How to Get Rid of Gnats Without Vinegar – Fool Proof Methods


What’s that black insect swimming around on the surface of your tea? A GNAT! (cue impending doom sound effects)! All good, time to whip out your trusty Dawn dish soap and Apple Cider Vinegar trap, but wait…you used the last bit of vinegar in last night’s firecracker salmon dinner recipe! What do you do now? How do you get rid of gnats without vinegar?

Fortunately, not all gnat traps require vinegar as an ingredient. There are many other solutions to ridding your home of those pesky black insects, like:

  • sticky gnat traps and tape,
  • using food traps, and
  • changing the insects environment to prevent them from reproducing.
How to Get Rid of Gnats Without Vinegar

Welcome to today’s discussion at the Garden Bench Top, where we are going to solve your indoor plant pest problem.

Before we get into trapping construction, there is one important distinction we must make before we can decide on the best course of action. What type of pests do you have?

Do you have Fruit Flies or Fungus Gnats?

Fruit fly versus fungus gnat

Gnats are like the plus ones at dinner parties that no one thought would show up. They seem to follow houseplants around like an unpleasant smell, seemingly taking enjoyment out of annoying you when you’re trying to enjoy a moment.

However, there is an important distinction to be made in order to know which traps are going to be effective – do you have fruit flies or fungus gnats? It is important because they are attracted to different things.

To help you identify between the two, here’s a quick comparison of their appearance.

Fungus Gnats Appearance

Fungus gnats look like miniature mosquitoes. They have similar thin – shaped black bodies, with translucent wings and long antennae.

Fruit Flies Appearance

Fruit flies are more comparable to their larger cousin, the common housefly. They have beady eyes, with thick round bodies that have a brown-orange tinge.

How to Tell the Difference?

Apart from appearance, one of the easiest ways to tell if you have a fruit fly or fungus gnat infestation is the presence of indoor plants.

If you don’t have any houseplants, then it is likely you have a fruit fly problem. Fungus gnats require moist soil in order to lay their eggs, and without it, they will quickly die off.

How to get rid of Gnats without Vinegar

Now that we can identify which pest we are trying to trap, we can formulate a targeted plan for ridding them for good.

This next part will be split into two sections, 1) traps for fruit flies without vinegar, and 2) traps for fungus gnats without vinegar. You choose which section to read depending on the type of pest annoying your household.

Ways to Get Rid of Fruit Flies (without Vinegar)

Fruit flies are a pain. They seem to be everywhere, and just when you think you’ve eliminated them, another pops out of hiding. Like their name suggests, fruit lives love fruit.

More specifically, they like any organic material that is ripe or over-ripened, like fruits and vegetables. The higher the sugar content, the more attractive it is to a fruit fly.

And it is this weakness of theirs that we can use to our advantage.

Leftover Wine Trap

Have you ever seen fruit flies hovering around an opened bottle of wine that was left out overnight? This is because fruit flies love the smell and sugars in stale wine. So much in fact, that it often leads to their demise. The fruit flies get too close to the liquid, get trapped and eventually drown.

In fact, to make the leftover wine more sticky, add a few drops of dish soap to the liquid. The soap will act as a surfactant, which decreases the surface tension of the wine, making it easier for the flies to become trapped in the liquid.

Don’t have wine? Don’t worry, this trap works just as well with beer or any alcoholic drink. The key is in the fermentation smell that attracts the fruit flies to the trap.

Rotting Fruit and Vegetables Trap

This trap has similarities with the leftover wine trap, however the execution is slightly different. It uses the smell of over-ripened fruit and vegetables to lure the fruit flies to the trap. But instead of catching and drowning the flies, we are trapping them inside a container.

Here’s how you make the trap:

  1. Set your food inside a glass jar.
  2. Grab a piece of paper and make a pointed cone shape (like a children’s party hat), and attach the sides with sticky tape or glue.
  3. Use a pair of scissors to cut the pointed end that leaves a hole at the pinnacle of the cone that is approximately 1 – 2 inches (2.5 – 5 cms) in diameter.
  4. Place the paper cone on top of the jar, upside down. OPTIONAL – you can tape the cone to the jar, so that it doesn’t accidentally come off.

Place the trap on a kitchen bench, or on a surface where the fruit flies are high in numbers. The smell of the rotting food will attract the flies into the jar, and once they are inside, the cone will trap them in. This gives you time to seal the trap with a lid before they can fly away and escape.

The Light Source Trap

The light source trap

It is a well known fact that insects are attracted to a light source. They find it irresistible and cannot help themselves. Which is good news for us, because we can exploit this weakness for our next trap.

At nighttime, set up a candle inside the room where you have the highest concentration of fruit flies. Place the candle on a plate of water with a few drops of dish soap, light the candle and turn off all other sources of light.

The idea is that the candle flame attracts the flies, which then get too close for their own good and fly a little close to the heat. And well, we’ll leave the rest of the story up to your imagination.

Alternatively, the fruit flies become attracted to the reflection of the flame in the water, and become trapped as soon as they touch the surface. Like in the previous trap, the dish soap helps to reduce the surface tension, making it harder for the flies to escape.

Ways to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats (without Vinegar)

When you have fungus gnats flying around your houseplants, we have to adapt our strategies. Rather than luring them into traps, we need to break their reproduction cycles. And to achieve this, we will be changing their environment.

As we mentioned earlier, adult fungus gnats require moist potting soil to lay eggs. So this is where we will focus our attention.

We actually have a very detailed Garden Bench Top three-pronged strategy for eliminating fungus gnats for good. It attacks the gnats at every level of their lifecycle, leaving no opportunity for them to escape and begin their reproductive cycle in the future.

Bottom Water Your Plants

Fungus gnats need moist soil in order to lay their eggs. If they can’t find adequate moisture, they will move on to the next source of soil until they locate what they need. So one very effective method of preventing fungus gnats from reproducing is to keep the top few inches of your indoor plants’ topsoil dry.

But how do you do this without depriving your plants of water? The answer is bottom watering.

To put it simply, to bottom water your plants, you are placing your plants in a container of water that will allow the soil to soak water up through the drainage holes. It is an effective way of watering your plants AND keeping fungus gnats away from your houseplants.

Check out our step-by-step article on how to bottom water your plants.

Adding a Layer of Sand

Similar to the previous method, adding a layer of sand to the surface of your indoor plants prevents the adult fungus gnats from reaching the moist soil to lay their eggs.

Not only does it limit access from above, it also helps to prevent the fungus gnat larvae already in the soil from reaching the surface. Therefore, preventing them from maturing into juvenile fungus gnats.

Yellow Sticky Traps

Yellow Sticky Traps

If you have a lot of gnats flying around your houseplants, sticky traps are effective at reducing adult fungus gnats. However, it won’t stop the larvae and eggs in the soil.

The sticky traps will make a noticeable difference to the adult population, however they can be a bit unsightly and ruin the aesthetics of your indoor plant arrangement.

We recommend combining the sticky traps with the above two methods described above to begin tackling the fungus gnats at different stages of their lifecycle.

Final Words on How to get rid of gnats without vinegar

Finding gnats or flies in your home may seem like the end of the world, but we assure you it isn’t.

By taking a strategic approach to your pest problem, with properly identifying the insect you are dealing with, you will be able to formulate a sound strategy.

Fruit flies are easier to catch with food and fruit traps, while fungus gnats require a more targeted approach to their living environment.

Whichever foe you are fighting to eliminate, following the trap suggestions in this article will soon have you gnat free!