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How to get rid of roaches

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Cockroaches are not only a nuisance — these pests also pose health risks and can spread diseases. This article will guide you through identifying roaches, various methods to eliminate them and how to prevent their recurrence.

Key insights

  • Cockroaches are nocturnal pests that can spread diseases. Identification involves looking for signs like droppings, an oily odor and egg cases.
  • Eliminating roaches involves methods like sealing your home, applying pesticides, using natural remedies and hiring pest control professionals.
  • Preventing infestations involves sealing entry points, maintaining cleanliness and doing regular yard maintenance.

Identifying roaches

Before you start any treatment, confirm that you’re dealing with cockroaches. They’re typically brown or black, can range anywhere from 0.07 inches to 3 inches long and have six legs and two antennae. Some species have wings, although not all are good flyers.

Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, so if you spot one during the day, it could be a sign of infestation. Other signs include droppings that resemble ground coffee or black pepper, an oily or musty odor and oval-shaped egg cases.

11 ways to get rid of roaches

Eliminating cockroaches can be a daunting task, but with the right methods, you can get rid of these pests. Here are some effective methods:

1. Sealing your home

First, seal your home to keep more roaches from getting inside. Look for cracks and crevices around your windows and doors, and fill them in with caulk. Then install door sweeps and weatherstripping around any gaps near entryways. Be sure to check your home’s interior and exterior to ensure there aren’t any places roaches could squeeze in.

2. Bait stations

Bait stations contain food that attracts roaches. These baits are laced with pesticides that roaches carry back to their nests, poisoning the other roaches. Bait stations are effective, but they may take several weeks to eliminate the entire infestation. Gel baits can be applied under the lip of your counter or on the hinges of your cabinets for a more targeted approach.

Roaches can be eliminated by a variety of insecticides or natural methods.

3. Liquid pesticides

Liquid pesticides can be used to control severe infestations. These pesticides are applied to areas where roaches have been spotted, such as cracks, crevices and under appliances.

Always follow the instructions on the pesticide label, and keep pets and children away from treated areas. Concentrates can be particularly effective at preventing reinfestation, since they usually deter roaches for one to two weeks or more.

4. Insecticide sprays

Insecticide sprays can kill roaches on contact. Whenever you see a cockroach, spray it directly with the insecticide. You can also apply the spray on areas where roaches frequent to kill any roach that comes into contact with it. If you don’t have any spray on hand, try misting the cockroaches with rubbing alcohol to kill them.

5. Roach foggers

A roach fogger, also known as a roach bomb, can be an effective method for dealing with a large infestation. These foggers work by releasing a pesticide mist into the air that settles onto the surfaces in your home, killing roaches that come into contact with it.

Use this method with caution — it requires you to vacate your home for several hours and thoroughly clean all surfaces afterward. Always follow the instructions on the product label to ensure safe and effective use.

6. Baking soda

Baking soda is a great way to get rid of cockroaches and is completely safe for your family and pets. Mix some baking soda with sugar to create a roach killer — the roaches are attracted to the sugar and ingest the baking soda, which reacts with their stomach acids, causing their stomach to burst and killing them.

This method can be a bit slower, but it's a natural and safe way to handle a roach problem.

7. Adhesive traps

Adhesive traps are another effective method. These traps contain a sticky substance that roaches get stuck to when they walk over them. Place these traps in areas where you've seen roaches for the best results. In a pinch, make your own sticky traps by wrapping a piece of cardboard in duct tape so the adhesive is facing out.

8. Diatomaceous earth

Roaches get dehydrated when they walk through diatomaceous earth. Use a bulb syringe to spread the diatomaceous earth, and apply a thin layer around cracks and crevices so cockroaches have to walk through it. Try spreading it in other places too, such as underneath your sinks, along baseboards and inside cabinets.

9. Essential oils

Certain essential oils are toxic to cockroaches. Look for thyme oil, clove bud oil or citronella oil — these are typically the most effective at getting rid of young cockroaches. Spray the essential oil directly on the cockroaches when you see them. Otherwise, just spread the oil around the baseboards where you’ve seen cockroaches most frequently to keep them away.

10. Boric acid

Dust a thin layer of the boric acid powder into the cracks around cabinets and baseboards. Leave the boric acid for about one week before vacuuming it up and replacing it.

To attract more roaches to the boric acid, mix in one part powdered sugar or flour to create a homemade bait trap. Roaches are drawn to the food source and are more likely to ingest the boric acid.

11. Hire a professional pest control company

If the infestation is too large or the roaches keep returning, it might be time to hire a professional pest control company. These experts have access to powerful tools and pesticides that can eliminate roaches more effectively and prevent them from returning.

They can also provide advice on how to keep your home roach-free in the future, offering tailored solutions based on your specific situation and the layout of your property.

» GET HELP: Best pest control companies

How to prevent roaches

Prevention is always better than cure. Here are some tips to prevent a cockroach infestation:

  • Seal cracks and holes: Roaches can enter your home through cracks and holes. Check your home for any potential entry points and seal them with caulk.
  • Keep your home tidy: Roaches are attracted to food and water sources. Keep your kitchen clean, store food in airtight containers, and fix any leaking pipes or faucets. Regularly take out the trash and avoid leaving dirty dishes overnight.
  • Clean regularly: Regular cleaning can help prevent an infestation. This includes sweeping and mopping your floors to get rid of crumbs and residue and decluttering to eliminate potential hiding spots.
  • Maintain your yard: Cockroaches can live in outdoor spaces, so you should clean up yard waste and keep your garden tidy to reduce the number of places where roaches can hide.

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    When should I consider hiring a professional pest control company?

    If the cockroach infestation is large or if the roaches keep returning despite your efforts to eliminate them, it might be time to hire a professional pest control company. These experts can provide more effective solutions and can also offer advice on how to keep your home roach-free in the future.

    » LEARN: How much does an exterminator cost?

    What are some signs that I might have a cockroach infestation?

    Signs of a cockroach infestation include spotting a roach during the day, finding droppings that resemble ground coffee or noticing an oily or musty odor in your home. You might also find oval-shaped egg cases.

    Are there any natural methods for getting rid of cockroaches?

    There are several natural methods for eliminating cockroaches. These include using baking soda mixed with sugar, which the roaches ingest and which then causes their stomachs to burst.

    Other natural methods include using adhesive traps and spreading diatomaceous earth or essential oils in areas where roaches frequent.

    Are all cockroaches capable of flying?

    Not all cockroaches are good flyers. While some species of cockroaches have wings, their flying abilities can vary. Regardless of their ability to fly, all cockroaches are capable of spreading diseases and causing infestations.

    What attracts cockroaches to my home?

    Cockroaches are attracted to food and water sources. This includes crumbs, unsealed food items, pet food and standing water from leaks or spills. They are also attracted to cluttered areas that provide hiding spots.

    Can cockroaches cause health problems?

    Cockroaches can pose several health risks. They can spread diseases and trigger allergies and asthma attacks, especially in children. They can also contaminate food with bacteria that they carry on their bodies.

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