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The essential oils craze goes beyond soothing aromas and relaxation. Many homeowners claim essential oils can repel cockroaches and yes – science has shown that some of them can!
Why use essential oils for roaches? Well, they’re easy to buy, safer than pesticides and they smell much better than most pest control chemicals. They’re all-natural and easy to apply with a spray bottle in hard-to-reach places.
Of course, there are also oils that aren’t likely to do anything more than please your nose while roaches continue to wander through your house.
We’ll give you a tour through the wild world of essential oils as cockroach repellent and show you what works and what doesn’t.
1. Peppermint Oil and Other Mint Oils
|Does it work?||Yes.|
|How to use:||Mix several drops of peppermint oil with water and spray near roach activity.|
Many homeowners claim that peppermint essential oil is potent enough to keep many species of cockroaches (and rodents) out of their homes. If you’ve ever opened a bottle too close to your face, you’ll understand why—that’s an eye-watering fragrance!
Diluting a few drops of peppermint oil with water and spraying it on walls or on cotton balls that you place throughout your home could effectively repel roaches. You add 1 part vinegar to 2 parts water for a stronger solution.
Buy: Majestic Pure Peppermint Essential Oil, Pure and Natural, Therapeutic Grade Peppermint Oil, 4 fl. oz.
2. Eucalyptus Oil
|Does it work?||Yes!|
|How to use:||Mix with water and spray onto surfaces where roaches are active.|
Eucalyptus essential oil has a fresh fragrance that, surprisingly, seems to confuse or alarm cockroaches. This stuff is strong and you’ll only need to mix a few drops with water and spray it around the cockroaches’ hotspots to repel them.
Research has also shown that eucalyptus essential oil is toxic to roaches. That makes it a great all-natural product to use as part of your cockroach prevention system.
Buy: NOW Essential Oils, Eucalyptus Oil, Clarifying Aromatherapy Scent, Steam Distilled, 100% Pure, Vegan, 4 Fl Oz (1 Count)
3. Lavender Oil
|Does it work?||On its own: probably not…|
|How to use:||Mix with water, citronella and other essential oils.|
Few scents bring peace to a room like lavender. Ironically, it has quite the opposite effect on insects. Lavender essential oil naturally repels many insects, including flies and gnats, but its effects on cockroaches are still unproven.
Despite it being unclear whether or not lavender’s insect-repelling properties affect cockroaches on their own, you can add it to solutions with other oils to boost the fragrance. One study found that a combination of citronella, lemon, rose, lavender and basil oils was an effective insect repellent when mixed with water.
Buy: Majestic Pure Lavender Oil, Natural, Therapeutic Grade, Premium Quality Blend of Lavender Essential Oil, 4 fl. Oz
4. Citronella Oil
|Does it work?||Possibly.|
|How to use:||Mix with other essential oils, dilute with water and spray the mixture.|
You’ve probably seen citronella listed as an ingredient on countless insect-repellent candles and other outdoor products. Citronella essential oil has similar insect-repellent effects—at least against mosquitoes, gnats and other flying bugs.
Unfortunately, a citronella oil treatment only lasts for an hour or two. Its effects on cockroaches aren’t fully understood so it’s best used in combination with other essential oils for cockroaches.
Buy: 2oz – Artizen Citronella Essential Oil (100% Pure & Natural – UNDILUTED) Therapeutic Grade – Huge 2 Ounce Bottle – Perfect for Aromatherapy
5. Tea Tree Oil
|Does it work?||Probably.|
|How to use:||Mix with water (and probably other oils) and spray in concentrated areas.|
In some places, tea tree oil is used as an antiseptic. It’s also a natural insect repellent that’s toxic to cockroaches. Like mint oil, tea tree oil can be mixed with water and vinegar to produce a roach repellent solution that you can spray in cracks and crevices to keep bugs away.
Unfortunately, cockroaches might simply be too resilient or fast for any amount you can easily apply. As with several of these oils, it’s probably going to be most effective in combination with other oils or other preventative measures.
Buy: MAJESTIC PURE Tea Tree Oil – Pure and Natural Therapeutic Grade Tea Tree Essential Oil – Melaleuca Alternifolia – 4 fl oz
6. Cypress Oil
|Does it work?||Yes.|
|How to use:||Mix with water and other essential oils to spray onto surfaces.|
Cypress oil is usually extracted from the Mediterranean cypress. Cypress trees are naturally insect-repellent and landscapers often recommend using cypress mulch to keep bugs away.
In your home, you can take advantage of the insect-repellent effects of cypress essential oil by mixing it with water and spraying onto areas where you’ve seen cockroach activity. You can also mix in some peppermint oil if you want a stronger solution.
Buy: Artizen Cypress Essential Oil (100% PURE & NATURAL – UNDILUTED) Therapeutic Grade – Huge 1oz Bottle
7. Cedar Oil
|Does it work?||Yes!|
|How to use:||Mix with water or rubbing alcohol and spray onto surfaces.|
Cedar is a popular wood in closets and storage areas for a reason: it smells fantastic and keeps clothes and other stored objects fresh. And cedar essential oil is more than a fine-smelling repellent—it’s an all-natural insecticide! That means it can supplement any other essential oil repellents you’re using by killing insects that decide to stick around.
You can use cedar oil like most other essential oils: dilute it with water and spray where you don’t want roaches.
Buy: Artizen Cedarwood Essential Oil (100% PURE & NATURAL – UNDILUTED) Therapeutic Grade – Huge 1oz Bottle
8. Catnip Oil
|Does it work?||Yes!|
|How to use:||Mix with water and rubbing alcohol and spray onto surfaces.|
You read it right. That catnip—the same stuff that drives your house cat wild. Catnip works because cockroaches hate the smell. And catnip essential oil is a natural insect repellent.
You can use catnip oil in your home by mixing a few drops with 1 part water and 1 part rubbing alcohol and spraying it wherever you need to repel cockroaches. You can also combine it with rosemary oil for a particularly potent roach repellent.
Buy: Plant Therapy Catnip Essential Oil 100% Pure, Undiluted, Natural Aromatherapy, Therapeutic Grade 10 mL (1/3 oz)
9. Rosemary Oil
|Does it work?||Yes!|
|How to use:||Mix with water and spray onto surfaces or use in traps.|
Rosemary is a delicious herb to keep stocked (or grow!) in the kitchen, perfect for roasting chicken or turkey. Meanwhile, rosemary essential oil is highly toxic to cockroaches and can be used as a natural roach repellent.
For rosemary oil to be effective, roaches have to come into contact with it. You’ll have to spray surfaces with it frequently. You can also use it in traps for the best chance of success.
Buy: 100% Pure Rosemary Essential Oil (4 oz)
10. Oregano Oil
|Does it work?||Yes!|
|How to use:||Mix with water and spray generously in infested areas.|
Oregano essential oil is a powerful cockroach repellent that researchers found to be effective for up to a week after application. That’s longer than most of the oils on this list and makes it a viable addition to your cockroach prevention plan.
You can mix several drops of the oregano oil with water and spray it generously in areas where you suspect cockroaches are hiding and areas from which you want them to stay away. It should force the cockroaches to avoid those areas for a few days, at least.
Buy: Oregano Essential Oil – 100% Pure Therapeutic Grade Oregano Oil – 10ml
What to Expect When Using Essential Oils as Cockroach Repellents
When using oils, one thing’s guaranteed: your house is going to smell great. But beyond that, it depends on which ones you’re using.
The repellent effects of some oils are backed by science but some are only backed by other homeowners’ experiences. That doesn’t mean they won’t work, but be ready to do plenty of experimenting along the way.
You probably already know that cockroaches are stubborn, resilient pests. If you’re dealing with more than a few cockroaches, a “nest,” or a true cockroach infestation, it’s probably going to take more than essential oils to get rid of them.
Downsides to Using Essential Oils as Roach Repellent
One downside to using essential oils for cockroaches is that you have to continuously reapply them before they lose their strength and stop working. Not all oils are completely safe for children and pets, either. Whether you’re using essential oils or other bug-killing products, always read the directions and warnings. Then, you’re good to go!
Which Essential Oils Give You the Best Shot?
- Essential Oils that Repel Roaches. The best essential oils to repel roaches are peppermint oil, oregano oil and catnip oil.
- Essential Oils for Killing Roaches. The best essential oils to get rid of roaches are rosemary oil, cedar oil and eucalyptus oil.
If you’re looking for home remedies for preventing cockroaches naturally, check out our roundup of the other popular natural cockroach repellents that are out there!
Go get ’em!
- Appel, Arthur G. et al. (2001) Repellency and Toxicity of Mint Oil to American and German Cockroaches. Auburn University Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Retrieved from https://scentsoc.org/Volumes/JAUE/v18/149.pdf
- Peterson, Chris et al. (2002) Behavioral Activity of Catnip Essential Oil Components to the German Cockroach. Iowa State University. Retrieved from https://lib.dr.iastate.edu/ent_pubs/333/
- Maia, Marta Ferreira and Sarah J Moore (2011) Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing. Malaria Journal. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3059459/
- Sharififard, Mona et al. (2016) Evaluation of Some Plant Essential Oils against the Brown-Banded Cockroach, Supella longipalpa (Blattaria: Ectobiidae): A Mechanical Vector of Human Pathogens. Journal of Arthropod-Borne Diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5186743/
- Koul, Opender et al. (2008) Essential Oils as Green Pesticides: Potential and Constraints. Biopesticides International. Retrieved from http://projects.nri.org/adappt/docs/63–84.pdf
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