How to keep flies out of your house

Melanie Whitehouse / 13 May 2016

Find out how to keep flies out of the house with our clever tips and tricks.



Bluebottles, house flies, fruit flies – whatever they’re called, we don’t like any of the little buzzers in our homes. House flies and bluebottles are the biggest nuisance as they carry diseases such as gastroenteritis and salmonella which they transmit through saliva and faeces. The former breed mostly in rotting organic matter, the latter in meat and cheese. 

Fruit flies are less of a hygiene threat but it’s still not nice to find them clustering around over-ripe fruit. Here’s how to keep the bugs at bay this summer.

Find out how to get rid of clothes moths

Rules of hygiene

Flies come indoors to find things to eat, so cover all food when flies are around.

Wet pet food in particular is a favourite breeding ground. Put down small quantities more often and remove the bowl when the animal has finished feeding. Out and about a lot? Invest in an automatic, battery-powered pet food dispenser that is timed to your pet’s mealtimes.

Wash dishes straight after use and don’t leave them dirty in the dishwasher for days.

Make sure the lid on your waste bin closes completely and wash it out weekly with bleach or disinfectant.

Keep ripe and over-ripe fruit in the fridge and eat it by the sell-by date. Put decaying fruit and veg in the compost bin and make sure the lid is on tightly.

Rinse out bottles and jars before putting in the recycling bin.

Store your bin out of direct sunlight to reduce smells, which will stop flies being attracted to it.

If you do get an infestation of flies, vacuum first, cleaning behind furniture and shelving because that’s where flies like to hide; then wash down surfaces with a disinfectant spray or wet wipes to pick up any fly eggs.

Man-made fly deterrents

A spray insecticide is fine but read the instructions and use in a well-ventilated area. Never use near food or the surfaces where you prepare food, avoid fish tanks and be very careful around pets, babies and those with breathing difficulties.

Flypapers are ugly and sticky but they are effective. Hang where they can’t get stuck to your face as you walk past and replace regularly or when full.

Electric, ultra-violet bug traps attract the flies, then kill them when they land (but they smell slightly of burning and make a noise).

Pick up a cheap, electric fly swat and have a work-out as you zap.

Beaded curtains or mesh screens across doorways can help – flies can’t fly through them – plus add fly screens to windows.

Read our guide to gadgets to make your home fly-free

Natural fly deterrents

Grow herbs like basil and mint on your windowsill – flies hate them - and put a few sprigs on the worktop when you’re cutting up meat or fish.

Make your own fly trap using a jar filled with sugary water and a paper cone in the top – the flies can’t escape once they’ve gone down the cone into the jar.

Boil malt vinegar to clear your kitchen fast.

Flies hate the smell of essential oils like lemon grass, peppermint, lavender and eucalyptus – put a few drops in a spray bottle and use around the house daily.

They also hate the smell of camphor (a traditional moth deterrent) which you can buy online, cloves and cinnamon.

Hang clear plastic bags filled with water on doorways, to stop flies entering. Nobody seems to know why it works but it does!

Find out how to make your home more eco-friendly

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.