How To Get Rid of Cockroaches (2021 Edition)

A cockroach running across our kitchen floor at night is enough to make most of us shudder. Unfortunately, even if you kill the one cockroach in your kitchen, you can almost guarantee that there are more cockroaches nearby breeding. Cockroaches are persistent, frustrating pests that can seem impossible to get rid of. 

In fact, cockroaches breed so much that the average female cockroach is estimated to produce 200 to 300 offspring annually.

This makes cockroaches challenging to eradicate because they quickly infest our homes and are excellent at hiding out of sight from our watchful eyes. So, how do you prevent cockroaches, and what can you do to kill cockroaches that infiltrate your home?

Read our guide on cockroaches to learn the following: 

  • How To Get Rid of Cockroaches
  • How To Prevent Cockroaches
  • How To Identify Cockroaches
  • Signs and Causes of a Cockroach Infestation

If trying to exterminate cockroaches on your own becomes too challenging, we recommend Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive. These exterminators have some of the best-trained professionals that can use traps, baits, and other chemically treated solutions that are often more effective than standard DIY methods.  

For Terminix quotes, you can reach them at 866-577-5051 or with this form.

For quotes from Orkin, call 866-701-4556, or fill out this form

For a free quote from Aptive, call 855-521-7075 or visit the company's website.

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How To Get Rid of Cockroaches 

  1. Look for water sources. Cockroaches can't survive for more than a few weeks without access to water, so start by checking that you don't have any leaks or plumbing issues anywhere. Clean up any spilled water underneath your refrigerator and wipe and dry your sink. 
  2. Eliminate access to food sources. Cockroaches can survive longer without food, but they still need to eat. Thoroughly clean your home by wiping up spills, cleaning up crumbs, washing dirty dishes, cleaning your trash cans (both inside and outside), and covering all pet food dishes. 
  3. Clean your home. Sweep, mop, and vacuum regularly to pick up any crumbs or food sources, as well as hair, skin cells, and other organic matter that cockroaches may feed on.
  4. Put out glue strips. To test how bad the cockroach infestation is, put glue strips in high activity areas, such as behind your fridge or toilet. If you find several cockroaches on the glue strip, you likely have a severe infestation. 
  5. Set out roach baits and roach traps. Chemical roach baits attract cockroaches by smelling like food instead of the insecticide they are. When the cockroach eats the roach bait station, they will take it back to their nest, pass away from the poison, and other cockroaches will eat the affected roach, leading to the poison spreading throughout the nest. 
  6. Use boric acid. Boric acid is a popular DIY remedy. Many homeowners will make a solution of boric acid, powdered sugar, and flour. Then they'll take this dough, make marble-sized balls out of it, and place them around their home, especially in high-activity areas like the kitchen and bathroom. The smell of these balls will attract the cockroaches, who will feed on these boric acid balls and die. It's recommended that you don't apply boric acid to countertops or anywhere that you prepare food. 
  7. Apply natural repellents. There are a variety of natural substances that will repel roaches, including osage orange oil, bay leaves, and catnip. Placing or spraying these substances around your home can help to repel cockroaches. 
  8. Use Diatomaceous Earth. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) works by dehydrating cockroaches and hurting their exoskeletons. Without the protection of their exoskeletons, they die. It's recommended that you apply DE in tiny, thin layers in difficult-to-reach spots, like behind or between cabinets. Don't apply DE onto counters or anywhere that food is prepared as it is dangerous to consume. 
  9. Use roach sprays. Roach spray is considered very effective because it floods the small holes on a roach's body and overwhelms its nervous system, leading to the insect's immediate death. Roach sprays work well as an instant contact killer for roach control. However, roach spray also acts as a barrier and can be used in crevices, such as inside walls and hard-to-reach places. This can help to treat and prevent cockroaches from breeding and living there. 
  10. Apply insect growth regulators. Cockroach eggs are laid in white clusters, which are surprisingly challenging to destroy. Since cockroaches breed quickly, the breeding cycle must be stopped to eliminate the overall problem, which is where the insect growth regulator comes in. Insect growth regulators are basically a cockroach birth control that prevents or makes it very difficult for cockroaches to reproduce, halting breeding in your home. 
  11. Make a DIY solution. Mix a bowl of baking soda and a little white sugar, and place near areas of your home where you've seen cockroaches. Cockroaches love sugar, so this will immediately attract their attention. When the cockroaches ingest the substance, the baking soda will kill them. This is an affordable, safe way to kill cockroaches. 

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How to Prevent Cockroaches 

There are many ways to prevent cockroaches. Let's go over some of our top tips for preventing a roach infestation: 

  • Eliminate entry points. Do a thorough sweep of your home and look for any gaps or holes in your walls, windows, etc. Cockroaches have flexible bodies that allow them to crawl into tight spaces easily, so it's essential to eliminate as many entry points as possible. Use a caulking or sealant product to block entry points, and replace torn window or door screens to prevent pests from entering your home. 
  • Use sealed food containers. Don't leave out leftover food, as this is a huge attractant for cockroaches. Put pantry staples, like flour or sugar, into sealed food containers to prevent cockroaches from contaminating and eating your food. 
  • Thoroughly clean your home. Regularly mopping, vacuuming, and sweeping your home are great steps to prevent cockroaches. Other steps you can take include wiping down counters, regularly emptying your garbage, cleaning your garbage can, not leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and wiping up excess moisture. 
  • Remove pet food from your floor. Cockroaches will happily eat your pet's food, so we recommend removing excess food from the floor or placing it in a sealable bowl. 
  • Clear clutter. Cockroaches are excellent at hiding and love clutter because it makes hiding easier. To prevent roaches, remove clutter, such as stacked cardboard boxes, loose papers, garbage, newspapers, packing materials, etc. Cockroaches love clutter for breeding, so keep your clutter to a minimum to minimize your risk of cockroaches making this their new breeding spot.
  • Regularly check for plumbing issues and leaks. Cockroaches and many other bugs, like silverfish, are attracted to moisture. To reduce your risk of pest infestations, regularly check that you don't have leaks or water problems. If you notice leaks, immediately address them to prevent bugs from being attracted to the excess moisture. 
  • Use the power of citrus. Roaches are repelled by the smell of citrus, especially lemons. Try adding a couple of drops of lemon oil to the water that you mop your floors with.

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How To Identify Cockroaches 

Most cockroaches have an oval-shaped, flattened, reddish-brown body. Cockroaches range in length greatly and can be up to three inches long. Cockroaches can move rapidly, making it challenging to stomp on them or catch them. They prefer to be in parts of your home with easy access to food and water, typically your kitchen, especially countertops, and bathrooms or places where there may be leaks, such as the basement. 

Unfortunately, cockroaches are also a serious health risk to your family. They can spread many types of bacteria to us by contaminating our food, and they can even spread parasitic worms to us. Cockroaches are known for contaminating food with E. coli and Salmonella bacteria, making it unsafe to ignore the presence of roaches in your home. In addition, cockroach feces and exposure to the bodies of roaches can also trigger asthma and allergies because of a substance cockroaches secrete over time.

Common species of cockroaches in the United States: 

  • Oriental cockroach (dark brown or black body, cannot fly)
  • German cockroach (light brown body, breeds faster than other common cockroaches)
  • Brown-Banded cockroach (reddish-brown to dark brown bodies, can jump quite a distance)
  • American cockroach (reddish-brown bodies, able to fly short distances)

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Signs & Causes of a Cockroach Infestation 

Cockroaches are tenacious critters that can survive on many types of human foods, and as long as they have access to food and water, they won't leave your home. 

So, what kinds of foods do cockroaches thrive on?

  • Carbohydrates (cockroaches prefer pure carbs, like breads or sweets, but they'll eat almost anything they can find)
  • Left out pet food 
  • Leftovers that are left on the table, such as an open pizza box
  • Unsealed containers with food or spices, flour, or other pantry staples
  • Spilled food or sauces on your counter
  • Meats
  • Hair
  • Garbage
  • Books
  • Decaying matter
  • Sewage
  • Greasy, moldy, or fermented food
  • Crumbs left on the counter

Unfortunately, cockroaches will eat almost anything organic, including waste, hair, and human food, even if it's rancid. 

If you haven't spotted a cockroach, what are other signs that they are in your home?

  • Shed skins
  • Cockroach droppings
  • Smear marks (cockroaches leave dark streaks when they move sometimes)
  • Spotting living cockroaches
  • Finding dead roaches
  • A musky or strange, unexplainable odor
  • Your neighbors have cockroaches
  • Cockroach eggs
  • Chewed food packaging or other organic materials, such as leather

Final Thoughts on How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Few pests bring as much dread as cockroaches do. If you have the unlucky fortune of noticing some cockroaches in your home, it's safe to assume that you have many more cockroaches nearby. 

Whether you choose to use a home remedy, cockroach bait, an aerosol roach spray, or to call a professional exterminator, you must fast because cockroaches breed very quickly. 

Don't hesitate — act today before those roaches get out of control!

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