Homesteading

How to Get Rid of Roaches Fast

cockroach

No matter where you live in the world, you’re probably familiar with cockroaches and what a pain they can be when they invade your home. In a SHTF situation, cockroaches will thrive in abandoned homes and buildings which means they may become even more of a problem for everyone as they multiply unchecked

Roaches carry disease, can contaminate surfaces in your home, and even contribute to allergic reactions. If you suspect roaches have invaded your home or even your bug out location, you’ll want to know how to get rid of roaches quickly so you can prevent a troublesome infestation that can lead to illness for you and your family.

An Ounce of Prevention

Roaches are annoying little creepy creatures that can be very hard to eliminate once they’ve taken up residence in your home. Make sure you do what you can to deter them from choosing your home or bug out location as their nest in the first place.

Roaches are attracted to areas that are damp, dark, and warm. In addition to the environment, they can be attracted by food or crumbs on countertops, the floor, or under appliances. Cardboard, newspaper, or other debris that may be lying around in your home or even outside can attract roaches to your home.

Make sure to check the attic, basement, crawl space, under appliances, and in dark areas of closets at least several times annually for anything that roaches may see as desirable nesting material. Carefully inspect any food storage areas, especially those that are dark and not frequently used, for any signs of roach activity.

Any perpetually damp areas can also attract roaches. Wash bathroom and mudroom rugs frequently and dry them thoroughly. Add a dehumidifier to any really humid areas to pull out excess moisture. Fix any plumbing that may be prone to leaking as quickly as possible.

Spot the Problem Early

A good way to eliminate roaches fast is to spot the problem early. Roaches multiply very quickly so identifying a problem early means you will be more likely to stop an infestation before it gets out of hand. Because cockroaches are nocturnal, they primarily come out at night and stay hidden during the daytime.

Roaches typically only come out during the daylight hours when they are overcrowded and desperate for food. This means you can’t wait until you visually see a roach to do something. By the time you actually begin to see roaches, the infestation behind the scenes is well underway.

Look for other signs of cockroach infestation, such as roach feces behind your refrigerator, inside drawers, under sinks, or along baseboards. Roach feces will look different depending on the food and water available to them.

It may look like tiny grains of pepper, coffee grains, or brownish-black pellets the size of rice grains. But it can also be brownish black smears on baseboards or counters.

You can also check any small tight covered areas for the casings or “oothecae” that contain cockroach eggs. They will look like tiny cylindrical brown shells and can be found under contact paper, in the pages of books, on pantry shelves, or even cracks or crevices in your walls or floor.

Depending on the species of cockroach, egg casings, can contain up to 50 eggs in each one which means they can multiply very fast.

Trust your nose. Cockroaches emit a musty odor, almost an oily smell, that is amplified as the roaches multiply. Decomposing cockroaches also produce an unusual odor. These odors work like beacons to attract other roaches which of course means an ever growing infestation.

If you smell something you don’t recognize or areas of your home have a musty smell you can’t seem to get rid of, it’s time to do a thorough inspection for roach activity.

Step Up Cleaning Efforts

Finding roaches or signs of cockroaches in your home doesn’t mean your home is necessarily dirty. It does mean that your home or bug out retreat has some areas that have the perfect conditions for roaches.

Roaches need warmth, food, hidden protection/darkness, and water to thrive. If they get into your home and find an area that has these criteria, they will set up camp and begin multiplying.

One of the first things you can do if you suspect cockroaches have invaded is to perform a general house cleaning, but you also want to keep these habits in mind:

  • Keep counters and floors clean and free of crumbs and food droppings
  • Clean inside cabinets, under the stove, and behind refrigerator
  • Keep garbage in tight fitting container, clean inside of pail routinely
  • Inspect for and fix any leaky plumbing or other “damp” dark areas.
  • Change your cat litter boxes regularly.

Popular Ways to Eliminate Roaches

Use Roach Bait

The first choice for roach activity if you’ve spotted the problem early is roach bait. This is actually a cleaner and less risky method, especially if you have pets and children, than pesticide spray.

Once you’ve stocked up on the most effective roach bait, start putting it out in the areas of your home where you identified significant roach droppings or near where you found any egg casings. Always make sure roach bait is inaccessible to children or pets.

Roach bait is an effective method because as roaches consume the bait and die, the odors of decomposing roaches actually work to attract other roaches to the area where the bait is located.

Traps

Commercial glue traps can be effective. If you have pets or children be sure to get non-toxic ones. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always impact unhatched eggs that have already been laid so you may need some additional treatments if you have a large infestation.

Roach Traps work well. Look for one that specifically indicates it will impact the entire nest rather than just roaches that enter the trap. If possible, get a bait that gives roaches who eat it time to carry it back to their nest and for most effective results, get one that prohibits reproduction is roaches who come in contact with it.

Roach Sprays

Roach sprays such as Cynoff EC, Bengal Gold Roach Spray, Wisdom TC, Ortho Home Defense Max, or COMBATMax in spray, foam, or gel are highly effective. Many users who have tried multiple different pest control solutions for roaches, swear that Vendetta Roach Gel, safe enough for asthma patients and allergies, is the best and works well together with an insect growth regulator (IGR) like Gentrol.

Bayer Tempo is a professional grade pest control spray used by professionals. You can also gain access to some of the same roach control treatments pest professionals use through websites like Do It Yourself Pest Control.

Make sure you strictly adhere to all manufacturer instructions and guidelines for mixing and ventilation to avoid inhaling chemicals or fumes that could be dangerous to humans.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is a popular option with many people. You can apply it around any access points to your home, high traffic roach areas, behind your fridge or under the stove, etc.

It impacts the nervous system, stomach, and exoskeleton of roaches but it is slow acting enough that the poisoned roaches typically travel back to the nest before dying. This is effective because the other roaches will then consume the dead roaches and be poisoned as well.

Boric acid is relatively safe for humans, it’s even used in some types of eye wash products but to safe, do not use in any areas where food is consumed.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is an all-natural option for killing roaches. Look for food grade DE which is completely nontoxic for humans and pets. The grains of DE have very sharp edges which basically damage the bodies of roaches and other pests.

As the roaches crawl through the DE, it cuts their outer shell and works its way inside where the particles of earth suck fats, oils, and moisture from the roach. It essentially dehydrates them from the inside out.

Many people regular treat their yard with DE in order to prevent insect infestation from not only roaches, but fleas, ticks, and other unwanted houseguests. Take caution when spreading DE not to inhale large amounts.

Roach Bait

DIY roach bait is also another popular option. Some people mix DE or boric acid with other sticky things that will attract roaches such as peanut butter or sugar.

Professional exterminators agree that mixing 3-parts boric acid with 1-part sugar is fast and effective in killing roaches. Mixing equal parts baking soda and sugar and sprinkling it in high traffic roach areas can also kill roaches over time as they will carry it back to the nest.

Make a slippery jar or bottle trap by using a mason jar or wine bottle and adding something that attracts roaches inside. You can use anything sticky or sweet like maple syrup, a banana, etc. You want the roaches to be attracted to the jar or bottle and crawl into it and become trapped inside.

Use baby oil or cooking oil around the inside rim of the jar or bottle so roaches can’t crawl back out once they’ve dined. Kill and discard the trapped roaches each morning by adding boiling water to the bottle or jar, capping and discarding. Reset the trap repeatedly until the jar or bottle has been empty each morning for a month or longer.

Call a Professional

If you’ve tried some home remedies without complete success or if you have already started seeing roaches at night when you turn on the light or in the daylight hours, it’s time to call in a professional pest control team for help. Don’t wait too long to call for professional help, the longer you wait, the worse the problem will be.

Fortify Your Home

Roaches have the ability to fit through even the smallest of cracks or gaps. One method to get rid of roaches is to stop them from moving easily in and around your home. If there’s no food inside, roaches may survive by traveling out for food and then returning to the nest.

  • Be careful when bringing things into your home, especially cardboard and furniture where roaches could be hiding.
  • Use caulking to seal cracks around windows.
  • Stuff steel wool into cracks or crevices in floors that could let roaches in from outside
  • Use a door sweep attachment and weather stripping to make sure exterior doors are completely sealed when shut.
  • Consider spreading DE in your yard or around your house and outbuildings to encourage roaches to keep their distance and prevent them from getting into your home.

DIY Roach Bait Myths

There are various DIY bait methods out there that people swear will work or did work. But many of these DIY roach killing solutions are simply myths, or are not practical ways to getting rid of them.

  • Coffee grounds sprinkled along baseboards
  • Citrus cleaning products (the act of cleaning contributes more than scent)
  • Bay Leaves
  • Fabric softener and water (only works if topically applied to roaches which is impractical and not a thorough solution)
  • Cucumber peels or slices left out overnight
  • Soap and Water (it kills only the roaches you can spray with it)
  • Bleach (again only works for roaches you can immerse or spray)
  • Vinegar (cleaning counters with vinegar disinfects the counter but doesn’t kill roaches)
  • Flushing roaches or drowning them (roaches can survive 40 minutes underwater)

Have you ever had to deal with roaches in your home? Which of these methods was effective for your situation? Have you tried other methods that worked or didn’t work to kill roaches fast? Share your experiences below, and be sure to pin the article on Pinterest, too.

getting rid of roaches pinterest

Megan Stewart

About Megan Stewart

A mother of four and grandmother of six, Megan is living the lifestyle any prepper would want. Gardening, homesteading and constantly planning for emergencies big and small, she's a beacon of knowledge in the prepping community.
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7 thoughts on “How to Get Rid of Roaches Fast

  1. Good info. Here in the Sunshine State the Roach is our state animal (joking) We use boric acid tablets thrown behind/under all furniture and cabinets to control them in our home/garage/barn

  2. Also in the Sunshine state and I have found some things that work. Some are too noxious, like soaking the inside and outside walls with Dursban (Chlorpyrifos), and some are not effective at keeping them out (store bought spray cans).

    What has worked is a two pronged approach. One is the gallon spray jugs sold at home improvement stores. Use the whole gallon over several days soaking all the baseboards, doorways and windowsills repeatedly. The spray has little odor and even my very chemically sensitive wife doesn’t complain. I live in woods in a 38 year old mobile home and it keeps the American cockroaches at bay.

    German cockroaches are a different story, the sprays do not work on them, (well, the Dursban did but you do not want to do that). What does work is the one two punch of Gentrol and InVict Gold cockroach gel with Imidacloprid. The Gentrol comes as a concentrate you mix and stray or no mess point source packs you simply activate and place in cabinets and drawers. The gel is actually a thin peanut butter paste in a syringe that you use to place match-head dabs of paste everywhere roaches might go. I had a long term infestation that was ended with twelve of the small (silver dollar sized) packs and two syringes of gel.

    Dogs are attracted to the gel so place it where they can’t get to it. It will not hurt them (we called the seller) but if they lick it up there is less for the roaches.

  3. Other than the cheap apartment I lived in while in college, I’ve not had much of a roach problem and rarely see them.
    When you describe part of the problem:

    It may look like tiny grains of pepper, coffee grains, or brownish-black pellets the size of rice grains. But it can also be brownish black smears on baseboards or counters.

    Here you just described field mouse leavings that are decidedly not grains of rice
    Step Up Cleaning Efforts
    To your list, start with eliminating piles, especially damp piles, of corrugated cardboard, since these make a great nest and both the paper pulp and the glue are a veritable buffet for these nasty bugs that will eat nearly anything, including each other.

    Your suggestions for cleaning should be SOP for anyone, especially in a rural setting.
    Boric Acid
    A solution of boric acid and sugar is our go to mixture for eliminating both roaches and our biggest pain, ants.
    Mix 3 parts borax to 1 part sugar with enough water to make a light syrup. You can dip cotton balls in the solution and spread them around or use our preferred method of using small containers like bottle caps or tuna / sardine cans filled with the solution. For larger containers like a tuna can, spill a little over the top onto the floor. Place this where pets cannot get to it, and wait. For roaches, you will see the solution start to disappear, followed by the roaches; but, for ants, be prepared to see lots of ants in the short term, as they all come to feed at the new buffet. Sometimes you’ll see the container covered with ants; but, then shortly, no more ants, when they all carry the poison (to them) back to their nest an take a permanent nap.

    Also:

    Be careful when bringing things into your home, especially cardboard and furniture where roaches could be hiding.

    For furniture I’m more concerned with bedbugs, yet another nasty creepy crawly that also bites.

    1. I use Terro liquid on ants. It’s boric acid solution and slow acting so the ants bring it back to the nest and share like good little commies. It costs about two bucks for a little bottle but it’s 100% effective within a couple of days.

      1. Overwatch,

        I use Terro liquid on ants. It’s boric acid solution and slow acting so the ants bring it back to the nest and share like good little commies. It costs about two bucks for a little bottle but it’s 100% effective within a couple of days.

        We’ve used TERRO® a few times; but, found that the Borax Sugar mixture works the same, since the insects (roaches or ants) sound the alarm that the buffet is open and then all of them eat their fill and carry the poison back to their nests.
        We generally keep Borax on hand and the DW occasionally uses the ”20 Mule Team” Borax in the laundry, as it disinfects and inhibits organisms, like fungi, mold, and bacteria. I think it also makes stain removal more effective; but, to be honest, that’s not generally my wheelhouse.

  4. Dry bicarbonate of soda sprinkled along where the cockroaches travel works by getting the particles onto their bodies. Cockroaches are constantly “cleaning” themselves so they ingest the bicarbonate of soda. You may or may not realise this, but Cockroaches can’t pass gas, so the bicarbonate of soda causes the cockroach to continually build up gas until they burst apart. Dead Cockroach. I am not sure they would live long enough to take this back to the nest but I guess it’s possible. I think if you knew where the nest was or likely areas for them then that would be the likely place to sprinkle bicarb. The plus side for safety is that bicarb doesn’t hurt children or animals.

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