Fruit flies are one of the most persistent kitchen pests. These tiny winged marauders procreate quickly and stick around long after you've tossed the fruits and veggies that first attracted them. If you're at your wit's end with these nuisances, don't despair. Getting rid of them requires patience and smarts but these tips will help you eliminate any potential fruit fly breeding grounds in your home so you'll be able to make them go away-and keep them from coming back.
1. Dispose of Any Rotting Fruits and Vegetables
First things first: The minute you see even a few fruit flies, it's time to purge your unrefrigerated produce. Anything that's beyond ripe, oozing liquid, or has been cut or broken open must go. Don't just throw things in the garbage or compost bin, either-unless your compost bin is outdoors and located a distance from your house. Bag everything up and take it outside to the trash. And be sure to clean up any residual mess left behind on countertops or in containers.
2. Scrub Your Recycling Cans
Anything that's sweet or fermented or has a little moisture is a suitable habitat for fruit flies. Empty soda cans, wine bottles, and beer cans completely and rinse them out. After you've taken all bottles and cans out for pickup, give the bin a thorough scrubbing to remove any beer, wine, or juice residue.
3. Take Any Compost Scraps Outside
If you compost kitchen scraps and find you have fruit flies buzzing about, it's time to clean out the compost bin. Until you get the infestation under control, you'll need to take produce scraps directly to your outdoor compost pile. Empty any indoor compost containers and give them a good scrubbing, too.
4. Replace Old Sponges, Mops, and Dishrags
Did you know that fruit flies can breed on sour sponges, mops, and dishrags? If you haven't changed your kitchen sponge or your mop refill recently, replace them. Throw any reusable dishrags in the wash and put disposable ones in a sealed bag.
5. Clean Your Dishes Immediately
Don't wait until the end of the day to wash your dishes, especially if they have residue from things like jelly or wine. At the very least, give the dishes a good rinse to remove any food or beverage remnants. When you scrape leftovers into the garbage, be sure to take the trash outside promptly. If you have a dishwasher, rinse food particles from your dishes and run the load as soon as you can.
6. Check Potato and Onion Storage Bins
Most people store potatoes, onions, and other root vegetables in a cool, dark bin or cupboard. If fruit flies persist, be sure to check these storage areas for old, rotting produce. Just one old potato is all it takes to keep a fruit fly population going. Dispose of any soft or mushy potatoes or onions, and give the bin a cleaning before putting in fresh ones.
7. Set Vinegar Traps in Problem Areas
Sometimes the quickest way to eliminate a population of insect pests is to wipe out the reproductive adults. Fortunately, fruit flies aren't all that smart. If something smells remotely like fermenting fruit, they'll dive right in. Place a few cider vinegar traps around problem areas in your home, and you can quickly get rid of large numbers of fruit flies. You can make a vinegar trap in just a few minutes with things you probably already have in your home.
8. Fix Slow Drains and Keep Plumbing Clean
Fruit flies aren't above living in the muck, and that includes the muck inside your plumbing. If you have any slow-moving drains in your house, there may be enough organic matter hanging out inside your pipes to support a breeding population of fruit flies. Tape some plastic wrap over suspect drains for a few days to check for fruit flies. If you see adults on the underside of the plastic, they're breeding in your drain. Fix any drainage issues. Pour boiling water down problem drains to help loosen accumulated deposits. If accessible, you can also use a firm brush to scrub the inside of the pipe to free it of debris.
9. Give the Kitchen a Thorough Cleaning
You'd be surprised where food bits can accumulate in a kitchen. If you have a particularly stubborn fruit fly infestation, it may take some elbow grease to eliminate all of their food sources. Check the lip of your kitchen sink. There could there be food bits underneath it. Clean the burner drip pans and lift the stovetop, if possible, to remove spilled food, and check under the refrigerator for sticky spots where juice may have spilled.
10. When Canning, Make Sure Jars are Sealed Securely
Not everyone is into home canning but if you are, you should know that a fruit fly infestation can sometimes be traced to even one improperly sealed jar of fruit preserves. If you keep a supply of homemade jellies or sauces on hand, take some time to doublecheck that all the seals are closed tightly. As much as a fruitfly would take delight in supping on something you'd inadvertently left open, you wouldn't want to dine on anything that came from an improperly sealed jar anyway, right?