Trash day is bad enough, but when you have to deal with swarms of flies it can make the chore downright miserable. Fortunately, it’s not that hard to know how to get rid of flies around garbage bins. As an added bonus, one important method will help you keep food waste out of landfills, too! This article will explore the following topics to help you deal with flies around trash cans—and potentially help our planet in the process.
Dealing with maggots in your garbage can is bad enough. But when those maggots grow up and become adult flies that swarm around your face every time you take out the trash, it can be annoying—to say the least. There’s nothing that ruins a summertime barbecue like the buzzing of a fly infestation you encounter while cleaning up!
The good news is that dealing with maggots, house flies, or fruit flies around trash cans just takes a little know-how. For starters, you should understand why flies are attracted to trash in the first place. Then, you can decide whether you should take steps to prevent flies, or use methods to get rid of a current infestation. Let’s explore how to do exactly that.
Why are there flies around your trash can?
A female fly is capable of laying eggs by the hundreds, and each egg can become a fly in a matter of just a few days. With an adequate food source, these eggs can become millions of flies in a very short period of time. That’s why certain smells, like decaying matter in garbage cans, serve as ideal breeding grounds for a big fly problem.
While each fly species likes to eat something a little different, house flies, black soldier flies, and fruit flies are common species known to devour food waste. Oftentimes, they’re attracted to decaying matter and the yeast cells that grow on sugary substances and fermenting or rotting fruits. Because the smell of kitchen waste will attract flies, keeping organic matter (like food) out of your trash can is one among several things you can do to get rid of flies.
How to get rid of flies around garbage cans: 8 easy methods
If you notice a swarm of flies around your trash bin, it’s time to take action. If you leave it too long, the female adult flies may lay eggs, leading to more flies and an even worse problem! That said, knowing how to get rid of flies around garbage cans can help prevent a single fly infestation from turning into several new infestations.
1. Clean your trash can and get rid of odors
As explained earlier, odors of rotting meat and produce will attract flies. So, if you notice flies swarming, it’s a good sign that you need to do something about the smell of your trash can. The good news is that cleaning trash cans is a relatively simple process and can make use of products you likely have around the house.
You’ll just want to fill a spray bottle with a mixture of tap water and white vinegar. Let the solution sit for 15-20 minutes, then scrub everything down thoroughly (including the garbage lid). Once dry, sprinkle a cup or two of baking soda on the inside of the garbage bin and let it sit overnight to neutralize odors and keep flies away.
Pro tip: To maintain freshness and continue to repel flies, you might want to add baking soda every time you take out the trash. For more odor prevention, dryer sheets and charcoal can also be used.
2. Blow them away
Yes, you can literally blow a group of swarming flies away from your trash can! If you keep your trash bins in a garage or a location that’s near an electrical outlet, a box fan may be your trick for how to get rid of flies around trash.
You’ll want to plug in your fan and turn it on to its highest setting to keep flies away. Because they struggle to fly in strong wind, flies won’t stand a chance against strategically placed fans. As an added bonus, the cool air will feel nice on you as you take out the summertime garbage.
Pro tip: It’s thought that using cool air (whether from a fan or your home’s AC) will do well to deter all sorts of bugs and rodents. Not only will cold air stop flies from coming where they aren’t wanted, but mosquitos, wasps, and even mice might be repelled, too!
3. Use ginger spray
If you’ve eaten sushi recently, you’ll know that ginger is spicy. Flies know this, too! They can’t stand the smell of ginger. For this reason, a spray containing ginger powder can work wonders on a trash bin where flies have been spotted.
Pro tip: Because they hate the scent so much, the diluted ginger spray can be sprayed directly at swarms of flies, or liberally sprayed on and around the garbage bin.
4. Make an eco-friendly homemade fly killer
Especially if you have flies inside your home or near your indoor garbage bin, you can use a homemade killer spray that will be non-toxic for you and your family, but will still help to get rid of flies.
Although we may love them, flies hate some essential oils—especially lemongrass. Fortunately for us, we can add ten drops of the essential oil to a spray bottle with 2 oz of hot water. Simply shake and spray directly on the flies around your trash bin.
Pro tip: You can also drown flies by using a bowl of water, apple cider vinegar, and a drop of dish soap. The sweet smell of the apple cider vinegar will attract flies and the soap will break the surface tension of the water-vinegar mixture, causing the flies to drown once they’re lured in by the sweet scent.
5. Use chemical bug spray
If you’ve had enough of flies and are ready to go to more extreme measures to get rid of them, then bug spray might be your best bet. To eliminate flies, a bug spray containing active ingredients like permethrin may be used. Just be careful, as this ingredient isn’t great for you to inhale, either!
Pro tip: If you’re all out of bug spray, some household chemicals may also do the trick. Spraying something like Windex or hairspray may also help you get rid of flies.
6. Hang fly traps
Fly traps are those adhesive strips that can be used to… you guessed it, trap flies! The sticky layer is coated with a sweet, fragrance substance that will lure in flies swarming around trash cans.
Once the flies end up on the sticky flypaper, they’ll be trapped, and will eventually die.
Pro tip: Because it can take a fly up to three days to die from starvation, dehydration, or exhaustion, flypaper coated with poison may be a faster, slightly more humane way to get rid of flies around garbage cans.
7. Use a garbage guard
Using slow release technology, a garbage guard insect killer will release an odorless vapor of insecticide to kill insects like flies and fruit flies. Providing long-lasting pest control, it will continue to release vapor for up to 4 months.
A garbage guard is easy to install. It has an adhesive backing that allows it to be directly attached to the trash can. Just be sure that the lid is closed and the garbage guard will continue to release the light vapor and take care of any pests or creepy crawlies that make their way inside.
Pro tip: Designed for outdoor use, it’s NOT recommended that you bring your garbage guard inside to use with an indoor trash can.
8. Get the help of a professional
If things really get out of hand, you may want the support of an exterminator or professional pest control expert. Generally, they can provide a more permanent way to deal with flies around your garbage bin.
If you’re wondering how to kill flies around a trash can, or have been unsuccessful with previous attempts, don’t hesitate to call a professional. Many will offer same-day services for fly removal and some will even use eco-friendly measures to take care of your fly problems.
Pro tip: While chemicals like controlled release insecticides are available for anyone to purchase, it’s recommended that they’re only used by a licensed pest management professional. They’re commercial grade and can be dangerous if used improperly.
9 tips for preventing flies around garbage bins
When it comes to keeping flies away from trash bins, one of the most important things you can do is get rid of anything that may attract pests. To stop flies before they even begin to turn your trash can into a new home, you need to make it a less attractive place for them. Remember, one fly can quickly become millions.
- Don’t put food waste in the garbage: The best thing you can do to deter flies is to stop feeding them. Because flies love your old meat, fruit, and vegetable scraps, disposing of them in an electric kitchen composter instead of the trash is one of the best forms of pest control you can practice.
- Tie up the garbage properly: A plastic bag that’s open or ripped is going to make it easier for flies to smell rotting meat or moldy bananas—and make their way inside to eat them. That said, be sure that your garbage bags are properly secured—you can even double bag if necessary!
- Use biodegradable trash bags: Plastic garbage bags are known to trap evaporated moisture from rotting food, providing the moist conditions that flies love. Because they’re more porous, biodegradable trash bags will help the waste dry out quickly, which could keep flies at bay.
- Line the bin with newspapers: As another way to keep your garbage drier and fly-free, newspapers can be lined at the bottom of the trash bin. They’ll soak up moisture and make it easier to clean the bin.
- Try cinnamon oil fly deterrents: Keeping flies away from garbage bins can be beneficial for you, too! A spray containing cinnamon essential oils and water will smell warm and inviting for you, but will deter flies from gathering.
- Use peppermint oil to repel flies: Blends of essential oils containing peppermint are another great tool for keeping flies away. Water with just a few drops of the oil will provide a refreshing scent—while keeping flies and fruit flies away for up to 6 days.
- Control flies with clove oil: Fly deterrents that use essential oils like clove are another common way to keep the pests away from your trash. A spray containing clove can be applied in an area that might attract flies, or directly on a fly itself as an insecticide.
- Thyme oil can repel flies, too: As another way to deter flies naturally, you can spray essential oils containing thyme directly on and around your trash. The strong scent will be unappealing to the pests and will keep your trash cans free of them.
- Deter flies with basil leaves: Fragrant basil may smell delicious to us, but we can’t say the same for flies. Steeping basil leaves in an equal amount of boiling water overnight will transform one of our favorite herbs into an essential oil that can be combined with vodka and sprayed on areas that may attract flies.
Prevent flies for good: use Lomi to dispose of food waste
A garbage disposal isn’t always an ideal way to dispose of food scraps. In fact, there’s a lot of food that can’t properly be handled by your garbage disposal—which may result in clogs, plumbing issues, or the unsustainable incineration of waste that ends up at water treatment plants. As we mentioned before, throwing organic waste in the trash is pretty awful, too.
That being said, one of the best solutions for how to get rid of flies around garbage is to take the things that attract flies (like wasted food) and transform them to nutrient-rich dirt that can support our planet, instead of harming it. Even if you’re new to composting, a smart composter like Lomi is a no-fuss way to sustainably transform food scraps into something useful for our planet.
If you’re still debating on whether or not to bring an instant kitchen composter into your home, consider this: landfills are one of the worst places for food to end up. It may be “out of sight, out of mind” when you throw away your weekly trash, but if you’re like most Americans, each plastic bag contains about 25% food.
When that food ends up in a landfill, it will negatively impact our planet by taking up space, releasing methane, wasting resources, producing bad odors, and harming wildlife. So, not only is Lomi a highly-rated way to process kitchen scraps and one of the best tools for how to get rid of flies around your trash can, but it’s also an eco-friendly alternative to the landfill.
Written by: Heather Seely