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What Smells Do Flies Dislike? (All You Need to Know)

You may have heard, seen, or read about people using different kinds of scents to repel flies, however, as a matter of fact, not all the scents used for eliminating flies aren’t equally impactful.

Thereby, while attempting to use smells to repel flies from your home, you may want to know the scents that flies dislike as those smells would effectively repel flies. So, let’s not do any more delay to find out the answers to this query.

11 Smells That Flies Dislike And How To Use Them:

Flies dislike the scent of plants (basil, peppermint, bay, catnip, lavender, and rosemary), cinnamon, citrus, pepper, essential oils, and vinegar. Plant the herbs inside/outside the home, use cinnamon sticks/citrus peels, and make fly deterrents with vinegar/pepper/essential oils to repel flies.

You can get rid of these pesky flies just by using a wide range of our familiar scents from our everyday life. 

Here a big list of the scents that you can use to deter flies like houseflies, fruit flies, drain flies, and horse flies have been listed. 


Basil plant is one of a kind that successfully repels flies from indoor and outdoor areas, and house flies, horse flies, and fruit flies seem to despise the strong smell of this herb. Sweet basil plants are especially disliked by any kinds of flies. 

Fresh and dried basil leaves or a fly deterrent spray made of simmered water with basil, all are equally effective.


The robust fragrance of mint, specifically the peppermint is intolerable to drain flies, horse flies, fruit flies, and the common house flies because mint contains a chemical named menthol which is highly loathed by flies. 

Thereby, planting outdoors or keeping potted spearmint or peppermint indoors will keep flies away from your home. 

Bay Leaves:

Bay leaves or laurel leaves are another alternative herb that helps to repel flies. Bay leaves have a subdued fragrance, so crush a large number of bay leaves and sprinkle them in fly-prone areas to get rid of flies. 


Rosemary is a strongly scented herb and does wonders in repelling fruit flies and horse flies. Growing rosemary outdoors or indoors, just keeping a few branches of rosemary indoors, or scattering fresh or dried rosemary leaves will successfully deter flies. 


Lemongrass is an essential cooking ingredient, especially if you are cooking Thai food. And to your surprise, it efficaciously helps to get rid of horse flies and drain flies from your home/yard. So, either simply grow them or use the dried form of lemongrass to fend off flies. 


Using the scent of lavender plants is one of the most efficacious and easy ways of keeping any kind of flies regardless of horse flies, drain flies, fruit flies, or house flies from indoor and outdoor areas because flies just can’t bear the fragrance of it.

Thus, using lavender scent in any form such as a whole plant, dried lavender, or lavender oil will surely repel flies. 


Catnip plants exclusively are great at fending off horse flies. They easily grow in small pots, so you can grow catnip in the yard as well as inside your home near windows to deter flies. 


Citronella is an ornamental grass plant and it’s highly effective in discouraging flies to fly around or inside the home. It’s particularly effective in deterring drain flies. Crushing citronella leaves and scattering them around fly-prone spots or burning a citronella candle will deter flies. 


Cinnamon is another common cooking ingredient that has a very pungent scent, and this strong aroma overpowers the senses of flies making them unable to taste food or communicate with each other, thereby, it’s highly beneficial in repelling all kinds of flies.

Simply placing cinnamon sticks or sprinkling some cinnamon powder fends off flies. Homemade cinnamon fly repellent is beneficial too. 


The fragrance of citruses such as oranges, lemons, and limes works as one of the best natural fly repellents. Scattering fresh citrus peels, burning citrus incense sticks/candles, or using any citrusy commercial repellents will do a miracle in keeping all flies away. 


The spicy scent of pepper, specifically cayenne pepper is intolerable to flies, so they avoid places with pepper smells. Sprinkling cayenne pepper powder or spraying a solution of pepper will make flies fly away. 


Cloves are a strongly aromatic spice that hides the scent of food and bothers flies with their intense aroma, thus, flies such as horse flies and house flies can’t help but fly to another place. Whole cloves or commercial fly repellent containing clove scent is sure to discourage flies. 


Vinger being a cooking essential has a pungent acidic smell that flies detest, therefore, using vinegar to make a homemade fly repellent will deter flies. But you must choose the white vinegar only because apple cider vinegar won’t repel flies. Instead, they will attract fruit flies. 

Essential Oils: 

Essential oils such as lavender, eucalyptus, pine, cinnamon, tansy, clove, mint, camphor, citronella, and citrus oils are some of the most effective essential oils that keep flies far away. 

Where To Place These Scents To Get Rid Of Flies?

Place the scents listed above in the following recommended places to get rid of the flies successfully. 

In Your Kitchen:

Your kitchen area is the most common place for flies to hang around as they get abundant food scrapes there, thus, you should put any of the scents in your kitchen area first to keep flies out.

You can grow herbs in small pots and keep them near a sunny corner or a window, or you can place a plate of dried herbs/lavender/cinnamon sticks near your cooking stove/garbage bin. 

Near Your Doors And Windows: 

Flies can make their path into your house through doors and windows. Thereby, you should consider putting scents that flies dislike near your home’s entrance and beside windows with sunlight to discourage flies from coming inside your home. 

If you are going with growing scented herbs despised by flies, consider growing in pots near the main door. And either grow or hang herbs in small pots beside sunny windows. You can burn candles/incense made of these scents near your windows too. 

In Your Yard: 

If you are likely to spend your afternoon times in your yard or enjoy doing cookouts, you must place any of the fly despised fragrances in your yard. You can go for growing any of the mentioned herbs, lavenders, lemongrass, and catnips in your yard.

Also, spraying fly repellents in places in your yard where flies come often will help to fend off the flies. 

What Smells Attract Flies?

A huge number of smells are responsible for attracting flies, however, the most potential ones are as follows- open garbage bins, fermenting fruits, apple cider vinegar, open alcohol bottles, open soda cans, pet feces, rotting food, spilled pet food, and leaky/dirty drains. 

Flies also get attracted to the scent of other flies and the scent of fly pecks, sugar in fermenting food items also attracts flies. 

Tips To Keep Flies Out Of Your House

Several actions are there that you should take in time to prevent or at least stop flies from flying around and inside your home. Some of the tips are added below to help in driving away flies. 

Keep The Garbage Bin Closed: 

Since flies are mostly drawn to garbage, always keep your trash bin closed and make sure that you are using a trash bin with a tightly fitted lid to dispose of your daily trash. And you must clean the garbage bin regularly and throw trash away from your home.

Clean Pet Feces: 

If you have a pet, clean its feces instantly from your home and yard to discourage flies to get attracted. 

Keep Your Food Covered: 

All food items that you usually keep outside like fruits, snacks, or other cooked food should be either kept covered or in airtight pots so that flies don’t get allured by the smell of food. 

Clean Food/Liquid Spills:

If food, juice, soda, or alcohol gets spilled on the floor, clean it immediately. 

Use Homemade Fly Repellent: 

You can make homemade fly repellents by diluting essential oils, cayenne pepper with essential oils, or white vinegar with water. Then, either you can directly spray the solution or place cotton balls soaked in the solution in places where flies come the most. 

Burn Incense and candles, or keep Potted Plants: 

Grow and put potted plants that fly dislikes, or burn incense or candles containing smells like cinnamon, clove, lavender, citrus, mint, etc. to drive flies away from the beginning. 

Final Thoughts 

Scents of herbs (basil, rosemary, mint, bay), spices (cinnamon, cloves, pepper), citrus, catnip, lavender, vinegar, and essential oils are particularly despised by flies. Using these scents to make fly repellents, sprinkling powdered spices, or placing potted herbs will drive away flies from home.