Cockroaches can be big or small and will hide in the dark corners of your home. For most people, they’re a terror to find.
Luckily, roaches are pretty easy to get rid of with just things around your home.
How do you get rid of roaches? Natural products like boric acid, baking soda, diatomaceous earth, botanical jelly, and natural sprays can be used to get rid of roaches. Duct tape and petroleum jelly can be used to trap them as well. Pesticide sprays, gels, and powder will stop an infestation too.
Even though cockroaches are believed to be able to survive a nuclear explosion, there are several natural and DIY remedies you can use to kill them at home.
In the following, we’ll take a look at the best ways to prevent cockroaches and various options, both natural and chemical, to quickly get rid of the ones that end up in your home.
Don’t miss out on key prevention tips, elimination guidelines, alternative tactics, and effective products. Click here to see all of our roach articles.
Cockroaches are pretty easy to identify. They’re usually brown and can range from just a few millimeters long to almost 4 inches long.
They have antennae and six legs. They’re usually found in dark places or places that have a lot of food and garbage.
They prefer warmer weather, although there are some species that can survive cold temperatures.
Roaches can carry diseases and will leave behind unsanitary droppings (learn what to look for here).
The good news is that bites from roaches are rare and will only occur under dire circumstances.
The photo below is the American cockroach, the most common cockroach in the country.
While other species may vary in color, size, and other minor details, most of them in America will look something like this one.
American Cockroach – Periplaneta americana
There are plenty of species in the world that look out of the ordinary.
The seven-spotted cockroach shown below has a much different shape and design than what we commonly find in our houses.
Seven-Spotted Cockroach – Therea petiveriana
Did you know that the presence of even just one or two baby roaches usually indicates a much larger problem? Read this to discover why.
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The Best Way to Eliminate Cockroaches
The best way to eliminate cockroaches is to use boric acid. It’s a natural ingredient that kills roaches and any other pest.
To kill roaches with boric acid, follow these steps:
- Mix boric acid with a lure: Try using sugar or cornstarch as a lure. Roaches aren’t picky, however, so you can use almost anything that’s small and powdery or crumbly.
- Place the mixture where you often see cockroaches: Sprinkle the mixture in these areas, and leave it for a while. Common places where roaches like to hide are underneath refrigerators, behind toilets, or in corners of closets.
- Check periodically for dead roaches: Cockroaches will eat the mixture, and the boric acid is what will kill them. Cockroaches might take it back to their nest for others, which will kill even more of them. You may find roaches in or near the areas where you spread it.
Although boric acid is natural, it can be harmful if it’s ingested or comes into contact with the skin.
Keep an eye on children and pets, and store any leftovers you have in a container that will seal tightly shut.
To avoid breathing it in, apply it close to the floor so fewer particles will fly around and become airborne.
Be sure to read our article “Best Roach Killer” to explore all of your options when it comes to dealing with these nasty bugs.
Preventing roaches is as simple as keeping your home tidy, though the occasional roach may find its way inside clean homes too, as we explain here.
Follow these measures to prevent cockroach infestations.
Clean Up Dishes
Avoid leaving dirty plates in the sink or on tables. The scent of leftover food can attract cockroaches into your home or out of their hiding places.
Some roaches will come out of sink drains, so you should never let dishes soak for too long.
Sweep Up Crumbs
The tiniest crumbs are enough to draw in a cockroach. Sweep and vacuum regularly to avoid an infestation.
If you have carpet in a house full of messy eaters, you may need to vacuum two or three times a week or keep all food in the kitchen.
Take Out the Trash
Piled up garbage is an all-you-can-eat buffet for cockroaches as well as a breeding ground.
Take out the kitchen trash daily and the outside garbage cans at least once a week.
If you’re unable to tend to the trash frequently, keep cans closed with tight lids and make sure there aren’t any holes or cracks in the can.
Cockroaches find their way into your home through cracks.
Frequently check around pipes, baseboards, windows, and doors for any openings that might let roaches inside. If you find any, use silicone caulk to seal the gaps.
Roaches love humidity, so try to remove standing water in your home.
Check for leaking pipes and appliances and use dehumidifiers (like this auto off/restart model that can remove more than 4 gallons of moisture per day) if your home is prone to being humid.
Water can collect on bathroom floors and in entryways, so keep a towel around to soak up droplets that get left behind.
Now that you know how to prevent roaches, let’s get into what you should do to get rid of them if they manage to find their way inside.
Natural Solutions to Get Rid of Cockroaches
There are several natural and DIY solutions you can use to get rid of cockroaches inside and outside of your home. Let’s take a look at those.
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Indoor infestations cause a lot of discomfort for homeowners and can even be a health concern since they can spread bacteria and trigger asthma.
Here are a few things you can do if you see cockroaches in your home.
Baking soda is a completely natural way to kill cockroaches. When they consume baking soda, it hurts their stomach enough that it causes them to die.
The well-known Arm & Hammer Baking Soda is a great choice. It’s an affordable price per pound and is a trusted brand.
Baking soda will kill cockroaches, but it won’t attract them. You’ll need to mix it with something like sugar or corn starch.
Use one part sugar and one part baking soda. There should be an even amount of sugar or some other bait so the roaches will have enough to eat so they’ll also eat up the baking soda.
Although it’s not naturally derived, duct tape is a safe chemical-free way to trap roaches.
Many cockroach traps use pesticides to kill them, but duct tape traps with only the sticky adhesive, making it perfectly safe to use inside your home.
This Duck Brand Duct Tape comes with 20 yards to a roll and is available in multipacks, so you can easily cover all the problem areas in your home.
To use duct tape effectively, follow these steps:
- Place duct tape sticky side up in areas you’re likely to catch roaches.
- Place bait such as sugar or food scraps in the center of the tape. Don’t cover the tape completely because the sticky surface needs to be clear to catch roaches.
- Check the tape frequently, and throw it away once it’s mostly covered in roaches.
If you’re worried about the tape not being efficient enough or filling up too quickly, consider putting a sugar and baking soda mixture as the bait.
The baking soda will kill the roaches the tape can’t trap.
Natural Cockroach Spray
When you see a cockroach, you naturally want to kill it right on the spot.
If you’re not a fan of stepping on them or using harmful chemicals, a spray with natural ingredients will work well for you.
Wondercide Natural Products Indoor Pest Control Spray is a great product to use because it will kill roaches on contact and also repel them.
It also works for ants, spiders, and flies too, so it’s a multipurpose spray. It relies on cedar oil to kill and repel roaches and insects, so it’ll have a woody scent to it.
Are essential oils really effective on roaches? Find the answer here.
If you can stop a cockroach infestation outside before they find their way inside, you’ll save yourself a lot of trouble later.
Cockroaches are usually found in damp and dark areas outdoors, so try using these natural solutions in those areas.
Boric acid is a natural ingredient that destroys the nervous system. As the roaches walk through it, it clings to them and they eat it later as they clean themselves.
It can also be mixed with food like sugar or crumbs so they’ll ingest the boric acid while they eat.
Florida Laboratories Boric Acid Granular Powder is a budget-friendly option, and it only comes in a half-pound bag, so you won’t be left with a lot of it if you decide you don’t like using it.
Boric acid can be harmful to humans and pets if it’s inhaled, eaten, or comes into contact with the skin.
Be careful when you use it, and don’t use it in areas where children or pets can’t be monitored.
Diatomaceous earth is a powder that’s made of fossilized algae. It can’t hurt your skin, but it’s lethal to cockroaches and other insects.
As they walk across it, it tears up their exoskeleton, sticks to their bodies, and dries them out. The roaches will soon die from dehydration.
Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth is safe to use around people and pets.
However, you should still try to stay away from it because breathing in the dust can be irritating and cause difficulty breathing.
When used as directed, it’s a safe alternative to pesticides and will have a long-term effect on roaches.
It won’t harm plants, but it can kill beneficial insects, so be careful using it around gardens and flowers.
Petroleum Jelly Trap
Petroleum jelly is another useful DIY solution for roaches. You can use it to make a trap that’s easy to get rid of. You will need:
- Petroleum jelly.
- A container.
- Paper or cardboard to make a ramp.
You can use petroleum jelly such as Solimo Petroleum Jelly. It’s a typical household item that you probably have, but it’s not a natural product since it’s made from crude oil.
A great natural alternative is Waxelene Organic Soothing Botanical Jelly.
You can use it just as you would petroleum jelly, but this contains natural ingredients, including soy oil, beeswax, Vitamin E oil, and rosemary oil.
The container should be deep enough to hold a few cockroaches, but not so deep that it’ll be too hard for the roaches to crawl into.
You’re going to make a trap that they can crawl into but not be able to get out of.
The paper you need for the ramp should be sturdy enough to stay in place and hold the weight of a cockroach. Cardstock, an index card, or cardboard will work well.
Making the Trap:
- Place bait into the container: Roaches enjoy sugar and starches, so try a mixture of sugar and cornstarch or a small amount of cake or bread. Whatever they’re going after around your home will work perfectly fine.
- Apply the jelly: Spread petroleum jelly on the inside of the container. You only need to cover one inch from the top. This will prevent the roach from being able to crawl out.
- Find the right location: Set the trap up near where you find the most roaches. If it’s convenient for them, you’ll have a better chance at finding their way inside the trap.
- Set up the trap: Use the paper or cardboard to make a ramp. Once the roaches smell the bait, they can easily crawl their way into the trap with the ramp. You might consider making multiple ramps to make it easier.
- Dispose of trapped roaches: Once you’ve trapped some roaches, dispose of them after they’ve died. If you want them to die naturally, you may have to wait a few days. Or, you can kill them in any way you’re comfortable with.
Since you’re making this trap for the outdoors, there’s a different way you can make it to be more effective.
Instead of using a ramp, dig a hole into the ground as deep as the container. Place the container into the hole, and make sure it’s level with the dirt.
The roaches will fall into the container. You should still use the jelly to prevent them from crawling out.
If you use this method, feel free to use wider and deeper containers so you can have a greater chance of catching more roaches.
Pesticide Solutions to Get Rid of Cockroaches
If natural solutions don’t seem to work, there are a few pesticides that will work well. Be careful when using them since they’re harmful to people and pets.
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Pesticide spray such as Raid House & Garden Insect Killer will kill roaches in just a few minutes after you spray them.
This Raid spray has an orange scent, so if you use it indoors, you won’t have to deal with a chemical odor.
If you use it indoors, you should ventilate the room and make sure people and pets are out of the area.
Gel works as a long-term form of pest control. You squeeze the gel into cracks where you find cockroaches, and roaches will feed on it since it’s a bait.
After the roaches eat it, they’ll die shortly after.
Bayer Advanced Home Roach Killer is a great gel because it can last up to six months after applying it, depending on how much the roaches eat it.
It comes in an applicator pen so you can place it easily in hard-to-reach areas.
Powder is another pesticide you can use in small areas since the tip allows you to place it in cracks or around baseboards.
The powder can easily spread into areas behind the crevice you’re treating, so it can cover a broader area than gel or spray.
HARRIS Boric Acid Roach and Silverfish Killer is a good powder because it can last for several weeks or for as long as it stays dry.
It’s mostly boric acid but it does contain silica which is dangerous if you breathe it in, so you should cover your mouth and nose when using this product.
Our article “What Is the Best Roach Fogger?” explains when foggers might be your best option and which ones are best to use.
Safety Precautions When Using Pesticides
Pesticides are harmful to the environment, people, and pets.
Be sure to follow the directions on the package carefully so you don’t accidentally misuse it and harm yourself.
Wear protective clothing, ventilate rooms, and don’t let kids or pets go near it.
When to Call a Professional Exterminator
You should call a professional exterminator if the infestation seems too large to handle yourself or if you’re not sure how to use pesticides.
Exterminators will be able to help you determine where the cockroaches are coming from and will help you prevent future infestations, so they’re beneficial to call if you need any kind of help.