Roach Control


The worst part of your cockroach nightmare is waiting for it to end. You’ve seen them crawling around, you’ve caught them eating your food and you just want them gone.

How long do cockroaches live? As long as you let them.

We’re going to explore the cockroach lifespan from birth to death, explain what can shorten it and show you how to stop waiting and start getting rid of roaches today.

Ready? Let’s go!

The Roach Lifespan: From Egg to End

Early Life

Illustration of German and American cockroach eggs under a magnifying glass
Illustration of two cockroach egg cases: from an American cockroach (top), and a German cockroach(bottom).

The cockroach begins its life as a minuscule egg, one of as many as fifty held inside an egg case, called an ootheca. The female cockroach carries its egg case for 1 to 2 months until shortly before the eggs hatch. Then, it attaches the ootheca to a well-hidden surface.

Growing Up

Illustration of an American and German cockroach nymph against a piece of rotted wood.
Two cockroach nymphs, American and German.

The baby cockroach—called a nymph—goes through as many as 10 instars on its way to adulthood. During each of these phases, it sheds its exoskeleton and begins to grow a larger one. A newly molted nymph might appear translucent white before its brown or black exoskeleton develops anew.

All of this occurs over a period of months, which varies from species to species.

During its final, “young adult” stage, the cockroach nymph looks much like its parents. This is also where it earns—er, grows—its wings if it’s going to have any. By this point, it’s ready to join in with the adults… terrorizing homes.


Illustration of an American cockroach and a German cockroach in closeup, terrorizing a woman in her kitchen
Adult cockroaches: German left, and American right.

As soon as it reaches adulthood, the cockroach is ready to mate and reproduce. It’s also in the prime of its life, doing the maximum amount of exploring and scavenging for food anywhere it can—dumpsters, sewers, warehouses, bathrooms and kitchens.

A Day in the Adult Cockroach’s Life

An adult cockroach has 3 jobs:

  1. Hide. Roaches spend most of their time in hiding. Even fully-grown roaches can squeeze into coin-sized crevices and holes the width of a pen. Because they’re so good at hiding, it’s tricky to guess how many there really are. One or two roaches out in the open might mean dozens or hundreds hiding in the walls or beneath the floor.
  2. Eat. If a cockroach isn’t hiding it’s probably out looking for food. Roaches are primarily nocturnal and do most of their scavenging in the dark. They need very little food to survive but search daily for it, and eat just about anything, including paper, book bindings, fingernails, and hair.
  3. Breed. Finally, cockroaches are prolific breeders. Remember the ootheca with 50 eggs in it? Well, one female can produce 8 or more of these egg cases—a lifetime total of 300-400 offspring!

What All That Activity Means for You

For roaches, that daily grind is simply what cockroaches do. For you however, it can mean trouble.

Those sewer trips and sneaky dumpster runs leave bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protozoa clinging to their bodies. Then when they show up back at your place to eat your food, they deposit it on your shelves, your drawers, and in your food itself.

And then there are the droppings!

Cockroach droppings are yet another way roaches bring dangerous bacteria into your home. All those tiny black specks you’ve noticed lately? They’re cockroach feces. And along with all the egg casings roaches leave behind, they can trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks, too.

How Long Do Roaches Live; Or, WHEN DO THEY DIE?

Closeup illustration of two dead cockroaches on the floor, one an American roach, the other German.

Not soon enough…

The average lifespan of a cockroach is about 1.5 years.

But their lifespan depends heavily on food and water availability, climate and habitat. Some roaches freeze. Others fall into the mouths of predators. Most cockroaches die of dehydration or starvation.

What if you could take advantage of that weakness? What if you could get rid of cockroaches by taking away their food and water?

How long can a cockroach live without food and water?

These bugs can live up to a month without eating! That’s a bad sign for the starvation system.

However, they’re extremely sensitive to dehydration: a cockroach can’t survive longer than a week without water. Even a few parched days can make a roach too sluggish to get by.

When you take away their food and water, a cockroach immediately begins shedding weight.2 Its cells die at a higher rate. Mitosis—cell division—slows by up to 50% as part of the insect’s natural response to a lack of food and water. You’re winning!

Of course, you wouldn’t see this happening. Here’s what you would see:

  • Reduced cockroach activity: Without adequate food and water, cockroaches become weak and lethargic. They’ll stop scurrying around as much. If you were seeing a lot of roaches, you’ll notice a big difference within a few days. The change in a small infestation will be harder to notice but, after a couple of weeks, you’ll hardly see any living roaches.2
  • Dead cockroaches: A few roaches might kick the bucket on the floor or behind an appliance but most will die in their nest, out of sight and out of reach.

So, is it possible to starve roaches out?

If this sounds like a solution to your pest problem, remember that cockroaches eat almost anything. These insects have survived for over 300 million years because of their ability to scavenge food and find water almost anywhere.

Unless you’re sleeping in a lab, it’s practically impossible to starve them out. You’d have to eliminate every crumb, scrap of garbage and drop of water. And you’d have to keep it up for a month or longer!

Then there’s the problem of roach eggs—your sanitation won’t have any effect on the baby roaches already waiting to hatch in the walls or crawl spaces. They’ll grow up just when you think you’ve won and emerge as an even larger second wave facing an exasperated, exhausted enemy force.

Finally, there’s no way to know if you’re winning. You might not see any dead roaches, even if your plan is working.

It’s simply not worth the work, not when there’s a better, more powerful, proven and provable system at your disposal.

A state-of-the-art, professionally-inspired pest control system.

How long can cockroaches withstand an all-out attack?

Cartoon illustration on 4 grids of important tools for controlling roaches- Baits, Traps, Dusts, and IGR's.

We’re going to eliminate cockroaches using 4 state-of-the-art tools:

  1. Bait
  2. Traps
  3. Dust
  4. IGR

But it all begins with sanitation. Along with thorough cleaning, scrubbing and vacuuming, exclusion plays a vital role in eliminating roaches. You want to make sure they can’t find anywhere to get comfortable or, more importantly, lay their eggs.

Exclusion involves sealing up every potential entry point, crack and crevice that would allow roaches to enter and escape. That way, new ones can’t find any way to enter your home and existing ones can’t escape the doom you’ve laid out for them.

What happens when you clean, seal and organize?

Immediately, roaches will have to change their habits. Their normal food sources are gone, their pathways are cut off and they’re looking for new places to breed. Without easy access to water, they’ll start dying within the first week.

Now that they’re weakened, it’s time to roll out your cannons.

Baiting Roaches

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a fisherman using bait to catch a cockroach.

Your main weapon against cockroach infestations is gel bait, or a set of bait stations.

When there’s no easy food around, the smell of gel bait becomes irresistible to hungry roaches.

It’s going to look like you’ve attracted even more roaches but those are simply the ones that were hiding.

It means the baits are working. You might even observe roaches limping out into the open to die. Baits will start to kill roaches within 1-3 days. Some infestations could be completely eradicated within 2 weeks.

Learn all about choosing and using roach bait.

Trapping Roaches

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a cockroach sneaking into a spring-loaded trap.

Traps like insect monitors, roach motels, or sticky traps catch lots of roaches on their own. They’re baited with a food scent that will drive starving roaches crazy. Good traps can kill roaches overnight but eliminating an infestation takes longer.

Read up on 15 of the best roach traps.

Dusting for Roaches

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a cockroach sitting glumly with a pile of insecticidal dust on its foot.

A strategic sprinkling of insecticidal dust in the places where your traps caught the most cockroaches will kill any that managed to escape.

Anywhere roaches travel, sprinkle CimeXa, boric acid or another deadly dust that will stick to their legs.

The insecticide poisons the cockroach while it grooms itself. A cockroach won’t survive longer than a day after walking through the dust.

Get our step-by-step guide to using insecticidal dust.

IGR to stop reproduction

Metaphoric cartoon illustration of a cockroach inside a lab beaker, next to a ruler, shaking its fist.

An insect growth regulator (IGR) prevents cockroach nymphs from reaching full maturity (and in some cases, prevents eggs from hatching). Any nymphs that absorb the IGR will have their growth stunted and their strength weakened.

More importantly, these roaches can’t have babies. While your other control methods kill as many adult roaches as possible, an IGR ensures that any that survive (for the time being) aren’t able to lay any egg cases to surprise you later.

IGR-affected roaches probably won’t survive more than a few weeks. These weakened insects will bumble around until they fall prey to a trap, bait or dust that’s left after the initial extermination.


How long do cockroaches live? Left to their own devices, they’ll survive about a year.

But there’s one factor that can affect the cockroach lifespan more than anything else: you.

If you heed the advice above and follow our comprehensive guide to killing cockroaches, you could be enjoying a roach-free home this time next month.

Be patient. Be determined. Be brave.

You can do this!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the German cockroach lifespan?

From hatching to death, the German cockroach lifespan is only about 100 days. But these bugs are the worst of the worst. During that short time, one female can produce hundreds of offspring. Their population growth is exponential.

What’s the American cockroach lifespan?

The American cockroach is one of the hardier roach species, with a lifespan from hatchling to death of 2 years or more. Females produce an average of 150 young over their lifetimes.

What’s the Oriental roach lifespan?

The Oriental cockroach lives for up to 2 years but its adult lifespan is just 6 months under ideal conditions.

How long can a cockroach live in the cold?

any cockroaches don’t survive well in cold environments (finally, some good news). For example, the German cockroach struggles to live through cold winters in homes that lack central heating.

The lifespan of a cockroach decreases drastically in a cold environment. It also reproduces less frequently in the cold.

How long do roaches live in the freezer?

Roaches won’t survive 24 hours in a freezer. Sub-freezing temperatures kill these resilient pests after just a day of exposure, effectively shocking their cold-blooded bodies.

Obviously, you can’t plunge your whole house into subzero temperatures! But if you’ve got a couch or other piece of furniture that’s infested, placing it for a few days in a garage or shed where it’s below zero will kill the bugs inside.

How long do cockroaches live without air?

In a total vacuum, most cockroaches will be dead in minutes (though some can go for as long as 45 minutes). If you’ve found cockroaches in your clothes and thought about sealing them in a vacuum storage bag overnight, the results might disappoint—a normal vacuum won’t remove all of the air.

They won’t suffocate, but so long as there’s no moist food inside, they will die of dehydration in a week or so!

Pro tip: While you have the vacuum out, use it to suck up every roach you can find—dead or alive. Then empty the chamber or discard the vacuum bag into a sturdy garbage bag you can seal. Freeze it overnight or place it immediately in the dumpster, far from your home.

How long do roaches live after professional extermination?

After a professional exterminator has sprayed, fumigated and baited your home, how long do you have to wait until the roaches are finally gone?

If you’re lucky, you’ll see noticeable results within 3 days of the treatment. In most cases, you’ll start seeing fewer roaches after 1 to 2 weeks. After a month, all but the most severe infestations should be dead and gone.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, PhD.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

Rae Osborn, PhD.

Rae Osborn, PhD.

Science Editor

Dr. Rae Osborn holds Honors Bachelor of Science degrees in Zoology and Entomology, and a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Natal in South Africa. She holds a PhD in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington, where her research was in Entomology. You can learn more about our contributors here.


  1. German Cockroach: Biology, Identification, Control. (2013) North Carolina State Extension. Retrieved from https://entomology.ces.ncsu.edu/german-cockroach/
  2. Reynierse, James H. et al. (1972) The Effects of Hunger and Thirst on Body Weight and Activity in the Cockroach (Nauphoeta Cinerea). Animal Behavior.
  3. Park, Moon Soo and Mario Takeda (2007) Starvation suppresses cell proliferation that rebounds after refeeding in the midgut of the American cockroach, Periplaneta americana. Journal of Insect Physiology. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jinsphys.2007.10.011
  4. Park, Moon Soo, et al. (2009) Starvation induces apoptosis in the midgut nidi of Periplaneta americana: a histochemical and ultrastructural study. Cell and Tissue Resesarch. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441–008–0737-y
  5. Valles, Steven (2017) German cockroach. University of Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Retrieved from http://entnemdept.ufl.edu/creatures/urban/roaches/german.htm
  6. Omg, Barb, et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension.
  7. How Long Can Cockroaches Live Without Food? (2019) PFHarris. Retrieved from https://pfharris.com/how-long-can-cockroaches-live-without-food/
  8. Hahn, Jeffrey (2018) Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/insects-infest-homes/cockroaches#pennsylvania-wood-cockroach-137714
  9. Wilson, Tracy V. V. How Cockroaches Work. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved from https://animals.howstuffworks.com/insects/cockroach2.htm

Got house roaches? Let’s be clear—you’ve got a job to do and you’ll want to do it right.

These bugs are easy to get, can be difficult to get rid of, and if they’ve settled into your home, you’ll want to eliminate them ASAP, before the problem gets worse.

Let’s take a look at the common house roach, why it chose your home, how to serve it a proper eviction, and most of all—how to say goodbye for good.

Let’s go!

What is a House Cockroach?

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach tiptoeing up a walkway to a house.

If you’ve got them, you’re already far too familiar with the nasty, disgusting roaches zooming around your home.

But what exactly are “house cockroaches?” You may think you know, but as it turns out, yours may be much different from your neighbor’s.

House roaches can be any of several cockroach species known for targeting human homes. They differ from roaches that live entirely outside, and can quickly cause big problems if you let them stay inside.

Other pests infest our homes too, of course. But what makes house roaches particularly challenging (to get rid of) is their behavior. Because, well—they’re kind of smart.

They hide extremely well. So well in fact that you may have no idea how many there really are. And when you try to kill them (at least the way most people do), they cunningly outwit you, not so much as individuals, but as a group.

They’re also physically talented in ways that make eliminating them (or keeping your sanity around them) even harder. Most house roaches are fast, some can swim, and yes—some can even fly. Sometimes right at you.

The Different Types of House Roaches (Small and Large)

4-grid illustration of different types of house roaches
5 types of house roaches (top squares), along with baby house roaches (bottom left), and “accidental visitors”—roaches that don’t really mean to come inside (bottom right).

If you were to call in a professional exterminator to solve your cockroach problem, he’d begin by figuring out which kind you have. You’ll want to do that too, because different roaches call for (somewhat) different approaches.

All told, there are 5 main types of house cockroaches likely to be harassing you, along with a couple more that may have entered by mistake.

To identify and treat house roaches, it can be helpful to group them by size—Small and Large. See if you can recognize yours here:

Small roaches: In-house invaders that multiply fast

You might think that large roaches caused the biggest problems, but no—for sheer destructiveness small roaches beat the big ones by a mile. Small roaches are the pint-sized invaders of the cockroach world. They found your home on purpose, they’re relentless in taking over, and they won’t leave until they’ve destroyed much of what you have.

If the roaches in your home are small, they’re likely to be either brown-banded or German house roaches.

German House Roaches

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size

German cockroaches are about ½ inch long, tan or light-brown and feature two dark lines running vertically down their backs. They also have long, semi-transparent wings that they occasionally use for short flights. They love warm, damp hiding places. Kitchens and bathrooms are their favorites.

Brown-Banded House Cockroaches

Brown banded cockroach adult, nymph, and egg case size comparison

Brown-banded cockroaches are similar in size to German roaches, but darker in color. Their distinguishing characteristic is a pair of light-brown bands that stretch horizontally across their backs. Males have long wings while females have short ones. They love warm but drier hiding places.

Large roaches: In-house colonizers mistook your home for a sewer

Large roaches are opportunistic creatures that didn’t purposely set out to find your home. Instead, they mistook it for a sewer or compost pile, then decided to stay for the ample food and water, and the cozy shelter you appreciate so much, too.

Large house roaches will infiltrate your home with the seasons. Or when nearby road construction upsets their usual disgusting haunts. Between the time they get in and the time you get rid of them, they’ll terrify your children, crawl onto you at night, and go to the bathroom all over your stuff.

The large house roaches:

American Cockroaches

American cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale

American cockroaches: Huge (2+ in.), reddish-brown and winged. Ugly. They fly sometimes.

Oriental Cockroaches

Oriental cockroach adult, nymph, and egg sac beside penny for scale

Oriental cockroaches: Medium (1 in.), glossy black (or very dark brown) and slow-moving. Often mistaken for beetles. Males’ wings only cover about 2/3 of their backs. They don’t fly.

Smokybrown Cockroaches

Smokybrown cockroach adult, nymph and egg beside a U.S. penny for scale

Smokybrown cockroaches: Big (1½ in.), and a dark, glossy brown, smokybrown roaches have long wings and long antennae. Usually content to scrabble around your garden or yard, they’ll sometimes infest your attic in large numbers.

Baby House Roaches

Baby roaches look much like adult roaches, but lack wings until they develop them later. Though tiny, they’re no less dangerous and destructive. If you’re seeing lots of baby house roaches or tiny roach eggs, be aware that your home may be in a very active stage of infestation.

Four grid illustration of three baby house roaches and three house cockroach eggs.
Baby house roaches and house cockroach eggs ready to hatch.

Accidental Invaders

Some roaches don’t really find much appealing about your home, but occasionally get in anyway. Unlike the house cockroaches above, they won’t breed inside and infest your home. Left alone, they’re likely to die without your help.

Australian Cockroaches

Australian cockroach, adult and egg case compared to a penny

Australian cockroaches: Also big (1–1 ½ inches), mostly brown but wear striking, pale yellow stripes along each shoulder. Occasional flyers, they may fly inside by mistake, or simply wander in.

Wood House Roaches

Pennsylvania wood roach male and female, plus egg sac beside a penny for scale
Wood roaches: Big at about 1 ¼ inches, and chestnut brown. They’re active flyers during the summer, especially at night. They may fly in through your windows, or be carried inside with a load of firewood.

Straightforward Guide: How to Get Rid of House Roaches for Good

Identified your cockroach yet? Good. It’s time to get to work.

You’ll begin with products and techniques that work against any house roach, then tweak them for certain ones.

Here are the steps:

Tooling Up

Step 1: Buy a Set of Sticky Traps

Sticky traps are the simplest pest control device on the market—and among the most effective. They attract roaches with a natural scent or pheromone, then trap them with a special glue.

You can use sticky traps the way most folks do—as always-on, everywhere, merciless killing machines. Or the way that exterminators do—as information-gathering tools.

If you go with the later approach (and we recommend you do), you’ll lay down traps in a lot of places, then systematically count and record each trap’s kill. Using sticky traps this way (called “monitoring”), you’ll discover exactly where roaches are most active. And know exactly where to hit them hard.

Sticky traps are generally sold in sets of 8-12. You can buy a single set if you just want to kill cockroaches, but you’ll need more to use the monitoring method well.

For more on buying and using cockroach sticky traps, see here.

Step 2: Buy a Pack of Gel Bait

Cockroach gel bait can be a game-changer for many people, especially for those who’ve only used bombs or sprays.

The gel contains a tiny dose of poison mixed with a strong attractant. After eating the gel, a cockroach will slowly die, after which its body will be consumed by other roaches. The poison will kill those roaches too, and may kill even more roaches as the poison is passed on yet again.

Gel baits are so effective, they can sometimes wipe out an entire cockroach colony, or at a minimum, significantly reduce it.

You’ll find gel baits sold two forms: in disposable plastic “bait stations,” and syringe-style applicators. While you may find bait station products to be more convenient, the syringes allow for more control, and do a better job.

A single package of gel bait will completely treat most homes, with enough left over for follow-up treatments should you need them.

For more on buying and using cockroach gel bait, see here.

Step 3: Buy an Insecticidal Dust and a Hand Duster

Where gel bait hits roaches in their need to eat, insecticidal dust hits them in their need to forage, avoid predators, and seek out mates. That is, it kills them as they crawl around.

Insecticidal dusts are fine powders applied to surfaces roaches walk through. The powder gets on their legs and bodies, then slowly penetrates and destroys their protective shells, eventually killing them.

To apply “dusts” properly, you’ll need a simple tool called a “hand duster,” which distributes the powder in a thin, controlled layer. If you expect to do a lot of dusting, high-end dusters do a better job. But for most people, a less expensive model (about $10) will usually do.

For more on buying and using insecticidal dust, see here.

Taking Action

Step 1: Cleanup

House cleaning may not seem like a pest control method, but it’s one of the most important steps.

House cockroaches can survive on even the tiniest bits of food, so when you vacuum up crumbs or wipe up spills, you deprive them of a meal. They also leave pheromone trails for communication, so when you wipe or scrub down surfaces, you deprive them of signals they use to mate and locate food.

Cleanup also primes your home for the pest control products you’re going to use. It leaves roaches hungrier for your baits, and removes competing scents for the attractants in your traps.


The first step is to get out your vacuum cleaner and give your home a thorough cleaning. Vacuum everything you normally would, but press harder into carpets, deeper into cracks in hardwood floors, and into spaces you might otherwise skip—underneath and between couch cushions, the undersides of furniture, and the tops of lamps, bookcases, and picture frames.

Vacuum not only low, but high. Put your vacuum’s attachments to good use, especially the stiff little brush most vacuum cleaners come with, and (a fierce cockroach weapon if there ever was one) the crevice tool you can use to suction out tiny voids.

Be particularly thorough in kitchens and bathrooms where roaches tend to thrive, and if you actually see any scrambling past you, suction them up, remembering later to throw your vacuum cleaner bag out in a sealed garbage bag.


Next? Decluttering. And better organization if your home needs it.

House roaches love clutter, and a disorganized space creates innumerable hiding spots where they can feel protected and lay their eggs. Go through your home room-by-room with a garbage bag and a willingness to toss things out. Be particularly merciless with papers, magazines, or anything made of cardboard, especially cardboard boxes.

Mop and scrub

Finally, get out a mop, sponges, and a wash bucket, and begin scrubbing surfaces cockroaches might have touched. Avoid harsh or smelly cleaners during this step—they could interfere with the pest control products you’re about to use.

Then give your home as thorough a scrubbing as you ever have. If you’re like a lot of folks, this will feel good—like you’re taking back your home.

For more thorough cleaning tips, see Preventing Roaches through Sanitation.

Step 2: Place Your Sticky Traps

There are no concrete rules for placing sticky traps, but exterminators almost always begin with certain high probability spots—kitchen cabinets, the space behind the refrigerator, and underneath each sink.

If you’re using your traps for monitoring, you’ll want to mark each trap with its location before you lay it down. Then check on all your traps every few days or so (more if you have a severely roach infested house).

When at least one of your traps has begun to fill, compare it with the others and record the numbers at each location.

You’ll focus your time and products in those areas in the next two steps.

Step 3: Apply Drops of Gel Bait

Knowing exactly where the problem’s worst (thanks to monitoring), you can start applying your cockroach gel bait.

You’ll apply it in tiny dabs in out-of-the-way places—in nooks and crannies, crevices, and corners. Resist the urge to leave big globs or to apply in long trails like caulk. Pea-sized dabs will do the trick.

If you do it the way the pros do—in small amounts, spaced well apart, in places only a cockroach could love— no one will ever see them. And your pets won’t even know they’re there.

Step 4: Add a Dash of Insecticidal Dust

Next, it’s time to “dust.”

Using your hand duster, you’ll dust in places you can’t reach with gel bait—in deep crevices, voids, and holes. Just a couple of puffs from your duster will coat surfaces deep inside walls and flooring, where the dust can work for years.

As with gel baits, dusts should be applied with a “less is more” approach. A super-fine layer will do the job, and roaches may actually avoid it when you use too much.

Also, don’t plan to apply dust everywhere. A puff inside your laptop may seem like a good idea, but the heat it traps will mess with your system for years.

Step 5: Wait, Watch, and Monitor

The final step—monitoring—is the easy part, because your products do all the work. Your job is to simply let them do that, and watch as the roaches in your house begin to disappear. While that happens there are a few things you should and shouldn’t do:


  • Check your baits every week or so to be sure the roaches are eating them. If they aren’t, you may want to apply them in a different spot. It’s also a good idea to scrape old baits up every couple of weeks and replace them with a fresh batch.
  • Check the areas you dusted every so often for moisture. If you dusted near a dripping pipe or inside a basement that later got flooded, the water will turn your dust into soggy clumps that no longer work and need to be reapplied.
  • Replace sticky traps as they get full. Traps will fill to the point there’s no more sticky area to stick to. When that happens, living roaches will utilize the dead ones as a food source, defeating part of your objective from Step 4.


  • Use any other roach killers (like sprays) in the vicinity of your baits, dusts, and traps. They could lessen their effectiveness, or even turn roaches away.
  • Dispose of the dead cockroaches you begin to find. If the gel bait is what killed them, you’ll want them around for other roaches to nibble on, getting a dose of poison, too. Of course, there’s no reason you have to look at them for days, so go ahead and push them out of sight.

Step 6: When Things Don’t Work

Okay, so let’s fast forward a few weeks after you applied your bait and dust. House roaches have either been drastically reduced, or have disappeared completely…right?

If you’ve gotten to this point and you still have a house cockroach problem, there are a number of things you should do.

  • First, you’ll want to make sure that your baits are being eaten (see above). If not, and you’re sure there’s roach activity nearby, it may mean roaches either don’t like the bait you chose, or somehow learned to avoid it—and you’ll need to try a different brand.
  • Next, you may need to use a different dust. If you settled on borax, boric acid, or diatomaceous earth because they’re natural, you may want to replace them with CimeXa, a man-made alternative which doesn’t exactly come directly from the earth, but is actually safer and does a better job.
  • You may also want to add a fourth roach treatment product to your attack, an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR), which interrupts the breeding cycle of the common house roach, dealing a long-term blow to the colony. An IGR is sometimes the clincher product in treating a more embedded infestation, and they’re simple to use.

Step 7: Keeping House Roaches From Coming Back

After your house roaches are gone, how do you keep them from coming back?

Cockroach control at home—for the long-term, really depends on prevention. And there are two kinds of prevention you should take: General preventive steps that apply to all cockroaches. And special preventive steps that apply to large vs. small species.

To prevent all cockroaches from coming back

Since roaches looking for a space to infest are also looking for food, you can deny them a reason to target your home through regular cleaning, removing those tasty crumbs and smears as they appear.

Also consider replacing your garbage containers with ones that have tight-fitting lids, take the trash out often, and begin sealing foods in airtight containers with thick walls roaches can’t chew through.

You’ll want to hunt up possible water sources, too. The brown-banded cockroach doesn’t need much water, but all others do. Make it your personal mission to find and eliminate every drip, leak, or puddle a roach could drink from, including condensation.

Now, onto some specific approaches.

To prevent large roaches in particular

Since large house roaches (American, Oriental, Smokybrown) are primarily outdoor creatures, you’ll need to literally seal them out of your home, including your walls, your foundation, and your drains.

  • Consider buying a set of drain covers. Roaches in home septic systems (and city sewers) are not only common, but mobile, and yes—they’ll climb up your pipes when conditions are right. Drain covers are an inexpensive solution for that, and keep any roaches already inside your home from entering drains for a drink.
  • Invest in a tube of caulk, some steel or copper mesh, and a can of expanding foam to deter large cockroaches. In home construction—exterior walls and foundations—roaches will find all the holes, cracks, and gaps that have opened over time, and slip right into them. Also look for gaps in siding, and deteriorating seals around window frames and doors.
  • If lots of cockroaches are coming in from outside, consider adding one more technique—a perimeter treatment to Steps 1, 2, and 3 above. With this method, you’ll apply a weather-resistant spray to your home’s foundation, and possibly a granular bait nearby.
To prevent small roaches

Unlike their larger cousins, small roaches don’t typically enter through exterior walls. Instead, they choose sneakier modes of entry that speak volumes about how much they love to be around us.

Live in an apartment or a condo? Your roach problem may have started in your neighbor’s unit, and made it to yours through the walls. You’ll want to stop that from happening again, so get out your caulk gun and begin sealing up every crack and crevice you find, puffing a little dust inside first for any roaches that make it that far.

Then there are the ways we unknowingly bring roaches in ourselves. German and brown-banded roaches are born stowaways, so tiny you might not notice them in the boxes, bags, and parcels you regularly carry into your home.

  • If you suspect your favorite grocer or takeout restaurant could have a pest problem, inspect your bags before toting them inside.
  • If you love thrift shops and yard sales, know that roaches love them too, and could be hiding in virtually anything someone else has owned—furniture, clothing, electronics, or appliances.
  • Boxes of free stuff, or hand-me-downs? Think about those bargains first. They may hold an all too-familiar surprise.


House roaches are pernicious pests that bring trouble to homes around the world. Don’t let them get the best of you, and don’t let a house cockroach problem get worse!

Start with step 1 in this guide right now, and keep exploring the site for even more tips (try out these easy Roach-Free Recipes) to get rid of roaches fast!

You can do it!

Frequently Asked Questions

What do house roaches eat?

House cockroaches eat just about everything, from food scraps and grease splatter to garbage, sewage, book bindings and wallpaper. Whether it’s a plate of cookies on the counter or a loose bag of rice in the pantry, they’ll search high and low for any and every food source you make available.

Do house roaches bite?

Roaches almost never bite people. We’re big, scary predators to them and they’ll almost always flee quickly when caught out in the open. That said, cockroach bites are like other insect bites, and can cause swelling and allergic reactions. Should one bite you, clean the area, apply a dressing, and keep an eye on it for a few days.

Do house roaches fly?

House roaches fly occasionally but you’ll usually see them crawling around on their six spiny legs. If they’re threatened, they might fly to safety. Rarely, they’ll use their wings to reach food. Brown-banded roaches might fly into upper cabinets or a vent for shelter.


  1. 2019 State of the Cockroach Control Market (2019) Zoecon/Central Life Sciences.
  2. Picard, Caroline and Amanda Garrity (2020) Pest Experts Share How You Can Get Rid of Roaches in 5 Easy Steps. Good Housekeeping. Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/a47840/how-to-get-rid-of-roaches/
  3. Why do I have cockroaches in my home? (2016) National Pesticide Information Center. Retrieved from http://npic.orst.edu/faq/roach.html
  4. Potter, Michael F. (2018) Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. University of Kentucky Entomology. Retrieved from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614

Some things in life you go looking for. Others come looking for you.

When you have a cockroach problem, you may not know exactly how they found you, but you’ll be darned if they stick around for long.

What kills cockroaches instantly? We’ve got answers that may surprise you, along with a plan to keep them away for good.

Ready? Let’s get started.

Kill them Fast, But Also Kill Them Slow

Chart illustration using a fast vs slow gauge depicting cockroaches killed with fast methods vs. slow methods

Want roaches gone fast?

You should. They’re nasty, dirty bugs that can destroy everything you own. They’ll use your home as a dinner plate and a toilet, spreading germs and allergens everywhere they go.

The truth is, roaches can be killed very quickly. At the snap of a finger really, with a number of effective products—some of them off-the-shelf, and some of them homemade.

But there’s also a problem with all these products that their marketing won’t tell you:

If you’re looking for more than a temporary fix (which you really should be), you’re going to have to supplement them with something else.

Sure, you can bomb or spray roaches to oblivion. You’ll see them die in droves.

But these products rarely deal a fatal blow to roaches’ secret weapon—their deeply protected nest. Instant killers aren’t designed for it (no matter what bug bomb pamphlets say). And if you rely on them exclusively, you’ll find yourself in a common cycle: no matter how many roaches you kill, they’ll keep endlessly coming back.

Luckily, there’s a solution. One that kills roaches instantly—just like you need it to, but also kills them thoroughly, so you don’t have to face them again and again . It’s called the fast/slow method, and it combines an instant roach killer with a handful of slow-acting ones designed to remedy the problem at its source.

It gets roaches out of your face right now, and leaves your home roach-free in about 30 days or less.

Sound like a plan? Let’s take a look at the instant roach killers:

What Kills Cockroaches Instantly: Home Remedies and Powerful Pyrethroid Sprays

1. Pyrethroid-Based Sprays: The Big Guns

Cartoon illustration of a shocked cockroach being sprayed on a kitchen counter with a can of pyrethroid spray.

Ah, pyrethroids. Where would all those dead bugs be without you?

Medicine has penicillin. Basketball has Michael Jordan. And pest control has the amazing family of pyrethroids, chemicals naturally and synthetically derived from chrysanthemums that clock roaches with a mighty wallop.

Mostly safe for humans (but less so for some pets—read up to understand the cautions), pyrethroids attack insect nervous systems, stopping (known as “knockdown”), and quickly killing roaches in their tracks.

In use since the 1940’s, you’ve probably already used or been helped by pyrethroid sprays. Popular products like Raid, Combat, Black Flag, and Ortho sprays have long relied on pyrethroids to do the job.

Is every pyrethroid spray you find an instant killer? Yes. Pretty much. Unless you find some sort of off-brand (and there aren’t very many of them), you can be confident that most any pyrethroid-based spray is going to be fairly lethal.

There are differences in formula however that make certain pyrethroid-based products more effective. And as you might expect, the most effective ones tend to be the most expensive.

At the high end, you’ll find professional products you may not even be able to get your hands on as a consumer. While a notch or two below, higher-end consumer products, like Bengal Gold (which has gained a sort of cult following among its users) are widely sold.

Beyond their near-instantaneous roach killing abilities, pyrethroid sprays provide an important side benefit—”residual” properties that make sprayed surfaces toxic to roaches for days or weeks depending on which formula you buy.

2. Essential Oils: Natural Cockroach Killers

Cartoon illustration of an angry cockroach, shaking its fist at a bottle of essential oil.

For those unfamiliar with the science behind essential oils, you may be surprised to learn how intensely studied they’ve been across numerous different fields. Pest control is one of them, and the research has been impressive.

Certain essential oils have been found to be effective against roaches. Some have repellent properties, some kill roaches on contact, and some do both depending on how much of them you use. While the toxicity of essential oils is lower than conventional insecticides, they may still be very effective in certain situations.

In practice, delivering a high enough dose of the oil in a high enough concentration is key, as is your ability to either hit the roach directly (to kill it), or get it into areas the roach travels (to repel it from those places).

Most off-the-shelf essential oil products aren’t going to do that for you. Aromatherapy candles and diffusers deliver an airborne dose that’s far, far too weak. And if you plan on using a spray, you’ll generally need anywhere from 2% to 10% to do it, depending on the oil.

The oils that work? Peppermint, clove, cinnamon, rosemary, and thyme have been found to have lethal properties. You can either make your own “instant roach killer spray,” or use a packaged product like Zevo or Wondercide.

To learn more about essential oils for roaches click here.

3. Sticky Traps: Eliminate Cockroaches Overnight

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach on a kitchen counter, stuck down with sticky glue.

Less dramatic than instant cockroach killer sprays, sticky glue traps may not kill roaches instantly, but they often do it overnight. Depending on the severity of your problem, you could set up these unassuming killers before you go to bed, and find them full of roaches by morning. They’re highly respected in the pest control world, and for good reason: they work.

When using sticky traps for general purpose killing, you’ll want to place them where you suspect cockroaches have been crawling and congregating—along baseboards, behind appliances, under furniture and in pantry areas. Then check them every once in a while for what they’ve caught.

You’re probably familiar with roach motels, which are fine for this approach. We’ll tell you another trick with sticky traps in the next section, because they’re an excellent slow-kill pest control tool, too.

For more about using sticky traps, click here. To learn more about roach motels, click here.

4. Foggers and Bombs: Forget About Them!

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach laughing at a defused roach bomb

Roach bombs and foggers. Who doesn’t love them? Are they fast? You bet they are! Full of drama and excitement? Oh yeah—the kind that sells lots of products.

Unfortunately, they don’t work too well, so seriously—don’t fall for them. They’ll impress you with the scores of dead bugs they leave behind, but those massive clouds of pesticide? They’re far from laser-guided and won’t penetrate the hard-to-get-to nooks and crannies you’d definitely need them to.

To learn more about cockroach bombs and why you may want to choose something better, click here.

What Kills Roaches Slowly: The Long-Term Prescription

Here’s the most basic fact about getting rid of cockroaches: They’re easy to kill individually, but hard to completely wipe out. They’re little survival machines, not so much as individuals, but in their ability to rebound against you as a group.

That means roaches are sneakier and more trickier than you might think. And to truly wipe them out, you’ll need some trickery of your own, including several tricks up your sleeve to completely finish them off.

Professional exterminators know this. That’s why over the last couple decades or so, they’ve moved more and more away from fast-kill interior sprays, toward the slower-acting products described below.

These products may not leave roaches sputtering around your kitchen within seconds. But they do kill with a thoroughness and level of safety that was never possible before.

Having learned what kills cockroaches instantly, let’s move on to the ones that used together, slowly wipe them out:

1. Sticky Traps: Useful for Slow-Kill, Too

Sticky traps aren’t just effective killers. They’re peerless information-gathering tools. By setting them out systematically and then counting the roaches that you’ve caught, you’ll learn not only how bad the problem is, but where it’s worst. Which tells you where to hit the bugs the hardest.

The technique is known as “monitoring,” and it’s the first best way to take control of a cockroach problem. To use sticky traps this way, you’ll need to also do some simple record-keeping (as in recording where you’ve placed them).

You’ll also want to buy sticky traps sold in larger packs (which end up being cheaper), and that make examining contents and recording information easier.

Learn more about finding cockroach hiding spots by clicking here.

2. Gel Baits: Wipes Out the Colony Over Weeks

With a week or so of “monitoring” various places in your home, you’ll know where to place a game-changing product known as cockroach gel bait.

Sold in syringes and plastic bait stations, gel baits can be astonishingly effective. They lure roaches with a powerful attractant, then kill them with a slow-acting insecticide after they eat it.

The slowness of gel baits works to your advantage because roaches have time to return to the highly populated nest. As they die there, other roaches will begin to eat the toxins they vomit or expel in their feces, getting poisoned, too. Over time, many roaches will die from a single tiny dose of poison, and possibly the entire nest.

Learn more about using cockroach gel bait here.

3. Insecticidal Dust: Applied Once, Lasts for Years

The third slow roach killer is a fine powder called insecticidal dust. Sold in natural and man-made forms (like silica gel, diatomaceous earth, and boric acid), “dust” is puffed deeply into cracks and crevices with a tool called a “hand duster.”

When roaches crawl through the light dusting, it sticks to their bodies and slowly destroys their shells. Like gel bait, the slow acting nature of insecticidal dust makes it more effective, because roaches never learn that it’s something to avoid.

Dusts don’t expire or degrade, so a single application could begin killing roaches right now, then help protect your home as long as the dust stays dry.

You can learn more about insecticidal dust by clicking here.

4. Insect Growth Regulator (IGR): Stops Future Roaches

Insect growth regulator (IGR) isn’t exactly a killer. Instead, it prevents young roaches from becoming fertile, halting future generations. Since baits, dusts, and traps are so effective, it could be considered an optional product, but if you have a true cockroach infestation, you should plan to pick some up.

5. Outdoor Products: Killing Roaches Before They Get Inside

Have outdoor roaches?

Outdoor products are mostly similar to indoor ones, but hold up better in outdoor conditions. There are slow-acting outdoor baits made specially for lawns, and a variety of outdoor liquids for the perimeter around your home. One of the advantages of these liquids (which are applied with a specialized pump sprayer), is the ability to mix products for simultaneous slow and fast-acting results.

Using Slow and Instant Cockroach Killers Together

Keeping Products from Working Against Each Other

If you’ve decided the fast/slow method is better than simply reaching for a can of spray (it is), you may already be making a purchase list. Good for you.

You can go ahead and order your slow-kill products. But before settling on the instant one, one suggestion:

Some instant cockroach killers leave a repellent residue behind. And while that may be great for keeping roaches away from your cupboards when you can’t stand the sight of them, it’s lousy when the little monsters begin avoiding your dusts, baits, and traps.

To keep your slow-kill products working the way they’re supposed to, you’ll either want to avoid products that contain repellents, or limit them to areas well away from your slow-kill products.

Tip: It’s also possible to strategically use repellent products to drive roaches toward your baits, dusts, and traps

Which products have repellent properties? Virtually all essential oils do, as well as some sprays. So before smashing the buy button, you should do a little quick label-reading (most product labels are available online) to see what’s coming in the can.

Hitting Problem Areas


There are certain problem areas you may need super fast results. Drains are one.

If roaches are truly coming up your drains from the sewer (not as common as you might think), you should first make sure that the little bend beneath your sink (called the P-trap) is filled with water. It provides a barrier that keeps roaches and other things out. Drain covers will serve that purpose, too.

For an instant kill, use bleach or a foam drain killer, but be extremely careful about mixing up your own potions, which could damage your pipes or worse—poison you along with the roaches, in a homemade toxic cloud.


While there’s nothing like a little murder spree to get you started, it’s only half the way to win the war. Because the real battle against roaches isn’t won quickly—it’s won slowly. With the right approach and a few of the right tools.

You’ve learned what kills roaches instantly and what kills them slowly. Now go ahead and get rid of them for good.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


  1. Kato, Yuki, et al. (2019) Measurements of the Hansen solubility parameters of mites and cockroaches to improve pest control applications. Heliyon. Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2405844019336060
  2. Ramsay, Kris. Common Household Products That Contain Nonionic Surfactants. Hunker. Retrieved from https://www.hunker.com/13420814/common-household-products-that-contain-nonionic-surfactants
  3. Appel, Arthur G., et al (2001) Repellency and Toxicity of Mint Oil to American and German Cockroaches. Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, Auburn University. Retrieved from https://www.ortho.com/en-us/products/bugs/ortho-home-defense-max-ant-roach-spider1

Found a small cockroach in your kitchen cabinets? Or even (shudders)… lots of them? You already know small roaches can mean trouble. But what sort of situation are you really facing? And what do you need to do?

Grab a cup of coffee and get ready to take some notes, because you’ll need a plan to take care of these tiny homewreckers, and you’ll want to do it fast.

First, we’ll answer a few important questions about small roaches. Then show you how to get rid of them—and be free of them forever.

Let’s dive in!

I. Identifying a “Small Cockroach” Problem

Lots of cockroaches, adults and babies
Small roaches in kitchen cabinets… can be a big problem.

On a certain level, small roaches don’t make a whole lot of sense. Though tiny compared to much larger cockroach species (like the massive American cockroach, aka water bugs), they typically pose a bigger problem.


Because unlike larger common roaches that actually prefer to live outside, small roaches seek out human homes. They’re also more tenacious visitors, and the most common small roach—the one you’re most likely dealing with—breeds with astonishing speed, producing dozens of offspring at a time.

Once inside, this little monster multiplies and takes over, ravaging your food, damaging everything it touches, and spreading allergens and bacteria that could potentially make your family sick.

This is the deceptively small German cockroach. Let’s look at it (along with a few other possibilities) to identify exactly what’s gotten into your home:

What Do Small Cockroaches Look Like?

The German Cockroach (the Cockroach You’re Most Likely Facing)

German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg, compared to a penny for size
Dangerous and deceptively small: the German cockroach nymph, adult, and egg sac.

German roaches are the second smallest of the indoor cockroach species, growing to little more than 1/2 inch long as adults. Light brown, yellowish, or golden colored, they’re thin, very flat, and have long, transparent wings folded across their darkly striped backs.

These small skinny roaches are expert hiders—and also lightning fast. They stay on the ground most of the time, but can fly when they sense danger or want to reach food on a counter top.

The Brown-Banded Cockroach (Another Common Pest)

Brown banded cockroach adult, nymph, and egg case size comparison
The brown-banded cockroach, one of three small cockroach types.

Though less common than German roaches, you could also be dealing with the tiny brown-banded cockroach.

Slightly smaller than its German cousin (under .5 inches in length), this small brown roach sports two distinctive horizontal bands across its back. Brown-banded roaches infest less aggressively than German roaches, but still need to be taken seriously.

The Asian Cockroach (A Tiny Impersonator)

Asian cockroach adult, nymph,and egg case relative in size to a penny
The Asian cockroach: A small flying cockroach that can easily be mistaken for German.

Nearly identical in appearance to the German cockroach but far less dangerous, the Asian cockroach is a cockroach problem child found mostly in southern states, particularly South Carolina.

If you’re being overwhelmed by small flying roaches outside, this one’s the culprit. More of a nuisance than a pest, Asian roaches don’t really want to come inside. To deal with them, you can learn more about them here.

Baby Roaches or Nymphs (Also Highly Likely)

Closeup illustration of a wingless baby palmetto bug in a natural habitat
A small red cockroach may be an American cockroach nymph.

One final possibility, especially with really, really small roaches—you saw a cockroach nymph:

  • Was it a small red roach? It may be a baby American cockroach, an outdoor species that can cause problems when it gets inside.
  • Was it a small black roach? It’s probably a baby German cockroach because the nymphs can appear quite dark. Also keep in mind: if your small black cockroach is indeed a German nymph, it’s not a good sign. You may be facing a well-established, growing infestation.

Tip: Very small round roaches are likely to be German nymphs as well. They don’t grow wings until adulthood and their wingless bodies appear quite squat.

If You’ve Got German Roaches

Unfortunately, if you’ve found small roaches in your house—and they’re multiplying fast—they’re probably German. Which means that you’re facing a tough, tenacious, formidable adversary.

Bug sprays aren’t going to kill them all, roach bombs will waste your money, and roach motels (at least by themselves) will only take you so far.

What will work? Knowledge:

You’re going to turn German roaches’ over-sized behaviors against them.

II. Small Cockroach Behaviors (That You’ll Use Against Them)

Fanciful cartoon illustration of a cockroach criminal on a law enforcement rap sheet

Outsmart these bad bugs by learning their habits and cutting off their basic needs.

How Small Cockroaches Get In

It’s a strange, unhappy fact: German roaches not only seek out human buildings—they don’t live outside at all.

So if German roaches don’t live in your trees or lawn, how did they get into your house?

It could have happened in many ways:

Apartment buildings are notorious for widespread German cockroach problems. With few barriers between units, the tiny bugs easily crawl through walls from unit to unit and floor to floor. Small roaches in apartment buildings have little trouble finding food, water and mates. And when they do, they just move on to another unit.

So if you live in an apartment, yes—you can blame your neighbors. But consider this: you could have brought them in, too!

A piece of second-hand furniture might’ve come with more than just a few tiny blemishes. Your dry cleaning or a load from the laundromat might’ve come with a couple of six-legged hitchhikers. And your groceries or a takeout order could have brought a pair of stowaways straight into your kitchen.

It matters how your cockroaches found their way into your home, so take a moment to consider how it might have happened.

Infestation Hotspots

Once they’re in, German roaches have predictable behaviors that you can use against them. Their hiding spots are especially important, with two areas in particular:

The Bathroom

Unfortunately, the bathroom is one of the hotspots for small cockroach activity. Nothing like flipping the bathroom light switch at 2 a.m. and seeing small roaches in the sink!

They’re there for the same reason as the small roaches in the shower: these bugs dive into the drains for a drink and slip through the gaps around plumbing to return to their nest in the wall.

The Kitchen

The kitchen is undeniably a German roach’s favorite hangout. As soon as the lights are out, these pests start scavenging for crumbs on the floor, scraps in the sink, food in the garbage and leftovers on the counter.

It’s a free buffet for small cockroaches. In the kitchen, they have easy access to food, water and shelter, often hiding in cabinets, under the sink, or inside narrow gaps in kitchen counters. Even a dripping garbage disposal is enough to satisfy a cockroach, which can go a month without eating.

Now that you know what they need and where they get it, we’re ready to answer the million-dollar question: How to get rid of small roaches?

III. How to Get Rid of Small Roaches for Good

A simple, straightforward small cockroach elimination plan for big results.

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach surrounded by the 4 elements of a cockroach elimination game plan.

Phase 1: Deprive Roaches of What They Need Through Cleanup

It’s a myth.

Your home doesn’t have to be dirty to have a “small cockroach” problem.

But every bit of dirt, mess, and clutter makes it easier for roaches to infest. That’s why cleaning is such a powerful weapon against these disgusting little bugs. It deprives them of things they need to survive.

Any kind of cleaning is helpful, but the most effective cleanup focuses on removing sources of food, places to hide, and the ability to communicate with other roaches.

Besides the fact that it works so well, cleanup is also great because you usually don’t need to buy much beyond a vacuum cleaner bag or two, and more importantly—it’s a way to do something right now to begin to solve your problem.

Vacuum Up Food Sources

Plug in the trusty vacuum and suck up all the dust, dirt and crumbs from everywhere you can reach: kitchen, hallways, living room and bedroom. Utilize attachments to reach under appliances and furniture, into cabinets and along walls.

Vacuum up every living and dead roach you see, too.

What you’re doing (besides suctioning up living bugs as you see them) is eliminating food sources, and possibly cockroach egg sacs on the verge of hatching.

Deprive Roaches of Hiding Spots

Call it “pest control for the soul.”

Next, you’re going to make it more difficult for cockroaches to hide, lay their eggs, and breed. And you’ll do it by decluttering.

Decluttering isn’t only good for pest control—it helps you take back your space. Take an honest, thorough look through the attic, basement, closets, and cupboards, and get rid things you don’t really want or need.

As you simplify your space, you’ll also be eliminating cockroach habitats, too—piles of paper, boxes, cardboard, and whatever other junk cockroaches have settled into (or might settle into in the future).

As you work, also take note of humidity in your home and of poorly ventilated rooms. If you can afford it, purchase a dehumidifier, or bring in a fan and open some windows. German roaches thrive in humid conditions, so creating a drier space will create an environment less friendly to them.

Wash Away Scent Trails

Roaches don’t communicate through sounds or gestures. They do it through pheromones and bacteria in their feces. That’s unhealthy for you and your family, and terrible for keeping roaches away.

You’ll want to eliminate those trails by cleaning up or tossing everything roaches have come into contact with, beginning with roach-damaged food.

Head to the kitchen, open your cabinets, dig out everything, and throw out every package of food you suspect has been contaminated or touched by roaches.

Do the same with foods that have been left open, including fresh fruits and vegetables, and even recent bags of snacks. If you think a roach might have touched something—anything, it’s time to let it go.

Next, fill a bucket with water and a mild, minimally-scented cleaner like dish soap (the stronger stuff will send roaches deeper into walls) and start wiping and scrubbing down surfaces with any sort of dots, specks, or smears—those are likely to be roach droppings and you’ll want to get them up.

Follow-up with a disinfectant spray, and use a mop and bucket with mild cleaner to clean your hard floors.

Eliminate Water Sources

The last important cleanup task has to do with eliminating water sources—all the drips, drops, and puddles that small cockroaches depend on to slake their thirst. You’ll need a flashlight to do a proper inspection and should plan to poke around.

Follow your bathroom, kitchen, and basement pipes with your fingers, especially where they meet or enter into the wall. Feel any moisture, including areas of condensation? You’re going to want to fix what needs fixing and tightly wrap any surfaces where condensation occurs.

Look for puddles everywhere and create a system for mopping them up as they occur. Small cockroaches love kitchen sinks, dish drainers and bathroom or shower floors. They love, love, love your open drains, so buy drain stoppers to keep them out.

For more on Phase 1, read our step-by-step Roach-Free Recipe: Prevent Roaches Through Sanitation, Part 1

Phase 2: Killing Roaches with Baits and Dusts

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach with a foot covered in diatomaceous earth powder

Pest control has come a long way since the days of dousing rooms with chemicals, or setting off a bunch of useless roach bombs.

Today you can kill more roaches with less effort using tiny amounts of poisons—sometimes no poisons at all.

The best of these products are typically applied where you can’t see, smell, or touch them. They’re known as “cockroach baits” and “insecticidal dusts.”

Gel Baits

Gel baits are powerful pest control products that attract roaches with a specially-formulated lure, then kill them with a tiny dose of insecticide. Because the active ingredients in gel baits are designed to attack the whole colony, they’re often the single best way to begin treating a “small cockroach” population.

You apply gel baits in the tiny cracks and crevices small cockroaches are drawn to, using modest, pea-sized drops. Drops are spread several feet apart, focusing on cracks and crevices, holes and gaps around plumbing, wiring, vents, and other areas small roaches travel.

For more on Phase 2, read our guide to Choosing and Using Gel Baits.

Dry Flowable Bait & Insecticidal Dusts

It’s just not possible to apply gel bait in deep, tiny crevices or other inaccessible voids. For these situations, there’s “Avert Dry Flowable Cockroach Bait.”

In addition to helping you reach difficult spaces, Avert won’t dry out and stop working. You can apply it and leave it to work for a year or longer.

You’ll apply Avert straight from the tube, squeezing puffs across surfaces and hard-to-reach places.

Similar to dry bait in that they’re also powders, insecticidal dusts kill small roaches by clinging to their bodies as they crawl through them, penetrating their protective exoskeletons and causing them to dehydrate (to death).

There are “natural” insecticidal dusts such as boric acid and diatomaceous earth you may already be familiar with, but a “man-made” product called CimeXA is both safer and more effective.

To apply insecticidal dusts properly, you’ll need a separate applicator product called a “hand duster” which “puffs” measured amounts of dust into cracks, crevices, and voids, usually with a selection of plastic-fitted tips.

Bonus option: To get rid of roaches when a roach infestation is heavy, drill an inconspicuous hole through the drywall so that it creates an opening into the wall cavity. Then, use the duster’s tip to squeeze the dust into the cavity.

Phase 3: Exclusion

While the Cleanup Phase aims to starve cockroaches and take away their water supply, exclusion is about keeping them from ever getting in. It’s also about adopting habits that make your home less attractive to cockroaches when they try.

Walk the rooms in your home with a tube of caulk, sealing every small crack or hole that a roach might use for shelter. Apartment dweller? Small roaches in apartment buildings don’t just hide in cracks and holes. They get in this way from other units, so sealing up is especially important for you.

Invest in sturdy glass or plastic containers with tight-sealing lids, then store your food inside. Take advantage of the roach-safe storage areas in your fridge (with its conveniently sealing doors), and chuck your flimsy Ziploc bags for anything cockroaches could get to, because they can chew right through.

Limit eating to one room to limit the spread of crumbs (and the amount of cleanup you have to do later). In the kitchen, change garbage bags often and never leave them unsealed once full. Wipe down your pet’s bowl each night, too.

And the most important tip?

Be vigilant about what comes into your home!

Check grocery bags and food deliveries before bringing them inside. Never bring home yard-sale furniture or other used items without checking them for roaches. Leave kids’ backpacks outside the door if a playmate’s house could pose a roach problem, and then inspect their clothes.

Phase 4: Monitoring for Success

If all goes perfectly, you’ll make it to Phase 4 and never have to fall back to any other phase!

This last step is all about monitoring your home for any signs of a comeback and hitting the roaches hard if you see anything suspicious.

Glue traps are great for this because they kill cockroaches, provide a simple visual gauge for how many other roaches are around, and remain effective for long periods. Roach motels make for good small roach traps because they’re easy to place, easy to clean up and fit lots of the little bugs before you have to replace them.

Finally, keep up the good cleaning habits!

If you see signs of increasing roach populations in the weeks after you thought you’d defeated them, it doesn’t necessarily mean failure. There might’ve been egg cases buried deep in a wall that hatched and will have to be dealt with. Follow the steps above and stay determined until your home is roach free!


Dealing with a small cockroach infestation can be a scary and overwhelming experience, especially if it turns out to be a large infestation. But with the tools and tips here, you can eliminate small roaches and win back your pest-free life.


  1. Sutherland, Andrew et al (2019) Cockroaches Management Guidelines. University of California IPM. Retrieved from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7467.html
  2. Cockroaches. Illinois Department of Health. Retrieved from https://dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/environmental-health-protection/structural-pest-control/cockroaches
  3. Kraft, Sandra and Larry Pinto (2016) German Cockroaches: 10 Key Facts to Remember. Pest Control Technology. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/german-cockroaches-10-key-facts-to-remember/
  4. Talis (2015) 5 Signs of a German Roach Infestation and How to Get Rid of Them. Brody Brothers Pest Control. Retrieved from https://www.brodybrotherspestcontrol.com/5-signs-of-a-german-roach-infestation-and-how-to-get-rid-of-them

Killing cockroaches can’t be that hard, can it? They’re just bugs and bugs can be squished!

Besides the fact that cockroaches can survive up to 900 times their body weight in crushing force, squishing a few (or even a few dozen) cockroaches isn’t going to stop them from multiplying, spreading and making things much, much worse.

We’ll show you how to kill cockroaches and take down the whole colony so that they never come back!

Remember, when using insecticides, the label is the law—read and follow the instructions carefully, not only for your own safety, but to make sure each treatment is as effective as possible.

How to Kill Roaches Part I: What You Need Before You Go to War

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach terrified as it looks at an explosion

Key points:

  1. Act fast, be thorough and don’t give up.
  2. It’s about eliminating the whole colony, not killing single roaches.
  3. Use a combination of tools and rotate your treatments for the best chance of success.
  4. Knowledge is power. The more you learn about cockroaches and how to control them, the better off you’ll be!

If it’s so easy to kill a cockroach you find crawling along the floor, why is it so hard to get rid of these pests for good?

It all comes down to 3 cockroach adaptations:

  1. They can survive on almost nothing.
  2. They have a lot of babies, all the time.
  3. They spend most of their time hiding, so people often don’t notice them until the problem has gotten out of hand.

The Stages of Infestation

The problem starts with one or two adventurous roaches, mucking through the mulch and leaves, following the path of a sewer line, hiding inside a grocery bag, or hitchhiking in the trunk of your car, until eventually… they get in.

That first stage is infiltration. From there, those few roaches reproduce rapidly, search the house for food, and spread to any dark, hidden places they can find.

The best time to have killed them would have been the moment they got in. But since that didn’t happen, the 2nd best time is right now.

Let’s get to it!

Part II: The Right Weapons for the Job

Explore your options, stock up your arsenal and start killing not only the cockroaches but the colony.

Cartoon illustration of cockroach killers: Poison, Trap, Dust, and Vacuum Cleaner

If you’ve been trying and failing to kill roaches for a while now, you might simply be using the wrong tools. It’s tough to know what works, especially when the advertising promise of “Quick-and-Easy!” has you looking at less effective products.

4 Important Don’ts of Cockroach-Killing Tools

Rule 1: Don’t waste your time on stuff that doesn’t work. Question: how do you kill roaches with ultrasonic pest repellers? You don’t! Regardless of the marketing shtick, they just don’t work. The same goes for roach bombs and other products that blow smoke out of a can. They promise plenty, but the marketing is a bunch of guff.

Rule 2: Don’t mistake what’s handy for a solution. Sure, go ahead and hit that ugly brown roach with a blast of bug-killing spray. But don’t count on a can of spray to take down the other, possibly hundreds of roaches that may be seething behind your walls.

Rule 3: Don’t rely on a single technique or product. Are there some excellent products out there? You bet. But what exterminators know, and you’ll learn below, is that products work best in combination.

Rule 4: Don’t dive in without a plan. Before buying and using products, know exactly what you need and how you’re going to use them. Yes, you can defeat cockroaches, sometimes more easily than you think, but it’s unlikely to happen without a focused, systematic plan.

Weapon 1: A Notebook, Pen, and Piece of Chalk

You’re going to need a notebook of some kind, a pen or pencil, and a piece of chalk. Nothing fancy, and available at the dollar store.

Weapon 2: Vacuum Cleaner and Cleaning Supplies

We’ll get to the importance of vacuuming shortly but at this stage, make sure your vacuum is working properly, that it has brush and crevice attachments, and that you’re stocked up on bags.

You’ll also want a bucket filled with a gentle, non-smelly cleaner like dish soap (which won’t drive cockroaches into the walls), a mop, and a sponge or rag.

Weapon 3: Traps

The most popular roach traps are sticky glue traps—what professional exterminators call insect monitors. Professionals use these to track roach activity, measure the size of the infestation, locate its hot spots and kill some roaches along the way. Inexpensive and effective, they’re indispensable to this plan.

Pro tip: Squeamish? Roach motels are a sticky trap that partially obscures its victims. Great for killing roaches, but somewhat less so for cockroach monitoring.

Weapon 4: Gel Bait

Professional pest controllers love gel roach bait, and why? Because it works!

Gel bait spreads from one roach to another, killing multiple roaches per treatment with little work on your part, other than setting them down.

Many pros also use an IGR, or insect growth regulator in combination with gel bait. IGR’s prevent cockroaches from reproducing, attacking parts of the colony the bait might have missed.

Weapon 5: Insecticidal Dust

Roach-killing dusts break down the cockroaches’ exoskeletons, eventually killing them through dehydration.

CimeXa is one highly effective example used by many exterminators.

Other roach killer dusts include boric acid, borax and diatomaceous earth (DE).

Tip: You can apply gel baits alongside dusts, as long as they’re used behind appliances or in closed, still rooms. Also, insecticidal dusts vary widely in terms of safety for children and pets. You’ll learn the safest ones further below.

The Ultimate Roach-Killing Battle Plan

Cartoon illustration of an angry cockroach beside a Cockroach Battle Plan
“How do I kill roaches when they seem to just come back?” With a battle plan!

This step-by-step plan of attack works for most roach infestations. Below, we’ve included some alternatives for specific situations.

Let’s get to work!

Step 1. Inspect, clean, and lay down sticky traps

You just don’t realize what vile creatures cockroaches are until you begin looking for, and cleaning up, all the crap they leave behind.

They feast on things that would make you cringe: bits of garbage, forgotten spills and crumbs—even feces. They lay their eggs in or near that debris, and leave pheromone trails on floors and walls that tell other roaches where the food is. And that they’re available to mate.

Your job is to get rid of all of that.

You’re going to go through your home room-by-room, cleaning up all the gunk roaches have left behind and suctioning up living roaches. When you finish with each problem area, you’re going to place a sticky trap there, jot down the location in your notebook, and leave a mark nearby with a piece of chalk (so you can easily find the trap later).

So grab your vacuum cleaner, nozzle attachments, mop, sponge and bucket, and head into the kitchen, where you’ll begin by pulling the refrigerator away from the wall.

Any roaches dash out from underneath? Vacuum the little buggers up. Any on the walls, in the corner, on the refrigerator’s coils or around the motor area? Don’t let them get away.

Vacuum up every roach you see, and then suction up the debris—the loose powdery granules, cockroach bodies, egg casings, and body parts. Use your crevice tool to get deep into cracks and gaps, and your brush tool to dislodge and suction up some of the stuck-on muck.

After you’ve vacuumed up everything you can, mop and scrub the area, removing every speck, stain, and pheromone-laced smear you find. Use a magic eraser or a plastic putty knife for stuck-on spots, and being nasty stuff, change your bucket water often.

When you’re done, take one of your sticky traps and place it in the problem area, preferably against a wall, then record its location in your notebook and leave a mark nearby with chalk. It will help you find it later.

Work in this way through the corners, undersides, backsides, and recesses of your kitchen, vacuuming up gunk, suctioning up roaches, cleaning off surfaces, and finally, laying down sticky traps. Where you don’t find signs of roaches, but do find any kind of dirt or mess, clean those areas, too. And then mop the entire floor.

Move on to the bathroom in the same way. Then other rooms.

And on a side note, this work is hard, but for many people, feels good. You may not have realized how cockroaches made you stop enjoying your home. Well, now you’re taking it back.

Once you’re finished, empty the vacuum into a sturdy garbage bag, seal it, and if there’s any chance your pets or outdoor critters could get into it, pop it in the freezer overnight. It will kill the bugs inside.

Also be aware that you may be faced with escapees whenever you turn the vacuum off. How do you kill cockroaches before they make their move? There’s no easy way to do it, really. Instead, try plugging the vacuum’s nozzle with a rag between sessions.

At the end of the day, give yourself a pat on the back. The next steps are a piece of cake.

Step 2. Identify your targets

Unless you have lots and lots of roaches, you won’t need to check your traps for a couple of days. When you do, you’ll learn some vital information about how and where to treat your roach problem.

Collectively, the traps will tell you what type of cockroach you’re dealing with (see below for a few ways to adapt the plan to certain species). They’ll also tell you how bad the infestation is—or whether you have an infestation at all.

Individually, they’ll tell you where the cockroach hot spots are, and that’s important because those are the areas you’ll want to focus on in the next two steps:

Step 3. Attack with gel bait and an IGR

Having found the areas you’ll hit hardest (with sticky traps), open a tube of gel cockroach bait such as Alpine or Advion and apply pea-sized drops all-around your target rooms, 2–3 feet apart.

You can place these drops on the floor, in crevices, under furniture and anywhere you think roaches will want to walk. If you’d prefer, put the drops on index cards or tissues so you don’t have to wipe off any excess once it’s eaten.

Only use tiny amounts so the roaches don’t avoid it. Keep using sticky traps to measure the effects of the bait. If you’re still monitoring with sticky traps (and you should be), you should notice fewer roaches in the traps within 1–2 weeks if it’s working well.

A round of IGR is optional, but it will help you to accomplish even more. IGR is used much like gel bait, but works differently and doesn’t need to be eaten to work. Besides helping to reduce roach populations on their own, some IGR’s are formulated with a feeding stimulant that encourages roaches to eat more bait, resulting in a more widespread kill.

Tip: As a cleaner and even simpler alternative, you can purchase bait stations, which hide the poison inside a plastic container but still let roaches crawl inside.

Step 4. Dust and trap

Dusts can kill plenty of roaches on their own but they’re also great alongside gel bait. Combining and rotating techniques and products is a great way to prevent avoidance—when cockroaches get used to a trap or bait and stop falling for it.

To kill roaches with CimeXa, boric acid or another finely powdered insecticide, use a duster to lightly coat surfaces under and around appliances, in cabinets, behind toilets, under sinks and even inside wall cavities.

If you’re using dust alongside Advion or a similar gel bait, you can apply it to a notecard or napkin and bait in the center so roaches have to step through the dust before reaching the bait.

Safety tip: Keep in mind that while these powders are relatively safe, they can be irritants or, in the case of boric acid, make you sick if you ingest it. So make sure not to coat surfaces like countertops or anywhere you might eat off of.

Step 5. Begin monitoring

As the weeks go by, you should notice fewer and fewer roaches. Then, depending on where you live (in some climates, you’ll never be completely roach-free), possibly no more roaches at all.

This is when you switch your battle plan over to monitoring.

With monitoring, you’ll ease up on the aggressive elimination tactics you’ve been using, and instead just make sure there are functioning sticky traps laid down.

You’ll check your sticky traps from time to time to check for any significant increase in roaches (catching a few from time-to-time is normal), but other than that, you’ll pretty much return to the way you lived before there was a problem.

And by the way, congratulations on a job well done. Let’s look at some special situations.

How to Kill Roaches of Different Types

Killing German Cockroaches

German cockroaches are among the worst types of cockroaches.

Yet, research has shown that they can be defeated with a strategy that begins with gel bait. Even in severely infested apartments, gel bait took down German roaches in just days.

If you’re seeing more than a few of these bugs, be aggressive. Combine gel bait, dusts and glue traps for all-around cockroach-killing action.

Replace baits as soon as they’re empty. Change traps as soon as they’re full.

Add an IGR to prevent even more baby German roaches from starting the infestation over just when you thought you had it under control.

It’s a game of perseverance against these super-resilient pests but the battle plan works against them well.

For a complete, step-by-step guide to “How to Get Rid of German Roaches” click here.

Killing American Roaches

American cockroaches often live outdoors but they get by just fine indoors, too. Eliminating them takes a combination of roach-killing weapons and a strategic defense.

For these bugs, you’re going to need a bigger sticky trap, and if you use them, a larger bait station. American roaches grow up to 2 inches long so smaller traps and devices will fill too quickly or have openings too small to let them in.

Consider adding a perimeter spray to your arsenal, too. And while you’re out there, you should check for any gaps or openings you think the bugs might be getting in from, and seal those up. Since these pests come from outside, a strong line of defense will help prevent future invaders.

Read our Roach-Free Recipe for even more tips: Getting Rid of American Cockroaches Like a Pro

How to Kill Roaches with a Pet-Safe Strategy

Pet owners have important concerns about roach-killing products. So, how do you kill cockroaches in a way that won’t harm your pets? By using the same battle plan, but taking care to select products that have either very low toxicity—or none.

Most roach control products are safe for pets, but some you may want to avoid. Whatever you choose, carefully read and follow the label for warnings and instructions. You’ll not only protect yourself, your family, and your pets, but do a better job.

Pet-safe baits

For gel baits, it’s not that the products are poisonous (the amount of poisons applied in these products are very small), but that an animal could potentially chew up or gulp down a gel baits’ plastic housing (if it’s that type), potentially causing a blockage.

Regardless of the bait you choose, baits should be placed in areas that are inaccessible to pets and children. Proper placement is one of the best things you can do to keep your household safe.

Pet-safe insecticidal dusts

For insecticidal dusts, the concerns are a little more serious:

Diatomaceous Earth: Pets could gobble up food-grade diatomaceous earth and not have a problem, but you don’t want them eating the non-food-grade DE you use for your pool—and you don’t want them (or you and your family) inhaling either kind, because DE can be damaging to the lungs.

Borax and Boric Acid: You definitely don’t want your pets eating any homemade baits you made with borax or boric acid since both are toxic enough to hurt them.

Man-made Insecticidal Dusts: You may be surprised to learn that the least toxic insecticidal dusts are the man-made ones. CimeXa, for example, an amorphous silica gel is even allowed as a food additive.

Even so, CimeXa can irritate your eyes. And like all dusts, shouldn’t be inhaled, used around food or anything that comes into contact with food, and kept away from kids and pets.

Pet-safe sticky traps

Sticky traps don’t contain any poison and their insect attractants won’t cause your pets any harm. A dog could swallow one down however, and face the same problem a bait housing could pose. And any pet could get one stuck to its fur. That’s not going to kill them, but could be wouldn’t be too much fun.

Prevention Tips: Sanitation and Exclusion

Even with a pack or two of sticky traps lining your walls and corners, roach problems may flare up. You can certainly repeat the battle should you need to or (far better), simply prevent them from happening again.

There are two additional weapons you can use to do that: sanitation and exclusion, and both work by depriving roaches of certain things they need. Here’s how they work:

You already did some of that when you cleaned up food sources and pheromone trails. Now you’re going to do it as a way of life.


Sanitation as a pest control method is about depriving roaches of the 2 things they need most to survive: food and water. Take those away and roaches either die or leave.

You already took some sanitation steps in “How to Kill Cockroaches Step 1.” Now you’ll put some simple sanitation practices into place ongoing.

Food sources

Roach-proof your trash area by using garbage cans with tight-fitting lids, and regularly wiping them down. Keep the floor and walls around them clean, and throw bags away frequently to cut down on (to roaches) attractive smells.

Invest in a set of glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids, and keep all your dry foods and ingredients inside. Keep the outer surfaces clean and free of any smears of food that could continue to be a food source, and resist the temptation to store food in plastic bags. Roaches can chew right through them.

Crumbs and spills are a major food source for cockroaches, and while there’s no way to completely avoid them, there are some handy tricks to reduce them.

Create a new family rule: all eating is done in the kitchen and/or dining room, limiting the crumbs roaches are able to find throughout your house. If you have pets, keep their bowls in the kitchen as well—pet food is also roach food!

You’ll also want to have a rigorous vacuuming and wipe-up routine, possibly more than other people. A single crumb is a meal for a cockroach, and to this point they’ve somehow been getting them.

Water sources

Water sources attract roaches, and the variety of them you probably have in your home may surprise you. Those cockroaches in your drains? They probably didn’t paddle up through the sewers. They probably found your drains looking for water, and figured they were a moist, cozy place to stay.

So buy a cover for your drains to keep roaches out of them, fix leaky faucets, and make a habit of mopping up even the tiniest of drips and puddles. Grab your flashlight and poke around your under-sink areas looking for leaks and even condensation.

Keep a towel by the shower or tub to soak up water at the base, and when showering, turn on the bathroom fan to reduce humidity faster. Pour out the water under your dish drainer when you’re done with it, and turn it on its side to let the last of the water drip out.


Cockroaches make it inside in a number of ways.

Indoor roaches will hide in grocery bags, in thrift store finds, and hand-me-downs. They’ll also crawl in through your walls if you’re lucky enough to live in an infested apartment building.

Outdoor roaches will crawl in through cracks and gaps in your home’s exterior. They’ll sometimes be carried in with firewood.

To keep roaches out, you’ll need to think through how the last batch must have made their way in, then take action to seal their entry points. That may mean inspecting groceries or your kids’ backpacks before they come through the door. Or investing in a supply of caulk and wire mesh to seal cracks and crevices around the house.

How to Know When to Call the Pros

There might come a time when the best course of action isn’t to continue your nightly assault but to hold back and wait for reinforcements.

When the weapons just don’t seem to be working, when the traps aren’t showing signs of success, when there are just too many of them… it’s time to call in the pros.

A professional exterminator has the tools and knowledge to get rid of roaches, even when they’re a seemingly insurmountable force. That’s a valuable ally to have.


Congratulations! You’re up against a resilient enemy but, now, you know exactly how to kill cockroaches and stop them from bouncing back.

So grab your weapons of choice, start planning your attack and take down cockroaches once and for all!

Good luck!

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


  1. 2019 State of the Cockroach Control Market (2019) Zoecon/Central Life Sciences.
  2. Nagro, Anne (2019) Rethinking German Cockroach Control. PCT Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/rethinking-german-cockroach-control/
  3. Murphy, Rachel (2019) Insider. Retrieved from https://www.insider.com/how-to-kill-a-cockroach–2018–3

There are few calls more urgent in the exterminator’s world, than from people who’ve discovered a nest of German roaches. The bugs are nasty, smelly, unhealthy to have around, and ruin literally everything they touch.

Though not the easiest bug to get rid of, you don’t have to live with German roaches anymore. And you won’t need an exterminator if you learn to take care of them yourself.

Today you’ll learn how to get rid of German roaches in 3 simple proven steps, with techniques and tools that anyone can use.

Ready to take back what’s yours? Let’s go.

The German Roach Rap Sheet

Fanciful cartoon illustration of a cockroach criminal on a law enforcement rap sheet

First the bad news—

German cockroaches are notoriously difficult to control.

They breed and spread with dizzying speed, survive on very little, and don’t give up without a fight. They’ll infest your home winter or summer, destroy everything they touch, and so long as they’re fat and happy, will never… ever… leave.

Bombs won’t kill them all, sprays only scratch the surface, and as you’re trying to figure out a solution, all those tiny roaches are multiplying and getting worse.

But there is some good news, and it has to do with what’s proven to work before. The plan below isn’t the only solution, but it’s best way to get rid of German roaches that we know.

Here’s how to get rid of German cockroaches forever, step-by-step:

Step 1: Create a Battle Plan by Identifying German Cockroach “Hot Spots”

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach on a battle map overlaid over a kitchen background

Let’s talk about battle plans and how you create one for German roaches.

Professional exterminators don’t go into a home and start spraying right away. They create a strategy based on information, and predictably, because it almost always does, the solution falls into place.

The core of that plan is a piece of detective work known as an inspection, which informs everything they do next. And while that might seem an obvious first step, few non-professionals do it, usually to their loss.

The inspection accomplishes a number of things, two of which are essential if you want to get rid of German roaches yourself:

  • It provides a picture of how bad the overall problem is, and –
  • It shows you where the roaches are most active.

If you do it right, the inspection tells you not only whether you can handle the problem yourself (if you discover that your home is literally seething with roaches, you may want to pass on the DIY), but precisely where to focus your efforts.

So an inspection is the first step in this plan, and there are two ways you can choose to do it:

By going room-by-room, and recording the signs of cockroaches that you find, or by combining those same observations with the evidence gained from sticky traps, which provide more accurate information.

Here’s how to do either kind:

Option #1. Do a visual inspection

Beside being absolutely free, a visual inspection has the advantage of being something you can do right now to put a solution into action. Like certain other problems, roaches don’t wait around as we take time to make a decision. With every day that passes, the problem gets worse. So the sooner you begin, the better.

To do a proper inspection, you’ll need a strong flashlight, a hand mirror, a step stool for high-up places, and a towel or knee pad to comfortably kneel on. You’ll also want a notepad and pen to jot down your observations, along with a piece of chalk to mark areas directly.

Being German roaches, you’ll want to start in the kitchen.

Begin your inspection in the kitchen

With plenty of food, warmth, water, and dark spaces to be found, the kitchen is a German roach’s favorite spot. You’ll find them everywhere in the kitchen, where they prefer crevices and tight places they can hide. A good place to begin is the refrigerator area, which German cockroaches love.

You don’t want to be shy with the refrigerator. With a little careful tugging, they’re usually easily moved. Pull the refrigerator a short distance away from the wall and look behind and underneath it—on the floor, the wall, and every surface of the refrigerator itself. Examine the coils and the motor area, the refrigerator’s adjustable feet, and the sealing strip along the door.

Now what do you see?

Any bits of shell, cockroach droppings, tiny corpses, or living cockroaches themselves?

Jot down the location in your notebook, along with a brief description of how much cockroach activity you see. If you found significant activity, mark the nearby floor or wall with a little bit of chalk. You’ll be returning to that spot later (and the chalk will help you find it).

Move on to the stove, pulling it away from the wall if that’s safe to do. Examine the sides and back of the stove, as well as the flooring underneath it. Examine the wall and cabinet surfaces next to and behind it.

Lift the stove top and peer underneath it. Examine the burners and drip pans. Remove the clock face if possible, and examine the internal mechanics or electronics. Examine the inside of the oven, the inside of the broiler, and any voids underneath it. Look under the oven itself with your flashlight as best you can.

Jot down your description, place a little mark of chalk where you find cockroach activity, and move on to the dishwasher, examining it in the same way. Pay special attention to the gaskets which sometimes fail and let cockroaches in.

Now that you’ve got the hang of it, move on to every other area of your kitchen, including your sink and under-sink areas, your cabinets, drawers, and shelves. Look underneath dish mats and drying racks, under pet food bowls, and underneath, around, and inside trash cans.

Look behind pictures and wall calendars, behind and inside wall clocks, under bubbles and gaps in the wallpaper, inside ceiling light fixtures and, being cautious, inside electrical outlets (you’ll need a screwdriver to remove the face plates).

Jot down your descriptions in your notebook and mark what you need to with chalk. If you think you might have missed a spot, scan the room in sections—up high, eye-level, and down low.

Then move on to other rooms

You’ll inspect other rooms in exactly the same way, beginning with rooms that offer the easiest access to food, warmth, and water. German cockroaches like bathrooms for those reasons, so take your inspection there next, paying special attention to dark, moist, hidden areas, like the holes where pipes enter the wall, and under-sink cabinets.

Move on to bedrooms, closets, and other areas of your home, repeating the same process—pulling objects away from the walls when practical and safe, examining the areas behind them, jotting down observations in your notebook, and marking any problem areas that you find.

Option #2. Couple a visual inspection with sticky traps

Where a visual inspection can be a game-changer in a plan to get rid of German cockroaches, sticky traps take things to the next level. Professional exterminators don’t usually call these devices sticky traps, but insect monitors, which is a better description of how they’re used.

Here’s why you may want to use them:

First, they actually do kill roaches, typically within just hours of laying them down. They don’t wipe out cockroach populations the way the products in Step 2 below do, but help to reduce them, especially at the beginning.

Second and more importantly, sticky traps take the guesswork out of your inspection. Rather than having to rely on signs of activity that may have happened months ago, you’ll know where all the hot spots are right now, along with where the worst infestation lies.

To use sticky traps (or monitors) in this phase of the plan, you’ll do the same inspection you did above, but lay down sticky traps at the same time you jot down your observations.

You’ll mark each trap with its location, mark the area nearby with chalk, and gather up all your traps in a couple of days. Then you’ll count the cockroaches in the trap, jot down the ares with the highest activity in your notebook, and know exactly where to hit in Step 2.

—The cost for sticky traps? About a dollar each. Less in bulk and multi-packs.

Read on: Roach-Free Recipe: How to Find Cockroaches

Step 2: Eliminate German Roaches with a Multi-pronged Attack

Cartoon illustration of a dead cockroach in a graveyard of dead roaches

Okay, now that you’ve found areas of high activity, it’s time to get to work.

You’ll be targeting the high-activity areas revealed by your inspection, and hitting them with several different tools: a vacuum cleaner, cockroach baits, insecticidal dust, and for a final wallop (in an optional last step) a dose of Insect Growth Regulator (IGR).

Why not just one product? Because German cockroaches are difficult to completely eradicate and can come back if you don’t strike them hard. The best exterminators do this. You’ll be glad you did it, too.

So let’s start with a technique and tool you already know quite well: the vacuum cleaner.

1. Suction up visible German Roaches with a vacuum cleaner

How do you get rid of German roaches with a vacuum cleaner? By surprise, mostly. And by going after more than just the bugs themselves—namely, parts of their habitat. You cant get rid of German roaches entirely with a vacuum cleaner, but it’s an excellent way to start.

Using the location information in your notebook, visit the first hot spot on your list and vacuum up everything you see. You’re going to want to suction up everything that’s not clean—crumbs, debris, debris, body parts, cockroach eggs, and every panicking, scrambling roach that dashes by your feet.

Many people find this job more than a little satisfying, not just because it’s slightly murderous, but because it feels good to physically reclaim your home.

Use your vacuum cleaner’s attachments to your advantage, especially the brush and crevice tools (that you can use to scrape surfaces and poke deeply into cracks). If the mood strikes you, you can grab a bucket and do some scrubbing too, but don’t use any harsh or smelly chemicals right now. Dish soap and water would be about right.

When you’re done vacuuming and possibly cleaning, remove the bags from your vacuum cleaner, gather up any rags you used, and carefully dispose of them in a tightly sealed plastic bag. If there’s any chance a critter could discover and rip into it, pop the bag into the freezer for a few hours. The cold will kill any living cockroaches inside.

2. Poison German roaches with gel bait

Vacuuming didn’t only get rid of dead and living roaches, egg cases, and a bunch of disgusting gunk. It reduced the food supply for the colony, making products like cockroach gel bait more effective.

Gel baits—another favorite of professional exterminators—are formulations of attractant and pesticide that deliver a lethal poison when eaten. Roaches don’t die right away, but over time, typically when they return to the nest, bringing the poison with them to further spread.

The tiny amount of poison in the gel isn’t enough to harm you, your family, or your pets, but a single syringe or station of bait can often be enough to wipe out an entire German cockroach colony.

To use gel baits, you’ll return again to your home’s cockroach hot spots, then squeeze modest, pea-sized drops into any cracks and crevices that you find nearby. Within a few days you’ll notice dead or dying roaches. Within a couple of weeks, you’ll have wiped out scores or hundreds more.

It’s possible to eliminate the entire colony with gel bait, but a second product, insecticidal dust, will kill roaches that the gel bait may have missed.

—The cost for gel bait? About $30 to treat your entire house.

Read on: Choosing and Using Gel Bait for Roaches

3. Kill German roaches with insecticidal dust

Roaches depend on their hard, protective exoskeletons to shield their tissues and retain moisture. When their exoskeletons become damaged, they dehydrate and quickly die.

Insecticidal dusts take advantage of this vulnerability by causing damage to their exoskeletons, poisoning them through ingestion as they try to groom it off, or poisoning them via absorption through the exoskeleton itself. Dusts provide an excellent complement to gel bait because the products attack German roaches in different ways.

To use insecticidal dust, you’ll “puff” the product with a “hand duster” into voids you haven’t “baited”—inside cracks and crevices, gaps between moldings, long window sills, and behind electrical face plates and fixtures.

Too much dust will scare them off, but a fine layer will kill cockroaches extremely well. You’ll want to puff it deeply into cracks where it can coat multiple surfaces. Inside walls a single application of dust can work for years.

Insecticidal dusts can be purchased in “natural” products like diatomaceous earth, borax and boric acid, and in even safer, more effective man-made formulations like CimeXa.

By the end of this stage you may have killed your last German cockroach, but a last product, insect growth regulator (IGR), will keep an infestation from coming back.

—The cost of insecticidal dust? About $25 for an inexpensive hand duster and a bottle of CimeXa.

4. Stop German roaches from reproducing with insect growth regulator

German roaches’ biggest advantage is their ability to quickly reproduce. A single German cockroach female can produce over 400 nymphs in her lifetime, and your home can become infested with German roaches within just a matter of months.

Insect growth regulators (IGR) interfere with that cycle by stopping roaches from reproducing. Used alongside baits and insecticidal dusts, IGR’s offer a kind of insurance policy that attack the cockroach life cycle and keep them from springing back.

Like baits, dusts, and vacuuming, you’ll apply IGR only where it’s needed most. Unlike baits and dusts which must be eaten or touched, IGR’s (which are also eaten in certain formulations) have the ability to travel through the air as a vapor, settling on their shells where it’s absorbed.

If you decide to use one, an IGR can help to “seal the deal,” and since they also stimulate roach’s appetite, they can make gel baits more effective.

—The cost for a dose of IGR? $15- $30.

Step 3: Keep German Roaches from Coming Back

Cartoon illustration of a triumphant cockroach at a garage sale


You’ve met the enemy head-on, and with just a handful of tools, won a major battle.

In this final step, you’ll make sure you don’t have to face an infestation again. You’ll make it harder for German cockroaches to discover your home, and harder to survive should they get in.

Keeping German roaches out

Here’s an important question to ask yourself: How did German roaches manage to get inside your home in the first place? Do you know?

If you live in an apartment they might have made their way through your neighbor’s walls (see below), but there’s another way they do it, too. They hitchhike. German roaches are expert hitchhikers that climb into things you might not expect, and end up in new territory like your home.

They might have hitchhiked into your home through:

  • Second-hand bargains. Love them? German cockroaches love them too! And will happily travel back with you from thrift shops, yard sales, and in boxes of free stuff sitting by the road.
  • A visit to a roach-infested home. Unrecognized infestations are no joke. A quick visit to an ailing aunt may be all it takes to bring back a tiny stowaway inside your purse or pant cuff.
  • Groceries. It’s only a short hop from an infested grocery store to your home. Grocery bags are notoriously easy for German cockroaches to crawl into, and they’ll end up not only in your home, but your car as well.

Your first task if you want to keep German roaches from coming back is to consider how they might have gotten in originally, and to figure out a way to keep them from doing it again.

Making your home inhospitable to German roaches

The next task is to make your home a barren, awful place for German roaches. The sort of place that when they pay a visit, they’ll turn around and run. You can do that by depriving them of the two things they can’t live without—food and water.

Do a second inspection of your home if you need to—beginning with kitchens and bathrooms—to find the water sources that have been keeping the colony alive. These could be leaky pipes or faucets, drips from window sills or air conditioners, pools of water that collect around the sink or bathtub, or areas of condensation.

Fix what needs fixing, and begin mopping up moisture where it occurs.

Next, start eliminating food sources by storing pantry items and cooking ingredients in hard, airtight containers. If you have pets, don’t leave their food out overnight. Use a trash can with a lid and change the bag frequently.

Finally, focus on your cleaning habits, which make a big difference in what roaches find to eat. Wash the dishes and rinse the garbage disposal every night. Clean it with baking soda and vinegar every few weeks, too. Make it a habit to sweep and vacuum the floors at least every 2–3 days, removing every crumb that could provide a roach a meal.

Read on: How to Keep Roaches Away for Good


A serious pest deserves a serious pest control plan. Using the one here, you’ll know how to get rid of German roaches, and keep them away for good. Now all you need to do is start.

You’ve got this!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does a German cockroach look like?

German cockroaches are light tan in color, which distinguishes them from other small roaches. They’re tiny, barely the size of a penny, and winged. Look for a pair of dark stripes running down their backs.

Are German roaches hard to get rid of?

The unfortunate answer is yes… very. German roaches are the worst of all the roaches when it comes to home invasions and getting rid of them is no walk in the park. From their rapid reproduction to their ability to scavenge from almost any food source, German roaches are incredible survivalists.

Once they’re in, they’re there to stay… at least, until you start following our 3-stage system above!

Do German cockroaches live outside?

German cockroaches are an indoor roach species; they almost never live outside. While other species prefer to live among the mulch and branches around the outside of homes, German roaches thrive inside, hiding under kitchen appliances and in cardboard boxes in basements and attics.

Where do German cockroaches come from?

German cockroaches usually spread by riding along in bags, boxes, clothing and vehicles. That’s right—if you’ve found German roaches in your home, they were probably brought there accidentally.

These pests hide in furniture, yard sale items, suitcases and grocery bags. They might even hide in trouser cuffs of coat pockets. Often, though, they simply come from a neighboring house or apartment.

How to know if you have German roaches

The best way to know if you’re dealing with German roaches is to see one of these critters crawling across the floor. Then, you’ll get a good look at its light brown color and dark strips. Other signs of roaches include droppings (which look like black pepper), egg cases (tiny brown cylinders) and a musty smell.

Why do I have German roaches?

German cockroaches enter homes for 3 basic reasons: food, water and a place to live. Food is anything from a full-to-the-brim garbage bag to dirty dishes in the sink or crumbs on the floor. These scavengers drink the condensation on pipes and the water dripping from leaky faucets. As for hiding places—anywhere that’s dark, damp and warm is fair game.

How to kill German cockroaches

It’s not as easy as you might think… Even squishing them with your shoe or the end of a broomstick might not kill them. German cockroaches have hard but flexible exoskeletons that can withstand immense pressure. The surest way to kill roaches is with a good insecticide, natural or chemical.

What is the best pesticide for German roaches?

The best pesticide for German roaches generally, is gel bait and the most popular product is Advion gel bait.

It’s simple to use, highly effective, easily placed in the cracks and crevices these bugs are often found, and kills more than just the roach that ate it. That’s right—it spreads. With the combination of its powerful pesticide and its ability to kill roaches right inside their nest, it’s your best chance at eradicating a German cockroach infestation.

How to get rid of German roaches naturally

German roaches can be treated with diatomaceous earth, boric acid and borax, natural insecticidal dusts. Properly used, they kill roaches but present little danger to humans.

Do roach bombs kill German cockroaches?

No, roach bombs are rarely effective against German roaches. They might actually make the problem worse, coating your home in dangerous chemicals while forcing the roaches to spread out into more locations around the house.

Do German cockroaches fly?

Although they have wings, German cockroaches don’t fly.

How long do German cockroaches live?

After hatching, baby German cockroaches grow quickly, completing their entire life cycle in about 100 days.

Do German cockroaches bite?

You’re not in danger of being bitten by a German cockroach; they almost never bite humans. They’re much more likely to run away from any kind of danger. Only in the very largest infestations have German roaches been known to bite fingernails or hair.

How do German cockroaches reproduce?

A female German cockroach produces an egg case that she carries around until it’s time for the eggs to hatch. A typical egg case contains 30-40 eggs. A day or two before they hatch, the female attaches the egg case to a surface where it’s well-hidden and far out of reach from humans or other animals. Then, the baby cockroaches hatch and begin fending for themselves.

How to get German roaches out of a car

Yes, your car can also fall into the clutches of a hungry German roach population. How should you get rid of them?
Step 1: Don’t use roach bombs or foggers.
Step 2: Check out our Roach-Free Recipe, which will take you step-by-step through the process of getting rid of roaches in your car.

How far do German cockroaches travel?

German roaches aren’t as adventurous as their American or Smokybrown cousins. They usually stay indoors, hiding near their food source and only venturing out at night.

However, German roaches can travel long distances if they’re hitchhiking in a package, luggage or a moving van! After all, they traveled across the ocean to the U.S. aboard ships hundreds of years ago.

What eats German roaches?

They might seem indestructible but German roaches have predators, too. Frogs and some other amphibians eat these pests. Some beetles and spiders also catch cockroaches for prey. Unfortunately, once German roaches have found a home in your home, there are few predators to threaten them… other than you, that is.

How to get rid of German cockroaches forever

Getting rid of German roaches forever means killing them at the nest and eliminating food and water sources so they can’t rebound after every treatment. It’ll take a combination of insecticides (natural or otherwise), detective skills, perseverance and good cleaning habits—in other words, our 3-stage German roach control system!

Find even more tips for dealing with the fearsome German roach and other species with our comprehensive guide to getting rid of cockroaches forever.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by Rae Osborn, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

Rae Osborn, PhD.

Rae Osborn, PhD.

Science Editor

Dr. Rae Osborn holds Honors Bachelor of Science degrees in Zoology and Entomology, and a Master of Science in Entomology from the University of Natal in South Africa. She holds a PhD in Quantitative Biology from the University of Texas at Arlington, where her research was in Entomology. You can learn more about our contributors here.


  1. Ogg, Barb et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension. Retrieved from https://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/roach/cockroach%20manual.pdf
  2. How to Get Rid of German Cockroaches. Ortho. Retrieved from https://www.ortho.com/en-us/library/bugs/how-get-rid-german-cockroaches
  3. Nagro, Anne (2019) Rethinking German Cockroach Control. Pest Control Technology Magazine. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/rethinking-german-cockroach-control/

There are countless home remedies for roaches out there, but which are recipes for success and which are a waste of time?

We’ve collected some of the best home remedies for cockroaches and given them each a grade! From easy-to-make traps and natural repellents to powerful roach-killing formulas, you’ll find simple solutions to send roaches packing fast.

Ready to get cooking? Let’s go!

Raw-Knuckled Roach-Killing Recipes

We don’t blame you if you’re not too concerned at the moment about playing nice and just want to kill as many roaches as possible, as fast as possible.

These are the home remedies to start with:

  1. Baking soda and onions
  2. Duct tape
  3. Boric acid and peanut butter
  4. Cockroach cookies
  5. Diatomaceous earth
  6. Borax
  7. Cornstarch and Plaster of Paris
  8. Petroleum jelly
  9. Ammonia or Bleach (in drains)

★ Find even more home remedies to get rid of roaches in our detailed guide to killing cockroaches.

1. Kill Roaches With Baking Soda and Onions

Grade: B+

Let’s begin with one of the quickest, easiest, and most “make it right now!” home remedies for roaches – baking soda and onions, both of which you may already have in the fridge.

Dice a handful of onion, sprinkle it with deadly baking soda, and voila! A great, natural roach-killing hors d’oeuvre to serve anywhere roaches like to dine.

2. Duct Tape: The Simplest Sticky Trap

Grade: A

The duct tape trap is truly the Old Fashioned of cockroach traps, pest control reduced to its simplest ingredients: a sticky surface and something to bait the bugs onto that sticky surface.

For the trap: one upside-down strip of duct tape.
For the bait: one piece of food

Spread these strips all over the house for one of the most ruthless cockroach killer home remedies. It will kill cockroaches overnight, and show you the most infested areas to hit again.

Read on: 15 Great Roach Traps for Beating Cockroaches Every Time

3. Boric Acid and Peanut Butter

Grade: A

Boric acid tops even baking soda when it comes to killing cockroaches. With little more than a sprinkle on the floor, boric acid acts as an all-natural poison to take down dirty roaches in just days. Or, spread a dusting on a paper plate and bait it right in the middle with a piece of orange peel.

We’ve also put together a handy Roach-Free Recipe for killing cockroaches with just 2 ingredients: boric acid and a dollop of peanut butter.

4. Irresistible Roach Cookies

Grade: A

Speaking of sweets, we’ve cooked up one of the deadliest home remedies to kill roaches ever, and it’s packed in a delicious (to roaches) dessert. Our simple no-bake roach cookies recipe combines the irresistible draw of raw cookie dough with the roach-killing power of boric acid.

5. DE to Be Cockroach-Free

Grade: B

It’s a little less common than baking soda but, if you have a pool at home, you probably have a tub or two of diatomaceous earth (DE) sitting next to its filter. Great start! But EPA-registered, food-grade DE is the one you want to buy. DE is an amazing cockroach killer. All it takes is a light dusting to damage a roach’s exoskeleton and dehydrate it to death.

Mix equal parts DE and powdered sugar and spread a very light coating on all at-risk surfaces to kill any cockroaches craving sweets!

Safety tip: DE may be natural, but even the food-grade variety can hurt your lungs if you breathe it in. Wearing a protective mask when using DE is recommended.

6. Kill Roaches with Borax

Grade: B+

There’s one more super-powered powder that’s easy to find, easy to use and effective as heck: borax. Use this laundry product as one ingredient in a variety of roach-killing recipes, from sugar and borax to cocoa dusts and borax balls. Check ’em all out here!

7. Cornstarch Plus Plaster of Paris

Grade: B

Take two common household products, mix them together and create a great roach killer in no time at all. Equal parts will do for this recipe, which attracts roaches with the promise of a starchy snack and kills them quickly. Apply it in cracks, crevices and places you think roaches are hiding.

8. Petroleum Jelly to Trap Roaches

Grade: C

Have some petroleum jelly in the closet? While it’s not a repellent or toxic to roaches, it’s an essential part of an awesome roach trap.

Choose an empty glass jar, beer bottle or wine bottle. Place a little bait at the bottom. Then, rub petroleum jelly all around the upper half of the inside of the jar or bottle. Tape a bookmark or straw to the outside as a ramp. This way, roaches can easily climb in for the food but can’t climb back out!

9. Down the Drain: Bleach or Ammonia to Kill and Keep Out

Grade: C-

Sometimes, roaches like to hide in drains but you don’t have to trap them at their convenience. For a quick-and-dirty way to kill roaches right where they’re hiding, pour 1/4 cup of bleach into the drain and don’t forget to plug it! In 30 minutes, thoroughly flush it with plenty of water. Always be careful when handling bleach!

A mixture of water and ammonia dumped down the drain also warns roaches to stay away with its powerful smell. And, of course, a thorough cleaning with ammonia signals to roaches that there’s no food to be found.

Home Remedies to Prevent and Repel Roaches

Cartoon illustration of an angry cockroach facing of with a repellent magnet in a sink

Repellents are like power-ups in a cockroach control system: they won’t get rid of roaches on their own but they can help by making your home less attractive to the bugs.

Great roach repellents include:

  1. Essential oils
  2. Bay leaves
  3. Vinegar
  4. Cleaning and exclusion

★ Find even more home remedies for repelling roaches in our detailed guide.[2]

10. Repel Roaches with Essential Oils

Cartoon illustration of a frightened cockroach in front of a bottle of essential oil

Grade: A

One of the best natural remedies for roaches, essential oils are effective and smell great, too. That is, unless you’re a cockroach.

For example, they simply can’t handle the potent, refreshing scent of peppermint essential oil. Roaches avoid its aroma like it’ll kill them (which—fun fact—it can!). Cypress oil is another strong repellent; dilute it with water and spray it anywhere you’ve seen roaches to send them away.

Lemongrass oil is one of the strongest natural roach repellents available. Catnip oil works, too—just don’t let your cat near the areas you’ve treated!

Read on: Essential Oils for Roaches: Pest-Free With Just a Spray Bottle?

11. Deter Cockroaches with Bay Leaves

Grade: C

Need more natural remedies for cockroaches? Raid the spice rack!

That’s because bay leaves make another surprising home remedy for roaches.

Bay leaves’ fragrance (specifically the compound eucalyptol) has been shown to repel some roaches and keep them out of cabinets, closets and kitchen areas. Just make sure you’re pairing bay leaves with a thorough cleaning for maximum effectiveness.

Read on: Natural Cockroach Repellent: What Works and What Doesn’t

12. Using Vinegar to Prevent Cockroaches

Grade: C

Vinegar doesn’t kill cockroaches but you can create a few effective home remedies for cockroaches with vinegar in a starring role.

Mix vinegar with tea tree essential oil or cedar oil for a powerful cleaning and roach-repellent solution.

There’s one more way to use vinegar to prevent roaches and it’s more effective over time than any other repellent: cleaning.

13. Cleaning: The Best Way to Keep Roaches Out for Good

Grade: A

Nothing beats good ol’ fashioned cleaning for permanent pest control! Roaches look for easily accessed food and water sources, and when they can’t find them, they either die or leave. That makes basic, thorough cleaning an awesome cockroach remedy that can make a bigger difference than you think!

The key is thinking like a roach: where can I find a few crumbs and a sip of water each day?

These bugs can get by on water from a leaky faucet, crumbs under furniture or appliances, grease splatter on the stove, old papers boxed up in the basement, and even—disgustingly—the bodies of dead roaches.

While you’re in the six-legged mindset, think about where you’d most want to hide away during the daylight hours: dark, cluttered storage areas full of cardboard boxes and old papers for a snack. Swap the boxes for bins with lids and do some organizing to take away a cockroach’s favorite hideouts.

Find even more tips for preventing roaches with sanitation.

Home Remedies for Specific Species Control

Cartoon illustration of a large and a small cockroach looking worriedly at a time bomb

Get Rid of German Cockroaches

A notorious house pest around the world, the German cockroach has a reputation for spreading ruthlessly and causing major problems for homeowners.

In addition to reproducing rapidly, German roaches are stubborn. They tend to display bait aversion more often than other species, making it tricky to eliminate them with steady applications of one type of bait.

14. Rotate the Bait

Grade: A

Plan to rotate the baits you use in traps to prevent resistance; German roaches are particularly good at adapting to and avoiding traps if they get used to smelling one flavor or ingredient.

Stop Wood Roaches from Flying Indoors

Indoor run-ins with wood roaches are likely the result of a few wanderers that got stuck on the wrong side of an open window.

The best way to prevent wood roaches is through exclusion:

15. Screening All Visitors

Grade: A

What about home remedies to get rid of cockroaches when the little buggers fly inside?

Try any of the above! But nothing is more effective at keeping bugs outside than window screens and screen doors. If your screens are a few-too-many-seasons old and featuring a few holes, attach some coarse steel wool or, in a pinch, a piece of duct tape. You can buy a magnetic screen “door” for under $10, too.

16. Draw the Blinds on Bugs Attracted to Light

Grade: B

Wood roaches attracted to light have it too easy on spring and summer evenings; the windows are open, the patio lights are on and people are in and out of the house. These bugs can fly straight inside, guided by the light.

The solution is simple: keep the shades and blinds drawn. Hiding the lights lets the bugs stay outside where they belong.

Remedies for Roaches in the Apartment and the Car

In Your Apartment

Keeping a cockroach infestation out of your rental starts with eliminating the most common things that attract cockroaches to apartments: food, water and hiding places.

When using home remedies for roaches in an apartment, pay special attention to the bathrooms and their drains and piping: both popular entry points for bugs. (They’re also easy sources of water.) Roaches take advantage of A/C vents to spread from unit to unit, too.

In Your Car

Believe it or not, there’s plenty of space inside a car for cockroaches to thrive and multiply. To deal with a roach infestation on wheels, start by vacuuming everywhere. We’ve already covered roach motels and roach-killing dusts. Now, use these great home remedies to get rid of roaches in your car, too!

Check out our Roach-Free Recipe: Getting Rid of Roaches in Your Car.


Finding cockroaches crawling around your home is gross.

Luckily, with a few minutes and some common household ingredients, you can whip up any of these awesome home remedies for roaches and start killing the bugs today!

You’ve got this!


  1. Nagro, Anne (2019) Rethinking German Cockroach Control. Pest Control Technology. Retrieved from https://www.pctonline.com/article/rethinking-german-cockroach-control/
  2. 2017 Cockroach Management Supplement. Pest Management Professional.
  3. Myth Busting: DIY Cockroach Control (2016) Rentokil Pest Control. Retrieved from https://www.rentokil.ie/blog/myth-busting-diy-cockroach-control/

Nobody invites cockroaches into their home. But if you’re beginning to see more and more of them, isn’t it time they were properly asked to leave?

In this short guide, you’ll learn to say goodbye to cockroach guests by sending them on a deadly little trip—via a product called a roach motel.

The time has come to send roaches packing.

So let’s go.

The 2 Types of Roach Motel and What They Do

Cartoon illustration of a laughing cockroach on the stoop of a motel, bait in one hand, standing on a glob of glue.

The idea of roach motels has been around for at least a hundred years, but it took a 1970’s ad campaign from Black Flag to give these tiny death chambers a name good enough to stick.

At its simplest (and they’re all simple) a roach motel is a box that roaches either eat from or crawl into, and voila—they’re dead within a few days. Roach motels are inexpensive, don’t require much instruction, and depending on how you use them, can work really, really well.

There are a couple of different kinds, though. They kill roaches in different ways. And if you buy the wrong one or buy with unrealistic expectations, you could find yourself disappointed with the results. Let’s take a look:

1. Roach motels that capture roaches with glue

Roaches check in, but they don’t check out.

Also known as glue or sticky traps, these pesticide-free, fold-to-assemble roach motel traps use scents to attract roaches and a layer of glue to permanently stick them down. They’re not made for eradicating severe infestations, but work well for catching stragglers and heading off problems before they get too bad.

Beside their straightforward, merciless killing abilities, sticky motels have a special feature: They allow you to examine the roaches that they kill.

Disgusting as that may sound, examining and counting the roaches in your traps can reveal the true extent of a cockroach problem, help you discover unseen hiding spots, and tell you where to focus your efforts should you need to use more aggressive tactics.

Exterminators call this valuable technique insect monitoring, and if you’re going to buy a glue motel anyway, you may want to take advantage of it.


You can monitor roach populations before and after treating for pests. Not sure you have enough roaches to justify calling an exterminator to begin with? Set out some sticky traps to get a sense of the situation. Concerned that roaches will come back? Set out a sticky trap to see if they’re still around or their numbers are increasing.

Monitoring helps you keep bugs under control.

2. Bait motels that poison roaches then send them on their way

Roaches stop in for a poisoned snack, then take other roaches with them when they die.

This kind of roach motel doesn’t kill with sticky surfaces, but with a bait—a potent insecticide disguised as food. Roaches eat the bait and escape… but only temporarily.

Designed to have a delayed effect, the bait kills the roach slowly, allowing it to return to its nest before it dies.

Why is that often better than killing it instantly?

Because slowly dying roaches continue to spread the poison in their feces and the material they spit up. Other roaches eat those and die, too. This ability to kill roaches that never even came near the roach motel, transforms these little discs and boxes into serious, long-term solutions for tackling bigger infestations.

Do Roach Motels Work?

Cartoon illustration of a cockroach snacking on the roof of a roach motel office

Roach motels do work, but not always in isolation, and not for every problem. They also take more time to work than near-instant products like cockroach sprays, so patience is important.

Importantly, for serious infestations, you won’t want to rely on roach motels exclusively:

If you have roaches scurrying brazenly around your home, getting into your food, your clothes, your drains, and your bed… if you find them swarming when you open a drawer, or infiltrating your electronics—if you have that level of infestation (see “How Do You Know if You Have a Roach Infestation“), you’ll want to hit the bugs with a more comprehensive plan.

But if you have an early roach problem—the kind you catch before the roaches begin to take control, roach motels can be a highly useful tool. And if you use them for cockroach monitoring—well, at that point you’re applying pro-level skills.

How to Use Roach Motels

Roach motels are popular in part because they’re so simple to set up and use. The sticky-type traps only take a minute to put together, and bait traps only need to be unsealed.

Monitoring, if you decide to do it, takes some additional record keeping at the outset (like labeling traps with a marker and jotting down the information in a notebook). But aside from that, you can begin placing roach motels pretty much right away.

So, where to put them?

Placement is key with these devices. You may think cockroaches use your house like a giant race course, but individual roaches don’t typically wander far from a favorite place. If you miss those places, you’ll miss many roaches too, so give your placement some thought.

For most homes, that means heading into the kitchen, bathroom, and basement, where roaches like to hang out most. Then when you get there, examining surfaces for the obvious signs that cockroaches leave behind.

You’ll want to look for signs like roach droppings, smears, and stains, egg cases, or discarded bits of shell. If you’ve actually seen roaches crawling around, those are obvious areas to target, too.

Since roaches aren’t particularly fond of easily accessible spaces, a step stool and knee pads can help you do a better job reaching areas bugs live and hide.

And as you poke around, pay special attention to cramped, hidden areas, especially near food and water, like rarely-seen kitchen crevices, walls under sinks, spaces underneath appliances, in corners, and along the edges of walls (the routes roaches often take to get around). The lures in roach motels won’t attract them if they’re placed too far away.

Buy more than a few

Solving a cockroach problem is not the best time to be stingy, so buy enough motels to hit the problem hard. Most are fairly inexpensive, and most are sold in packs.

If you’re using bait-type roach motels, they’ll last until the bait runs out or the insecticide gets too old.

If you’re using sticky roach motel traps, check them every few days or so—and more frequently if the situation is really bad.

You’ll want to replace sticky motels when they fill up, leaving little sticky surface to do the job. If you’re using them for monitoring, you’ll want to gather them up at regular intervals, and examine them at the same time.

Tip: Used-up poison and sticky-type roach motels should be thrown away in sealed garbage bags. And contrary to what you may have heard, don’t leave poisoned roach bodies lying around for other roaches to consume (they could get your pets or children sick). Instead, if you’re using poison-type traps, just put out a couple more. It’s a safer way to deliver more insecticide.

Roach Motel Reviews: Main Contender Showdown

Cartoon illustration of a roach lying dead on the pavement in front of a roach motel

Sticky Glue Motels

1. Black Flag Roach Motel

The “go-to” cockroach motel for nearly 45 years, the Black Flag Roach Motel is the ideal glue trap for the squeamish, obscuring its cockroach catch unless you really want to peek inside.

The motel is compact and wood-grained to blend in with your furniture or floor. It’s not so great for monitoring, but does a fine job catching roaches.

Tip: When the bottom of the roach motel is covered with bugs, simply flip it over to catch more on the top sticky surface.

2. Exterminator’s Choice Glue Sticky Traps

For a Made in the U.S.A, environmentally conscious cockroach motel that works great for extermination and monitoring, Exterminator’s Choice Sticky Traps are the ones to get.

The bait is a natural, pheromone-free blend, the trap is designed for insect-sized creatures only, excluding larger critters like mice that you may want to tackle in other ways, and the trap’s cardboard is made from recycled material, making it a greener, more thoughtful choice.

3. Victor Roach Pheromone Trap

Though Victor Roach Pheromone Traps can be used like any other insect trap, they’re designed for monitoring. Each unit is printed with a record-keeping aid, and the traps are sold in bulk, making them especially useful for commercial and long-term applications.

In addition to a naturally-scented lure embedded in the glue, Victor’s product provides a special lure that attracts roaches with a pheromone.

4. Terro Roach Magnet

Another pheromone-based option is the Terro Roach Magnet. It’s very similar to the Victor Pheromone Trap but lacks the additional food scent.

At about $1 per trap, Terro Roach Magnets are an affordable way to monitor an infestation and start trapping the most active roaches overnight.

Poison Bait Motels

1. Combat Roach Motel (for Small Roaches)

Combat Max attracts roaches with a powerful Fipronil-laced bait. While Fipronil can kill both large and small cockroaches, only smaller roaches (like the Brown-banded and German cockroach) can squeeze into the the roach motel itself.

2. Raid Roach Motel (for Large Roaches)

Raid Double Control Roach Bait packs a double whammy against cockroaches, using two different food baits to deliver its insecticide. Like Combat, it focuses on a single size of cockroach, in this case, large species like the Oriental, Smokybrown, and American cockroach.

3. Hot Shot Liquid Roach Bait (for All Cockroaches)

Hot Shot Liquid Roach Bait contains a strong bait formula and an equally strong insecticide to bring roaches running within hours and start eliminating the infestation in the first week.

Roaches check into Hot Shot’s product for the promise of not only food, but water (even more attractive to cockroaches when resources are scarce). Both deliver the powerful pesticide that eliminates roaches after they feed and leave.

What’s the Best Roach Motel for You?

Cartoon illustration of a depressed cockroach on the roof of a roach motel

The right roach motel—glue or bait—depends on what you need it to do. Both types can be effective. Both are easy to use. And neither pose significant dangers for children or pets, though you’ll want to place them well out out of kids’ and animals’ way.

The question you will want to ask is whether, given your particular situation, cockroach motels alone will be enough. And if you try them first for monitoring or managing minor, occasional infestations, they’re the perfect tool to answer that.

If you still have a cockroach problem after using roach motels, there are more aggressive products and techniques that will do the job (see “How to Get Rid of Cockroaches Forever“).

But for now, go get ’em.

And don’t let those roaches check out!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do roach motels attract more roaches?

Cockroach baits and roach motels attract the roaches that are already there; they aren’t going to bring more roaches into your house. You might think you’re seeing more roaches after putting down bait but you’re simply noticing the ones that have been hiding all along.

Remember: the roaches you see are only a sign of many others hiding nearby.

How Long Do Roach Motels Last?

It depends on the size of the roach problem and the type of roach motel, but roach motels could last anywhere from a few days to a few months.

Sticky motels like Exterminator’s Choice or Black Flag for example, should continue to attract roaches for a few months or more, or until they fill up and there are no sticky surfaces left.

Baited roach motels are better-suited to being left out for long periods. Unless you have a truly massive infestation, it will take a while for roaches to completely gobble up the bait, and the insecticide will probably last a year.

Written by Andrew Martin. Reviewed by James Miksanek, PhD.

Disclaimer: This page is strictly for informational use. When using insecticides, keep in mind—the label is the law. Insecticides should be applied correctly and safely when needed, and according to the laws of your state or country.

Andrew Martin

Andrew Martin


Andrew writes for, and along with his daughter, publishes Cockroach Facts. You can read more about him here.

James Miksanek, PhD

James Miksanek, PhD.

Science Editor

James is an entomologist and adjunct professor of biology. His background is in biological control, and he has a passion for ecology and environmental science. His research has addressed a variety of topics including pest control and the management of invasive species. You can learn more about our contributors here.


  1. Roach Trap and Bait Placement Guide. Seabright Laboratories. Retrieved from http://www.seabrightlabs.com/place.htm

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So. You’ve got roaches. They’re sort of in control. And even when you kill them, it feels a lot like a game of whack a mole.

Before throwing up your hands or beginning to worry about the cost of a professional exterminator, let’s look at another option: cockroach traps.

In the short guide below, you’ll learn about some of the best roach traps you can buy, as well as some you can simply make for free. You’ll also learn how they work, along with some important pros and cons.

Ready? Lets go!

Three Kinds of Traps: Sticky Traps, Poisoned Bait Traps, and Mechanical Traps

4 grid fanciful illustration of 3 kinds of cockroach traps: Sticky, Poison, and Mechanical

Being wily creatures that do a lot of harm, it shouldn’t be surprising to learn that a variety of traps have been designed over the years to deal with them. All traps use some form of glue, poison, body-damaging powder, or mechanical method to do the job, and each focuses on one of three outcomes or combination of them:

  • Killing roaches one at a time.
  • Going after the colony.
  • Providing intelligence about cockroach populations that can inform a “big gun” strategy later on.

We’ll begin with the most basic cockroach trap—sticky traps.

Roach Sticky Traps

Fanciful illustration of a cockroach glue trap

Cockroach sticky traps may appear to be a little primitive, but used properly, they’re one of the smartest pest control purchases you can make.

Good for reducing low-level infestations and catching the occasional straggler or two, they won’t wipe out a colony on their own. Instead, they complement more aggressive strategies nicely. Tucked inside a kitchen cabinet or under your refrigerator, a cockroach sticky trap becomes a sort of watchful sentry—quietly, ruthlessly killing roaches one-by-one, possibly for years.

But to see where sticky cockroach traps really shine, you need to give them a whirl at monitoring.

With as few as half a dozen, they’ll show you not only how bad your cockroach problem is, but where to concentrate your efforts.

Sticky roach traps are dead-simple to use, cheap for what they do, and assuming you don’t buy something weird, pesticide-free. The only downsides are occasionally getting glue on your hands, and the likelihood of catching other creepy crawlies (like mice) you may not have intended to.

Here are some sticky traps worth pointing out:

1. Exterminator’s Choice Insect Glue Traps

With an all-natural, non-pheromone cockroach lure, Exterminator’s Choice glue traps are about as simple as glue roach traps get. They’re relatively inexpensive, long-lasting, and designed for roach-sized creatures, not for every small critter (like mice) that might happen to cross their path.

Fold them along the creases and simply leave these baited boxes wherever you’ve seen roach activity—behind appliances, along walls and under furniture.

Designed for insectsBetter for monitoring than aggressive roach control
Highly effective natural lureBait application will be confusing for some
Large. Reliable. Eco-friendly materialsLarge size makes these more costly to use in bulk

2. Victor Roach Pheromone Trap

A variation on the basic cockroach sticky trap design, the Victor Roach Pheromone Trap includes entry points on the sides and top. Like the Exterminator’s Choice trap, it’s designed for insects, not other kinds of pests. But unlike Exterminator’s Choice, it uses a roach-attracting pheromone to lure the roaches in.

Designed for insects, easy to set upSmaller size, can catch fewer roaches
Attractive bulk pricingBulk packaging may not be right for all
Effective pheromone lure

3. Black Flag Roach Motel

The Black Flag Roach Motel adds a bit of polish to the cockroach glue trap design. With this famous roach motel, the roaches are lured deep inside where, after being caught, you never have to see them again.

Super simple and cleanMore expensive than standard glue traps
Large size can trap more roachesLarger openings catch unintended creatures, too

4. A Homemade Roach Trap with Duct Tape and Bait

This easy homemade glue trap for roaches might seem way too simple to work, but don’t count it out until you see it in action.

To make a duct tape cockroach trap, you flip a piece of duct tape upside down, place a glob of peanut butter in the center. Roaches come for the bait and stay because they get stuck to the duct tape. Place your DIY roach trap tape along a wall or in a cupboard for the best results.

Dirt cheapCatches roaches, but not as effectively
Handy and you might have some on handRequires additional time and effort
Unattractive and sticks to anything that moves

Poison Cockroach Bait Traps

Fanciful illustration of a poison warning over an orange dappled background

Poison roach bait traps are tremendously effective cockroach-killing tools. Unlike roach sticky traps, which target roaches individually, roach bait traps have active ingredients that slowly poison the roaches that eat it, then spread to and poison the colony itself.

5. Advion Cockroach Gel Bait

Advion is an effective, highly regarded gel bait popular with both homeowners and professional exterminators. Formulated with its own pheromone lure, it’s easy to use and so potent that a handful of well-placed drops can often eliminate a small or self-contained infestation (see more about Advion Cockroach Gel Bait here).

Advion is usually just deposited in trouble areas, but you can also create a trap-like bait station with minimal mess. Just place a single drop inside a large matchbox and you’re good to go until it dries up after a few weeks, after which you simply re-apply.

Extremely attractive baitDifficult to measure short-term results
Powerful insecticide can spread to multiple roachesWon’t work if roaches can find other food sources
Can be used as part of your ongoing defense, tooDrops must be spread out to cover all target areas to be successful

6. Combat Roach Killing Bait Station

If you want to avoid dropping gel bait around your home (because of pets or curious kids), opt for Combat Roach Bait Stations. Like roach motels, these self-contained traps leave nothing exposed.

Roaches crawl in, eat the bait and leave… until the poison kills them later. There’s no mess and no danger of kids getting their hands on the chemicals.

Child-proof and pet-safeMore expensive than applicator gel bait
Can kill many roaches before the bait is goneRoaches might be hesitant to enter the traps

7. Natural Roach Trap: Boric Acid and Peanut Butter

You can put together an effective DIY cockroach trap without relying on dangerous pesticides. Boric acid is a natural compound that’s deadly to any cockroach that eats it.

With just a little peanut butter and a dash of boric acid powder, you’ve created a simple roach killer that’s kid-safe, pet-safe and easy to use. Drop dabs of the miracle mixture into bottle caps and place them wherever roaches like to run.

See the full Roach-Free Recipe: Boric Acid and Peanut Butter Bait for Roaches

Good for your walletHard to measure success in the first 1–2 weeks
Safe for humans and petsWon’t defeat larger cockroach infestations on its own

8. CimeXa Insecticidal Dust Trap

This one’s another simple, homemade bait trap.

Place a dollop of peanut butter, a piece of a banana peel or a similarly sweet bait in the center of a paper plate. Then, sprinkle CimeXa insecticide dust all around the bait on the plate. Gently place the plate where roaches can easily reach it.

Hungry roaches will crawl across the CimeXa to eat the bait, picking up the insecticide dust and eating it later when they groom themselves.

See the full Roach-Free Recipe: How to Kill Roaches with Insecticidal Dust

Very little CimeXa needed per applicationDelayed kill, so it’s difficult to measure early progress
Safe for people and petsWill require many applications

9. Harris Boric Acid Roach Tablets

Harris Roach Tablets put boric acid traps in easy-to-use tablet form. Place these pill-sized tablets anywhere roaches are bothering you—storage rooms, kitchen cabinets and even wall cavities.

After roaches feed on them, they’ll scurry back to their hiding place where, if you’re lucky, they’ll spread the boric acid to other roaches. These tablets are excellent complements to other sticky or mechanical traps.

Long-lasting if kept dryShouldn’t use around pets or small children
Easy to conceal but powerful against roachesNeed to be placed in areas where roaches are active

10. Roach Cookies: All-Natural DIY Roach Trap

Another boric acid recipe to kill cockroaches, this one comes in the form of “cookies”—circles of dough that attract roaches with sugar and flour and kill them with the insecticide. It only takes 20 minutes to put together these roach-killing treats and hide them wherever the bugs are active.

Get the full Roach-Free Recipe: Roach Cookies: An Easy, Natural Recipe for Killing Roaches

Inexpensive, simple, natural ingredientsLarger infestations will require additional treatments
“Cookies” can be left out for several weeksCould cause avoidance if placed too close together

11. Hot Shot Liquid Roach Bait Traps

Instead of food-scented sticky pads or powdered bait, Hot Shot Liquid Roach Baits contain—you guessed it—liquid insecticide. Cockroaches need lots of water to survive and liquid baits take advantage of that fact to make themselves even more attractive to these pests.

Rotate liquid bait stations with other baits so the roaches don’t start avoiding the traps.

Attracts roaches with bait and waterTend not to last as long as other traps
Looks better than other trapsWear eye protection: users report some liquid spraying out when opened

Mechanical Roach Traps

Fanciful illustration of a bear trap over a mottled yellow background

Mechanical traps involve a bit more ingenuity, either from the manufacturer who makes them or from you if you’re going to make one yourself. These devices can pay off by catching roaches without chemicals or potentially messy glues—and in the case of homemade cockroach traps, with just a few inexpensive household ingredients.

12. Jar and Petroleum Jelly DIY Cockroach Trap

Jar traps rely on potent bait and slippery sides to lure roaches into the jar and prevent them from climbing out. With a smelly bait at the bottom and sides smeared with petroleum jelly, this homemade cockroach trap can catch dozens of roaches—and it’s reusable!

Tip: Use a jar with a narrow neck for a trap that’s safe for pets, who can’t squeeze their curious snouts through the opening!

Cheap and simpleRequires daily emptying and resetting
Can catch multiple roachesCould be difficult to entice roaches into the jar

13. A Homemade Cockroach Trap With a Beer Bottle and Oil

Save your last sip of beer (or wine) and use it to trap roaches! Research has shown that the smells of beer and wine attract these bugs just as well as leftover food. Once cockroaches venture in, the tall bottle, coated inside with slippery oil, traps roaches for good.

Preparation involves enjoying your favorite beer or wineResults vary when using tall bottles; roaches might be hesitant
Can trap multiple bugsYou probably can’t empty it to catch more roaches

14. 2-Liter Soda Bottle Trap

Maybe you prefer soda to beer—that’s perfect because a 2-liter soda bottle can transform into a great homemade roach trap!

Cut the top off the bottle, right where it rounds out to its full width. Rub petroleum jelly inside the top half of the bottle (and the bottleneck). Then, place some bait at the bottom of the bottle, slide the top section upside-down into the bottom section and wait for roaches to climb in after the bait.

Room for plenty of roaches to climb inSome assembly required
Inexpensive (and potentially fun) project for kids to help out withRoaches might be hesitant to climb large bottles

15. Electric Cockroach Trap

Electric roach traps, like this one from ZoarC, are relatively new and “high-tech” entries in the pest control market. They work like glue traps, attracting roaches with bait and trapping them inside. However, electric traps zap the bugs with electricity to kill them.

This is mostly unnecessary (they’re trapped anyway) but welcome if the sight of squirming roaches gives you nightmares!

Able to trap and kill many roachesYou still have to empty the trap to reuse it
Uses little electricityElectric devices might break at any time

Choosing the Best Roach Traps for your Needs and Putting Them to Work

Cockroach traps do a few tasks really well and one task better than any other tool.

The Best Cockroach Traps for Monitoring and Controlling Low-Level Infestations: Exterminator’s Choice Sticky Traps

Exterminator’s Choice traps are attractive to roaches, plenty sticky, and big enough to monitor even larger infestations. Like other roach glue traps, you don’t want to depend on these to wipe out a significant cockroach problem, but to keep cockroach populations down and supplement other, more aggressive methods (see below).

The Best Roach Traps for Wiping Out a Colony: Advion Cockroach Gel

While better advertised consumer products like roach motels are often good enough to do the job, the best roach bait traps come from the world of professional pest control. With Advion Cockroach Gel, you’ll get a professional-level bait that you can use to make a trap or use outside of one. Either way, it’s highly effective, hitting your roach problem directly at its source.


Cockroach traps are often the simplest ways to start eliminating roaches. They’re great for identifying and monitoring an infestation and kill plenty of cockroaches, too.

The examples on this list will help you start trapping quickly so you can begin eliminating cockroaches for good.

You can do it!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do roach traps work as well as other methods?

Roach traps work exceedingly well at certain things. They’re great for keeping small numbers of roaches at bay, especially when combined with other tactics. And nothing works better than cockroach traps for assessing and monitoring a potential or full-on infestation.

Are roach traps poisonous to cats and dogs?

Cockroach traps—the ones you buy from the store, anyway—are unlikely to poison your cat or dog. Sticky traps don’t use any poison, and bait traps contain them in such small amounts that at worst, your pet could experience GI upset. That being said, any DIY roach trap could cause great harm if you put poison in it and let your pet get into it.

What are the best dog or cat safe roach traps?

Even if cockroach traps can be considered pet-friendly roach killers, an animal could get a sticky trap stuck to their fur, or your dog could gobble a whole trap down.

Your best bet is to assume there are no perfectly pet-safe roach traps, and keep the ones you use well out of your pet’s range.

Do ant traps work for roaches?

They do, but not quite as well. Most ant traps use the same pesticides that kill roaches— imidacloprid, fipronil and hydramethylnon, but ant traps wont use the same roach-attracting scents and pheromones that help to make roach traps so effective.


  1. Cockroach Control Toolbox Options (2019) Pest Management Professional. Retrieved from https://www.mypmp.net/2019/02/06/cockroach-control-toolbox-options/
  2. How to Make a Very Effective, Pesticide-Free Cockroach Trap. Delaware Health and Social Services. Retrieved from https://dhss.delaware.gov/dhss/dph/files/cockroachcontrolpi.pdf
  3. Omg, Barb, et al. (2006) Cockroach Control Manual. University of Nebraska Extension.

In this 5-step Roach-Free Recipe, you’ll follow a simple plan to eliminate most cockroach problems in your home. You’ll use insecticides alongside basic, inexpensive tools, then put a plan in place to make your efforts stick.

Step 1. Find Cockroach Hiding Spots in your Home

Using a notebook and insect sticky traps, you’ll find where roaches are currently hiding in your home, then target those areas for treatment.

Step 2. Kill Roaches as They Crawl With Insecticidal Dust

Next, you’ll apply a crack and crevice treatment that kills crawling roaches, but is safe for pets and humans.

Step 3. Kill Roaches as They Feed With Edible Gel Bait

You’ll return to cockroach hot spots and apply tiny drops of gel bait. The bait will first kill roaches that eat it, then others across the colony.

Step 4. Prevent Future Roaches Through Sanitation

After you’ve eliminated most or all of the infestation, you’ll take steps to eliminate cockroach food and water sources, as well as pheromone trails cockroaches have left behind.

Step 5. Prevent Future Roaches Through Exclusion

Finally, after you’re done cleaning up, you’ll protect your home from future invaders, sealing up cracks and holes that roaches use to get in.

Extra #1: Reducing Cockroaches Outside

If you have an outdoor cockroach problem, you’ll take steps to reduce their number.

Extra #2: What to Do If You Still Have Roaches

Took all the steps and still have roaches? We’ll walk you through two more “Big Gun” methods to get rid of roaches for good.

Extra #3: How to Hire a Roach Exterminator

Sometimes, you need to bring in a professional. If you need tips for hiring a reputable exterminator, you’ll find a set of helpful steps to do that here.

Further Reading

Why Roach Bombs Don’t Work

More About Roach Bait Gel