If you’re ever experienced tiny flies or moth-like insects hovering around your drains, showers, sinks, or bathtub, you may have had drain flies. Drains are hot spots for pests because they often contain stagnant water and are an excellent place for bacteria to build up, particularly if you don’t use the drain frequently. Unfortunately, drain flies can reproduce rapidly, making it easy to end up with an infestation in only a few days.
Fortunately, drain flies can typically be handled quickly at home with DIY solutions, cleaning, and some basic product or pantry items you likely have around your house. In today’s guide, we’re sharing the top ways to get rid of drain flies and when you should call a professional pest control company to handle the situation.
What Are Drain Flies
Drain flies, also known as sink flies or moth flies, are around the same size as fruit flies or gnats. However, their bodies are round and fuzzy, and they are frequently mistaken for moths due to their moth-like wings. Drain flies are also usually gray or black, which sets them apart from other species of flies. Unlike moths, drain flies can’t fly very far, and you’ll find that they tend to stay very close to drains, sinks, and bathrooms. Rather than fly, you may notice these pests hopping around.
Most drain flies live between eight and 24 days. Unfortunately, they can lay and hatch up to 300 eggs, making it difficult to control these pests. Drain flies lay eggs in the slimy film that typically forms in drains and sewers. If you spot drain flies, you must act before they lay many more eggs and take over your drains and pipes.
5 Ways to Get Rid of Drain Flies
1. Pour Boiling Water Down the Drain
Drain flies accumulate near drains so that they can breed and lay their eggs in the slimy film found in drains. As a result, one of the easiest ways to take care of drain flies is pouring boiling hot water down your drain one to two times a day for around a week, or until the drain flies have disappeared. Boiling hot water will help break down the buildup of organic material in your drain, forcing drain flies to move on and look for other places to lay their eggs.
2. Mix Baking Soda + Salt + Vinegar
Another DIY solution for taking care of drain flies is creating a cleaning solution of baking soda, salt, and vinegar. Vinegar causes baking soda to expand, which will help perform a deeper clean of your drains. Create this mixture by combining ½ cup salt, ½ cup baking soda, and one cup of vinegar, then pour it down your drain. Leave this mixture overnight and flush with hot water in the morning.
3. Mix Soap + Sugar + Vinegar + Water
Like many pests, drain flies are attracted to sweets. To create a DIY drain fly trap, add several drops of dish soap to a bowl filled with equal parts water, sugar, and apple cider vinegar. Then, leave this bowl near your infested drain for a few days and wait. Drain flies will hover near the mixture and drown in the thickened water.
4. Use Apple Cider Vinegar
Another popular treatment for drain flies is apple cider vinegar. Simply fill a container, like a bowl, mug, or jar, with apple cider vinegar and cover it with plastic wrap. Create several small holes in the plastic so that flies can enter but not exit the trap. Place this trap near infested drains.
5. Duct Tape Your Drain Closed
After cleaning your drains with boiling water or a vinegar solution, try duct taping your drains overnight to catch flies that attempt to fly out of the drain.
Getting Rid of Drain Flies Using Chemicals
Another way to eliminate drain flies is by using chemicals, such as common drain cleaners and chemicals that clear out drains. Before using these, make sure that you closely read the instructions and never combine chemicals with another chemical or natural cleaning product.
Chemical Repellents & Sprays
Many drain fly chemical products can be used for a variety of pests, including fruit flies or gnats. As is the case with all chemicals, please pay close attention to the instructions for proper usage on the label before applying.
Here are some of the most popular chemicals on the market for eliminating and repelling drain fly infestations:
- Covington Drain Fly Repellent: This repellent works by coating the inside of your drain and sticking to the walls of the drain, repelling drain flies.
- Green Gobbler Fruit Fly Goodbye Gel Drain Treatment: This product works against both fruit flies and drain flies, easily killing them with a gel formula that you can pour down garbage disposals, drains, and more.
- American BioSystems: This is usually recommended for commercial drains but can be used for extreme drain fly infestations. Safe for clearing bacteria and pests out of drains.
Popular drain cleaners, like Drano and Bio-Clean, can get rid of drain flies by clearing out bacteria and buildup that attract drain flies. Always make sure that these products are safe for the type of drain you plan on using them for. We also recommend using these alongside warm water and scrubbing your drains with a metal pipe brush to clear out more residue.
Where Do Drain Flies Come From
Drain flies need stagnant water to thrive and sewer filth to lay their eggs in. As a result, drain flies will frequently be found near:
- Septic tanks
- Shower or bathtub drains
- Kitchen sinks
- Basement sinks
- Soil containing sewage
Ideally, drain flies need access to film that forms on pipes, drains, and sewage to lay their eggs. So, any area with stagnant water is ideal for these pests.
Other areas you may find drain flies include:
- Storm drains or gutters with stagnant water
- Compost piles
- Wet mops and buckets
- Soggy areas near your birdbath, shed, or garage
If standing water in your gutters is a consistent issue consider investing in high quality gutter guards to eliminate the debris that can build up inside of them.
Do Drain Flies Bite?
Drain flies do not bite, sting, or spread disease. However, large numbers of drain flies decaying may cause allergic reactions. These pests may also spread bacteria around your home as they travel from drains, the trash, and other parts of your home. In general, these pests are not considered dangerous to your health. However, they can be a considerable nuisance, and they reproduce quickly, making them a danger to your pipes. If left untreated, your pipes may become overrun with drain fly eggs and nests, which can cause plumbing problems.
How to Know You Have Drain Flies
Drain flies are often mistaken for gnats, moths, or fruit flies. If you spot tiny flying pests around your home, you may not know immediately what kind of pest they are. However, if they tend to linger around your drains or stagnant water, it’s worth checking if you have drain flies living and breeding in your drains. Try the following tests to check for drain fly infestations in your home.
Check Drain Opening for Larvae
Drain flies lay eggs in sewer filth, the organic material that builds up in your drains. To check for drain fly larvae, remove your drain cover and scrape some of the film off the sides of the drain. Using a magnifying glass, check for tube-like, thin drain fly larvae. If you can’t see any, you may still have drain fly larvae deeper down your pipes. However, if you spot larvae, this is a sure-fire sign that you have drain flies.
Duct Tape Test
An easy way to check for drain flies is by placing duct tape over your drain overnight. Make sure that you completely seal off your drain so that the pests have no means of escaping overnight. Then, in the morning, check for drain flies that got stuck to the tape in their attempts to leave your drain. Not only will this take care of some of the drain flies, but it’ll give you a good idea of the severity of your infestation. Repeat for several nights to see if the numbers continue to increase. If your drain fly infestation increases, professional help may be your next best option.
Best Professional Pest Control Companies
Drain flies aren’t typically hazardous to human health. However, they can be a serious nuisance and cause plumbing problems if they continue breeding and creating nests in your pipes. If you suspect you have a large drain fly infestation or are struggling to control the problem with DIY solutions, we recommend contacting a professional pest control provider to handle the situation. Experienced professionals can quickly eliminate drain flies and ensure that your pipes are not damaged in the process.
Terminix has over 90 years of pest control experience and is touted for its highly educated technicians and leaders. Many Terminix professionals have PhDs and scientific backgrounds in entomology. In addition to this high level of education, Terminix offers 24/7 customer service and online access. Their teams are comprised of over 10,000 members, and they serve nearly every state in the United States. Throughout their impressive decades of experience, Terminix has contributed many patents, new technologies, scientific publications, and pest control products and solutions worldwide.
All Terminix treatments begin with a thorough inspection of your home. Your Terminix technician will start by inspecting your property and asking you questions about the pests or signs of pests that you’ve spotted. Once the inspection is complete, the technician will share their findings with you and propose a personalized treatment plan for dealing with any pests found on your property.
Terminix offers multiple pest control packages, including one-time treatments, monthly, and quarterly packages to create a protective barrier around your home from pests. Drain fly treatments may only need to be performed once or twice, depending on the severity of your infestation. However, an ongoing pest control package may be a great choice to control and prevent a variety of seasonal pests from taking over your home.
Learn more about Terminix and its treatments.
With over 100 years of experience in the pest control industry, Orkin is a stand-out provider that uses Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to control and manage pest infestations. IPM works by creating changes in your home’s environment to repel and discourage pests from hanging around. In the case of drain flies, this may involve changes to your drain cleaners or cleaning routine to keep buildup from forming, which attracts drain flies and other pests.
An Orkin technician will start by assessing your home for pests and closely inspecting your drains for signs of drain flies and larvae. Typically, Orkin will treat drain flies by removing the breeding site, the organic buildup, sewer film that collects in your drains, and other popular drain fly areas. Once deep cleaned, the adult drain flies will not have anywhere to reproduce and lay eggs. During this cleaning process, any drain fly larvae and eggs already laid will have been removed. After 20 days, the remaining adult drain flies will pass away, and your home will be free of drain flies once more.
Each home and pest infestation is unique, so your Orkin technician will create a customized fly treatment program for your situation. Like Terminix, Orkin offers several ongoing pest control treatment plans that treat and manage many pest issues monthly, quarterly, or annually.
Learn more about Orkin and its treatments.
Compare multiple providers with our Top Pest Companies Review.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will drain flies go away on their own?
No. As long as there is access to standing water on your property or build-up in your drains and pipes, drain flies will continue to breed and live in your home. Drain flies are not comfortable outside during the winter months and may become even more persistent in staying in your home to avoid cold temperatures. Regardless of the time of year, drain flies will need to be treated through DIY efforts, such as clearing your drain and creating traps, or professional help. If your DIY efforts don’t take care of the problem or the drain flies continue to come back, contact a pest control specialist for additional help because it’s doubtful that drain flies will leave on their own.
Will Drano kill drain flies?
Yes. In many cases, Drano will kill drain flies, particularly Drano formulas that expand within your pipes, as this formula will come into contact with more drain fly eggs, larvae, and adults. However, Drano is not an effective long-term solution for eliminating drain flies because it can damage your drains over time. If drain flies repeatedly return to your home, take preventive measures to prevent standing water from forming on your property and buildup forming in your drains.
How long does it take to get rid of drain flies?
Drain flies have short lifespans but can reproduce quickly, making them difficult to get rid of. However, an aggressive approach where organic buildup is removed and existing drain flies are treated can result in your drain fly infestation being managed in under a week. If your drain fly infestation is not easily managed within this time, you may want to contact a pest control professional to identify the larger root issue and handle the problem.
What causes drain flies?
Drain flies are attracted to stagnant water and organic material build-up found in drains. Drain flies feed on the sewage and organic material found in drains and stagnant water. They also need organic material to breed in and lay their eggs, which is why drains with build-up are so appealing to them. Regularly clean your drains to prevent drain flies from collecting and examine your home for drains or water sources that are not regularly disturbed, such as the basement or outdoor sinks and pools of water. Drain flies and other pests may use these undisturbed areas to create infestations, so periodically checking and maintaining these areas is an important preventative measure.
Where do drain flies come from?
New drain flies in your home are likely coming from stagnant pools of water, drainage areas, and pipes in your home. Once adult drain flies are in your home, they will begin breeding and laying as many as 300 eggs every 48 hours in organic material built up in your drains. If you suddenly spot drain flies in your home, stagnant water and drains are the likely culprits for where these annoying pests are coming from.
What is the lifespan of a drain fly?
Most drain flies live around two weeks but can lay hundreds of eggs quickly, making these pests difficult to eliminate from your home. Drain fly eggs hatch within 48 hours, and the larval stage is typically between eight and 24 days long. Then, the fly will be in the pupal stage for 20 to 40 hours before living for around two weeks as a full-fledged adult drain fly. During their adult life, they will reproduce quickly, creating many more eggs and larvae in their wake.
Today's Homeowner Rating & Methodology
Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically.
- Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score.
- State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability.
- Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
- Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support.
- Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher.