Getting Rid of Fungus Gnats

July 26, 2018

A sink with plugs in the drain and a small amount of standing water.Yea, Yea, we've read all these tips on how to get rid of them and most help, but they just don't get rid of all of them. Well, I'm here to tell you a good way of getting rid of them for good and I mean all of them. We had them in our bathroom, kitchen, and everywhere. They were driving us crazy!


If you go read about them you'll find out they breed and live in your drains and houseplants. I put all my plants outside too, just in case they were in them too.

Now when you thinking about these flies and how they breed and live, I had to tell myself to cut off how they breed and it might help. So I went and bought plugs for every drain in my house, even for the bathtub. If you get them at the Dollar Store there pretty cheap.

I also taped an old cut up sock around the washing machine drain to keep them out of there too. Be sure not to block off all the air to this drain as it will not drain without air being able to go in. That's why I used the old sock, it still lets air in for it to drain right.

I plugged up all the drains and kept them plugged all the time. If you look at the picture, I always leave water in the sink with the plug in to make sure they can't go around the plugs too. If I needed the sink for something, I always put about 4-5 inches of hot tap water in the sink before I unplugged the sink for use. This will wash down the drain any flies that hatched while the sink drain was plugged. Then I always remembered to plug it back up.


I did this for around 3 months or so, because most of the ones flying around died after a month or so. But I kept the drain plugs in, and still do today, just in case. They couldn't breed so they all went away after that.

So think about it. If they can't breed they can't come back. This worked for me, hope it helps you guys too. Thanks for reading this.

Link: Go here to read about these little flies

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This page contains the following solutions.

July 28, 2011

If fungus gnats are a problem with your houseplants here is an easy solution that has worked for me every time. Fungus gnats lay their eggs and develop into adults in the top 1/2 inch of the soil and they need moisture to survive.


They have a 2 week life cycle.


23 Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

February 3, 2009

Does my Spider plant soil have fungus gnats? After watering my indoor potted plants, within about 36 hours, I noticed a soil surface infestation of what looks to be fungus gnat larvae. A large number of the larvae look like whitish thin worms from 1/4 in. to 1/2 in. long. I wasn't able to see the notorious black tip on the end of the body. The rest are about the size of a nail head with 6 legs and antenna.

Also I am finding a number of what looks like large eggs, about 3/16 in. diameter from God knows what insect species. They are yellowish to amber in color with watery yellowish goo inside and a thin brittle clear shell. What the heck could they be? Aliens? Am I wrong about the fungus gnats? Any suggestions? Help!


By Racer (Guest Post)
February 4, 20090 found this helpful

EWW! I would take the spider plant out of the soil, shake the roots gently, wash in warm water carefully. I would use new potting soil that has been microwaved for about 30 seconds or so to kill any critters..let it cool for a few minutes. Then replant the spiderplant in the soil, and spray the spider plant with water with a small amount of dishwashing detergent to keep off bugs.


See if that works. Hope this helps. I would also freeze any potting soil overnight in the bag in a trash bag to kill any critters. I do the freezing this with all flour and such to kill any eggs of bugs or anything gross like that. Good Luck, I love spider plants!

February 5, 20090 found this helpful

Absolutely, change out that soil! If you can afford it buy new soil.

Spider plants are really easy to propagate. Cut off some of the runners and root them in other soil just in case it does not take well to the soil-switch!


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 270 Feedbacks
February 5, 20090 found this helpful

You can also give your plant out of the pot a bleach rinse, 1 TB to 1 gal of water. THEN get new soil. AND bleach your pots to kill any residue. Anytime you bring in plants in the fall from outside, seal them in a large plastic bag, spray some house/plant spray which will kill friends brought it. Must leave the plant in bag a couple days--read instructions.


Yes, those little balls are the egg sacks and hold many new bugs ready to infect other plants too.

February 5, 20090 found this helpful

I am so sorry I have nothing helpful to say...I just had to say, eww

February 5, 20090 found this helpful

Pour cold tea onto your plants. This acts as an insecticide! Good luck

By Jazzylazzy (Guest Post)
February 6, 20090 found this helpful

It might be something called scale. If the outside of the pot is sticky and the plant has a sticky residue, then this is the likely culprit. You can save the plant by spraying it with an insectide and then repeating it in a week.


Look online for pictures. Make sure to isolate the affected plant from any others in the house until it is cleared. I have saved several plants from this problem Good Luck.

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January 26, 2010

How do I get rid of household gnats in potting soil?

By Tammy from VT


January 28, 20100 found this helpful

I have this problem no matter how many times I've changed the soil. I have no solution as of this date.

January 28, 20101 found this helpful

After you repot in clean soil, you might add a thin layer of sand to help keep them from getting to the potting soil. Best to use a growing sand that will be salt free.. a fast remedy is to mix up any liquid insecticide that is safe for the plant, even diluted down a couple of times and then use this mixture to water the plant, this will kill the larvae in the wet soil. There is also a product called Gnatrol you can use. It is Bt and only effects the larval stage so is slower to gain control.

January 29, 20100 found this helpful

Those are fungus gnats, and they are difficult to get rid of completely. Thankfully they seldom really harm the plants, though they are a real nuisance. In addition to the tips below, hanging a sticky fly strip near your plants will trap a lot of them. Another tip I have seen is to put raw potato cubes near your plants and change them every three days. I think they are supposed to lay their eggs there instead of in the soil. (The worst infestation I ever had was when I had a 50 lb bag of potatoes near my plant lights in the basement, and there was a bad potato near the bottom that I didn't find for some time, so I guess they really like potatoes.)

February 7, 20100 found this helpful

I was looking for a solution to my gnat problem. I opened a brand new bag of potting soil for some seedlings, and gnats came swarming out of the bag. I talked to my Aunt who has worked at a florist for years and said they microwave their soil for a few minutes and let it cool down before planting. It kills the larvae. Be careful, microwaving for too long can cause the soil to catch fire. Also the house will get a woodsy smell to it after doing this, she suggested microwaving some lemon juice to get rid of the smell.

November 20, 20101 found this helpful

First I soak planters in mild chlorine bleach then rinse. This water is poured over the gravel walk behind house and kills the moss/mold on pavement. We have plants lining walk and this has never bothered plants.
I have problems with soil gnats every year when I bring my household plants back into house after they've lived outside, plus, I have 3 cats. Finally found a solution ~5 yrs ago and works every time.

After repotting, add a thin layer of larger particle activated charcoal (can get at pet/fish shop) just on top of the soil. I then cover this with plastic mulch - some colors like blue or yellow enhance the colors of the plant. My favorite is blue, the green plants and/or pink blooms seem more vibrant.

The charcoal takes care of the gnats (as I've read they like moist soil) and the cats won't disturb the plastic mulch. If you have really large planters, I'd try the volcanic rocks that you might use for landscaping or grills. Had these in some really large planters with taller inside bushes. Cat could get into planter, but, jumped out quickly when she touched the rock.
Happy indoor planting !!

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August 14, 2015

What are the little gnats in my potting soil?

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November 18, 2012

Does anyone have a solution for getting these pests out of your house plants? I've used every solution posted for eliminating potential breeding grounds (and the flies themselves), but no one has touched on how to do this short of throwing away my plants.

By Allie A.


November 20, 20120 found this helpful

I have had success with a mix of water, liquid dish soap and vinegar, red wine vinegar seeming the best. In a small jar, such a a spice jar, put a little water and vinegar and just a drop or so of the soap, about an inch or so in the bottom of the jar. Mix well. You should be able to smell the vinegar. Into the mouth of a jar put a funnel of rolled paper, not touching the water mix, but projecting below the mouth of the jar. Set near the infested sight. Depending of the number of fruit flies, you may have to empty it every day or so and start with a fresh mix. I think it is the scent of the vinegar that attracts them.

August 20, 20130 found this helpful

There's no such thing as a fruit fly. These are drain flies. These flies are just attracted to anything smelling like fruit or wine (grapes). There's been an infestation of them in many States, especially Michigan. The professionals say they can't take them out anymore; the flies are tolerant to everything they use. I do know as a PT lead bartender for 30 years, to catch them or court them out of their haven, put plastic cups around, drop in some vinegar and water and a drop or two of Dawn dishwashing liquid. Be reminded by the professionals that if you get a male and female that nest in your plants or your house, they multiply 1000 every hour. Believe me, I've seen it in the restaurants I work at.

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March 8, 2011

I have been having a problem with fungus gnats in and around my potted plants. I was told that if I diluted regular Listerine, 1 to 1 with water and spayed the organic soil mixture, the solution, would kill fungus gnats and their eggs that live in the manure.

If anyone knows this to be true please give feed back. Have tried other solutions, but to no avail.

Hardiness Zone: 6a

By Lady Belle 13 from Philadelphia, PA


March 16, 20110 found this helpful

To break the cycle of the fungus gnat you need to get rid of the larvae. It's very simple and easy. A slice of potato is all you need. Simply lay the slice on the soil of infested plants and the little maggots can't resist it. They begin feeding in the slice and now you have them where you want them. Throw the slice away after about 3 or 4 days and replace as needed. Of course there are other ways and this article may help. But making sure it's fungus gnats is key here because this trick won't work on other types. Hope this helps.

July 21, 20120 found this helpful

These things suck - become an unfortunate 'field of study' for me, haven't found one particular thing that works perfectly for me - but I thought I'd pass on a few things to consider, just in case anyone else missed them!

1. They seem especially drawn to two things first plants in pots that are too big for them (thus they are surrounded by damp soil that the root system isn't using). And fertilizer.

To remedy these things:

1. Stay away from miracle-gro potting soil (the cheaper potting mix seems to have a lot less problems.

2. Bake all potting soil - new or used - for an hour on 250-300 degrees F before using it. also when transplanting rinse the roots outside well and either dispose of the old soil or bake it.

3. Skip gravel/rocks in the bottom of the pot, and only water from the bottom using a saucer, after a few minutes toss any water left that the plant hasn't absorbed. Sometimes it takes a few waterings for the root system to figure out where the water is coming from but they will adjust, and skipping the gravel in the bottom of a pot speeds this up.

Note - Certain plants like philodendrons get them repeatedly, and I have had better luck putting them in a tall narrow vase of water instead permanently. Sometimes I just move outside.

4. Very important (as I too have a 'Charlie Brown Christmas tree' sort of tendency to feel sorry for sickly plants and try to nurse them back to health)

If you discover a plant that has these gross gnats (usu. in a bath or bedroom that you don't pay much attention to - you will recognize them by the fact that they 'run around' the edges of the pot more so than they "fly" and on the surface around it) bag the whole thing and throw it away, or like I do - toss it off of the balcony onto the lawn then later go with a garbage bag, wrap it up and throw it away! You will save yourself many headaches.

Then go around and check all of the plants inside and out, and even if you don't immediately notice any gnats, take the first couple of inches of soil off of the top of all of them and throw it away! : ) Replace it with new baked soil. Don't fertilize so often, and let the plants dry out between watering.

P.S. to the person who wrote about the 'decline' of plants after; this seems to be a direct result of these gnats. Either that the gnat larvae eating the roots of the plants, or because as a result of the infestation, predator nematodes (which feed on the larvae) themselves become a parasite to the plant. In my experience the plants almost never recover after this, even after changing the soil etc. Save the grief and toss the plant in the first place. They're not that expensive, and you probably have too many anyway.

Oh also - open up your windows more often more sunlight and fresh air is their enemy and you'll feel better (and your house will be a healthier environment). Do it now! Good luck!

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December 31, 2008

I have a fungus on my grass. I had a commercial service which I gave up on it and after that is when I got this fungus. It seems the grass is very weak do to all the chemicals this company laid on it and the fungus just took over. Any suggestion on a natural product, I'm afraid to use any more chemicals. Thank you.

Hardiness Zone: 10b

Carlos from Florida


Bronze Post Medal for All Time! 213 Posts
December 31, 20080 found this helpful

You might want to change your pH. I'd call or go in to a local plant Nursery. Look in your yellow pages or Google "Plant Nursery & your City & State" & I bet they'll have lots of natural products. They may even be able to help you over the phone. You'll need someone who knows about Florida specific soil. If I remember (from when I was young & lived there) Florida has sand & not dirt for soil. Also, because it's "Tropical" I bet there's a lot of people with fungus in their grass. Call a local Plant Nursery & ask when the horticulturist that works there will be in.

* Don't use Vinegar, because it will kill your grass. You'd have to dilute it a WHOLE lot!

By alabama boy (Guest Post)
January 5, 20090 found this helpful

Beer on a day when its not going rain for a few days. The yeast in the beer will eat the fungus.

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September 11, 2004

How do I get rid of little flying black bugs that seem to be in my potting soil? Where are they coming from?



March 28, 20110 found this helpful

Actually spoke to miracle grow and they said it is common with the potting soil and they are harmless. I've never seen them before this winter. The rep I spoke to said that I could put a layer of sand and that will kill the larvae. I also had to put the UPC code in an envelope to mail it back to them for a refund.

February 25, 20130 found this helpful

If we could still get any systemic spray we could get rid of any bug very quickly and forever, one tiny drop or less on the stem of a plant would kill them all. Those among us who banned these products will be guilty of us losing a lot of money when our plants die. Good luck with getting rid of these soil pests!

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February 22, 2015

I have had my fiddle leaf plant for several years. How do I get rid of the tiny bugs everywhere?

By Geraldine


February 24, 20152 found this helpful

It sounds like you have fungus gnats. They live on the top soil of your house plants. You need to let the top soil dry out to kill the gnats. You can do this a couple of ways. One is to water your plant from the bottom only.

Another nice method is to get some sand and put a half to maybe an inch of sand on top of your soil. It will kill the larvae and they cannot emerge from the sand. It looks nice too!

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December 30, 2014

What can we use to rid ourselves of these gnats? I sprayed throughout the house with HotShot and it worked a little. I don't know if they were all asleep or just hiding away. They're everywhere. Thanks for your help. God bless.

By Sam


Bronze Answer Medal for All Time! 220 Answers
December 31, 20140 found this helpful

If you do have fungus gnats in your home, the management method you used, spraying in the air, is not effective. The main problem is that fungus gnats spend most of their lives as larvae buried in indoor plant soil and the ones you see are a few very short lived adults. The immature gnats live in plant soil for months so you must improve the soil to kill the immature gnats before they fly.

Please see the suggestions below to try to control your problem.

Fungus gnats are typically harmless to healthy plants - and humans - but can inflict extensive damage to seedlings; their presence can be indicative of more serious problems. In houseplants, the presence of fungus gnats may indicate overwatering; they may be feeding on roots that have sat in drain water too long and are thus rotting, or the gnats may be attracted to fungus growing in saturated topsoil. Consequently, allowing the soil to dry may reduce their numbers. They are sometimes also managed by placing a layer of sterile sand or indoor mulch on top of the soil around plants; by introducing Hypoaspis miles mites or applying the biological larvicide Bacillus thuringiensis (subspecies israelensis) to kill gnat larve; by drenching the soil annually in an insecticidal soap; or by applying detergents and nicotine from tobacco brewed into a toxic tea.
Insecticides are considered an important control option in some commercial plant production but generally aren't recommended for fungus gnat management in and around the home.
University of California Davis

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July 20, 2013

Fungus gnats are in my closed top terrariums. I have tried every method that I have found on line (yellow paper with fly strips, and I have killed a lot, but not all). I found out that plants brought inside can have them so I took them all out on the front porch and put sand in the top. I discontinued watering on top and put a tray under them to water. (Someone suggested vinegar and that works.) I also put my potting soil in the freezer. I haven't put it in bake yet but will try.

I have reworked four, washing the soil completely off roots, and cleansing the jars and rocks. After reworking two recently, one of them I discovered has a few gnats. I haven't tried insecticides because I had planned to sell them, but until I solve the problem completely, that's out. Help! I am working hard and everything works but not completely. If insecticides are used, do I spray the soil or all the plants?

By Barbara

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May 23, 2012

Is there any way to get rid of gnats and larva in my new terrarium or do I have to dump all of the soil, rinse the plant roots and start over?

By Patsy A

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February 19, 2017

Gnats are a nuisance, especially when your house plants are covered in them. Get tips on getting rid of gnats on houseplants in this page.

Spraying a houseplant with gnats.


ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

March 26, 2011

How do I get rid of little flying black bugs that seem to be in my potting soil? Where are they coming from?


January 26, 2010

I have at least 50 houseplants. I re-potted many over the years and have never had a problem with gnats, now I do. I try to let the soil dry out as much as I can without harming the plants.


July 14, 2009

Has anyone ever had problems with gnats in their potting soil?


March 8, 2011

I put a layer of sand on top of my potted plants to get rid of gnats, but have been seeing a decline in the health of my plants. Could it be from the sand?


January 31, 2011

I have gnats in my home, I think they are coming from my plants in the house. How can I get rid of them?


November 8, 2010

How do I get rid of gnats living in the soil of my houseplant?


September 27, 2010

How do I get rid of gnats in house plants?


April 25, 2010

I have to do my herbal garden in my apartment. I have fungus gnats, ugh. I got the little yellow flags that are sticky traps.

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