How to get rid of roaches quickly and safely

A cockroach sitting on a sponge in the kitchen sink
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you’re looking up how to get rid of roaches, odds are you’ve spotted an unwelcome guest in your home. Cockroaches are a common pest, drawn to warm and humid environments. You should deal with these insects as soon as possible — they’re unhygienic to have in your home as they carry and spread disease, and they can quickly multiply into an infestation. The thing is, cockroaches are difficult to get rid of — they’re even renowned for their ability to survive.

That’s where we can help. We’ve pulled together a comprehensive guide on how to get rid of roaches, covering both homemade remedies as well as chemical-based solutions. Either way, your home will be roach-free in no time. We will also look into ways you can prevent cockroaches from coming back in the future. Follow this, and hopefully you won’t have to deal with these pests again. Here’s how to get rid of roaches.  

Want to know why roaches keep coming back? Here are 7 things that attract roaches to your home — and how to fix it. Plus, here's 7 telltale signs of roaches in your home.

How to get rid of roaches with home remedies 

Before you attempt to get rid of cockroaches using any of the following remedies, it’s imperative that you first clean your home and remove anything which may be attracting the insects. That includes food left on the countertop, dirty dishes and overflowing garbage cans. 

Get rid of any clutter which may be sheltering the roaches as well, particularly cardboard boxes, which these insects love.  

1. Baking soda — While it’s well-relied on for everyday cleaning, baking soda is very effective at killing cockroaches too. All you need to do is mix it with something the roaches will likely consume — diced onions work well, as does sugar and cheese. 

Divide the solution between a couple of plates and place them in high traffic roach areas, such as on the kitchen and bathroom floors. Once the roaches eat the baking soda, they will die quickly. The only drawback with this method is you will need to find and get rid of the dead roaches. May sure any curious pets don’t come across this home remedy either. 

A cockroach which has died on a slice of bread after ingesting baking soda

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Boric acid — Boric acid is deadly to cockroaches as well. Simply combine equal amounts of it with flour and sugar to create a dough and then break it up into small balls (about the size of a marble). Dot these around your home in areas where roaches frequent. 

As the roaches eat the dough, they will ingest the boric acid, which will kill them. Once again, you will need to find and dispose of them after. It’s worth flagging that boric acid is poisonous to pets though, so this method should not be attempted if you have any furry family members. Don’t let any young children find and eat the dough balls either. 

3. Borax — Borax is made from the same chemical compound as boric acid, and while it’s more often used for cleaning, it’s just as effective at getting rid of roaches. Simply combine the powder with something sweet that will attract roaches, much like the above method with baking soda. 

Just make sure your pets stay clear of the mixture once again. It can cause stomach upset and irritation if ingested. It can also be potentially dangerous in large doses. Once the roaches ingest the Borax it will kill them, and you will need to find and clear what remains. 

Squeezing a lemon into bowl

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

4. Citrus — Citrus won’t kill the roaches, but it will certainly put them off your home. The smell of lemon in particular repels cockroaches and can be used as a great deterrent. To take advantage, incorporate the smell of lemons into your cleaning routine. 

You can use lemon-scented cleaning products, or combine lemon oil with water as you clean your floors. If you want to go even further, you can leave citrus peels around your home, although you will need to remember to replace these every few days. 

5. Diatomaceous Earth — Also known as DE, Diatomaceous Earth is a natural insecticide that will dehydrate the cockroaches on contact. It sticks to them as they walk through it and will kill them later on by dissolving the exoskeleton.  

You simply need to sprinkle it in areas of high traffic for best effect. You will need to dispose of the bodies after they’ve died though, which may be back at the nest. This method is safe for pets and humans, but you need to make sure you use food-grade DE.

A cockroach which has died from insecticide

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

6. Essential oils — Much like the scent of lemons, certain oils can act as a natural repellent to roaches as well. Lemongrass and peppermint oils are known to be effective alternatives. Simply mix the oil with water and apply around your home.   

How to get rid of roaches the traditional way 

1. Glue strips and traps — Glue strips and traps can be purchased at local hardware stores and they’re widely available online as well. We recommend Harris Roach Glue Traps ($5.98, Amazon). These can be used to determine high traffic areas. 

They essentially attract the cockroaches with a sweet scent and then the glue traps them in place. You will need to monitor the strips though and replace them as and when necessary.

A cockroach which has been caught in a glue trap

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

2. Bait — You can also use chemical baits, a more powerful option, which can be purchased at most stores; we recommend Combat Max 12 Month Roach Killing Bait ($11.98, Amazon). These contain insecticides disguised as food, which will attract passing roaches. Once they eat the bait, they carry it back to the nest, die and then spread the poison to the rest of the population as they eat that roach.  

These traps are often placed under sinks, large appliances and next to garbage cans, but they should be kept out of reach of pets and children. You will also need to reapply the bait as often as necessary and be prepared to find and clear the dead roaches yourself. 

3. Liquid concentrates — Liquid concentrates are a well-known roach deterrent and are widely available. You essentially dilute the solution with water and spray it in any areas which roaches frequent, such as cracks and crevices. You can apply the solution to surfaces around your home as well. 

If all else fails, it’s time to call in a professional. Sometimes an infestation can be so extreme that this is the best method. 

Why are roaches attracted to your home? 

Cockroaches are attracted to any source of food and water. That means if you’re guilty of leaving dirty dishes in the sink, or you don’t keep on top of crumbs in the kitchen, roaches are likely to be the result. Any standing water will invite cockroaches in as well, which includes leaky pipes or pet water bowls. That’s why it’s imperative that you keep a clean home to limit its interest to roaches. 

A cockroach feeding off of a plate of food in the kitchen

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Your home can also act as a shelter for cockroaches when it’s cold outside, so while you might do your best to keep things clean, they unfortunately might still find their way in, being drawn to warm, humid environments.

These pests will often enter your home through any cracks or crevices they can find. So if your front door doesn’t shut and seal completely, there’s a potential entryway for roaches. They often find their way in via windows as well.  

Once in, cockroaches will typically live in hidden spaces such as under appliances, or behind the toilet. They can be quite difficult to spot until they’ve grown in numbers. Being nocturnal, they’re easiest to find at night when you enter a dark room and flick a light on. You might also notice a sweet, unpleasant smell when there’s a heavy infestation.

How to prevent roaches  

First, it’s always best to keep a clean home, getting rid of any clutter and cardboard boxes — roaches thrive in these. While this won’t guarantee a cockroach-free future, it certainly helps your chances. You should also seal off any obvious crevices where the roaches may have previously entered from. So take a look around your doors and windows and caulk any gaps. 

You should also check your faucets and pipes regularly for leaks as these too can attract roaches. If you spot one, here’s how to fix a leaky bathtub faucet for guidance. 

You might also want to check out how to get rid of ladybugs, how to get rid of fruit flies  and how to get rid of fleas quickly if you find any at home. Knowing how to get rid of maggots is useful as well if you spot them in your garbage.  

Katie Mortram
Homes Editor

Katie looks after everything homes-related, from kitchen appliances to gardening tools. She also covers smart home products too, so is the best point of contact for any household advice! She has tested and reviewed appliances for over 6 years, so she knows what to look for when finding the best. Her favorite thing to test has to be air purifiers, as the information provided and the difference between performances is extensive. 

  • ShellAtTheBeach
    No, no, no, don't ever use glue traps. They are cruel and indiscriminate. Glue traps can snare gentle field mice, butterflies, bees, birds, kittens, small children...anyone. They rip off wings, feathers, fur, skin, and even limbs as terrified animals struggle to escape. Often animals suffocate to death or are thrown away with the trap, only to suffer and die slowly. They are one of the cruelest devices imaginable.