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Ask UfYH: Sticky Dust and Fruit Flies From Hell

Q: I have an issue with sticky dust. The dust that settles in my house is gummy and gross and almost impossible to get rid of. (I live in Los Angeles – is it a regional problem? Something to do with smog?) What can I do to prevent it, and how can I clean things that are covered in it?

A: Sticky dust usually happens when regular dust gets caught up in small particles of moisture or grease. It’s really common in kitchens everywhere, but can happen all over your house. To get rid of it, you have a few options:

  • If the surface the dust is on can get wet or damp, wipe it down with a cloth dampened with water and a little dish soap. Remember, dish soap’s primary purpose is to cut grease, so we can use that to our advantage in a bunch of different ways. Something like Formula 409 will work, too, but I like to work with as few different types of cleaning products as possible.
  • For sticky dust, like for all things, white vinegar will work. A quick wipe or spray should do the trick.
  • Slightly dampen a microfiber cloth. The combination of moisture, texture, and cling should get the dust right up.

As for prevention, more frequent dusting is going to be key. The more time the dust has to settle, the harder it’s going to be to remove. One trick you might try is to dust with a dryer sheet. It may, to an extent, help repel dust from settling on surfaces and make dusting easier. Be aware that dryer sheets can leave a slight residue on some surfaces.

Q: FRUIT FLIES!!! HELP!

A: First things first, fruit flies are annoying as fuck, but they don’t carry any diseases, so try not to panic.

OK, so every damn thing you find on the Internet will have you building some kind of contraption involving several of the following: wine, dish detergent, vinegar, plastic wrap, sugar, water, and a bowl or glass of some kind. None of these have ever worked for me. They may trap a few flies, but if there’s one thing that fruit flies are, it’s prolific. There are more of those fuckers than a homemade fly trap can catch. You can try vacuuming them up, mostly because it’s satisfying, but make sure you empty your vacuum into something sealed off and disposed of outside of your house.

Instead of wasting your time on homemade traps, you need to find where the fruit flies are living and eating (and breeding). This is almost always going to be some kind of food source. If they seem to be coming from the drains, they’re probably living off of the organic crud in your pipes. Drain volcano (baking soda and vinegar) and/or commercial drain cleaners are a good place to start. Duct taping the sink drains so they’re air-tight might work too, as long as you don’t need to use the sink. Keep in mind that they can live off of food crud that lives on your dirty dishes. I’ve found colonies of them living off of a single piece of dog kibble that rolled under the stove.

Once you’ve found their home and disposed of it outside of your house, you need to clean some shit. Using soapy water, wipe down every possible surface to make sure there’s nothing for them to live or feed on.  Don’t forget inside your refrigerator, and the rubber seals on your fridge and oven.

Some people swear by freezing them out, so if it’s cold where you are and you can stand it, you might try that. The most important thing, though, is to find where they’re hanging out and to make sure there’s nowhere for them to make a new home base. It may take a day or two for their numbers to noticeably dwindle.

Also flypaper. It’s available at most hardware stores, and it’s really satisfying to watch those fuckers fly onto it and get trapped.

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7 replies on “Ask UfYH: Sticky Dust and Fruit Flies From Hell”

The best luck I’ve had with eradicating fruit flies is a simple glass with cling film over the top. I put a splash of cider vinegar (I’ve tried several other types of bait with lesser results, if any) in the glass, cover it with the cling film that is pulled taut, poke several tiny holes/slits (about 1/2 cm in length) in the film with the tip of a steak knife and set it where they seem to congregate. I also try to remove all other food sources. The next morning, the glass has tons of the little darlings in it. I usually take it outside to empty it to prevent any escapees from reinvading.

We tried vacuuming them. It was terribly satisfying, but we seemed to be breeding smarter fruit flies. They all learned to fly to the cathedral height ceilings and out of our reach as soon as we turned it on.

Hope this helps.

I think the life span of fruit flies is actually measured in hours if not minutes. They disappear almost immediately as soon a you clean-up whatever it is that’s been left lying around that they’re feeding off of (usually rotting food scraps)

Ground zero in my last house was the bin (a dual rubbish/composting kind). There had been a few about, but then suddenly one day I opened the lid and a cloud flew out.

I promptly had a freak attack and spent an hour and a half scrubbing the thing outside and hosing it down. Did the trick though.

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