Fact or Fiction: Does Vinegar Really Keep Bugs Away?

Written by Larissa Smith
Updated: November 15, 2023
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Quick Answer:

  • Yes! Vinegar keeps bugs away! 
  • Vinegar is one of the best natural insect repellents in your home, effective against spiders, ants, mosquitos, and fruit flies.

Vinegar is a solution that has been around for more than three millennia! This sour solution can be traced back as far as 3000 B.C.E, all the way back to the ancient Egyptians, and can even be found amongst the scrolls of the ancient Babylonians. Vinegar is commonly used in baking, cooking, and weight loss. It can aid in controlling difficult medical conditions. Vinegar is seen more typically when pickling fruits and vegetables. However, it has been known for its medicinal and gardening uses. With such a sharp scent and strong taste, vinegar is not hard to miss. You can find vinegar in most (if not all) grocery stores, usually stored in condiments, salad dressing, or baking aisles. But how do insects react to vinegar? Does this sour solution work at keeping the bugs at bay?

An apple cider vinegar trap filled with dead fruit flies

An apple cider vinegar trap is a simple yet effective way to

eliminate fruit flies

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Does Vinegar Keep Bugs Away?

Yes! Vinegar keeps bugs away! Vinegar is one of the best natural insect repellents in your home. By using vinegar, you can avoid harmful chemicals making it the ideal solution for those worried about harmful toxins affecting their children or pets. The best of this insecticide solution is that there is a wide variety of vinegar types, and they are also easily accessible.

Vinegar is made through the process of fermentation of various liquids and alcohols, which eventually leads to the formation of acetic acid. Acetic acid is the component of vinegar responsible for its strong odor, and it is this odor that repels bugs. The acidic nature of vinegar ensures that the bugs not repelled are killed when coming into contact with the vinegar.

However, you should note that while it is effective, not all bugs are repelled by vinegar. The insects that vinegar repels include, but are not limited to:

Woman preparing sauce with rice vinegar in kitchen

Vinegar is a sour liquid used for cooking, cleaning, and gardening.

©Pixel-Shot/Shutterstock.com

Benefits of Vinegar

Despite its sour taste and acidic nature, vinegar can be useful in many ways. Here are a few of the ways vinegar can be beneficial to use:

Health Benefits

Vinegar can be used to gain the following health benefits:

  • Weight Loss: Vinegar helps to increase the feeling of fullness when eating, meaning you eat less or feel fuller for longer and begin to lose weight.
  • Blood Sugar Control: Vinegar can aid in helping to improve insulin creation in your body. In this manner, vinegar can help to lower and control your blood sugar levels. However, vinegar should only be taken under the supervision of a medical professional.
  • Kill Bacteria: In the past, vinegar was used to kill off harmful pathogens and bacteria. Although more modern medicine exists today, vinegar was used as a source to clean, disinfect and treat small wounds such as ear infections, lice, and even nail fungus.

Gardening Benefits

Vinegar can be used as a natural remedy to kill weeds. However, due to its acidic nature, it should be used sparingly.

Female hand holding garden spray bottle with pesticides and spraying liquid on blooming roses

Vinegar is acidic, and you can use it to kill weeds in your garden.

©Savanevich Viktar/Shutterstock.com

Additional Benefits

  • Vinegar can deter mice, stray cats, and dogs from entering and marking your property. These animals do not like the vinegar scent and will be less likely to return to your property. 
  • Another benefit that vinegar provides is that it helps to give a natural remedy for animals suffering from fleas. So for pet owners looking for a more natural way to get rid of fleas, vinegar is an easily accessible solution.
  • Vinegar has been used to preserve food. Fruits and vegetables alike can keep their freshness due to using vinegar.

How to Use Vinegar as an Insect Repellent

To use a vinegar solution as an insect repellent in your home, follow these instructions:

Vinegar solution for fruit flies:

  • 1 cup of water 
  • ½ cup of apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses

This sweet mixture will attract the attention of insects, and by hanging them on a tree outside or near the entrance of your house, you can get rid of many flying pests!

Vinegar solution to use indoors:

  • 4 cups of water
  • 12 ounces of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of dish soap

This is an easy solution to mix that will rid you of unwanted household visitors and is safe to use around pets, children, and even plants! Although vinegar is not a foolproof solution for keeping bugs out of your house, it is a great way to chase away pests repelled by the scent.

Researchers recommend using the following white vinegar recipe to chase ants away:

  • 2 cups of water
  • ¼ cup of white vinegar
  • 2-4 drops of peppermint or eucalyptus essential oil

To use the indoor vinegar solution, transfer it to a spray bottle, lightly spray it, and then wipe down the surfaces you want to protect from bugs. 

Woman with jug of vinegar and cleaning supplies at table

Mix a vinegar solution in a spray bottle for easy application in and around your house.

©New Africa/Shutterstock.com

Caution When Using Vinegar

Vinegar can be used in many ways, from pest to weed control, weight loss, and much more. It is, however, imperative that vinegar is used with caution. 

When it comes to vinegar, it is better to practice moderation. Although very resourceful, this fermented solution can prove to be quite problematic when used in the wrong manner. It is important to keep this in mind when doing the following:

  • Cleaning using vinegar: Vinegar is an acidic solution. When cleaning certain surfaces, vinegar can be corrosive. 
  • Cleaning carpets: Due to the strong scent of vinegar, cleaning carpets with this solution could leave your home reeking of vinegar for a long time.
  • Weed control: Vinegar has been known to kill the everyday garden weed. However, due to the acidic nature of the solution, it should not be used on house plants as it is likely to kill them.

Natural Bug Repellents

Vinegar is not the only natural solution you can use to keep your home pest free. If vinegar is not the remedy (or the scent) for you and your home, you can try to use the following natural remedies:

  • Coffee Grounds: After locating where pests are coming in from outside your home, you should place coffee grounds in front of this area. The scent of the coffee grounds will deter pests from entering your home.
  • Banana Peels: If pests are invading your garden, using banana peels is a quick and beneficial way to drive them away. Place the banana peel below the surface of the soil and next to the stem of the plant, and not only will the peel provide nutrients, but it will also deter bugs!
  • Essential oils: A great way to get rid of pests is to use essential oils. The oils will chase away the invaders while leaving your home smelling fantastic! Thyme essential oil, garlic oil, citrus oil, tea tree oil, cinnamon oil, dill essential oil, and many other essential oils can help to deter insects.

It is important to note that you should be careful when handling these essential oils, as they could cause burns to the skin and irritations. Therefore when working with these oils, using a glove would be advisable.

Organic fertilizer made from banana peel.

Banana peels are a great way to keep insects out of your garden.

©Natalya_Maisheva/Shutterstock.com

Alternative Solutions

Bugs and insects can disturb even the most tranquil of homes. Alternative solutions to getting rid of these pests are:

  • Hiring an exterminator 
  • Using pesticide
  • Using fly traps to catch flying insects
  • Using Windex

How to Keep Bugs From Invading Your Home

Getting rid of pests is hard enough, and keeping bugs from coming into your home should be at the top of your to-do list. To guide you on the right path, here are a few ways you can keep your home safe from attracting bugs:

  • Make sure to seal your windows and doors tightly. A crack or unsealed opening is a surefire way for bugs to enter your home.
  • If your home has any holes in the walls or cracks, seal them tightly, as they can be a breeding ground for insects that find their way into your home.
  • Keep your kitchen clean. Pests and critters are attracted to left-out food, crumbs, and water spills. By keeping your kitchen clean, there is less chance of attracting bugs.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © focal point/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Larissa Smith is a writer for A-Z Animals with years of experience in plant care and wildlife. After years spent in the South African bush while studying Nature Conservation, she found her way to writing about animals and plants in her work. She hopes to inspire others to appreciate and care for the precious world around them. Larissa lives in Florida with her two sons, a miniature golden retriever named Pupples, and a colorful succulent garden. In her spare time, she is tending to her garden, adventuring with her kids, and hosting “Real Housewives” watch parties with her friends.

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