Roaches are perhaps the most despised pests on the planet. Not only do they carry diseases (in rare cases), but they’re associated with a dirty environment (often erroneously). There are home remedies for roaches that will act as a natural roach killer, allowing you to turn on your lights and not fear that a roach will skitter across the floor.
What acts as a natural remedy for roaches? Let’s find out.
Table of Contents
- 7 Natural Home Remedies to Kill Roaches Fast
- The Complete Guide to Eliminate Cockroaches
- Common Types of Cockroaches
- What Attracts Roaches?
- 5 Signs That You Have Roaches at Home
- What Kills Cockroaches Instantly?
- Conventional Ways to Kill Roaches Instantly
- How to Prevent a Roach Infestation
7 Natural Home Remedies to Kill Roaches Fast
1. Baking Soda and Sugar
A simple yet effective mixture. Baking soda and sugar are able to effectively help kill roaches, and you’ll be able to notice a quick decline in the population as a result. You’ll need to know where the roaches are hiding out, so it’s important to make note of where you’ve seen these pests before planting the bait for them to eat.Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Baking soda
- A bowl or cup
Baking soda is not toxic in the same way as boric acid, and it will begin to mix with the roach’s stomach acid, causing it to die over time. You’ll need to mix equal parts baking soda with equal parts sugar (1/4 cup of each is a good start). Now, all you’ll need to do is sprinkle them in the areas that you’ve seen roaches. You’ll need to leave this bait out and repeat your sprinkling of the mixture often to ensure there is enough to kill the roachesSugar isn’t the deadly portion of the mixture, but it will work to attract the roaches.
2. Boric Acid
Boric acid can be purchased in stores or online, and this is one of the best roach killers, even for ants and a variety of other pests. This acid has been proven to be effective at killing roaches, and it’s one of the most widely used remedies for this purpose.But boric acid isn’t safe for consumption, so you’ll need to keep it out of reach of children and pets.This is a poison, and long-term exposure can cause you to become ill. Ingesting boric acid will result in poisoning as well. Roaches will die if they come in contact with this acid, but there are a few points you need to consider when sprinkling boric acid in your home:
- Only a light dusting is required (too much, and it will be ineffective)
- Boric acid is not effective when wet
The goal is to have the roaches walk through the boric acid powder, which is difficult if the roaches are in tight corners or under the cabinets. Once you’ve placed the acid, the roaches will get it on their antennae, legs and body. During grooming, the acid will be ingested, which will result in death for the roach.
3. Fabric Softener Spray
A home remedy to get rid of roaches that takes a little action on your part. Fabric softener can kill roaches, but it can’t just be placed on the floor in hopes that it will get the job done. Instead, you need to make a spray and actively spray the roaches you see out and about in your home. Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- Natural fabric softener
- Spray bottle
You’ll want to mix three parts fabric softener with two parts water. For example, you can combine 3/4 cup of fabric softener and 1/2 cup of water together in a spray bottle and mix it up. A simple shake of the spray bottle before usage is really all that is needed. The solution will be rather thick, so keep this in mind when going to spray. When you see roaches, squirt them with the solution. If you see a roach skitter behind a piece of furniture, you can often squirt them with greater ease than if you tried stepping on them, for example. Roaches breathe through their skin, so when the thick spray gets on the roach, it will suffocate them. This is one of the home remedies for roaches that works best if there is a massive infestation where you’re sharing every inch of your home with these pests. Dish soap can be used in lieu of fabric softener, but we found it to be less effective.
Read more: Top 12 cockroach sprays to buy
4. Bay Leaves
Maybe you have a soft spot for roaches. Perhaps you don’t want to kill them, but you just want to keep them out of your home. Bay leaves are a natural roach repellent – they simply hate the smell of them.Another major benefit is that bay leaves aren’t poisonous to humans, so you won’t have to worry where you place them. To get started, you’ll need the following:
- Mortar and pestle
- A handful of bay leaves
Now, you may not have a mortar and pestle available, so just use a bowl and something to crush the leaves effectively. The back of a butcher knife can crush dry leaves effectively. You can use your hands, too, but it will take longer.Simply place the leaves in a bowl and crush them into a powder. This powder will be sprinkled in areas where you know roaches are present and possibly nesting.If you can’t find bay leaves in the store, make sure to check the Asian, Ethnic or Indian aisle to see if they’re available. This is an Asian spice, and since the smell is overpowering to roaches, they’ll be repelled by it. Cucumbers can also be placed around the home (slices or peels) as a repellent against roaches.
5. Lemon Peels or Lemon Juice
The fresh smell of lemons is often associated with a clean home, and lemon is often used in the world’s most popular household cleaners. There is no denying that lemon juice is a powerful agent that is able to cut through grease and stains, but what many people don’t know is that it can repel roaches, too.The anti-pathogenic properties of lemon, and other citrus foods, will keep roaches away. You can do a lot of different things with lemon to keep roaches out of your home.
- Add lemon juice (or buy 100% lemon juice) and spray in hard-to-reach areas of the home where you know roaches reside.
- Grind up lemon peels and place the grounds around the home where roaches are present.
But you can also go to the extremes – which is what we recommend. You’ll need:
- A bucket or large bowl
- Lemon juice (bottled or freshly squeezed)
- Rags or towels
Mix the water and juice together, ensuring that the lemon is not too diluted. This sounds a lot more complicated than it sounds, but it’s not. We recommend adding lemon juice into the bucket first, followed by adding in water slowly to ensure that the lemon smell is still strong. Err on the side of more lemon juice than water for best results. Now, clean everything from the countertops to the floor with the mixture. The goal is to clean all of the surfaces where roaches reside to repel them away. And your home will have a clean, lemon-fresh smell, too.
6. Coffee Traps
Coffee is something that roaches like, too. And all of those used coffee grounds can actually be used for something – getting rid of roaches. You’ll want to use the coffee as a lure to trap the roaches and kill them. You’ll need:
- Coffee grounds
Fill a jar with coffee grounds and add water so that the roaches will die. But roaches can breathe in water for 40 minutes, and if fully submerged, they can live for 30 minutes, so if you find them crawling out of the jar, here is another trick. Apply petroleum jelly to the inside of the jar so that the roaches can’t gain traction to climb out of the jar. Strategically place the jars around the home where roaches frequent.We recommend checking these jars every morning to dump out the dead roaches. Repeat the process for a few weeks until you start to notice that there are no roaches entering the jar. If the roaches did not lay eggs, you’ll be roach-free. If you notice even one roach, it’s essential to take action right away. Roaches can lay up to 50 eggs at a time, depending on the type of roach in the home. Proper sanitization and filling entry points will be essential to curb roaches from coming into the home in the future. Reducing pathways and entryways will be a must for a roach-free future. Reducing food and water sources should follow. Pesticides and management solutions can also be followed if the roach problem is a recurring issue that only goes away and comes back every few months. You need to be relentless when it comes to roaches. Natural home remedies for roaches are less deadly than their pesticide counterparts, and they often fail when the homeowner stops taking action. Even if you haven’t seen a roach in a month, the eggs they left behind may be ready to hatch at any time. Insect growth regulators can be used in this case, or you’ll need to be prepared with the remedies listed above so that you can stop any future problems before they grow into a full-blown infestation.
7. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a natural substance that you’ll find sold online or in stores. When you choose DE, you’ll want to make sure that you’re opting for food-grade DE that is safe for both human and animal consumption.
If you have pets, DE is great because your pet’s will not be impacted if they eat it.
DE works well for any insect or pest because DE is the fossilized remains of aquatic life. Sharp little crystals, when the roaches eat DE, it will damage their digestive system. When most pets consume DE, the crystals will start to pierce their exoskeleton.
The end result? The pest will start to dry out and lose liquids.
It takes a matter of just a few days before roaches eat and die from DE. Since you can place DE all throughout the home, you’ll want to be very meticulous with how you spread out this substance. A few steps that I want you to follow to get the best results are:
- Clean your home thoroughly. A good, clean home will be your best defense against roaches. This step will lead to a natural decline in the roach population because the roaches will lose the one thing that they’re after: food.
- Make sure that any damp spots where you’ll be placing the DE are dried. You should fix any leaking pipes or holes in the process. Roaches are attracted to dampness, so this will also limit the popular.
- Spread the DE anywhere that you’ve seen roaches in the home. You’ll want to spread and then dust the substance so that it coats the floor.
- Apply DE in all of the key areas where roaches are known to hide, such as underneath your sink. Applying in these areas, even if you haven’t seen roaches there before, is ideal because this is a key hiding area for these pests.
- Apply around the foundation of your home. You’ll want to do this on a warm, sunny day when there is little breeze outside. DE is not as effective, and will usually not work at all, when it is already wet. If you notice that it’s rained recently, you’ll need to reapply around the foundation. There are wet application techniques, too, but these wet techniques rarely work.
- If you have a crawl space, make sure to enter the space and treat it.
When applying, be very generous and spread as much DE as possible. The more that you spread, the better. Always check to see how your application is withstanding the elements or the home. Reapply often and for as long as you see roaches within the home.
Most people will start to notice that their roach infestation is thinning within 2 to 3 weeks or applying.
I highly recommend using a duster to be able to get the powder spread evenly indoors and outdoors. Dusters should be used to place the DE in cracks and crevices. Roaches will use these small spaces as a means of exiting into the home. Applying DE to these key areas offers one more option to kill roaches before they make their way into the home.
You can, and should, continue to use other roach control methods. There is often no one, best, way to get rid of roaches. Using a combination of different techniques works best, but make sure that if you use gel that you keep sprays and other liquids away from the gel.
When two roach control methods come in direct contact with one another, it’s not uncommon for the potency to be limited as a result.
The Complete Guide to Eliminate Cockroaches
Common Types of Cockroaches
Did you know that there are more than 69 species of cockroaches in the United States alone? These insects have oval, flat bodies with six legs and a small head. Baby roaches are pale in color, but they grow darker as they age.
While there are several species of this pest, there are four types that we see most often:
- Wood Roaches: These guys are brown and typically span 1”-1.75” long. Male wood roaches have wings and can fly.
- Oriental Roaches: These are most common in Ohio and typically span 1”-1.5” long. Black in color, male Oriental roaches also have wings, but they’re shorter and they cannot fly.
- German Cockroaches: This type of roach is brown in color with dark stripes behind its head. German roaches are usually only about a 0.5” long.
- American Cockroaches: The roach most people in the U.S. are familiar with. This variety is brown in color and has wings. On average, American roaches span 1.5” in length.
Roaches are nocturnal creatures, which is why you only see them skittering around the kitchen after dark. But because they only come out at night (when most people are sleeping), they’re easy to miss until you have a serious infestation on your hands.
What Attracts Roaches?
Why do you have roaches in your home in the first place? For starters, you have everything they need: food, moisture and shelter. And if you have a dirty home, you’re even more likely to attract roaches.
Just like any other pest, food is the main attraction of roaches. Roaches need to eat to survive (don’t we all), and you have a pantry stocked with food.
Roaches aren’t picky eaters either. They’ll take anything they can get their hands on. Known as the scavengers of the insect kingdom, cockroaches have an insatiable appetite – and they’ll eat both plants and animals.
What Do Roaches Eat?
Roaches will eat whatever you have lying around the house, but there are certain types of foods they prefer above others:
- Sweets, like candies, cakes and cookies
- Starches, like potatoes, bread and grains
- Animal proteins, like beef, chicken and fish
Roaches will also devour greasy foods and cheese, which is why you often see them skittering across empty pizza boxes in movies.
If you have any fermented or moldy food, they’ll eat those, too. And if you don’t have any of their favorite foods on the “menu,” they’ll start snooping around other parts of the house, taking a bite of this and a bite of that along the way. They’ll even eat decaying matter and waste, so it’s not surprising to find them in the trash.
Surprising Roach Foods
What happens if you have no food lying around (i.e. foods are stored in airtight containers, and your home is spotless)?
Roaches are resourceful little creatures, and their food groups may extend to things we’d never even think of putting into our mouths.
- Roaches love starches, and for them, that includes wallpaper paste, book bindings, and even glue on the back of stamps.
- They love protein, too, and that includes animal skin, dead insects and even human fingernails and hair. Roaches will even eat their babies if food is that scarce.
Prepare your stomach for this one – roaches will pick at eyelashes, calluses, fingernails and dead skin flakes (gross). They’re less likely to eat living creatures (i.e. you) because their mandibles, which move sideways, would have a difficult time breaking through your skin.
And if there is absolutely nothing else for roaches to eat, don’t expect to starve them out. These critters can go an entire month without food (as long as they have water).
Roaches need moisture (or water) to survive. And they love moist places, which is why they’re commonly found in hot, humid places.
You don’t have to live in a sewer or the swamp to attract roaches. In fact, something as simple as a leaky pipe in the bathroom can attract these pests. Standing water and condensation can also lead roaches straight to your home.
Just like any other creature, roaches need shelter, and your home is just the perfect spot. You may not realize it, but you have tiny cracks and crevices that roaches can easily fit through and comfortably lay their eggs.
One of the biggest issues with roaches is that they can be a year-round problem. While you can get roaches any time of year, they’re more prolific in the summer. That’s because they thrive in hot and humid conditions, and don’t fare as well in the cold winter months.
5 Signs That You Have Roaches at Home
How can you tell if you have roaches, or an infestation of another kind? Remember, roaches come out at night, so you may not know they’re even there until the infestation becomes a serious one.
Here are five signs that you have roaches:
1. You See Roaches
The first and most obvious sign is actually seeing the roaches. And don’t think that just because you saw one, you don’t have a roach problem. Unless you watched the critter crawl in from underneath the door, it’s safe to assume that there’s a nest somewhere in your home.
2. Roach Droppings
Roaches leave visible droppings behind, which resemble coffee grounds or pepper. Look for them around the sink and other areas where food is easily accessible.
3. Dead Roaches
Sometimes, the only sign of a roach infestation (in the early stages) is the dead bodies of roaches. If you’re seeing one or more dead roaches, it’s safe to assume that you have a problem.
4. Egg Casings
If there’s a nest in your home, you may notice egg casings, which are oval-shaped. Make note of where you found the casings as they may lead you right to the nest.
5. A Musty or Oily Smell
Roaches leave behind a distinct smell. If your home smells musty or oily, particularly in the bathroom and kitchen, you may have roaches.
Now you know what attracts roaches and the signs of an infestation. So how to get rid of roaches without an exterminator?
What Kills Cockroaches Instantly?
Borax is deadly to roaches. Mixing borax with sugar is like serving up a buffet of poisonous jelly donuts to these creepy crawly critters. Best of all: this homemade bait is amazingly effective.
Exterminators say this is the next best thing to professional roach killing sprays.
Why does this bait work so well?
The borax is the key ingredient here. The sugar is just a way to get the roaches to take the bait. When roaches walk through the borax, the powder will dehydrate their exoskeletons, killing them shortly after.
To make this bait, mix:
- 3 parts borax
- 1 part sugar
While borax is a more natural way to kill roaches, it’s not entirely non-toxic. If you or your pets ingest the mixture, you may wind up with some serious digestive issues – or an emergency room visit. If you a puppy or cat at home, check out this guide for a pet-friendly roach killer.
To be on the safe side, place this mixture high off the ground where kids and pets can’t reach. Don’t worry – the roaches will find it.
Conventional Ways to Kill Roaches Instantly
You tried the natural route, but that pesky roach community in your kitchen just keeps getting bigger (it happens). It may be time to take a more aggressive approach.
Some of the most effective conventional methods include:
1. Glue Strips
Roach glue strips are an effective way to determine where the infestation is coming from. Place strips in strategic locations around the house (e.g. on countertops, under cabinets and other areas roaches like to hang around).
Keep an eye on the strips for a few weeks. The ones that catch the most roaches are the areas that need the most treatment.
2. Gel Bait
Once you’ve figured out where the roaches set up their nest, it’s time to plan your attack. Gel bait is a highly effective roach killer, but you’ll need to be cautious when applying it.
Unlike ant traps, gel bait comes in a tube. You’ll need to apply the gel underneath baseboards, in crevices and cracks and in other areas where roaches frequent.
Gel bait is really effective at killing roaches, but you need to be diligent at cleaning up. Roaches die quickly after taking the bait, so you’ll have a number of dead roaches lying around your home. The dead roaches may attract even more roaches (remember, they’ll eat dead insects).
Be sure to inspect the treated areas regularly and clean up any dead roaches you see right away.
3. Roach Hotel
Bait stations, a.k.a. roach hotels, are a popular way to get rid of roaches. Like the gel bait and borax solution, roaches are attracted to the stations and then feed on the poison.
The poisoned roach goes back to its nest and dies. The other roaches eat the dead poisoned roach, and the poison spreads.
For roach hotels to be really effective, you need to place several around your home to make sure you target all of the roaches.
If you’ve tried every trick in the book and still can’t get rid of the roaches, calling an exterminator may be your best option. Exterminators will find the nest, and apply professional treatments to get rid of roaches once and for all.
Not all exterminators are created equal. We’ve heard horror stories of professional pest treatments making the problem worse, so if you do go this route (which is more expensive and toxic), make sure you hire a company with a good reputation.
How to Prevent a Roach Infestation
You’ve cleaned up your roach problem and you’ve even sprinkled some bay leaves and coffee grinds around the house to keep their roach cousins out.
But if you’re serious about preventing another roach infestation, you need to take a few permanent steps.
1. Clean, Clean, Clean
Keep your home clean, especially the kitchen. A clean home isn’t immune to roaches, but your chance of getting an infestation is much lower if you take away the one thing roaches want: food.
- Rinse dishes right away, and throw any leftover food on plates in the garbage. This way, if you cannot do the dishes right away, there won’t be any food crumbs for roaches to feast on.
- Clean up crumbs on counters and floors right away.
- Don’t leave empty pizza boxes or fast food containers laying around the kitchen (throw them in the garbage where they belong).
- Keep food in airtight containers.
Keeping your home clean is one of the most effective ways to keep roaches away.
2. Caulk Cracks and Crevices
Roaches can’t get into your home if there’s no entry point they can squeeze into. Caulk any cracks or crevices to keep these pesky critters out.
Baby roaches can fit into cracks as small as a dime, so seal up any cracks you find.
This step is especially important if you live an apartment. You have no control over the cleanliness of your neighbors, so sealing up even the tiniest of cracks is worth the effort.
And while you’re at it, check the exterior of your home for cracks, and seal them to add an extra layer of protection.
3. Fix Any Leaking Pipes or Faucets
Remember, roaches are attracted to standing water. If you have a leaky pipe or faucet in your home, and you have a bucket collecting that water, you’re inviting roaches into your home.
Repair any leaks, and dump out any buckets or cups of water.
Don’t forget to empty out any bird baths or plant saucers that have standing water. These can attract roaches to your yard and inside your home.
Starving the roaches out isn’t usually an effective strategy. Roaches can go a month without food as long as they have water. It’s better to use one of the methods above and then take preventative steps to keep these critters out of your home for good.
Do Roach Home Remedies Work?
Yes and no. Many home remedies get rid of roaches you see, but they’re not powerful enough to get into the walls and kill the nest. DIY methods that kill on contact are often not going to kill off a nest.
But DE and other methods of roach control where the roach can bring the substance back to their nest will often work.
The goal is to use a combination of methods to kill roaches. You can opt to use commercial and homemade solutions to kill off roaches quickly.
How Long Should I Use Home Remedies?
You’ll want to use the home remedies we outlined for as long as you have a roach infestation. One major mistake that people make is that they’ll apply a remedy once and give up on it because they still see roaches.
Roaches have been around for 300 million years – they’re resilient.
You’ll want to use most techniques for 2 to 3 weeks before you start to notice that the population declines. After this, you’ll want to make sure you’ve cleaned your home and sealed up any holes or cracks where roaches may be coming into the home.
When you follow these guidelines, you’ll keep roaches and a variety of other pests out of your home.
What Home Remedy Should I Try First?
If you want to try a home remedy before using a commercial solution or calling an exterminator, you’ll want to use the guidelines for diatomaceous earth that I listed above. DE is proven to be highly effective, and since it does not pose a risk to children or animals, it’s one of the most “friendly” remedies available.
But you don’t have to stop with just DE.
You can use any of the recommendations above together to see what works best for your infestation.
DE is the absolute best, natural roach killer on the market. Roaches will typically die within two days of coming in contact with DE. A special tip to remember is that DE causes roaches to get dehydrated. The roaches may come out in swarms at this time looking for water, so you may think that the infestation has worsened.
Allow the roaches to ingest the DE for a few days or weeks before noticing a drastic decline in the population.
Should I Be Using Repellents?
Yes, you can use repellents, but the choice is up to you. Repellents do not thin a population, so they’re not going to work well if you have no way to get the repellent into your walls. For example, you may place a repellent underneath the kitchen sink, so you might not see any roaches in this area.
But since the roaches are in the walls, they will remain in the walls until you get rid of them using other methods.
Catnip is a method that works well for repelling roaches, but it will only repel and not kill off the population. You may want to use a repellent when you’re filling in holes and cracks so that you can keep roaches from entering a space that has been properly exterminated.
Does Boric Acid Actually Kill Roaches?
Yes, and all of the top exterminators will tell you that boric acid works very well as a roach killer. You’ll find that this DIY method works just as well as sprays. The one issue that most people have when applying the powder is that they use way too much.
Roaches will be able to see the layer of powder on the floor if it’s not just a light dusting.
It’s important to use a duster or to find a way to make sure that the dusting is very light. When it’s just a light dusting, roaches will be lured into the boric acid and eventually die. The substance must not get wet or it will be ineffective.
The powder will get on the roaches body and antennas. When the roach goes to clean, they will ingest the boric acid and die. If the roach makes it back to the nest, they may leave some of the acid behind for others to eat and die.
Boric acid can be toxic to animals and humans, so keep it away from food or food prep areas in the home.
If you have pets, you’ll want to keep them out of the room where you’ve applied boric acid for best results.
Why Are Home Remedies Not as Effective as Commercial Roach Killers?
Home remedies can be effective, but it’s often difficult to reach the right areas to kill roaches. You need to use a remedy that can brought back to the nest, and this is why baits work so well. The bait can be used to attract the roaches, and they will bring the bait back to their nest where it’s shared with everyone.
When you use home remedies, if the method you choose is ineffective, the roach population will have more time to grow.
If home methods are to be effective, you need to employ these methods in all rooms and for a long period of time. Roaches will “wait it out,” and then come out of the walls when they notice that the threat is gone.
You truly need a battle plan when dealing with roaches, and this is why a combination of natural and commercial methods work best for roach infestations.