Make A Fruit Fly Death Trap With Apple Cider Vinegar And Dish Soap

Fruit flies can be an annoyance but you can get rid of them using stuff right from your kitchen, no tools required. One method is to pour apple cider vinegar in the bottom of a glass along with some dish soap. Come back after leaving it out for a few hours and you’ll have yourself a nice cup of dead fruit flies.

The flies are attracted to the sweet odor of the vinegar and the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the water so they fall to the bottom and can’t escape. The dish soap apparently also messes with their cell membranes.

No cider vinegar around? A banana peel works just as well. Honey, too.

Capture Fruit Flies with a Cup and Apple Cider Vinegar [Lifehacker via Cool Tools]

Fruit Fly Death Trap [Re-Nest]


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  1. stottpie says:

    this works, but i suggest a large, shallow serving dish

    • Conformist138 says:

      Yeah, larger surface area makes it more effective.

      This is a variation of getting rid of fleas, too. Use a large shallow dish, fill with water and pour in dish soap. Set a candle in the middle of the dish and place it areas you have seen fleas. Light the candle, fleas jump for the heat and the dish soap keeps them from trying to remain on the water’s surface. Just be careful to stay nearby with that trick or you might burn down the house. Of course, that would also be effective pest control, just a tad extreme.

  2. hotdogsunrise says:

    This is all well and good, but it’d more useful to me for an article on death traps for house centipedes. (shudders)

    • WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

      Centipedes are bad, but man, silverfish are even worse!

    • Dover says:

      Yes! We just started getting these things. I jump out of my skin every time, not because of the butt-ugly bug, but because of the piercing scream my wife lets out!

      • hotdogsunrise says:

        Screaming is the appropriate reaction. And they bite! They can’t always penetrate the skin, but it’s possible. I don’t like that.

        Yet, I have no problems with daddy long legs.

    • Martha Gail says:

      I think your only recourse there may be to burn it down. Ick!

    • lehrdude says:

      …or big-headed ants for that matter!

    • evnmorlo says:

      Centipedes are predators, and are just eating the cuter bugs that are eating your food and possessions

      • hotdogsunrise says:

        I try to tell myself that. But I can’t help but be scared of those bastards. They look like something out of an alien movie.

    • Jfielder says:

      Ugh, I too hate centipedes… I just gave myself the chills just thinking about those gross little bastards scurrying around my house. I go crazy on those things. I just grab the nearest object and smash it… then come back later (after all the legs have stopped moving… ick) and suck it up with the dustbuster.

  3. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    I had a bad infestation at the beginning of summer before I found out where they were coming from (a drain, it turned out). There is ALWAYS a source of a bad infestation. Take care of that first (I took care of mine by filling the sink full of literally boiling water and then pulling the plug).

    I used traps made from a bowl half full of cheap red wine with a drop (just one drop, don’t overdo it) of dish soap. The important thing that most people forget is to cover the bowl with plastic wrap and poke one tiny hole with a toothpick in the middle of the plastic wrap. Flies are still attracted and they can still get in, but they won’t congregate on the rim of the dish or walk down to the edge of the “soup”.

    Only thing is, my housekeeper refuses to touch the traps at all. The woman cleans my toilet, but she won’t touch a bowl with a dozen drowned fruit flies. Oh well. :)

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      The source of our infestation was easy: the screen in our bathroom window (but not any of our other screens a few feet away, for some reason).

      The problem is that you just can’t close that bathroom window, because there’s no other ventilation besides the door that opens into our bedroom. I was so frustrated at all of the websites that just prescribed finding the source!

    • Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

      This is exactly what I do , tho I poke about 3 holes and am amazed at the end of the day I’ll have a hundred or so fruit flies in the jar!

  4. unchainedmuse says:

    Just this past week, a friend of mine has a fruit fly infestation. She left a disk soaking with dish soap in it. When she came back an hour or so later, it was full of dead fruit flies. She didn’t even use the vinegar or anything else.

    For the rest of the week, she kept a dish out, filled with water and dish soap, and she is now fruit fly free.

  5. Slave For Turtles says:

    Venus fly traps don’t work for fruit flies. We’ve tried that.

  6. TheMonkeyKing says:

    More than one works best. I have been a month into canning operations from fruits and vegetable harvesting at my house. The flies have worked themselves around the house and find things like juice or crumbs to live off.

    And speedwell is right about infestation. There’s usually one source that is overlooked and keeps them coming back. For us, it has been the trash can. Even though it has lid, the flies have crawled around it and live off the garbage.

  7. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    The DC area is getting slammed with stinkbugs. I haven’t seen any so far, but I’d like to be able to get rid of them without letting them stink (they emit an odor when squished).

    • snarkymarcy says:

      All you can do is vacuum them up. Nothing kills them. (They’ve been on the other side of the mountains in WV for some time now.

  8. jessjj347 says:

    This works very well. Also, I’d recommend a different type of cider that does not have a smell (apple cider makes the kitchen smell funky). Malt vinegar works well or anything with sugar will attract the flies. Even juice should work.

  9. Xenotype51 says:

    I tried the shallow dish method and it didn’t seem to work all that well (only caught 1 fruit fly). I used this method ( and it seemed to catch a lot more of them, probably because it forced them to fly into the vinegar instead of landing on the edge and crawling down into the dish.

    Does anyone know the best place to put one of these traps? Near house plants? In the kitchen?

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      Thanks for the video link. That would take up less room on the counter than a dish or shallow bowl. I would place it (personally) next to the sink.

    • catlike says:

      I keep mine near the sink, and make sure to leave it alone for a few hours. I find the flies don’t really take the risk if you’re hanging out in the kitchen. If I go out for a while or go to bed, when I return to the kitchen, there has definitely been a party going on, judging by the number of flies in the bottom of the wine glass I use.

      Oh, and I use leftover wine or sweet vermouth–they die happy.

  10. OBEYshiba says:

    did this a year ago. it absolutely works. and i agree with stottpie re: shallow serving dish.

  11. bishophicks says:

    I’ve been trying this for about a week and it works great. I keep a covered container for compostables near my kitchen work area and it attracts fruit flies well before the container is either full or starts to smell. One ramekin, 2T of cider vinegar and a couple drops of dish soap, stir and a couple days later there were about 20 dead flies. Unless you’re standing right over it, you won’t notice the smell.

    Just emptied out the compost container and recharged the flytrap this morning.

  12. Spider Jerusalem says:

    thank you! this would have been great thre months ago when the fruit fly swarming started, but thank fuck for a decent suggestion!

  13. Clyde Barrow says:

    Does anyone get the really tiny brown bugs that hide in flour? Are these the same? This past summer they’ve been all through my house and even in my TV room and this year it’s been really bad. I may try the OPs suggestion tonight.

    • WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

      Those sound like Weevils. They lay their eggs in grain (usually prior to shipping, so don’t feel like you’re filthy because you have them), and they live in flour etc.

      I’ve heard that if you take all your flour and other grain products, put them in plastic containers, and freeze them for a few days, you will kill the eggs. Also, clean out your cabinets with bleach water.

    • Slave For Turtles says:

      Try putting your flour in the freezer. It’s saved our sanity.

      We acquired our flour bugs via something from the store. They spread into nearly everything, including an unopened bag of sugar, something we didn’t think they’d like. It was beyond nasty, and I’m just not into “extra protein” when I’m making cookies. After a thorough cleaning and mass dumping and putting some things into the freezer, we’ve been pretty good.

      (shudder) I hate those damn bugs. I saw some crawling around the U-scan under the scale at the grocery store last week. They’re like grocery lice or something.

    • evnmorlo says:

      If you have some sort of beetle, they are not going to be interested in vinegar. You probably have to throw everything away and store your food in sealed containers and hope you can find some pesticide that works

  14. The Marionette says:

    Did this years ago in highschool when the house we moved to had a large number of fruit flies in the backyard because of the apple tree (dead apples attracting them). Of course my room happen to be the closest to the tree and the flies would get in. Just got a small tuperware container and put the vinegar and soap. It doesn’t have to be apple cider vinegar, pretty much anything that would attract the flies.

  15. JulesNoctambule says:

    I use a long-necked bottle instead of a dish; it seems to trap bug better.

    • I wumbo. You wumbo. He- she- me... wumbo. Wumbo; Wumboing; We'll have thee wumbo; Wumborama; Wumbology; the study of Wumbo. says:

      Yes; fruit flies are really retarded. With the small opening, they don’t know how to get out.

  16. djnealb says:

    This will work if you just have a few fruit flies buzzing around. However if you have a really bad infestation like I did back in May you’ll more than likely have to go the bug bomb route. My girlfriend and I tried every trap and trick we could find online, including numerous versions of this one throughout the apartment. They would all help, but nothing we did solved the problem. We finally resorted to a few bug bombs through the apartment, and then we did it again the next week to get those few that survived that were starting to breed again.

  17. Hoss says:

    This time of year, they are more likely to be flies brought in with house plants that were out for the summer. They live in the soil. If you put out the bowl of vinegar/sherry/bananas — put some plastic wrap on top with pencil holes in it. That will trap them, not feed them

  18. Hooray4Zoidberg says:

    This didn’t work for me when I tried it after first reading on Life Hacker a few weeks ago. I followed their instructions to a T but after 2 days I hadn’t caught a single fly. I even searched on out and held the vinegar filled cup up to him and he initially seemed interested, flew into the cup slightly and then bailed out. Perhaps my fruit flies prefer a higher end brand of vinegar?

  19. Armand1880 says:

    We just use a smallish glass tumbler. First day or two there was nothing, but once we lifted up the glass to look at the bottom, it was full of dead flies. Dozens of them.

  20. CyGuy says:

    You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar!

    (Somebody had to say it, and yes, I am old)

  21. Happy Tinfoil Cat says:

    Similar method to get rid of yellow jackets.

    A chopstick with a little canned dog/cat food in the middle laid across a pie tin full of soapy water. Great if done an hour before a picnic to reduce the sheer number of hostile wasps.

    At first it’s fun to watch them zigzag into the suds, lose lift and bloop. Then when the suds clear, other yellow jackets see the stripes in the water and zoom in to get whatever the others are after. Hours of entertainment. I hate those things.

  22. JoeS says:

    I read once that you can kill invading ants by mixing a little borax with a lot of sugar and then sprinkle some where the ants are seen. The borax is very poisonous to ants, but you have to dilute it sufficiently so it does not kill them before they bring it back to the colony. If you dilute it sufficiently ( I think it was a half teaspoon per cup of sugar), the ants will bring it back to the colony and poison the whole colony.

  23. veg-o-matic says:

    Also works: plain balsamic vinegar in a shallow bowl, covered with plastic wrap poked with a few holes.

    And a cheap deterrent to ants and silverfish (blaaeerrgh): a cinnamon perimeter around points of entry and in cabinets, bookcases, etc.. Oh, and diluted tea tree oil keeps spiders away. Or it just makes me feel better. And isn’t that the point? Those bastards are out to get me anyway..

    But I’m not insectophobic er nothin’…

  24. Toffeemama is looking for a few good Otters says:

    A half-full cup of Pepsi works really well for bees. I learned that this weekend.

  25. s0s has a chewy nougat center says:

    See, I keep trying this. I’ve tried it with fruit juice, onions (fruit flies LOVE onions), apple cider vinegar, and red wine. I’ve tried open dishes, jars, covered dishes with holes punched in saran wrap, the whole nine yards.

    And they little bastards STILL won’t go in there. They just sit around the rim. I think I’ve successfully drowned three or four, and still have a major infestation.

    I guess I’m just not the fruit fly whisperer, or something.

  26. badb! says:

    I use a 20 soda bottle with red wine vinegar and the soap. When you’re done, put the cap on it and chuck it.

  27. BytheSea says:

    I tried this. It doesn’t work. fruit flies are nearly impossible to get rid of. You have to lock up all your fruits in sealed containers or the fridge, constantly throw out the garbage and flush the drain, and get the orange traps in the mail, I forget what they’re called. Just google it. It took me weeks to get rid of fruit flies one summer.

  28. gargunkle says:

    I need something similar but for house flies.

  29. KPS2010 says:

    What about sewer flies or dust flys? will this work on them?

  30. wee_willie says:

    I’ve used this for years, and it works great!

  31. I just blue myself says:

    To get rid of my fruitflies this summer I put a drop of dish soap into some orange juice and let it sit out over night. I had a small infestation, though.