8 Smells Flies Hate And How To Keep Flies Away

by | Flies, Insects

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If flies are taking over your house or yard, a great way to keep them away is by using natural smells that flies hate.

Flies hate strong smells that hide the smell of food in the area and make it difficult for them to taste things. Some smells that keep flies away are pepper, pine, mint, eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, and white vinegar.

Knowing what smells flies hate and how to use these smells can help you repel flies naturally, without using poisons or strong chemicals around your home. Below is an alphabetical list of all the smells flies hate, with links to where to buy the items and tips on how to use them for the best results…

Closeup photo of a fly's face


Flies hate the smell of cinnamon, especially strong-smelling cinnamon oil and ground cinnamon. When there’s cinnamon in the air, it hides the smell of food that flies want to eat. It also stops flies from being able to communicate with each other or taste food because the cinnamon overpowers a fly’s senses.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to repel flies with cinnamon:

  • Sprinkle ground cinnamon on the ground, on windowsills, and around any areas where you don’t want flies. You’ll need to use quite a lot of cinnamon for this tip to work. Check the cinnamon at least once a week to see if you need to reapply it as cinnamon will blow away in the wind or wash away with rain.
  • Mix some cinnamon oil with cayenne extract and/or peppermint oil in warm water. Shake well. Wet cotton balls or rags with the solution and place the cotton balls or rags wherever flies are a problem. This method has a stronger smell than plain ground cinnamon and usually gives better results that last longer.
  • Burn cinnamon essential oil in a burner whenever you see flies buzzing around or to keep them away in the first place.
  • If you’re cooking in the house and flies are coming in to bother you, boil cinnamon sticks in water on the stove.  Once boiling, take off the pot’s lid and turn down the heat to let the water simmer. The steam will float through the house and make it smell like cinnamon – and the more cinnamon sticks you boil the stronger the fly repellent will be.

Click here to find out all the ways flies can get into your house and how to stop them from coming inside.


Flies hate the smell of citrus and stay away from anything that smells like citrus, including citronella, oranges, limes, and lemons. In nature, citrus acts as a natural fly repellent and is a smell that you can use to keep flies away.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep flies away with citrus:

  • Scatter citrus peels where flies are bothering you or place peels on windowsills where flies are coming into your home. Be sure to throw them away as soon as they start getting old so you don’t attract fruit flies and other insects.
  • Use cleaning products that have citrus extracts in them, such as this citrus-scented hospital-grade spray for all areas of your home or this citrus floor cleaner.
  • Burn these citronella incense sticks outdoors to keep flies away. It’s made for mosquitoes but many people use it for flies too with great success.
  • Grow citronella grass in your yard or in pots around your outdoor entertainment area. Flies hate the smell of citronella grass.
  • Burn a citronella candle that’s made with real citronella oil to repel flies, mosquitoes, and other flying insects. These candles are for outdoor use only and burn for about 40 hours each.
  • Use this commercial fly repellent that has citronella oil and other essential oils that repel flies. The spray also contains PyGanic, which is a natural pyrethrin and fly repellent made from organically grown chrysanthemum flowers.


The smell of cloves keeps flies, especially house flies, away as they hate the strong odor. The smell of cloves can be so strong that it hides the smell of food in the area, so flies leave to look for food elsewhere.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to repel flies with cloves:

  • Take a whole lemon and stick whole cloves into its skin. Place the lemon in a bowl where flies are a problem or hang the lemon near a door or a window where flies are getting in. The more cloves you use, the stronger the smell and the better this will work.
  • Use this commercial fly repellent that has clove stem oil and other essential oils that repel flies. The spray also has PyGanic in it, which is a natural fly repellent made from organic chrysanthemum flowers.


Flies hate the smell of menthol in mint, including spearmint and peppermint, because mint has a strong clean smell that’s the opposite of what flies love to sniff and taste (i.e. rotting and dirty foods). Plant mint plants or use mint essential oils to keep flies away from your yard and home.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep flies away with mint:

  • Grow mint plants in any areas of your yard where you want to keep flies away or grow mint in pots in your home to keep flies out. Peppermint plants are the strongest fly repellents because they contain the most menthol. Next in line is spearmint, followed by regular mint plants.
  • When leaves dry up and fall off your mint plants, crumble them with your fingers and sprinkle them around your yard or house to keep flies away.
  • Burn these mintronella incense sticks on your deck, patio, in potted plants, or at a camping site. Each stick burns for up to 45 minutes and keeps flies away within a 10-foot radius when lit.
  • If flies keep landing on your patio, windows, trash bins, or somewhere specific, sprinkle the area or items with peppermint oil. For a longer lasting solution, soak cotton balls or pieces of cloth in peppermint essential oil. Place the cotton balls or cloths in shallow plastic containers and put them wherever flies are a problem. You can also use these to plug up holes where flies are getting in and out of your house. Replace the cotton balls or cloths with freshly soaked ones when the smell starts wearing off.
  • Try this natural plant-based peppermint oil spray to keep flies away. It’s safe to use around pets, can be used indoors and outdoors, and leaves no harsh chemicals behind.
  • Or make your own fly repellent spray by mixing 10 drops of pure peppermint oil with 8 ounces (250 ml) of water. If you use pure peppermint oil, it should keep flies away for up to 6 days before you need to reapply it. The spray is safe to use on hard surfaces, such as walls and fences, but do a patch test first to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolor the surface. The bonus is that this spray should also repel mosquitoes and squirrels.


Flies hate the smell of pepper, especially cayenne pepper. The capsaicin found in peppers is a chemical that irritates a fly’s senses, so it prefers to stay away from pepper altogether.  

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep flies away with pepper:

  • If flies are bothering you on your deck, patio, or in an outside area, lightly water the plants and ground around the space. The moisture will stop the pepper from blowing away in the wind. Sprinkle black pepper, cayenne pepper, or chili powder on the wet ground. You’ll need to reapply the powder after it rains as heavy rain will wash it all away.
  • Spray your window sills and door frames with a homemade pepper spray that you can make by mixing half a bottle of tabasco sauce with half a gallon (2 l) of water. Use this spray on a sunny, windless day to give the spray time to dry.
  • To make pepper sticky, mix cayenne pepper with petroleum jelly and smear it around windows, doors, and anywhere you want to keep flies away. You can get a big tub of industrial petroleum jelly for a very good price. Wear disposable gloves or wash your hands very well after doing this.
  • Spray fly-infested areas with this homemade pepper fly spray (just make sure you first do a patch test to see if the spray stains or discolors the area): Simmer two chopped jalapeño peppers or a handful of dried jalapeño flakes in 1 quart (1 l) of water for half an hour. You can add a tablespoon of any other pepper you have in the house, such as cayenne pepper or black pepper. Once the water cools, strain it and put it in a spray bottle ready for use.


Pine essential oil is extracted from pine trees and has a strong smell that flies hate. Soak rags or cotton balls in pure pine oil and place these in areas where flies are a pest, or mix 10 drops of pure pine oil with 8 ounces (250 ml) of water and spray it where needed.

Products made with pine oil, such as Pine-Sol, are excellent cleaners and disinfectants, but pine oil should be kept away from children and pets. Use pine oil-based products to keep your home sparkling and to clean up any food or drink spills that might attract flies.


There are some plants, grasses, trees, and herbs that flies hate the smell of and keep away from, including rosemary, mint, basil, lavender, and eucalyptus. Grow these plants in your yard or keep potted plants on your deck or in the kitchen to repel flies.

Below is a list of 19 plants that repel flies:

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep flies away with plants:

  • Put any of the above plants in flower arrangements, or dry them out and put the dry flowers and leaves in muslin tea bags to hang in areas where flies are a problem.
  • Simmer 1 quart (1 l) water with 1 cup of dry fly-repelling herbs for about half an hour. Strain the water to remove all the plant matter. Put 1 quart (1 l) of clean water in a large spray bottle and add the herb water. Shake well and spray on areas where you need to repel flies.
  • If essential oils are available for a plant that repels flies, such as this eucalyptus oil, burn the oil in an oil burner. You can even soak rags or cotton balls in the oil and put them in fly-infested areas, or mix 10 drops of the oil with 8 ounces (250 ml) of water and spray it where needed. 
  • If you want to buy a commercial spray to keep away flies, I recommend trying this horse spray concentrate from Amazon. It has a mix of many plants that flies hate, has a fresh smell, and can be mixed with water to make up to 5 quarts that will last you a while. Spray it wherever you are struggling with flies around your yard.
  • When cooking, put some leafy branches from herbs like rosemary, thyme, or basil on your kitchen countertop, to keep flies away from the food.


Some flies hate the smell of white vinegar because it kills bacteria and has a potent acidic smell. But be careful with vinegars because most flies, especially fruit flies, love the smell of sweeter, darker vinegars, including apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and red wine vinegar.

The following tips and products from Amazon can be used to keep flies away with white vinegar:

  • Soak old towels or old clothes in 45% super concentrated white vinegar and put them where flies are a problem in your home or yard.
  • Spray pure white vinegar onto hard surfaces such as floors, decks, wooden furniture, fences, poles, barbecues, appliances, and flower pots. Don’t ever spray vinegar directly onto plants as it could burn and kill them.
  • Make your own vinegar spray to repel flies by mixing two parts white vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. Spray this solution on things you want to keep flies off of, but be careful about spraying items that sit in direct sunlight as they may fade over time.

I'm Monique. I love gardening and spending time in my backyard growing things. Here's where I share what I know about backyard pests and what to do about them, so you can enjoy your yard too.

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Monique loves gardening and spending time in her backyard, where she grows flowers, succulents, herbs, fruits, and vegetables.

Monique spends a lot of time researching how to protect her backyard from harmful pests and trying to attract beneficial insects and animals.

She shares everything that she learns and tests here at Backyard Pests.


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