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How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Learn effective roach removal hacks with this expert-backed guide.

Cockroaches are probably the most hated bugs in the world, and for good reason. These shelled insects steal your snacks, make embarrassing appearances in front of company, and can even trigger health issues like asthma and skin rashes. Unfortunately, if you see one, it's safe to say it brought along a couple hundred of its friends.

A cockroach infestation can disrupt the peace and comfort of your home, but thankfully, you can eliminate these creepy critters with the right tools and guidance.We've done the research for you and spoken with several pest professionals about expert tips for keeping a space roach-free. Read on for their best roach removal tips.

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs the Easiest Way Possible.

What are cockroaches?

how to get rid of cockroaches - cockroach on piece of wood outdoors

At this point in our lives, we've all seen at least one cockroach—and more likely several hundred. But what do we really know about these persistent pests? Here are several points you should note.

The cockroach species can be dated to the Carboniferous era, 280 million years ago. They are usually identified by their flat, oval bodies, which have a greasy feel. Cockroaches have six legs, two antennae, and wings (although thankfully they don't all fly). They can also range in size from half an inch to 3.5 inches long. Fun fact: One of the world's biggest roach species and insects is the giant burrowing cockroach, which is about the size of an avocado.

There are more than 4,000 different kinds of cockroaches, and about 70 of them live in the United States. These bugs enjoy hanging out in warm spaces near food or water. However, cockroaches are more than pests; they can also pose serious health risks.

"Cockroaches aren't just gross; they're also dangerous to our health," says Ian Williams, a tech services manager and board-certified entomologist with Orkin. "They can spread E. coli and Salmonella in homes. Exposure to cockroach feces and discarded skins are known to trigger allergies and asthma."

Roaches also secrete pheromones and substances that not only smell bad, but can mark certain surfaces, including fabric.

RELATED: 7 Sneaky Signs Roaches Are Hiding in Your Home.

What are common types of cockroaches?

One of the best ways to fight back against these cockroaches is by learning how to identify them.

"It's important to figure out which type of cockroach you are dealing with," Williams says. "The places you might look and ways you might treat the issue can depend on the species."

If you're worried roaches have invaded your home, here are four common species to look out for.

1. American Cockroach

how to get rid of cockroaches - american cockroach
Guillermo Guerao Serra / Shutterstock

First things first: American cockroaches can fly. Once they reach maturity, these roaches get wings that cover their abdomen. American cockroaches are usually 1 to 2 inches long, and have reddish-brown oval bodies.

Like most roaches, American cockroaches are not picky and eat various things, including other bugs and plants. The female roach can lay up to 10 eggs per case, which they usually hide within the home's cracks. After about 45 days, these eggs hatch, and 14 new roaches are born. It takes about 200 to 400 days for these nymphs (baby roaches) to mature.

Erika Milenkovic, CEO of Pest Czar, suggests that the best way to get rid of American cockroaches is through perimeter treatment and baiting around the home's outside area. This is when roach/insect-killing chemicals are sprayed outside the structure to prevent critters from coming in.

2. Brown-Banded Cockroach

how to get rid of cockroaches - brown-banded cockroach
Freedom my wing / Shutterstock

Brown-banded cockroaches are usually about half an inch long and enjoy very warm, dry, and high areas. This species has a lifespan of five to six months and is often found near refrigerators, televisions, or other stationary devices that tend to heat up.

The male brown-banded cockroach has a thin golden brown body, while the female has a tear-drop-shaped build that's dark brown. They usually hide their eggs in furniture, and enjoy snacking on starchy foods like book bindings, wallpaper paste, and sometimes even nylon stockings.

RELATED: How to Get Rid of Ants in the Kitchen.

3. German Cockroach

how to get rid of cockroaches - german cockroach
Erik Karits / Shutterstock

German cockroaches are the most common roaches in the United States, but can be found worldwide. These bugs have a lifespan of about 100 to 200 days, and like most roaches, they love humid weather. German cockroaches are usually found in groupings inside kitchens, bathrooms, or anywhere near plumbing.

These bugs are about half an inch long and have narrow tan bodies with two dark bands behind their heads. Female roaches can lay 30 to 50 eggs at one time, and produce up to eight egg cases throughout their life. These pests love sweets and baked goods especially, but may also snag a few bites of non-food items like books.

Milenkovic tells Best Life that German cockroaches are "best combated with gel baits and insect growth regulators," which don't necessarily kill them, but do impact their growth. This affects their ability to mature to adulthood and reproduce.

4. Oriental Cockroach

how to get rid of cockroaches - oriental cockroach
Liz Weber / Shutterstock

Despite what their namesake suggests, Oriental cockroaches are actually from Africa. They usually find their way into your home using sewer pipes and drains, and prefer much cooler temperatures compared to other roach species. Oriental cockroaches tend to sneak into a home when it gets too cold outside, or after heavy rain showers.

You can usually find their dark and narrow bodies in piles of leaves or on the bottom floor of a building, and their favorite meal is garbage. Oriental cockroaches are about 1 to 1 1/4 inches long, and are also known to release pungent odors, so you'll likely smell them before you see them.

Milenkovic suggests using gel baits to combat them because its "delayed effect works well since [Oriental cockroaches] like to share the gel with each other." That helps speed up the elimination process.

RELATED: 7 Mistakes You're Making That Attract Roaches to Your Home.

What attracts cockroaches to your home?

how to get rid of cockroaches - A cockroach sitting near a sink drain in a bathroom

Unfortunately, many homes have all the perks that pull roaches in. Any location with heat and moisture, like kitchens and bathrooms, is a cockroach's happy place, according to Scott Svenheim, a certified entomologist with Truly Nolen Pest Control.

Williams warns homeowners to take care of leaky pipes and explains, "Most roaches need and seek out areas of high moisture and humidity."

Dark and cluttered places with minimal foot traffic are also perfect settlements for roaches to hide and multiply.

And, of course, food is a big attraction for these tiny critters, especially if items aren't sealed and crumbs are left out. It's important to throw out trash often and eliminate standing food sources, like your pet's food and water bowl.

"A pet's diet and how its food is stored can inadvertently attract pests into the home," says Kathryn Dench, MA VetMB, chief veterinary advisor at Paw Origins. "Proper storage of pet food in sealed containers and maintaining a clean feeding area are simple yet effective strategies to reduce the likelihood of attracting cockroaches."

Cockroaches also love easy access into your home, so look for tiny cracks and holes they can tunnel through.

How to prevent roaches from infesting your home

how to get rid of cockroaches - Cockroach on Bottom of SInk
Poravute Siriphiroon / Shutterstock

Learning about cockroach prevention methods before a problem arises is a great first step to keeping your home roach-free. Here are a few hacks to help you stay prepared.

1. Look out for warning signs.

Be vigilant so you can catch your roach problem early. Although small, roaches leave behind a trail you can follow if you're paying attention:

  • Roaches leave behind feces that look a lot like ground coffee bits.
  • Egg casings or roach exoskeletons are often left in corners and crevices around the home.
  • Cockroaches emit pheromones, which can cause an odor in the spaces they inhabit.
  • Roaches chew tiny holes in food packages, wallpaper, paint, and sometimes even clothes.

2. Move with caution.

When moving into a new space, pay close attention to the packing materials you use.

"Be careful to monitor what is brought into the home and from where," says Svenheim. "Infestations are most commonly introduced from other locations."

Sometimes, cockroach egg capsules can hitch a ride in furniture or boxes. So, keep your materials in dry, high, and roach-free spaces before using them to pack.

RELATED: 7 Places Black Widows Spiders Are Hiding in Your Home.

3. Seal off points of entry.

Williams suggests that you "[seal] up cracks and crevices with caulking or sealant. By removing areas where cockroaches might hide or access your living areas, they are less likely to become established. Common areas include escutcheon plates under sinks around piping and countertops-to-backsplash gaps. Make sure windows and doors have properly fitting screening and weather seals."

4. Don't leave food out.

One of the best ways to get ahead of a roach infestation is to maintain a clean home and store food properly.

"Sanitation is important in any cockroach infestation," says Svenheim. "The more food sources can be kept away from the roaches, and the more debris [that] can be cleaned up thoroughly, the more they will have to try harder to find a food source."

Metal or plastic containers are strong storage options for keeping these bugs out.

Wash and put away your dishes after each meal and rinse out your recyclables. Williams warns that even the "gunk that builds up next to your oven or behind the coffee maker" can attract roaches. Sweeping and mopping your floors often are also great ways to eliminate lingering crumbs.

"A vacuum can also remove roaches," says Williams. "Just make sure to empty the vacuum in case there are any survivors and place them in bagged garbage outside of your home. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, if possible, to avoid aerosolizing any cockroach skin or feces."

RELATED: Top 10 Things Attracting Spiders to Your House.

How to get rid of roaches

how to get rid of cockroaches - dead roach on concrete floor
Shutterstock/Take Photo

Discovering you have cockroaches is always deeply unpleasant, but there are several ways you can rid your home of this infestation. However, Williams cautions people using any form of roach-eliminating chemicals—especially over-the-counter treatments—to be careful.

"Depending on the roach species, different types of treatments can potentially make the problem worse or harder to solve," he says. "Not every product labeled 'for roaches' is the best product for them. And always follow all of the label's safety instructions. Lastly, more product is not better."

1. Traps

Put out sticky traps by the wall or where the roaches frequent the most. These traps also work best in hard-to-reach crevices, like under the stove or behind the refrigerator.

2. Liquid Detergent

This common household item can be diluted with water and used to wipe down counters and mop floors to deter roaches from coming around. The soapy solution disrupts their breathing and suffocates them.

3. Perimeter Insecticides

Although perimeter insecticides are effective, they are also toxic to humans, so be sure to use them with caution. This treatment can be used inside cracks or areas where roaches frequent the most. It can also be placed outdoors as a barrier to keep bugs from entering the home.

4. Chemical Baits

Chemical baits can help you get a quick handle on your roach problem. They come in the form of gel, paste, or foam, and are easy to spread whenever needed. Although they are very effective, they are also toxic to humans and pets. When putting out bait, avoid putting it near insecticides, because this can deter the roaches from eating the bait.

RELATED: 6 Places Mosquitoes Are Thriving in Your House.

What gets rid of roaches fast?

how to get rid of cockroaches - dead cockroach on the floor
Anan Kaewkhammul / Shutterstock

If you want to deal with your roach problem as soon as possible, the options below can provide effective, head-on treatments.

1. Boric Acid

Boric acid, which comes in powder or gel form, is considered one of the most effective ways to eliminate roaches. It sticks to the insect's body, and when ingested, the boric acid causes severe damage to its nervous system.

2. Borax

This product works well to attract roaches, especially when mixed with sugar. Borax dehydrates roaches and destroys their gut lining, which leads to starvation.

How to get rid of roaches naturally

how to get rid of cockroaches - lemon oil next to lemons
AmyLv / Shutterstock

Getting rid of roaches doesn't mean you have to douse your home with chemicals. Although that route might be more effective, these natural solutions can also deter roaches and minimize your infestation.

1. Citrus

Roaches may not be picky, but they do not like citrus. Dropping lemon oil into your cleaning solutions or using it to wipe down your counters is a great way to keep roaches at bay. It won't eliminate them like boric acid, but it is an excellent deterrent.

2. Essential Oils

If you're looking for a similar effect as citrus, add lime, rosemary, or oregano essential oils to your arsenal. A drop of these oils mixed with water in roach-populated places will also keep them away.

3. Baking Soda

Mix baking soda and sugar and sprinkle it in places you've seen roaches. When eaten, baking soda creates gases within the cockroach, eventually killing it. You can create the same treatment with onions by covering them with baking soda as well.

RELATED: The Best Natural Insecticides to Help Save Your Garden.

What do professional pest control services offer?

pest control worker lying on floor and spraying pesticides under cabinet in kitchen

If you're not a do-it-yourself kind of person, no worries. There are always professionals willing to take care of your pest problem for you. Depending on the size of your roach issue, this might be an option worth pursuing. Every pest control service has a different approach, but each can offer you quality advice and tackle your issues with their expertise.

For example, "Orkin can create a tailored approach by inspecting your home, treating the perimeter with preventative materials, and fortifying the structure by sealing any gaps and holes," Williams says. "Other recommendations often include keeping gutters cleaned, maintaining proper landscaping, and keeping pet food properly stored."

Professional pest control services are more adept at finding the root of the issue, which can lead to better results. In addition to having a trained eye, they offer quality treatments, like insecticidal dusts or gels they can safely plant in and around your home. Keep in mind that hiring a professional service could cost you about $100 to $500, per HomeAdvisor.

How to get rid of cockroaches permanently

person wearing gloves cleaning kitchen counter
Shutterstock / ESB Professional

Whether you can permanently and definitively eliminate cockroaches from your home is debatable. However, you can significantly reduce your pest problem, and with the right help and treatments, you may never see one again.

"Getting rid of cockroaches and keeping them out of your home is an ongoing process that won't be solved with a one-time treatment," says Williams. "It's best to call your local pest control company whose precision treatments are effective while also being a safe method available for your family."

RELATED: If You Smell This in Your Home, You Might Have Roaches.

Wrapping Up

Whether you have cockroaches in your home or not, it always helps to be prepared and armed with pest-eliminating tips. Keep circling back with us for more advice on keeping your spaces insect- and rodent-free.

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