How to Get Rid of Roaches 

spraying aerosol spray on cockroach

If you’ve ever flipped on the kitchen light at night only to see roaches scatter in all directions, you know why these critters are unwelcome guests in any home. But here’s the deal: While they may seem invincible, figuring out how to get rid of roaches isn’t as daunting as it might appear.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can declare war on these pests and win, preventing them from spreading germs and bacteria in your home. In this article, we’ll tell you 11 ways to get rid of roaches for good and how to spot the signs of an infestation.

What Kills Roaches?

Roaches, despite their resilience, have their weaknesses, and by exploiting these, you can create a roach-free environment. There is a varied arsenal at your disposal to kill these pests, from potent chemicals to natural remedies. 

In the following sections, we’ll explore how to use each product, but here’s a sneak peek at what can kill roaches:

  • Powders like boric acid, diatomaceous earth, and baking soda
  • Insect growth regulators (IGRs) containing chemicals like hydroprene, pyriproxyfen, and noviflumuron
  • Insecticides containing chemicals like cyfluthrin, bifenthrin, and resmethrin
  • Baits containing insecticides
  • Roach traps
  • Silica aerogel
  • Boiling water
  • Bleach

How to Get Rid of Roaches for Good

cockroach sitting on a paper
Photo Credit: mansum008 / Canva Pro / License

Banishing roaches from your home for good requires a multifaceted approach. Simply put, there’s no single magic bullet. Instead, you’ll need to employ a combination of methods that eliminate the current population but also prevent future generations from taking up residence.

Here’s how to get rid of cockroaches in your home and prevent them from returning:

Clean Your Home

Roaches are drawn into our homes by the promise of easy meals. They’re not picky eaters: food crumbs, garbage, pet food, and any organic matter can attract these pests. So, a clean home is your first line of defense to get rid of roaches for good.

Here are some practical tips to maintain a clean home and deter these critters:

  • Don’t leave food out, and always store it in sealed containers.
  • Vacuum your home regularly to remove food particles from the ground and under furniture.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes out overnight, or at least soak them in soapy water.
  • Don’t leave garbage bins uncovered, and take the trash out daily.
  • Clean cabinets and appliances to get rid of any spills and crumbs that accumulate.
  • Wipe down countertops, tables, and other surfaces daily to clean any residue of food or sticky spots.

Seal Entry Points

worker fixing entry points in a wall
Photo Credit: halfpoint / Canva Pro / License

Roaches exploit even the tiniest cracks to enter your home. These entry points can be anywhere: in the foundation, walls, around baseboards, near plumbing fixtures, and in other less obvious places like electrical outlets and where utility pipes enter your home.

Give your home a thorough inspection to identify these potential entryways. Once you’ve identified where they are, it’s time to seal them up. You can use foam insulators or silicone sealants.

Here’s a video by Brittany Bailey on how to do it:

Use Boric Acid

Boric acid is one of the most effective solutions for getting rid of cockroaches. It acts as a stomach poison or dehydrates the protective waxy coating on their exoskeleton, leading to their demise. There are two main ways in which you can use boric acid to kill roaches:

  • Use it pure: Dust a fine layer of pure boric acid powder in areas where roaches frequent or hide, like under appliances, sinks, and in dark corners of cabinets. Make sure the layer is fine, since roaches will avoid it if it’s too thick.

    You can use a narrow applicator that often comes with the boric acid, or you can buy a powder duster to ensure an even spread. You can also apply diatomaceous earth the same way for similar results, but make sure to do it only in dry areas.
  • Create a boric acid bait: By combining 1 cup of sugar with 1 cup of borax in one gallon of water, you’ll be creating a potent solution that attracts and kills roaches. Distribute this solution in shallow trays or lids and place them in strategic areas around your home, where roach activity is high.

Note: Children and pets should not be allowed to come in contact with boric acid, so be careful when applying to areas where they tend to be.

Fix Leaking Faucets

person fixing leakage of a gutter
Photo Credit: Alexander’s Images / Canva Pro / License

Roaches are also drawn to moisture. A home with a leaky faucet, whether in the bathroom or kitchen, becomes an inviting oasis for these pests. 

To make your home less appealing to roaches, start by inspecting it for any leaks. Pay special attention to areas under sinks, behind toilets, and around appliances that use water, like washing machines. Repair these leaks as soon as possible, and make a habit of inspecting them periodically. 

You can also use a dehumidifier in areas prone to high humidity, like basements, to help keep the environment dry and pest-free.

Take a look at our guides for more information on how to get rid of roaches in specific areas of your home:

Sprinkle Baking Soda

Baking soda, a common household item, is also an effective home remedy against roaches. When roaches eat it, it mixes with the acid in their stomach, creating gas in their digestive system that they can’t expel, which kills them.

You can either sprinkle a fine layer of it around areas where you’re seeing roaches, or create a mixture combining equal parts of baking soda and sugar to attract them, and apply in strategic locations.

Pro tip: The best thing about using baking soda is that it is non-toxic to humans and pets, making it totally safe if you have children and pets.

Use Store-Bought Baits

cockroaches fell into a sticky trap
Photo Credit: Dmitriydanilov / Canva Pro / License

Store-bought roach baits combine an attractant with a slow-acting insecticide, creating a lethal snack for roaches. The real magic of these baits is that they can also potentially eliminate other roaches: When the roach that has eaten the bait returns to its hiding spot, other roaches may come into contact with its carcass or droppings, inadvertently getting the poison themselves.

Another advantage of store-bought baits is their ease of use and availability. You can find them in syringes for precise application of gel baits or ready-to-use plastic bait stations. They are readily available at most hardware stores or online. Here are a few options to consider:

To effectively use these baits, place them in strategic locations, such as under sinks, behind refrigerators, dishwashers, and stoves, near trash cans, and inside cabinets. Make sure you apply them flush against edges and corners to increase the chances of roaches coming across them.

Place Roach Traps

Roach traps serve a dual purpose: They are effective tools for gauging the extent of an infestation and pinpointing roach hideouts, and they can also reduce the roach population. These traps, often sticky and baited, lure roaches, and once they’re in, they find themselves trapped in a sticky substance from which there is no escape.

Place these roach traps in areas where roach activity is suspected, such as cracks, crevices, and dark corners. Regularly check the traps, and if no roaches are trapped in 2 to 3 days, you can move the trap to another location.

Spray Insecticides

using insecticide to prevent cockroaches
Photo Credit: Africa images / Canva Pro / License

Available in various forms, like roach sprays and aerosols, insecticides can reduce roach populations drastically when used correctly. Common active ingredients in roach insecticides include:

  • Deltamethrin
  • Permethrin
  • Esfenvalerate
  • Cypermethrin

To maximize their impact, focus on treating areas where roaches are known to hide or through which they commonly travel. Instead of indiscriminately spraying across walls, floors, baseboards, and countertops, target the application in more strategic locations, like cracks and crevices, and inside cabinets.

Pro Tip: Avoid spraying insecticides if you’re already using roach bait. The insecticide can prevent the roaches from reaching the baits, reducing its effectiveness.

Warning: Follow label instructions meticulously, since many insecticides can be toxic to humans and pets. If you’re not sure about how to use them, it’s best to call a professional pest control pro.

Apply Insect Growth Regulators

Unlike traditional insecticides that kill on contact, insect growth regulators (IGRs) target the life cycle of roaches, disrupting the development of nymphs and preventing eggs from hatching. This method is particularly valuable if you’re looking for a long-term solution.

Another advantage of IGRs is that they also work against roaches that have developed resistance to conventional insecticides, which is why some pest control pros choose to combine them with insecticide spraying.

However, with IGRs, you have to be patient, as they do not offer instant results. Their strength is in gradually decreasing the roach population in your home. 

Here are the most common IGRs for roach control:

  • Hydroprene (Gentrol)
  • Pyriproxyfen (Archer, Nylar)
  • Noviflumuron

Pour Boiling Water

boiling water
Photo Credit: Scott Akerman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Sewer roaches, also known as American cockroaches, often enter homes through plumbing fixtures, seeking food and moisture. Pouring boiling water down your drain serves as a straightforward and natural way to kill these sewer roaches. 

Simply boil a large pot of water and pour it directly down your bathtub, shower, bathroom sink, and kitchen sink drains. Make it a weekly habit to prevent new roaches from coming in, but bear in mind that this method alone will not eliminate an infestation.

Warning: Always be cautious when handling boiling water to avoid burns or spills.

Spray Essential Oils

While essential oils may not work as a sole method to kill roaches, they can help deter them from your living spaces by creating an unpleasant environment for them (and a pleasant one for you).

A study in 2010 highlighted the efficacy of two compounds that are often found in essential oils against adult roaches: thymol and trans-Cinnamaldehyde. These compounds are often mostly found in thyme oil and cinnamon oil.

Mix around 20 drops of these essential oils in 6 ounces of water in a spray bottle and spray the mixture around potential entry points and around your home. The oils dissipate over time, so reapply the spray regularly, at least once a day.

How to Get Rid of Roaches Overnight

photo of someone pouring bleach out of a bottle
Photo Credit: Richard Villalonundefined undefined / Canva Pro / License

The idea of getting rid of roaches overnight is appealing. But that’s what it is — an idea. Quick fixes are generally not effective against roach infestations. They may kill a few roaches on contact, but they won’t address the root of the problem: the roaches hiding out of sight.

Here’s a look at a few methods that can kill roaches overnight, and the problems with them:

  • Aerosol foggers: Also known as roach bombs, these can kill roaches on contact. However, their effectiveness is limited because the fog doesn’t penetrate into the cracks and crevices where roaches typically hide. Instead, it settles on surfaces more likely to be contacted by humans and pets, posing a health risk.

    Foggers might be more suitable for empty, heavily infested spaces, and should always be used in conjunction with other methods.
  • Stepping on roaches: Doing this will kill roaches instantly (if you apply enough force), making it a tempting option when you see one scurrying across the floor. It deals with the immediate problem, but it does nothing to eliminate hidden roaches, and you can’t possibly eliminate every roach this way.
  • Using bleach: Bleach can kill roaches by damaging their exoskeleton, you just have to soak these critters in it. However, bleach can also damage surfaces and release harmful fumes, posing risks to humans and pets.

The reality is that there’s no magical solution to eliminate all roaches overnight. Methods like baits or boric acid, while not instant, are more effective in the long run.

How to Get Rid of Cockroach Eggs

Cockroaches are prolific breeders. They lay their eggs in oval-shaped cases known as oothecae, and each can contain a significant number of eggs. So, if you see an ootheca, it’s important to deal with them as well, so you can eliminate the roaches’ future generations.

Here are some strategies for dealing with roach eggs:

  • Release parasitic wasps: In non-residential areas, like office buildings, it is common to introduce parasitic wasps as a biological control method. They lay their eggs inside cockroach egg cases, and when the roaches’ eggs hatch, the wasps’ larvae eat them, preventing them from emerging.
  • Vacuum your home: Using a HEPA vacuum cleaner equipped with a crevice attachment, you can remove cockroach eggs from their hiding places. Focus on dark areas, cracks, and crevices where roaches are likely to lay their eggs.
  • Use insect growth regulators: IGRs interfere with the roaches’ development, including preventing eggs from hatching. Apply them according to the label instructions.

Signs of Cockroach Infestation

two cockroach eggs on a white surface
Roach egg cases (oothecae)
Photo Credit: rungniran namolsan / Canva Pro / License

Not sure if you have a cockroach infestation? Here are some telltale signs that indicate an infestation to help you start preparing your elimination plan:

  • An increase in allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy eyes, or other respiratory issues. 
  • Noticing the presence of cockroach droppings, which resemble coffee grounds or black pepper.
  • Finding cockroach egg cases, or oothecae, in closets, behind furniture, or in other secluded areas.
  • Noticing an oily, musty, and unpleasant odor throughout your home.
  • Finding shed skins, which roaches leave behind as they grow.
  • Seeing live cockroaches scurrying around your home.

FAQ About Roaches

How Long Does it Take for an Exterminator to Get Rid of Roaches?

It can take a few days to a few weeks for a treatment applied by a cockroach exterminator to work. The exact time frame depends on the severity of the infestation and the methods used by the professional, but it is never instantaneous. 

In some extreme cases, it may take an exterminator a few months to get rid of roaches and require multiple treatments.

How to Get Rid of Roaches Without Killing Them?

If you don’t want to resort to lethal methods but want to keep roaches away, the best thing to do is make your home less attractive for them in the first place. Once they have already settled in, it is almost impossible to get rid of them without killing them. 

To keep roaches away, you can:

  • Keep your home clean, especially the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Seal any entry points, like cracks, holes, or gaps in walls.
  • Use essential oils like cinnamon oil or thyme oil as repellents.
  • Crush bay leaves and place them in high and damp spaces.

What are the Pet-Safe Ways to Get Rid of Roaches?

Maintaining a clean home, spraying essential oils, and using baking soda and diatomaceous earth solutions are cockroach elimination methods that are completely safe for pets. Other methods, like boric acid and roach baits, can cause stomach upset in pets if ingested, but they have a low toxicity level. 

When to Call a Professional

Despite arming yourself with all the knowledge and tools to declare war on roaches, they are tenacious adversaries. If you’ve cleaned, sealed, baited, sprayed, and tried all the home remedies for cockroaches, yet they still march on, it might be time to call a cockroach exterminator near you for a roach treatment.

Pest Gnome participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Pest Gnome may earn revenue from products promoted in this article.

Main Image Credit: RHJ / Canva Pro / License

Maria Isabela Reis

Maria Isabela Reis is a writer, Ph.D. candidate, and plant enthusiast from an area where mosquitoes are as relentless in their pursuit of blood as she is in her quest for knowledge. When she’s not swatting away these buzzing annoyances, she’s playing with her dogs and savoring a cup of tea.