10 Annoying Critters that Can’t Stand the Smell of Vinegar

A close-up of a cockroach on a white background.
© iStock.com/panida wijitpanya

Written by Theresa Pogach

Published: October 6, 2023

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Life is full of little annoyances, and some of the most persistent ones come as critters that invade our homes and gardens. Whether they’re buzzing around our kitchens, nibbling on our garden greens, or making themselves home in dark corners, these unwanted guests can turn peaceful living into a frustrating experience. 

Fortunately, a natural solution can send many of them packing – vinegar. This humble kitchen staple, known for its tangy aroma and versatile uses, is something many critters can’t stand. Let’s explore ten annoying creatures who hate the smell of vinegar, and we’ll show you how to use it effectively to keep them at bay. Say goodbye to those pesky pests and reclaim your space with the power of vinegar!

1. Fruit Flies

Close up of a fruit fly on a piece of fruit

Once you’ve had them, fruit flies are difficult to get rid.


Fruit flies are notorious for invading our kitchens and making meal preparation irritating. These tiny pests are attracted to overripe fruits and damp areas. To deter them effectively, pour a cup of apple cider vinegar into a jar and add a few drops of dish soap. Cover the jar with plastic wrap and poke small holes in it. The fruit flies will be drawn to the vinegar’s scent, enter the jar, and get trapped in the soapy liquid.

2. Ants

carpenter ant vs black ant

Camponotus pennsylvanicus is one of the largest species of carpenter ants.


Ants are a common household annoyance with their relentless foraging for food. These critters often invade homes in search of crumbs and sugary substances. They leave behind frustrating trails and quickly multiply. To discourage them, create a vinegar-based solution by mixing equal parts vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Use this mixture to spritz around entry points like doors and windowsills. Wipe down countertops with the solution to erase their scent trails, deterring them from returning.

3. Mosquitoes 

Animals That Can See Infrared Mosquito

These pests are the world’s deadliest animals because they spread deadly diseases.


Mosquitoes are not just a minor nuisance; they can turn outdoor gatherings into a nightmare with their itchy bites. These bloodsuckers are drawn to stagnant water and human scent. Keep them at bay by lighting citronella candles infused with vinegar. Citronella is a natural mosquito repellent, and adding vinegar enhances its effectiveness, creating a pleasant atmosphere without those annoying bites.

4. Spiders 

Beautiful adult female Phidippus clarus jumping spider next to her silken nest with her babies sheltered in it, on top of a red rain gauge

Hairy spiders are usually an unwelcomed guest in your home.

©Sari ONeal/Shutterstock.com

Spiders often make themselves at home in corners, windowsills, and doorways. Though generally harmless, these arachnids can become a source of discomfort and fear. To deter these eight-legged intruders, prepare a solution of vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Thoroughly spray these typical spider hangouts to discourage them from setting up webs.

5. Cockroaches

baby cockroach closeup

Even baby cockroaches can quickly make life unbearable in your home.


Cockroaches are unwelcome guests in any household. These resilient pests often hide in dark crevices and can carry diseases. They multiply quickly and can be challenging to eradicate. To repel them, combine white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Spray this solution in dark corners, behind appliances, and other areas where cockroaches tend to hide. The vinegar’s scent will make them seek shelter elsewhere.

6. Mice

House mouse

The standard house mouse leaves plenty of evidence that they’ve settled in.


Mice can be a significant headache for homeowners. They chew through wiring, insulation, and food packages. These rodents can spread diseases and breed rapidly. Create a simple repellent by soaking cotton balls in vinegar. Place these vinegar-soaked cotton balls in areas where you suspect mouse activity, such as entry points or corners. The pungent smell of vinegar will deter them from entering.

7. Moths 

Owlet moth

Protect your favorite clothing from moths.

©iStock.com/Tomasz Klejdysz

Moths can wreak havoc on your clothing and linens, leaving behind unsightly holes. These flying insects are attracted to dark, undisturbed areas like closets and storage spaces. Combat them by adding a few drops of vinegar to a pot of simmering water. Let the vapor circulate in your closets to create a natural moth-repellent that keeps your fabrics safe.

8. Snails and Slugs

Slug invasion

Slugs can eat plants faster than they can grow.

©Dieter Hawlan/iStock via Getty Images

Gardeners often struggle with snails and slugs munching on their plants. These slimy critters can devastate gardens overnight. They’re particularly active in damp conditions. Create a protective barrier by spraying vinegar around your garden or potted plants. This barrier will discourage these voracious pests from reaching your precious greens.

9. Weevils 

Beetles eat

These pests can cause significant damage to the plants they infest.


Weevils are tiny beetles that can infest pantry items like flour, rice, and beans. These pests can render your stored goods inedible and create a frustrating mess. Place a small dish of vinegar near your pantry items to keep them at bay. The vinegar’s scent will deter weevils from invading your pantry.

10. Rabbits 


Your garden doesn’t stand a chance when these plant lovers invade.

©Fiona M. Donnelly/Shutterstock.com

While more adorable than other pests, rabbits can cause plenty of damage. Gardeners often find their hard work destroyed by hungry rabbits. These herbivores can devour entire gardens, leaving plants in ruins. Soak cotton balls in vinegar and strategically place them around your garden beds to protect your garden. The strong scent will deter rabbits from feasting on your plants.

Using Vinegar Safely and Effectively

white vinegar on the wooden table top

The smell of vinegar is a powerful repellent against many pests.

©focal point/Shutterstock.com

When using vinegar as a repellent, always dilute it with water to prevent potential damage to surfaces and fabrics. Next, apply vinegar and test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t cause discoloration or damage. Vinegar-based repellents may lose potency over time, so refresh them regularly to maintain their effectiveness.

If using vinegar outdoors, consider reapplying after rain, as it can wash away the scent. To prevent accidental ingestion, store vinegar repellents out of reach of pets and children. Be aware that some pets may not tolerate the strong smell of vinegar, so use these repellents with caution around them.

Vinegar is a versatile, eco-friendly solution for repelling many annoying critters. Whether dealing with insects, rodents, or garden pests, these vinegar-based remedies can help you naturally keep your home and garden critter-free.

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