It’s best to take action immediately if you notice insects in your home before they begin to multiply. Like pesky fruit flies, annoying gnats, and even fleas, drain flies are another common household insect that can be quite annoying and disturbing. They are also called flies, sewer flies, or filter flies.
What Attracts Drain Flies?
Drain flies love moisture—stagnant, shallow water—and organic debris, and they are typically found around sources of food or bacteria, like sinks and showers.
They often favor areas that are not often in use, like a basement or workshop sink, and are also sighted after a long time away from home, like a vacation. They can even pop up in relatively well-kept areas.
Other places to find drain flies include:
- Septic tanks
- Soil that contains sewage
- Wet mops and buckets
- Compost piles
- storm drains with standing water.
- Wet areas near garbage cans, birdbaths, or barns
What Are the Ways to Get Rid of Drain Flies in My Garbage Disposal?
Contrary to their name, they do more than fly from surface to surface. Drain flies can survive up to three weeks, and new eggs can hatch every 48 hours.
For these reasons, you should act fast to get rid of drain flies for good using these DIY home solutions and store-bought products.
1. Make Your Environment Uninviting to Drain Flies
One of the biggest reasons you have drain flies is that your home provides them with just the right environment to flourish. So, if you remove or alter this environment, they’ll have to leave your house and look for another place to meet their needs. You can start by:
Removing any exposed food in your kitchen, pantry, and dining room. These flies are attracted to anything edible (they even lay their eggs on anything that vaguely tastes of food), so, by preventing them from getting access to food-based materials, you’ll deprive them not just of nutrition but also of places to breed.
Check the fruits in your fruit bowl and see if they’ve been infested; if they haven’t, place them in the fridge ASAP. Inspect your cereals, rice, crackers, beans, and other foodstuffs. If they’re infested, throw them away; if they’re safe, put them in dry, sealed containers immediately.
Cleaning the areas exposed to food and food waste If there’s a stack of dirty dishes in your sink, wash them immediately. Clean your dishwasher thoroughly and ensure it’s free from food particles.
Do the same with your garbage disposal. You can pour vinegar into ice cube molds and put them in your freezer. When the cubes have frozen, grab a few and put them through your garbage disposal. The rough surface of the cubes—coupled with vinegar’s cleansing properties—will leave your machine fresh and ensure its blades are free from food particles.
Take potted plants and flowers outside.
2. Set Natural Traps
If you want to keep your home safe and organic, you can opt to set traps using non-toxic substances. There are different options to choose from, and one of them is to use a drain fly bowl trap. You can create this by taking these steps:
- Get a large bowl.
- Fill it with sweet treats like a piece of fruit or an inch of red wine or honey.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, stretch it tightly over the opening of the bowl, and fasten it with a rubber band near the edge.
- Take a fork and poke small holes through the plastic.
- Drain flies will enter these holes to get at the sweet treat in the bowl, but, given their low intelligence, they won’t find a way out and will die inside.
3. Using Chemicals
If the drain fly infestation in your home has become uncontrollable, you should consider trying chemical products. Some of your best options are fly traps, which attract flies but prevent them from escaping with their super-sticky surface.
You can also use sprays containing pyrethrin, an insecticide that can effectively kill drain flies. If you suspect the flies are breeding in your sink, get a strong drain gel that can kill all the eggs and newly hatched flies in your drain.
4. Flush the drain with hot water
A super simple fix is to pour boiling water down the drain to eliminate drain flies. Boil a medium-sized pot of water once or twice weekly, and pour it down and around the drain.
5. Mix Baking Soda, Salt, and Vinegar
Combine this go-to mixture of household items to create a natural cleaning solution and pour it down your drain overnight. The baking soda expands with the vinegar, reaching more areas than the boiling water. After letting the solution sit until the morning, flush out the pipe with boiling water.
6. Seal The Drain
Seal the drain with duct tape to trap and kill adult flies. This is a simple way to catch flies and test for infestations. Place duct tape over your drain (sticky side down) overnight to trap flies that try to merge. Do this several nights in a row since drain flies are usually more active after dark.
7. Making Use of Enzyme Gel
Use an enzyme gel to break down organic residue in your pipes. Enzyme cleaners are designed to target buildup leftover from manual cleaning and prevent future blockages.
First, clean your drain with a metal pipe brush—run some warm water down your drain and then free any buildup by inserting the brush as deep as it will go. Then, pour the cleaner down the drain and let it sit for several hours (check the instructions on the bottle for details). Then run some water down the drain to flush it out.
Enzyme cleaners are non-toxic and made for kitchen use. Once the drain is washed out of buildup and larvae, the flies will begin to disappear.
How To Prevent Drain Flies
Drain flies look for pools of sitting water containing sewage and other organic material. Avoiding drain fly infestations requires clean pipes that are constantly washed out with water or, in more extreme cases, regularly cleaning solutions. If you have a drain that frequently goes days or weeks without use, close it up with a stopper so that drain flies can not find a home there in the meantime.
Refrain from leaving piles of dirty dishes in the sink, as this is a perfect, moist breeding ground for drain flies. Also, wipe down counters and tables where you eat regularly, ensuring food scraps aren’t left behind.
In addition, keep the drains and drain traps clean. Even if the sink looks clean, residual food could be caught in the drain or pipes. If you keep everything else clean but still have an issue with the flies, the drain may be the problem.
A metal pipe brush and hot water can be a great way to clean the pipe lining. This helps get rid of any excess food stuck to the inside of the pipe.
Outside of your drains, keep an eye out for standing water in other areas in and around your home. Never leave dirty mops in buckets of water; be sure you have a healthy septic system.
Clean the garbage disposal regularly to prevent odors and ensure food isn’t caught in the canister. Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda into the opening of the disposal. Follow up with one cup of white vinegar. Allow it to bubble and react for about ten minutes. Then, turn on the disposal and run hot water to rinse the remnants.
Always watch for early signs of an infestation, even if you just see a few drain flies out of the blue. Taking precautionary steps to check and treat a possible problem is necessary.
Are drain flies dangerous?
Nope! They do not bite or spread human illness, but they indicate that your kitchen may benefit from thorough cleaning, especially if you wish to keep other insects like roaches at bay.
What is the best way to tell whether you have drain flies?
If you find one or two, do the following overnight test: Place strips of tape (sticky side down) over the drain. As they attempt to fly out, they become stuck on the tape, and you’ll have a decent idea of how many flies you’re dealing with.