Of all the pests people hate to see in their homes, cockroaches are right at the very top—and for good reason. While they don’t regularly bite or sting like other household pests—such as bed bugs, ants or fleas—roaches can be extremely bad for your health. In addition to worsening symptoms in asthma sufferers, roaches are known to carry over 50 different pathogens, including pneumonia, meningitis, salmonella, staphylococcus (staph infection) and streptococcus (strep throat). In other words, if you have roaches, you need to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Roaches, however, can be very difficult to eliminate. It’s no accident they’ve existed for over 300 million years, predating even dinosaurs. Their unique ability to hide and to live off nearly any food source—from feces to glue to other dead roaches—has made roaches one of our planet’s most durable organisms. If you have a roach infestation, don’t worry, there’s no reason to panic. With patience, consistent effort and a little know-how, you can send these disgusting insects packing. Here are 10 ways to get rid of roaches naturally
The smallest crumbs and spills can feed a roach for weeks, even months. Cleanliness needs to be a top priority. Floors, counter tops, flooring, appliances, cabinetry, sinks, dishes, back splashes—your entire house needs to be clean and free of food debris at all times (don’t forget to clean behind appliances!). We find natural disinfecting wipes help speed up the cleaning process.
Roaches use clutter—especially stacks of paper—to both hide and breed. Every instance of clutter is a roach nest just waiting to happen. If you’re experiencing a roach infestation, you need to keep your home as clean and free of clutter as possible. As far as outside, wood piles, brush, yard clippings, moist mulch, lawn equipment and furniture are all possible roach homes, and should also be removed.
Leaving unsealed food out in the open is an easy way to invite roaches over for a meal. From leftovers to dry items like cereal, all the food in your home needs to be sealed. If you have an active roach infestation, this includes unexpected things like pet food and fruit bowls, too. Ziplock bags work, but hard plastic Tupperware-like containers are even better. Make sure the outside of your sealed containers are free of sticky residues and food debris, too. And always thoroughly wash and rinse bottles and cans before recycling them—roaches are attracted to any residual sugar, no matter how small the amount.
While roaches can sometimes go weeks to months without food, they can only go a few days without water. A single drop of water can sustain a roach for several days. So, successfully ridding your home of excess moisture is essential to eliminating a roach infestation. Never let water sit for prolonged periods of time, such as in sinks, potted plants, and pet dishes.
It’s also important to address the following areas of concern: leaking plumbing, sinks, bathtubs, basements, crawl spaces, A/C units, appliance drip trays, and attics. In the case of severe infestations, you might need to wipe down your shower and sinks regularly to avoid even the smallest sources of moisture (damp rags, towels and sponges should not be left out, either).
Trash cans are a buffet for roaches. To prevent and repel these pests, you’ll need to take out the trash daily. Trashcans should also remain firmly sealed at all times, and be cleaned regularly to limit food debris and other residues.
While necessary, weatherstripping windows and doors only goes so far. When it comes to roaches, you have to be diligent, and go even further—no crack, crevice or hole can go unsealed. In this regard, caulk is your best friend.
Indoors: fill any cracks/holes in cabinets, pantries, counter tops, piping, walls, ceilings, attics, crawl spaces, basements, under sinks, floorboards, and anywhere else roaches could enter your home. Outside: fill any cracks in foundations, roofing, and the exterior walls of your home. It’s advisable to use plugs or stoppers to seal drains, sinks and bathtubs when not in use, too.
A mixture of 30% peppermint oil to 70% water makes for a natural, non-toxic indoor roach repellent. Spray floors, counter tops, cabinets, window sills, doorways, and other problem areas to deter roaches. Cedar oil works, too.
Have catnip lying around? If so, you’re in luck: catnip is another natural roach repellent. In 1999, Researchers at Iowa State University discovered that catnip—specifically a chemical in catnip called nepetalactone—successfully repels roaches.
There are several easy but highly effective roach traps you can make at home. They all work on the same basic premise: (1) bait the bottom of a container (like a bottle) with something that will attract roaches (like sugar, fruit or bread), and (2) make sure to build the trap in such a way that roaches can easily enter the container, but not escape. This last feature can be done by lining the walls of the container with something slippery like petroleum jelly, or by creating a funnel at the top of the container. Place these traps in high traffic roach areas and leave them overnight. Continue this approach until you no longer capture additional roaches.
Many experts advocate using a boric acid mixture to bait and kill roaches. While this approach is effective, it also poses health risks to pets and children. To avoid these risks, we advise using a 50/50 natural mixture of baking soda and sugar. Thoroughly mix the two ingredients and sprinkle the bait around roach problem areas and suspected entrance points—like windowsills, baseboards and doorways. Continue using this method until your roach infestation disappears.