How to Get Rid of Roaches

Here's what to do if your home has cockroaches, plus learn how to prevent these bugs from ever coming back.

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June 30, 2021

Yuck. Yuck. Yuck. Ants are annoying, but cockroaches are gross — literally. According to the National Pest Management Association, roaches harbor bacteria such as E. coli and salmonella. Gross! Plus, roach droppings and even roach saliva impact the quality and cleanliness of your home's indoor air. And that can bring major complications for folks with allergies and asthma. But it gets worse: If you've seen one roach in your home that means it probably has friends (ie. a nest) in your home. But don't panic. We have all the info and solutions you need to get these creepy crawlies out of your house and prevent them from coming back. Read on to see which roach killer is best for your home and pets.

Roaches 101

Here's a horrifying fact: There are more than 4,500 roach species on this planet and more than 50 of those reside in the United States. But the good news is that most of these roaches (especially the ones that fly terrifyingly well) prefer the great outdoors. However, there are some common culprits that love to squat in homes and residential buildings. The American Cockroach (AKA the palmetto bug) is likely what you imagine when you picture a roach. It's big and reddish-brown in color. These hang out in sewer systems and you'll find them in the kitchen, under the sink or behind the fridge. Oriental Cockroaches (AKA water bugs) like cool environments so you'll find these smaller roaches in basements. But the most common roach that lives in homes is the German Cockroach. It's not as scary looking as other species but it is scary because these roaches have become resistant to most insecticides. If you find yourself with a German Cockroach infestation, it's best to skip straight to heavy-duty kill bait or call a professional exterminator.

As cringe-worthy as all of this sounds, the easiest way to prevent roaches is to keep your kitchen clean. Roaches are attracted to food scraps and dirty nooks and crannies. Healthy habits like keeping the kitchen sink clean (read: no piles of dirty dishes) and regularly vacuuming, especially around the cabinet corners, will keep your kitchen uninviting to roaches as well as other pests. Roaches also love clutter, so, make sure you don't keep Amazon boxes piled up in the garage or haphazardly throw cereal or chips in the pantry without completely sealing the package.

Non-Toxic + Low-Toxic Solutions

In addition to keeping a clean, tidy home, there are several natural options for roach repellant. Roaches don't like the smell of Maclura Pomifera, aka osage orange. You can try soaking cotton balls in osage orange essential oil and leaving them in cabinet corners or baseboard corners. However, if you have pets or little ones, you wouldn't want to leave these out. You could also try non-toxic glue traps. These are great for basements and garages. And for something with a bit more punch, boric acid and Diatomaceous earth (DE) are great at repelling and killing both ants and roaches. However, while these chemical compounds can kill roaches, they only kill roaches that come into contact with the chemical. So, these solutions don't have a larger impact on a nest.

Heavy-Duty Solutions

If you're past the point of prevention and you've seen a roach in your home, it's time to bring out the more serious stuff such as bait. Unlike repellant sprays, bait sprays or bait gels are designed to wipe out the colony. It's a poison that is administered via spray, gel or pellet. The advantage of a bait roach killer is that most are designed to bring the poison back to the nest, which kills other roaches in your home. But poisonous floor baits are not an option if you have curious pets or toddlers. If you are able to apply bait gel, homeowners swear by this Bayer Maxforce FC Magnum gel. And for perimeter protection, this Ortho Home Defense spray is designed for both indoor and outdoor use. It should be noted, however, that while all of these options have been co-signed by hundreds of reviews online, they won't do much if you have a full-on infestation. If you suspect you have a larger roach problem, it's time to call a professional pest control company.

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