Kitchen Hacks

The French Grandma's Trick to Keeping Fruit Flies Away

Hint, hint: There’s wine involved (of course).

October 14, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

When I worked in Paris as an au pair, I marveled at how the French seemed to have it all figured out. The family’s grandmother always set the table with the good silver—even on a Tuesday. I was instructed to pick up fresh, fluffy chouquettes from the boulangerie for the kids’ after-school snack instead of, I don’t know, granola bars (which is what I would’ve gotten). It was almost irritating how everyone around me seemed to have effortlessly mastered the art of languid lunches, work-life balance, cheese savoir-faire, and the immaculate matte lip.

Back in New York and many years later, I’m still confronted with the myriad ways the French do it better. For example, when I stumbled upon this bowl, and learned that they have mastered yet another art lost on the rest of us: keeping fruit flies out of the kitchen. While I continue to swat at them, wrap my fruit in tea towels as tightly as possible, and set out homemade traps of dish soap and vinegar (which would work if I didn’t knock them over), the French are over there quietly slaying the whole fruit fly thing.

So what’s the French secret to keeping those pesky little bugs at bay? It’s wine corks (of course). Some say the absorbent material soaks up any extra moisture as produce ripens, which is what attracts fruit flies in the first place. That’s what the classic French cookware company Emile Henry alleges; they cleverly adapted the old trick into an all-in-one cork and ceramic fruit bowl. Others shrug and say that, for some reason, fruit flies just don’t like cork.

Regardless, the method is simple. Just open a few bottles of well-aged red (just kidding; that’s the French version. Any wine will do). Toss the corks right into your fruit bowl, or place near your trash can. (Just make sure there’s no wine residue on the cork, or every fruit fly in the state will be swarming your kitchen.) Then kick back and sip on that wine.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“I have a French-er way to get rid of fruit flies: drink a bottle of wine, then leave the empty bottle open on the countertop. The little buggers fly into the bottle and can't get back out. It'll trap pretty much every last one of them. Bottoms up!”
— Sarah E.

Just call it the laissez-faire approach to fruit flies. So very French.

Have another trick for keeping those pesky flies off your fruit? Tell us in the comments below!
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Annie Quigley

Written by: Annie Quigley



cassandra August 24, 2020
This was the best hack ever! We have not had a fruit fly since about 3 days after I read this article in Oct 2019. (It is now August 2020). Not a single one. We just leave corks (real ones) around where we have fruit. I don't understand why it works, but it absolutely does.
Petit S. May 5, 2020
fruit flies do not like lavender. I used a small washcloth with several drops of lavender oil on it and put it behind the fruit bowl/plate. It worked!
Clare C. May 5, 2020
Does it have to be genuine cork? The reason I ask is that most wine bottles nowadays have plastic corks because they work better to preserve the wine (they don’t dry out and shrink).
Wendy W. May 5, 2020
Clare C. May 5, 2020
ccoates May 5, 2020
I tried everything.... the vinegar, the soap.... the vacuum! I finally decided I would let the kids have some fun. I went and bought about 4 of those bug zapper "rackets" and let the kids go crazy. I did have to sweep regularly but it worked. I'll try the cork and/or wine bottles next time. Good ideas though!
Kp N. May 5, 2020
I have used the apple cider vinegar in a jar, covered with poked plastic wrap. It works. I have also used wine, fruit, etc. Right now, however, there is a wine bottle, with wine, standing open on the counter. Why am I wasting a bottle of wine, you ask? Because it was a decidedly disappointing insult to the winemaker's art. So, I have no difficulty sacrificing it to trap fruit flies and gnats and send them to that great apple in the sky -- or whatever it is that they might worship.
Wendy W. May 5, 2020
I second this. A bit of wine attracts them, the long neck of the bottle keeps them in, and it looks sexier on the counter than a jar of vinegar and dish soap!
Diane March 23, 2020
I use a small jar with a mixture of white vinegar and dish soap. I cover it with plastic wrap and secure with a rubber band. I punch holes in the plastic wrap and voila! A fruit fly floating cemetery. I also put some bleach down my kitchen drain, let it sit for a bit, then flush with hot water. I do like this wine cork idea and gives me a good reason (Although I don't need one), to open a bottle and enjoy!
Sarah February 2, 2020
Another riff on the Cider Vinegar/Dawn method. Put the mixture in small Mason jars. With a hammer and nail, punch a few holes in the lids and cover with lid and ring. The vinegar attracts the fruit flies, the Dawn limits their ability to fly, and the holes ensure that they can't get out. If you use the smallest Mason jars, it will be difficult to topple them, and there will be minimal spillage through a few little holes.
S January 12, 2020
Which came first, the fruit or those obnoxious flies😊❓
(Soapy water under a gooseneck lamp helps. They jump in and perish...) Having said that, where there is fruit, there are tens of millions of fruit flies no matter what tricks we use.
Charleen October 30, 2019
A splash of ammonia in your kitchen drains, where the little buggers breed after you've brought them home on your fruit, does the trick for me. Just a splash, then put the stopper in for a few minutes.
Charleen October 30, 2019
A splash of ammonia in your kitchen drains, where the little buggers breed after you've brought them home on your fruit, does the trick for me.
Gerry M. October 28, 2019
Re your articles re getting rid of fruit flies. Cider vinegar etc. All nonsence. Only one thing for it. Put a funnel on the end of your vacuum cleaner and attack. Instant termination. Might need to do daily but at least gets instant results. Take control. Makes your home a no fly zone.
YoRc March 23, 2020
Using a vacuum every day is an equivalent to the definition of user insanity - failing at a task using the same method, over and over, while expecting a different result. If fruit flies could snicker, they would.
Janey October 27, 2019
I use..ready for this?.... a ramekin (it's one of those cheap, clear glass ones you get at a hardware store) with some apple cider vinegar and some cherry diet Pepsi.....only because I have it here in the house. Anything that smells sweet would probably do. Then, I cover it with saran wrap and punch some 'baby finger' sized holes....or.... holes about 1/4 inch or so wide. In no time, the ramekin is full of dead fruit flies! Ok.Not full but you can see maybe 50 to 100 of the little suckers in there. Every now and then, I put a bit more Pepsi in to keep the smell sweet for the flies. Works really well for me!
Gretchen F. October 27, 2019
Thank you all - I particularly like the suggestion of leaving out an empty wine bottle (un-rinsed, as the darker glass would hide more ‘bodies’ and still be kitchen ‘decor’. Love it!
Bunny October 26, 2019
So one can incorporate cork in their kitchen, and the cork does not need to be cork from a wine bottle-? Correct ?
Sarah E. October 25, 2019
I have a French-er way to get rid of fruit flies: drink a bottle of wine, then leave the empty bottle open on the countertop. The little buggers fly into the bottle and can't get back out. It'll trap pretty much every last one of them. Bottoms up!
Danielle L. October 22, 2019
I will definitely be trying cork - and that bowl is just gorgeous.... Although - I have to confirm that apple cider vinegar works well. I fill ramekins 1/3 of the liquid, cover in cling wrap and poke a few holes - works great.
Laurette G. October 23, 2019
I tried the apple cider vinegar, but without the cling wrap. All that happened is they landed on the rim of the cup and sat there. If I'm lucky I sometimes able to knock them into the cidar. Does the cling wrap make a difference to they fly through the holes into the apple cider vinegar?
Danielle L. October 23, 2019
yup. stretch clingwrap over the dish then use a fork or knife to pop a few wholes. they go in and don't come out.
Laurette G. October 23, 2019
Thank you will try it
Laurette G. October 25, 2019
I tried it and it worked. I put a rubber band around the dish to keep the cling wrap taut. Punched several holes with a fork and they came and couldn’t leave
Thank you
Laurie October 26, 2019
I use a plastic soda or water bottle with a hole drilled in the cap. I put in apple cider vinegar, wine, ends of fruit, whatever's handy. And like other similar methods, they go in but can't figure out how to get out.
Jenny October 22, 2019
I am doing pretty well with the kitty/wine trap. There are still a few flies around, but many in the wine. Time to clean out and refresh, I think.
Heather October 22, 2019
Sorry to be a party pooper but, despite its spongey appearance, cork is not absorbent. Solid cork immersed in water for 48 hours will gain less than 3% in weight due to water absorption. Wood, on the other hand, will absorb many more times that amount. This is what makes it such a great material as wine stoppers. For years I used a bed of wine corks on the bottom of my fruit bowl simply to give my fruit a soft place to land. I never noticed a difference with fruit flies. I’m intrigued to try it again to see if they act as a repellent for some other reason.
Jenny October 18, 2019

I have had a terrible time with fruit flies for several months. I was standing and looking about the kitchen, wine offering in hand, wondering where I was not likely to accidentally knock it over. An AHA moment...a cute little sleeping kitty votive, heavy...hardly ever used for votives anymore. fly hunter lies in wait.

Laurette G. October 18, 2019
I wash the fruit thoroughly especially the bananas the crevices near the top house fruit flies and eggs. Then I put the food bonnets over the bowl and so far it has been working. But definitely will try the cork and apple cider vinegar