How to Get Rid of Cockroaches: 30 Effective Control Methods

Bill Swank
First Published: | Updated: February 27, 2024

Cockroaches are persistent pests, but there are multiple effective methods to eliminate them. This guide explores a variety of approaches, from simple home remedies like baking soda and citrus spray to professional extermination, providing you with the knowledge to choose the best solution for your situation.

1. Stepping on Them

Stepping on cockroaches is a straightforward and immediate method of elimination. While this approach can be effective for visible cockroaches, it’s not a practical solution for infestations. Physical contact is needed, making it unsuitable for large or hidden populations. It’s also important to clean the area thoroughly afterward to prevent the spread of any bacteria or eggs that might be left behind.

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda, when mixed with a bait like sugar, can be an effective cockroach control method. Cockroaches are attracted to the sugar and ingest the baking soda, which causes internal disturbances leading to their demise. This method is safe for use around pets and children, environmentally friendly, and cost-effective. However, it requires patience, as it may take a while to see results, and is best used for smaller infestations.

3. Boric Acid

Boric acid is a highly effective cockroach control agent. When applied to areas frequented by cockroaches, such as under sinks and behind appliances, boric acid acts as a poison when ingested by the insects. It’s important to use boric acid carefully, as it can be harmful to pets and humans if ingested or inhaled. This method is best for persistent infestations but requires careful application and may need to be reapplied periodically for continued effectiveness.

4. Citrus Spray

Citrus spray can act as a natural deterrent against cockroaches. The strong scent of citrus, particularly from lemon, is disliked by cockroaches, making it an effective repellent. You can create a homemade spray using lemon juice or essential oils mixed with water. Spray it around areas where cockroaches are frequently spotted. This method is eco-friendly and safe for use in homes, but it’s more of a preventive measure rather than a solution for severe infestations.

5. Peppermint Spray

Peppermint spray is another natural method to repel cockroaches. The strong scent of peppermint oil is off-putting to cockroaches and can keep them at bay. Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with water and spray in areas prone to cockroach activity. This method is non-toxic, making it ideal for households with children and pets. While effective as a repellent, it may not be sufficient for eliminating an existing large infestation.

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a potent substance for controlling cockroach populations. This fine powder, made from fossilized algae, works by damaging the exoskeleton of cockroaches, leading to dehydration and death. Spread a thin layer in areas where cockroaches are seen, such as under appliances and in cupboards. It’s safe for humans and pets but should be used with caution to avoid inhalation. Diatomaceous earth is effective for moderate infestations but may take time to show full results.

7. Call an Exterminator

Calling an exterminator is a highly effective method for dealing with cockroach infestations. Professional cockroach exterminators have access to powerful insecticides and the expertise to identify and treat all infestation hotspots. This method is particularly advisable for large or persistent infestations that home remedies cannot control. While it’s the most costly option, it offers a thorough and often quick resolution to the cockroach problem, along with professional advice for preventing future infestations.

8. Baits and Traps

Baits and traps are effective tools for managing cockroach populations. These devices attract cockroaches with food bait and then trap or poison them. They can be placed in areas of high activity, like kitchen corners and under sinks. This method is good for monitoring and reducing populations over time. Baits and traps are relatively safe for use around humans and pets, but they should be placed out of reach of children and animals.

9. Sticky Glue Traps

Sticky traps are a simple and non-toxic way to catch cockroaches. These traps use a sticky surface to catch cockroaches as they walk over them. Place them in areas where cockroach activity is high, such as under sinks, in cupboards, and along walls. Sticky traps are safe for use in homes with children and pets and are useful for monitoring infestation levels, but they may not be effective for large infestations.

10. Gel Baits

Gel baits are a targeted and effective method for eliminating cockroaches. These baits contain insecticides mixed with attractants, drawing cockroaches to consume the poison. Gel baits can be applied in small amounts in areas where cockroaches are active, like under appliances and in cabinets. They are particularly useful for treating hard-to-reach areas. Safety precautions should be taken to keep the baits away from children and pets.

11. Insecticidal Sprays or Powders

Insecticidal sprays or powders are a common method for cockroach control. These products contain chemicals that kill cockroaches on contact. Sprays can be used in areas where cockroaches hide, like cracks and crevices. Powders can be dusted in areas of frequent cockroach traffic. While effective, they require caution during application, as they can be harmful to humans and pets if inhaled or ingested.

12. Insecticidal Dust

Insecticidal dust is a fine powder that contains chemicals effective against cockroaches. It works by clinging to the bodies of cockroaches, who then ingest the poison while grooming. This method is ideal for treating hidden areas like wall voids and under baseboards. Insecticidal dust is effective for long-term control but should be used cautiously to prevent inhalation and keep away from pets and children.

13. Thermal Aerosol Fog

Thermal aerosol fog is a method used to treat severe cockroach infestations. This approach involves using a fogging device to disperse a fine mist of insecticide throughout an infested area. The fog penetrates cracks, crevices, and other hard-to-reach places where cockroaches hide. It’s essential to vacate the area during and after treatment and to follow all safety instructions. This method is typically used as a last resort due to its extensive coverage and the need for professional application.

14. Fipronil and Imidacloprid Gel Baits

Fipronil and Imidacloprid gel baits are highly effective against cockroaches. These insecticides disrupt the nervous system of cockroaches, leading to their death. A study in the Journal of Entomological Research titled “Efficacy of gel baits against American cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae) under laboratory conditions” showed that  Imidacloprid gel bait is more effective than fipronil and chlorpyrifos gel baits for controlling American cockroaches under laboratory conditions.

Apply the gel in small amounts in areas where cockroaches are seen, such as cracks, crevices, and hiding spots. These gels are potent and can provide long-term control, but they should be used carefully to avoid contact with pets and children.

15. Combine Rodent Bait With Boric Acid

Using a combination of rodent bait and boric acid compounds can be effective in controlling cockroach populations, according to a study in Laboratory animal science titled: “A boric acid-rodenticide mixture used in the control of coexisting rodent-cockroach infestations”. The bait attracts cockroaches, while the boric acid acts as a poison when ingested. This method can be applied in areas where cockroaches are prevalent. It’s a versatile approach but requires caution to ensure safety, especially in households with pets and children.

16. Essential Oils

Essential oils like eucalyptus, lavender, and tea tree oil can act as natural repellents against cockroaches. Mix these essential oils with water and spray in cockroach-prone areas. While they won’t kill cockroaches, they can deter them from entering treated areas. This method is safe, environmentally friendly, and ideal for use in homes, but may not be effective for large or existing infestations.

17. Soap and Water Solution

A soap and water solution can be a quick method to kill visible cockroaches. Mix soap with water in a spray bottle and spray directly on cockroaches. The soap clogs their pores, leading to suffocation. This method is immediate, safe, and cost-effective but is only practical for dealing with cockroaches that are visible and accessible.

18. Cucumber Peels

Cucumber peels are believed to be a natural deterrent for cockroaches due to their scent. Placing fresh cucumber peels in areas of cockroach activity can help keep them away. This method is safe, non-toxic, and easy to implement, but its effectiveness is anecdotal and it may not work for all infestations.

19. Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are another natural repellent for cockroaches. The scent of bay leaves is said to be unpleasant to cockroaches. Place crushed bay leaves in problem areas. This method is non-toxic and easy to use, but like cucumber peels, its effectiveness is not scientifically proven and may vary.

20. Catnip

Catnip contains nepetalactone, a compound that is a natural repellent to cockroaches. Placing small sachets of catnip in areas where cockroaches are seen can help deter them. This method is safe and non-toxic but is more of a preventive measure and may not be effective in controlling large infestations.

21. Ammonia

Ammonia can be used as a cleaning agent to deter cockroaches. Mix ammonia with water and use it to clean surfaces where cockroaches are frequent. The strong smell of ammonia is unappealing to cockroaches and can help keep them away. This method requires caution, as ammonia fumes can be irritating and harmful if inhaled in large quantities. It’s more suitable as a preventive measure than a solution for existing infestations.

22. Garlic, Onion, and Pepper Solution

A homemade solution of garlic, onion, and pepper can be used as a natural cockroach repellent. Blend these ingredients with water and let the mixture sit for a few hours before straining. Spray the solution in areas prone to cockroaches. The strong odors of garlic, onion, and pepper are believed to repel cockroaches. This method is safe and eco-friendly, but its effectiveness may vary and it’s primarily a preventative measure.

23. Cedar

Cedar wood and cedar oil are known for their insect-repelling properties, including against cockroaches. Place cedar blocks or chips in areas where cockroaches are a problem, or use cedar oil in a diffuser. The scent of cedar is a natural deterrent for many pests. This method is non-toxic and pleasant-smelling but may not eliminate an existing infestation.

24. Alcohol Spray

Alcohol spray can be used as a contact insecticide against cockroaches. Mix rubbing alcohol with water and spray directly on the cockroaches. The alcohol works by dehydrating the insects upon contact. This method is fast-acting and effective for visible cockroaches but may not be practical for large infestations and requires repeated application.

25. Borax

Borax is an effective cockroach killer when used properly. Mix borax with a food attractant like sugar, and sprinkle the mixture in areas where cockroaches are common. When ingested, borax kills cockroaches by disrupting the digestive system. While effective, borax can be harmful if ingested by pets or children, so it should be used with caution.

26. Roach Bombs or Foggers

Roach bombs or foggers release a pesticide mist to kill cockroaches. They are designed to penetrate hard-to-reach areas where cockroaches hide. However, they require vacating the area during and after use and may not reach deeply into nesting areas. They can also leave harmful residues, so they should be used with caution and in compliance with safety instructions.

27. Mothballs

Mothballs are sometimes used as a cockroach repellent due to their strong odor. However, their effectiveness against cockroaches is debatable. Mothballs contain chemicals that can be harmful if inhaled or ingested, so they should be used cautiously, especially in homes with pets and children.

28. Bleach

Bleach can be used as a cleaning agent to deter cockroaches. It can be diluted with water and used to clean floors and surfaces. The strong odor and cleaning action of bleach can help to remove food residues and scents that attract cockroaches. However, bleach is a harsh chemical and should be used with care, as it can be harmful if inhaled or if it comes into contact with skin.

29. Vinegar

Vinegar, especially white vinegar, is often touted as a natural cleaning agent that can help deter cockroaches. Its strong scent is believed to be unattractive to cockroaches. Use diluted vinegar to clean surfaces. While vinegar is safe and eco-friendly, its effectiveness as a cockroach repellent is not scientifically proven and may vary.

30. Lysol

Lysol can be used to clean surfaces and kill germs that may attract cockroaches. Its strong scent and cleaning properties may help deter cockroaches. However, Lysol is not a cockroach killer and should be used as part of a broader pest control strategy. It’s important to use Lysol according to safety guidelines, as it contains chemicals that can be harmful if misused.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches at Home

Eliminating cockroaches requires a tailored approach for each area of your home. Whether it’s the kitchen with its food sources, an apartment’s shared spaces, the damp environment of a bathroom, or even the confined space of a car, understanding the unique challenges of each setting is key.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in a Kitchen

Eliminate cockroaches in the kitchen by maintaining cleanliness, storing food in sealed containers, and removing water sources. Regularly clean under appliances and in cabinets. Use baits and traps strategically around potential entry points.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in an Apartment

Address cockroach infestations in apartments by sealing cracks and crevices, ensuring windows and doors are tight-fitting. Coordinate with neighbors for a building-wide approach. Utilize gel baits and insecticidal sprays in key areas.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Bathroom

Combat cockroaches in the bathroom by fixing leaky faucets and pipes to eliminate moisture. Clean regularly, focusing on hard-to-reach areas. Employ cockroach baits and traps in damp areas and near potential hiding spots.

How to Get Cockroaches Out of a Car

Remove cockroaches from a car by thoroughly vacuuming and cleaning the interior. Place small bait traps under seats. Ensure food scraps are not left inside, and park away from infested areas when possible.

How to Prevent Cockroaches

To effectively prevent cockroach infestations, adopting specific strategies is essential. In our comprehensive guide on cockroach prevention, we cover crucial tactics: keeping your house clean, storing food properly, and sealing entry points. These targeted measures are designed to create a hostile environment for cockroaches, ensuring long-term protection for your home. Explore our detailed prevention guide for more insights.

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