Natural Fly Repellents You Can Make In Your Kitchen

Let's face it: flies are gross. And they can ruin your summer cookouts and adventures. Try these homemade fly repellents to get some relief!

Summer is fly season. Whether you are trying to enjoy a day at the beach, a picnic at the park, or hitting the trails, biting flies can be a real nuisance. And while the best fly repellent is usually “the first frost,” most of us can’t wait that long. Here are some ideas for getting some relief from those pesky critters now when you need it.

Penny Repellent

Place a penny in a clear, zip top plastic bag filled almost to the top (about three-fourths full) with water, seal it, and hang it from a branch or awning (where sunlight can hit it),  and where flies are plentiful. It is said that the light refraction caused by the sun hitting the water and the penny causes confusion for a fly’s complex eyes and they will steer clear of the area where the bag is hung.

Green Apple Soap Fly Trap

Instructions: Place 3 tablespoons of green apple-scented liquid soap into an open container or jar with a few inches of water (add the soap after you’ve added the water so it doesn’t bubble up). Set the solution out on a table or other surface. Flies can’t resist the scent and when they fly into the trap, they will drown.

Things Flies Hate

We all know what attracts flies (our picnic lunch, for example), but it’s good to know the things flies don’t like, too. Some herbs and flowers are effective at repelling flies by just being nearby—on countertops or growing in your garden—and can help prevent them from using your home as a breeding ground.

Basil, bay leaf, cedar, cinnamon, citrus, citronella, cloves, cucumber slices or peels, lavender, marigolds, mint, peppermint, pine, rosemary, and vanilla oils and air fresheners are a few popular choices for fly repellents.

Fly Repellent For Horses

Anyone who cares for horses knows all too well that summertime flies can be especially abysmal in the barn area or out on trail rides, for horse and handler. Horses do not like flies buzzing around their ears and they don’t have hands to shoo them away. While there is protective clothing that horses can wear, adding an effective repellent is also a good idea. You can make the following solutions on your own using regular household items. Note: It is recommended you first test a small amount on the animal before spraying his entire body. Don’t spray into eyes or directly in ears (spray into your hand first and rub around the ears). And be sure to bathe away any remaining solution after your ride or exercise.

-In a spray bottle, combine equal parts liquid fabric softener, water, and apple cider vinegar. Spray on animal before heading out on the trail.

-In a spray bottle, combine equal parts apple cider vinegar, Avon’s Skin-So-Soft™ and water. You can also add a couple of drops of citronella essential oil to this mixture.

-Tuck unused dryer sheets under the halter.

Some Tips to Keep In Mind

In the home, always keep areas clean and sanitary as the best defense against flies.  Be sure to quickly dispose of pet waste, garbage in cans, and food on countertops. If you have a fruit bowl on your kitchen counter, be sure to cover it, as flies are especially attracted to apples and mangoes. Wipe down counter tops with a disinfecting solution after food preparation.

Which natural fly repellents work for you?

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Susan Paul

Don’t bother with the penny in the bag project…sure didn’t work for us!

Sapataria Sapatos

como posso me livrar de ratos?


how do you get rid of fleas that bite, they are in my bed room esp my floor i do not have carpeting in my bedroom. Any suggestions?


Hi. Can anyone help me with how to rid my house of stink bugs? I don’t know about anyone else, but In the spring and fall stink bugs love my house. I’ve tried many things and can’t figure out how to get rid of em.


I found out if you put a small bowl of honey, wherever the flies are,they fly in ,and get stuck.Be sure not to drip any honey,or else the fly’s will just eat that honey.


Tried the penny trick… hogwash for sure.

Susan Higgins

Hi Ronnie, we’re sorry the penny trick didn’t work. The idea is to create a light refraction to confuse the fly’s many eyes. They tend to avoid distractions like that. Then If there’s no sun, you might have had poor results.

Delores Horwath

I use pine sol and water in a spray and spray it around the patio


Someone told me that Flies (even Horseflies) hate Pine-sol. So clean with it especially around doors.
I know spiders hate the smell of lemongrass.
Ants don’t care for Bay Leaves (I put them in shot glasses on my window ledge indoors.)
Fleas hate moth balls (put in vacuum then toss and clean canister or replace bag.) And wash your pet in Dawn dish detergent, leave the lather on for 5 minutes.
Also, put moth balls in your attic to repel furry critters, replace yearly, we just toss them every which way up there and no more squirrels.

Susan Higgins

Hi Matti, rather than moth balls, try cotton balls soaked in eucalyptus essential oil. Works great, without the chemicals! See #5 on the list: 5 Surprising Uses For Eucalyptus Oil

Peter Geiger

Regarding gnats – when I have a cookout at my cottage and gnats decide they are going to be where we are eating. I take a couple fans and aim them above the heads of diners and they visit the neighbors.


A flyswatter works well, but must be applied more frequently in the beginning,

Connie Nelson

I live next to someone who keeps horses. We get black flies that hang on our house and screens. How can I get rid of them and keep them away?

Susan Higgins

Hi Connie, hopefully the tip for horses in the article will help your neighbor. For black flies, give some of these remedies a try: 7 Ways To Repel Black Flies Naturally


I, also am interested in how to repel deer flies, they are usually horrid in Wis.


I have used the Avon Skin-So-Soft remedy, it worked fantastic. And, my horses had not reaction to it.

Dody Walker

I read about putting out a dish with Pine-Sol in it and wiping surfaces down with a diluted solution of Pine-Sol. I did this at the lake, just put a little Pine-Sol in cups and wiped down the outside of the camper with it and we had NO problem with flies. I’ve been doing this at home ever since and it definitely works. We live in a rural area and flies are always a problem but it’s definitely not as bad as years past.

Terri D

What about gnats? We have so many flying around the house it’s annoying!

Tammy Neff

I use the pennies and water in a bag i love it


I can tell you that none of these worked for me. We have basil and marigolds on our porch, and the flies actually SIT on both of them. I tried the penny trick, too. I’ll try the green apple soap trick next. Maybe it will make the difference.


Diatomateous Earth works for flies. line it along the window sill. This powder also gets any bugs (spiders, sow bugs, ants)…line along the outside perimeter of your house, and in the basement corners.

Wanda T.

I use a clean glass pasta sauce jar put honey or syrup in the bottom of jar then I put about a 1/4th teaspoon can cat or dog food on the honey put a few holes in the lid then put it on the jar. Put it out where you need it and it really works .
Try it.


have any good ideas about getting the deer fly in vermont?

Susan Higgins

Hi Jim, the remedies in the story should help – the ones described for horses really gets those nasty deer flies, which are a nuisance to horses, too. Here are a few more remedies to try: Herbal Insect Repellents

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