There is something decidedly icky about lying in your bath or stepping into your shower, only to see a writhing haze on your ceiling or around your drains—gnats!
These tiny flying nuisances remind you of rotting fruit and garbage bins, so why are they hanging out in your bathroom?
So, you grab some insect killer, hoping for a quick and swift justice (and instant death to the flying annoyances), but no luck! Gnats are resilient and incredibly fertile insects, and let’s face it; you have an infestation.
Now what? We’ve got you covered with this easy-to-follow three-step guide on how to get rid of gnats in your bathroom.
3 Common Types of Gnats in Your Bathroom
While you don’t need a degree in entomology, you do need to know what type of gnats you are dealing with. The type will determine how to clean up, get rid of them, and prevent their return.
Identify the type of gnat you are dealing with, as not all gnats are the same. They don’t have the same reason for entering your bathroom. Only when you have removed the reason for the infestation will you be rid of your bathroom gnat problem for good.
There are three types of gnats commonly found in your bathroom:
- Fungus gnats
- Fruit Flies
- Phorid (Humpbacked) Flies
Here’s how to get rid of each type of gnats in your bathroom or shower.
How to Get Rid of Fungus Gnats in the Bathroom
What Are Fungus Gnats?
These tiny black flying insects habituate areas where there is moisture, rotting plant materials, and mold. The adult gnat is a non-biting insect, but it is still unpleasant to see.
In bathrooms, gnats swarm around damp areas like drains and showers, leaking pipes or rotting cupboards, and bathroom plants.
Drawn to nibble on any fungal growth they may find, they may even feast on a moldy shower door. These gnats love to infest water-damaged cupboards and unhygienic drains where organic material collects. Anything slimy is number one on their menu.
Since they are garbage feeders, they also spread bacteria and should be eliminated from your home.
Step 1. Clean Up
Once you have identified the type of gnat you are dealing with, clean up the areas where they swarm. Use a solution with half a cup of white vinegar and a few drops of dishwashing detergent in a spray bottle to wipe down your bathroom surfaces. Inspect taps, drains, and pipes for leaks.
Clean up any moldy spots with the solution and dry up your bathroom. Remember, gnats like damp areas. Dry up your bathroom by removing wet toweling, taking out bathroom plants, and installing a dehumidifier.
Using a heavy-duty cleaner like bleach and hot water or a drain cleaner designed for killing gnat larvae and eggs, sanitize your drain thoroughly. This is how you deal with future generations of gnats that will hatch.
Step 2. Trap The Survivors
It would be wonderful if you could simply pour a cup of cleaner down the drain and, voila, your gnat problem is magically sorted. However, it is rarely that simple. You need a long-term strategy to catch any stragglers that may restart the colony.
Using a gnat trap that is designed to target fungal gnats is best for this step. You can opt for an industrial trap such as a UV-trap, though these often don’t attract enough fungal gnats to make them effective. A homemade trap can be surprisingly effective in attracting the last stray gnats and dealing with them decisively.
Mix some apple cider vinegar with a few drops of dishwashing detergent and yellow food coloring in a cup. These particular gnats are attracted to yellow. Place a layer of cling film across the top of your container, keeping it in place with an elastic band. Make a few small holes in the film.
The fungal gnats will swarm to the yellow coloring and the acidic scent of the apple cider vinegar that mimics rotting vegetation, and then get trapped inside the container.
When you have managed to deal with a sizable number of these gnats, you can simply bag and dispose of the container or submerge it in a bucket of boiling water to be sure you have killed the gnats and won’t be releasing them in your garbage bin instead.
You can also add a couple of tablespoons of bleach to the trap once it is full to kill the gnat population inside. However, don’t add it from the start, as the ammonia will naturally repel gnats, and you want them to swarm the trap and be caught.
How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies in the Bathroom
What Are Fruit Flies?
These small brown flies have large red googly eyes. They love rotten fruits and vegetables. While you may wonder what on earth they are doing in your bathroom since you don’t generally peel vegetables there, they are also attracted to water and damp places.
If you made the mistake of enjoying a glass of wine while soaking in your bathtub, you have left the scent that attracts these gnats to your bathroom.
Step 1. Clean Up
Use a surface disinfectant to clean up any spills and wipe away any fermenting mold patches in your shower or around your taps.
Mold has a habit of fermenting when it begins to rot through cupboards, so wipe these down and clean gnats away by scrubbing with white vinegar and soap.
Dry all surfaces to prevent dampness, which also attracts most kinds of gnats. Check on laundry baskets to prevent sour smells from unwashed laundry, and if you do detect a whiff, move it to the laundry or hang an air freshener in the basket to deter the gnats from swarming.
Step 2. Set Traps
While you can use an aerosol spray to kill off the adult fruit flies, this will not sort your problem as the larvae hatch almost continually, producing new swarms of minuscule flies.
Instead, set a trap to catch them, and be sure to change out the trap regularly to keep it hygienic as you diligently depopulate the gnat infestation by catching all future generations of fruit flies.
You can opt for a commercial fruit fly trap, which is ideal for steadily absorbing the fruit flies, cutting down on their numbers, and reducing future swarms. However, you can easily make your own fruit fly trap that is also effective and eco-friendly.
In a disposable container, place some fruit skins, or you can also use a few tablespoons of beer or wine to attract the fruit flies. Wrap the container with a cling film layer, sealing it with an elastic band. Poke a few small access holes and then set it up in your bathroom. A windowsill is a great place for it.
If you don’t have a beer, you can add a few teaspoons of sugar, yeast, and water, as this will mimic the fermentation process that attracts fruit flies.
When the trap is full, you can dispose of it by wrapping it in a plastic bag and placing it in the garbage, or you can kill off the fruit flies by pouring in a few tablespoons of bleach.
Alternatively, spray the trap with aerosol fruit fly poison. You can also use natural essential oils such as citronella and tea tree oil to add to the trap, as these will kill any fruit flies.
You can also fill up the trap with water when you make it, and as it fills with fruit flies, they will fall into the water and drown. Flies and gnats aren’t great swimmers at all.
How to Get Rid of Phorid (Humpbacked) Flies in the Bathroom
What Are Phorid Flies?
If you believed you knew about gnats, then you may be bowled over by the presence of phorid flies in your bathroom.
These tiny but bulky flies are known as humpbacked flies due to their bulging torsos. They may be mistaken for fruit flies, but they are usually brown in color without distinctive red eyes.
These flies breed deep in your plumbing, and if you have an exposed pipe or leaking faucet, you will likely attract them.
Step 1. Clear Out Humpback Flies
Start by cleaning out the drain with a suitable product that is designed for phorid flies. This is where the flies are nesting, so you need to destroy any larvae and eggs while also removing any biological matter that these gnats are attracted to.
In extreme cases, where you have been neglecting your plumbing maintenance, you may have to dig up a section of pipe or have a drain entirely excavated to fully remove these persistent phorid flies.
Step 2. Stick Them
Phorid flies are not attracted to any scents like vinegar or fruits, so a regular trap won’t work, but commercial traps like the Musca-Stik are designed with an artificial pheromone that attracts phorid flies, trapping them on the sticky surface.
The Final Swat
Prevention is better than cure, so be sure to keep your bathroom clean, dry, and mold-free to keep gnats from joining the party.