I grew up in the country and so learned a lot of tricks about dealing with pests and problems that many of my friends who grew up in better city neighborhoods never had to deal with. Regardless of where you live, at some point you’re likely to run into the problem of small bugs appearing in the house – especially gnats. These annoyances are bad enough with one or two, but when you’re running into them consistently they hit the next level of annoyance.
Many people are surprised to learn they can come from the drains in your bathroom. Called by many names: drain gnats, grain flies, sewer gnats, sewer flies, drain pests, whatever they are they cover a broad array of tiny bugs that infest your bathroom and your house and can be infuriating. And when one of those gnats kamikazes deep up your nose, they’re straight up painful.
There are multiple easy ways to get rid of drain pests whether they are flies, gnats, or moths. The four easiest methods involve pouring a pot of boiling water, hydrogen peroxide, baking soda solution, or white vinegar solution down the drain.
I’ll go over each of these methods in detail, all of which can effectively get rid of your bathroom gnat problem. Let’s dive in!
4 Ways to Kill Drain Bugs in Your Bathroom
The following are multiple solutions to getting rid of any drain bug problem. I have lived in many, many questionable apartments and houses in the past, and so I’ve had plenty of chances to make these work.
All four methods are reliable and while I personally like to always follow up any mixture with a pot of boiling water just to spike the ball on the dead bathroom pests, all of these are valid as standalone methods for getting rid of unwanted bathroom pests.
1. Hydrogen Peroxide Kills Drain Bugs
Drain bugs tend to need large amounts of bacteria in order to survive. This makes drains attractive because dirt, hair, water, all that gunk that comes off from baths and showers throughout the week. So even though you do this to get clean, that doesn’t mean the deeper parts of the drains aren’t rife as an environment for fungus, bacteria, and many other things we don’t want to imagine.
What kills bacteria? Hydrogen peroxide!
One half-cup of hydrogen peroxide not only kills the bacteria but its effects will almost certainly kill developing drain bugs and eggs in the drain. When there’s foam bubbling up that’s completely natural and just means there was extra bacteria and things that the hydrogen peroxide reacts to.
Let the hydrogen peroxide do its thing for at least 10-15 minutes before following it up with hot water, using the sink or shower, etc.
One half-cup of hydrogen peroxide should be able to kill any drain bugs that could be flying up the pipes and into your bathroom.
2. Pour a Pot of Boiling Water to Kill Drain Bugs
Drains are designed for handling boiling water. Tiny living organisms generally are not, and that’s why the classic solution of boiling a pot of boiling water and dumping it down the drain can be a very effective way of dealing with any drain bugs. You don’t want just warm or hot, you want actual boiling. This puts the temperature up to levels that bugs and bug eggs won’t be able to survive, and the steam can be very helpful for keeping any loose gnats pinned down for more boiling water and for finishing off any pests in the pipe.
In some very old apartments I used to live in I would do this once a week just to keep all the drains in good working order. The fact that this is also a good way to kill off anything growing down the pipes that you don’t want is added bonus and if you are in an old house in the city that has old pipes that cut through an empty block before getting to your house (you know, hypothetically speaking, he says with an eye roll) having the boiling water can help clear out problems that might be forming further down the drain.
It’s worth noting that whatever other treatments you’re using, or even if this is the main one, it’s important to follow up with multiple pots of boiling water to continue to clean out the rest over time and make sure nothing is clinging on further down the drain, over multiple days.
The follow up matters with this method.
3. The White Vinegar & Baking Soda Mixture for Killing Bathroom Pests
There is a mixture, commonly called “The vinegar mixture” or “The baking soda mixture,” but it’s the same mixture. This home remedy is perfect for killing bathroom pests that you can find coming up through the drains in your bathroom.
What you need:
- 1/2 cup of salt
- 1/2 cup of baking soda
- 1 cup vinegar
Start by sprinkling the 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda around and down your drains. Then add the 1 cup of vinegar.
When these are all mixed together the reaction will cause a ton of foaming that can go on for minutes or you may hear the foaming and popping in the pipes for hours.
Leave it be, then in the morning pour a pot of boiling water down the drain to wash any remaining residue down. This should not only take care of adults but also larvae that might be stubbornly sticking to the pipes. This combination can also help clear up small clogs that the drain bugs might be feeding on.
This is a natural way to get rid of the bathroom gnats without having to use harsh chemicals. Make sure to make some of the apple cider vinegar traps described below for adult bugs, since you need to make sure not only are all the drain bugs in the drain dead but you don’t want adults already coming out of the drain and into the house to die before breeding and compounding the problem.
4. Use Bleach
Effective for so many things, bleach can kill bugs of all kinds, as well. This is the bottom of the list because bleach is pretty powerful and for people who want to be environmentally conscious, putting a large amount of this down the drain isn’t ideal, and let’s face it, inhaling the fumes isn’t exactly great for you.
That being said, a large amount of bleach down the drains tends to be extremely effective if there are no other options or you need a quick and fast solution, but I do recommend following this up with the boiling water 10-15 minutes afterwards just to not only finish it off but take care of any lingering bleach and the fumes you really don’t want to be inhaling minutes or hours after.
The Apple Cider Vinegar Traps for Adult Bathroom Bugs
These are a clever home remedy for getting rid of the adult drain gnats, drain flies, or other similar pests that are in the house and not in the drain. This is how you deal with the ones that have already hatched and come into the house.
These traps are good for catching adult drain gnats or drain flies, trapping them and drowning them. Take some glasses and pour apple cider vinegar into a glass. This can be done with just apple cider vinegar, or you can mix that with soap, sugar, and water, as well.
Have the glasses or containers about half full, and cover the top tightly with plastic wrap. Puncture a few small holes into it so the flies and gnats can get into the container where they will then get stuck and unable to get out.
This is how you can finish off the bathroom gnats and bathroom flies that are around while you clear out the drains to help prevent more from showing up in the future.
What Causes Drain Gnats or Drain Flies?
There are several potential causes of these, some of which are under your control and some of which might not be. However, understanding the most common causes of drain flies or drain gnats can help you to make sure that
Prevention Tip: The best way to stop bugs from coming up the drain is to make sure they can’t form there in the first place. Go aggressively after signs of pipe clogs, which can be a breeding ground for bacteria, and use the hydrogen peroxide method once a week for bacteria-killing “maintenance” in your drains that can also help kill any drain bugs or drain bug eggs.
Drain gnats can come from fairly far down in the pipes. Because of that it’s important to have a thorough cleaning not just of your bathroom drains but to follow it up with anti-clogging bathroom cleaners and even repeated use of boiling water to just continue pushing any clogs, buildup, or other things that can feed, house, and attract drain bugs of all type.
Keeping the drains clean and doing maintenance on them is the best way to try to prevent these, although in very old houses in some areas where the city infrastructure is lower, it is possible they’re breeding much further down the pipes and making their way up. Even if this is happening, weekly boiling water and the occasional treatment for unclogging drains will make the drainage around your house unattractive to these bathroom pests and make it more likely that your bathroom is gnat and fly free.
Bathroom Gnat FAQ / Bathroom Fly FAQ
How do I get rid of gnats in my pipes?
The methods above are all the common methods for getting rid of bathroom pipe pests without calling in a professional. If you use hydrogen peroxide, the homemade vinegar mixture, and boiling water should be more than enough, especially with the follow up boiling water treatments in the days or weeks to follow.
Why are there gnats coming out of my drain?
This means somewhere relatively close to the drain in the pipes there are likely clogs, build up, slime, the kind of stuff that these pests feed on. When you starve them of food and clear out the clogs, there’s going to be a lot less to attract them. When there are gnats coming out of the drain, it’s time to run multiple treatments and then follow up these pest killing treatments with clog cleaning maintenance and some follow up boiling water treatments.
Will pouring bleach down the drain kill gnats?
Yes. In the short term this will work well, though the other treatments have additional advantages that make them more appealing as a drain gnat treatment.
How do I permanently get rid of drain gnats?
Go through multiple of the above treatments and once a week make sure to follow it up with a drain clearing maintenance followed by boiling water to take care of any potential problems that are trying to creep up the drain. This regular maintenance should help prevent any future instances of drain pests.
How often do I need to do maintenance to keep bathroom flies and drain gnats away?
Depends on the pipes and the property, but a solid rule of thumb is that once a week is all but a guarantee to keep the pipes clear but the minimum maintenance numbers can vary. Even if the pipes are clean and modern you should look at doing at least once a quarter maintenance to keep things running smoothly and to keep the drain bugs away.
If there’s any sign of clogs at all, it’s also time for a follow up.
Get Rid of Bathroom Gnats at the First Signs of Problems
The longer a problem like this is allowed to fester, the worse it’s going to get. These annoying little bugs can reproduce at prolific rates and don’t add any benefit at all to the ecosystem known as the inside of your house.
The moment you see one or two of these, it’s time to hit the bathroom drains with boiling water, bleach, and whatever it takes to burn, drown, and kill all the little bastards.
The good news is that there are multiple effective ways to get rid of these pests, and by attempting the various methods in this article you will be able to not only take care of the adult bathroom gnats and bathroom flies that are bugging you in the bathroom and other rooms in the house, but keep any future ones from appearing.
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