Beware of These 11 Scents That Attract Gnats Like Magnets

Written by Kathryn Dueck
Updated: September 5, 2023
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Gnats are any of several tiny flying insects that include window gnats, fungus gnats, and buffalo gnats. Although they don’t typically bite, they make a nuisance of themselves by swarming around objects of interest, typically food sources. Any kind of sweet or fruity smell is an irresistible draw, which includes many scents that humans wear. To prevent these insects from infesting your home, try eliminating these 11 scents that attract gnats.

1. Overripe or Spoiled Fruit

Red passion fruit with leaf

Gnats love the smell of overripe or spoiling produce.

©Everyday better to do everything you love/iStock via Getty Images

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Among the top scents that attract gnats is the stink of spoiling produce. Leaving out overripe or spoiled fruit is a surefire way to attract gnats to your home or garden. These tiny insects love to feed off the pungent juices. To avoid attracting a swarm of gnats, consume fruit in a timely fashion and store overripe specimens in an airtight container. Make sure to throw out spoiled fruit immediately.

2. Fresh Fruit or Vegetables

Ripe tomato plant growing in greenhouse. Fresh bunch of red natural tomatoes on a branch in organic vegetable garden. Blurry background and copy space for your advertising text message.

Gnats swarm to the smell of fruits and vegetables, which makes them common garden pests.


Gnats appreciate the smell of fruits and vegetables even if they aren’t spoiled. Although fresh produce looks appealing when displayed on the counter, you may want to consider storing it in the fridge if you have a gnat problem. Again, storing produce in airtight containers is a good way to seal in the smell and prevent an infestation. Never leave cut fruit or vegetables out in the open.

If you find that your garden is attracting gnats, make sure to harvest produce before it spoils and promptly remove decaying organic matter. Overwatering your lawn and garden can also attract certain types of gnats like fungus gnats.

3. Vinegar

white vinegar on the wooden table top

Vinegar is a good way to draw gnats away from other food sources.

©focal point/

Among the strange scents that attract gnats is that of vinegar. Gnats love the acidic smell and will flock to it. Ironically, this makes vinegar a great option for drawing gnats away from other food sources like produce.

4. Honey

Closeup of honey bee and brazilian honey cookie chocolate covered - Pão de mel

Gnats love the sweet smell of honey.


Perhaps unsurprisingly, gnats adore the sweet smell of honey. Never leave an open container of honey where gnats can get at it.

5. Wine

Wine Pouring into Glass

Alcohol, including wine, is a powerful draw for gnats.

©debyaho/iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

Gnats love fruity smells, which means they like the smell of wine. Make sure to seal open bottles of wine after use and avoid leaving out glasses with liquid still in them. However, if you want to draw gnats away from the rest of the kitchen, using wine as bait is a good alternative to vinegar. Other types of alcohol are also attractants.

6. Spills and Garbage

taking out the trash

Take out the trash regularly to prevent an infestation of gnats.


Food and drink spills emit scents that attract gnats like magnets. To avoid bringing a swarm of them into your house, be sure to clean up all spills as soon as they happen. Also, the pungent smell of garbage is one of the most common attractants. Taking out the trash regularly, especially when it contains smelly food waste, is one way to keep gnats away.

7. Dirty Sink Drains

The unknown man holding a fresh mushroom and cleaning them under a splash in the kitchen sink.

Keep your kitchen sink drain free of food waste, which can attract gnats.

©Jelena Zelen/

A dirty or clogged sink drain is another potential source of scents that attract gnats. Avoid rinsing food waste down the sink as this can clog it up and draw gnats to your kitchen. Occasionally using a drain cleaner on your sink drain can help remove food residue (diluted bleach is a good low-cost option). Also, try using a sink strainer to prevent food particles from going down the drain. This should help as long as you empty it regularly.

8. Flowers

Chrysanthemum, Autumn, Pumpkin, No People, Gourd

Gnats often gather around flowers, especially ones that have a strong fragrance.

©SheilaYarger/ via Getty Images

In addition to fruity smells, gnats love flowers. Both indoor and outdoor plants have the potential to attract swarms of gnats. To keep them at a minimum, prune dead flowers and make sure not to overwater them, which can lead to odorous rot. Here’s a list of plants that repel gnats instead of attracting them.

9. Flowery Fragrances

Studio shot transparent glass perfume bottle

Manmade fragrances with flowery scents, like perfumes, tend to attract gnats.

©HelloRF Zcool/

Gnats don’t just love flowers, they love anything that smells like a flower. Attractive manmade fragrances include but are not limited to perfume, cologne, lotion, shampoo, laundry detergent, scented candles, air fresheners, potpourri, and fragrant oil burners. If you find you have a lot of gnats in your house or buzzing around you, keep the floral scents at a minimum.

10. Perspiration

Face, sweat and fitness with a sports black woman tired after a cardio workout for fitness in the city. Running, exhausted and sweating with a female athlete or runner resting after exercise in town

Human perspiration is another common gnat attractant.

© – Yuri A/

Gnats are also attracted to the smell and taste of human sweat. This can make exercising on hot days a nuisance. Try applying a scentless antiperspirant or wearing sweat-wicking clothing to reduce the smell. In addition to perspiration, gnats also enjoy the moisture found in eyes and noses.

11. Fungus or Mold

Dark-winged fungus gnat on a green leaf.

Various types of fungus and mold attract gnats like the dark-winged fungus gnat.

© Klejdsz

Some species of gnats, like the fungus gnat, thrive on mold and fungus. Overwatering your lawn and garden encourages the growth of these organisms, which often results in infestations. Also, be sure to keep on top of any mold issues in the house itself.

Summary Table of Scents That Attract Gnats

1Overripe or spoiled fruit
2Fresh fruit or vegetables
6Spills and garbage
7Dirty sink drains
9Flowery fragrances
11Fungus or mold
A summary table of scents that attract gnats.


Eliminating the scents that attract gnats is just one way to avoid an infestation. Check out this article for a list of smells gnats hate that will help keep them away.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tomasz Klejdysz/

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About the Author

Kathryn Dueck is a writer at A-Z Animals where her primary focus is on wildlife, dogs, and geography. Kathryn holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Biblical and Theological Studies, which she earned in 2023. In addition to volunteering at an animal shelter, Kathryn has worked for several months as a trainee dog groomer. A resident of Manitoba, Canada, Kathryn loves playing with her dog, writing fiction, and hiking.

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