So it’s come to this… bringing out the big guns. You’re fed up with cockroaches and you’re ready to get rid of them! For good.

Hiring a roach exterminator can seem disruptive and expensive but if your gut’s telling you it’s time, you’ll thank yourself for doing it sooner rather than later. And with the right information, it’s not as bad as you think.

Here are all the details and tips you need to hire a cockroach exterminator, including how to prepare yourself and your home and what to expect from a professional cockroach treatment. Let’s get started!

When to Call An Exterminator for Roaches

Illustration of a German cockroach on a kitchen counter. In the background, a horrified homeowner looks on.
When should you call an exterminator for roaches?

Seeing that first cockroach is a shock, especially if you’ve never dealt with these bugs before. If you’re lucky and you’ve only got a few stragglers to deal with, you can probably handle it on your own.

But in most cases, seeing one or two cockroaches tells you that there are more (maybe lots more) hiding nearby. You might even have a hidden roach infestation on your hands.

Watch out for these other signs that usually mean it’s time to call a roach exterminator:

You might be hesitant to make the call, but when it’s time to get serious about killing roaches, it’s the single best choice you can make to get rid of an infestation. And the sooner you call, the sooner you’ll get rid of the bugs—and the easier it will be on your wallet.

How Do Exterminators Get Rid of Roaches?

Photograph of an exterminator assessing kitchen drawers with a flashlight
What does an exterminator do for cockroaches?

The type of treatment will vary depending on your home and the type of roach problem you’re facing. Different roaches require different approaches but there are a few basic tools and techniques that all professional roach extermination services use to kill cockroaches.

Roach Extermination Basics: Step-by-Step

  1. Inspect the kitchen, bathroom, closets and basement/attic
  2. Use glue traps to estimate how many roaches there are and where they’re concentrated
  3. Use gel baits to kill roaches and gradually reduce the population
  4. (For outdoor roaches) Treat outdoor perimeter with spray or granular baits
  5. In some cases, apply a follow-up treatment

Exterminators often start in the kitchen—it’s the most common source of cockroach infestations because it’s where both food sources and water are within easy reach.

The pest controller will start by inspecting the stove and refrigerator, inside and out. If possible, they’ll pull these and other appliances, like the dishwasher, away from the wall to look behind and under them.

In the bathroom, they’ll look for signs of roaches around the lighting and electrical fixtures, in the cabinets and around the drains. Oriental cockroaches are a frequent problem in drains, so the exterminator might ask you to install drain covers.

An exterminator’s next stop will probably be the utility closet. Not only is it usually warm but it’ll also have piping and wiring running through the walls. Those gaps could let cockroaches enter your home.

Exterminators use wet-and-dry vacuums to suck up dirt, small debris and any cockroaches hiding in these areas. Then, they seal holes and openings with mesh or caulk to keep bugs out.

Finally, an exterminator will look at storage areas and bedrooms, exploring every crack and crevice. They might remove outlets or ask you to empty cupboards and cabinets. If you have an attic or basement, they’ll inspect for entry points or signs of colonies living there.

Double Trouble: The Outdoor-Indoor Cockroach Problem

Recent industry statistics show a rise in peridomestic cockroach infestations—that’s a fancy word for species that live both outdoors and indoors.

In these cases, cockroach pest control operators will apply treatments outside, too. That could make the process a bit longer and more expensive but it would be a lot more difficult to handle on your own.

The Tools of the Trade

Cockroach control specialist spraying beneath cabinets
What do exterminators use for cockroaches? A variety of tools.

Every exterminator’s arsenal includes a few basic tools:

  • Glue traps
  • Gel baits
  • Dusts
  • Sprays

Traps are important for gauging the size of an infestation. By placing several glue traps in different areas, a pest controller can pinpoint where the roaches are hiding.

Baits come in gel form and as bait stations. They don’t kill them instantly but that’s the point—the roach dies back in its nest. Then, as the other roaches feed on its body, they eat the insecticide, too.

Some exterminators use dusts in hard-to-reach areas. The most common dusts are diatomaceous earth and boric acid (which are both all-natural!).

Baits are generally the best option; nearly half of the cockroach exterminators in the U.S. report using them as their primary tool. They just work.

Many of these tools are available at hardware and home improvement stores for you to use yourself. But if you’ve seen enough signs to make you think about calling a roach company, it’s probably best left to them.

What to Expect From an Exterminator

Photograph of a cockroach exterminator smiling at the camera
How effective is pest control for roaches?

Hiring a roach exterminator means starting a relationship.

An exterminator will do their best to eliminate the problem on the first visit but, sometimes, it’s just not enough. About 5% of cockroach jobs receive requests for do-overs. If the infestation was large, a second treatment should be enough to eradicate the remaining roaches. The great thing about baits is that they keep working in between visits!

Not the Worst-Case Scenario

Believe it or not, cockroaches actually aren’t the most difficult pest to eradicate, according to most pest control professionals. That title goes to bed bugs. (Even ants ranked higher on the difficulty scale.)

Hopefully, that news helps you feel a little better!

How Long Does Treatment Take?

One of the most stressful parts of hiring a cockroach exterminator is worrying about the disruption it could cause. How long is all of this going to take?

The average service call takes only about 45 minutes. That’s not bad! However, jobs can take longer with certain cockroach species, and if the infestation is large or its location is difficult to access. An outdoor/indoor problem will take more time, too.

Plan a few hours of availability to answer questions and give the exterminator access to different parts of your home.

Is It Going to Make a Mess?

Exterminators don’t use “roach bombs”; these are the super-messy—and ineffective—products you’re probably fearing. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to stay home during most professional pest control treatments.

What to Expect After an Exterminator Sprays for Roaches

You’ll have to be especially careful if you have young children or pets in the house, as there could be dangerous pesticides on floors or other areas they could reach. Your exterminator will tell you what chemicals were used and when it’s safe for kids to play freely again.

You should also prepare yourself to see dead roaches around the house. Some of the roaches might not die in their nest (sometimes, they seem drawn to the open as they die). Wherever they die, it’s a sign that the roach control service is working!

How Long Does It Take to Get Rid of Roaches After Extermination?

When can you expect the roaches to be gone? That’s a different story.

A cockroach pest control technician could get rid of a small infestation in a week or two. In more severe cases—like a resistant German roach infestation, it might take months for the bait and insecticides to work through the whole colony and completely eliminate the problem.

How Much Does an Exterminator Cost for Roaches?

Illustrations over a photo of a dead roach on a sink of a roach control professional and a pile of dollar bills and coins
How much does pest control cost for roaches?

Oh boy, the moment we all dread: what is this going to cost me?

The obligatory non-answer is: “It depends.” But you want to know if you’re getting a good deal (or a good exterminator—someone who knows what they’re doing will charge for the work they know they’re going to cover).

The cost of cockroach control could be as little as $100 or more than $300, depending on what’s involved. Sometimes, the first visit is only the inspection, which could cost $50–100.

What you pay for professional roach extermination in the end depends on the size of your home, the size of the infestation and the type of cockroach. Peridomestic species (indoor and outdoor) cost more to treat than strictly-domestic roaches.

Some companies bundle their roach services into general pest control plans. That could increase the price (maybe unnecessarily). They might also offer ongoing plans, with monthly or quarterly treatments that could cost $100 each.

What Can Change the Cost

Repeat visits: If the roach exterminator has to come back for a second treatment, your expenses could double. Poor sanitation is the main reason they’d have to return. If you don’t keep up on regular cleaning and organization, the roaches will have no problem re-establishing their colonies.

Trying your own DIY techniques: It might sound like a good idea to add some of your own pest control methods on top of what the service provider did. However, over-applying things like bait can make them ineffective.

Worse, using the wrong advice you found on the internet could end up repelling roaches from the baits or simply spreading them out further—and making it more difficult for the pest controller when you have to call them to come back.

Your Part of the Bargain: How You’re Involved in Pest Control

To make the most of professional cockroach control services, you’ll need to chip in. No, they’re not going to ask you to take a shift with the vacuum or bait stations. But a good cockroach exterminator will make a list of “chores” that will make their treatment as effective as possible in the long run.

That might include repairs that you can do yourself or that require help from a contractor. Major damage to a wall or leaking pipes could be making things easy for the roaches.

Your most crucial job before and after you call a cockroach specialist is sanitation. Keeping things clean, neat and tidy truly is the best way to keep cockroaches out of your house for good. The exterminator should give you a specific list of areas that need attention.

For example, one pest controller recommends to his clients that, for German cockroaches, they should carefully seal all food after cooking and cover the stove’s burners with foil in between uses so the roaches can’t eat the grease.

Next Steps: Start Your Search

Illustration of a geo pointer on top of a map superimposed over a photo of a dead cockroach on the floor.
How do I find a good roach exterminator near me?

Hiring an exterminator is the best way to get rid of roaches. As you research companies in your area, don’t be afraid to call for information, verify certifications and compare each service before making any appointments.

The best value isn’t necessarily the cheapest option; it’s the best quality for your budget.

How to Recognize a Good Exterminator

First of all, you should verify that the cockroach control company is licensed and certified. Then, you can explore their website for testimonials and information about their expertise. You can also search quite a few customer review sites (Yelp, Angie’s List, etc.) for ratings and feedback.

Ask Questions

If you’re worried about pesticides, just ask the company about their products and if they offer any eco-friendly treatments. You can request labels to see the specific ingredients they use.

Get Their Guarantees Guaranteed

You should also inquire about a roach removal service’s guarantees. Some companies offer warranties or promises to return at no extra charge if the first treatment isn’t entirely successful. Just make sure these things are clearly defined before you hire a roach exterminator.

Signs You’ve Found a Good Exterminator

A good exterminator has their ears open to their client’s needs. They’re as invested in the relationship as the client is and they’re ready to make adjustments to their methods if necessary.

A good exterminator is eager to educate their clients about what might have caused the infestation and how to keep pests out of their home in the future.

You should expect transparency from a high-quality exterminator service. They’ll be willing to give you a reasonable price quote and time estimate before starting the work.

What Good Exterminators Don’t Do

First, they won’t bundle roach removal into a broader home-improvement package. Landscaping and tree trimming are not cockroach control techniques and you shouldn’t pay extra for things you don’t need.

Second, quality pest control companies don’t make false claims about their results, any unique or secret pesticides or their speed. Good exterminators are honest and experienced; they know what to expect and communicate realistic expectations to customers. And there are no “secret” formulas for pesticides; they’re all regulated by the EPA.

Finally, good exterminators don’t leave a mess. You’ll know all you need to know about a company’s cleanliness by their reviews because that’s one thing customers never stay quiet about.

Tips for Talking to an Exterminator

Professional exterminators want to solve your cockroach problem—it’s their job! But without your help, they’re walking in blindly. The more information you can give them about your problem, the better.

1. It’s All in the Details

You probably have lots of questions about their service and they’ll have lots of questions about your home, the signs you’ve noticed and the places you think the roaches are coming from. Exterminators know that all of these factors can affect their treatments, the cost and the length of time needed. More information leads to more accurate estimates and better service.

2. Be Observant

If you’ve seen a cockroach and can describe it with a few details, they’ll have a better idea of what species it is before they even arrive.

3. Patience Goes a Long Way

We all want to get rid of cockroaches as quickly as possible but it’s not always as simple as a once-and-done visit. Part of that pest control relationship is trusting that the professional knows best. If they recommend quarterly treatments, it’s up to you to trust that they’re doing it out of precaution, not to nickel-and-dime you.

Find Out More About Cockroach Prevention

Once you’ve had to hire a roach exterminator, you’ll want to avoid dealing with cockroaches forever. We have all of the information you need to keep cockroaches away for good, including guides on where they come from, what attracts them and more!

Good luck!


  1. 2019 State of the Cockroach Control Market. Syngenta.
  2. State of the Cockroach Market (2019) Zoecon/Central Life Sciences.
  3. 2019 Cockroach Management Supplement. Pest Management Professional.
  4. 2017 Cockroach Management Supplement. Pest Management Professional.
  5. Tips for Selecting a Pest Control Service. EPA. Retrieved from

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