Cockroach bombs may help treat a roach infestation, but there are risks involved. Learn how roach bombs work and what you need to be aware of.


When you find cockroaches in your home, you'll do anything to get rid of them. There are several methods that can be used to treat a roach problem, one that is not recommended is the roach bomb. But before you fog for roaches in your home, there are a few things you should be aware of.

Related: Signs of a Cockroach Infestation

Should you use a cockroach bomb?

While cockroach bombs (also known as foggers, bug bombs, or total release aerosols) may seem like a quick and easy solution to your pest problem, it's important to remember that they rely on toxic pesticides to work properly. It's important to take every possible precaution to avoid doing harm to you, your family or items in your home.

If you have a heavy cockroach infestation in your house, a cockroach bomb may help to curb the pest population at least a little, but it likely won't eradicate it. It's a good idea to try other methods of getting rid of cockroaches. In many cases, it is more effective to eliminate food and water sources, seal up potential cockroach entrances and place bait traps in affected areas to monitor the infestation.

What are cockroach bombs and how do they work?

Roach bombs work by spraying a chemical insecticide into the air in a confined space. The pesticide stays in the air for a short period before it falls to the ground, coating surfaces and potentially killing cockroaches on contact. The following excerpt, written by extension entomologist Michael F. Potter at the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, explains how they work — or don't work, as the case may be.

"Most foggers are designed to be placed in the center of a room on a chair or table, and activated by depressing or removing a tab at the top of the can. The entire contents are released upwards, into the airspace, where the aerosol droplets remain suspended for a period of time and then gradually settle onto floors, countertops and other surfaces... When applied in this manner, very little insecticide actually penetrates into cracks, voids, and other hidden locations where cockroaches, ants, silverfish, and most other household pests congregate and spend most of their time."

If you decide to use a roach bomb, it is extremely important to read the product label and follow the directions for how to use it very carefully. Roach bombs have a pesticide that is usually carried in a petroleum distillate, which is flammable.

Possible problems with bug bombs

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which regulates pesticides, including those used in roach bombs, has a list of safety precautions that should be taken if using a bug bomb in your home. Among them are calculating the number of foggers to use in a specific area, leaving the premises during the fogging, and airing it out thoroughly afterward.

"Breathing spray mist may be harmful. Safe use of these products requires that everyone, including pets, leave the treated space and close the doors after foggers have been released. Stay out until the time indicated on the label has passed, usually two to four hours. Prematurely entering the treated premises may lead to illness."

Is a cockroach bomb the right choice for you?

Before you decide to start bombing for roaches or fogging for roaches, there are plenty of things you should consider. It's highly recommended that you try other methods of getting rid of pests or that you call in the pros to take care of your problem. There are very few, if any, instances where using a cockroach bomb would be preferred.

Cockroach bomb pros and cons

Cockroach bombs can be a quick, cheap, DIY solution for people struggling with an infestation, but there are many more drawbacks than positives, including:

Cockroach bombs can be toxic

The chemicals in bug bombs can be toxic. As the residue coats surfaces in your home, this can be a problem if you're particularly sensitive to chemicals or if you have small pets. Breathing in these chemicals can make you sick.

Cockroach bombs are flammable

Cockroach bombs emit flammable vapors into the air and have been known to cause explosions if there is a source of ignition (such as a pilot light for a water heater or stove) when released.

Bug bombs aren't always effective

Because the chemicals don't penetrate your home's walls, it often can't reach cockroaches who are hiding away. There are many more effective ways to treat cockroaches.

Cockroach bombs don't treat the source

Even if a store-bought bug bomb does end up killing some roaches in your home, it may not be attacking the problem at its source. If roaches are getting in from outside your home, they're going to keep getting in unless properly treated.

Do store-bought foggers work?

If you're tempted to pick up a fogger at the local hardware store, stop and reconsider. Store-bought bug bombs and foggers are often more trouble than they're worth.

Though they can be purchased for quite cheap (usually under $10), foggers can create a mess, leave a lingering chemical odor and coat everything in your home with toxic chemicals.

Cockroach bomb safety precautions

Take precautions with pets and plants

Cockroach bombs are toxic, not only to bugs but to other creatures, as well. This means that if you have pets or plants in your home, it's important to find somewhere for them to stay while you use a cockroach bomb in your home.

Follow package directions exactly

Always follow any directions on the package, as not doing so may cause health concerns for you, your family and your pets.

Take precautions around food items and containers

Be sure to tightly cover and store away any food so the chemicals from the bug bomb don't settle onto something you're going to eat. The chemicals can permeate porous materials like paper, cardboard, fabric and even some plastics. Cover anywhere you prepare food, and be sure to wipe down all surfaces before using them.

Turn off pilot lights or other sources of ignition before using

The chemicals in fumigators can also be highly flammable, so be sure to turn off anything that may cause a fire, including appliances, ignition sources and electronics.

Exit the premises and keep your home well-ventilated after use. Stay out of your home for as long as the label instructions tell you to. When you return, ventilate your home with open windows according to label instructions. If you're living in a rented home, it might be smart to speak with your landlord before using a cockroach bomb.

When to call a professional

Cockroaches are notoriously difficult to get rid of because they are resilient and they're great at hiding. If you've tried DIY methods of getting rid of them, like eliminating food and water sources or sealing up gaps in your home, but you still have a cockroach issue, it may be time to call in the pros.

To find and treat the source of an infestation, it is best to turn to a pest management specialist. Terminix® pest management professionals know how to identify both the type of cockroach in your home and where they most likely are living.

If you have a cockroach problem, get started with Terminix today. A trained cockroach control professional can help to identify where roaches may be getting in, as well as their food and water sources, and help to take care of any infestation problems.

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