What is the Best Cockroach Product For You?

Seeing a cockroach, or a group of them, in your home brings about feelings of dread and revulsion. When you start seeing cockroaches in your home, it can be tempting to rush to the store and buy the biggest can of roach spray you can find. But are there forms of cockroach products that work better than others? And is roach spray the most effective way to remove the pests from your house?

cockroach repellent

The Purdue Extension's Department of Entomology offers a handy how-to guide with the pros and cons of those treatments. Authors Gary Bennett, an extension entomologist, and Changlu Wang, a Rutgers University extension specialist, cover the signs of an infestation and the cockroach products that can be used to treat them.

Typically, there are three main ways to treat a roach infestation:

  1. Traps or baits
  2. Dusts
  3. Aerosol sprays or liquid applications

In this article, we'll cover the pros and cons of each, as well as share information with you from a variety of experts in the field, including entomologists and government regulating bodies, as to best practices if you plan to use these forms of treatment. In most cases, the best course of action may be to consult with a cockroach control professional to find the right treatment for you and your situation.

Traps and Bait Stations

Traps are designed to be placed in an area where cockroaches may be moving and to passively trap them. Adhesive or glue traps work by catching roaches on an adhesive surface. Traps like these should be placed in concealed or protected areas around the home out of reach of children and pets. Depending on the size of the device, they may also be used to capture immature mice as well as other insects. Container traps are similar except, there, the insects crawl into a fully enclosed container that they can't crawl back out of.

Baits are a combination of a food matrix and an insecticide that may be eaten by the cockroach. Baits can be found in a variety of ingestible forms and should never be left where pets and children can get to them.

One type of bait is a gel. Gels come in a tube and are designed to use in hard-to-reach areas. They allow you to easily apply the substance to target areas without touching the poison. However, gels can be tricky since cockroaches may sometimes avoid this type of bait. Additionally, gels have to be removed and replaced when they dry out. The active ingredient in cockroach gel is an insecticide so the label directions must be followed and the product should be placed in areas out of reach of children and pets.

When using any insecticide, including baits, it is important to follow the label instructions and to keep the product out of reach of pets and children. It is also a good idea to vary the type of bait used, as roaches can develop bait aversion or insecticide resistance.

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, "while baits are effective against cockroaches, as with other types of pesticides, one product should not be used over long periods of time. Cockroaches have shown some avoidance of bait products, and even resistance (having the ability to survive after feeding on bait). Cockroach resistance problems can be delayed or avoided by using one pesticide product for a few months before switching to a dissimilar product."

A professional pest control specialist like Terminix can help you to deal with your cockroach problem by leveraging expertise of where to place products and devices to be most effective. Additionally, they can be a reliable source of knowledge in rotating products so as to prevent roaches from developing an aversion or resistance to one particular type of product.


One common dust ingredient is boric acid. Boric acid is a chemical that is found in soil. Most dusts work by sticking to the bodies and legs of insects. Some dusts can cause dehydration in insects and other arthropods such as spiders. Cockroaches are an insect that grooms itself; dusts will be consumed during the grooming process and will attack the nervous system. It can take multiple days for boric acid to begin working for control. When using dusts, it's important to be sure they are contained and kept away from children and pets.


Sprays include foggers (also commonly called roach bombs) and aerosol sprays that can be applied to a space following label directions. They can also be pesticides mixed with water and applied with a type of air compressed sprayer. Over-the-counter sprays are popular due to their easy availability and kill-on-contact promise of a quick solution.

However, when used improperly, foggers can be ineffective or even cause a house fire or explosion. The aerosol products and liquid residuals in foggers may irritate cockroaches and force them into other areas of the home. They may also need to be reapplied following cleaning of the home.

As is the case with traps, baits, and dusts, it's important to follow instructions on a fogger's label and keep away from children and pets if you choose to use this method.

Things to Consider

With so many products to choose from, it would be easy to assume that one product is better for getting rid of cockroaches. Unfortunately, it's not that simple. Different products are used in different areas with a variety of application methods, and there's no one-size-fits-all solution. When choosing which roach control product you should use, it's essential to consider your home environment, the scale of your infestation and certain features of each product type. Taking these factors into consideration for each product can help guide your choice.

Regardless of your choice, it is incredibly important to keep products in clearly labeled containers and out of reach of children and pets.

Types of Pests Eliminated

Some products may list that they are able to help eliminate a number of pests including bees, ants, silverfish, hornets, spiders and others. This information means that the product was proven to kill or impact the pest with direct contact of the products. However, it does not mean that it will have a residual impact on the target and serve as an effective means of control against future infestations.

For all the reasons mentioned above, and more, it's recommended to hire a pest control professional to treat your cockroach infestation.

How Do Professionals Get Rid of Roaches?

A cockroach control professional will begin with an inspection and use a variety of tools and methods to help get rid of your cockroach problem for good. Your service technician will use a HEPA filtered vacuum to remove visible cockroaches, place baits in appropriate locations, and place traps to monitor the service. Depending on the severity of the infestation, you may need three or more services to solve your cockroach infestation.

Most often, you'll be able to stay in your home during a professional treatment for cockroaches. Your service technician may also provide tips about sanitation and, if you have peridomestic or outdoor cockroaches in your home, the technician will provide pest proofing tips for gaps and cracks where they may enter your home.

The cockroaches you see in your home are often only a fraction of those that are hidden from view. If you aren't sure which method is best for your home or how serious your problem may be, Terminix® can help.


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