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What scents will keep flies away

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Home > Blog >  What scents will keep flies away

House flies, fruit flies, drain flies — they can all find their way into your home and bring a variety of germs and diseases in with them, including serious illnesses like typhoid fever and tuberculosis.

Are you sick of swatting flies away from the food in your kitchen or chasing them away from your patio? The solution could be as simple as spraying or diffusing some pleasant scents. 

Below, you’ll learn about several scents that can keep flies out of your home. You’ll also discover the best ways to use them and find other valuable strategies that will make your house a fly-free zone.

What scents attract flies?

Before we dive into the scents that will repel flies, let’s touch on the scents that attract them. 

Why would you want to know what attracts flies? Simple — so you can keep those scents out of your home and make it less appealing to flies!

Here are some of the most well-known scents that can lure flies:

  • House flies: Unpleasant, decaying smells (rotting meat, decomposing garbage, etc.)
  • Fruit flies: Sweet, sugary smells (ripe or rotting fruit, spilled soda or juice, alcohol, etc.)
  • Drain flies: Moist, mildewy smells

Uncovered trash cans can easily entice house flies (and sometimes fruit flies, depending on what is left in your trash can).

House flies might also make their way into their yard if they detect the smell of manure or pet feces. Once they’re in your yard, they can travel into your house, especially if you leave the doors or windows open.

Fruit flies may be drawn to overripe or fermenting fruit left sitting on your countertop, as well as spilled drinks or open containers left unattended.

If you haven’t cleaned your drains recently, drain flies may be enticed by the scum inside of them. They’ll try to access your drains so they can lay eggs in them (yikes, more flies!).

What scents keep flies away?

From rotting meat to fermenting fruit, it’s safe to say flies are attracted to unpleasant smells.

The good news is that they’re also repelled by many pleasant (or, at least, more desirable than garbage) smells. This means you can freshen up your home and keep flies out!

Here are some of the most noteworthy scents known to deter flies: 

Bay Leaves/Laurel Leaves

Bay leaves, or laurel leaves, can also deter flies. As a bonus, their soft scent is also known to keep away other pests like mice!

You’ll see the best results by planting fresh bay laurel shrubs in your yard. However, dried leaves can work in a pinch.


Camphor is made by distilling bark and wood from the camphor tree. It can also be made from turpentine oil.

Camphor essential oil has a strong smell that flies do not find enticing. You can also burn camphor branches in your yard to encourage flies to turn away and bother someone else! 


Growing catnip on your windowsill allows you to kill two birds (or flies) with one stone. Not only will you prevent flies from infesting your home, but you’ll also have a tasty treat on hand for your feline friends.

If you want to keep flies out of your yard, plant some in your garden as well.  

Cayenne Pepper

Flies hate the spicy odor of cayenne pepper. If you’ve noticed flies in certain parts of your home, consider sprinkling dried cayenne pepper around the area. You can also mix it with water and spray it in those locations.

Remember that cayenne’s pungent, spicy scent can trigger sneezing or eye irritation in humans, so use it sparingly at first — and avoid touching your eyes or nose until you wash your hands! 


Try cinnamon if you want to keep flies away but aren’t ready to use something as harsh as cayenne pepper.

Strategically placed cinnamon sticks or a sprinkle of cinnamon in areas where you’ve seen flies congregating can work wonders. You can also diffuse cinnamon essential oil or light a cinnamon-scented candle for a less messy solution. 


You’ve heard of citronella to deter mosquitos. However, did you know that it also works for flies?

Burning citronella candles on your patio will help you prevent flies from making their way into your yard. You can also grow citronella plants and rub the leaves between your hands to release their scent and send a message to flies to buzz away. 


Citrus scents are refreshing and rejuvenating. They can also keep flies out of your home.

Use orange or lemon peels to prevent flies from taking up residence in your home. There’s a catch, though.

You must throw citrus peels out before they start to mold or rot. Otherwise, you’ll end up attracting flies — especially fruit flies — into your home!

If you aren’t up to the task of monitoring citrus peels, consider using citrus-scented essential oils or citrus-scented candles instead.


Cloves are known for their distinct, spicy scent and their unique numbing properties (that’s why they’re often used in natural toothache remedies).

If you need another excuse to include cloves in your herb garden, consider the fact that they’re also natural fly deterrents. You can also make sachets of dried clove leaves or boil cloves in water on your stove. 


Eucalyptus is another calming and refreshing scent that will drive flies away.

Hang a bunch of eucalyptus in your shower for a spa-like feeling (and to encourage drain flies to steer clear), or diffuse it throughout your home. You can also dilute it with water and create a delicious-smelling room spray.


Known for its relaxing properties, lavender is an herb with a pleasant, calming scent that flies hate.

There are lots of ways to incorporate lavender into your home and yard to prevent flies, too. For example, you can plant it in your garden, hang dried bunches of lavender around the house, or diffuse lavender essential oil. 


Lemongrass is an herb with an earthy and slightly citrusy scent. The scent of lemongrass will send a clear message to flies that they should stay out of your home.

Diffuse lemongrass essential oil, or try growing fresh lemongrass in your garden. You can also purchase dried lemongrass and place it throughout your home if you prefer. 


In addition to being associated with the holiday season, the scent of pine is also used in many cleaning products — and for a good reason. Pine has a refreshing scent that naturally discourages flies and other pests from hanging out in your home.

Light a pine-scented candle or spritz a pine-scented spray around your house after cleaning. You can also diffuse pine essential oil. 


If you like the idea of growing herbs that deter flies and add extra flavor to your food, rosemary is another good option.

The scent of rosemary will keep flies away from your yard or out of your house. This plant grows well in most climates, too — although you must protect it from frost or freezing temperatures. 


Rue is a traditional herb that has historically been used for medicinal purposes. Some have compared its scent to that of an orange, which explains why it’s effective at repelling flies (remember, they don’t like citrus scents).

Consider arranging rue plants around your patio and outdoor seating areas, or add a plant to your kitchen. You can also diffuse rue essential oil or mix it with water and spray it around your home.


In addition to making your house smell minty fresh, herbs like spearmint and peppermint can also keep flies at bay.

Mint grows quickly and makes an excellent addition to your backyard garden or your windowsill. For those who lack a green thumb, spearmint or peppermint essential oils can also prevent fly infestations. 

Sweet Basil

Sweet basil is a delicious-smelling (and tasting) herb you can grow indoors or outdoors. Not only will it help you naturally keep flies away, but it also provides you with a never-ending supply of tasty garnishes!

If you don’t trust yourself to keep a basil plant alive, you can also purchase sweet basil essential oil and diffuse it throughout your home.  


Tansy is a brightly colored flowering herb known for its bitter taste and warm, spicy scent. Whether you grow tansy in your garden or diffuse tansy essential oil, it does an excellent job of keeping flies away.

Bonus tips for preventing flies

Distributing the scents listed above throughout your home is an easy way to keep flies out. 

However, you can use other practical strategies to prevent fly infestations and ensure your home stays clean and sanitized, including these: 

Keep your yard clean

If your yard is full of pungent smells that attract flies, there’s a greater chance that they’ll sneak in through an open door or window and end up in your home. Keep your yard clean to ensure flies stay out of the area altogether.

Clean up animal droppings immediately, and avoid letting produce rot in your garden or on the grass around fruit trees. Don’t let piles of leaves or grass sit in your yard for long periods, either, as this can create the perfect breeding ground for flies.

Cover all trash cans

Invest in trash cans with lids for inside and outside your home. Covering trash cans keeps flies at bay and discourages them from feasting on rotting, moldy, or smelly items.

Clean your trash cans regularly, too — if you let spilled liquids sit, the smell will also bring all the flies to your yard (or house).

Regularly clean sink and bathtub drains

Regularly clean your sink and bathtub drains to make your home less hospitable to drain flies. Regular cleaning also helps to prevent clogs or other plumbing issues.

Contact a pest control professional

Many pest control professionals, including our team at Natran, offer maintenance plans to help you keep your home pest-free long-term.

Work with a pest control expert to get rid of your current fly problem. They’ll work with you to figure out what’s attracting the flies and eliminate them as quickly as possible.

After the initial treatment, arrange for them to come back regularly and maintain your home to ensure it stays fly-free. 

Say goodbye to flies today

Now, you can say, “shoo fly” and mean it. Follow the tips discussed above so you can say goodbye to flies once and for all!

Natran pest control professionals proudly serve residential and commercial customers in Austin, Houston, and the surrounding areas with eco-friendly products and an unparalleled satisfaction guarantee.
Contact us today for help getting rid of flies, as well as other common pests like ants, roaches, and rodents. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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