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Why Gnats Fly Around Your Face (And Easy Ways to Keep Them Away)

Why Gnats Fly Around Your Face (And Easy Ways to Keep Them Away)

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I recently had a small gnat infestation in my house and know the frustration all too well. Gnats flying around my face, and worse, being woken up by the sudden feeling of a gnat trying to fly up my nose at night!

Outdoors, you’ll usually see gnats in a swarm, also known as a ghost or a cloud. You’ll find them in areas like parks, walking trails, campgrounds, and near bodies of water. 

There are many varieties of insects that are considered ‘gnats’. Black flies, biting midges, no-see-ums, fungus gnats, eye gnats, sand flies, and punkies are all included in the overall term ‘gnat’.

Some are aquatic, some breed in soil. Some bite, while others don’t.

Fruit flies are a similar insect that are attracted to the fruit in your home, and may even be breeding in the fruit before you bring it in. If you have fruit flies, check out 10 Ways to Keep Fruit Flies Away From Bananas.

One of the worst things about gnats is they always seem to aim right for your face.

Whether you have gnats in your house or you like to hike in an area that always seems to have a gnat problem, there are plenty of solutions available to repel or kill these pesky insects. 

Why are gnats attracted to faces?

Gnats can be attracted to your face for a number of reasons. 

Any sweet fruity scented lotion, spray, etc. that you may have on can be attracting them to your face. Gnats love sweet smells. If you are planning on being outdoors in an area that likely has gnats, it would be best to refrain from wearing any fruity scents.

Gnats also like to land on the highest point of your body, AKA your head/face.

They also have receptors that attract them to the carbon dioxide we expel when we breathe, much like mosquitoes. This puts a big target on our faces when it comes to gnats.

How to keep gnats away from your face

The good news is you have several options you can try in order to keep the gnats away from your face.

Simple (and unscented) fixes such as wearing a tall hat or using mosquito netting can either attract them to an even higher area than your face (your hat) or block them from reaching you entirely. Wearing glasses or sunglasses will protect your eyes from gnats as well.

Natural home remedies for repelling gnats from your face include using any of the following on your face:

Repelling gnats

With any product going directly on your skin, be sure to test on a small area if you are concerned about a possible allergic reaction. 

If you have sensitive skin or even if you just don’t like the feeling, you could try adding these scents to the brim of your hat instead of applying it directly on your skin.

Go unnoticed by gnats by masking your scent. Dab coconut oil, vegetable oil, olive oil, or cooking spray on your skin to mask your natural scent.

If you’re out on a hike and don’t have any of the above products with you, look for a pine tree. Rubbing the inside of a young pine branch on your skin can repel gnats away.

How to get rid of gnats in the house

If you have gnats in your house, start out by doing the following:

  1. Empty the trash
  2. Clean the laundry
  3. Clean your drains
  4. Let your potting soil dry out between waterings. Gnats like to breed in moist soil, so allowing the soil to dry will make it harder for them to survive.

Once that is taken care of, you need to catch the gnats that are already in your house.

Make apple cider vinegar traps to attract and catch gnats. This is an easy DIY trap that involves pouring apple cider vinegar into a bottle or container, adding a couple drops of dish soap, and adding a funnel or plastic wrap with holes over the opening. Gnats will fly in towards the scent, but they will not be able to make it back out.

If you don’t have vinegar on hand, try one of these alternative ways to get rid of gnats without it.

Sticky traps are excellent at catching and killing gnats, especially the ones flying around and breeding in your plants. Put them around your potted plants and anywhere else you normally see them.

Gnats in sticky trap

To one-up the sticky trap, you can buy a mosquito trap (that also works on gnats and other flying insects). It emits a light that attracts bugs, a fan then sucks them in and sends them straight down to a sticky trap at the bottom. These traps are safe to use indoors around children.

How to repel gnats from an outdoor space

If gnats are keeping you and your family from enjoying your yard, patio, and general outdoor space here are some ways to take back your space.

Discourage gnat swarms from your porch by running fans to keep air circulating.

Sprinkle spices to create a border around your area. Cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and garlic work well for this. Spread a light sprinkle around you to repel gnats from encroaching on your outdoor space.

Spices that repel gnats

Lay out a bowl of apple cider vinegar and dish soap to attract the gnats to an area away from you. This works similarly to the apple cider vinegar trap you can use inside your home.

If gnats are regularly in your yard, consider planting some plants that naturally repel gnats. Lavender, geraniums, and marigolds are good choices for this.

Although, if gnats are a continuous problem it is best to search the yard for what is attracting them in the first place. Do you have wet mulch? A compost pile too close to the lounge area? Rotting plant debris in the yard?

Look for anything wet or smelly that may be attracting them or acting as a host to breed in and take care of the issue head on.

And if gnats are bothering your dog, learn how to protect your dog from gnats here.

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Sunday 20th of August 2023

Thank you so much for writing this! It’s 3:30 am and I woke up to my son smacking himself in bed! We’ve had gnats in the house for a few days and they have made their way to his room. They were flying up his nose and of course he couldn’t sleep. I looked it up and I saw your article. I grabbed some cedar wood oil and put it on my hands and rubbed it on his pillow and forehead. It worked!!!!!!! Thank you!!!


Thursday 15th of July 2021

I swear, I think a lot of bugs love your spit and phlegm and I think it's why they keep flying up your nose. A long time ago I needed to spit. I aimed for the grass but it ended up on the pavement. I kept walking. I had to go back the way I came hours later and saw a pill bug feasting on my phlegm.

Gross, I know, but it's like these bugs just can't wait for you to die so they can feast on your bodily fluids.

On a positive note, lemon juice does indeed work on driving away gnats, and thanks for the tip! 👍


Wednesday 19th of May 2021

Hi, how do I get rid of gnats that follow me everywhere I go, literally. Even when I go to the store, they don't leave me. Shower, car, everywhere, and no one can see them but me. I feel like the kid from Charlie Brown.


Monday 30th of October 2023

@Tee, I have the same problem and can't get rid of them. What do I do?


Sunday 20th of December 2020

I’m confused. You say to keep gnats away from your face you should put some vinegar on it, but then suggest using the same to attract and trap them?


Thursday 24th of December 2020

Hi Dan, Good catch! That should be apple cider vinegar with dish soap to attract them.


Saturday 29th of August 2020

I live in the country in SC and our town bird is the gnat. I have lots of rescue dogs and chickens and enjoy wking outside when I can and in the summer months it’s absolutely miserable due to them. I even started getting my house ready to sell because they really so bad out here. I did do some research and found out a lot of my property (although I keep clean of trash & standing water) I have not been able to get rid of or make a dent in the issue. I’m on a few acres most of which aren’t cleared causing the pine needles to build and build. I keep my chicken coop & pin clean, the free range all day so I spray their poo down in the grassy areas all the time, not only to keep flies and Other pests away but to act as fertilizer as well. I have been trying to grow grass the cheap way in sand (my yard) for several years and it’s finally getting there. I pick up dog poo on regular basis and work lime through it once a week. All the work I do to try and get rid of those blasted PITA and the only thing I recently have found that works is peppermint essential oil. This works way better then any store bought repellent I have ever bought. I found tea tree didn’t work at good as peppermint. I have not mixed it with anything yet, scared to waste a single drop lol but all the diy instructionS do advise against using it like I do due to it being able to burn skin. I found out hard way one day when i dropped a few drops in hand rubbed together and put on my face. NOT needed!!!! I found I put 1 drop on my finger and I dab inside & around my ear, dab once on each eyebrow them i put few drops in hand rub them together and wipe hands thru my hair and over my shirt and shirts and do same over arms and legs. That’s it and I don’t really have to reapply unless I sweat really bad and wipe all sweat off with rag. Last summer I went through eucalyptus essential oil like crazy. I found it doesn’t work as good as the peppermint. Haven’t really noticed if it works on mosquitoes as well because I have the thermacell thingy that is amazing for them. Sorry for the book just wanted to try and make sure the severity in my yard is understood against the peppermint smell. It really works and I have spent hundreds on stuff that only worked for a half hr or so or I went thru entire bottle in 2 days. I need to figure out what I can mix it with that won’t be so oily I end up feeling like I spent day rolling around at beach (cuz when I say I live in sand I mean sand. I have to vacuum floors twice a day cuz dogs track it in on feet) Thank you for your informative page I’m gonna try some of the other ideas while wking outside in 1 spot like the cinnamon and see if it works for these creatures.


Saturday 22nd of May 2021

I was so excited when I read this comment because I love peppermint essential oils and have a lot of it on hand. So... I rubbed it in my palms and rubbed some on my face, hair, and clothes. I immediately started getting gnats hitting my face. It got so bad that I had to take a shower to get the smell off of me. The peppermint oil actually attracted them more than usual. Horrible advice, whoever reads this, please do not try the peppermint oil suggestion.


Monday 31st of August 2020

Toni, that's so great that peppermint oil is working well for you! I think I forgot to add that one to the article, but I do like the peppermint scented Wondercide repellent. Hopefully some of these other tips will help provide some extra relief. Let me know how it goes.