Drain flies, sewer gnats, filter flies, sink flies—whatever you call them, one thing is for sure: they are some of the peskiest household pests you’ll ever encounter. With a scientific name like Psychodidae, is it really any wonder they make you crazy?
Once these insects infiltrate your kitchen, you will be willing to do nearly anything to get rid of them. The problem is that they aren’t always easy to eliminate and they multiply quickly.
Household bleach is often recommended on the internet as a method to destroy the drain-hovering pests, but how effective is it? And can bleach damage your plumbing? If not bleach, what else kills drain flies?
Let’s take a closer look at what a drain fly is, why they like to hang out in sink drains, and which remedies, including bleach, work best to safely eradicate drain flies from your home.
What Are Drain Flies?
If you’ve noticed teeny-tiny flying insects taking over the drains in your kitchen or bathroom, chances are you’re dealing with drain flies. They are typically about 1/8-inch long, black or brown, and have hairy bodies and one set of wings featuring a unique pattern of veins. If you happen to crush one, you will find their bodies leave behind a powder-like smudge.
Unlike fruit flies that hang out around veggies and fruit, drain flies congregate in drains, septic tanks, and sewers where they feed on grease, sewage, and other rotting organic materials. Although they are not harmful to humans, they are bothersome. Even worse, female drain flies can lay 30 to 100 eggs at one time, so it’s easy to see how things can spiral out of control quickly.
Is Bleach an Effective Way to Kill Drain Flies?
Here’s the thing about using bleach—it may kill drain flies, but using bleach comes with certain risks. It’s better to try other methods first, and use bleach as a last resort.
- Bleach can create dangerous, toxic fumes when mixed with other substances, including ammonia, vinegar, or rubbing alcohol. Mixing these products and breathing in the resulting fumes can lead to shortness of breath, respiratory damage, chest pain, and even death. If you decide to try bleach to kill drain flies, it’s very important to mix it with water only.
- Pouring full-strength bleach down household drains can permanently damage septic systems.
- Bleach can also damage your home’s plumbing if it mixes with the wrong substance inside your pipes. It also may corrode plastic or lead pipes. Older pipes are especially susceptible to bleach damage and bleach-caused corrosion.
- Bleach flows quickly down the drain. That means bleach is often unable to break through the thick buildup of drain fly eggs and larvae.
How to Kill Drain Flies with Safer Remedies
So what kills drain flies safely without putting your health and plumbing at risk? Here are a few safe and effective remedies to try.
Kill Drain Flies with Vinegar and Baking Soda
Kill drain flies and clean clogs out your drains at the same time with this remedy. Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, and then slowly pour in one cup of vinegar. You’ll notice the mixture will begin to bubble and fizz. This is a normal and safe reaction. Allow this powerful combo to sit in the drain for at least an hour to loosen drain buildup and kill the flies, larvae, and eggs nestled inside. Then, rinse it down the drain with a pot of boiling water.
Shoot Drain Flies with Dish Soap and Water
Combine equal parts dish soap and warm water in a spray bottle. Spray the drain flies with this solution when you see them; the soap acts as an insecticide and kills the drain flies (but won’t put your family in harm’s way).
Trap Drain Flies with Apple Cider Vinegar
Pour about ¼ cup of apple cider vinegar into a glass and cover it with plastic wrap. Secure the plastic wrap with a rubber band. Use a toothpick to poke several small holes in the wrap. Place one or more of these traps near the problematic drains. The drain flies are attracted to the sweet-smelling vinegar and will go through the small holes to get the vinegar. They won’t be able to escape back through the plastic wrap.
Keep Drains Clear and Fly-Free
Are you looking for a trusted team that can help you with plumbing issues? Your local Mr. Rooter® Plumbing is ready to help. Our friendly, licensed plumbers handle everything from drain cleaning to plumbing installations. Call us at (855) 591-0128 to schedule services or request an estimate online to get started now.