One of the most common issues in our homes, especially in our kitchens, is roaches. You may not know how many roaches hide in your house because you don’t see them come out in the day often or when you are working with lights on during the night (1). They usually come out at night-time and carry disease-causing germs as well as bacteria that infect your food and may harm your health (2). It becomes a Herculean task to get rid of roaches, once they make a home in your kitchen and drainages.
Roaches are generally attracted to waste products and dark and damp places. Should they find a suitable environment to live, they would reproduce very quickly and multiply to make your life hell (3). It is really important to get rid of those nasty buggers as soon as you spot one in or around your home. Now, you must be wondering what kills roaches?
You can use plenty of products available in the market. But why spend so much on those commercial products when you can prepare your own effective and homemade roach killers and repellents in lesser time than going to the store to buy the commercial ones?
The ingredients used in these home remedies for roaches are already present in your house, you just need to look for the right ones, and we will help you trap, repel and kill those unpleasant visitors to protect you and your family from the diseases they bring with them.
Some Myths About Cockroaches: Busted
- All Cockroaches are bad: False. There are thousands of species of cockroaches, but only 30 of them classify as pests. Some common ones in the US are the American, German, Oriental and Smokey-Brown cockroaches (4).
- Cockroaches were alive in the Jurassic Era: True. The fossils have suggested that cockroaches existed even 350 million years ago, which is way before dinosaurs (5).
- Roaches will eat anything: True. Yes, they will eat anything including plants, dead animal skin, and even garbage (6).
- Roaches live for decades: False. Most species live only for some months. The highest a cockroach can live is up to 2 years (7).
- They can survive a month without eating: True. Roaches have a capability to survive without food for over a month, but they will die in a week without water (8).
- They move very fast. True. Cockroaches do indeed move very fast. The highest recorded speed is 3 miles an hour (9).
How to Get Rid of Roaches Using Home Remedies
1) Peppermint Oil
Peppermint is a natural roach repellent and insecticide that repels and kills insects. You can make a fresh minty spray with peppermint oil and water, as opposed to aerosol sprays which are sold in the market. This spray is healthy to breathe in and safe to use around children and pets (10). You can also use this spray for getting rid of roaches in your car as it is non-toxic and smells pleasant.
To prepare your own peppermint spray, pour 10 ounces of water in a spray bottle and 15 drops of peppermint oil. Mix it thoroughly and spray around possible entry points, organic waste and dark corners.
Boric acid is tested as the best roach killer as it is a slow-acting and an inorganic insecticide which can be the best way to kill the roaches, especially German cockroach or Blattella germanica. When they ingest this acid, the cellular lining of their foregut is destroyed, killing them instantly. This method is considered to be the most lethal because cockroaches have been seen developing resistance to commercial pesticides (11).
How to kill roaches with borax? Mix 2 tablespoons of borax and 2 cups or sugar in a liter of water and pour this mixture into a spray bottle. Shake the bottle to mix all the components before spraying it near the nests and other suspected areas.
3) Pyrethrum Spray
Cockroach infestation in 59 ships at Hamburg’s port was identified by spraying pyrethrum spray more frequently than inspection or illuminating their hiding places. The port has adopted the standardized process of spraying pyrethrum to fight with roach manifestation (12).
Chrysanthemum flowers can be used to make a DIY spray at home, as these flowers can be easily found in the garden of any flower enthusiast. If you don’t find it in your garden, ask your neighbors. Take 2 Tablespoons of flower heads and steep them in a liter of hot water for 10 minutes. Put a pinch of soap powder and mix thoroughly. Pour this liquid into a spray bottle and spray around the possible manifestation areas.
4) Bay Leaves
Bay leaves have an odor that is unpleasant for cockroaches and other insects. Unlike humans, roaches despise the idea of bay leaves anywhere around them, making it one of the best roach repellents that you can use to get rid of roaches in your house (13). Buying bay leaves can be costly if you buy them from the store, so it is suggested to purchase them online and save on the cost.
You will need a handful of bay leaves to make your own roach repellent. Crush the leaves and place them in the suspected areas, like clefts of the walls and corners.
5) Catnip Spray
Catnip has been used as a natural roach repellent for centuries. Its insect-repelling activity has been proved over the past 50 years. Nepetalactone is the active ingredient in catnip plant extract that bothers the roaches, driving them away (14). It is one of the best ways to get rid of roaches naturally, and you can use catnip leaves to prepare this spray. Use a handful of leaves and 2 cups of water, steep the leaves in boiling water for 10 minutes and refrigerate the mixture. Pour this into a spray bottle and spray around the house.
Neem is a medicinal plant which has various uses, one of them being to interrupt with a cockroach’s life cycle. It reduces fecundity and molts, and reduces the number of fertile eggs (15). Neem helps you kill cockroaches without an exterminator, and you don’t need to move out of your house when using this method.
All you need is a handful of neem leaves and a liter of water. Crush the leaves into a paste and dilute it with the water. Now filter the water and pour this liquid into a spray bottle. Spray in corners and damp areas (16).
7) Silica Aerogel
Desiccants are the substances that can dry out anything that comes in direct contact with them. The body of a cockroach is made up of liquid substances, and they have a protective coating outside their bodies that prevents moisture loss. When the roach comes in contact with this substance, its outer layer is dried out which makes it lose moisture and eventually die, making this one of the most effective roach killer (17).
8) Diatomaceous Earth
It is a non-toxic substance which has an abrasive quality. It works on the same principle as silica aerogel, by drying out the outermost layer of the insect. Some grades of the diatomaceous earth contain silica dust (powder of crystalline silica) which is poisonous to inhale, so make sure you buy the one which is free of any such substances, to make it safe to use in the house (18).
You can add some sugar to this powder to attract insects and sprinkle it in the cracks and other dry areas. Make sure you re-apply very often as these tend to absorb moisture from the atmosphere.
9) Listerine Spray
Listerine helps to get rid of roaches fast because of the essential oils present in it. It contains menthol, thymol, eucalyptol which makes a combination of natural insect killer that smells fresh and minty (19). Menthol in Listerine is the best ingredient to kill German roaches out of the 86 essential oils tested (20).
Mix 4 ounces of Listerine in a gallon of water and spray this mixture in the corners, backyard and around the waste.
Using the detergent may not sound like the best idea to kill the stubborn insects, but it has been proved to be very effective because the mixture of soap and water surrounds the cockroach and kills it by suffocation. This method has also proven to be very effective to kill German roaches and crickets (21).
Just prepare a solution with 3-4 tablespoons of liquid or powdered detergent and a liter of water, and spray it wherever you feel is necessary.
11) Edible Baking Soda
Baking Soda is a leavening agent used to bake cakes and as a home remedy for various tasks. Its function is to expand when it comes in contact with water which will kill the cockroach if it consumes baking soda. You can make a mixture of baking soda and sugar by mixing each of them in equal parts and sprinkling it in corners and baseboards (22, 23). The sugar will attract the insect, and the consumption of baking soda will kill them.
12) Jar Trap
This is one of the least toxic methods of roach control. You will need an empty jar, a banana peel and some petroleum jelly like Vaseline (24). Apply petroleum jelly to the inner surface of the jar, and place the banana peel inside it. Place this jar in a dark place around your waste basket in the night and make sure all the lights are off. The roaches will smell the banana peel and jump inside the jar but won’t be able to climb out of it because of the slippery inner surface. You must be wondering how to kill the roaches once you have trapped them inside the jar. Just place the lid on the jar, keep it in the freezer, and dump the dead insects in the trash.
13) Petroleum Jelly Roach Trap
This trap works on the same principle as the previous remedy, the only difference is that we will use a cardboard box instead of a jar. Smear petroleum jelly inside the box and keep a food item in the middle of the box. This method is used if roach manifestation is severe and a jar won’t be enough to trap all the roaches (25). Open the box every night and close it in the morning to let the trapped roaches die inside it. Dump the box in the trash once you feel all the roaches have been trapped.
14) Ice Cream Trap
This may sound like a bizarre technique, but it works exactly like petroleum jelly. The cockroaches are attracted to the ice cream because of the sugar present in it (26). The melted ice cream acts as a perfect trap because once it melts, it forms a slush-like liquid, on which the cockroaches land because of the sugar but can not leave because of the consistency of the liquid.
You may have bought an ice cream tub months ago only to forget about it and now that it’s expired, you are left with no option but to throw it. Well, you can put this tub near the nests of roaches and see the wonder that happens after some days.
15) Vacuum Them Up
It is one of the coolest methods to trap those cheeky buggers that you might enjoy. This method is most effective for young and nymph cockroaches, it is also helpful in cleaning their eggs and feces. You want to put some cornstarch in your vacuum cleaner bag before you start to suck those pests into the machine. If you don’t do that, you will have to deal with living insects, and with cornstarch, they will die in the bag itself because of suffocation (27).
16) Beer Trap
All the great stories start with it, so does the story of killing those obnoxious creatures. Beer attracts the roaches, but it doesn’t have the same effect on them as it has on humans. They drown in the beer and cannot escape (28, 29).
To prepare a beer trap, you will need a plastic soda bottle and some beer. Cut the top of the bottle and pour some beer in it. Place the top upside down on the bottle, so it acts as a funnel, and seal the sides. You can use tape or glue to do that. The cockroaches will be attracted to the beer and won’t be able to escape due to the complex design of the trap and will eventually drown.
17) Cheap Wine
Drinking a cheap wine may not sound like a very lucrative idea to you, neither it does to the roaches. They will be attracted to the sweet smell of wine, and as soon as they drink it, the alcohol in the wine will kill them within 24 hours. Studies have proven the same with an addition to its effect on German cockroaches (30).
Pour the wine into a spray bottle and spray in the affected areas, or you can also prepare a similar trap like the one with beer. This will ensure that they will not go anywhere once they come in contact with the wine, and will help you get rid of roaches in no time.
Thujone, which is an essential oil found in many varieties of cedar is renowned for its insect-repelling properties. It can be useful when dealing with clothes moths, termites, cockroaches and carpet beetles (31). The added advantage of using this remedy is the pleasant aroma which makes it perfect for home use.
Place small pieces of cedar around the kitchen and in the places from where you usually see them creeping into your houses. Leave these pieces for several weeks, and they will act like your house’s anti-roach mechanism.
19) Hair Spray
Hairspray is a simple-to-understand method to trap roaches. It’s sticky and we have previously seen that cockroaches cannot escape anything sticky once they get stuck. You can use hair spray wherever you see a cockroach, spray it on the uninvited visitor as soon as you sight it and it will cease to move. Spray some soapy water to kill it, and dump it safely in the trash.
20) Sticky Tape & Glue Board
Trapping cockroaches is as easy as trapping mice with a glue board, all you need is a little patience and some sticky tape or glue board (32). Place sticky tape or glue boards which are used to trap mice in the corners, inside the cupboards, and behind the refrigerator, and wait for a week to remove them. By then, you would have caught a lot of cockroaches and other bugs so this method is not only good for roaches but also for other insects.
What to do and what not to do?
- Keep your house and kitchen clean. You can do this by cleaning the dishes every night before sleeping or at least scrape off food and rinse them. Clean up the spills and crumbs to limit the food for cockroaches (33).
- Maintain clean floors and counters, and keep all the trash bins closed at all times. Store food in tightly-sealed containers. Take out garbage as often as possible (34).
- Don’t let water accumulate anywhere in and around the house and also fix the leakages as soon as they occur (35).
- Submerge the dirty dishes in soapy water until they are washed and don’t let any grease accumulate anywhere (36).
- Cover all the cracks and crevices with paint or cement because these are the entry points of insects to your house. You will see the reduction in the number of cockroaches over time (37).
- Avoid creating a mess in your house and kitchen. The more mess you create, the more places for cockroaches to hide and the more they reproduce to make your life even worse (38).
- Repair loose wallpaper or remove it, and get rid of furniture, appliances, food, and clothing that are not used (39).
- You can cover your windows with mesh screens to keep the bugs out (40).
There is no way that those germ-carrying insects can enter the house to affect your family’s health if you take some time out of your busy schedule, and take some of the measures listed in this article. One additional benefit is that you will not only be safe from roaches, but these methods will also protect you from various other bugs like mosquitoes, house flies, termites, bed bugs, etc. If you are suffering from asthma, then this information is very useful for you because their droppings can trigger an asthma attack. So take special care and be safe and healthy.