American cockroaches (a.k.a. water bugs) are one of the biggest problem pests in the U.S. Before they can become a dangerous problem in your home, follow this step-by-step guide to learn how to get rid of American roaches like a pro by treating indoors and outdoors.
- All-purpose cleaner
- Hard plastic, glass or metal food containers
- Plastic storage bins
- Read: American Cockroach Facts and Prevention Tips
- Handheld Mirror or Light Stick
- Knee pad
- Glue traps
- Gel bait
- Perimeter spray
Signs of an American cockroach infestation:
- Living or dead American roaches
- Eggs or white baby cockroaches
- A stale, musty smell
- Old, molted exoskeletons
See the Signs and Find the Roaches
- Use a flashlight and mirror to check kitchen cabinets and the spaces under and around appliances for signs of American roaches.
- Focus on dark, damp places that are hard to reach but close to food sources.
- Examine storage boxes thoroughly for eggs, foul odors and other signs of roach activity.
- Check under rocks and in wood piles and the mulch around your house.
- Look for tiny, purse-shaped egg cases. They’ll be reddish-brown, just like the roaches. Each egg case can contain over 15 eggs, so an infestation can get out of control quickly.
Exterminate: Use Insecticides to Kill Roaches
- It’s time to exterminate like a pro. Start by placing glue traps in different areas of the house to see where the roaches are concentrated.
- Once you’ve narrowed down the location of their nest, apply several drops of gel bait along nearby walls and surfaces. Gel bait is the most effective, low maintenance solution available. Just apply a few tiny drops, spread 2 to 3 feet apart.
- To stand a better chance against large infestations, use an IGR—an insect growth regulator—that will stop them from reproducing and multiplying.
- Finally, you can use a perimeter spray for ongoing protection against any American roaches still hanging around outside (some work inside, too).
- Want a pet-safe solution for killing cockroaches? Check out our instructions for applying diatomaceous earth and borax powder—two natural pesticide dusts.
Prevent Roaches from Ever Coming Back
- American cockroaches come from outside. Start by cleaning up any leaves, branches and piles of wood around the walls of your house.
- Use a rake to spread mulch into a thinner layer to avoid trapping moisture and attracting American roaches.
- Check the walls and foundation for cracks and crevices that can let roaches in. Seal them up with steel wool or caulking.
- Don’t forget to seal the gaps around plumbing and wiring, too.
- Inside, commit to regular cleaning habits.
- Vacuum and sweep floors daily and wash dishes to eliminate roaches’ food sources.
- Wipe the counter and stove top with all-purpose cleaner to scrub away grease stains and crumbs.
- Use hard containers to store all leftovers, open food packages and pantry items.
- Organize and declutter storage rooms.
- American roaches love hiding in cardboard boxes—use plastic bins instead.
Protect Your Home
- Maintain your defenses. To be a pro, it’s important to regularly inspect, repair and reapply cockroach treatments, if necessary.
- Make sure storage rooms are well-ventilated and organized.
- Repair any faucets that drip or pipes that leak (especially under sinks and along walls outside).
American cockroaches can fly. Use screens in all doors and windows that you tend to leave open. Don’t eat any food that smells musty or stale—it could have been contaminated by cockroaches. Read all warning labels and instructions before using insecticide products.