What Scents Keep Flies Away? Seventeen Smells A Fly Will Hate

You’ve just sat down with a cup of tea and a book looking forward to a relaxing day. That is until something buzzes in your face and disturbs your peace. 

Yep, flies are annoying creatures and incredibly hard to get rid of. You can use an insect repellent but that comes with numerous risks and is not going to prevent flies, only kill them. The solution? Use naturally scented products!

Flies are repelled by several scents, including various essential oils, flowers, herbs, and plants. 

Want to know more? Keep reading to find out which sources of these scents you can use to keep flies away. 

How Does It Work? 

One really easy way to deter flies is by using strong aromas. Flies have a powerful sense of smell which they need to sniff out food. You can use this to your advantage and keep flies away by using the scents they hate. 

Essential Oils 

Essential oils are extracted from plants and contain aromatic compounds that give each oil its characteristic smell. They are known for their strong smells and relaxing properties and are often used in aromatherapy. 

Essential oils

Because of their powerful aroma, essential oils may be used to deter flies.  

Examples of such essential oils are: 

  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Lavender oil
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint
  • Rosemary essential oil

You can use essential oils directly on your skin to keep these insects from flying around you. Remember to avoid the eye area and broken skin when applying. Apply essential oils every two to three hours for best results. 

If you’re not comfortable using the oil on your skin, you can apply a few drops on your clothes instead. 

You can keep flies away from your home by making an essential oil spray. Mix your oil of choice in a liquid that emulsifies the oil, like alcohol, vinegar, vodka, or witch hazel. Give this solution a good mix and spray in various areas around your home. 

This won’t just keep those pesky flies away, but your house will smell nice and refreshing too. 

In addition, you can buy a natural fly spray infused with essential oils. 

Although essential oils may be a great and natural way to deter flies, they are toxic to pets, mainly cats; therefore, use them cautiously. 

Herbs, Flowers, and Plants

If essential oils aren’t your thing, you can use various herbs, flowers, and plants instead. Herbs work well dried and fresh, so you can use them as you please. 

Dried herbs can be placed in a bowl or hung in a sachet as a decoration piece and a fly repellent. You can also keep pots of plants by the windows to deter these insects. 

Here is a list you can choose from to keep those annoying flies at bay.  


Basil, dried or fresh, works excellent to repel flies. It’s effortless to grow, has a heavenly aroma, and can be used to make a variety of dishes. 

You can hang bundles of basil or use a potted plant. The plant will produce an even more intense aroma if watered from the bottom. Remember to keep your plant healthy by regularly trimming the basil leaves. 

You can also keep flies away from yourself by rubbing a bruised basil leaf on your skin. This will also protect you from other insects. 


If you like the smell of lavender but don’t want to use the essential oil, you can use the plant to keep flies away instead. 

Keep dried lavender leaves in containers and place them in areas where you’re likely to see the most significant fly activity, like the trash or your pet’s litter box. 

Alternatively, you can purchase a lavender plant, or several plants and place them all around your home. This will keep your home fly-free, and you’ll come home to the fresh and soothing aroma of lavender. 

You can also use this plant in cooking to enhance the flavor of your dish. 

Bay Leaves

These bitter leaves are used in cooking for their delicious aroma, but bugs hate them for their scent. Add dried bay leaves in containers and keep them in different places in your home. 

This plant is pretty easy to grow, and you can keep your plant entirely in the sun or partly in the shade. Make sure you keep the soil moist and take the leaves as you need them. 


Marigolds are beautiful flowers that you can use to decorate your home and ward off flies. The plant produces a compound called Pyrethrum, which is responsible for the repelling odor. 

The roots of this plant make limonene which also keeps flies away. You can plant marigolds in your garden or keep potted plants throughout your home to make things look pretty and keep them fly-free. 

However, remember to keep them in areas where they can get plenty of sunlight. Water them regularly and make sure they have well-draining soil. 


Who doesn’t love the refreshing taste of mint? You can use it to garnish your dishes or make yourself a relaxing cup of tea. You can also use it to keep flies away. 

Keep this plant in your kitchen and take some leaves for your dishes whenever you want. You’ll also keep flies out of your kitchen this way.

Although you can plant mint in your yard, it is best not to. The plant requires a lot of maintenance as it is a very aggressive grower. It can easily take over other plants unless you regularly prune it.


Like lavender, you can grow rosemary plants instead if you don’t want to use the essential oil. The fresh herb grows well in hot and dry climates and needs somewhat sandy soil to grow in. 

You can plant this herb in pots or the yard, or both. 


Tansies are excellent at repelling flies, but this plant requires more maintenance than others. They can grow up to six feet tall, although you can keep them under three feet by pruning. 

The seeds can quickly spread, growing plants across your yard, so unless you have a lot of space and don’t mind a lot of tansies in your area, be mindful of that. Remember to provide it with rich soil and lots of sun.

This plant is not recommended for areas where livestock and other animals are as it can be harmful. 


You probably know this plant as a cat attractant, but did you know it’s a fly repellent? The same compound, Nepetalactone, which cats love, also deters flies. 

This plant is really easy to grow and only requires the occasional watering. Plus, it blooms purple flowers that will add beauty to your yard. 

You can also use dried catnip as a fly repellent. 


These beautiful and colorful flowers will not only add a burst of color to your yard but will also keep those annoying flies away. 

They also have other advantages. For example, many people use them in their vegetable gardens as companion plants to keep other plants healthy. They are also very easy to take care of and can ward off other insects. 

Make sure you grow them in a sunny area with rich soil and provide them with minimal water.


Looking to plant a fly-repelling plant as a beginner? You may want to start with Geraniums.

Geraniums are perfect for you if you’re new to handling plants. These plants are low maintenance and can grow in various light conditions. You can even keep them growing all year-round if you keep them indoors. 

These flowers are pretty and will add a pop of color to your yard. You can even hang them in baskets in your home to repel flies and decorate things. 


There are also a few spices that you can use to keep your home fly-free. 


There are tons of ways you can use cinnamon against flies. 

You can place many cinnamon sticks in a jar and keep them in your room. Make sure to keep the jar’s lid so the scent can properly diffuse throughout the whole area. Replace these sticks every month or so as they dry out over time. 

You can also grind cinnamon into a powder and sprinkle some on a low burner to disperse the strong scent.  

You can also use cinnamon essential oil or other cinnamon scents (like candles and incense) to keep flies at bay. 


There are a few ways you can spread the scent of cloves in your home to keep flies away. 

  • Take a handful of dried cloves, and place them in containers throughout your home. 
  • Boil a bunch of cloves in water to spread the scent through your home 
  • Stick a clove in a lemon. Citrus smells also deter flies.

Final Takeaway 

So there you have it, you now have numerous options you can use to keep flies from invading your home. The best thing about using these natural methods is that they come with minimal risks and are multipurpose. 

You can use them to decorate your home, keep things smelling fresh, and use them in your cooking. Plus, you can use multiple of your favorite scents to deter flies. 

Prevention is key, and if you think you may have too many flies, it may be best to call an exterminator to eliminate these pests. 

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