There comes a time when you realize quick fixes won’t solve your cockroach problem. You’re fed up, tired, and just want to be done with the bugs for good.
If that’s you, it’s great news. Because there’s no better place to start. Effective, long-term cockroach control will treat the root of the problem and put you back in charge. It’s also easier than you might think.
Consider this your guide to a permanent, no-fail roach control plan—an introduction to the best tools and techniques (including home remedies) that control roaches, along with advanced advice for doing the job cheaply, safely, and well.
Ready to solve your roach problem? Let’s go!
Roach Pest Control: Do You Really Need an Exterminator?
We’ve all taken on projects that at some point, became more than we could handle. Roach control can be like that too, when you underestimate what you’re facing.
A moderate cockroach infestation will leave you feeling pretty satisfied once you’ve cleared the critters out. But discovering a horror show pulsing behind your walls will make you wish you’d called a pro.
Before deciding to do the job yourself, try to make at least a general assessment of the infestation, judging its severity.
You may have a serious infestation if…
- You’re seeing lots of roaches, even in the daylight. Roaches don’t usually come out during the day, so seeing them in broad daylight could be a sign that there are many roaches hiding.
- You’re finding a lot of cockroach egg cases around your home. Roaches don’t like to leave eggs where predators (like you) can find them. Stumbling onto eggs with any regularity could be a sign that a roach population is ready to explode.
- You’re seeing (and smelling) cockroach droppings everywhere. Roaches aren’t picky about where they do their business, but whatever droppings you see out in the open is nothing compared to what’s happening behind your walls.
- You live in an apartment or condo where you have no idea what bugs are doing elsewhere in the building. For all you know, the roaches you’re seeing are the tip of the iceberg, and the ones enjoying your neighbor’s apartment will be headed for yours soon.
Tip: If you’re an apartment dweller, do make contacting your landlord or property manager the first task on your list. Legal responsibilities aside, they may already have a cockroach/pest control service under contract—which would make everyone’s lives easier.
If you do have a serious roach infestation—a truly ugly one, it may be smart to skip the DIY, and bring in a cockroach exterminator to clear it up.
Short of that, roll up your sleeves. Because the plan below has helped thousands, and will probably help you, too.
Part 1. The Roach Control Secret Weapon You Must Have
We live in an age of wonders, but many things that work best in life don’t come with a lot of sizzle. Cockroach control products are a case in point, with some that are chemical marvels and others that seem almost crude.
This “secret product” (secret because it’s sort of hidden in plain sight from consumers) is one of the crude ones. And besides being easy to use and gratifyingly cheap, it will also be a game changer for you. In fact, it’s one of the few products most professional exterminators simply couldn’t do without.
It’s the cockroach glue trap, a flat or folded piece of cardboard coated with glue and lure. If you’re like most folks who’ve dealt with roaches before, you’re probably familiar with sticky trap products like the roach motel, and you’re fairly satisfied with how they kill.
But killing isn’t the best thing sticky traps do. And if that’s all you know them for, you’re not benefiting as much as you could.
Because as it turns out, pest professionals don’t use use glue traps so much to kill roaches as to collect intelligence about them—to measure an infestation so they can make choices about the next steps to take.
If you’re serious about succeeding long-term with a roach control plan, you’ll want to use them that way, too. Doing it that way, you’ll place sticky traps throughout your home, then later count the catch from each one.
From that count, you’ll gain two important pieces of information:
- Where roaches tend to congregate.
- And where they tend to travel.
By starting your plan with sticky traps, you’ll learn where you needn’t waste your time. And where to hit roaches hardest.
Sticky traps are your secret weapon in this battle. Because you’ll know where to bring the fight.
Tip: Pick up a couple dozen sticky traps regardless of any other approach you use. They’re inexpensive, show you where to focus your efforts, and help to reduce roach populations, too. Use half your traps at the beginning of the job, and the other half when it’s done. The second set will alert you should any new roaches appear.
Part 2. Three Killer Cockroach Control Products That Eliminate Roaches Completely
Twenty years ago, cockroach elimination was a different, more troublesome story. Back then if you had an infestation and were committed to the cause, you’d rent a pump sprayer, lug it around your house or apartment, and pump lethal poison into every room.
The bugs would die dramatically—scores of them, right before your eyes. And while the carnage was sort of satisfying in its way, it wasn’t nearly as extensive as it appeared.
Because what you were really doing wasn’t solving the problem. You were doing what a cockroach bomb does today: killing all the dumber bugs, and sending the smart ones into your walls.
A few weeks later, your cockroach problem would be back. And you’d hire an exterminator to finish the job.
So much for the good old days. Because today’s cockroach control products are far better and go about killing in a very different way.
Gel Bait: Cutting Edge Poison and Lure in a Gel Matrix
Poison insect baits are nothing new in the cockroach world and have been used in one form or another for a very long time. They also weren’t particularly exciting killers—that is, until someone put them in a gel.
At their most basic, gel baits are just a matrix of lure and poison that kill roaches when they nibble. But the beauty lies in how they do it.
The gel matrix keeps the lure and active ingredient (the poison) moist, fresh, and tempting for up to several weeks. While the special poison does its job slowly—often leaving cockroaches to die in the heart of the infestation.
There, other roaches see its body as food, and get poisoned themselves when they eat it. When those roaches die, there may be enough poison in their tissues to kill still more. It’s an effective system that strikes the problem at its source.
Cockroach gel bait is sold in convenient bait stations, but syringe-based applicator products are the ones you’ll want.
To apply gel bait from an applicator, you’ll squeeze out tiny drops in areas your sticky traps have shown you they tend to go—inside and behind kitchen cabinets, around pipes, wiring and vents, under sinks, beneath appliances and in any cracks you find in walls.
Within a month of applying gel bait, you’re likely to see a lot of dead roaches, and then a dramatic (and satisfying) reduction in cockroach populations. Many people who try the product happily stop there and assume they’ve solved the problem.
But that’s typically a mistake.
Because roach problems respond far better to a multi-pronged attack, and can win out even over the power of gel bait if that’s all you ever use. To permanently beat roaches down, you’ll want to hit them with at least one, and possibly two more potent tools.
Silica Gel: Deadly to the Touch
Roaches are not exactly sedentary creatures. To find food, water, and mates, they need to move around, which is what makes our next product—silica insect dust so effective.
Insect dusts are fine powders applied to the areas roaches travel. The dust sticks to their legs and bodies, either damaging their exoskeletons or passing into them. Roaches die eventually, succumbing to dehydration or internal damage.
You may already be familiar with insecticidal dusts like boric acid and diatomaceous earth (DE), but neither is as effective (or as safe) for cockroach control as silica gel.
Silica gel doesn’t grind into roaches like DE, and doesn’t poison them like boric acid. Instead, it soaks up their protective oils like a sponge, leaving them to fatally dry out. Silica gel is applied in the same way as boric acid and DE, but kills roaches faster and with fewer escapees.
Silica gel is packaged in the product CimeXa. In addition to being wildly effective, it’s one of the least toxic insecticides available, and is a great choice for homes with pets or small children.
To apply: Cimexa is applied with a special “puffing” tool called a hand duster. It’s also sold in containers that can be used in the same way. Spread a fine dusting across surfaces where roaches walk. It’ll keep working as long as it stays dry.
Production Freeze: Block Baby Cockroaches with an IGR
Though gel baits and dust are effective, cutting-edge tools, they don’t destroy cockroach eggs waiting to hatch in your walls, your basement, or the back of your cupboards and drawers.
That means that even after you’ve wiped out every single living roach, you could still be in for a second wave.
An insect growth regulator (IGR) protects you from that wave, not by killing, but by stunting the growth of new roaches that emerge. Those roaches never fully reach full maturity, so don’t successfully breed, effectively breaking the next cycle of infestation.
You may not need an IGR to completely solve your roach problem, but it’s a great insurance policy against the sort of sneaky re-infestation that could ruin all the other work you’ve done.
To apply IGR: Spray it into cracks and behind cupboards or stick self-contained devices in areas roaches hang out. IGR’s can also be mixed with other insecticides and applied with a pump sprayer.
Part 3: Home Remedies for Cockroach Control
Few home remedies even remotely compare for effectiveness against store-bought traps, bait, and dust. But if you’re short on cash or want to get started before more heavy-hitting products arrive, try these:
DIY Duct Tape Glue Traps
DIY sticky traps? Duct tape doesn’t work as well as store-bought traps, but does work. Tear off a couple 6-inch pieces and lay them sticky-side-up along baseboards, countertops, the bathroom floor and kitchen cabinet shelves. Stick a tiny piece of food to the center as bait. Replace daily or as needed.
Plaster Roach Bait
Have some leftover plaster in the garage? Mix it with cornstarch and spread it in cracks and crevices to give roaches a toxic snack. Or, if you have borax, sprinkle it onto a dollop of peanut butter.
Your Vacuum as a Roach Killer
Don’t forget to vacuum! An oft-forgotten but powerful tool is your vacuum. Use it to suck up dead and living roaches you might find out in the open. Just remember to discard its contents into the garbage can outside right away.
Part 4: Natural and Environmentally-Friendly Cockroach Control
If you want to control roaches without using man-made chemicals, there are alternatives that can help with mild to moderate infestations. You can also use them to supplement your other cockroach control supplies, so long as any strong scents (like peppermint) don’t cross paths with them.
Check out these easy eco-friendly alternatives:
Boric Acid and Powdered Sugar
A simple mixture of boric acid and powdered sugar becomes a deadly natural bait. If you have a bag of food-grade diatomaceous earth you’re using in the garden or as a supplement, that’ll also work as a roach treatment.
You’ll find environmentally-friendly cockroach products online and in stores, too. Wondercide indoor pest control spray does the trick. Another effective roach control product, Zevo Roach Spray uses a different blend of oils to kill these nightmare pests.
Part 5: Ongoing Roach Control Through Sanitation and Exclusion
While your roach control products are working in the background, you can prevent future roaches by cleaning, sealing and organizing your home.
If you’re thinking, Oh great, more chores, think of these as battle strategies, instead:
- Cleaning = starving roaches out by removing their food sources.
- Sealing up = eliminating roach entry points.
- Organizing = getting rid of nesting and egg-laying locations.
Anything roaches could possibly eat or drink: take it away from them. Every hiding place, entry point and escape route: close it off.
Focus on problem areas, like the kitchen, bathroom, basement and any other space that’s dark and cluttered.
Controlling Problem Areas
To Control Roaches in the Kitchen
Use your vacuum to suck up all the crumbs cockroaches would love to eat from behind the stove and under the table. Wipe the grease splatter off of oven knobs and clean cooking scraps out of the drain and garbage disposal. You should be washing dishes (and wiping down pet bowls) every night, too.
Kitchen cabinets, especially the ones where you store food, are high-risk targets for hungry cockroaches. They’re prime locations for placing gel bait or silica gel.
If you’re not already doing so, store foods and ingredients in glass or metal containers (that roaches can’t chew through). If there’s extra space in the fridge, take advantage of its tight-fitting seal to store some food products there.
To Control Roaches in Storage Areas
These pests love using cardboard boxes to hide and lay their eggs in (they’ll feed on cardboard and paper, too). Send them packing by switching to plastic bins with tight-fitting lids.
Controlling Roaches That Try to Make Their Way Inside
Several kinds of roaches live outside, but will invade your home when conditions are right. Take a notebook and inspect the entire exterior of your house for cracks and holes that they could use to enter. Make it a priority to seal them up with steel wool, caulking or insulating foam to stop them well before they become a problem.
Part 6: About Common Types of Roaches
Before you go, we’ve put together a quick guide to identifying the common types of cockroaches you might be dealing with. Check out each link for our full species overview.
German cockroaches are the tiny cockroach species that terrorize homes, grocery stores, restaurants and warehouses around the world. Light brown with two dark stripes, they spread quickly and thrive indoors, especially in apartment buildings.
American cockroaches are the big, reddish-brown ones—your classic ugly cockroaches that can be up to two inches long. They live outdoors and indoors, forming colonies of thousands in sewers and drain pipes.
Oriental cockroaches are glossy, black cockroaches that people often mistake for beetles. They’re mid-sized, winged but flightless. Oriental cockroaches live outdoors so, if you’re seeing them inside, focus on sealing up any exterior cracks and holes through which they could have entered your home.
Asian cockroaches are the German roach’s doppelgängers. They’re both yellowish-brown with dark stripes running down their backs. To separate them, you’ll have to look closely at its back: a German roach has brown coloring around its dark stripes while an Asian roach has white coloring.
When a roach problem hits home, you need to hit back with a cockroach control plan that puts you back in charge.
Identify your target areas, assemble the best modern tools, and get rid of roaches with methods that work for the long-term.
You can do this. And there’s no better time to start.
- Desiccating Dusts. Beyond Pesticides. Retrieved from https://www.beyondpesticides.org/resources/safety-source-on-pesticide-providers/what-is-integrated-pest-management/desiccating-dusts
- Nagro, Anne (2019) Rethinking German Cockroach Control. PCT Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/rethinking-german-cockroach-control/
- Potter, Michael F., et al. (2014) Silica Gel: A Better Bed Bug Desiccant. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/pct0814-silica-gel-research-bed-bugs/
- Omg, Barb, et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension.
- Potter, Michael F. (2018) Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. University of Kentucky Extension. Retrieved from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614