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How to Get Rid of Gnats in a Litter Box

Your cat’s litter box can attract a number of germs and insects, the most common ones being gnats. These pesky insects can get so annoying that your pets will stop using their litter boxes completely and will start spreading their germs around the house instead. In order to get rid of these gnats, you need to find out what they’re attracted to and what is fatal for them (so that you can combine the two) in order to keep your pet’s litter box pest free and to allow your pets to poop in peace.

So, here’s how to get rid of gnats in a littler box:

  1. Keep the litter box clean
  2. Make your own gnat traps
  3. Get commercial fly traps
  4. Use an alcohol spray
  5. Try a bug zapper

In this post, I’m obviously going to go a little deeper on each of these points. We’re going help you get rid of your infestation and also help you uncover some commonly asked questions about these flying bugs.

What are gnats attracted to?

Most gnats are attracted by sweet and fruity scents, but a lot of them enjoy staying in damp spaces such as your pet’s litter box. Even if you keep the litter box completely clean and dry, the type of cat litter you use may still attract them. Vegetables are a great source of nutrients for gnats, so if the litter contains any vegetable matter, it can attract a host of gnats.

Other flies are attracted to perspiration, light, food, etc. But the ones found around your litter box are fungus flies and love different things.

How do you keep gnats out of your cat’s litter box?

With a little effort, a few home remedies, and maybe some commercial pest killers, you can get rid of gnats in a litter box in no time. We’re going to share some basic tips that’ll help you rid your house of these pests.

Keep the litter box clean

If the infestation has begun, start by emptying the litter box (and the collection bin if you have one) and scrub it clean with warm water and detergent.

Next, add less litter than you usually do – sometimes, we tend to add too much. This way, you can clean the litter out regularly and add some fresh stuff. From here on, empty your collection bin after every cleanup since gnats are attracted to the moisture.

If you have more than 2 pets, it’s ideal to have separate litter boxes. If there is an overload of compost, it’ll attract even more bugs.

Make your own gnat traps

The vinegar trap

With some common kitchen items, you can create your own gnat trap in no time – get an empty container (such as an old bowl) and add some warm water to it. Then, mix in some sugar, a little bit of liquid dish soap, and some apple cider vinegar (gnats love it). Stir everything until it is completely combined and place this container on a ledge near the cat box – you need to make sure it isn’t within your pets’ reach.

If you don’t have a ledge, see if you have an old shelf that you can keep nearby. If the trap has been effective, you’re likely to see a large number of dead gnats inside it the next day. In order for it to be effective, you’ll need to replace the solution in the bottle every few days, or even daily if the infestation is extreme.

If you don’t have/want to use vinegar, you can use wine, beer, or any other sweet fermented beverage instead since all of these are a favorite among those annoying winged creatures.

The candle trap

This really isn’t a fancy trap – all you need to do is light a candle and set it in a container that’s filled with water. Turn off other lights in the area (your pets will still be able to see from the candlelight) and place it near the litter box (but out of your pets’ reach).

This trap may doubly effective in that when the bugs get too close to the flame, their wings will burn. Some may be attracted to the flame’s reflection in the water and won’t be able to fly out once they get in. You can also add a few drops of liquid dish soap to make sure they don’t escape.

The rotten fruit trap

If you have some old, rotting fruit in the house, place it in a container and cover it with plastic wrap. Poke a few holes into the plastic to allow the gnats to fly in. Once they’re in, they won’t be able to get out.

Get commercial fly traps

Sticky fly traps are easily available and are a great way to deal with serious infestations. You can hang these from the ceiling, low enough to catch the gnats but high enough to stay out of your pets’ reach. Once the insects stick to it, they won’t be able to get off.

Use an alcohol spray

Simply fill a spray bottle with rubbing alcohol and spritz it onto any pests in your field of vision. This spray is not harmful to your cats, but shouldn’t be used directly on or near them. Do this when they’re not around their cat box.

Alternatively, you can get a commercial food-safe bug spray that’s commonly used in the kitchen. This will be non-toxic for your pets but will still kill the pesky flying insects around their litter.

Try a bug zapper

This isn’t the most effective way of getting rid of them, especially since it is designed to kill larger insects like mosquitoes. However, if you have one, you can place it on a ledge or shelf near the litter box and hope that some stray gnats fly right into its jaws.

Keeping your house gnat-free

The gnats most commonly found around the litter are fungus gnats. The same ones may also be attracted to any potted plants in the house, especially those that are dying. Make sure to keep the soil fresh and well-drained and get rid of any plants that can’t be saved. If not, you’ll find the swarms that are usually over the litter box, also having a ball by your house plants.


If you consistently make use of the recommended remedies, you can get rid of the infestation relatively quickly. Once all the gnats are gone, you can stop placing traps for them, but still, maintain proper hygiene in and around the litter box to prevent them from returning.

Once all the bugs are gone, your pets can start using their litter box again without being irritated by flying bugs.

An important thing to remember is that before you get involved in any solutions, it is crucial to find out if the bugs around the litter box are even gnats. Flies (such as the fruit fly) have also been known to exhibit similar behavior, and getting confused between the two is common. If you can’t tell what it is on your own, hire a professional. But don’t leave this step out since your remedies might not work if you’re tackling the wrong insect.

Related questions

Here are the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions regarding gnats:

How long do gnats live?

Gnats have a very short life cycle –being an egg to reaching maturity takes only a week. Hence, it is relatively easy to get rid of a gnat infestation. However, you’ll have to be consistent with your remedies since they can reproduce and expand in number every 24 hours. The females can lay more than a hundred eggs in a single batch.

Are gnats dangerous?

The good news is while they’re unsightly and you don’t want them in your house, they’re not harmful as opposed to many other insect problems you could have. Their teeth are not designed to be sharp enough to bite, and they aren’t known to transmit diseases (the way mosquitoes do). While you still need to get them out of your house, they don’t pose any health concerns for you or your pets.

Can exterminators get rid of gnats?

If the infestation is so serious that it’s spread throughout the house, you can call an exterminator to eliminate the problem for you. The plus point is that it is easier to get rid of them inside the house – it’s similar to get rid of flies (since the two are similar in build).

Are gnats and fruit flies the same?

Although both of them are around the same size and can fly, fruit flies belong to a completely different family. While some gnat species may be attracted to the same things as the fruit flies, others find different sources of nutrition and hence need to be killed using different methods.