Cockroaches are one of the most common household pests in the world. They are attracted to your home in search of food and water mostly. The three most common types are the German, Oriental and American roaches.
These tiny creatures are not only ugly to look at, but also harmful to your health. They act as carriers of different germs and bacteria that cause diseases.
They contaminate the space and items around them with waste products, which can cause allergic reactions in people and pets.
They can also damage household items like books, clothes, electronics, wires and more. Plus, when present in large numbers, they produce a mild musty smell.
As cockroaches reproduce quickly, you need to take measures to get rid of them as quickly as possible. When they are present in small numbers, you can easily control their growth with little effort and time.
There are plenty of commercial products in the market that can help reduce a roach infestation, but such products pose health risks for you and your family.
There are certain natural methods that, while they may require repeated use, can surely help in getting rid of them.
Here are the top 10 ways to get rid of cockroaches.
1. Borax and Sugar
Borax is a good option to try at home to control the growth of roaches and prevent the insects from entering your premises.
Borax dehydrates the pests’ exoskeleton and damages their digestive system, which ultimately leads to their death.
To increase the effectiveness of borax, it should be used along with sugar. Sugar helps attract the roaches to the trap.
- Mix three parts of borax and one part of sugar.
- Put this mixture along places where you usually see the roaches at night. (Wash your hands thoroughly after distributing this mixture. It is recommended to wear gloves.)
- The next morning, you will see many dead roaches, which you need to discard.
- Repeat for a few days.
In place of borax, you can also use boric acid or simple baking soda.
Note: This remedy is not recommended if you have kids or pets at home.
Neem oil or powder is a good alternative to the synthetic and biological methods of insect control. It contains highly volatile components that act as insect deterrents.
Plus, it is less toxic to non-target organisms and economically cheaper than chemical repellents.
A 2014 study published in the International Journal of Pure and Applied Bioscience reports that neem is one of the plants reported to have the ability to kill or keep away the pests.
Other effective plants include turmeric, clove, sage, Chinese chaste tree and Malabar nut.
- Put 1 tablespoon of neem oil in a regular-sized spray bottle and fill it with water. Spray the solution in the affected areas at night. Repeat as needed.
- Another option is to sprinkle neem powder around the affected areas before going to bed. Repeat as needed.
3. Kaffir Lime Essential Oil
The oil derived through steam distillation of kaffir lime (makrut lime) leaves also works as an effective natural repellent for roaches.
In a 2007 study published in the Southeast Asian Journal of Tropical Medicine and Public Health, researchers analyzed the repellent activity of seven essential oils and found that kaffir lime leaf essential oil showed the best repellency against three types of cockroaches under laboratory conditions.
In fact, it showed 100 percent repellency against the American and German roach species.
- Add 8 to 10 drops of kaffir essential oil to 2 cups of water.
- Pour the solution in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution in areas where you notice roaches at night.
- Pour the remaining solution around drains and sinks.
- Repeat as needed for several days.
Other essential oils that have insect repellent properties are peppermint and tea tree oil.
The herb catnip also works as a natural repellent to cockroaches. The active ingredient nepetalactone offers the repellency property. Plus, it is nontoxic to humans and pets (except cats).
A 2006 report by American Chemical Society found that catnip essential oil can act as an effective insect repellent for common household pests.
- Put a small amount of fresh catnip leaves in small porous bags or sachets. Leave them in areas where you see cockroach activity. Change the leaves after a few days, and repeat as needed.
- You can also simmer 1 tablespoon of catnip leaves in 2 cups of water for 5 minutes. Strain and allow it to cool. Spray the solution on kitchen cabinets, behind counters and anywhere you suspect the presence of roaches at night.
5. Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is another nontoxic alternative to get rid of roaches. It works as a gentle abrasive and is highly effective in hidden areas, such as cabinet tops and behind appliances, where roaches congregate.
When the insects come in contact with the sharp tiny particles of diatomaceous earth, they die due to the damage caused to their waxy exoskeletons. Diatomaceous earth is also considered good for repelling bed bugs.
- Lightly dust food grade diatomaceous earth on suspected areas.
- Repeat once daily until all the roaches are gone.
Note: Always wear a mask and rubber gloves when handling diatomaceous earth. Avoid using it in wet and damp areas as it will not work.
6. Coffee Grounds
The aroma of coffee grounds lures cockroaches out the dark, quiet corners of your house. It’s one of the most effective natural options to get rid of roaches. However, it is still not known whether the caffeine in coffee kills the roaches.
- Fill a few glass jars with water.
- Put wet coffee grounds in small paper cups and place them inside the jars.
- Put the jars against walls or baseboards or any other place where you see roaches at night. The roaches are attracted to the aroma of the coffee grounds and enter the jar, from which they can’t escape.
- The next morning, dump the contents of the jars.
- Repeat the process for a few days.
7. Pandan Leaves
If you notice cockroaches in your vehicle, one of the best ways to get rid of them is using pandan leaves. It is common to see taxi drivers in Singapore and Malaysia using pandan leaves to repel roaches in their vehicles.
The volatile essential oils in the leaves contain mainly terpenes and sesquiterpene hydrocarbons, as well as a major aroma component that accounts for the insect-repellent and attractant properties of these aromatic leaves.
A 2003 study by the School of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore, reports that pandan leaves work as a natural cockroach repellent, though not the most efficient one.
However, it is a better option than synthetic repellents, such as DEET, that have undesirable effects on people and the environment.
Just keep some pandan leaves in areas where you see the small critters and soon they will vanish away.
8. Fabric Softener
Fabric softener works as an effective roach killer. These critters breathe through their skin, and when exposed to a soapy solution, they become suffocated and ultimately die.
- Mix equal amounts of fabric softener and water.
- Put the solution in a spray bottle.
- Spray the solution directly on the insects whenever you can. Also, spray it in places where you suspect hidden roaches.
- Repeat as needed.
9. Cut Off Their Food Supply
A key to getting rid of these tiny insects is to cut off their food supply. They cannot live without food and water for more than a week.
It is hard to completely deprive them of food, but limiting the supply will make it easier for other methods to work effectively.
- Store food items in airtight containers.
- Raw fruits and vegetables should be stored in your refrigerator.
- Keep tables, counters and stovetops clean and free of food particles at all times.
- Always wash your dishes after meals and put away leftover food immediately. Make sure that no dirty dishes or leftover food sit out overnight.
- No open food should be left out overnight, including pet food.
- Store your cooking dishes and pots upside down.
- Keep cabinet shelves and drawers closed when not in use. Also, keep them dry and clean.
- Keep garbage cans covered and avoid moist garbage, even in your garden.
10. Keep Your House Clean
Make necessary efforts to keep your house, including kitchen and bathroom, clean to prevent the intruders from taking up residence.
- Keep your kitchen and bathroom as dry as you can.
- Fix all the leaks in your bathroom and kitchen.
- Remove all wood piles and trash cans from your yard.
- Use a dehumidifier in your house, as humid environments attract the pests more.
- Use screens on your windows and avoid keeping the door open for a long time.
- Use a vacuum cleaner once a week to clean behind and beside furniture and cabinets.
- Remove clutter from your store room, cabinets and other possible breeding places.
- Do not keep stacks of paper bags, sacks, cardboard boxes or rags in open areas.
- Check insulation around motors and clean them regularly.
- Always keep a trash can with a lid in the bathroom as well as garden area, and empty them daily.