How to Get Rid of Roaches – The Complete Guide To Killing Cockroaches

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The Oriental cockroach is found in damp areas, woodpiles and in basements that remain moist or have been flooded.

Finding roaches in your home can be distressing. That’s because these bugs are not only seen as “dirty”; they also bite and spread nasty diseases like typhoid fever and salmonella. So when you see one scurrying across your floor, it’s best to take action immediately and learn how to get rid of roaches.

Below, you’ll find out everything you need to know on exterminating these pesky bugs. We’ll also talk about dealing with recurrences and preventing an infestation from happening again.

Roaches are one of the world’s most common pests. CC Image courtesy of jo.sau on Flickr

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Types of Roaches

It would be so much simpler if there was only one type of roach. But actually, there are 4,600 species of this insect, and only 30 of them live where we live. Add a factor of other bugs having the same appearances as them, and you’ll have a tricky time identifying these pests in your home.

Be that as it may, your approach on how to get rid of these bugs will depend on the type of roach infestation you have. The first step in this process is identifying whether or not the roaches are of the indoor or outdoor variety. Once that’s established, you’ll be able to figure out what you are dealing with.

Here’s a look on the most common roaches out of the 30 species mentioned earlier.

Indoor Roaches

Probably the most annoying roaches live inside our house. They eat our food, drink our water and bring dangerous diseases with them. There are two common indoor roaches, the German cockroach and the Brownbanded cockroach.

German cockroach

German cockroach

The German cockroach has a lighter hue compared to other roach species. CC Image courtesy of Lmbuga on Wikipedia

German cockroaches or Blattella germanica are less than an inch long. They come in light shades of brown with two vertical and parallel dark bands on the top parts of their bodies. But sometimes, German roaches, like all their kind, can turn white because they molt as they mature.

These roaches can live both inside and outside houses, but they’re more common as indoor pests. They love warmer and humid places. That’s why you can find them in your bathroom or kitchen. Also, these roaches have developed a weird diet of eating things other than actual food like toothpaste and soap.

For signs of infestation, you can recognize German cockroaches through their small pepper looking droppings. They also leave egg cases in places where they always return to. You can detect places like these if they have an unpleasant odor.

Brownbanded cockroach

Brownbanded cockroach

The Brownbanded cockroach almost looks transparent if it hasn’t matured yet. CC Image courtesy of Wikipedia

The Brownbanded cockroach (Supella longipalpa) is one of the smaller types of cockroaches as it can only grow to about 1/2 of an inch. It got its name from the light brown bands it sports. These bands appear on its body when it’s young, and they move to its wings when the roach matures.

Unlike the German cockroach, the Brownbanded prefers areas with less moisture. So you can spot these roaches behind photos hung on walls, among clutter, and in furniture that has been hollowed out.

You can also look for these insects in places where you hide food with high starch content. And since glue and book bindings have some starch in them, they can ease their way into your craft supply and eat them too.

Outdoor Roaches

Now that you know what you’re dealing with inside the house, check out these 6 roaches that stay outside of it.

Oriental cockroach

Oriental cockroach up close

Oriental cockroaches look darker and more rounded. CC Image courtesy of Alvesgaspar on Wikipedia

The first outdoor roach is the Blatta orientalis, better known as the Oriental cockroach. This pest has a very dark reddish brown color that it almost looks pitch black. It can’t fly, and it has a slight hunch in its back that makes it look a little more rounded than other roaches.

Smokybrown cockroach

Smokybrown cockroach up close

Like any other cockroach, the Smokybrown cockroach can give birth to multiple roaches in a single egg casing. CC Image courtesy of Toby Hudson on Wikipedia

The Periplaneta fuliginosa or Smokybrown cockroach is common in the US. You can spot it through its overall extremely dark brown color and its 1.5-inch size. The Smokybrown doesn’t appear to have stripes, and its wings are as dark as its body.

These little bugs live in planter boxes, trees, holes, shrubbery and underneath mulch beds and ground covers. It gets dehydrated easily, so it tends to hover around areas with ample moisture. It can also get inside the house if it gets what it needs there.

American cockroach

American cockroach up close

American cockroaches have a distinct eyes-like mark at the back of their thorax. CC Image courtesy of Gary Alpert on Wikipedia

If there are German cockroaches, there definitely have to be Americans.

Periplaneta americana or the American cockroach, the name speaks volumes about this insect and where it’s typically found. It’s mahogany or reddish brown in color and can reach almost two inches long. You can easily recognize it through its signature eye-like marks at the back of its thorax.

These roaches are found in sewers and storm drains mostly, but they’ve have been known to be in barns and other facilities where animals live in. They can also eat leaves, wood, small insects and fungi, so they’ll survive in woodland areas as well.

Turkestan cockroach

Turkestan cockroach up close

Through its cream colored lines on its sides, the Turkestan cockroach is easy to spot. CC Image courtesy of Happy1892 on Wikipedia

The Turkestan cockroach (Blatta lateralis) can grow about 1 inch long with the females are much bigger than their male counterparts. This roach is brown with distinct peach or cream lines the creep along the edges of its body.

Turkestan roaches often live near compost piles and leaf fragments. They can also be seen inside concrete cracks, potted plants and meter boxes. They generally live outside but can inhabit homes when they grow out their population.

Field cockroach

The Field cockroach looks very similar to the German cockroach. Image courtesy of Iustin Cret on Bug Guide

The Field cockroach is one of the tinniest roaches in this list. Blattella vaga can grow up to only about 1/2 of an inch. In looks, it has some similarities to the German cockroach with its light greyish brown color and two dark brown stripes at the back of its head and thorax. The only difference between the two is that it the Field cockroach has brown vertical stripes between its eyes.

These gray roaches are hard to spot. Sometimes you can find a Field roach that’s more of an olive color, but that is quite unlikely. If plant debris or leaf piles are nearby, you’ll find more of these roaches around.

How do we get roaches?

Now that you know the common types of roaches, let’s look at how we get them in the first place. Learning where these insects come from can help you be mindful of your surroundings to ultimately avoid an infestation.

Here’s a list of possible reasons on how roaches can enter your home. You can also read a more detailed explanation on this if you like to know more on how these bugs are spread.

  • ​Hitchhiking. First off, roaches are like bed bugs, they can get into a house through hitchhiking. You can get them if you don’t check your luggage and your clothes after coming home from a trip; you might have unknowingly picked up and transferred small roaches to your house. Furniture and potted plants from outside can also serve as hosts for these insects.
  • Poor hygiene. Roaches are attracted to food debris on the floor, other exposed food in corners of the house, easy water sources like leaky old pipes and a lot of hiding places in clutter and disorganization.
  • Drain pipes. Roaches love water. For them, pipes are like highways that give them access to homes. They have virtually unlimited moisture there, so they use them to travel to different houses.
  • Yard debris. Wood or straw piles, leaves, clippings and other hiding places positioned near the house can invite them in, especially when the weather turns cold.

Where to Look for Roaches

Start exterminating roaches by determining where they dwell. Generally, daylight keeps them hiding. And it’s only at night that you can see more of them scurrying about. So here’s a list of their favorite hiding spots to help you get started on your quest.

  • Basement and Attic. This is where all infestations culminate. Your basement and your attic are like a haven for cockroaches. They’re dark and often humid with piles and piles of hiding places.
  • Furniture. Check for egg casings in inconspicuous places in your cabinets, drawers, cupboards and tables. A cockroach has a flat body like a water bug’s, so it can squeeze through nooks and crannies. It’s not as small as a bed bug, but it can still hide and deposit eggs in your furniture.
  • Ceiling. You may even be able to hear these little pests scurrying around at night. If you have drop ceilings, this is a place you absolutely must check.
  • Kitchen and Kitchen Appliances. As gross as this sounds, it’s true. Your stove is likely a good place to check, especially because of the food availability and the warmth. And sadly, you may also have to check your refrigerator. It may be infested as well.
  • Pipes. Check under your kitchen sink, around your washer and dryer.
  • Bathroom. Wet and damp conditions are ideal for roaches, so this is likely where many will be found.

Get more detailed information on these cockroach hiding places here.

How to Get Rid of Roaches

Once you discover that your home is infested, learning how to get rid of roaches is going to be a bit of a challenge. These insects are generally difficult to kill. They multiply fast and can get into all kinds of places in your house. So it’ll take a lot of time to take care of the infestation.

With this, we see so many methods in exterminating roaches posted online. But only some of them actually work. Here’s a list of those effective methods and the not-so-great ones that only look good in writing.

Methods that Won’t Get Rid Of Roaches

What Doesn't Get Rid of Roaches - How to Get Rid of Roaches – The Complete Guide

Cucumber peels and coffee may drive away some insects, but they won’t work against roaches.

Soap and Water

This is just a myth. Roaches love water, so while it may slow them down enough to squish them, it does little else. You can make your own soapy water traps where the roaches may die. But again, it does virtually nothing to stop the ever-growing population in the nest.

Coffee

We’ve tried this one personally. Coffee does not work on roaches. In fact, they have no problem eating it. We even found a bunch of roaches living inside a coffee maker! Nothing inside coffee beans can make roaches tremble in fear, much less kill them.

So instead of sprinkling ground coffee somewhere in the house, what some homeowners do is lure roaches in a coffee and water trap. However effective this may be to one roach, it only kills a minimal number of these bugs. It won’t keep up with them multiplying fast.

Cucumber Peels and Herbs

Again, another myth. The herbal leaves may make your house smell magnificent, but it won’t do anything to deter the roaches. These insects love to eat virtually anything, so save the edible items for cooking, not for getting rid of them.

Ways that DO Get Rid Of Roaches

Commercial Roach Baits

Store-bought roach baits are easy-to-use infestation solutions. They work by targeting the entire nest, not just individual roaches. Image courtesy of Scot Bauer on Free Stock Photos

The first sure-fire way to get rid of a roach infestation is using store-bought roach baits. We recommend this first because a lot of the products out there today are actually really effective.

Products like the Advion Syngenta Cockroach Gel and the Bayer Maxforce FC Magnum Roach Killer Bait Gel have been designed and tested to do what they do.

The idea behind these baits are simple. They lure roaches to eat the bait, and its active ingredients poison the bugs slowly, buying enough time for those ingredients to be passed from one roach to another. This can effectively kill off the entire nest.

Buying certified roach killers is a practical way to handle an infestation. You don’t have to spend a fortune to buy these products, and you don’t have to exert maximum effort in putting them together. That said, here’s a short list of the best baits in the market, so you won’t have to feel confused in choosing what works best for you.

Adhesive Traps

Another method you can use are adhesive traps. What’s great about this treatment is that it’s often praised as one of the least toxic solutions to roach infestations.

All you have to do is lay these flat sticky traps somewhere in the roaches’ favorite hiding spots and wait. The traps kill the pests by immobilizing them with the adhesive. They then die of hunger or dehydration.

The traps are great as a temporary solution in getting rid of scurrying roaches, but it can only get rid of them a few at a time. This leaves your success rate highly dependent on where and when you put the traps. So it’s better for light or minor infestations.

Here’s a video from Cockroach Killer that shows just how effective these traps are.

Boric Acid Cockroach Bait

One popular way to get rid of roaches is using Boric acid. And even though the acid is popular for cleaning up metal, there are pest control boric acid products sold in a lot of stores today.

According to Mother Nature Network, to make this method work, all you have to do is mix one part powdered sugar and three parts boric acid. The sugar will lure the roaches in and the boric acid will kill them. Put the mixture in places where roaches frequent, but make sure that they’re not accessible by your kids and your pets.

The method works well with a lot of cockroaches, but keep in mind that the acid doesn’t work like commercial baits. You do get a real bargain with your money though, since a bag of boric acid can make a lot of traps that can last for weeks.

Here are more effective recipes, details and precautions on this method.

Diatomaceous Earth Powder

A natural method you can use to destroy roaches is Diatomaceous Earth. It’s effective against insects like ants, so it should work against cockroaches too.

Diatomaceous earth powder is made up of sediments that are fossilized ancient Diatoms or algae. They kill bugs by dehydrating them. That’s because the powder’s sharp particles can cut through an insect’s exoskeleton. And once inside, they absorb all the moisture leaving the insect dead.

Just regularly spread a thin layer of the powder on roach-infested places to kill them off. Keep in mind that you should only use food-grade diatomaceous earth. Other kinds don’t give the same results.

A Thorough House Cleaning

If you’re tight on your budget or if you’re still undecided about the treatment you want to use, begin your roach purge with a simple spring cleaning.

That’s right. One of the best ways to start getting rid of roaches is to eliminate their hiding places and kill their eggs. Clean the entire house thoroughly but focus on your basement, attic, bathroom and your kitchen.

You may not be able to get them all, but you can certainly limit their hiding places and lessen their food sources. Just make sure to immediately employ a roach treatment after all that cleaning.

Exterminators

Lastly, if you’re looking for a definite end to your roach issue, using an exterminator is a great route. It will be costly. But if you have some money to spare, this is your best option.

Generally, companies offer some back up for little or no charge if the problem comes back. The costs can also vary based on the company you’ve contacted. So we recommend calling around for the best rate before deciding.

How to Stop Roaches from Re-infesting your Home

So you’ve learned how to get rid of roaches. Keeping them at bay should be easy. Your home will need to be completely free of roach bodies and droppings before you can start preventative measures. Here are some methods to “roach proof” your home.

  • Seal cracks. This should be the first thing you do, especially if you live in a mobile home community or an apartment. If your seals are broken on windows, sidings or on anything else, your home becomes a magnet to roach re-infestations.​
  • Always declutter. Again, we really can’t stress this enough. Regular cleaning is a real game changer in knowing how to get rid of roaches. Dispose of anything that you don’t need. Donate your old stuff to shelters and other institutions. Give away old plastic to recycling stations. And throw away stuff that won’t be of any use to anybody. A clean house is always a great remedy in getting rid of pests.
  • Fix leaky pipes and loose drains. One of the best ways to stop your house from experiencing an invasion again is to keep them disinterested in it. We mentioned that roaches love easy water sources. Water attracts them. Fix leaky pipes, dripping faucets and shower heads. Install drains with really small holes and refasten the loose ones to keep your house in the clear.
  • Try an ammonia solution. For toilet bowls and other water sources that don’t need sealing, Home Remedies Care suggests that you can keep them roach-free with ammonia. Just combine 1 cup of ammonia and a bucket of water. Then flush the mixture down the toilet and the drain.
  • Always take the trash out. Cockroaches love to dine on leftovers and garbage, so use lids to cover your trash bins. You also need to keep a tight schedule in throwing them out.
  • Keep food covered and cleaned up. We’ve also mentioned that roaches love crumbs on the floor. So after every meal, make sure you sweep and remove any traces of food. Keep them in air-tight containers, not bags. Roaches can rip through bags.
  • Use moth balls. Lastly, place moth balls on previous roach nests, so they won’t get back to them. You can also place these little white things inside dark corners in the house. Keep in mind though that they have to be kept away from your kids and pets.

Wrap Up

Only knowing how to get rid of roaches is the easy part. Once you identify which method you are going to use, executing it could be the biggest issue you can run into. Remember that roaches are a huge pest and reproduce quickly. Having more than one infestation back to back is common, especially in areas like mobile home parks and apartment buildings. The minute you find yourself having to squish even just one roach, the removal process should start immediately. Roaches aren’t always as easy to kill as you would like and if you miss the nest, your problem will definitely keep coming back.

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