Can Air Freshener Kill Bugs, Flies, and Spiders?


Bugs, flies, and spiders can be annoying and you might want to use whatever is closest to you to get rid of these pests. Some people reach for air fresheners. Air fresheners are products that can release fragrance or eliminate odors altogether when used in indoor environments, but can air fresheners kill bugs, flies, and spiders?

While this seems to be common practice internationally, air fresheners are not intended to kill bugs, flies, or spiders. Air fresheners can weaken and sometimes kill these pests, but you would have to douse them with a large amount of spray in order for them to work.

Using a ton of spray to kill a pest can lead to health problems for humans and pets, not to mention, this is a short-term solution that would have a small impact on your pest problem.

Can Air Fresheners Kill Bugs Flies Spiders

Is It Possible for Air Fresheners to Kill Bugs, Flies, or Spiders?

Possible, yes. But is this a sure solution, no. Let’s explore.

Scientists have found that air fresheners can release toxins when sprayed into the environment. Ingredients like limonene, ethanol, and acetone, sometimes used in air fresheners, can also be used in pesticides. Oftentimes there are over 100 chemicals used to create air freshener. The amount of each ingredient used by a given brand or in a specific country will always vary.  

Many of these ingredients are classified as possibly hazardous or toxic. And if these sprays can cause asthma attacks, migraines, earaches, and respiratory problems in humans, it is likely that some pests like bugs, flies, and spiders would also suffer if inhaled.

As I mentioned previously, companies do not have to share all of the ingredients used to make their product. In fact, it is common for them to only share about ten percent. And this is why you’ll never really know if the can of spray you pick up will actually kill the pest you’ve been stalking throughout your home.

For instance, Febreze has a “no list” claiming that “Febreze is never formulated with anything unsafe or dangerous to use.” This may be true. And at the same time, scrolling through forums on the topic has led to many individuals claiming that Febreze is one of the most effective ways to kill bugs and spiders. 

To be fair, Febreze does list alcohol, wax, and common hand soap as ingredients on the same page. All three of these items can potentially kill bugs, flies, and spiders through suffocation. This could explain why many individuals have claimed that it’s worked well for them.

There is no way of knowing what combination of which chemicals exists in a given air freshener and would actually kill a bug, fly, or spider. The only way to know for sure is to use a product that was specifically created to kill them.

So you can try to get rid of pests using air freshener, but you might just end up more frustrated – and out of a can of air freshener.

But it’s worth it to consider each one individually, so let’s do that.

Can Bugs Die from Air Freshener?

Due to their size, there are so many different kinds of bugs that can find their way indoors. Whether or not air freshener will effectively kill them depends on different factors.

One factor is anatomy. If the bug has a hard outer shell, it could be protected from harsh chemicals. Stink bugs (also called shield bugs) and different types of beetles would not be affected by air fresheners. 

While other bugs might be small and fragile enough to die from the chemicals in air freshener, you may not be able to access their location well enough to kill them this way. So the place they are hiding in your home is another factor that can prevent you from being able to get rid of them. 

But there are certain fragrances that bugs detest. Some of them are:

  • mint
  • eucalyptus
  • lavender
  • citronella
  • rosemary

Growing these fresh herbs and plants in or around your home can help prevent bugs from entering it. Diluting any of the essential oils on this list with water and spraying it around your home can also help stave off these pests.

Lastly, you can also find an effective insecticide instead of relying on air fresheners to kill them. I’ll talk about my suggested products below.

Can Air Freshener Kill Flies?

While some air fresheners can weaken flies, a person would be unlikely to kill a fly with air freshener alone. The typical adult house fly can move pretty fast, and unscathed, through a mist of air freshener. But a more delicate bodied fruit fly might not be so fortunate. 

So when killing flies with air freshener, size is an important factor. Larger, older flies rarely remain on a surface long enough for a human to have enough time to douse it with enough air freshener to kill it. 

But with smaller flies like fruit flies and gnats, you have other concerns. If they are hovering around your food or houseplants, do you want to release a bunch of air freshener into the air to kill them?

We all know that flies are filthy winged insects that hang out in the grossest of places, so of course we would prefer that they not also spend time inside our homes. The Department of Public Health suggests that one of the best forms of defense against flies is sanitation. Keeping trash covered with a lid and promptly disposing of decaying matter where flies love to breed are two ways to keep these pests out of your home.

Sticky fly traps are a safe and effective way of killing flies in your home without having to use air freshener or other chemicals. 

Can I Kill Spiders Using an Air Freshener?

While spiders can jump, crawl away, release venom through a bite, or blend into their environment in order to protect themselves, they do not have much else going for them when it comes to self-defense against humans. 

Their bodies are pretty fragile so with the right timing and position a human can pretty easily drown a spider with air freshener. In this example, someone would have to wait a few minutes to see if the spider actually died, or they can use a paper towel to pick it up and either toss it in the garbage can or flush it down the toilet.

If you do not want to even get that close or use a third of a can of air freshener to kill a spider this way, your best bet might be to purchase a spider killer spray, like Terro. In addition to more common spiders, Terro kills some of the spiders most dangerous to humans, like the black widow and brown recluse. It can also work with bed bugs and other pests.

The benefit of using any spray that was specifically created to kill spiders is that the spray can potentially prevent them from coming too far into your home. It’s not a one-time solution, like air freshener. If you spray a barrier along all entrances, window sills, crawl spaces, and any other area you tend to find spiders entering into your home, then you will be less likely to need to come in direct contact with live spiders indoors.

Overall, it is possible but not always likely that you can use air freshener to kill bugs, flies, and spiders. And if the air freshener does work, it is unlikely to get rid of a large number of pests. In most cases, you would be better off finding an insecticide or natural remedy that is specifically formulated for the pest you want removed from your home. 

Are There Alternatives to Using Air Freshener to Kill Bugs, Flies, and Spiders?

You may be wondering if there is an alternative to using air fresheners to kill bugs, flies, and spiders.

There are definitely appropriate solutions, and these remedies come in many different forms. What I will share below is a list of accessible alternatives, natural home defense solutions, and a couple larger containers to cover more square footage.

Three of the Most Accessible Ways to Kill Bugs, Flies, and Spiders:

1. Fly Swatter

Fly swatters are clearly the simplest and most accessible solution for killing flies. They are safe and non-toxic. This model is lightweight and includes a hole for hanging. It’s handle is 17.5 inches to help extend your reach when hunting flies in your house. The swatting end itself is close to five inches wide, giving you a broad opportunity to kill annoying flies.

2. Raid Multi-Insect Killer

This is a 15-ounce can of insecticide that effectively kills flies, spiders, bugs, ants, and more insects on contact. Used both indoors and outdoors, instead of smelly vapors, it has an orange blossom scent.

3. Ortho Home Defense Max Indoor Insect Spray

Get deep into those corners by spraying this insecticide in any direction. It can only be used indoors, but it dries quickly without leaving fumes or a residue. The additional feature of this spray is that it continues to act as a barrier against bugs, spiders, roaches, and ants for a full year when you spray it in doorways, along window sills and baseboards, or in almost any area where you are seeing pests.

4. Catch Master Spider Trap

If you would prefer not to spray at all, you may want to consider a sticky trap. This one measures 6.4 x 3.8 inches and catches all types of spiders. What’s great is that it also attracts various bugs and other crawling insects. It’s safer than sprays; there are no hazardous materials used, and it can last a full season.

Natural Home Defense Against Pests

In this chart, I share some of the most effective insecticides made with natural ingredients.

Mighty Mint Insect
& Pest Control
Natural Armor Spider Shield
Size1 gallon/3.79L1 gallon/3.79L
Ingredients100% plant-based100% all natural
Applicationspray pump includedspray hose included
Formulakills spiders, ants, flying insectskills various species of spiders
Scentpepperminttwo herbal scent options
Usageindoor/outdoorindoor/outdoor
Safetysafe around humans/petssafe around humans/pets

Pest Control Home Defense by the Gallon

If you have more square-footage to cover and would prefer to use a spray solution for indoor and outdoor coverage, below are a couple options for you. These can be used outdoors around garages, pools, sheds, garden perimeters, patios, decks, and your house foundation. Indoors you can spray defense in bathrooms, kitchens, closets, windows, doors, the attic, and in basements.

Product application lasts 12 months and they are both odorless, won’t stain, or leave residue. They kill and protect against spiders, bugs, house flies, ants, and many other pests. Here are a few more points:

Terro Home Pest Control

  • 1 gallon/3.79L
  • Built-in sprayer hose for easy application

Ortho Home Defense

  • 1.1 gallons/4.16L
  • Covers up to 5,000 square feet
  • Long spray wand to prevent hand cramps
  • Fast-drying

Safety tips:

  • Always read instructions and safety precautions prior to using any of the suggested products
  • Always clear the room of children, pets, or the elderly before spraying insecticides.

Grace Young

I love candles! I have personally tried over 100 brands of candles. The total burn time of these candles is over 5000 hours. I also talk about essential oil diffusers and reed diffusers. Essential oil diffusers and diffusers are also an important part of the scent in my home.

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