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6 Ways To Get Rid Of Gnats & Fruit Flies In Garbage Disposal

You may often find gnats and flies coming out of your garbage disposal. This is not a pretty sight, and there are several ways to get rid of them. But first, let’s see what these creatures are;

What are fruit flies, drain flies and gnats

Fruit flies, drain flies, and gnats are small flying insects that are commonly found in and around kitchens and garbage disposals. Here’s a brief explanation of each type and why they may be present in a garbage disposal:

  1. Fruit flies: Fruit flies are small, reddish-brown flies that are attracted to ripe or decaying fruits and vegetables. They are also drawn to fermenting liquids, sugary substances, and organic matter. If there are overripe fruits or vegetables in or near your garbage disposal, fruit flies may be attracted to the area.
  2. Drain flies: Drain flies, also known as sewer flies or moth flies, are tiny flies with fuzzy bodies and wings that are typically gray or black. They are commonly found in moist areas with decomposing organic matter, such as drains, sewage systems, or damp environments. If there is food or organic debris buildup in the drain pipes connected to your garbage disposal, drain flies may breed and emerge from there.
  3. Gnats: Gnats are small, delicate flying insects that belong to the fly family. They can be found in various environments, including kitchens and garbage disposals. Gnats are attracted to moist areas and organic matter, such as decomposing food or damp soil. If there are food residues or standing water in your garbage disposal, gnats may be attracted to it.

How to get rid of fruit flies, gnats and drain flies

You can get rid of gnats, and fruit flies by cleaning the garbage disposal. This can be done by grinding ice cubes, baking soda and vinegar, or dishwashing soap. Using a fly-trap also prevents these insects from making their home in the garbage disposal.

Here is a simple step by step and detailed guide to get rid of drain flies, bugs and gnats in your garbage disposal;

1. Grind ice cubes once a week

Removing the source of attraction is the best method to get rid of fruit flies and gnats. Using pesticides or other methods to kill them will yield only temporary results as long as the source of attraction is not addressed. So make sure you clean the garbage disposal once a week with ice cubes. All you have to do is dump a tray full of ice cubes into your garbage disposal with hot water running. Turn on the garbage disposal and wait until all the ice is ground and the disposal is clean. This method will kill and remove any infestation inside the garbage disposal.

Image of ice cubes

2. Clean the disposal with dishwashing soap after each use

Even though grinding ice cubes clean your garbage disposal, fruit flies and gnats will come back sooner or later. To avoid this, you should clean the garbage disposal after each use. This may sound like a tedious task, but it is effortless. Once you got rid of all your food wastes, continue running the garbage disposal with water on. Then, add a few squirts of dishwashing soap into it. Let the soap foam and back up into the sink. Add a few more squirts of soap if needed. Keep running the water until all the soap is washed away.

Use dishwashing soap

This method will take only a minute or so, and it keeps the garbage disposal clean, avoiding any chance of insects returning to it.

3. Use baking soda and vinegar

There is no home & kitchen blog that doesn’t recommend baking soda and vinegar for cleaning. They are two easily available products and are used for all kinds of cleaning jobs. You can use this combo to clean your garbage disposal as well.

Baking soda and vinegar

Add some baking soda into the grinding chamber of your garbage disposal. The disposal shouldn’t be running at this point. Then pour some vinegar on top of the baking soda. This will create a fizzy reaction that bubbles up. Let the solution sit inside the disposal for 10 minutes or so. Then run the water and turn on the disposal to wash away all the debris.

Cleaning your garbage disposal with baking soda and vinegar is only an alternative to grinding ice cubes. So include this in your weekly cleaning schedule. I prefer the ice cubes method because it provides a more abrasive action that cleans the garbage disposal thoroughly. If you use ice cubes, you don’t have to use vinegar and baking soda. Using any of these methods once a week is enough to keep the flies out of your garbage disposal.

4. Clean the underside of the splash guard after use

Grinding ice and using dishwashing liquid helps to keep the insides of the garbage disposal clean. However, there is also another place where the food wastes collect and rot; splash guard. More accurately, the bottom part of the splash guard.

Clean sink baffle

When the food waste is ground, it spreads everywhere, and some of it is collected on the bottom side of the disposal’s splash guard. This keeps attracting flies and gnats even when you clean the garbage disposal. You can clean them using a toothbrush and soap with ease. Lift the edges of the splash guard and remove any gunk on it. The splash guards are removable for garbage disposal models (Waste King models), making it much easier to clean them.

Cleaning the splash guards after each use makes sure that nothing is left in the garbage disposal to attract flies.

5. Clean the drain pipes

You may still see flies coming out of your garbage disposal even if you regularly clean the disposal directed above. This means some leftovers inside the drain pipes attract these flies. These leftovers should be eliminated to prevent flies from breeding inside the drain pipes. In most cases, these can be found in the p-trap under the sink, so you must disconnect your p-trap and clean it. For most kitchens, the p-traps can be simply twisted off. Make sure you use a bucket or a basin to avoid dripping water everywhere.

Clean drain pipes

Once the p-trap is clean, snake the drain pipes to remove any possible debris. Once this is done, refit the pipes, and you are done.

It is doubtful that you will see any more fruit flies from the disposal if you follow all the above steps. Eliminating the source of attraction and breeding is the only practical solution to getting rid of fruit flies and gnats in a garbage disposal.

6. Put a homemade fly trap near the sink

Fruit flies and other insects are attracted by the smell of ripe fruits and vegetables. They can breed anywhere in the kitchen. Considering that fruit flies can lay around 500 eggs and these eggs can develop into adults in a week, getting rid of them is not an easy, one-time job.

Using fly traps in several locations can prevent these insects from nesting in inaccessible places in the kitchen. For this, take a jar and add some cider vinegar or anything that produces a fruity smell. Cover the jar with a conical paper funnel. The funnel should have a hole at its end, large enough for flies to get in. Put this trap near the sink. Any flies attracted by the fruity smell coming from the trap will fall through the funnel, never to come back!

Making a fly trap


Like I said before, it is not a one-time job getting rid of gnats and flies in your garbage disposal. Regular cleaning is necessary to make sure they don’t come back. So make sure to include your garbage disposal in your daily cleaning routine.

Additional reading:

My name is Thomas Anderson, author of DisposalQA. I have 15 years experience working as a plumber in CA, and this is where I answer common questions about garbage disposals.