How to Keep Gnats Away

  • Written By Dan Edwards on February 2, 2021
    Last Updated: February 2, 2021

Gnats can destroy plants, suck your blood and be frightfully irksome. Whether they’re hovering in the home or garden, they can seek you out and seemingly have the in-built desire to annoy.

With a few simple steps, you can repel these creatures, thus promoting an all-round happier and more comfortable life.

Top methods to keep gnats away:

  • Don’t wear yellow or black
  • Plant geraniums
  • Avoid overwatering plants
  • Use fly screens
  • Make a natural repellent

The Best Ways to Deter Gnats

Repelling gnats from your outdoor areas, home, and indeed yourself isn’t difficult and doesn’t mean hammering the credit card.

Here are our most effective hacks:

1. Be Selective with Your Wardrobe

Surprisingly, the choice of color in your clothing can have a remarkable effect on whether you attract or deter gnats.

Research shows that, depending on the species, gnats will gather around the colors of black and yellow. If you ensure that you avoid these hues, especially when outdoors, it means you won’t become the party-hub of the gnat’s nightlife.

The yellow color is so impressively effective at luring gnats that many manufacturers retail sticky traps in this tone to catch the tiny critters.

2. Plant Geranium

Fill your home, greenhouse, garage and garden with geraniums. 

Research shows that these plants repel gnats — and mosquitoes, thus providing a safe and attractive deterrent.

One species of gnat, however, possibly in revenge for excluding their flying cousins, are an exception. Fungus gnat larvae love to munch through geraniums. While these critters don’t bite or even swarm around your head, they may well destroy your eco-friendly repellent.

3. Keep on Top of the Trash

Adults gnats adore anything rotting, particularly food and plants. These mediums can also become breeding grounds for their wriggling larvae.

Empty your garbage regularly to ensure there isn’t a readily available food source for them to chew on. As an extra precaution, make sure that your trash cans have lids that are tight-fitting and remain closed.

Adding a few drops of essential oils, such as cinnamon or peppermint, to the bins may also deter inquisitive gnats.

4. Don’t Overwater Plants

Whether it’s houseplants or garden shrubs, don’t go too crazy on the watering.

Fungus gnats lay their eggs in moisture-rich soil. They choose this location as it has all the necessary nutrients for their larvae to survive. Obviously, your plants require water to live — the secret is to take it steady.

Always allow the first inch of earth to entirely dry out before rewatering. Don’t worry; there’ll still be hydrating liquid for the roots deeper down. Scientists at the University of Vermont suggest this is also generally good advice to prevent plants from rotting.

As an additional measure, cover the topsoil with a layer of sand. This will promote drainage, discouraging gnats, and make it difficult for the adults to lay their eggs in the earth.

5. Clean Sinks and Drains Regularly

Sewer gnats — drain flies — feed and live in and around the plugholes of sinks, showers and baths. The adults and their larvae feed on the slime layer that can accumulate in these waste areas. Ensuring they’re clean from detritus will keep these gnats away.

As a first step, obtain a metal pipe-brush and thoroughly scrub inside pipes, plugholes and drains. Once done, clean away any other remnants with boiling water.

This should prevent any sewer gnats from taking up residence. However, if, after these steps, they still appear, treat with a commercially available treatment. The best is Bacillus thuringiensis, which eliminates the larvae and is safe for use in the home.

6. Cover Yourself With a Skin-Based Repellent

Even if you’ve made your home and garden flying-critter-free, visiting friends, going to the ballgame or going to the park with the kids can expose you to gnats. Using a skin repellent will protect you in these circumstances.

There are a plethora of products on the market, typically sprays and creams. The most effective of these are the ones that contain DEET — diethyl-meta-toluamide— a compound proven to deter gnats.

Should you prefer a repellent that doesn’t contain synthetic chemicals, there are some eco-versions available off the shelf.

Alternatively, you can make your own. You can mix certain essential oils with a carrier oil for a handy spray, or combine with shea butter for a cream.

Fragrances that research explains are effective in keeping gnats away are:

If the environment allows, and you don’t want to cover yourself in creams or sprays, there’s another alternative. You can purchase incense sticks containing these oils, which both deter the gnats and provide a pleasant smell.

7. Fit Fly Screens Around Your Home

Completely eradicating gnats outdoors can be tough, especially in the height of summer. Ensuring that these creatures don’t enter your home means you can have a safe and comfortable haven in the evenings.

Naturally, keeping windows and doors shut will prevent their encroachment, although, in the warmer months, this may not be desirable. Mesh screens can prevent gnats from venturing inside — however, don’t draw the line at covering doors and windows.

These tiny fliers are exceedingly tenacious and will look for any opportunity to disturb your peace. Make certain that you cover other possible entrances such as ventilation shafts, air-conditioning inlets and pipe access holes.

If biting gnats are the issue, go for grades lower than 16-mesh. This is because these miniature monsters can slyly slip through anything larger.

8. Use Household Fans

As a short-term measure, or despite everything, you can’t eliminate your gnats, use a household fan. They won’t kill the creatures, but they can prevent them from buzzing around your head or biting your neck. 

Position the fan so that any approaching gnats will pass into the fan’s airflow, pushing them away. Being extremely light and somewhat poor at flying, they’ll be unable to venture close enough to trouble you.


You don’t have to suffer from incessant and sometimes blood-hungry gnats. The above eight tips are simple ways to keep these critters away, without breaking the bank or filling the environment with harmful chemicals and insecticides.

By watching your wardrobe, being thorough with household duties and using a few essential oils, your life will be free of these feisty fliers.