Cockroaches are disgusting little bugs, sometimes not so little, that are like parasites for a home as they feed off the scraps the people within leave behind. Nobody feels comfortable around roaches, and everybody wants to know how to get rid of cockroaches.
The problem is that roach infestations don’t affect dirty homes exclusively. There are many reasons roaches invade homes. Sometimes they enter because they can.
Fortunately, many ways to combat, kill, remove, and deter roaches exist. Options range from home remedies with household items to poisons that are both toxic and non-toxic for humans.
Using this guide, you will learn how to get rid of roaches forever. You also have to prevent more from replacing the dead ones and make your home into a place that isn’t inviting enough to make a home invasion worthwhile.
These roaches will find easier targets if your home is too challenging and your roach control methods will be successful! Keep reading to find out how to get rid of roach infestations.
Which Cockroach Species Have Invaded My Home?
While there are many thousands of cockroach species around the world, only dozens of those reside in the U.S. Of those, you are likely to have three to five species in your home, maybe fewer.
The German Cockroach
By far, and the race isn’t close, the German cockroach is the most common roach in households. Not to say that every house or region with roaches has a German cockroach infestation, not true.
I used to live in New Orleans, and German cockroaches are not the kings of that region.
If you look at the average across the whole country, the German cockroach is the most common. This species of roach takes over because they lay so many eggs.
One female can surround herself with a family of about 30,000 cockroaches within a year.
The females carry their eggs on their backs, so when one walks into your home, probably hauling eggs, you have 30-40 more roaches running around in short order. Every adult female keeps hatching 30-40 more baby roaches, and shortly thereafter, you have a real problem on your hands.
German Cockroaches have small bodies and light brown colors that make them stand out. Most roaches are brown to black, but the browns are usually darker than other species.
Like all roach species, people easily identify the wide flat bodies, antennae, long hind legs, and folded wings on the back.
These roaches are extremely food driven, and will often find their ways into your car. Here are how to get rid of roaches in your car!
The American Cockroach
The American cockroach has the largest body you will see in your home. They can measure about 2in long. With long antennae and long rear legs, you can’t overlook this species when you walk into the kitchen and one scuttles away. Even worse, when you fail to kill the bug, you might live alongside the pest for two years. They have the longest lifespans.
They often have a nice reddish-brown color, nice on a wooden table or a quality shirt, not a bug. Down in Florida, you may hear them called Palmetto bugs. Some people call them sewer bugs because of the heavy concentrations there.
Restaurants usually have the biggest problem with American cockroaches. Consequently, in cities where housing and eateries exist side by side, these bugs spread everywhere because they are constantly on the hunt for food.
Some cockroaches can fly, and American cockroaches can fly but only poorly for short distances. These roaches usually stay on their legs and fly clumsily when necessary.
The Oriental Roach
German and American cockroaches are much more common than oriental roaches. Despite sporadic populations, you can suffer from an Oriental roach infestation.
This species might be less common because they may live in a house and go outdoors during summer. They also migrate between homes. They are noticeably large, about an inch long, and cannot fly.
If you see a shiny black or very dark brown roach, you are probably looking at an Oriental.
The Brown-Banded Roach
Like the Oriental, the Brown-Banded roach may invade your home in large numbers, or you may not get them at all. These roaches live a bit differently than the others. People commonly bring these roaches in when they purchase used furniture. They stow away in boxes in infested homes. When people move, they bring an infestation to uninfested houses, apartments, etc.
They like to live behind refrigerators near the motor housing. However, these roaches feed on a wide array of household items. You can see these pests anywhere. They get into electronics, eat some kinds of wallpaper, and adhesives made with animal parts are on the menu. These roaches even chew on nylon stockings because they find skin residue.
People often confuse them with German cockroaches because both are similar in size at about half an inch long. However, the lifestyle of the Brown-Banded roach differs from their German counterparts.
The Woods Roach
The last roach on my list is the least likely roach to see unless you live near, well, the woods. People who live near forested areas and bring in locally harvested firewood are the most likely to end up with Woods roaches. They are about an inch long and dark brown.
Woods roaches are also good fliers and may enter the home in the air. Infestations are rare because these roaches don’t thrive indoors and usually get inside by accident. They will probably try to leave if they end up indoors or may die trying.
Their natural habitat is under loose bark, stumps, dead trees, and logs.
What Attracts Roaches To My Home?
You might be wondering what attracts roaches to my home? There are various reasons roaches come into homes. Some people have old or unclean houses, and the array of scents and tastes will make roaches curious.
However, some people have clean homes with meticulously manicured lawns, and one day they see a roach anyway. Surely almost all of these people wonder, why do I have roaches? My home is so clean!
Possibly you live in an apartment or townhouse, and another home isn’t so clean. That kind of home attracted roaches, and the pests only had to migrate a short distance into your home using pipes as a causeway.
But, you might say, my clean house sits alone in a secluded area. Most humans have a standard of cleanliness that, when met, allows people to reason that something isn’t dirty and shouldn’t attract pests that like filth.
Roaches have no such standards. Their reasons for entering a home just make sense to the bug at the time, but generally it revolves around food and water sources. Let’s have a look at some likely reasons to help figure out how to get rid of roaches forever.
Everybody knows not to leave food out if you want to give roaches one less reason to come inside. Like any other creature, cockroaches like to eat and use the path of least resistance to find food and water. Check out our guide on what do roaches eat!
A tiny bread crumb you swipe away might look like a loaf of bread to a roach. Mopping all the time isn’t practical, so make the broom your friend.
Countertops are obvious places to clean, but we often miss objects on the floor. Sweep regardless of whether you see anything or not. You will be surprised how much the broom collects.
Roaches are omnivores and will eat anything. Do the dishes every day, take the trash out regularly, and use good lids on the garbage cans in the house.
Don’t toss a banana peel in an office-style open wastebasket. Take a few extra seconds to throw the peel in the sealed kitchen trash can that traps odor.
Roaches Like Your Location
Instead of a roach, imagine you live in Florida in an area with lots of ponds, canals, or lakes. Guaranteed, alligators will settle around you because they like water.
Similarly, some people live in areas that don’t attract roaches because the surroundings lack things they like. Some areas naturally have features, odors, and tastes that attract cockroaches. Once a reservoir of roach pheromone builds up, they keep coming.
There is almost no way for you to know that your house sits in an area that roaches enjoy because of scents you will never be able to smell. If you live in a place that cockroaches like, you got unlucky.
Your Shelter Also Protects Roaches
Roaches like to have a roof over their head too. Your home is generally far safer than living in the wild. Not just because of predators, but also because roaches need to find a place to survive freezing winters. Your home is perfect.
Many species prefer different locations. You might find roaches behind picture frames, under furniture, under large appliances, around bathroom moisture, in the basement, in kitchen cupboards, etc.
Wherever cockroaches feel hidden and safe most of the time, you will find them lurking.
Roaches Like Your Landscaping Choices
Of course, you know, a roach has a short distance to travel to your house from your yard. Most people don’t care what bugs think about the land outside the home. Here’s a pro tip, if everybody else’s yard attracts more roaches than yours, you will have fewer roaches.
A food source is a food source from the perspective of a cockroach. You might have bird feed on the grass, residue in the grill, or a garden full of irresistible odors with a pile of logs full of hiding places. Standing water in something like a bird bath also attracts roaches. They will live in gutters for the same reason.
Every living thing on Earth needs water for survival. You may never know that a pipe somewhere deep in your home drips a few drops of water per minute.
Those drops accumulate somewhere, and that small amount of water is enough to attract a roach.
Examples of the places a roach could find water in a home are too many to name, but the most likely locations are the bathrooms, under any faucet, and pet bowls.
How Do Roaches Enter Homes?
When the time comes to enter a home, roaches have many clever ways. Sometimes they don’t walk or fly in, but you unknowingly bring them inside.
Cracks, Gaps, & Holes
I feel the best approach is to start with the obvious, Exclusion. Everyone knows a gap between a window and the seal is a place a cockroach can walk through. Applying extra sealant to a gap of this nature is simple, but what about the places you might not think to look? Cockroaches only need tiny cracks and crevices to use as entry points to your home.
When someone installed a pipe that roaches love to walk on, they might have created a hole in a wall to run the pipe through and left a gap. Air conditioning vents are places roaches can walk through and feel safe because you’ll probably never know they’re there.
I recommend not worrying about the most challenging spots to fix right away. Do the easy repairs like sealing doors and windows first. By removing easy access, you will notice a dramatic decrease in roach traffic.
Later you can attack every last gap or hole you can find in the least obvious of places.
Taxiing Roaches Inside
Roaches also get into your house when they live in a box, bag, or furniture you bring in from outside. Furniture is one of the most common ways roaches infest entire apartment blocks.
New people move in with these pests in tow, living inside furniture, appliances, etc., and the bugs spread throughout the entire building within months.
Although, from personal experience, I have moved twice from roach-infested locations to locations with a low infestation rate, out of New Orleans and Jacksonville, Florida to states farther north, and no roaches tagged along and turned into infestations.
If you’re focused on getting rid of roaches, I think you should ensure no stragglers in cardboard boxes, but I wouldn’t be too worried about this..
In places like New Orleans eliminating roaches from the home is next to impossible, so I don’t think traveling with people is the most common form of roach spread.
How To Get Rid Of Cockroaches Naturally: 6 Home Remedies
There was a time, not long ago, when people knew chemicals smelled bad, but they didn’t treat them as toxic substances you shouldn’t even live around when they’re in a container. Times have changed, and we now know that we should avoid chemicals as much as possible.
1. Baking Soda
You probably have to look pretty hard to find a home without baking soda. Why not look to this magical powder when you want to know what kills roaches?
All you have to do is toss diced onions in baking soda to make roach bait. Not a pretty sight, but the baking soda creates gasses when consumed, and the roaches burst and kill roaches in no time. Read our guide on using baking soda for roaches!
Put the bait wherever you typically see cockroaches and along roach entry points, for an all natural way to get rid of roaches with diatomaceous earth! Some people also use vinegar to kill roaches which has a similar effect!
- Cheap and effective way to kill roaches
- Messy cleanup
- Onion is toxic to dogs in high quantities
- Not as effective as traditional pest control techniques
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth is one of the best natural answers to the question, what kills cockroaches instantly and a natural way to get rid of roaches?
Make sure to get food-grade DE. This natural product comes from fossilized diatom silica shell remains. Diatoms are microscopic sea animals.
The flaky remains are sharp and dehydrate bugs to death. After coming into contact with DE, you will soon have a pile of dead, dry roaches. The most efficient way to use DE to get rid of roaches is to sprinkle this powder around the common roach entry points.
- Affordable and safe for pets and humans
- Easy to implement
- Messy cleanup each time after multiple applications
3. Citrus Sprays
Fortunately for us humans, most people love citrus, but the acid repels roaches and can stop roach infestations in their tracks. Stick with strong citruses like lemon and lime. You can squeeze the juice into your mop water or drip a few drops of essential oil. You may never notice the difference, but these pests won’t want to walk on your floors and will find a new home to torment.
- Cheap and effective
- Safe for people and pets
- A deterrent, not a roach killer
4. Essential Oils
Peppermint and lemongrass essential oils work the best. Mix with water and spray in well-trafficked areas.
- Cheap, effective, and non-toxic
- Just a deterrent, not a killer
5. Boric Acid
Boric acid occurs in nature, even in some foods we eat. The trick here is to set a bait trap that allows the acid to stick to roaches’ bodies and get ingested. The acid is harmless to us, but roaches die when their central nervous and digestive systems fail.
Put some on a paper plate and put something like an orange peel or any fruit in the middle. The roaches will have to walk over the acid to get the bait and will die from exposure and ingestion. Overall, boric acid is an extremely simple and easy natural way to get rid of roaches.
- Cheap, non-toxic, and simple ways to get rid of roaches
- Several applications followed by messy cleanups
- Even if harmless, avoid exposure to pets and children
If you see Borax and think, wait, that’s a chemical, not a natural product. You’re correct, partially. Borax is in toxic chemicals like detergent, but the ingredient itself is a salt form of boric acid. You should consider using borax to get rid of roaches!
Mix with sugar to bait the pests towards your treatment. Sprinkle some in places where they travel away from people and pets, not around your dishes in the cupboard. The cockroaches die quickly of dehydration.
- Very effective on babies and adults
- Toxic to people and pets
- Messy clean-up after each application
How To Get Rid Of Roaches Inside Your Home – Traditional Methods
If a home remedy isn’t for you, and you want to know how to get rid of roaches overnight, maybe you need to try professional company products or specialists in eradication and removal.
Be aware that you are probably bringing toxic substances into the house and risk some kind of exposure, even if you can’t perceive any changes.
Earlier we went over how to set bait traps with household products, but you can pick up bait stations at your local store too.
Roaches follow appetizing odors in, get poisoned, and, now toxic, deliver the poison to their nests where significant death occurs after other roaches cannibalize the poisoned roaches that die.
I have personally seen this method work wonders when I lived in Florida. Keeping roaches out of the house was impossible, but they came in and died. Then life was much more enjoyable. Generally, bait stations are one of the best ways to get rid of roaches.
- Quickly effective eradication of entire roach populations
- Undetectable toxicity
- A pet or animal in nature could eat a dead roach and ingest poison.
2. Glue Traps
Glue traps have multiple uses. They do kill and remove these pests, but a sticky trap is also useful for identifying problem areas of your roach infestation. When you come across a glue trap near the kitchen sink, full of roaches, you know to concentrate your efforts there.
The odor of a glue trap attracts roaches, many use roach pheromones. Once they make contact, they’re as good as dead. I recommend you place glue traps in areas where you already spotted roach activity to confirm your pest hot spots. Glue traps are usually one of the best ways to get rid of roaches in your home.
- Affordable & non-toxic to pets and people
- Continued monitoring and replacing of full traps
3. Liquid Concentrate and Pesticides
Any cockroach treatment plan from a professional will include some sort of liquid or spray pesticide. Although these pesticides do technique contain dangerous poisons, these concentrates are diluted into safe amounts of poison which is effective to help you get rid of roaches, but still safe for family and pets when the proper safety protocols are followed.
Some of these professional grade pesticides will also include insect growth regulators which will not only get rid of roaches, but it will also limit the cockroaches ability to lay eggs and reproduce. Limiting their ability to reproduce is one of the best ways to get rid of your infestation.
- Quickly effective & relatively affordable
- The most effective way to get rid of roaches
- Can be dangerous if safety protocols aren’t followed.
4. Caulk Entries
Prevention is one of the best ways to get rid of any pest infestation. Caulk is a treatment I recommend no matter how you go about removing roaches. If you have gaps and/or holes that roaches can easily walk through, you may kill loads of cockroaches only to have more to replace the dead.
Check door and window seals very closely for gaps, but check everything else too. Roaches can slip in and out between worn-down bathroom tiles.
- Non-toxic, affordable, & effective
- Non-lethal barrier
- Wears down over time
5. Hire Pest Control Specialists
When all else fails, give the pros a call. Pest treatment specialists know how to take care of these cockroach infestations for good without leaving behind toxic threats to pets or humans.
If you’re dealing with a severe infestation, then hiring a professional will be the easiest way to get rid of roaches in your home.
- Effective & long-lasting
- Works indoors and outside
- More expensive than DIY
6. Last Resort Only—Bug Bombs
Bug bombs or roach bombs work and will kill roaches, but they are only effective by forming a toxic cloud, which falls on the floor and all surfaces.
You must leave the house with anything you don’t want to die. A roach bomb, or fogger, is the last resort for an otherwise hopelessly roach-infested home. The environment will be toxic long after the bombs go off in all the rooms.
This method generally involves moving out of your home for a few days and allowing the chemicals to do their thing.
This is an extremely effective way to get rid of roaches, but it can be dangerous and requires moving out of your home.
- Immediately effective
- 100% toxic & flammable
- Involves having to move out of your home
How To Get Rid Of Roaches Outside Of Your Home
Outside is an area of concern but not as much as inside. Some basic ground rules will make the area around your home less appetizing than other homes to deter roaches.
1. Clean Up Around Your Home’s Perimeter
Cleanliness is my number one deterrent recommendation. Get rid of piles of sticks, leaves cardboard boxes, or wood roaches use as shelter that might be around your home’s perimeter.
Only use trash cans with secure lids, and dump out standing water. Plants and gardens are fine, but don’t let foliage touch the house. Along with this, if you have pet food in your garage, ensure the pet food is in airtight containers.
Taking care of the landscape in such a manner limits where roaches can find food, water, and shelter around your home.
- Makes your home less inviting for most types of pests.
- Only a deterrent
2. Glue Traps, Bait, & Pesticide
Given the similar relationship between these treatments, I decided to roll them together. Previous sections already explained these options and how they work.
These treatments are three methods that achieve the same goal, killing roaches before they can get inside. The toxic pesticide option lasts a long time and isn’t nearly as dangerous outside when compared to inside.
Bait, as previously covered, walks the line between toxic and non-toxic DIY options. Just know that toxic baits, especially poisons, could harm or kill local populations of wild animals. Glue traps are unsightly but don’t run the risk of doing any additional damage. All of these are good options on how to get rid of most household pests.
- Affordable & effective
- Toxicity risk outside of glue traps
How Do I Discourage Roaches Inside the House?
I’m going to return to my previous examples of living in both Florida and Louisiana. In locations like these, the task of keeping roaches out is nearly impossible.
What to do?
Well, once the pests are inside, you make the conditions such that roaches find very little of what they came inside hoping to find. Get into the habit of keeping everything very clean.
Cleanliness includes cleaning inside and around appliances. Have you ever looked at how much food accumulates inside an unclean oven? Do you ever think about grease splatter on your stovetop? Roaches love grease.
Sweep, mop, remove the trash, and do the dishes daily, or as necessary.
Get into proper food storage. Containers with airtight seals are your best friends. Don’t forget about how fruits like bananas and apples do fine sitting outside, but they attract roaches. You can refrigerate fruits if necessary.
Don’t leave boxes and newspapers lying around. Get these paper-based items to a recycling facility, so that you don’t provide roaches with bedding material in nests. Learn what do roach nests look like in our guide!
As stated earlier, use materials like caulk to plug holes, cracks, gaps, etc. Remember, you have to stop more roaches from coming inside.
What to Expect from an Exterminator
Exterminators like to operate on a 3-step basis—an inspection, treatment, and follow-up.
The inspection helps an exterminator gauge the task ahead and tailor a price for the job. After forming a plan, a well-designed treatment system eliminates entire roach populations with specific materials that last for months.
The follow-up is a courtesy check to make sure everything worked as expected. Competent exterminators know that all the roaches died, but another check inspires customer confidence and loyalty. If any problem areas still exist, further treatment will finish the job.