When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you. Learn more

Best Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents

Having a fly problem in the house isn’t unusual. Sadly, it’s just the opposite. These pests come like clockwork every time spring rolls around, and you know as well as we do that a fly swatter isn’t going to cut it.

As spring turns into summer, all those flies – house flies, horse flies, fruit flies, gnats and every other kind of fly – are only going to get worse.

Your DIY pest control efforts need to be very aggressive if you’re going to get those pesky flying insects out of your hair.

best fly repellents and deterrents

Luckily for you, there are a lot of natural fly repellent methods available. These natural ways can be more effective than flypaper or a fly swatter, and also safer for your family. 

Click here to skip to our recommended natural fly repellent!
ImageProduct
pest-table__image
REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
  • Natural Insecticide
  • Registered with EPA
  • Ready To Use
  • Natural Insecticide
  • Registered with EPA
  • Ready To Use
View on Amazon
pest-table__image
Plant Therapy Catnip Essential Oil
  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Good for aromatherapy
  • Safe
  • Effective
  • Good for aromatherapy
View on Amazon
pest-table__image
Viva Naturals Organic Fractionated Coconut Oil
  • Skin lotion
  • Repels flies
  • Double duty
  • Skin lotion
  • Repels flies
  • Double duty
View on Amazon
pest-table__image
Cutter 95783 Citro Guard Citronella Candle
  • One pound candle lasts
  • Recognized Effectiveness
  • Area Coverage
  • One pound candle lasts
  • Recognized Effectiveness
  • Area Coverage
View on Amazon
pest-table__image
All Good Organic Coconut Oil Skin Food w/ Lemongrass Essential Oil
  • Skin cream
  • Child Safe
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Skin cream
  • Child Safe
  • Eco-Friendly
View on Amazon
pest-table__image
Absorbine UltraShield Green Natural Fly Repellent
  • Safe
  • Ready to use
  • Eco-Friendly
  • Safe
  • Ready to use
  • Eco-Friendly
View on Amazon

Our Overall #1 Rated Pick

(updated as of 01/15/2020)

REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent

  • Natural Insecticide
  • Registered with EPA
  • Ready To Use

Our top pick is REPEL Plant-Based Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent. It doesn’t have DEET in it but it works just as well, and perhaps even better. It uses an extract from the oil of lemon eucalyptus called p-Menthane-3,8-diol and is registered with the EPA.

It’s important to note that the oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE) is different than lemon oil eucalyptus. They are similar but the first one is a registered product with the EPA. The second one is not. So keep that in mind when you’re shopping for it. It can get confusing.

Although it only mentions mosquitoes on the label, it’s important to understand that mosquitoes are classified as a true fly in the order Diptera, the same as your good old fashioned house fly. Although they eat and are attracted to different things, they are repelled by the same plants and chemicals.

To repeat: if anything kills or repels mosquitoes, it will kill or repel flies and vice versa.

What Are Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents?

Natural fly repellents and deterrents are substances that aren’t man-made, i.e., processed and created in a laboratory. They are extracted (sometimes by chemical means) from plants, vegetables, trees, or fruits.

“Processed” is a term with many fine gradations of meaning and it’s hard to determine exactly where the line is drawn on some products so we’ll try to err on the side of caution. DEET, for instance, isn’t a natural product.
A collection of essential oils

How Do Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents Work?

They take advantage of the natural properties of plants that protect themselves from pests by emitting chemical signatures that confuse or repel the flies. Extracting those natural chemicals and concentrating them creates conditions that repel flies.

Read More: Top 4 Best Fruit Fly Repellents

How Do You Find The Best Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents?

  • Observe Nature

All of today’s natural fly repellents were discovered by researchers watching the behavior of insects to determine which plants they approach and which ones they avoid.

  • Consult the Experts

Some of our staff have been pest control technicians for decades, gathering experience about what works and what doesn’t. The school of hard knocks is a harsh but effective one. You can take advantage of our experience and use it for yourself.

  • Hire a Pest Control Company

You could open your wallet and shell out some serious bucks to have a local pest control company come to your house or business to tell you what we’re telling you.

The video below provides a closer look at how to naturally repel flies.

Are Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents Effective?

Yes and no. Some of them, like Oil of Eucalyptus (OLE) and Lemongrass Oil have been scientifically tested for effectiveness. Others only have anecdotal evidence to back them up. It should be noted, however, that anecdotal evidence is still evidence.

Most natural fly repellents & deterrents are effective to a degree. That is, they will repel or deter a certain percentage of any flies that approach. The corollary is, they won’t repel some other percentage of the flies that approach.

The exact numbers are unknown because most of them haven’t been tested, but from our field experience, we have to conclude that the numbers are low. For this reason, we always advocate a multi-layered approach, using several repellents at once.

How To Use A Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents

  • Outside

Put repellents that have a strong odor or use burning fumes around the outside of your house. They’ll be exposed to the effects of sun, wind, and rain so you’ll have to replace them on a frequent, perhaps daily basis. This is the first layer.

  • Inside

Put the weaker repellents inside. Spray them around the windows and doors where flies normally find their way into houses and businesses. This is the second layer.

  • On Yourself

Put repellent skin lotions on yourself, on all the exposed skin where flies and other biting insects might try to land. This is the third layer.

Are Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents Safe Around My Pets And Children?

Yes, but... you should always assume that children under the age of 2 are susceptible to being harmed by any repellent or pesticide, natural or otherwise. Some of them are safe though and we’ll mention it when we come to them.

Read More: Top 4 Best Fly Traps Reviewed

Best Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents Reviewed

REPEL is a DEET-free plant-based insecticide repellent. It uses an extract from the oil of lemon eucalyptus called p-Menthane-3,8-diol. It comes in a pump spray bottle. Don’t spray it on infants and children under the age of two, but otherwise, it is safe.

Please note, this is not an essential oil. There is an essential oil of lemon eucalyptus but it is different because of the processing that OLE goes through. The essential oil of lemon eucalyptus shouldn’t be rubbed into your skin.

As an added bonus, REPEL is safe for dogs. Don’t spray it in their eyes, nose, mouth, or ears, of course, but other than that you can use it on them quite safely. And finally, it is very reasonably priced.

Pros

  • DEET-Free
  • Safe for Dogs
  • Inexpensive

Cons

  • Not safe for infants

In a surprising twist many people aren’t aware of, researchers at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, have discovered that catnip is an effective fly repellent. Yes, we’re talking about catnip, the same stuff that drives cats crazy.

Catnip has been tested in clinical trials and found to be effective for fly control. It acts as a repellent on flies. Because flies and mosquitoes are in both in the order Diptera, it is also an effective mosquito repellent, a nice two-for-one method to keep bugs away.

Mix 5-10 drops in one cup of warm water and put it in an 8-ounce spray bottle. You can spray it on your clothes, hands, arms, and legs, as well as around the windows and doors to keep flies out of the house.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Pleasant smell

Cons

  • Only lasts for a few hours

Coconut oil is sold as a moisturizer for your skin, so it is completely safe. Many people use it on their hair as well. But besides, it also repels many flying biting insects such as flies.

It’s easy to use, just spread on it yourself like any skin lotion. In addition to keeping your skin healthy, it will drive flies away from you when you go outside. This is a nice double-duty product that is also inexpensive.

Pros

  • Fresh scent
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Doesn't last long
  • One pound candle lasts
  • Recognized Effectiveness
  • Area Coverage

This is a one-pound bucket candle that puts out a cloud of citronella smoke and fumes. Flies avoid citronella whenever they can. When they detect it in the air, they turn around and look for someplace else that is more inviting to them.

The area of effect is limited to about 10-15 feet around the candle. If the wind is blowing, the protection will be limited to the downwind side of the candle. On a covered patio, it will provide an excellent fly repellent.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Lasts as long as its burning

Cons

  • Open flame is dangerous
  • Limited area of effect

As we’ve already seen, coconut oil is believed to be able to repel flies, but lemongrass oil has been researched and found to be effective. Lemongrass is a safe essential oil that can be applied directly to the skin in this lotion. It’s also good for your hair.

It is safe for all ages, including infants.

The combination of coconut and lemongrass has a distinct, fresh scent. It will moisturize your skin to keep it healthy while simultaneously repelling flies that come your way. It will last about 3-4 hours then you’ll have to re-apply it.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Pleasant odor

Cons

  • Only lasts a few hours

Homemade Essential Oil Fly Spray

  • Homemade
  • All-Natural
  • Multiple Essential Oils

To create this DIY fly spray, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Mix everything in together in a 20-ounce spray bottle. This oil blend has a stronger than ordinary odor to it so you should only use it outside. Spray it around all the windows and doors, around all the plumbing and electrical intrusions.

On the patio, spray it every few feet along the support beams as well as up and down the columns. Spray it in the grass every few feet as well so the odor rises to repel the flies.

The dish soap acts as a surfactant, helping the mixture to spread easier and stick longer to whatever surface it comes in contact with.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Make it when you need it

Cons

  • Outside only

Absorbine is a fly repellent spray for horses. It uses a mixture of tea tree, lavender oil, cedarwood oil, peppermint oil, lemongrass oil, thyme oil, clove oil, eucalyptus oil, and citronella oil as a fly repellent

It comes in a 32-ounce spray bottle. Spray it on your horse once every 8 eight hours for maximum effectiveness. It also works on ponies and foals. It has a fresh scent and helps improve your horse’s coat, making it shiny and healthy.

It is safe for you and your horses because it contains only natural ingredients in specific amounts. There’s no worry about skin irritation because it has been carefully measured.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • All-Natural
  • Smells great

Cons

  • Only lasts 8 hours
REPEL has a cool refreshing scent and works for up to 6 hours. It is as good as DEET, and maybe even better. It’s safe for everyone except infants under 2 years of age. Hey, it’s even safe for dogs.
It’s inexpensive, comes in a handy pump spray bottle, and doesn’t expose you or your family to any harsh chemicals.

  • Natural Insecticide
  • Registered with EPA
  • Ready To Use

Final Thoughts On Natural Fly Repellents & Deterrents

Remember to implement the multi-layered approach when using natural fly repellents & deterrents. This will give you the best long-term results.

Other Fly Guides

Curious about other fly-related products? Check out our other detailed guides to help you deal with your pest problems.

Having a fly problem in the house isn’t unusual. Sadly, it’s just the opposite. These pests come like clockwork every[...]
If you’re a horse owner, thinking about becoming one, or just a horse lover in general, you know that with[...]
The warmer it gets, the more you will be annoyed by pesky flies. Eventually, you’ll start asking around if there[...]
One convenient bug killer is spray, but another convenient option to kill flies is the electric fly swatter. Also called[...]