How to keep flies out of the house

We’ve got 7 eco-friendly tips to prevent these winged pests from taking over your home.

It’s one of nature’s little jokes: just as our thoughts turn to shorts and barbecues, winged nemeses show up to spoil the fun. Suddenly, figuring out how to keep flies out of the house becomes our all-consuming obsession. 

With a head start of nearly 240 million years on us humans, what flies lack in brains, they make up for in tenacity. It’s worth remembering that when feeling frustratingly outwitted by a fly. Ideally, we’d want flies to leave our home of their own volition. No one wants to harm a living creature – at the end of the day, even flies have a meaningful role to play in the circle of life. 

Close up of a fly in a kitchenCredit: Shutterstock / Andrei Armiagov

Sadly though, their buzzing isn’t the worst of it. Flies also have a nasty habit of transmitting diseases such as salmonella and E.coli, according to the Entomological Society of America.

To cut a long story short, we want any flies out of our homes and away from our meals, fast.  

If your sole strategy for getting them gone involves chasing each of them from room to room and loudly pleading for them to leave, then we’ve got you covered.  

This handy guide is simply buzzing with expert tips from Fantastic Services pest control specialist Iliyan Andreev. We will arm you with the knowledge you need to keep flies out of your home and out of your hair all summer long. 

Untidy dirty kitchenCredit: Shutterstock / New Africa

So what are Andreev’s top words of wisdom when it comes to fly management? “Preventing flies from entering your home is, without a doubt, the most efficient way to deal with this kind of pest. Prevention is key.” 

Andreev points out that flies don’t go into our homes because they are interested in the interior.  

“They are most probably drawn by a smell or light. So, naturally, if you keep your home clean and you avoid leaving food in the open and avoid leaving lights on when opening windows or doors, far fewer flies will be interested in your home.” 

1. Use herbs around windows and doors

Harness the power of nature to fight flies

Herbs in windowCredit: Shutterstock / New Africa

It makes sense that when trying to solve a puzzle of nature that nature itself would supply the best solution. And, luckily, the very plants and herbs that repel flies are wonderfully fragrant and useful for us. 

Andreev says: “Flowers are the best repellent of them all. Nature knows how to deal with pests and has provided us with several herbs and flowers to prevent them from entering our homes.  

“Just put some basil, marigold, lavender, bay leaves or catnip around windows and doors. They will not only keep insects at bay but also beautify your surroundings. You can also plant them in your garden to keep insects even further away.” 

Make your windowsills both a fly deterrent and a food source. Check out ‘The best kitchen plants to give your windowsills and worktops a boost’.

2. Cover your windows

Let in air but keep flies away

It can be frustrating to sit sweltering in a baking house, but open windows or doors are an invitation for flies to enter.   

Netting is a good solution, but with the wide variation in aperture dimensions and styles, it is all about finding a workable solution for your own style of door or window.

Andreev says: “Always try to have some kind of net where you have an open window. If you don’t have a catch, at least cover the window with a curtain, so if a fly goes in, it won’t make itself at home immediately.  

“This, of course, is not ideal when you want to let some fresh air into your home, so you will have to keep the window or door open longer to allow more air to circulate.” 

Into DIY? A custom fit magnetic fly screen can be applied to your window frame with adhesive without destroying your paintwork. 

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3. Use water as a simple day time distraction

Confuse flies with an unexpected glare

Water in a bag for fliesCredit: Shutterstock / AlessandroZocc

Keeping flies out of the house can call for a bit of experimentation. Andreev says: “One of the easiest ways to prevent flies from getting in, which you will find on the internet, is to hang bags full of water outside windows and doors.

“The bags will supposedly reflect the light and throw off the flies. However, such a method is questionable at best, since it will only work during the day, and it probably won’t work if the bag is in the shade.” 

Some fans of this method also swear that adding coins to the bags of water will do an even better job of keeping the flies at bay. 

4. Scare flies away with citronella

Try this method in small rooms to get flies to buzz off

Citronella plantCredit: Shutterstock / rawf8

Another of nature’s gifts that will vanquish flies in your home is the citronella plant – they loathe the citrusy smell. There are quite a few ways to introduce the citronella scent to your home. Our favourite is growing the potted plant indoors. When in bloom they look lovely, and if you can have fresh flowers while repelling plants, all the better. Just be sure to give the plants plenty of direct sunlight. 

Alternatively, you could try citronella-scented candles and oils. The jury is out on how far the scent will travel, though, so this might be a method to pair with one or two others.  

Andreev agrees:,Another interesting and not very efficient way to prevent flies from entering your home is using citronella candles or scents. They do work, but only in a limited space, so you need to have a citronella candle for every window and door you are going to open.”

If you are investing in candles for your home anyway, you might find that swapping your vanilla and sandalwood with a citronella-scented candle for each room makes good financial sense. We found large citronella candles on Ocado for £4.20 each. 

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What to do if flies enter your home

The best answer isn’t to reach for a spray can

So, you’ve planted our basil and have put a citronella candle at every window, but a fly or two still sneak in. What next if you find yourselves going toe-to-toe with a fly in your living rooms? 

Andreev says: “Using pesticides or insecticides to get rid of flies in your home is a massive overkill. There are far better, completely harmless and eco-friendly ways to eliminate these pests.” 

1. Create a fly trap with household products

The solution you need might be right under your kitchen sink

Flies catcherCredit: Shutterstock / Lyudmila Mikhailovskaya

The minute you hear that first tell-tale buzz, it is time to head to the kitchen to concoct a first line of defence.  

Vinegar is to flies what tuna fish is to cats, and your buzzing tormentors will make a beeline for a homemade acidic mixture. They prefer apple cider vinegar over plain old white vinegar, so make sure you keep this in your cupboard. 

Andreev says: “Take a tall glass and put two fingers of vinegar inside. Add a few drops of washing-up liquid and cover the glass with plastic wrap. Secure the topping with a rubber band and poke some holes in the plastic so that flies can get in.  

Flies will be attracted to the vinegar and enter the glass through the holes in the plastic. However, once they try to land on the vinegar and have some of it, the soap will trap them.” 

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2. Feed flies to your plants

A hungry Venus flytrap might solve your fly problem

Venus flytrapCredit: Shutterstock /

We have to admit, there’s something seriously fascinating about a plant that will happily chow down on an insect now and then.

Your flesh-eating plant is sure to ignite a love of natural science in any small person in your life. There is also good chance you too will delight in seeing a fly whizzing into your home on the off chance that you get to see your prized predatory plant in action.   

Andreev says: “Flowers are one particularly natural way of keeping flies out of your home, but they also help you get rid of them if they are already in. Buying a Venus flytrap (as the name of the plant suggests) is probably the safest bet.  

The carnivorous plant will lure the fly into its mouth, trap it and digest it afterwards. The plant will not only get rid of rogue flies that managed to get into your home but also is quite beautiful.” 

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3. Build your own DIY fly bait trap

Follow your best laid plan to capture the flies

Fly catching homemade deviceCredit: Shutterstock / nkula

Are you a bit of a tinkerer? Why not try your hand at building a homemade fly trap? There are plenty of ideas floating around the internet, most calling for little more than a bottle, some rotting food and crafty ingenuity.  In addition to a fly-free house, you may even get a few new fans buzzing excitedly about your efforts.   

Andreev’s says:There are many flytraps you can make on your own. All you need is an enclosed space – like a bottle, box or something else – a piece of paper that can be pushed when the fly tries to get in (but can’t move it away so it can get out), and a bait.  

“Preparing a bait is actually the easiest part, as all you need is to take a teaspoon of sugar and mix it in some water. You can also go with some fruit, meat or even wine. However, I’d go with the sugar water since fruits and meat will start to smell funny in a couple of hours, and wine is too delicious to waste on flies.”


Written by Joy Archer she/her