Essential oils to get rid of fruit flies. Fruit bowl on a kitchen countertop.

Essential Oils to Get Rid of Fruit Flies: Top 7 Oils

Battling with fruit fly infestations can be a frustrating ordeal for many households. Traditional methods often involve chemical sprays that can be harmful to the environment and may not be safe for use around children or pets.

In the quest for a natural and effective solution, many have turned to essential oils as a method to get rid of fruit flies. These concentrated botanical extracts are celebrated for their potent properties and aromatic benefits, making them a preferred choice for those seeking a more holistic approach to pest control.

Among the array of essential oils, some are particularly noted for their insect-repelling capabilities.

  • Lemongrass oil, with its refreshing citrus scent, has been identified as a deterrent, disrupting the presence of fruit flies.
  • Peppermint oil serves to mask the enticing aroma of ripe fruit, acting as an olfactory barrier against these persistent pests.
  • Oils such as eucalyptus and lavender not only offer pleasant aromas but also contain compounds that are uninviting to fruit flies.

The appeal of using essential oils to combat fruit fly problems lies in their versatility and safety for use in the home, with the exception of certain oils that shouldn’t be used around pets. These oils provide a multi-faceted approach: they act as repellents while offering a pleasant sensory experience.

Moreover, when used correctly, they are safe and pose minimal risk to people and pets, ensuring a harmonious living environment free from the annoyance of fruit flies.

Understanding Fruit Flies: What Attracts Them?

Fruit flies are common household pests that are particularly drawn to ripe and overripe fruits and vegetables. To manage an infestation, it’s crucial to understand their life cycle and why they’re attracted to certain environments. We commonly have fruit flies in our home due to all the produce we purchase with our large family.

Life Cycle and Breeding Habits

Fruit flies have a notably rapid life cycle. They can evolve from eggs to adults in just about a week. Females lay eggs on the surface of fermenting foods, including ripe fruit and vegetables, which provide a nutrient-rich environment for larvae to thrive. Each female can lay up to 500 eggs, ensuring a quick population boom if not addressed promptly.

Common Habitats and Attraction to Fruits

The kitchen is the most common habitat for fruit flies due to abundant food resources. They are particularly attracted to ripe and overripe fruits, as well as vegetables that may be left out on counters or in unsealed storage. The scent of fermentation, a natural process that occurs as fruits pass their peak ripeness, is an irresistible lure for fruit flies.

These insects have a fine-tuned sense of smell that leads them to their preferred breeding grounds. Removing access to these breeding sites, such as regularly disposing of old produce and maintaining a clean kitchen, significantly decreases the attraction of fruit flies.

Natural Essential Oil Repellents

Natural essential oils are favored for their safe and effective repellent qualities against fruit flies, offering a pleasant aroma while deterring pests.

Benefits and Effectiveness of Essential Oils

Essential oils are a natural defense against fruit flies and other pests, such as white mites. In case you’re also dealing with white mites in the kitchen, check out our post, which includes recipes for eliminating them as well.

7 Best Essential Oils for Repelling Fruit Flies

  1. Peppermint Oil: Known for its potent aroma that fruit flies find particularly off-putting.
  2. Basil: The scent of basil oil can help repel fruit flies and other pests from your kitchen.
  3. Eucalyptus Oil: Contains compounds that not only repel fruit flies but also have antiseptic properties.
  4. Lavender Oil: This oil is not only calming but also acts as an insecticide against fruit flies.
  5. Clove Oil: Its strong scent is another powerful repellent that can help keep fruit flies at bay.
  6. Lemongrass Oil: Closely related to citronella, lemongrass oil is highly effective in fruit fly deterrence.
  7. Citronella Oil: Well-known for repelling mosquitos, it’s also useful in warding off fruit flies.

Each of these oils, as well as others (like tea tree essential oil), can be used alone or in combination to create a repellent that is pleasant for humans but discouraging to fruit flies.

DIY Fruit Fly Traps and Sprays

Managing a fruit fly infestation requires both preventive measures and targeted treatments. This section introduces homemade solutions for fruit fly problems and details how to create effective traps to mitigate these pests.

DIY Essential Oil Fruit Fly Spray

Creating a DIY fruit fly spray is a safe, non-toxic approach to dealing with these pests. A popular natural solution combines water, vinegar (optional), and a few drops of essential oils—such as peppermint, lemongrass, eucalyptus, lavender, or tea tree in a spray bottle.

When sprayed around the home, this mixture can help repel fruit flies without introducing harmful chemicals into your living space. It’s super easy to make with the ingredients and instructions below. Note that if you don’t have all the essential oils listed in the recipe below, don’t fret. Simply replace them with any you do have from the list of seven mentioned earlier in this post.


  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 10 drops lavender essential oil
  • 10 drops peppermint essential oil
  • 5 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 1 cup water


  1. Add the apple cider vinegar, lavender oil, peppermint oil, and tea tree oil to a spray bottle.
  2. Add 1 cup of water to the spray bottle.
  3. Shake well to mix all ingredients fully.
  4. Spray around areas where fruit flies gather.
  5. Reapply a few times per day until fruit flies are gone.

DIY Vinegar and Essential Oil Fruit Fly Trap

Another reliable method involves using apple cider vinegar as bait. The scent of vinegar attracts fruit flies, thinking it is fermenting fruit. Covering a container of vinegar with plastic wrap and poking small holes with the tip of a pen or knife allows flies to enter but not escape, effectively trapping them. Again, these are easy to make with a few simple ingredients.


  • 2-4oz Apple cider vinegar or wine (if using wine, red wine is best)
  • Any small container
  • Plastic wrap and a rubber band
  • Soap (optional)


  1. Pour apple cider vinegar or wine into any container of your choice that can hold a few ounces of liquid.
  2. If using soap (see extra tip below), add one liquid to trap the fruit flies by causing them to sink below the surface, trapping them more effectively.
  3. Cover with plastic wrap and poke holes large enough for them to enter but difficult to escape. A knife or pen can be used to create the holes for this step.
  4. Place the trap in an area where fruit flies are prevalent.

Extra Tip: Add a drop or two of castile soap or homemade dish soap to the vinegar solution to help break the surface tension of the vinegar, making it more difficult for the insects to escape.

Prevention and Maintenance Strategies

Effective management of fruit flies involves not just eradication but also prevention. By introducing regular cleaning routines and utilizing plant-based repellents, households can significantly reduce the likelihood of infestations.

Sanitation and Household Measures

Proactive sanitation is critical for preventing fruit fly populations from establishing themselves. 

  • Frequent disposal of garbage and ensuring that trash cans are cleaned and sealed can deter fruit flies from taking up residence.
  • Clean up spills immediately when they happen, especially from sweet substances, can remove potential feeding and breeding sites.
  • Pay attention to refrigerated produce, routinely checking for any overripe or decaying produce that might attract fruit flies. They will quickly seek out overripe produce when removed from the refrigerator.
  • Maintaining doors and windows with properly fitted screens can prevent fruit flies from entering the home. It’s advised to inspect these barriers regularly for tears or gaps and to repair them as needed to maintain an effective seal.

Plant-Based Preventative Practices

Incorporating plant-based strategies can serve as an excellent preventative measure. Certain plants are known for their natural repellent properties. For instance, placing pots of basil and lavender near entry points can help repel fruit flies due to their potent aroma.

Furthermore, leveraging essential oils such as eucalyptus, lavender, and lemongrass can be an effective part of a prevention strategy. These can be diluted with water and sprayed around the home or used in diffusers to maintain a fruit fly-repelling atmosphere, contributing to the overall health of the household environment.

Safety and Precautions

When employing essential oils to combat fruit flies, it is crucial to prioritize safety and take appropriate precautions to safeguard the health and well-being of individuals, pets, and environments. If you have pets, it’s best to ask your veterinarian to ensure you’re only using essential oils that are safe around pets.

Using Essential Oils Around Home and Family

When using essential oils at home, it’s important to consider the well-being of all household members, including small children or those who might be more sensitive. Again, avoid using essential oils around pets unless you’ve confirmed the ones you use are pet-safe.

The following points should be adhered to:

  • Dilution: Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil or water before use, as undiluted oils can be too strong and may cause irritation.
  • Application: Apply carefully, ensuring that oils are used in well-ventilated areas and not applied directly onto the skin.
  • Storage: Keep essential oils and DIY solutions out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion.

Alternative Measures for Sensitive Environments

In environments where the use of essential oils may not be suitable owing to concerns such as respiratory conditions or severe allergies, consider these alternatives:

  • Physical Traps: Non-toxic sticky traps or DIY vinegar-only traps (like the one mentioned earlier) can be effective without the need for essential oils.
  • Preventative Cleaning: Regularly disposing of overripe produce and cleaning surfaces can minimize fruit fly attraction without the need for other solutions.

By employing these methods diligently, one can maintain a fruit-fly-free home that is also safe and healthy for all inhabitants.

Essential Oils and Fruit Flies: FAQs

What are the best practices for using essential oils to combat fruit flies indoors?

To combat fruit flies indoors, one should regularly wipe down surfaces with a mixture of water and a few drops of citronella oil or any of the others we mentioned in the list earlier in this blog post.

How can I create a natural fruit fly repellent using essential oils?

One can create a natural repellent by soaking cotton balls in lemongrass essential oil and placing them around the home. The oil’s citrus fragrance is particularly effective against fruit flies. Additionally, you can use an essential oil diffuser or create a DIY air freshening spray that can be sprayed around areas where fruit flies have been seen previously.

Which essential oils are most effective for preventing fruit flies in my plants?

For protecting plants, basil essential oil can be diluted with water and sprayed on the foliage to prevent fruit fly infestations. Basil has a strong scent that fruit flies find unappealing.

What is the fastest natural method to eliminate a fruit fly infestation?

Remove the source of the infestation! First and most importantly, track down the overripe or rotten fruit attracting them. Once removed, utilize the methods we described earlier in this post, such as a DIY fruit fly spray or vinegar trap.

Can I use a diffuser with essential oils to deter fruit flies, and if so, how?

Yep, you sure can. Use a diffuser with a few drops of essential oils like peppermint or lemongrass to create a scent barrier that fruit flies find repulsive. The diffuser should be placed in areas where fruit flies are most common. We love running diffusers in our house with our favorite essential oil scents. It’s such an easy way to deter fruit flies and other insects.

What scents are fruit flies most averse to, and what essential oil formulations utilize these scents?

Fruit flies are highly averse to citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus, tea tree, lemongrass, basil, and other scents. One can blend these essential oils in a spray or diffuser to effectively deter fruit flies. You don’t need to include every single one of them. Just a blend of 2-3 will suffice.

You can experiment with different blends as well, but the recipe we included earlier in the post is a fantastic blend.

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