Does Vinegar Kill Maggots? [And 5 Other Methods]

Maggots are some of the yuckiest, grossest creatures we can find in our houses. It’s hard not to panic when you discover a maggot infestation in your house, especially since throwing them out isn’t a real fix. The most likely place you’ll find maggots in your house is in your trash can, because that is where most of the food for them can be found.

Luckily, there are things you can do to kill maggots easily and safely (and without having to touch them!). Vinegar contains a type of acid that maggots cannot survive in, and pouring a solution of water and vinegar directly onto them will kill them within hours. If you don’t have any white vinegar on hand, you can also use apple cider vinegar.

In this article, we’ll show you exactly what you need to do to kill maggots with vinegar. We are also going to make sure you know why they got there and how to stop them from appearing again. To top it all off, we will cover some other maggot exterminating techniques. Read on for our full guide on keeping your home free from maggots!

does vinegar kill maggots

What Causes Maggots in Garbage Can?

Maggots are basically fly babies. When a fly reproduces, it lays its eggs (hundreds of them) in rotting foods and meats so that the fly larvae have something to feed on when they hatch. This is why most maggot infestations happen in garbage cans, because that’s where we keep all our rotting food! Even if you tend to keep your house spotless, every household produces a certain amount of trash, and that is the number one place where flies and fly larvae thrive.

Flies will be attracted to the amount of food in the garbage can and use it as a place to lay their eggs. And if one fly has this idea, then many flies will, and you’ll be dealing with maggots more often than not.

Unfortunately, once flies lay eggs and begin to reproduce in your home, they are tricky to stop. The flies will continue eating spoiled food and laying eggs until you fully purge your home of them.

This is why it’s important to try and take out the garbage as frequently as possible, keep your home free from various sticky spills, and regularly tidy your kitchen and bathroom area. A tidy home is a home that is very unattractive to flies, and consequently, to maggots!

Does Vinegar Kill Maggots?

Yes. Vinegar can kill maggots due to the acetic acid present in it. Acids are corrosive substances that can harm all sorts of materials and creatures, including ourselves if the acid is strong enough. Since maggots are so tiny, the amount of acid present in vinegar is enough to kill them.

Of course, like with most pests, there are ways to kill maggots that do not involve vinegar. However, using vinegar is a non-toxic way to get rid of them without introducing dangerous substances into your home.

How to Use Vinegar to Kill Maggots

The first step to killing the maggots in your trash is to make the vinegar solution. In the household, the most common vinegars are apple cider apple cider vinegar and apple cider vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is most used in cooking, while white vinegar is used for pickling vegetables and cleaning. If you have both apple cider vinegar and white vinegar in your house, then we recommend choosing the white vinegar for this job.

This is because white vinegar kills maggots more quickly due to its higher acetic acid concentration. However, using apple cider vinegar is also completely acceptable and effective. 

Step 1 – Make the Water and Vinegar Solution

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One you’ve chosen your type of vinegar, you can make the pesticide solution. It should be noted that vinegar does not kill maggots instantly—it can take anywhere between 6-18 hours depending on the type of vinegar.

To speed the process up, we recommend making your solution with boiling water. This will help kill the maggots more quickly, and likely send them into shock so they stop feeding. 

To make the solution with apple cider vinegar, use one part vinegar to five parts boiling water. To make the solution with white vinegar, use one part vinegar to three parts boiling water.

Step 2 – Pick the Right Place

It can be a good idea to take your bin out of your house and do this in your garden. Hopefully your bin is watertight, but there’s no benefit in taking the risk. If you don’t have a garden, you could try to do this in the bathtub, or at least in the bathroom.

We recommend keeping your patio maggot-free—try to stick to doing this in areas that will be easy to clean up afterward, and where there is no chance for the maggots to scatter. You don’t want to have a maggot-infected patio, and similarly, you don’t want to keep finding dead bodies of the larvae you manage to eliminate on your lawn for the next few days or weeks.

Step 3 – Apply the Solution

Once you pick the correct spot, it’s time to kill larvae and get rid of any and all fly eggs in your bin.

The next step is to pour the vinegar and water solution onto the maggots. When you pour the vinegar and boiling water, make sure to do it directly onto the maggots. The amount of solution you need will depend on the amount of maggots you’re trying to kill.

If you feel you need to make more, you can do that easily. Another reason it’s best to do this outside is because it will be easier to remove the trash bag, the water, and the dead maggots without making an unpleasant mess in your house. 

If you use white vinegar to kill the maggots, you will need to wait about 6-8 hours for them to die. If you use apple cider vinegar, it could take up to 18 hours. 

Step 3 – Clean up

Once the maggots are dead, you need to dispose of everything in the trash can and give it a good clean. Maggots can come back very easily because flies can be attracted to a dirty trash can even if it’s empty.

Maggots are heavily connected with food poisoning, so it’s a good idea to thoroughly wash and disinfect everything they make contact with to make sure you don’t get ill by catching bacterial poisoning. You can clean the trash can using any of your usual cleaning solutions, including the white vinegar you just used to kill the maggots.

How Long Does Vinegar Take to Kill Maggots?

How fast does white vinegar kill maggots?  – It takes between 6-8 hours. 

How fast does apple cider vinegar kill maggots? – It can take up to 18 hours. As you can see, using white vinegar is a more effective method of killing larvae, but both of them will do the job if you don’t mind giving it a little more time.

What Else Kills Maggots?

Killing maggots can be, above all else, really gross. No one wants to choose a method that will make their stomach turn as they do it, so we’ve tried to pick out some of the easiest methods to recommend.

Despite just being tiny little white blobs, maggots are surprisingly hard to kill, so don’t expect to find any miracle method that kills maggots instantly. For your own safety, it’s best to wear gloves as you try to purge your home of maggots.

Method 1 – Bleach

Bleach is another household chemical we all tend to have bottles of, and it is extremely effective at killing maggots! It’s also a lot quicker than vinegar, though also slightly more unpleasant for us due to the strong fumes.

Using a bleach solution to kill larvae is fairly easy. Again, the method here is simply to pour boiling water and bleach directly onto the maggots. With bleach, you should mix equal parts bleach and water to eliminate maggots.

If you’re killing maggots while they’re in your trash can, it’s also a good idea to close the lid once you’ve poured in the bleach and water solution. This will not only help keep the fumes away from you, but will also help kill the maggots by suffocating them with the fumes.

How fast can bleach kill maggots? You should be able to open the bin back up and clear it out after around 30 minutes. Remember to give the trash can a thorough clean after its contents have been disposed of, in order to prevent future infestations. 

Method 2 – Boiling Water

It’s also worth mentioning that boiling water can kill maggots by itself. You can mix in chemicals like bleach and vinegar to help out, but technically, boiling water can get the job done alone.

It should be noted that it is the heat that kills the maggots, not the water itself. A lot of maggots can actually survive in water, so trying to drown them is not an effective technique. Maggots alone are bad enough to deal with—damp maggots only make things worse!

If you want to kill larvae with boiling water alone, simply boil it until it’s very, very hot, and then pour it directly onto the maggots. Close the lid of your garbage bin in order to make it as warm as possible. Check back periodically and add more boiling water as required, then be sure to disinfect the bin when all of the flies are dead.

Method 3 – Permethrin and Bug Sprays

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Regular bug-killing sprays can also be used to kill maggots in a lot of cases. The most effective kind of pesticide for maggots is called permethrin, so bug sprays that contain this pesticide are the best kind to use. You can also find permethrin on Amazon.

Other than killing flies, permethrin is also used to kill lice fleas, so it can also be found in dog shampoos. If you can’t find a good bug spray with permethrin in it, you can make a solution of one part dog shampoo to three parts boiling water and pour that on the maggots.

This solution should kill maggots within an hour. Most bug sprays should work in around an hour, too. Just spray a decent amount directly onto the maggots and leave it to do its thing. 

Method 4 – Lime and Salt 

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An option to get rid of maggots that doesn’t involve water is sprinkling lime (also known as calcium hydroxide) and salt over maggots. This will kill them through dehydration.

It can take quite a long time, but could be a good option if you’re unable to safely pour boiling water onto the maggots. This can be the case if the maggots are in an awkward place such as in your fridge or sink or kitchen cupboard. If your garbage bin is made out of thin plastic, this could also be a superior option, as boiling water could damage it.

To try this method, make a mixture of equal parts lime and salt and sprinkle a healthy amount onto the maggots. You’ll need to keep an eye on them to check their progress (which is a little unpleasant), but you may need to add more salt if it doesn’t seem to be working. 

Method 5 – Household Chemicals

If you want a solution you can instantly try without even going to the shop, there are a number of household chemicals you can try out. Firstly, two or three long sprays of hairspray can kill maggots instantly (or almost instantly). Just spray, and then leave the maggots to die for a few minutes before checking back to see if it’s done.

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This can be a good method to get rid of maggots that are on a flat surface and very visible. In a bin, they will likely be hiding under all sorts of food waste and need something that can reach into all the nooks and crannies not visible to us. That’s why you also have to pour boiling water in our methods above.

You can also use general cleaners like all-purpose cleaners and multi-surface cleaners mixed with boiling water to get rid of maggots. There are all kinds of detergents that can do the trick, such as dish soap or a toilet bowl cleaner.

Keep in mind that dish soap can be very delicate, especially if you use specialty soap that protects your hands, so you may have a hard time getting rid of the pests in your home with such detergents.

What to do to Prevent Maggot Infestation?

We now have an answer to the question ‘does white vinegar kill maggots?’, and we’ve covered some other easy methods to kill maggots as well. But it is entirely as important to prevent future infestations as it is to get rid of your current one.

On this topic, the first thing to cover is exactly why you should want to prevent future maggot infestations, and what problems they can cause.

Keeping Your House Fly-free 

The main thing you can do to guarantee that maggots won’t appear anywhere in your home is to make sure there are no adult flies either. This means ridding your house of any fly attracting odors, rotting organic material, spoiled food, or decomposing matter. One of the most effective things you can do to this end is to simply reduce the amount of meat and fish waste you keep in your bin. During hot summer months, the food waste in your garbage bin can rot extremely quickly, and you’ll need to be quite diligent about disposing of it. 

If you live in an apartment building with a trash chute, you should be disposing of your food waste every single day. If you have a garden, you could try making a compost heap at the bottom end of your garden. This is a useful way to use up leftover waste and get it out of the house straight away.

Leftover meats and appropriate foods can also be fed to pets instead of putting them in the bin, but before you do, please make sure said food is appropriate for your pet!

Of course, if your leftover food can be kept in the fridge and used for a soup or stew the next day, you should also do that. All of these changes will help you remove odours and prevent mature flies from laying eggs in your garbage bin. 

Keeping Your Bin Clean

We also recommend cleaning your garbage bin about once a week. Garbage cans can often be neglected because they’re seen as something that is ‘meant to be dirty’, but in reality, nothing in your house is meant to be dirty.

If anything, trash cans are one the most important things to keep clean, as they are constantly dealing with garbage. You can use normal cleaners, soapy water, or vinegar to clean your bin. Wear cleaning gloves if you find the whole ordeal unpleasant, which in all fairness, it can be! But the more often you clean your bin, the less yucky it will be to do so.

You can also add some essential oil around the rim of the bin, as flies are not fond of this. This is a more natural method of dealing with maggots than any extermination method! If your bin wasn’t the problem, then this advice should be applied to the place where you found your maggots, whether that be your fridge or kitchen cupboard. 

Storing Your Food Safely

Even if you tend to keep your home spotless, flies and other insects such as food moths may find their way into your cupboards. If you don’t keep your food perfectly sealed, chances are that flies will try to get into it, and from there, it’s a downhill slope to a maggot infestation, forcing you to kill larvae once again.

An easy way to prevent making your home attractive to these pests is to simply keep your food securely stored in appropriate containers. Make sure everything is sealed and impossible to chew through. Plastic and metal containers are especially great for this.

Using containers ensures that all you’ll have to do is occasionally wipe up some crumbs from the counters.


It’s very important to get rid of maggots as soon as you spot them in your house. They can cause food poisoning when you or a pet end up eating spoiled food. Ingested maggots can also continue to live inside your and your pet’s stomach!

You can kill maggots with vinegar and many other kinds of chemicals like bleach, general cleaners, boiling water, lime and salt, and general insect repellant bug sprays. 

Remember that it is just as important to clean any affected areas after the maggots have been killed and disposed of. This is necessary to make sure you don’t get more flies and more live maggots in the future.

We hope this article was useful, and that you are able to deal with your maggot infestation as quickly and easily as possible!

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