How to Get Rid of Gnats – The Best Household Remedy

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gnat-manAccording to Wikipedia, “A gnat is any of many species of tiny flying insects in the Dipterid suborder Nematocera, especially those in the families Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae and Sciaridae.” Uh huh. All I know is that they are damn annoying! Earlier this year, we decided to plant several tropical houseplants that like standing water in their leaves. Fast forward to a couple weeks ago when our house was suddenly taken over by what seemed like countless, highly aggressive gnats, often inaccurately referred to as fruit flys. They were thriving in the delightful breeding ground we provided for them in our houseplants, although they love hanging out around fruit too. Maybe they’re like mosquitos and are attracted to the CO2 we exhale; they just couldn’t stop flying around our faces. Normally I’m all Buddhist about pest control, as you may have learned from our review of the Fly Goodbye. But when there’s no reasonable way to escort them outside, the gloves were coming off. Plus, two of them attempted to fly up my wife’s nose. Nobody puts baby in a corner, and NOBODY flies up my wife’s nose and gets away with it. This, my annoying little Mycetophili-whatever friends, means WAR!

Our poorly controlled how to kill gnats most efficiently experiment

Household Tips for Killing Gnats
Lurking somewhere in the deep, dark, cob-webby, forlorn reaches of my brain, I seemed to recall a simple remedy for gnat control. That remedy involved putting out a plate of water with a little dish soap in it. Gnats, like Jesus, have the ability to walk on water. Unfortunately for gnats, they lose that super-power when you break the surface tension of the water with a few drops of dish soap. This may also be why the story of Jesus walking on water did not involve any dish soap, but I’m just speculating here. The result, so the theory goes, is a watery grave for these airborne micro annoyances. Step one in my counter-assault against these face-buzzing bastards was the plate of soap-laced water. A couple hours later, almost a dozen gnats lay lifeless in the water. The next day yielded a similar satisfying result. Getting rid of gnats was easier than I thought. If I had stopped there, this might have been the quickest how-to on Home Fixated yet. But what if there was a better way? I had to investigate.

Does Vinegar Get Rid of Gnats?
The water and soap trick was clearly working, but I became fearful there was some better technique I wasn’t aware of. Fast-forward through countless minutes of tireless research online. It seemed the entire Internet was – abuzz – with variations on using vinegar for getting rid of gnats. Vinegar and a touch of soap seemed to be all the rage. Many said apple cider vinegar was the way to go, and quite a few said rice vinegar worked too. I decided to make vinegar and soap one of the tests. While vinegar out-performed just water and soap in a identical glass, it vastly underperformed the large plate of water and soap.

What Size Death Trap to Use

Two of the casualties in our war against gnats
During my in-depth research into this topic, I found all kinds of references to elaborate traps. Some people recommended soda bottles with straws or funnels. Inspired perhaps by other insect traps, it seems people feel there must be some clever way to ensnare these little buggers. Others insisted baby food jars were the best. Some suggested cups. There was even a shot glass recommendation, as if the gnats were heavy drinkers. The options for terminating gnats and fruit flys are vast and varied. I had a contrary hypothesis; the more surface area you have, the more likely a gnat is going to fly into it and get trapped. Remember, these gnats aren’t Jesus. Once they hit that soapy water, they’re going down! Since the whole point is getting the gnat to land in the liquid, I say more surface area is better.

My doctorate-toting wife was quick to point out I didn’t control for variables like container color among other things. Nonetheless, I came to several conclusions on how to get rid of gnats most efficiently. My original hypothesis of surface area being king was solidly backed up by the sheer number of gnats that perished by way of the plate and soapy water. In the two identical glasses it did appear the gnats were more attracted to the soapy vinegar than the soapy water. Given that, one conclusion might be that a plate with soapy vinegar will outperform a plate of soapy water. I didn’t test that, but unless you have large quantities of vinegar and/or don’t mind the smell, I don’t think the difference is worth it. Water is simple, easy and cheap. My advice? Pick a shallow vessel like a plate and fill it with water and a few drops of dish soap mixed in. Place that plate or multiple plates in your problem gnat area(s). Then, sit back like the ruthless, booby-trapping gnat-assassin you are, and start counting the bodies. When you’re done, take a deep breath with the confidence you’re not going to inhale a gnat in the process. Happy gnat hunting!

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About Marc Lyman

Marc grew up under a brave single mom who "encouraged" home improvement on the family home. Early toddler gifts included a tool set, and even a cordless Bosch drill when cordless drills first came out. In grade school (give or take a few years), Marc's mom said, "We need to cut down some trees. . . . here's a chainsaw." A father figure also involved Marc in many home improvement projects, including a summer of home remodeling in Palo Alto, CA. Toss in some Obsessive Compulsive personality traits researching everything home improvement related. The end result: a genetically pre-disposed, socially sculpted home improvement machine! For his complete profile, please visit our About page. Really, it's worth it.

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34 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Gnats – The Best Household Remedy”

  1. We can never seem to get rid of house pests. Gnats appear out of nowhere when you neglect to take out the garbage or clean up food spills on the table. Thank you for sharing this post.

    • Great Article, My place was overrun with 2 different kinds, both hatched from a bag of Miracle Gro Potting Soil.
      After reading how this happens all the time to a lot of people, I got rid of the MG, put a desk lamp
      over a dish of soapy water & counted every night. It took a few days to trap them all after removing
      the infected transplanted pots outside. I Believe this old-time lamp-trap setup was for fleas originally.

  2. I got on to this web page by searching for an article I had seen previously……. somewhere????? It suggested you use fresh lemon in your oven. Never recovered it but found humor in your description of the “little buggers”. Since I didn’t find anything any better I am going to give the water and soap a try. I did live in an apartment not long ago where they came up in the drain, garbage disposal and toilets. I totally eradicated them with bleach. My spouse called me the gnat Nazi. Please don’t anybody take offense to that it is not a slur against anybody just a smarty pants making fun of me.

  3. So funny! I have cats and the gnats are usually near their litter boxes or the trash. I’m trying apple cider vinegar with dish soap and even added a tiny piece of ripe banana in a mason jar covered with plastic wrap and holes poked in it as another site suggested (I read before finding your article). I’d use the plate method but don’t want my cat to lap up the soapy water. I’ll let you know how it goes!

  4. Thank you so much for the advice on getting rid of those pesty, nose entering and annoying little bastards. I am definitely going to try your recommended method !! I absolutely loved your article and pissed on the people who were offended! Oops, I must have a very similar attitude and personality. You would be welcome in my environment anytime!!

    • Ooops. I certainly didn’t”piss” on the offended people!! Proofreading would have been advantageous I this situation!! Couldn’t help but to laugh some more!!

  5. I hope this works for me..I bought I a bug net for my bed and they still manage to get in…they have aggressively flew on to my arms and face and everywhere 🙁


    • I’m trying soap n water n see if they can walk on water n Jesus didn’t either ,only brain dead people would believe that . I thought his comment was great , I’m still laughing . If Jesus is so great why does he let little children get cancer ,suffer n die + all the atrocious storms -floods killing good people -christians n etc ?. I believe aethiest folks have some very good points within their beliefs . I’ll hang around for UR answer ,since U lack a sense of humor !!

      • The devil is nothing but the liar of all liars God is the truth the life and the way and nobody cometh unto the father but by him!!! Its never Gods will for bad things to happen to us in life only the devils, Jesus walked on water, and Jesus healed the lame,the blind,the sick, and he still does today, he’s the same yesterday today and forever, it’s our own sin that corrupts this world with bad because in heaven there will be no sicknesses nor sin and sadly no non believers , for God so loved the world that he gave HIS ON begotten SON that whoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life, those kids will be in paradise and I pray I can be there too because there precious Thaank God for lebonor, there be no more pain no more suffering nor tears, this SHORT life is only a test a trail that I hope I can pass , I don’t tell u this because I want to argue or dispute with u but only to tell u I’ve felt his presence he is very real an very well alive and no I’m not crazy because I’ve stood in your shoes before he opened my eyes and made this blind man see and he can yours also, read Mathew through, keep praying to him, keep praising him and see for yourself his goodness its so sad if only u knew how much he still loves u he died for his people himself he gave his on son, his on life for u, I pray this opens ur eyes by the power of the name of JESUS!!! Try Pentecostal church a lil while and then tell someone he’s not real u wouldn’t, like the old saying goes don’t knock it till u try it, until u do u don’t know its like saying chocolate cake is nasty but I’ve only ate of coconut cake which is the world and chocolate wud be him he said taste of me and see of I ain’t good, in Jesus name amen

  7. I did so enjoy this article because of your edgy comments and wonderful sense of humor. I will subscribe hoping you stay as funny as you obviously are.

    • Glad to hear it worked for you HD! Sorry you found “damX” (last letter obscured for your protection) and our reference to gnats not having the ability to walk on water like Jesus did offensive. We like to make our content entertaining and sometimes that makes some of it edgy. I have to say these two references weren’t some of our most edgy, so use caution if you’re browsing other articles!

      • Some people need a helmet. Write your content using your vernacular and don’t worry about the easily offended eyes of the Bible-thumpers. She came to YOUR site looking for advice. That was like knocking on your door, and coming in to your house. If she doesn’t like the decor, she’s free to leave.

          • I totally agree with Jen … You make the conscious choice to enter someone else’s space. If you find undesirable content etc…remove yourself. There’s no need for ridicule especially in a self-help forum. You haven’t committed a crime it was just an analogy, not to mention freedom of speech. Oan: wonderful article & tips.

          • My mom seems yo have a problem with gnats. Today she just put out water with vinegar and soap and those little buggers are falling for it. Finally, get a grip people, a little humor with religion etc.can be fun if you loosen up. Otherwise leave.

        • Wow! Som people are way to sensitive! I found the article very humorous, plus now I have a remedy to get rid of those pesky little gnats!!! Thanks for the info!

  8. This idea works great. If you aren’t catching enough, simply increase your soap – some of the little devils may be Olympic swimmers. AND the lady who still had them in the plants – sorry, you waited too long. The larvae is in the plant soil. You need to re-pot those plants and take the old soil far far away or you will have an almost impossible task ahead!

  9. I realized they were probably coming from my plants so I quickly moved them outside. I too have used several methods listed here but found the water and dish soap in a bowl of water kills the most but my problem is When does it end? I have been using this method for over a week and have 3 bowl out and I end up with all 3 full of the nasty buggers but they never go away completely!!! I have no rotting fruit, veggies, garbage etc to attract them, the plants are outside and I live in an apartment. HELP!!! its crazy they all won’t eventually die!! I’m not kidding at least 10 or more per bowl that I change a couple times a day and still they won’t leave

    • Not sure if it will help or not, but I’ve been dealing w/those pesky lil creatures for quite some time now, well from time to time anyways. You might want to check your pantry, check like your cereals pasta, for that matter check everywhere there is food. I’ve even found them in napkins still in the package. They are extremely sly and they can hide anywhere, just when you think you checked somewhere really well check again! They are devious pests!! But have faith they do go away, well they have for us anyways, Lol! Good Luck? Though I haven’t tried this trick yet, can’t wait to see if it works, though my daughter-in-law tried it n said its a godsend! Anyways mine are back n I want them TO VACATE NOW!!

      BE CONSISTENT Connie!!!!
      I hope this is if some help to you

  10. Hello,my name is Joyce I enjoyed your remedies and I am going to try this but they are in the plant soil as well. what can we do?


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