Cockroaches are some of the most common pests out there. They’re also some of the creepiest.
If cockroaches have taken over your home, we’ve got good news for you: you can get rid of the cockroaches and reclaim your space – and we can help.
At Pest Dude, we’ve been getting rid of cockroach infestations for decades, and now we want to teach you how to eliminate even large cockroach populations.
In this blog, we’ll share our top professional tips and give you all the information you need to get rid of the creepy crawlers on your own.
- Roaches are some of the most common, prolific, and hardy pests out there, and they can be challenging to control.
- Effective roach control requires dedication and creativity. Removing roaches may take weeks or months, and you may need to alternate control methods to make your efforts as efficient as possible.
- All good roach control programs start and end with sanitation, including the removal of food, water, and harborage that roaches rely on.
- We recommend contacting a professional pest management company for help resolving severe roach infestations and preventing re-infestation.
What are Cockroaches?
Cockroaches are some of the most common, hardy, and adaptable insects out there, and they’re also some of the most ancient.
In fact, fossil evidence suggests that cockroaches have existed on earth for about 200-300 million years.
Today, there are about 4,500 species of cockroaches (also called “roaches”) around the globe, and about 30 of them are considered common pests.
The most common types include German, oriental, brownbanded, smokeybrown, Australian, brown, American, and Asian cockroaches.
Members of the family Periplaneta, cockroaches can be identified by their flat, oval bodies, long antennae, and shiny black or brown coloring.
Male cockroaches typically have two sets of wings, while females are either wingless or equipped with vestigial wings.
Cockroaches are most active at night but can be seen during the daytime – especially when severe infestations occur.
Although they may hide, rest in harborage areas, and feed in groups, cockroaches aren’t inherently social pests like termites or ants.
In the wild, cockroaches consume only vegetation. When they live in homes and buildings, they’ll eat starches, grease and meat, sweets, and non-food materials like leather and glue.
What Attracts Cockroaches to Your Home?
Cockroaches infest homes that provide them with the optimal conditions for survival.
If you’ve noticed cockroaches in your space, here are a few things that may be attracting them:
Cockroaches, like all pests, need a food source to survive.
In homes, they’ll feast on food particles on dirty dishes left in the sink, unsecured pet food or dry goods, garbage in unsecured cans, and more.
Because of this, one of the most effective ways to deal with cockroaches is to focus, first, on sanitation.
Cockroaches originate in tropical and subtropical environments, so they like dark, moist, and humid places.
As such, they’re common anywhere indoor humidity is high, like basements, crawl spaces, bathrooms, and kitchens.
Because of their reclusive nature, cockroaches are most attracted to dark, damp areas that provide them with safety and shelter.
They also need sheltered areas to breed and lay their eggs.
They’re commonly found hiding under appliances and sinks, in vents, and in storage boxes within the home.
They particularly love cracks and crevices that provide plenty of shelter.
What are the Signs of a Cockroach Infestation?
Not sure whether you have a cockroach infestation in your home? Look for these signs:
- Droppings. Cockroach droppings look like tiny pepper specks or tiny pellets, depending on the severity of the infestation and the species present. If you’ve noticed a large amount of droppings, it’s a reliable sign that you have a cockroach infestation.
- Bad smells. Roaches emit chemicals to communicate with other cockroaches regarding shelter, food, and mating. These chemicals smell musty and unpleasantly sweet, which is why severe roach infestations create a distinct smell that lingers and can worsen as roach populations grow.
- Shed roach skins. It’s common to see roach skins wherever cockroaches are sheltering. As roaches mature, they’ll shed skin 5-8 times.
- Smear marks. Like rats and other pests, roaches leave smear marks in highly-trafficked areas. These smear marks are usually brown, irregularly shaped, and located near wall-floor junctions.
- Egg capsules. Female roaches lay their eggs within a protected capsule. These capsules are often segmented and may be found stuck in common roach hiding places, like gaps and cracks.
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Your Home
Naturally with Home Remedies
For the most effective roach management approach, we recommend starting with non-chemical methods like sanitation, exclusion, and natural pesticides and incorporating conventional methods as needed.
1. Deep clean your home
- Vacuum your entire home with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter. (We recommend this one). Pay special attention to gaps and cracks, the space along baseboards, and textiles like carpets and sofas. If you know where cockroaches are hiding (in the gap between a baseboard and a wall, for example), you can also use the nozzle of your vacuum to suck them up directly. Afterward, empty the canister into a bucket of hot, soapy water to kill roaches.
- Clean your kitchen appliances. Roaches can live off grease and food spills beneath your appliances for months. With this in mind, pull out your stove and refrigerator and vacuum and mop the area thoroughly. You should also clean your dishwasher, microwave, toaster, and the area under the kitchen sink.
- Mop your floors. Next, mop your floors with a mixture of hot water and a bit of powdered laundry detergent. This will remove any lingering spills and clean up cockroach smear marks.
- Secure all food and water sources. Secure pet food, dry goods, and other available food sources in airtight, roach-proof containers. Clean up spills promptly and avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Store all indoor garbage in secure, lidded, roach-proof cans, and take the bag out frequently. Have leaky pipes repaired, and avoid leaving pet water out for an extended period. Empty the drip tray beneath your refrigerator and avoid leaving wet sponges and dishrags out overnight.
- Clean up your yard and outdoor area. Cockroaches that are outdoors can (and will) make their way indoors. With this in mind, clean up spilled bird seed from bird feeders, secure all pet food, and remove clutter and debris piles that could provide shelter for roaches.
2. Focus on exclusion
Next, focus on making it impossible for outdoor cockroaches to enter your home.
- Use caulk to seal small gaps and cracks around windows and door wells.
- Install wire mesh, screening, and door sweeps to keep cockroaches from entering your home. We love this Xcluder Kit for anyone who wants to DIY roach exclusion.
- Pay special attention to the holes surrounding pipes, utility lines, and light and wall fixtures.
- Fix or replace broken screens, and use duct tape to seal holes and crevices in appliances that can offer shelter for roaches.
3. Use steam to kill cockroaches on contact
Use a bed bug steamer to kill roaches on contact.
These portable, plug-and-play devices are affordable, easy to use, and an excellent option for anyone who wants to take a proactive approach to get rid of cockroaches without chemicals.
4. Try boric acid, diatomaceous earth, or silica aerogel
If you want to battle cockroaches without pesticides, there are a few good options to choose from.
Here’s what we recommend:
Diatomaceous earth (DE, for short) is a natural insecticide made from fossilized algae. The silica particles in DE are sharp and drying.
When roaches come into contact with DE, the powder destroys their exoskeletons and fatally dehydrates them.
If you live in a home with kids or pets, DE is an excellent natural pesticide.
It’s non-toxic, available in food-grade varieties, and easy to sprinkle into the cracks and crevices where roaches love to hide.
Boric acid occurs naturally in plants and fruits and is made of water and boron.
While boric acid is safe for kids, pets, and people, it’s deadly for roaches.
We like to use boric acid because it’s excellent at adhering to the roaches’ bodies, sticking to their legs and wings, and attacking the pests’ nervous systems, killing them quickly and efficiently.
For best results, we recommend sprinkling some boric acid onto a paper plate and placing some peanut butter in the middle. Put the plate under the sink, behind the toilet, or anywhere else you’ve noticed roach activity.
Silica aerogel is a dust that works similarly to DE.
It absorbs moisture and erodes the waxy, waterproof layer protecting the roach’s body, killing the pests by dehydration.
To use silica aerogel for roach control, apply the dust to cracks, crevices, and areas under refrigerators and sinks.
5. Place glue traps
Depending on the severity of your roach infestation, it can take weeks or even months to eliminate roaches in your home. If you want to monitor your efforts, glue boards can help.
Glue boards are sticky sheets enclosed in cardboard traps. They contain pheromones that attract roaches, who get stuck to the glue sheets when they enter the trap.
They’re non-toxic and safe for homes that want to kill roaches without pesticides.
For best results, place glue boards inside and under the cabinets in your bathrooms and kitchens, behind your toilets, beneath appliances, and anywhere else you’ve noticed roach activity.
Check and replace the glue boards weekly to monitor progress and continue killing roaches.
With Chemical Methods
Chemical methods are the fastest, most efficient way to get rid of roaches.
Because pesticides and insecticides contain dangerous chemicals, we recommend using them as part of a holistic pest control practice (which includes non-chemical methods).
We also recommend hiring a professional pest management company to deploy chemical methods in your home:
Gel baits or bait stations can be an excellent way to get rid of roaches, with a few caveats.
Roaches are widely considered one of the most successful species on earth, largely because of their ability to adapt to their environments and survive various conditions and events.
Over the years, some species of roaches (the German cockroach, specifically) have demonstrated that adaptability by developing behavioral resistance or “bait aversion” to certain baits.
Because of this, it’s essential to choose bait formulas that overcome the roaches’ behavioral changes and remain effective in roach management.
For baits to be effective, they must be placed into or very near the harborage areas where cockroaches are breeding and hiding.
It’s also important to note that you need to rotate any bait or insecticide you use to control roaches.
If bait or insecticide applications become too routine or predictable, roaches will simply adapt and learn to avoid or survive them.
7. Use Insect Growth Regulators to kill eggs and larvae
Part of the reason it can be so challenging to control roach populations is that roaches breed constantly, leaving behind eggs and larvae, even if all adult roaches are wiped out.
These eggs or larvae will hatch and mature in a few days, leading to a new infestation.
To prevent this cycle, use an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). IGRs contain synthetic pheromones, which disrupt the lifecycle of roaches during their larval and egg stages. They also prevent adult roaches from reproducing in the future.
Where to find it: IGRs come in various formulations, including liquid formulas like Gentrol IGR Concentrate, which can be mixed with water and added to liquid insecticides. You can also find pre-mixed, ready-to-use aerosol varieties like Gentrol Aerosol IGR.
8. Use concentrated insecticide sprays
Purchase a targeted insecticide designed for cockroaches, measure and mix it according to the product label, and spray it anywhere you’ve noticed roach activity in your home.
If you use insecticide sprays, avoid spraying the areas where you’ve already placed bait since this will contaminate the bait traps and contribute to bait avoidance.
Should I Use a Fogger for Roach Control?
When it comes to DIY roach control, many people wonder about fogging or roach bombs.
While they may seem promising, we do NOT recommend them.
Foggers spray pesticides into the air wherever you place them. When that pesticide drifts to the ground, it coats all of your indoor surfaces in highly toxic, dangerous chemicals that are dangerous for kids, pets, and people.
While they do kill roaches, most of these chemicals are highly flammable, and they require you to vacate the home while the roach bomb is active and for several hours after that.
Opt for more targeted chemical control methods, like IGRs, specially-formulated pesticides, and bait stations to control roaches without poisoning your entire home.
How do Exterminators Get Rid of Cockroaches?
Considering hiring a professional exterminator to help you get rid of cockroaches? Here’s what you can expect from the team:
All reputable exterminators will start with an inspection. During this inspection, they’ll identify the type of roach species on your property, identify roach harborage areas, and assess current cockroach damage.
Based on their findings, they’ll develop a roach treatment and control plan tailored to your needs, the nature of your property, and your priorities.
All good roach control starts with sanitation. The exterminator will remove obvious roach food and water sources and work with you – the customer – to provide client education.
Next, the exterminator will deploy the roach treatment of choice. Reputable exterminators use an integrated pest management (IPM) approach.
IPM approaches combine non-chemical and conventional roach control methods to kill roaches at every life cycle stage, address the underlying causes of roach infestation, and prevent re-infestation down the road.
Finally, your exterminator will teach you how to remove roach habitat, avoid transporting roaches from one place to another, and make your property uninhabitable for cockroaches.
Are Cockroaches Invading Your Home? We Can Help!
Your home should be your sanctuary, and you shouldn’t have to settle for sharing it with roaches.
If you’re tired of living with these creepy pests, your DIY options have failed, or you want faster results, help is available.
We recommend contacting a reputable, local pest control company for professional services in your area.
We have a broad network of expert partners that can help.
Get a Free Quote
Give us a call today to receive your free, no-obligation pest control quote.
Cockroach Control FAQs
Cockroaches usually enter a home by crawling inside through gaps, cracks, and holes in a building’s foundation, around windows and doors, or in the siding.
Since they love to find harborage in cracks and crevices, they can also be introduced unintentionally – by hitching a ride on appliances, building materials, or containers being brought out of storage.
Here’s a story from Zachary Smith, aka “The Pest Dude”
“One time, I was taking care of a cockroach problem for a local restaurant owner, and it seemed that we were not getting control, even after several weeks. Then we went and searched the locker room area and found that our monitoring traps were catching a lot more cockroaches in that area than in other parts of the restaurant. A little more detective work found that it was actually one of the employees who had a bad cockroach problem at his home, and they were hitchhiking with him in his backpack. So the restaurant was getting new cockroaches every week as this employee went to and from his house. Once we were able to treat the restaurant and this employee’s home, the Cockroach problem went away!”
No. To get rid of cockroaches, it’s better to focus on proven non-chemical and conventional pest management tactics.
There are no valid scientific studies that have shown electromagnetic, sonic, or ultrasonic devices to be effective at repelling or killing cockroaches or altering their behavior in any way.
There’s a common misconception that roaches only live in unsanitary environments. In reality, roaches are attracted to moisture and shelter.
Roaches are likely to appear if your home has high indoor humidity, excess moisture from leaky pipes or faucets, or damp areas like basements or crawl spaces. They also don’t need much food to survive, so they can subsist on hidden grease stains under your stove or in your microwave, even if your home is spotless.