Garbage cans

5 Ways to Get Rid of Maggots Naturally

Last Updated: August 31, 2022

Whether they’re in your trash can or the garbage disposal, maggot infestations are the worst. We’ve got 5 ways to get rid of maggots using natural methods.

We’ve all left an unwashed can of Fancy Feast out for too long, only to come back and find it covered in a swarm of maggots. Right? Just us?

Whether or not you recycle your empty cat food cans promptly, the fact that you’re here means you’ve probably got a hoard of maggots hanging out somewhere you’d rather they not.

And if there’s one thing we can all agree on, it’s that there’s nothing funny about a maggot infestation. Be it in your garbage disposal or your garbage can, you want them gone—fast.

The good news is that we’ve got five natural ways to get rid of maggots before you gag from the sight of them. You can also find a slew of effective bug repellents that are safe for the whole family.

First, what are maggots?

Are they baby flies? Are they the harbingers of death and destruction? Yes, to both.

Maggots, also called larvae, are flies in their larval stage, and they absolutely love to feast on rotting materials.

Maggots look like fat grains of rice and come in creamy whites or subtle light grays. And that dark spot on their butts? That’s their breathing hole.

They don’t have teeth—small miracles, right? Instead, they’ve got little toothless jaws to help them eat food that’s broken down by ridges on the outside of their bodies. Cute.

And if you think that there’s no way these creatures could be any more horrifying, just wait. Maggots have cannibalistic tendencies and will eat other maggots if one of them gets injured.

Want a better visual. Click the video below if you dare.

Illustration of a fork and a knife

Are maggots dangerous?

While flies are better known for spreading disease and being generally annoying, maggots themselves aren’t dangerous and can actually help save lives.

Maggot therapy is a common medical practice where certain species of maggots are farmed for use in hospitals. They feast on dead tissue and rotting flesh to remove bacteria in infected wounds.

Maggots are also eaten as a delicacy in some parts of the world. But that doesn’t mean it’s dinner time when you see maggots lurking in your trash bin or on a piece of rotten food.

However, your run-of-the-mill trash maggots are most likely contaminated with bacteria and could cause bacterial poisoning if you were to ingest them. So skip the maggot appetizer and move on to the main dish.

Grove Tip

Pass the cheese, please

Speaking of appetizers, Cazu marzu, literally “rotting cheese,” is an Italian Pecorino cheese that’s made by introducing maggots to the cheese in order to speed up fermentation.

As the maggots eat their way through the Pecorino, their excretions help soften it up to create a creamy texture. Yum!

But don’t worry — your neighbors will most likely not be bringing Cazu marzu to the block party. This cheese is highly regulated and extremely expensive.

Why do I have maggots in my trash can?

Illustration of a drain

Because flies are all about survival, they lay their eggs on any hardy food source—your trash, your dog’s poop, that open can of Fancy Feast you forgot about. Twenty-four hours later, when the eggs hatch, the lil’ babies begin to glutton themselves on that rotten food in preparation to pupate.

Maggot pupation is the nightmare version of the caterpillar turning into the butterfly, except the maggot forms a hard shell and turns into a dirty housefly. Flies lay hundreds of eggs at a time, which is why you see clusters of maggots squirming about together.

Grove Tip

How long can maggot infestations last?

So—do maggots eventually go away, or should you start charging them rent?

Maggots only feed for about five days before they turn into flies, start breeding, and the cycle repeats itself. The trick is to get rid of the maggots before they have a chance to pupate.

5 ways to get rid of maggots naturally

The majority of maggot-killing methods use harsh insecticides or bleach. Nix those potentially harmful chemicals and banish maggots with the power of nature instead!

Read on for the 5 best ways to get rid of maggots in your house naturally.

Illustration of a Skull

1. Try a salt kill

Maggots need water to thrive and survive, and salt is a natural dehydrator.

Dowse the creepy crawlies with a large amount of table salt to dry them out. Once they are dead, sweep the maggots into a plastic bag and dispose of them.

Make sure to wash the area they infested thoroughly!

Illustration of a stove

2. Pour boiling water on them

Bring a pot of water to a boil, then, to get rid of maggots from your trash can, pour it into your can (or down your garbage disposal if that’s where they are).

You might have to repeat this method a few times to kill all the maggots completely.

Illustration of the world

3. Sprinkle ‘em with diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder that has a variety of uses in the home. This is a great method to get rid of maggots from carpet or other fibrous places.

Sprinkle enough of it over the maggots so that they’re fully covered. The powder sticks to their bodies and dehydrates their exoskeleton, killing them dead.

Dispose of the maggot corpses in a plastic bag, then give the area a good deep cleaning.

Illustration of a spray bottle and a trashcan

4. White vinegar to the rescue

Maggots can’t live in the acidity of vinegar.

Mix 3 parts water to 1 part vinegar and pour the solution directly over the maggots.

Let the mixture sit for about an hour before you discard the maggots and clean the area.

5. Natural pest remover: Bad for maggots, nontoxic for humans & pets

Do conventional bug sprays work on maggots? Probably, but they can also do a number on your health.

A natural pest remover is the easiest method to kill maggots. Natural pest removers banish nasty critters like maggots without toxic ingredients like sulfates, parabens, or insecticides—and that’s what we call a win-win situation.

Got more pests than you can handle? Check out our guides to banish icky insects from your home. We’ve got in-depth how-to’s for moth removal, getting rid of flour bugs, and killing off drain gnats without using harsh chemicals.

How to prevent future maggot infestations

illustration of three leaves

Once you know how to get rid of maggots and find your preferred method for doing so, use these tips for preventing maggots from coming back.

Read more from Grove.

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