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How to Get Rid of Roaches

By following a few simple steps, you can get rid of roaches—and prevent them.

Roaches in House iStock

Roaches are experts at sneaking into your home and then hiding, contaminating your food, spreading bacteria and surviving attempts to eliminate them. The good news is that even if these pests seem like they could survive even the apocalypse, you can get rid of them and prevent them in a few simple steps. The key is patience and vigilance.

Overall, This Old House recommends hiring a professional pest control company to eradicate the roaches in your house. The companies have commercial grade products and equipment, as well as expertise, enabling them to get the job done faster. The This Old House Reviews Team’s top recommendations for pest control are Terminix, Orkin, and Aptive.

Common Cockroaches

Cockroaches are nocturnal pests that seek out food, water, and shelter, especially in warm, humid climates. The two most common species of roaches in the U.S. are the German cockroach and the American cockroach. American cockroaches are darker brown and tend to be larger. Both are active year-round.

Why and How Cockroaches Enter Your Home

Cockroaches are attracted to food and water sources. Dirty dishes, crumbs, food spills, leftovers, garbage, and pet food will all draw cockroaches in. Cockroaches are excellent at scuttling into and over tiny spaces, especially holes in pipes, cracks and crevices in your home, and tears in screens.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

There are a variety of measures you can take, from cleaning up to setting out bait. These will both help get rid of existing roaches and keep other roaches from coming in the future.

Clean up and cut off food supply

Cockroaches are attracted to the food and shelter that comes with filth. Cleaning your home is the easiest way to keep roaches at bay. You need to be incredibly thorough in this effort—unfortunately, roaches can survive for two weeks without water and three months without food. Be as stringent as you can.

  • Wipe up spills and clean up crumbs immediately.
  • Wash dishes immediately after use and put them away.
  • Empty and clean cabinets.
  • Clean underneath the sink.
  • Clean under all appliances, including the refrigerator, a favorite hiding spot.
  • Clean the interior and exterior of garbage cans. Throw trash away as soon as it’s time, and always use liners and tight-fitting lids.
  • Sweep, vacuum, and mop periodically.
  • Empty out or cover pet food dishes.

Keeping food in sealed containers is the next logical step. Roaches can easily wriggle into gaps in cardboard boxes. Consider storing your cereal, sugar, flour, and other dry woods in airtight containers.

Set out glue strips

You can monitor the situation by setting out glue strips in areas you suspect have high cockroach activity, like the space between your refrigerator and floor, and behind toilets. The more roaches on one glue strip, the more activity there is there.

Eliminate hiding spaces and entry points

Roaches can’t survive in your home without shelter. Throw away all clutter, including cardboard boxes and unnecessary papers. Seal up all possible entry points using caulk—in cracks, crevices, gaps between tiles, and other openings. Ensure door frames and window frames have no gaps to the outside. If you say daylight underneath your door, you need to close the gap.

Get rid of standing water

Start by making sure you have no leaky pipes or plumbing. Empty the dish tray from beneath your refrigerator, and dry your sink.

Set traps and baits

Baits attract cockroaches and trap them to the sticky surface. You can purchase these traps from home improvement stores. Chemical baits are a more powerful option. They are made up of insecticides that emulate food. Cockroaches will take the bait, eat it, and go back to their nests. They’ll die from the poison, and create a domino effect, as other roaches eat the dead one and spread the poison throughout the nest.

The best place for traps and baits are beneath sinks, stoves, and refrigerators, by garbage cans, in kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and under baseboards. You should reapply bait roughly every 2-3 weeks

Apply boric acid

Boric acid is a popular home remedy. This DIY strategy involves mixing equal proportions of boric acid, confectioners sugar, and flour together into a dough—the baking ingredients will attract the roaches, and the boric acid will kill them. Break up this dough into marble-sized balls and set them strategically around your home like beneath the refrigerator and sink.

Use liquid concentrates

Liquid concentrates are specially formulated roach deterrents. Mix them with water to dilute them, then spray them into likely hiding spots, including cracks and crevices.

Top Recommended Providers for Roach Control

The This Old House Reviews Team recommends top pest control companies Orkin, Terminix, and Aptive for roach control. Pest control specialists can do a thorough inspection, create an effective plan, and provide ongoing solutions.

We always recommend getting multiple quotes before making your final decision. To get a free quote from Terminix, call 866-569-4035 or fill out this form. If you'd like a free quote from Orkin, call 8778681416 or fill out a simple form. If you're interested in Aptive, call 855-697-0130 or fill out this form.

FAQs

How can I get rid of roaches fast?

The best way to get rid of roaches fast is to sanitize your home, eliminate hiding spots and stagnant water, store food in airtight containers, and use glue strips, bait, boric acid, or liquid concentrates.

Do roaches cause sweet smells in basements?

Roaches cause sweet, musty, unpleasant odors. A full infestation in an area like a basement will produce a pungent sweet smell, but even a single German cockroach can cause this unpleasant smell. Roaches use chemicals, found on their legs and bodies, to communicate with other roaches about shelter, food, and mates. These chemicals release a musty scent which can linger in shed skins and feces. Dead roaches contribute to this odor as well—the oleic acid released during decomposition makes the sweet scent even stronger.

What is the best home remedy to get rid of roaches?

The best DIY method for getting rid of roaches is making a dough out of equal parts boric acid, flour, and confectioners sugar and placing balls of it strategically around your home.

Why do I have roaches in my clean house?

Roaches are attracted to moisture. Even if you have a clean home, if you have excess moisture from leaky faucets or pipes, you may attract roaches.

What attracts roaches to your house?

Roaches are attracted to moisture and food. Water from leaky pipes or dishes left in the sink will draw them in, along with opened or unsealed food, crumbs, and spills.

To share feedback or ask a question about this article, send a note to our Reviews Team at reviews@thisoldhousereviews.com.