Finding roaches in your kitchen cabinet or catching them scuttle across your apartment floor is unnerving, to say the least. They rarely go solo and finding one probably means you have an infestation. One’s first thought is to kill the roaches instantly, but before you pick up the phone to the professionals, there are roach treatments that can get rid of roaches without an exterminator using only natural means. Our home remedies for roaches are also cheap, safe for pets and will quickly kill roaches and their eggs, bringing back peace of mind and an end to your roach infestation.
Signs of a roach infestation
Visible roaches – Roaches are much more active at night and your home may have an infestation, but you perhaps don’t realize it as you haven’t seen any roaches. If you spot a roach, it is almost certain that you have an infestation. They breed so fast that the likelihood that this is a solitary individual is near zero.
Musty odor – a severe roach infestation will lead to a pungent almost ‘rotting’ smell in and around your home. The smell is particularly strong in humid climates.
Egg casings – While the roaches may hide in the day, they often leave behind the shell casing for their eggs. However, if their food source becomes scarce, ironically roaches will ‘clean up’ by eating the egg shells. If you are using the practical measures to stop your infestation given below, you may see no egg shells, but it is not necessarily a sign that the roach infestation has gone for good, just that your preventative measures are starting to work.
Cockroach feces – Roach feces can often be found behind units or in cupboards etc. The feces look similar to coffee grounds and as is the case with roach egg casing, are often consumed when food is scarce.
Dead roaches – With any large insect population, dead individuals will soon become apparent. As with egg casings, and feces, roaches will eat the dead bodies when food is scarce.
Scratching sounds – Roaches are more active at night and with the background noise reduced, you can often hear them scuttling around. However, use your common sense. Roaches and rodents are often found together. If the noise you hear sounds like a larger beast, then you probably have a rat or mouse problem as well.
Stomach upsets – If you or your children experience perpetual upset stomachs and diarrhea, this may also be a sign of a roach infestation. The roaches carry a cocktail of harmful bacteria that they will leave behind on kitchen work surfaces, making your family ill.
How to stop a roach infestation
It goes without saying that prevention is better than cure.
As with any living creature, the cockroach will breed and multiply according to its environment. Cockroaches like damp and humidity, need shelter and will eat almost anything.
If there is damp and food in your house or apartment with a place for roaches to hide, your home will be capable of supporting a cockroach population. How large that population becomes will depend on how much damp, food and shelter there are.
The ability for an environment (in this case your home or apartment) to sustain cockroaches is known as its carrying capacity.
Home remedies to treat cockroaches do work and the cockroach population will fall, but unless your reduce your home carrying capacity, the cockroaches will just return. To reduce your homes carrying capacity and eliminate your roach problem, you need to remove the roaches’ water, food, and shelter. The chart above shows the changes in roach population before and after insecticide is applied. There is an instant drop in your roach infestation after you have applied an insecticide, perhaps with the help of an exterminator. However, it returns back to ‘normal’ very quickly.
‘Normal’ depends on how much water, food, and shelter is in your house or apartment. Get rid of roaches’ water, food and shelter, and ‘normal’ = zero roaches.
First of all, you need to make sure your house is free from damp and mold. Cockroaches use a waxy surface on their exoskeleton to help prevent moisture loss but still need a steady supply of water. Some cockroaches such as the German and Oriental roach require more water and will become quickly stressed if their supply is cut off. The home remedies listed below will be much more effective if the roaches are thirsty.
They can get water from their food but they will congregate in any moist and enclosed area to guarantee their supply. You must check all pipes, small leaks, and broken drains. Cold water pipes will attract condensation in warm weather which is sufficient to sustain the roaches. Consider insulating your pipes if this is the case.
Cockroaches will eat almost any organic matter and while a home may appear superficially clean, a cockroach will have a totally different viewpoint. Pet hair, crumbs, grease spots, dirty clothes and dead insects are all staple fare for the roach. Juveniles will gorge on the feces of adults and when food is scarce, adults will eat their young and egg cases. It goes without saying that all food must be stored in sealed plastic or glass containers. Nothing must be left open overnight.
Sealing food will also keep out other pantry pests such as , so it really is a must. Many people will seal up food, but forget about the large bowl of high protein meat product on the floor – the pet food! Roaches love dog and cat food. Never leave this overnight.
If you have cockroaches you must not just clean, but conduct the deepest clean you can imagine. Clean inside cabinets, behind fridges, under units. You would be surprised how easily grease can accumulate over the years even behind a unit, as the smoke from cooking can transport grease particles all over the kitchen. Wipe down everything to eliminate accumulated grease.
Roaches live in cracks and dark crevices during the day and their slender shape allows them to squeeze into the tightest of spaces. Indeed a roach will actually prefer a tight space to open living quarters and will tend to seek out organic material such as paper and wood rather than metal surfaces. Roaches will also seek warmth, which is why they like our homes so much. You will often find roaches within electrical units, warm by electrical motors. Pay close attention to condensers units where there is a steady water supply as well as warmth.
Eliminate points of entry and debris around your property. Use caulk and cement to repair/fill cracks and crevices
Once you have dealt with the shelter, food and water supply of your roach infestation, the ability for your home environment to sustain a cockroach population should fall to zero.
However, you will need to turn your attention to the roaches themselves that are still alive. There are three broad categories of home treatments for a roach infestation – essential oils, herbal remedies, and home insecticides.
Essential oil treatment for roach infestation
1) Cedar oil
Many essential oils have insecticide properties and can be used to combat roaches. Cedar oil is one of these natural insecticides. It is effective against all insects and arthropods. When the roaches come into contact with cedar oil, they suffer from osmotic dehydration and suffocate. The oil also emulsifies the insect’s body fats and kills them. (2)
Dip cotton balls in cedarwood essential oil and place them where cockroaches are generally found. Repeated use of cedarwood essential oil will drive roaches away. Cedar balls and blocks can also be used.
2) Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil mixed with vinegar aids in getting rid of cockroaches . Wipe all your surfaces with peppermint oil. You can also add few drops of peppermint oil to 1 part of white vinegar and two parts of water and mix well and pour it into a spray bottle. Spray in places where you find cockroaches.
3) Citrus Hystrix Essential Oil
Citrus Hystrix aka Kaffir lime essential oil has been proved to possess the highest levels of roach repellency compared to other essential oils. It has 100% repellency against certain types of cockroaches and an impressive success against other roach types .
Dilute citrus hystrix essential oil in ethanol and spray on roach infested areas.
4) Neem oil
Neem is famously known for its effectiveness in treating various health conditions but its role as anti-cockroach is less known.
The oil contains an active compound called azadirachtin which is deadly to nearly all insects. The azadirachtin found in neem oil destabilizes the insect’s hormonal systems. Exposure to neem oil can impede the roaches’ ability to reproduce. (3).
Mix equal amounts of neem oil and water. Spray this solution where roaches thrive. Regular cleaning using neem oil is also highly effective.
Herbal treatment for roach infestation
5) Bay Leaves
Bay leaves, a common kitchen ingredient, can cause your cockroaches to exit the scene . One of the best non-violent methods, using bay leaves also involves very little exercise in your fight against roaches.
Place bay leaves where you may find cockroaches often, such as on kitchen tops and near appliances. Burning bay leaf can provide added protection.
Lemon helps humans in many ways. It works both internally and externally, from improving digestion to promoting skin tone. And to get rid of roaches too.
Clean the surfaces that are roaches prone with lemon juice. You can also add water to lemon juice and mop the floor.
7) Pepper, Garlic, And Onion
Mixing these ingredients together may seem like the basis for a fine curry, but the trio works wonders together as a natural roach repellent. The smell of these three suffocates roaches.
Grind onion and garlic and add pepper powder to the ground paste. Add water and bring to boil. Pour it in a spray bottle after the liquid cools. Sprinkle in areas that are cockroach-prone. You can also add cayenne pepper to the solution before boiling.
8) Coffee Trap
Now you have more reason than your love for coffee to have your supplies refilled. Yes, roaches love coffee and are very much tempted by the aroma. Using coffee powder as bait, you can throw cockroaches out.
Fill 1/4th of a glass bottle with water. Throw in a plastic cup with coffee powder in it. Look for the catch next day and empty the bottle every two days till you are done with the job.
Slice cucumber and place the pieces where you find roach traffic.
10) Pandan Leaves
A common cooking ingredient in Asian countries, pandan leaves also plays a role in driving cockroaches away . Roaches find the smell of the leaf to be intolerable.
Place pandan leaves in places you find roaches. Replace the leaves with fresh ones frequently.
Studies show the effectiveness of catnip in getting rid of roaches .
Place some catnip around your home. You can also boil catnip and pour the extract in a spray bottle for easy use.
Home insecticides for roach infestation
12) Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous Earth, also referred to as DE, is non-toxic and an effective way to rid roaches . It attacks the exoskeletons of the roaches and absorbs fats and oils from outer layer thereby dehydrating them.
Apply diatomaceous earth on places where cockroaches travel.
13) Boric Acid
Boric acid or borax is a fast acting natural insecticide that will treat all your home insect problems. It is non-toxic to humans but is deadly for cockroaches. You can easily buy Boric acid or Borax as its commonly known from any pharmacy or hardware shop.
All you have to do is to sprinkle the powder in all areas where you know the roaches may go. You should apply some to the inside of your kitchen cabinets and leave for a few days and place a thin layer of powder along the side of walls, as well as behind all your units.
Listerine is more than a mouthwash; it is recommended for preventing roaches as well.
Mix equal portions of Listerine and water. Add two drops of dish wash liquid and spray the solution where you find roaches.
15) Soap Solution
Yet another cheaper method to kill cockroaches is to use soap and water or dish soap. The soap solution dissolves the waxy coats of roaches that keeps them hydrated, and so they die of dehydration.
Mix liquid soap and water and pour the solution in a spray bottle. Spray on corners and directly on roaches when possible.
16) Petroleum Jelly Trap
While petroleum jelly trap does not by itself kill roaches, it ensures death of roaches once they get trapped .
Place bait inside a wide mouthed jar. Apply petroleum jelly inside the neck of the bottle so that roaches that enter for the bait will find it difficult to get out from the slippery surface.
17) Fabric Softener Spray
Spraying fabric softener mixed with water can cause roaches to suffocate and die.
Mix fabric softener and water in the ratio of 3:2. Pour the solution in a spray bottle. Spray on the roaches and in the areas where they are found.
18) Hair Spray
Hair spray, a readily available product at home, suffocates and kills roaches.
Spray on the roach directly for quicker results. Considering the impossibility of targeting every roach that may be at home, you may spray on the areas where you find roach traffic.
19) Ammonia Solution
The pungent smell of ammonia repels roaches. Using ammonia every two or three weeks helps to keep cockroaches away.
Add water to ammonia and mix well. Spray the solution on the infested areas till you sight the last, hopefully, of the roaches.
20) Baking Soda And Sugar
The chemical reaction caused by baking soda can badly upset the stomach of roaches and kill them. Since the smell of baking soda does not excite roaches to get near, sugar is added to it to lure them.
Take equal amounts of baking soda and sugar and mix them well. Place the mixture in containers, which support easy entry for cockroaches that come in tempted by sugar.
Do’s and Don’ts to get rid of roaches
- Clean your home every day.
- Perform a deep clean once a month
- Wash used dishes before you hit the bed as keeping them overnight is a definite invitation to roaches to eat and thrive.
- Seal all cracks and holes to check roach entry.
- Fix water leaks.
- Empty garbage every night. Use trash cans with a lid.
- Seal all foods in your pantry in airtight containers
- Don’t leave food out overnight
- Don’t leave pet food in the bowl. Roaches love dog and cat food.
- Don’t ignore your problem. It will get worse very quickly