If you enjoy outdoor activities, you might find gnats to be an occasional (or frequent) nuisance. Luckily, there are natural remedies that you can use to help repel these insects. Some of these include fragrant essential oils.
- 1 What are Gnats?
- 2 Differences Between Gnats and Fruit Flies
- 3 Best Essential Oils For Gnats
- 4 Essential Oil Recipes For Repelling Gnats
- 5 Other Home Solutions for Repelling Gnats
- 5.1 Lemon liquid dish soap
- 5.2 Apple cider vinegar
- 5.3 Lavender plant
- 5.4 Rubbing alcohol
- 5.5 Cinnamon powder
- 5.6 Vinegar and dried herbs spray
- 5.7 Dried herb rub
- 5.8 Gnat spray with dried herbs
- 5.9 Grow certain plants in your garden
- 5.10 Vanilla extract
- 5.11 Lavender oil or lavender flowers
- 5.12 Honey
- 5.13 Ammonia and vegetable oil
- 5.14 Re-pot your houseplants
- 5.15 Alcohol
- 5.16 Cornmeal
- 5.17 Red wine
- 5.18 Diatomaceous earth
- 5.19 Egg bait
- 5.20 Jelly or jam
- 5.21 Yeast
- 5.22 Garlic
- 5.23 Baking soda
- 5.24 Fly paper
- 5.25 Always throw away rotten fruit
- 5.26 Eliminate cracks and holes
- 5.27 Basil plant
- 5.28 Don’t leave doors and windows open
- 5.29 Cover wet dishes
- 5.30 Keep your utensils clean
- 5.31 Keep foods covered
- 5.32 Use curtains
- 5.33 Use a lidded garbage bin
- 5.34 Clean your home more regularly
- 5.35 Never leave wet things lying around
- 5.36 Don’t overwater houseplants
- 5.37 Eliminate stagnant water
- 5.38 Never leave leftovers on the kitchen counter
What are Gnats?
The gnat is a tiny insect with transparent wings. They generally fly in large groups, forming clusters that have a cloud-like appearance. Some gnats bite. They may cause reddish welts on human skin. One species of biting gnat is referred to as the buffalo gnat or black fly. Their bites can cause a burning feeling and pain.
Even non-biting gnats tend to be annoying, as they fly in such large groups.
Differences Between Gnats and Fruit Flies
Some people occasionally confuse gnats with fruit flies. Fruit flies are more likely to appear and breed indoors than gnats, although it is possible for gnats (such as fungus gnats) to live indoors.
Other differences lie in the appearance of these insects. While fruit flies are often brownish-orange or beige in color, certain kinds of gnats can be dark gray or black.
It will often be difficult for you to get close enough to correctly discern the insects’ colors, however. The scientific name for the fruit fly is the Drosophilia melanogaster. It is part of the Drosophilidae family. Gnats, on the other hand, belong to a number of different families of creatures, including Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae, and Sciaridae. It is quite common to find gnats living on or near compost piles.
Best Essential Oils For Gnats
Make sure to do allergy tests before applying anything to your skin. If you want to use any remedies around children, check with your child’s doctor first.
Essential oils are made through the distillation or pressing or plant material. Some essential oils that can help repel gnats include:
- Tea tree
Essential Oil Recipes For Repelling Gnats
Essential oil diffuser recipe
You’ll need two drops of geranium oil, three drops of patchouli oil, three drops of eucalyptus oil, six drops of peppermint oil, two drops of tea tree oil, and a high quality portable diffuser. Put this mixture of essential oils in the diffuser and turn it on. You can take this with you whenever you spent time outside.
Body cream to repel gnats
This recipe requires two drops of peppermint oil, four drops of cedarwood oil, four drops of geranium oil, and half a cup of shea butter. You’ll also need a double boiler.
Put the shea butter in the double boiler and heat until it’s liquified. Remove it from the heat, and then mix in the essential oils. Put the resulting cream in a four ounce container. You can put on this cream every two hours to repel gnats when outdoors.
Gnat repelling spray
To make this spray, you’ll need five drops of geranium oil, five drops of rosemary oil, 10 drops of eucalyptus oil, half a cup of distilled water, half a cup of white vinegar, and an eight-ounce spray bottle. Mix and shake the essential oils in the spray bottle.
You can spray this liquid in the space around you when outside, to repel gnats. Make sure that this mixture doesn’t get into your eyes (or those of your pet).
Lemongrass essential oil spray
Lemongrass essential oil will discourage gnats from coming into the area. To use lemongrass oil, add between 10 and 15 drops of it to two cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Shake to mix properly. Spray this in the general vicinity.
Essential oil with witch hazel gnat repellent spray
Mix 15 to 25 drops of the essential oil(s) of your choice (from the ones we listed earlier) with one teaspoon of a carrier oil (either avocado or sweet almond oil), one and a half teaspoons of distilled water, and one teaspoon of witch hazel (or vodka).
Shake this thoroughly before using. You can spray it on your skin. Avoid getting any of the mixture into your mouth or eyes.
Cedarwood and orange essential oil spray
This is an effective spray to use in killing any type of insect, so ensure you don’t accidentally spray something that you don’t want to hurt (such as a butterfly).
To make this spray, you’ll need one teaspoon of cedarwood essential oil (specifically Virginia cedarwood oil), one teaspoon of sweet orange essential oil, one quarter cup of castile soap (if you can’t find that, you can use a Dr. Bronner’s scented soap, such as eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, citrus, or lavender instead), a 32-ounce commercial spray bottle, and enough filtered water to fill the bottle with the other ingredients.
Mix the orange oil, cedarwood oil, and castile soap in the spray bottle. Finish filling the bottle with filtered water. Shake thoroughly. Spray bugs that you want to kill.
It’s best to spray gnats when you see they’ve landed somewhere, if possible. Store the remainder of the spray in a cool dark place (such as a cabinet).
Neem essential oil
Mix one tablespoon of Castile soap with two tablespoons of neem oil in a spray bottle. Fill the remainder of the bottle with water and shake thoroughly. You can spray this in areas and on items that you think are attracting or harboring gnats and their larvae, such as houseplants and soil.
Peppermint oil spray
Peppermint oil spray is helpful as it can not only repel gnats but also kill larvae. Mix 12 to 15 drops of peppermint essential oil with one part dishwashing liquid and three parts water in a spray bottle.
If you have seen gnats around any houseplants, you can spray the soil and base of the plants with this peppermint essential oil spray.
Essential oils on clothing
You can mix effective essential oils and spray them to your clothing to help repel gnats. You can make your own combination of any of the following oils: mint, lavender, clove, tea tree, rosemary, citronella, geranium, cedar, eucalyptus, and lemongrass.
Test the mixture on a small area of your clothing first, to make sure that there won’t be a stain. Try to spray is on areas of the clothing where staining would be least visible.
Other Home Solutions for Repelling Gnats
Lemon liquid dish soap
Add two tablespoons of a liquid dish soap with a lemon scent to about four cups of water. Put this in a spray bottle. You can spray this on plants that are infested with gnats. Rinse the plant by spraying the stem and leaves with a mist of clean water.
Apple cider vinegar
While this is primarily a fruit fly trap, some people find it useful for gnats. You’ll need apple cider vinegar, liquid dish soap, plastic wrap, and a Mason jar.
Put some apple cider vinegar in the jar. You might find it even more effective if you heat the vinegar first. Put in three drops of liquid dish soap and stir.
Use plastic wrap to cover the jar opening. Use a toothpick or fork to poke holes through the wrap. Put the jar somewhere where there are gnats.
Keeping a potted lavender plant in your yard or garden will help to keep away the gnats.
Have you seen any gnats come up from your drains? If so, try pouring some rubbing alcohol down them. This will help to kill gnat eggs and larvae that may be down there.
Cinnamon powder can be effective in dealing with fungus gnats. It is especially useful to addressing gnat problems in houseplant soil. Add cinnamon powder to the base of your plants.
You should sprinkle enough so that the layer of it is visible. You can do this every two or three weeks to reduce larvae numbers. It will also help to prevent larvae from becoming adult insects.
Vinegar and dried herbs spray
To make this spray, you’ll need two tablespoons each of dried mint, thyme, lavender, rosemary, and sage; a 32-ounce bottle of apple cider vinegar; and an airtight glass jar (it should be a minimum of a quart in size).
Put the dried herbs and apple cider vinegar in the glass jar. Put the lid on and seal tightly. Shake the mixture in the jar every day for about two or three weeks.
Make sure to remember to do this daily. Once two or three weeks have passed, strain the mixture to remove the dried herbs. You can move the liquid to spray bottles (or tincture bottles, if you prefer). It is best to keep it in the fridge.
If you want to use the spray on the skin, make sure to dilute it with water (equal parts mixture and water). After that, you can spray it on the skin. You should test a tiny amount on a small area of your body first to make sure there isn’t any kind of reaction.
Dried herb rub
You can rub dried lemongrass, catnip, spearmint, or peppermint on your skin to help repel gnats. You might want to try this on a tiny area of skin first, to ensure that you don’t have an allergy.
Gnat spray with dried herbs
To make this spray, you’ll need witch hazel or rubbing alcohol, distilled water, and your choice of the following dried herbs (you can use one or a mixture): spearmint, peppermint (there should be a minimum of one herb in the mint family), lavender, catnip, lemongrass, and citronella.
First, boil a single cup of water. After that, add three or four tablespoons of your combination of dried herbs (you decide on the combination out of the ones we listed earlier).
Mix this thoroughly, and then cover it and allow it to cool. Covering it is essential as it will prevent qualities of the oil from escaping).
Strain the mixture, to remove the remnants of the dried herbs. Add in water and a cup of rubbing alcohol or witch hazel. Put the mixture in a spray bottle and keep it in a cool place. The fridge is a popular choice.
Grow certain plants in your garden
Growing citronella, mint, thyme, or lavender in your garden should help make it less appealing to gnats. It could also add an appealing fragrance for you to enjoy.
Massaging vanilla extract onto your skin can help repel gnats. If you prefer, you can add some to one of the recipes we have already described.
Another option is to mix witch hazel, water, and vanilla extract to make a spray. This is a good remedy for people who prefer scents a bit milder than many essential oils.
Lavender oil or lavender flowers
You can rub lavender oil or lavender flowers directly on your skin. Try focussing on parts of the body that tend to become warm, such as behind the ears, underarms, and the neck.
This should help to make you less appealing to gnats. Lavender also has the benefit of being a beautiful and relaxing fragrance that you’ll enjoy having around.
Honey can help to trap gnats. One way to use honey is to apply it to some cut up pieces of yellow plastic. Fungus gnats will likely land on these and become stuck.
The sweet smell of honey combines with the bright color of the plastic to attract the insects. This will help with both gnats and fruit flies.
Ammonia and vegetable oil
Put some vegetable oil in your kitchen sink. Once you see that gnats have landed on it, pour a bit of ammonia on them. The ammonia’s fumes will kill the gnats. It’s important to properly clean your sink after doing this. Be careful to avoid breathing up the fumes from the ammonia.
Re-pot your houseplants
Replace the soil in your houseplants. At minimum, replace the top layer. This is important as gnat eggs tend to exist in this layer. Fungus gnats often breed in houseplant soil.
Try mixing two parts water and one part alcohol. Put this in a spray bottle. You can spray this on the plants in your garden or in your house once every three days. To ensure that your plants won’t be harmed, try testing it on just a few leaves first.
You can make a cornmeal trap for gnats. Make a cone-shaped trap with molasses and cornmeal. The mixture will attract gnats. You’ll need to create a hole at the top area to allow gnats to get in. When they do go in, they will become trapped and will die. Remember to remove dead fruit flies.
You’ll need some dishwashing liquid with a floral scent and red wine. Mix these ingredients together in a container. Put a plastic sheet over the opening, and create some holes in it. When the gnats go inside, they will drown.
Add diatomaceous earth to your houseplant soil. If you’ve been overwatering your houseplants, that might be the reason why gnats have been thriving. Diatomaceous earth will help to dry out the soil.
To make egg bait solution for trapping gnats, mix the contents of four eggs in a one-gallon plastic container. Make sure everything is mixed properly.
Drill four holes in the upper-third part of a two-litre plastic bottle. Also, use a black color to paint the lower portion. Use the egg bait liquid to fill one fourth of the bottle.
You need to hang this bottle between two and three feet from the ground, as a gnat trap. You can only leave this up for a maximum of 14 days. It will not be effective after that.
Jelly or jam
You’ll need an almost (but not completely) empty jam or jelly jar. Fill one quarter of the jar with water and mix thoroughly. Drill holes in the lid. This will let gnats go in and be trapped. Jelly or jam traps can help with fruit fly as well as gnat problems.
Mix a little bit of sugar and yeast with water in a bowl. Use a plastic sheet to cover it, and create some holes so that gnats can get in and become trapped.
You’ll need mineral oil and four bits of garlic. Soak the garlic in mineral oil for one day. After this, strain the oil. Add in a bit of dishwashing liquid. Put this in a spray bottle and shake thoroughly. You can use this on the plants in your garden.
Mix one teaspoon of dishwashing liquid, four teaspoons of baking soda, and one gallon of water, and mix thoroughly. Put this in a spray bottle and apply it to plants and their soil.
You’ll need one tablespoon of granulated sugar, one tablespoon of brown sugar, and a quarter cup of maple syrup. Mix these ingredients thoroughly. Apply it to stretched out strips of brown paper. Allow this to soak in overnight. You should hang these fly papers where you have gnats.
Always throw away rotten fruit
Throw away fruit in a timely manner. Leaving it in the kitchen can attract insects (such as gnats and fruit flies). Try to eat your fruit as quickly as possible, while it’s still very fresh. Store your fruit in the fridge whenever possible.
Eliminate cracks and holes
Repair any cracks or holes through which gnats may be getting into your home.
Keeping a basil plant in your garden could help to make it less appealing to gnats.
Don’t leave doors and windows open
Avoid leaving windows and doors open, as doing so can let in gnats and other insects.
Cover wet dishes
When you put wet dishes in your dish rack, cover them with a dry dishtowel. This is important as the dampness could attract gnats. Making this a habit will also help remind you to properly dry up and put away the dishes in a timely manner.
Keep your utensils clean
It’s important to immediately clean your kitchen utensils after you use them. Failing to do so can attract insects (including gnats and fruit flies). Never put off important kitchen chores.
Keep foods covered
Use lids to cover foods properly. Failing to do so can attract a variety of insects, including gnats and fruit flies.
Cover your windows (and any windows in doors) with curtains. This will help to discourage flying insects from coming into your home.
Use a lidded garbage bin
Make sure that you use a lidded garbage bin in your kitchen. It’s important that garbage stay covered at all times to avoid attracting insects. Using this type of bin will also help to prevent smells from pervading your kitchen. Take out the garbage as frequently as possible.
Clean your home more regularly
Keeping your home consistently clean and tidy will make it less likely for you to end up with insect issues.
Never leave wet things lying around
Never leave wet things (such as wet towels) lying around the house uncovered. The dampness could attract insects such as gnats and fruit flies.
Don’t overwater houseplants
As we briefly mentioned earlier, overwatering houseplants can make it more likely for gnats to breed in the soil. Only water your plants when it is necessary. Do research on the type of plant and find out expert watering instructions.
Eliminate stagnant water
You should never let stagnant water sit in your garden or house. This water can attract insects and facilitate breeding.
Never leave leftovers on the kitchen counter
Letting leftovers sit on the kitchen counter can attract insects, including fruit flies and gnats. Get into good habits and be clean and tidy in the kitchen. Your efforts will pay off.
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