Introduction to Cockroach Control
Admitting that you have a cockroach infestation is embarrassing. People assume unkind things. They will imagine that you live in a dirty home with trash all over the place. However, cockroaches do not discriminate! They can thrive in clean home with spotless floors, counters and bathrooms. If you are looking for information on how to get rid of roaches, you have come to the right place. It is time to serve up an eviction notice and get these pests out of your home fast!
The first thing you need to know is that this is an extensive process and there is no magical spray that will get rid of cockroaches. Most experts agree that these are one of the most difficult insects to control. Don’t worry; you are fully capable of getting rid of roaches without an exterminator. You will need to follow the advice in this guide and use an integrated pest control plan to kill the entire infestation.
Disclaimer: Please exercise caution when treating your home with chemicals. If you decide to use the insecticides listed in this guide, it is important that you follow the instructions on the label carefully. Natural solutions are always safer but in many cases, you will need the aid of insecticides to get the job done.
STEP 1: Preparing your home for cockroach treatments
- Remove everything from the primary treatment areas. This usually includes the kitchen and bathrooms. Don’t forget to empty drawers, cabinets and any other storage areas.
- Place all food items in the refrigerator or plastic bins. It would be best to remove everything from the treatment areas all together. This will prevent any contamination.
- Get rid of any trash, clutter and debris. Discard all excess paper products. These are potential nesting areas for roaches and other pests.
- Remove appliances and other items from counter tops.
- Move large appliances away from the wall, and clean behind and beneath them. Some stoves will have a removable bottom drawer that opens to the floor. If this is the case, you do not need to move the entire stove. *Be gentile with your gas line if you are moving a gas stove.
- Repair any water leaks
- Do NOT start cleaning and scrubbing down your kitchen and bathroom with chemicals yet. We don’t want to flush the roaches into other parts of the house before we take precautions.
Step 2: Finding the cockroach hot spots
Roaches tend to nest in areas that provide the 3 items that all living things desire: food, water and shelter. You track an infestation by using a flashlight to inspect cracks, underneath counters, and other dark places. A small mirror on a long is great for inspecting hard to reach areas. Keep an eye out for live cockroaches, cast skins, egg capsules, and feces. You may already have a good idea about which areas they prefer in your own home but here is a full list of cockroach hotspots:
- cabinets, cabinet latches, drawers, closets, furniture and storage areas
- refridgerator, dishwasher, stove, microwave, coffee maker, knife blocks, other appliances & electronics
- under sinks, plumbing, pipes, plumbing voids, basement and crawlspace
- cardboard and paper, baseboards and trim, décor (picture frames, light switch plates, etc)
*Tip: you may want to have a vacuum hose ready in case you stumble upon any insects. Vacuuming will not eliminate an entire infestation, but it will help to reduce their numbers. It will also aid in the sanitation process by removing dead bodies and excrement. Roaches will actually eat each other and their own dead so this also helps to eliminate their food supply. Just be very careful about disposing the contents inside the vacuum when you are finished. Seal the contents and discard in trash. Wipe down the entire vacuum cleaner when finished. –
Step 3: Apply a roach repellent/spray to secondary treatment areas
We will start getting rid of the cockroaches by protecting other areas of the house first. The kitchen and bathroom are your primary treatment areas (food and water resources). Bedrooms and other living areas are the secondary treatment areas. We want to treat the secondary rooms first to prevent the roaches from flushing into other areas of the house.
For this step, we will use a fantastic home remedy. It is natural and safe to use in any parts of your home. This solution is not meant to kill roaches on contact (although it might). This treatment is intended to repel the roaches from retreating to other areas of your home. Here is a homemade recipe you can use for a cockroach repellent. These ingredients are very inexpensive and are excellent to have around the house for other pest control projects (spiders, ants, crickets, mice, etc).
- 1 cup of water
- 15 drops of therapeutic grade cypress oil (Click here for cypress oil information and pricing)
- 20 drops of therapeutic grade peppermint oil (Click here for peppermint oil information and pricing)
- ¼ cup of Epsom salt
- A pinch of cloves
Mix these ingredients into a spray bottle and give it a light shake. Apply a barrier of protection around cracks and crevices throughout all the rooms in your house. Pay special attention to the crevice where your carpet or floor meets the wall. This is the most likely path the cockroaches will take. You can apply this mixture to any areas you think may provide an escape route into other parts of your home. This recipe may stain certain surfaces so make sure you test it before spraying anything valuable.
If you don’t want to make this recipe yourself, here is a natural spray you can buy that will provide similar results (also very inexpensive). It is marketed for killing bed bugs but it will work just as good for getting rid of roaches.
Step 4: How to get rid of roaches fast
In step 2, we identified all of the cockroach hot spots. Now it is time to get rid of them. It is important that you wear a respirator to protect yourself for these 2 treatments if using insecticides. We are going to treat these areas in 2 stages:
First, we will use a pest control dust for long term residual protection. Apply the dust with a hand duster to all of the hot spots you found in step 2. You can also apply it to areas you think may become new hiding spots once the roaches are flushed from their current homes. You will not be able to apply this treatment properly without a hand duster. You can get one here for about $10.
The product we will be using in this stage is called Delta dust. It uses an active ingredient called Deltamethrin (0.05%). It is very effective for getting rid of roaches. Click the button to the left for the best available price. You can click here for more information on this product or click here for customer reviews.
A natural alternative for this stage is a product called diatomaceous earth. Although it is natural, you still need to use caution when applying. It is safe for humans but it should not be inhaled. Also, certain grades of diatomaceous earth are toxic so make sure you get this one.
Next, we will use an aerosol cockroach spray for deeper penetration and maximum killing power. This will give us our highest kill rate and begin to really flush them out of their nesting areas. As they flee these areas, they will run into the other treatments we applied earlier.
Application is pretty straight forward. You want to spray the aerosol into all of the cracks and crevices where the roaches are hiding. One of the active ingredients in this spray is permethrin. Permethrin is a natural extract of the pyrethrum flower. If used in accordance to the label, it is one of the safest insecticides (for humans, pets and the environment). If you want to learn more about this product, click here. If you would like to read customer reviews, click here. –
You can use the homemade cockroach recipe from step 3 as a natural alternative. It is very important that you follow through with steps 6 &7. If done properly, this will eliminate their access to your house as well as the food/water supply. If the spray does not kill all of them, they will die from dehydration and eventually starvation. If you don’t want to make the homemade recipe yourself, here is a fantastic spray that is pretty close. Again, it is marketing as a bed bug killer but it is just as effective for cockroaches.
Stage 3: (optional/alternative)
Another excellent option to get rid of cockroaches is to use a gel bait. You can purchase these in tubes or child-proof bait stations. In my experience, the tubes are more effective because you can cover more ground. Just remember, with this cockroach killer, we want the roaches to be attracted to it. Do not apply it to an area that has recently been sprayed or dusted with insecticides. Likewise, do not spray or dust over top of it.
This can be used as an alternative to stage 1 & 2. Or, you can combine all 3 to make sure you get rid of your cockroaches once and for all. As always, please follow the label carefully. Apply the gel in 3 – 6 mm diameter beads. Approximately 10 bait placements per 100 sq ft for low to moderate Infestations; 20 bait placements per 100 sq ft for heavy or severe infestations. The customer reviews on this product and similar gel baits are outstanding.
Step 5: Repeat treatments until you kill entire cockroach infestation
Wait 24-48, assess the situation and repeat as necessary until there are no more signs of roaches, eggs or excrement.
Step 6: Sanitation and prevention
Cockroaches thrive where they have access to food, water and shelter. Even tiny amounts of crumbs or liquids caught between cracks can sustain them for long periods of time. Since roaches can survive a few months without a supply of food, it is important that we follow strict sanitation guidelines.
- Roaches love grease but they will eat almost any food they can scavenge. Keep food locked away in air-tight containers or jars.
- Thoroughly clean underneath and behind large appliances like the stove and refrigerator.
- Clean grease deposits around your stove regularly.
- Inspect furniture, refidgerator, appliances and electronics for egg casings glued to the underside. Remove and destroy any that you find.
- Vacuum cracks and crevices regularly. This will pick up crumbs, debris, cockroaches, eggs, shed skins and feces. Seal the contents of the vacuum bag/canister and toss it in the garbage. Always wipe down the vacuum when finished. Roach cuticles and droppings can cause severe allergies.
- Clean up spills as soon as they happen. Also, never leave drinks around the house. Especially beer, soda or juice.
- Store your trash in a garbage can with a tight-fitting lid. It may be necessary to take the trash outside everyday. I take my trash out 2-3 times a day during ant season.
- Eliminate debris, newspapers, boxes, magazines and any other clutter that could potentially provide shelter to roaches.
- Eliminate plumbing leaks. Cockroaches can survive long periods of time without food but they can only last 1 week without water. Increasing room circulation will also decrease moisture.
- Get rid of excess personal belongings that you don’t need. If you eliminate junk, you’ll also get rid of the roaches that hide in it.
Step 7: Eliminate cockroach hiding places and areas of entry into your house
Eliminating hiding places and areas of entry into your home may be the most important step of this pest control plan. Our goal is to prevent access to the inside of our kitchen and bathroom through cracks, crevices, voids and other points of entry. We are all familiar with the phrase “If you build it, they will come”. In this case, “if you seal it, they will leave”. Click here for the best selling indoor and outdoor caulk. *Tip: Don’t forget to grab a caulk gun!
- Seal all cracks and crevices in treatment areas. Inspect for crevices around your counters, baseboards, plumbing, electrical wires, lighting fixures and floor/wall joints. Caulk every possible opening no matter how small it is. If you still see roaches, you probably missed something.
- Try to seal all possible entry points from the outside of your home also.
- Use weather stripping on doors and windows.
- Trimming plants ans shrubs around the house will help to decrease hiding places (and increase circulation). This is especially important around vents. The same holds true for thick ground cover like ivy.
- Cleaning the outside of your home will help as well. Remove debris and clutter, keep trash in garbage cans with tight fitting lids and eliminate any other items that could provide shelter for cockroaches.
- A layer of gravel (about 8 to 10 inches wide) around the perimeter of your house will also help with pest control.
Frequently Asked Questions
A. Yes. It is important to get rid of Cockroaches as quickly as possible. They are know to carry salmonella, dysentery, gastroenteritis and other diseases. They can contaminate food and spread pathogens. This can be very dangerous. Cockroach skin and excrement can also cause severe asthmatic reactions.
Q. How fast do cockroaches reproduce?
A. Very Fast. For instance, a female German cockroach can lay 1 million eggs in a 3-4 month life span! Populations grow very fast. This is why spot treatments will not work to get rid of cockroaches. The entire infestation must be eliminated or they will always come back.
Q. Why don’t I ever see them?
A. Because cockroaches are nocturnal. They are also very evasive. If you are seeing any during the day, it is probably a sign of a severe infestation.
Q. If I have roaches, does it mean that I am dirty?
A. No. Sanitation is an important repellent but even the cleanest homes get them. They can survive off of tiny deposits of grease, sugar and crumbs for long periods of time. This allows them to thrive almost anywhere. And since they can be spread throughout the neighborhood in food and packaging, no one is immune to an infestation.
Q. What do roaches eat?
A. Almost anything organic. They certainly have a preference for sweets, grease, meats and starches. However, they can survive off of cheese, leather, glue, hair, flakes of skin, book bindings and any other decaying matter. This includes their own feces and other dead cockroaches.
Q. Do cockroaches bite humans?
A. Theoretically, a cockroach could bite a human. They are omnivores and will eat anything organic. Only the larger species could bite through our skin. If you are still enough, and they are hungry enough, you could be bitten
Fun facts about roaches
- Scientist believe that cockroaches originated 280 million years ago!
- There are more than 4 thousand known species of roaches.
- They range in size from 0.5 – 2.0 inches long.
- The largest roach in the world was measured at 6 inches long with a 12 inch wingspan!
- Roaches can live off a single crumb of food for 3 months but they can only live without water for 1 week.
- Cockroaches are very elusive. In addition to being great at hiding, they can run up to 3 mph!
- Have a beer! American cockroaches have a strong attraction to beer because of the sugar and hops used in brewing.
- Most species can hold their breath for 35-40 minutes.
- The most interesting fact of all: I read somewhere that cockroaches can live for an entire week without their head! They are able to breath through passage ways located throughout their body. It would only die due to dehydration.