It’s bad enough that you can find gnats just about anywhere, from your garden to your kitchen and, well, just about everywhere you want to go.
But are you among the many who find them in your bathroom? You are not alone.
Gnats are small enough to creep into just about anywhere — and stay there. They can fit through the tiniest of cracks in doors and windows.
Some fly, most don’t bite, but all annoy. If your bathroom is your sanctuary, they can be a particular nuisance.
But you don’t have to accept them as just a part of life. Let’s take a look at where the gnats invading your bathroom are coming from and how you can conquer them.
Here’s everything you need to know.
Why are gnats in my bathroom?
If you have any problem with gnats or flies in your home (or around your home) they can find their way into your bathroom.
Or, with the preponderance of drains and sinks and crevices for dampness, your bathroom can be a breeding ground on its own.
Here are some reasons why your bathroom has gnat occupants:
Your kitchen is not clean
Your kitchen is likely the largest source of the gnat infestation in your home. First step: eliminate the environment where gnats and flies are gathering.
If you have a lot of fruit or produce in your kitchen, diligently check on whether they are fresh.
If they are starting to decay or rot or smell old, either get rid of them or put them in your refrigerator.
Daily cleaning is key in any room your prepare food. Any type of food spill, especially juice from fruit and meat remnants, attracts a range of gnats.
Don’t just wipe it up, though. Spray it with a good antibacterial spray thoroughly.
Water spills are easy to experience in a kitchen, but standing water is a prime breeding ground. Be sure to clean up water on the floor, around the sink, inside the pantry and refrigerator.
Take out the trash
And not just in your kitchen. Remember, standing organic matter that accumulates attracts these insects.
All of that fat your trimmed from pork, or fruit rinds or paper towels with spaghetti sauce on it can sit in your trash for days.
Bathroom trash can also contain decaying matter, so be diligently there as well.
Water plants less frequently
Standing water is an issue, especially for gnats like fungus gnats like gravitate toward your overwatered garden or potted plants inside.
This Old House recommends watering your plants only as needed, especially those indoor plants used to decorate your bathrooms. Gnats use those areas for moisture and laying eggs.
Repair all leaks
Don’t put off fixing plumbing leaks and sink stoppages, says This Old House.
These are particularly damaging to not only your home but only encourage gnat infestations in bathrooms. You should also look to remove moisture accumulation in rain gutters and birdbaths.
Though outside water spots like rain gutters and birdbaths seem far away from your bathroom, gnats breed extremely quickly and then settle into your home. They will be sure to explore inside.
It’s the nature of your bathroom
Bathrooms are heaven for gnats and flies who love the warmth and moisture buildup, says This Old House.
Every time you use the toilet or the bathroom sink or, of course, take warm showers, the moisture and humidity build in your bathroom.
A bathroom is rarely not warm and is often moist for all of the above reasons.
Be sure to do your best to make it less wet each day — clean up after a shower, make sure the floors are kept as dry as possible, and look under your sink to see if water is accumulating from links.
It’s the smell
Not the bad smell, though, although rotting food and produce smells do, of course, attract all sorts of pests.
Sweet smells from fruit, organic smells from houseplants, rancid smells from garbage — they all attract these insects.
Targeting the bathroom
Once you have other areas in your home free of gnats, time to head to the bathroom to work on making that are insect-free, too.
Bathroom drains and sinks
There’s not one type of bathroom drain that attracts or holds insects more than the others, experts agree.
The ones that have the most potential to have a gnat infestation are kitchen sink drains, where bits of food stick and accumulate, and those with leaks or breaks, such as older piping.
Orkin has a good first step. If you think gnats are living in your bathroom drain or sink, the pest control company recommends waving your hand or passing air gently over the drain.
If gnats are there, they will come out because of the air movement.
If you uncover gnats in your bathroom sink or other drains, Orkin advises using an “integrated gnat management program” that includes physically cleaning the drain with a microbial drain cleaner or steamer machine to get out organic material.
You can also use a long-handled cleaning brush to remove organic matter yourself that’s clinging to the side of the drain, according to organic.
Removing this matter will break the gnat life cycle, killing larvae.
If you determine that your sink drain is leaking, your best bet is to call a professional plumber to take care of it.
Most homeowners will not repair it themselves sufficiently and a plumber will help get your drain into shape so it won’t be a breeding ground for pests again.
Targeting drain flies
Drain flies particularly love bathroom showers and sinks. They also target areas that have been left untouched for periods of time or are used frequently, notes Country Living magazine.
Your guest bathroom may fit this bill, or perhaps a spare basement bathroom.
Cleaning your bathroom sink regularly will go a long way in preventing gnats from coming into the bathroom.
Country Living says it’s fine to use your typical cleaning solution and then use a pipe brush to scrub around the drain.
Boiling water may help with drains, too. Country Living swears by boiling a medium0-size pot once or twice a week to pour down the drain.
The magazine also recommends combining a half-cup of salt, a half-cup of baking soda, and a cup of vinegar to pour down the drain. Leave it overnight and then pour boiling water down the drain the morning.
You can also eliminate drain flies with some DIY traps. Apartment Therapy recommends the following:
1. Fill a bowl jar with equal parts sugar, water, and white vinegar
2. Add five to 10 drops of liquid dish soap.
3. Leave for a few days or until bowl if full of gnats
Homeguides.com recommends other DIY traps. Pick a bait, such as a rotting piece of fruit, put it in a bowl, cover it with plastic wrap, cut some holes, and secure it with a rubber band.
Putting a bit of old wine and beer in a bowl can work the same way.
Another good option recommended by fliesonly.com is occasionally spraying bathroom drains with IGR or Insect Growth Regular.
IGR prevents drain fly eggs from hatching and then turning into larvae. It stops the life cycle with reduces the chances of infestation.
Another method that works (but just on adult gnats and flies) in bathrooms is a DIY liquid dish soap spray.
Fliesonly.com notes that dish soap contains borax, which has insecticidal properties. Simply take an empty spray bottle, add about five to seven spoons of dish soap, and two cups of water.
Shake the mixture and spray on adult drain flies to kill them.
Use a flytrap
There are also several good commercial indoor fruit flytraps that you can use in your bathroom, says homegides.com.
They are typically small and use non-toxic or natural bait, safe for humans and other pets.
Such traps typically work by luring bathroom gnats into a narrow funnel and into a hollow core with some liquid bait.
Often, they contain apple cider vinegar, a small piece of fruit, or some insecticide or essential oil.
If gnats are congregating around your bathroom toilet, the trouble is likely the drain. It could either have a leak, is broken because of age, or flies are attracted to the matter accumulating it in.
It could be human waste, but it also could be something else. People often use bathroom toilet drains to dispose of items that should not be flushed, items including certain paper items, animal waste, clothing, or food and beverages.
The problem in your toilet may involve larva. In that case, you should remove any buildup inside your toilet or the standing water, according to goodbyedrainflies.com.
While flies and gnats are less commonly found in toilets, they could be entering your bathroom through a faulty seal between the toilet and a sewer flange, Goodbye Drain Flies adds.
The website recommends removing scum building up to prevent gnat issues. If you’ve been using the boiled water method or a drain gel, that could take care of it, but it could not be enough.
Goodbye Drain flies notes that your toilet piping is more complex than the typical bathroom or shower sink drain. There could be a break in your sewer line.
Sewer line breaks are caused by any of the following: shifting soil, root infiltration, shifting soil, grease buildup, and debris. If you think you have a mainline break or crack, call a plumber.
Bathtub: The baking soda method
Good Housekeeping has had success using a baking soda recipe to kills gnats in bathrooms. The only ingredients are one cup f baking soda and hot water.
1. Create a think paste of the baking soda and hot water by mixing the ingredients.
2. Apply it to any problem area, particularly all over the bathtub
3. Keep it on for at least five minutes before scrubbing and removing.
Tape it up
It may not be the best-looking solution, but fly tape can work wonders in a bathroom infested by gnats.
Lifehacker.com recommends stopping drain flies at the source by placing a piece of tape flue-side-down to block the drainpipe overnight.
In the morning, just slowly remove the tape to look at the number of captured flies.
This may help ameliorate a light infestation, but it can also indicate if you have a bigger problem. Use the tape method for several nights to assess the situation.
If the tape is covered every night and drain flies are still found regularly in your bathroom, then you may need a professional exterminator.
What are gnats?
What we call “gnats” are typically one of three dominant species you find in and around your home: fungus gnats, fruit flies, and phorid flies.
They can all be found in your bathroom, but some are more likely than others to show up there.
If you’re an avid gardener or enjoy decorating your home with plants, you may be familiar with these little buggers.
Mostly, you’ll find these invaders outside, in your soil, sod, or mulch. Especially if you’re overwatering, this will be a fungus gnat’s perfect breeding ground.
They’re often called “root gnats” because of this, according to Michigan State University’s Plant and Pet Diagnostics Department.
The university notes that fungus gnats are often found in moist, shady places and often that the larvae feed on fungi. They also note that another source of fungus gnats is decaying vegetable matter — think that bag of potatoes in your kitchen you forgot about — or wet organic material.
The University of Massachusetts Extension Greenhouse Crops and Floriculture Program says that studies have shown that fungus gnats develop more rapidly and survive longer on fungal diets, but that they also readily feed on healthy plant tissue.
Your big garden may lead to fungus gnats thriving and entering your bathroom.
Another possibility is that they are attracted to potted plants right outside or inside your house and then migrate to the bathrooms to search for even more decaying matter.
And if you happen to have a potted plant in your bathroom, well, you may find some fungus gnats there as well.
A smaller cousin of fungus gnats, fruit flies are just as annoying and often more prevalent in your home.
Why? Your kitchen.
Fruit flies commonly infest homes with ripe, rotting, or decayed fruit and produce, says pest service Orkin. They are also interested in beer, liquor, and wine.
Storing your food in air-tight containers or refrigerators are both good preventatives, as is inspecting all fruits and vegetables that are brought into the home.
That great food your buying from the grocery store or even your favorite farmer’s market could have fruit fly larvae (or fruit flies themselves) on or in them already.
According to Orkin, fruit flies may breed and develop in drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, and mop buckets, all commonly found in your kitchen. If your kitchen is infested, fruit flies readily move on to the bathroom where, yes, there are also drains, trash cans, and sometimes mop buckets.
Fruits and vegetables are their main favorites, including bananas, melon, tomatoes, squash, and apples.
They are also drawn to rotten onions or potatoes, items that many consumers tend to purchase, store and then forget.
Phorid flies are similar to fungus gnats and fruit flies, but they have a distinctive arched back (they’re sometimes called “humpback flies” because of it).
Their other names include “scuttle flies” because of their inclination to run away quickly instead of fly away.
One of its other nicknames is “coffin fly” because it is mainly seen around organic decayed matter, including dead animals like rats, but they’re also found in hospitals attracted to wounds, notes goodbyedrainflies.com.
Moving on beyond decaying plant and animal matter, phorids also tend to feed on sewage and household organic waste.
Like fruit flies, they breed in drains, trash containers, dumpsters, rotting produce, recycle bins, grease traps, garbage disposals, and crawlspaces, according to Batzner Pest Control.
If you have a spot in your home where organic matter accumulates for a few days, you can get phorids.
Like other gnats, phorid flies reproduce rapidly and once they breed and spread, their breeding sites can be found anywhere in your house, says Pest Management Professional.
When you’re talking about gnats and flies in the bathroom, you can’t leave out drain flies.
Drain flies are moth-like insects that also like to hang out in drains, where they breed in stagnant water or bacteria accumulates, according to This Old House. They can be found in your sinks, showers, or bathtubs.
If you see insects in those spots, they’re likely a drain fly, which can reproduce in just 48 hours.
This Old House notes that drain flies are the same size as gnats and fruit flies, but have moth-like wings and round, fuzzy bodies.
They also go by the names “moth flies” or “sink flies.” Unlike moths, drain flies can’t fly far; they’re more like to hop around.
Drain flies live about eight and 24 days and can lay and hatch up to 300 eggs in just two days, giving them ample time to spread in your pipes.
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