Using peppermint oil for flies buzzing around your home could allow you to deal with the little winged pests without having to kill them.
We tend to see a lot more of them during late spring, summer and into autumn, and although they appear to be harmless, they can pose some serious threats if left to their own devices.
With summer almost over and the autumn months soon set to arrive, we decided to take a closer look at the best way to use peppermint essential oil for fly control.
Why do flies come into your home?
Before you use any kind of deterrent, it’s important to know the reason why you have to take action. Most common house flies are attracted to decaying pieces of food or faeces, whilst fruit flies love nothing more than a spot of overripe fruit, spilt soda or a sparkling, sugary spritz.
Drain flies can also enter your home in search of moisture and organic materials, hovering around sinks and toilets in the hope of laying some fresh eggs.
The most natural thing to do in the warmer months is to open windows and balcony/garden doors, and without any netting, this becomes an open target for flies to wander in to take a look around.
Why do you need to get rid of flies in your home?
According to experts, there are more than 120,000 species of fly in the world, with entomologists estimating that for each person on Earth, there are 17 million flies.
We all accept that flies are a part of life, and we can easily cohabitate. But, although they only appear to be hopping around from one surface to another, they can pose a quiet threat to the health and safety of your home.
Flies love dark, moist spaces, which allows the females to lay their eggs for hatching. Adult flies that land on animal and human food are also likely to defecate and regurgitate, which is not something you want to imagine as you pick up your fork to take another bite to eat.
If allowed to grow in number, flies can start to spread harmful bacteria around your home, picking up pathogens from rubbish bins, rotting food and toilets that can then be passed onto us to consume.
What diseases can houseflies spread?
Some of the bacteria and viruses flies can carry and spread include:
- E. coli
- Food poisoning
- Eye Infections
- Typhoid fever
Does peppermint oil repel flies?
Like many other types of insects, you can use peppermint oil to repel flies as they tend to dislike the smell. Spraying it around the home can act as a deterrent, encouraging them to avoid it so they look elsewhere.
One study offered a group of flies a choice between a candle with juice and a candle wick with juice and peppermint oil. In every instance, the flies kept away from the peppermint oil and instead chose the wick containing only juice.
Another study found that the use of peppermint oils on buffalos helped to significantly reduce the number of lice present on their bodies 3-9 days after it had been applied.
Of course, lice are not flies, but it demonstrates how effective peppermint oil can be with other types of insects, which can make its deterrent properties transferable.
How to make peppermint oil spray for flies
If you want to see for yourself how effective this method could be, you can make your own peppermint oil spray for flies quite easily at home by following the steps below:
- Add 10-20 drops of peppermint essential oil to a glass spray bottle.
- Pour 50-100ml (depending on how many drops you use) of distilled water.
- Also add 50-100ml of white vinegar.
- Seal the bottle and gently shake.
- Use the spray in your home or around the garden.
Aim for places you want to keep flies out of, such as door frames, window sills, rubbish bins, bathrooms and around the bedroom.
Other ways to use peppermint to deter flies
Making a homemade spray isn’t for everyone, especially if you are not a fan of the scent and want to contain it to a single room.
One alternative is to buy a batch of candles that have been infused with peppermint oil. As we learned in the study mentioned above, flies tend to avoid wicks that contain peppermint oil, so this could be just as effective.
An even cheaper and simpler option is to add a few drops of peppermint oil to the wick of a plain candle before lighting it. This will help to spread the fragrance around the space and warn any flies nearby that they should keep clear.
Does peppermint oil deter other types of insects?
As the study we mentioned above revealed, peppermint essential oil can also be very effective at warding away other types of insects. Because it’s the scent they do not like, you could use it to repel:
- Bed bugs
Other ways to repel flies in your home
Using peppermint oil to repel flies can go a long way to keeping your home pest-free. And there are quite a few other preventative measures you can take to make living spaces feel less enticing to winged pests.
1. Use a different type of essential oil
Peppermint essential oil isn’t the oil option you have available when it comes to making a natural fly deterrent. You could try replacing peppermint with:
- Lavender oil
- Eucalyptus oil
- Tea tree oil
- Cinnamon oil
- Cedarwood oil
- Citrus oils
- Rosemary oil
- Thyme oil
These all have a very distinct fragrance that flies, and other insects tend to keep away from. Follow the homemade spray instructions above and replace peppermint with the oil of your choice.
2. Keep moisture to a minimum
Flies are attracted to spaces that are dark and moist, with drain pipes often being a favourite place to visit. Maintain a regular cleaning schedule of sinks and drains and try to keep them as dry as possible. If you live in an area of high humidity, investing in a dehumidifier can help to reduce moisture in the air, which can make it less attractive to flies.
3. Clean your home on a regular basis
Flies love nothing more than a good mess or spill to investigate, but by clearing these up quickly, you are lowering the chances of them enjoying a free meal. Keep high-traffic areas such as living rooms, kitchens, bathrooms and kitchens clean, as they also do not tend to enjoy the smell of bleach and other detergents.
4. Cover your food and drinks
If you leave fruit and other types of food out in the open, then it is more likely that they will attract certain types of flies. Try not to let fruit sit around for too long, and before you bite down into a fresh apple, peach, plum or other types of fruit that do not have a protective skin (like bananas) be sure to give them a good wash under the cold water tap.
5. Secure your rubbish bins
Whether it’s a small bin in the living room or a larger bag in the kitchen, by ensuring your rubbish is secure, you can reduce the amount of flies lingering nearby. Even if the aroma doesn’t smell strong to your human nose, chances are that it will smell much more pungent to a fly. Whether it’s knotting the bag, ensuring the lid is kept down or simply taking out a rubbish bag when it’s full, this simple practice will make your home less inviting.
6. Get rid of standing water
Standing water is an open invitation for female flies to lay their eggs, which will lead to the arrival of more flies in your home. In some cases, eggs can hatch within 2-3 days after they have been laid – and some types of flies can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, which will mean an infestation in your home. So, if you have any pools of water around your home, be sure to remove them wherever you can.
Although it isn’t possible to fully protect your home against flies, using peppermint essential oil gives you a natural and kinder way of dealing with these winged pests. You won’t have to worry about spraying unknown chemicals around your home, and it can also add a lovely, refreshing fragrance. If you have an allergy to peppermint or menthol, then you can always try one of the alternatives we’ve suggested. And as long as you protect your rubbish, wipe up spills and messes and ensure high-traffic areas are frequently cleaned, then you should see fewer flies buzzing around over the next few months.