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17 Smells that Flies Hate: Scents to Get Rid of Flies

There are tons of flies that might invade your home and yard. These insects can fly around your head and make outdoor living impossible. You also risk them leaving behind maggots and feces. What smell do flies hate?

Flies hate the smell of basil, rosemary, catnip, mint, and lavender plants. Flies are also repelled by the scent of apple cider vinegar, cloves, and pine. You can use many essential oils, like eucalyptus, lemongrass, cinnamon, and tansy to get rid of flies.

what smell do flies hate

What Smell Do Flies Hate? 17 Choices

If you hate flies as I do, these scents and smells will help.

These plants and spray options will help help to naturally get rid of flies.

1. Sweet Basil

If you looked online at what smell do flies hate, you’ll find a few different options. Start with natural plants and herbs that you can use outside. Sweet basil is one of the best herbs because you can use it in so many dishes.

In addition to planting the herb in your garden, try growing basil in small containers that you place on your windowsill.

MedicineNet recommends basil as a safe fly repellent.

Basil is surprisingly easy to inside. It’s a personal favorite, and it can grow prolifically if it gets enough light.

2. Bay Leaves

Another option is bay leaves, which some call laurel leaves. This type of leaf has a soft scent that deters flies and also repels mice and other types of rodents.

Dried bay leaves will work but aren’t as effective as the shrubs where the leaves grow. With dried leaves, you need to use a larger amount and replace them often.

3. Catnip

If you have cats, you might prefer catnip. While it makes cats both happy and calm, it also repels flies because they hate the scent.

Catnip grows in small containers that are easy to maintain.

You can easily keep one on your windowsill or anywhere else in your kitchen.

It’s also helpful to plant catnip in your garden to repel flies.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar also has a scent that flies hate.

You can use it as-is in a spray bottle or mix it with water if the vinegar scent is too strong.

Make sure that you reapply the spray every few days to keep the flies from coming back.

5. Camphor (Essential Oil)

There are many over-the-counter medications that use camphor. Camphor is available in two forms.

You have the choice of burning camphor branches outside to produce smoke that repels flies.

An easier way to use camphor is in a liquid form that you can spray around your house.

Sun Essentials makes a camphor essential oil.

6. Lavender

Lavender is available as an essential oil to deter flies and help you relax.

If you don’t like essential oils, use dried bunches of lavender flowers in different corners of your home.

Lavender bushes will also keep flies away, especially when you plant them near your front door.

7. Eucalyptus

Essential oils are great at keeping flies out. Eucalyptus has a pleasing scent that many people love. Here is a popular brand of eucalyptus essential oil.

When using essential oils, dilute the oil with a carrier such as olive oil and spray it around your house.

8. Cayenne Pepper

Cayenne pepper repels flies because it produces a spicy odor that they hate.

When using cayenne, try mixing it with water and spraying it around your house.

You can also sprinkle the powder in places where you see flies as long as you’re careful and keep it away from your skin and eyes.

9. Cinnamon

When you use cinnamon, you have several options. Use cinnamon sticks in places where you see flies or sprinkle cinnamon powder.

Cinnamon essential oil works just as well and is easier to use.

Candles that use cinnamon essential oil will also work.

10. Citronella

If you grow citronella, take some of the leaves and rub them between your hands to release their natural odors.

Rubbing the oil on your skin is a good way to keep flies away.

Burning citronella candles can also help.

11. Rosemary

Rosemary grows in most climates as long as you keep the herb away from the cold and frost.

You have the option of leaving the branches around your home or pulling off the leaves and using them.

It’s also helpful to plant rosemary bushes near spots where you have a fly problem.

rosemary get rid of flies
Harvesting fresh rosemary

12. Citrus Peels

The next time that you make orange juice or dishes that contain other citrus fruits, save the peels.

These peels have a slight odor that will keep flies out of your home.

When you use citrus peels, keep an eye on them and throw them away before they mold or rot, which attracts flies.

13. Mint

Both spearmint and peppermint are plants that repel flies.

Flies hate the scent of all types of mint and are less likely to hang around these plants. You can easily plant mint along the edges of your yard and near your door, though you should keep in mind that it grows quickly.

Peppermint is also available as an oil that you mix with olive oil to create a repellent.

You can pick up some simple home garden kits that come with everything to grow 5 different herbs: cilantro, mint, basil, parsley, and chives.

14. Cloves

Cloves have a natural numbing sensation, which is why many people use them to treat toothaches.

To use cloves and keep flies away, place a handful of dried cloves in each room of your house, focusing on where you saw flies.

You can also boil cloves in water on the stove to spread the scent around your home.

The Maids recommends putting “about 20 whole cloves into a ripe apple or a piece of citrus fruit, place it on a plate and watch the flies disappear.” 

15. Tansy

Tansy has a long history of helping with foul odors.

Colonial people used it in their shoes, while ancient tribes buried the plant with their loved ones. If you use a dried version, feel free to sprinkle it around your home and yard.

You can buy tansy as an essential oil. It is also available as a plant that you can grow in your garden.

16. Lemongrass

Fans of Thai cooking know that lemongrass is a common ingredient used in that cuisine.

If you want to know what keeps flies away, consider this plant. Lemongrass looks similar to citronella and requires a small amount of water and lots of sunlight.

It is available in a dried form if you have problems growing the plant.

17. Pine

Many people love the clean scent of pine, but pine also repels many types of bugs such as flies.

Planting pine trees in your yard will produce a strong scent that sends flies running, especially as they grow.

You’ll also find different sprays that use pine to repel flies as well as essential oils.

Keep reading: How to Get Rid of Ticks and Spiders.

what scent do flies hate
Fresh cut herbs to repel flies

More reading: How to Kill Maggots in a Trash Can

Your Turn

Why let flies ruin your next party or keep you from enjoying your home? Looking at what keeps flies away is a great way to see what remedies work on these bugs. Some of the best scents that repel flies include rosemary, pine, mint, citronella and camphor.

Kimberly Nonella

Tuesday 30th of August 2022

That info is false. I catch flies all the time in my apple cider vinegar. I also planted a peppermint plant because I heard that peppermint repelled insects. There's flies and spiders all over my peppermint plant