Few pests can be quite as intimidating as a roach infestation. While getting rid of roaches can be a challenge, knowing some common DIY roach remedies can help you catch a budding cockroach problem before it begins. At Today’s Homeowner, our team understands that no one wants to endlessly fight roaches without a plan — which is why we’ve created a quick and easy guide to getting rid of cockroaches for good.
We’ll also help connect you with a few trustworthy pest control companies operating across the country who can help if you’re dealing with an overwhelming infestation.
What Are Cockroaches?
In the United States, there are several species of cockroaches you can encounter. German cockroaches, American cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches, oriental cockroaches, and smokybrown cockroaches are the most common species of cockroaches you’ll see in the United States. The most common ones that cause home infestations are German cockroaches, followed by American cockroaches.
American cockroaches are the largest cockroach species, and although they do have wings, they prefer to scuttle around on the ground and up walls. German cockroaches also have wings, but they prefer to walk as well. These are the pests most likely to wreak havoc in your home if you’re a property owner living in the continental U.S. All species of cockroach have been known to leave fecal staining where they nest, and if you have enough of them, you’re likely to notice a musky, fetid odor.
Cockroaches thrive in humid, damp, warm environments. This includes kitchen cabinets, anywhere there are leaky pipes, fermenting food sources like dirty dishes or garbage cans, and standing water. You might also see cockroaches near the baseboards of areas where water spills frequently (like in your bathroom or garage).
Lifespans differ across different roach species, but on average, a single cockroach lives to about one year. German cockroaches live up to three months. That lifespan, coupled with their prolific reproduction rate, leaves no surprise why roaches are such pests once they start inhabiting your home. They can squeeze their bodies through tight crevices, and they can and will eat pretty much anything, including book leather, when food sources are scarce.
Cockroaches can run up to three miles per hour, and they have even been known to bite humans if they can’t find another suitable food source. They carry diseases and breed filth, especially through their feces. This is why cockroaches are not only so antagonistic to professional exterminators, but why it is imperative to get rid of your roach problem as soon as possible.
What Are the Best Ways to Get Rid of Cockroaches?
If you’re seeing cockroaches in your home, don’t panic. Test out these DIY roach control methods to eliminate these annoying pests on your property.
- Boric Acid
- Diatomaceous Earth
- Baking Soda
- Glue Traps
- Essential Oils
- Insect Growth Regulators
1. Boric Acid
Far and away the best home remedy to exterminate these diabolical pests is to use boric acid. You can purchase a bottle of this white powdery substance from pretty much anywhere — supermarkets, discount stores, hardware stores, and even dollar stores. You shouldn’t pay more than a few dollars for a container of boric acid, making it both an effective and affordable way to get rid of roaches.
Sprinkle the white powder where you’ve noticed roaches appearing in your home. This can include entryways, cabinet doors, cracks in the wall, near loose caulk and trim, and under any sinks. Spread the powder so that it’s visible, but you don’t need much of it.
Over the next few days, you will start to see lifeless roach carcasses throughout the infected areas. Surprisingly, cockroaches like to be clean, and if any substance sticks to their exoskeleton, they will wipe it off with their appendages and then eat it. Boric acid is toxic, so they soon die once they lick the powder off their bodies, and you’ll enjoy a roach-free home.
2. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth works in a different way than boric acid because the cockroaches do not consume it. However, contact with diatomaceous earth will scratch their carapaces and make dents and cuts in them, which eventually causes the roaches to dry out and die. Diatomaceous earth is relatively harmless to humans but contains razor-sharp particles of substances like silica and iron oxide that are fatal to roaches.
Diatomaceous earth is sometimes used in potted plants and gardens to prevent pests from overtaking the plants; it is abrasive and an effective deterrent if used correctly. Diatoms are the leftover hard bodies of microscopic organisms that live in bodies of water. Their remains are added to soil in order to be an effective pest control device.
For roaches, you can thinly spread out diatomaceous earth in your home where you’ve seen roach activity. It must be applied thinly, though, because if there’s too much (as with boric acid), roaches will notice it and run around it. The goal is to get them to skitter through the diatomaceous earth, which you can achieve if you spread out only a thin, barely visible layer of powder.
3. Baking Soda
If you’re looking for a creative and easy way to exterminate roaches in your home, you can also add baking soda to your pest control repertoire. Baking soda doesn’t really work on its own — you must mix baking soda with sugar, and you can use equal parts of each substance when creating your mixture. Once the roaches eat the sugary baking soda and then drink water, their stomachs will expand and pop, killing the roach quickly.
You can also buy pellets that are three parts boric acid and one part baking soda. These have been proven effective within a few hours of the roach consuming them because the toxicity of the boric acid and the bloating effects of wet baking soda combine. You can find these tablets at home improvement stores and gardening centers.
4. Glue Traps
Glue traps are great for a small population of roaches in your home. For a large-scale infestation, gel bait traps or sticky glue traps aren’t as effective. If you’re looking to gauge the severity of your roach problem, glue traps are an excellent way to see how much roach traffic you’re getting in your home through your most popular entry points.
You can open and set up these roach traps in front of cabinet doors, on countertops, under sinks, and anywhere else in your home you see or suspect a cockroach problem. Within a day or two, those traps should have caught the culprits. You can use the number of roaches on each trap to determine where you should focus your pest control efforts if you notice you have more pests than you originally thought.
5. Essential Oils
If you’re looking for a more natural DIY roach repellent, you should know that roaches absolutely hate the smell of citrus. You can make a mixture of water and essential oils to spray all around your home to repel the little pests from coming back inside.
Again, this is a home remedy that works best for minimal cockroach control, not a full-blown infestation. Orange, grapefruit, kaffir lime, lemon, and tangerine work great in this essential oil spray repellant.
Roaches also loathe oregano and rosemary — you can make an Italian-themed repellant spray with these essential oils as well if you prefer the scent of herbs to citrus fruits.
6. Insect Growth Regulators
Insect growth regulators are sprays filled with insecticide you can use in your home. They focus on killing cockroaches in the larval or nymph stages and even make eggs nonviable. Because insect growth regulators cut cockroach infestations off at the source, they can be effective when combined with products or techniques that kill adult roaches. It may take a few weeks for you to see the effects of the insect growth regulator, and you will need to employ one or more of the above methods to eradicate adult cockroaches as well for a complete fix.
Sometimes when dealing with cockroaches, you have to know when to pull out the big guns. Ant and cockroach pesticides, roach motels, and roach-killing bait are all effective chemicals you can use to wipe out the roaches in your home. The reason why poison is toward the bottom of our list is because if you have pets or small children, this may not be the first method you want to go with. However, when it comes to roach infestations that simply won’t go away, poisons and pesticides may be the only answer.
Raid kills roaches on contact, and the others use enticing bait to get the roaches to consume the poison within. Roach motels trap the roaches inside; roach-killing bait acts more slowly because once a roach is covered in poison, it will return to the nest, poisoning others. This may be the way to go if the aforementioned techniques did not quite eradicate the roaches.
What Are Signs That You Have a Roach Infestation?
How can you determine if you have a cockroach infestation? Here are some signs to be on the lookout for if you think you might have these uninvited guests in your home.
- Droppings: The first sign you will likely notice of a cockroach infestation is their droppings. In fact, you will probably see this black dusting of droppings before seeing an actual roach, as most of their activity occurs during the night.
- Smears or smudges: Because cockroaches like to hang out in damp or wet spaces when they emerge from their nests, they often leave brownish smudges from squeezing wetly through small spaces. These smears and smudges are telltale signs that you have roaches in your home.
- Shed skin: When cockroaches are maturing from nymphs to adults, they shed their skin more than five times a day. Chances are you will see these remnants close to where they’re nesting.
- Dead cockroaches: It is likely that wherever you see dead cockroaches, live ones aren’t far behind. Pay attention to any area where you see multiple dead cockroaches or areas where roaches tend to die frequently in order to target your treatments most effectively.
- Eggs: Female roaches are typically good at tucking their eggs away for safekeeping until they hatch, but you still may spot these little cockroach bundles in your home if you have a major roach problem. Cockroach eggs are actually bundled together in black or brown capsules, and these capsules are normally a half-inch long or smaller. They can be ridged or smooth, depending on the species of roach.
How Can You Prevent Roaches Before Your House Becomes Infested?
While there are plenty of methods you can use to get roaches out of your home, there are measures you can take to prevent roaches from infesting your property in the first place. The key is to make your abode as unappealing to cockroaches as possible. Use the following tips and tricks to prevent roaches from making a home inside of your house.
- Seal cracks: If there is any peeling caulk or loose trim in your home, these are potential entryways for roaches. You can re-caulk these areas, and you can also place roach traps in corners and around these areas, just in case. Make sure your basement is watertight and all your window seals are fresh and functional.
- Eliminate all potential attractants: This tip is mostly for your kitchen. Any open pet food, old cardboard boxes, crumbs on countertops, or even crumbs and food particles in toasters are roach bait. All these things attract roaches, especially sweet, starchy morsels and meat. Make sure your trash cans are disinfected, covered, and emptied regularly. Tightly seal any and all food containers, and get rid of rotten produce before it attracts roaches.
- Get rid of water sources: This includes dripping faucets, standing water anywhere, leaky pipes, clogged drains, and anywhere roaches can find a drink. Some water in your house can’t be avoided, but getting rid of all superfluous water sources, especially those located in hot and humid areas of your home, will help prevent roach infestations.
- Rinse out recycling: Don’t simply toss empty cans or bottles into the recycling bin. It helps to minimize the possibility of attracting unwanted visitors if you rinse the food and drink remnants from inside these containers. Roaches are attracted to any kind of food source, so cleaning out any garbage can be a key step to keeping them at bay.
- Declutter: If you have lots of cardboard boxes, wooden pallets, or other piles of debris, still useful or not, roaches may see these as perfect areas to nest. Cockroach droppings contain messages to other cockroaches through pheromones whether a place is a good place to live or not, and if you have large piles of debris lying around, this is like a cockroach playground.
Should You Hire a Professional Exterminator for Roaches
As many homeowners know, roaches can be a particularly tough pest to fully eradicate. If you’ve read through our entire guide on how to get rid of cockroaches and you’re still having problems, it might be time to call in the professionals. Professional pest control services have access to commercial-grade insecticides and pesticides, which kill cockroaches more effectively when compared to DIY methods. Professionals versed in roach control can also effectively lay bait stations in areas where roaches tend to gather or enter your home, which helps clear pests out of your property faster.
You might know that you need professional assistance getting rid of cockroaches but are afraid of the cost. If this is the situation you’re finding yourself in, know that professional pest removal might be more affordable than you think. For example, depending on where you live and the size of your property, you could pay as little as $50 per cockroach treatment from a nationwide pest control company like Terminix. Even if you aren’t sure if you need professional assistance getting rid of the roaches in your home, you shouldn’t hesitate to claim a free quote from our recommended providers below. Your quote will be available just a short time after submitting your personal information, it’s totally free, and you won’t need to commit to a service package just because you’ve claimed a quote.
Our Top Picks for Roach Extermination
We recommend that you get a free, no-obligation quote from each of our suggested pest control services before you book your service date to get the best price possible.
Terminix is one of the leading pest control companies in the United States — a reputation that they’ve earned over the course of 90 years in business. Every day, more than 10,000 homeowners call on Terminix to help them get rid of some of the most common pests in the country. Terminix has region-specific treatments available for 13 major pests, including mosquitos, bed bugs, and of course, cockroaches. Single treatment plans and seasonal plan options are both available to customize your home protection, and appointments are available from just $50 per visit.
When you work with Terminix, you can rest with the peace-of-mind that comes with knowing that your lawn is being treated by professionals. Terminix’s team has a combined 560 years of experience in the pest control industry, and it employs teams of on-staff entomologists accredited by the Entomological Society of America. These experts use regional data, soil samples, and other information to create customized treatments based on the unique species of pest in your lawn and your area.
Worried about pests coming back after you’ve received treatment? Terminix sets your worries about cockroaches at ease with its Nix Pest Guarantee. If your cockroach problem returns after Terminix professionals treat your property, the company will send representatives to re-treat your home at no additional cost to you until the problem is completely resolved. This can be especially beneficial if you have multiple entry points in your home where cockroaches tend to enter or if you’re dealing with a particularly hardy breed of cockroach.
Orkin is another well-known name in pest control services, with more than a century of experience getting rid of creepy crawlies throughout America. Orkin offers both corrective treatments and preventive services across the country, which can be beneficial if you deal with roaches on a seasonal basis. Orkin’s professionals must complete at least 160 hours’ worth of training before they’re able to visit your property — so you know that the men and women providing your treatments are experienced and prepared.
Orkin can be a particularly strong choice if you’re moving into your new home for the first time and you want to be sure that you’ll be greeted with a pest-free home. Orkin offers specialized pest prevention packages for new homeowners that will help clean up and secure your space at a price point you can afford. They even offer a new homeowner checklist you can use to ensure your space isn’t hiding pests before you move in. If you notice a pest problem before you sign on your mortgage loan, Orkin’s team can even help work with the previous homeowner to correct the problem before your family moves in. With tons of experience and a commitment to excellence, Orkin can provide all of the pest control services you need, no matter how much experience you have as a homeowner.
Frequently Asked Questions
What gets rid of roaches permanently?
You can try one or a combination of the methods we mentioned above to get rid of roaches permanently. The most effective way to ensure roaches never come back is an annual roach elimination service from a pest control company like Terminix or Orkin. They can eliminate existing roach infestations and also provide preventive services around the perimeter of your home as well as in areas likely to attract roaches.
How do you kill roaches overnight?
Boric acid usually does the trick. You will find plenty of dead roaches in the morning if you also use boric acid mixed with baking soda, or try the combination of sugar, boric acid, and baking soda. Indoor pesticides like Raid also kill roaches on contact. Foggers are not recommended because you too will be breathing in whatever chemicals the foggers release, not just the roaches.
What smell will keep cockroaches away?
Roaches loathe the smell of citrus. They also hate cedar, peppermint, cypress oil, and coffee grounds. You can make your home’s perimeter as unappealing to roaches as possible by applying any and all of these materials around your house, in your garden, and in your compost pile. Plus, they smell great for us!
Why do I have roaches in my clean house?
Even if your home is super clean and there are no open food containers, crumbs, clogged food disposals, or dirty garbage cans, roaches still like moist, warm areas. This could mean that your house needs more regular maintenance so that leaky faucets and pipes are not an issue. That could be what’s attracting this vermin to your spic-and-span house.
Today's Homeowner Rating & Methodology
Our research process involves a multi-step process to get real insights into the customer experience for each company. We contacted each pest control company directly and spoke to representatives via phone and online chat (if available). This allowed us better understand the company’s treatment offerings and customer service. We also consider BBB accreditation and what customer reviews say about each company. Additionally, we fact-check and update company data regularly to ensure accurate and up-to-date information.
We developed a 100-point rating system to compare the companies numerically.
- Plan options (35 points): Companies with more plans and flexibility on services to address specific issues were given a higher score.
- State Availability (5 points): Those that offer coverage in fewer than 45 states were deducted points for availability.
- Trustworthiness (10 points): This is based on whether companies have money-back guarantees, service guarantees, and additional satisfaction assurance measures.
- Customer Service (30 points): We considered accessibility (including on weekends and holidays) of technicians and customer support.
- Additional Benefits (20 points): Companies that offer further conveniences such as an app, comprehensive resources, and other benefits were rated higher.
More Pest Control Resources