While natural cockroach repellents may say they’re effective, it’s best to leave treatment to the professionals. Learn why home remedies don’t work.



Although it's vital to have a pest management professional provide you with a treatment and protection guarantee (since cockroaches can come back), using home remedies for cockroaches can help give you temporary relief from these pests. Here are some frequently asked questions about what kills roaches, natural cockroach repellent and other DIY tips to help you get rid of cockroaches.

Do home remedies work for cockroach control?

Some home remedies can drive roaches out of sight, but rarely will they cure a cockroach infestation. That's because roaches generally prefer dark areas that are sheltered from human sight, reach or disruption. This renders many DIY roach remedies ineffective, unlike a pest management technician who has special methods of getting to roaches no matter where they try to run and hide. Still, you can find limited DIY success with the right methods and applications.

Is over-the-counter roach spray safe and effective?

Over-the-counter roach sprays aren't very effective at getting roaches out of your home, just in keeping them out of sight. Sprays can act as a roach repellent for a short period of time, but by no means stop roaches for good. A cockroach spray rarely kills roaches unless direct contact is made with the insect. Sprays also won't stop the possible spread of disease and infestation. Further, over-the-counter roach sprays are rarely a natural cockroach repellent, as they can contain harmful pesticides that might not be safe for you or your family (pets included). Always allow a pest management specialist to recommend, handle and disperse all pesticide-related materials to keep your family safe and your home roach-free.

What are some popular home remedies to get rid of roaches?

There are many popular home remedies for cockroaches out there, but you have to be careful and vet your sources. Many holistic remedies recommend mixtures of powders and liquids, such as baking soda and water. Other sources point toward harmful substances that you don't want around your family, such as chlorinated hydrocarbons, which have been banned by the EPA. Still other "solutions" would have you running after roaches with soap and water, cucumber peels, citrus juice and bay leaves. Remember, just because something is the most popular home remedy doesn't mean it is the best solution. When it comes to getting rid of roaches, the most effective solution is a pest management professional, because they get results where home remedies and other DIY concoctions fail.

What about using a natural roach killer?

The most popular and effective natural cockroach killer is diatomaceous earth. It is non-toxic to humans and kills roaches when they come into contact with it. Sprinkle the diatomaceous earth around areas where roaches travel and frequent. The sharp particles of diatomaceous earth damage the waxy, protective exoskeleton of the roach, causing it to dehydrate and die, typically within 48 hours of contact. This dehydration also causes the roaches to seek out water more aggressively, so you might even see an uptick in roach activity. Unfortunately, there is never just one roach, and it's likely your roach problem is much worse than what you can physically observe. This is why pest management professionals integrate a multitude of approaches to combat infestations effectively.

Is natural cockroach killer the same thing as natural cockroach repellent?

A cockroach repellent isn't always what people think. Repellents don't kill cockroaches. A repellent may keep roaches out of a certain area, but since most people don't have any way to place cockroach repellent in hard to access wall voids and plumbing entry points, all you are really doing is keeping roaches out of sight, and even then, only for a short period of time. If you want to try a natural cockroach repellent, the nepetalactone found in catnip is a popular remedy, but once again, falls short of any effective, lasting results.

How can I effectively use cockroach bait traps as a DIY roach killer?

While it might seem counterintuitive, if you're going with a DIY approach, it's much more effective to attract roaches and kill them, rather than simply repel them. Roach bait traps are safe and available over-the-counter, making them ideal home remedies. The food enclosed inside of the traps ‟bait” roaches to come eat, but the food is laced with a delayed insecticide. This slow-acting formula ensures the roaches won't die in or around the traps, which would alarm other roaches to keep away. Instead, the poisoned roaches go back to their nest and die, all the while expelling poison through their feces and sputum, exposing and killing other roaches in the process. Place bait traps in corners, flush against baseboards, or both. Be sure to use at least 10 traps in the kitchen and two in the bathroom, adding more traps for additional rooms where roach activity is spotted or suspected.

Does boric acid work for getting rid of cockroaches?

Boric acid does indeed kill roaches, but is only effective when applied correctly. It should never be applied as more than a light dusting. If you can see the powder from afar, so can roaches. Although boric acid is a natural roach killer, it can still be poisonous to humans, so never apply it to an exposed surface that comes into contact with your own food or water supply. Boric acid doesn't work if the application area gets wet. It must be applied in high-traffic areas so the roaches walk through it. This can prove difficult since roaches tend to travel in tight, covered areas of your kitchen, bathroom and inside your walls. As the roaches come into direct contact with the powder, it sticks to their antennae, bodies and legs. During grooming, the roaches ingest the boric acid and die.

Can't I just clean my home and wait for the roaches to leave?

Unfortunately, even a clean home can still attract roaches. Roaches enter structures like buildings and homes searching for food, water and shelter. Since there will always be all three in your home, roaches will always seek comfort there, despite successful DIY treatments. This is why a pest management professional is so important. The war against roaches must be ongoing and the approach, relentless.

What other problems do home remedies for cockroaches run into?

In addition to not always reaching the right areas in your home and possibly being harmful to your pets and family, home remedies for pests have a number of other drawbacks. For instance, if you live in a multifamily dwelling, only treating your own living area isn't enough. Roaches will "wait out" the treatment in other areas that you don't have access to, and then reinfest your home. Another big problem with home remedies is that there's no guarantee they will work. You might wind up wasting time and money trying different "solutions," only to end up right where you started – with a roach problem. A pest management professional will draw up a battle plan to help keep your home pest-free well into the foreseeable future.

How can I make natural roach killer more effective?

One of the biggest problems with trying to get rid of roaches on your own is that it's not a simple fix. It's a process. This means inspecting the area and assessing it to make sure the best management methods are being used, reducing the pathways and entry points available to roaches, implementing proper sanitation protocols to reduce food and water sources, applying any pesticides or management solutions necessary and finally, following up relentlessly until the roaches are a distant memory. If you want your natural home remedies for roaches to be more effective, you would need to follow a similar type of approach. Unfortunately, you would also need far more tools and resources than you likely have (e.g., insect growth regulators, microencapsulated formulations, etc.) to do it as effectively as a pest management professional.

Even if the home remedies for cockroaches you use work, keep in mind that roaches might not really be gone, and if they are, they can always come back. Until your home has been made less desirable and accessible to roaches by a pest management specialist, your risk of reinfestation is exactly the same as when this current invasion started.


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