

Step 2: Clean up the problem.

Once you find what’s causing the flies, it’s a simple cleanup job to stop them from coming around. “Certain fly infestations are centered on a particular drain or potted plant,” says Aaron Christensen, resident cleaning expert and VP of Growth at Homeaglow. “Address the source to help eliminate the house flies quickly.”

Step 3: Fix any issues that might be allowing the flies to flourish. 

That means checking all your screens to make sure they’re intact and in place, cleaning up any crumbs around the home, clearing out any standing water, and ensuring any leaks are fixed. You’ll also want to clean up around the outside of your house and make sure that all your garbage cans (inside and out) have lids.

Step 4: Pull out the traps and swatters. 

Fly traps, swatters, or electric swatters will get rid of any lingering pests. Put the traps out anywhere you’d normally see the flies, and keep a swatter close at hand when you’re around your home.

Step 5: As a last resort, use chemicals. 

You should be able to find insecticides made specifically for flies at the hardware store. If you’re comfortable with that, use them.

Natural Remedies to Get Rid of House Flies 

If you want to get rid of house flies naturally, Gomasi suggests picking up a tactic from the past: making a DIY fly trap with a pop bottle. “[Cut] a soda bottle in half,” he says. “You use the other half upside down as a funnel and add a mixture of sugar, honey, and water to the bottom of the soda bottle. Adding apple cider vinegar to your trap will make it even more effective, as vinegar compounds attract flies.”

Christensen suggests fly paper for outdoor issues on a deck or patio, a solution he says is “effective but very unattractive.” And for indoor options, he says you can avoid harsh chemicals by using strong-smelling herbs. “You could use a lavender plant or simply spray lavender essential oil on a cloth and place it near the indoor fly infestation,” he says. 

Basil, lemongrass, and eucalyptus are other great options to repel house flies naturally. Shields also uses essential oils and herbs, including mint, bay leaves, and citrus. You could even plant those around your home, or put citrus peels wherever the flies are gathering.

Some other options from Shields include making an apple cider vinegar trap “by filling a shallow dish with apple cider vinegar and a few drops of dish soap,” placing garlic cloves around the house or crushing them to mix with water and turn into a spray, and having camphor tablets in a bowl of water near any windows or doors.

When to Call an Exterminator

If you need aggressive intervention for your house fly problem, consider calling an exterminator. Gomasi, Christensen, and Shields agree, though, that this probably isn’t necessary unless your infestation meets certain criteria: If you’ve done all you can to rid of the flies in your home and they’re still showing up; if you’ve removed any food that might be turning and examined the soil in your plants, but the flies are still there; if the infestation continues to get worse; if you can’t find the source of the flies; or if they’re getting in the way of your daily life and causing a health concern. If anything, the exterminator will be able to help diagnose the cause of the flies if not completely solve the issue.

Preventative Measures

Take a good look around your home — you’ll want to make sure there’s no overflowing garbage and that you’re protected from outdoor invaders.

“The homes with the least amount of flies that we come across during our operations are those that use flyscreens on windows and doors,” Gomasi says. “They also make sure that all organic food waste isn’t left in the home too long and that internal bins are emptied almost as soon as they become full.”

Christensen agrees and also suggests removing any stagnant water or decaying plants, both inside and outside around your home. He also says to replace any ripped screens and to watch your pets and kids to make sure doors aren’t staying open any longer than they need to be in warmer weather.