Discover 8 Smells That Gnats Absolutely Hate

Written by Nixza Gonzalez
Updated: July 13, 2023
© Klejdsz
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Smells that Gnats Hate infographic
Here are eight smells that gnats will absolutely hate.

Gnats are frustrating and annoying small bugs that can bite. However, some species don’t bite, but instead swarm and cause infestations. Gnats are almost completely unavoidable. They live outside in large groups and are common in humid areas. However, while they are common outside, this doesn’t mean you should have to live with them in your home. So, how do you get rid of gnats? What are some smells that gnats hate? Follow along to learn more!

What are Gnats Attracted to?

Before we dive into repelling gnats with smells, we should understand what gnats are attracted to. No matter how many smells you spray or leave in your home, gnats will continue coming back and reproducing if you are leaving behind the food. Typically, if gnats are in your home, this means something is rotting. It could be as simple as leaving a banana in a dark and humid place. Gnats like sweet and fruity scents. They also fly towards heat and water, which explains why gnats sometimes swarm humans outside. If you are sweating, the gnats may be attracted to the perspiration.

Some gnats though avoid food and instead live and thrive in organic soil. If you are a gardener and have noticed tiny flying insects all over your plants, it could be a sign that the plant is suffering from root rot. Too much water and moisture attract fungus gnats.

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Smells that Gnats Hate

Once you get rid of the cause of the gnats, you can focus on killing and repelling the ones left behind in your home. Listed below are about 8 smells that gnats hate!

1. Lemon

While gnats love all things sticky, fruity, and sweet, the smell of lemons is an exception. If you want to leave gnats running, use the scent of lemons. You can do this by using a lemon gnat-repelling spray, essential oil, candle, or boiled lemon peels. The acidity is too much for these small flying insects. Just using the scent alone though isn’t enough to get rid of these tiny pests.

Gnats don’t like the scent of lemons.


2. Peppermint

Just like lemon, gnats don’t like the scent of peppermint. Although peppermint is a pleasant smell for humans, it keeps gnats away. This natural repellant discourages gnats. You can grow a peppermint plant or create a mixture with peppermint essential oils, dish soap, and water. This especially works if you spray near plants or on the soil of containers to discourage fungus gnats.

Spraying a mixture of dish soap, water, and peppermint essential oil can repel gnats.


3. Citronella

The next scent that gnats can’t stand is citronella. This is a popular and common scent to also repel and fight against mosquitos, but did you know it also keeps gnats away? Citronella products are typically made for outdoor use, but you can also grow a natural citronella plant.

This is a popular and common scent to also repel and fight against mosquitos, but did you know it also keeps gnats away?


4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Vinegar is amazing! It can be used to clean, cook, and also trap these pesky bugs. Technically, this is a smell that gnats like! However, it can also get rid of them, so it gets a quick mention. If you’d like to use apple cider vinegar, use a trap! You can mix apple cider vinegar in a bowl with dish soap. These tiny bugs will fly into the bowl attracted to the scent, but get stuck with the soap and drown. Although you can create your trap, apple cider vinegar traps are sold in stores with seals that don’t let these bugs out. This isn’t enough though to get rid of a problem. Always get rid of the cause, like rotting fruit, before trying apple cider vinegar.

A hand-labeled bottle of apple cider vinegar next to an apple
Technically, gnats like apple cider vinegar, but the liquid can be used to trap and get rid of existing gnats.

©focal point/

5. Rosemary

Next on our list of smells gnats hate is rosemary. Although rosemary is a delicious scent to humans and is frequently used in cooking, something about the scent leaves gnats flying far away. You can use a rosemary essential oil or plant a rosemary plant outdoors near other plants to decrease the chances of a gnat infestation.

Rosemary deters gnats from producing eggs in your yard.


6. Neem Oil

If you’re struggling with a gnat problem, you may want to try neem oil. What is neem oil? Neem oil is a pesticide found in the neem tree. This organic pesticide is typically used to get rid of and prevent gnats and other pests in plants. Neem oil also helps to get rid of pesky insects like aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites that cause havoc on plants. You can use neem oil essential oil and water in a spray or purchase a spray in stores.

neem oil spray
Neem oil keeps aphids, gnats, and mealybugs away from plants.

©Wild As Light/

7. Lavender

Lavender is another garden favorite you can use to fight against gnats. Not only is this plant beautiful, but it’s also great during spring and summer when gnats are most active. You can use the plant indoors and outdoors. If you don’t have space, lavender essential oil works as well. You can light a lavender candle indoors to repel buzzing gnats.

Lavender, Lavandula angustifolia
Gnats don’t like the smell of lavender. They stay away from this beautiful plant.

© Vagnerova

8. Cedarwood

Ending our list of smells gnats hate is cedarwood. The oils from the plant leave many bugs running even though the scent is sweet and powerful. Cedarwood oil is a popular ingredient and scent in many insect repellants.

A bottle of essential oil with cedar wood chips
The oils from the plant leave many bugs running even though the scent is sweet and powerful.

©Madeleine Steinbach/

Summary of 8 Smells That Gnates Will Hate

Here are 8 Smells That Gnates Will Hate:

4Apple Cider Vinegar
6Neem Oil

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About the Author

I have been a professional content writer for 6 years now, with a large focus on nature, gardening, food, and animals. I graduated from college with an A.A, but I am still pursuing a Bachelors of Marketing degree. When I am not writing, you can find me in front of my TV with a blanket, snacks, and my fur babies.

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