Testing DIY Fly Repellant Remedies for Horses


Do These DIY Fly Repellant Hacks Work?

During the warmer months, I spend much of my time waging a war on the fly population around our farm. Watching my horses kick, stomp, twitch, and swish their tail all day makes me feel bad for them and fuels my vigor even more. This year, I started testing trending DIY fly-repellant hacks to see which ones are worth using. I thought I would share my findings in this article to save you time and frustration.

The trending equine fly repellant hacks I will be reviewing include:

  • Generic Fly Traps
  • Baby Oil
  • Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe Fly Spray
  • Irish Spring Soap Bath
  • PineSol Recipe Fly Spray

In my reviews, I will rate the product from 1 to 5 stars, with one star being the worst and a five-star review being the best. I will also share links to the items I used that I think are worth having, so if you want to try them out yourself, you can click the links. Read on to learn which fly-repellant hacks work the best!

DIY Fly Repellant Hack Review #1: Generic Fly Traps

Overall Review: ✭✭✭✭✭

To test this hack, I purchased generic fly traps from the store. The traps I used, in particular, were plastic and shaped like a jar. The jar had a lid with small openings. The flies could get through the lid but couldn’t escape, so they got trapped within the jar.

The trap came with a scent packet that you pour into the jar, then fill with water or apple cider vinegar. The scent absolutely stinks, beckoning the flies away from the horses and into the jar.

You can place the traps around your property. I placed a few around my house, as flies liked to congregate on the siding to warm themselves. I also placed some near the run-in sheds. You won’t want to put these in the horses’ pastures, but you can stick them on the other side of the fence.

After a warm winter, the flies started returning strong in early Spring. I didn’t think it would make much of a difference, but I thought it was worth a try, so I purchased a few fly traps and put them around my property. However, after a few weeks, I noticed a big difference. There were way less flies on the horses.

Now that I’m a few months in, I have observed that the fly traps around the property have reduced the fly population by half. There are still flies on the horses, but not nearly as many as there were. The fly traps are full of fly bodies and need emptying and refilling.


While this hack won’t eliminate all the flies, it will greatly reduce the fly population. It makes it easier to control the flies and try other methods to eliminate them. I highly recommend this hack!

The only question that came to my mind was whether the amount of space the horses are on, and the number of horses makes a difference. I have two horses on four acres; that’s a lot of space per horse and per piles of manure. If you have more horses in smaller areas, I don’t think the flies would be as dispersed, and I think the manure would be more attractive than the scent of the fly trap.

I’ve seen fly traps in other barns that don’t seem to work. Mind you, the fly traps do need to be emptied and the scents replaced. I don’t know if this hack will work on larger operations, but it works great for a small farm with a few horses!

Links to Purchase:

DIY Fly Repellant Hack Review #2: Baby Oil

Overall Review: ✭

I saw a video of someone rubbing baby oil all over their horse, claiming that the oil makes the horse’s coat too slippery for flies to land on. I purchased a bottle of baby oil and got a rag to apply it to my horse’s coat. Almost as soon as I had applied the oil, the flies returned. For this reason, I leave this hack a one-star review.


Maybe this hack has worked for someone else in the past. However, I see a few other problems with it besides the fact that it does not repel flies. Firstly, it makes your horse’s coat slippery. If you plan on riding after you apply the oil, it may cause your saddle to slip. Secondly, the oil instantly becomes grime on your horse’s coat. You can’t pet your horse without your hands getting caked in oil and dirt. Thirdly, I would be concerned that on a light-skinned, thin-haired horse, the oil would attract the sun and cause the horse to become sunburned. Please consider all these options before testing this hack yourself!

DIY Fly Repellant Hack Review #3: Apple Cider Vinegar Fly Spray

Overall Review: ✭✭✭✭✭

Supplied Needed:

  • Spray Bottle
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Rosemary Essential Oil
  • Peppermint Essential Oil
  • Olive Oil
  • Dish Soap

Fly Spray Recipe

  • 5 cups of apple cider vinegar.
  • 25 drops of rosemary essential oil
  • 25 drops of peppermint essential oil
  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon of dish soap

Add all the ingredients into the spray bottle, then shake well.

I was surprised by the effectiveness of this DIY fly spray recipe. As I was mixing the ingredients together, I noticed how strong the smell of the concoction was. I believe this is what must deter the flies from coming near it. The smell of the apple cider vinegar, rosemary, and peppermint is a bit strong.

I sprayed my horse with this fly spray and waited about ten minutes to see how the flies responded. After that, the flies stayed away and refused to land on him. I would be so bold to claim that this fly spray recipe is as effective as the chemical fly sprays you buy from the store.


With how strong and potent the smell of this fly spray was, I did not want to apply it to my horse’s face. I didn’t want him to be overwhelmed by the smell, and I didn’t want it to irritate his eyes. As I continue to use this recipe and see how the horses react, I may try it around their face once I feel comfortable.

Items for Purchase:

DIY Fly Repellant Hack Review #4: Irish Spring Soap Bath

Overall Review: ✭✭

The Irish Spring Soap bath was another trending hack I saw on social media, and I had to try it. People would bathe their horses, scrubbing them down with the Irish Spring Soap to deter flies from getting near them. The trend seemed very convincing, but I wasn’t convinced when I gave it a try.

I bathed by yearling draft cross, Ruach, and waited to see how the flies would respond. I let him dry and checked back after 15 minutes. Even then, one or two flies began buzzing around and landing on him. The next morning, the flies were back to normal. I would not recommend this hack, as it is time-consuming to bathe your horse, and the results are minimal.


If there is a positive thing I have to say about this hack, it’s that it leaves your horse smelling good! I think people thought this hack would work because the smell of the soap may be overpowering to flies. However, the smell doesn’t last long.

DIY Fly Repellant Hack Review #5: PineSol Fly Spray

Overall Review: ✭✭✭✭

Supplies Needed:

  • Spray Bottle
  • Water
  • White Vinegar
  • PineSol
  • Dish Soap

Fly Spray Recipe:

  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of PineSol
  • 1 squirt of dish soap

Add the contents into the spray bottle and shake well.

According to the internet, flies hate the smell of PineSol, which is one of my favorite smells (besides the smell of my stinky little dog…is that weird?). This recipe is cheap and easy to make.

I was also surprised at the effectiveness of this DIY fly spray. While not as strong and potent as the other fly spray I tested, it did seem to keep the flies off. I applied the spray and returned ten minutes later to see that my horses were still untouched and standing quietly in the shade.


With this fly spray, I made sure to apply it liberally. I’m not sure how effective it would be if you quickly misted your horse with it, but it did seem to do the job.

Another consideration is that this isn’t an organic fly spray. PineSol has chemicals in it. While the other ingredients dilute it, monitoring your horse’s reaction when you first use it is important. If you would rather avoid chemical fly sprays, I recommend the other fly spray recipe mentioned above.

Items to Purchase:

Overall, I was able to add a few products to my repertoire. I feel like I have the best grasp on fly control I have ever had. I hope these DIY fly-repellent hacks can help you and your horses! To learn more tricks for keeping flies off your horses, visit my article, Keeping Flies Off Your Horses: The Ultimate Guide.

Save this article to your “Horse Care” Pinterest board!


This article is the property of Equinehelper.com. We don’t authorize it to be copied on other websites.

Having Trouble With Your Training?

Learn how to gain and maintain your horse’s respect in my latest course!

Carmella Abel, Pro Horse Trainer

Hi! I’m Carmella

My husband and I started Equine Helper to share what we’ve learned about owning and caring for horses. I’ve spent my whole life around horses, and I currently own a POA named Tucker. You can learn more here.

Thank you for reading, and happy trails!

Legal Information

This site is owned and operated by Wild Wire Media LLC.

Equinehelper.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

This site also participates in other affiliate programs and is compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.