How to Keep Flies Away (with 3 things you have at home!)

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Learn how to use 3 things you already have at home to keep flies away outside. This hack for getting rid of flies outdoors will let you eat your meals in peace.

If you are like me and would prefer ALL the bugs to leave you in peace, you’ll love this all-natural DIY bug-repelling spray as well as this homemade natural bug spray specifically made for plants.

How To Keep Flies Away Outside

The Story Behind The Penny Fly Trick

I wish I hadn’t promised that I’d never mention bugs on my blog again, because last weekend a friend gave me a tip that just BLEW MY MIND. And it had to do with repelling flies with three things you have on hand RIGHT NOW. So if you don’t want to know, I’ll understand– simply cover your ears and say “lalalala” until the post is over. But for the rest of you, read on to learn my friend’s trick for how to keep your next outdoor party fly-free!

One of my college BFFs came for a visit recently and after sitting down for a nice dinner on the deck we started to get bombarded with that pesky summer staple– FLIES.

“Don’t you know the fly trick?” — college BFF

“What fly trick?” — me

“The pennies in the cup fly trick.” — college BFF

I’d heard rumors of people using plastic baggies filled with water and pennies to repel flies in their home but hadn’t thought to take the action outdoors. So I followed her directions and filled up three glasses with water and a few pennies (about 4-5), placed them around the food, and watched. We watched the flies come to land, see the water, and turn around and ZOOM AWAY.

That’s how I heard about it, and now I am thrilled to share this hack with you!

A full glass of water with pennies at the bottom

How To Keep Flies Away – 2 Easy Tricks

There are two effective and easy tricks you can use to keep flies away when you are eating or relaxing outside – and they both involve pennies in water. I’ll show you how to do both of them and you can pick your favorite one to try.

Method 1: Pennies In Glass Of Water

The first method is super-easy – it basically involves just putting pennies in a glass of water.

What You Need:

  • Pennies
  • Multiple Full Glasses Of Water

How To Use This Fly Trick

Fill up a few large, clear glasses with water. Then, place some pennies at the bottom of the glasses.

Dropping a penny in a full glass of water to keep flies away

Then, place these glasses of water around your table and even among the plates of food. You’ll notice fewer flies buzzing around your food and your head!

A fully glass of water with pennies at the bottom

Method 2: Bag Of Water Trick

The second trick is a lot like the first one, but you’ll use a bag of water instead of a glass. This is a better idea to use if your picnic table is small or you don’t want to risk having extra glasses of water around that might spill.

What You Need:

How To Use The Bag Trick

Set your resealable plastic food storage bag inside a mason jar. The mason jar will hold the bag in place while you fill it up with water.

Then, fill the bag up 3/4 full with water.

Filling a plastic bag with water

Drop a few pennies in the bottom of the bag.

Dropping pennies into a bag of water
Pennies in a bag of water

Seal the bag tightly and spread the pennies out around the inside of the bag.

A bag of water hung up to repel flies

Finally, hang the bag up around where you’ll be sitting and eating.

You can hang up just one or a few. I’ve heard that the ideal amount of bags that keeps the flies away is about 3 bags.

A picnic table full of food

My Experience – It Works!

Glass + Water + Pennies = crazy fly repelling abilities.

It was unreal. I’d say it reduced the flies by about 90%. At one point we looked up and the flies were just sitting on the deck railing staring at all the food they couldn’t ruin.


Clip art of flies on a balcony

We’ve used the ‘fly trick’ each outdoor meal since. The more glasses full of water, the better the fly repelling ability. The kids think this is the coolest thing ever and have learned not to drink the water with the pennies in it.

A child eating at a picnic table

Apparently it has something to do with flies thinking the pennies were compound eyes of a much larger bug looking back at them. To us, they just look like coppery decorations that glittered in the sunlight. “They’re so PRETTY!” my kids sighed

How To Keep Flies Away (VIDEO)

Pennies in the bottom of a glass of water

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some questions people have asked about keeping annoying flies away. If you have a question, leave it in the comments.

What plants keep flies away?

I’ve heard that there are certain herbs that are also natural fly repellants too. If you have planters with herbs in them, you can try to move them closer to your picnic table. These are the plants and herbs that flies hate:

  • Sweet Basil
  • Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Mint
  • Wormwood

How does the penny trick work on flies?

This is the mystery of it all! Some people think that the pennies look like larger bug’s eyes and it scares the flies away.

It was also mentioned that older (tarnished?) pennies work best, though I don’t have evidence to back it up. If the trick isn’t working for you, try using older pennies.

How do you use old CDs to keep flies away?

This is another trick that a reader mentioned. It’s worth a shot – they said the sun reflects off the CD and flies can’t stand all that bouncing bright light, so they stay away.

Hang up old CDs with the reflective-side facing out. The sun will bounce off the CDs and keep the flies away from you.

Amazing Trick for Repelling Flies at your next outdoor picnic or party using just THREE common household items! via

What if the penny trick doesn’t work?

If you have super aggressive flies or a lot of food, I have two more toxin-free ‘get rid of flies’ tricks for you.

One is to cover the food with food tents. These tents let the food ‘breathe’ but create a barrier so flies can’t land on your food. This is a great solution for outdoor picnics and cookouts, or larger parties where there is a lot of food.

food tents for repelling flies outdoors on food

Another tip are these battery-operated fly-repelling fans. We saw them recently when we ate out at a favorite restaurant in the middle of summer and they worked like a charm. They work in a similar way to the penny trick in that they have a reflective surface, but the spinning flaps go the extra mile. They’re safe and easy to use, so if you eat outdoors often it’s handy to have one or two in your outdoor bag of tricks!

battery operated fans for getting rid of flies outdoors

Essential Oils To Repel Bugs – More Info

For more ideas for repelling bugs, be sure to read how to use essential oils to repel everything from mosquitoes to ticks to lice.  And then I won’t talk about bugs EVER AGAIN.  Summer’s almost over and then I’ll go back to pumpkins and room makeovers, I promise. Probably. 😉

But until then, don’t be surprised if you come over to visit and there are penny-filled cups everywhere with sad-looking flies lined up on the railing.

Did you know this trick? KABOOM, right? Give it a try and let me know if it works for you too!

Amazing Trick for Repelling Flies at your next outdoor picnic or party using just THREE common household items! via

Tools you’ll need

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