When I was a kid, I witnessed my mom and dad were always using their shoes to kill cockroaches.
Killing won’t work!
If you have thousands of roaches roaming around in your house, it isn’t a good idea to kill them one by one you might spend years doing that. Why? They like to hide in holes, crack and crevice so even if you kill the ones that are outside, you might witness some other roaches in few days.
A female roaches can lay up to 50 eggs a week and you might have hundreds of female roaches so good luck with killing them 🙂 Cockroach is 200 million old insect on the planet earth. Probably it was present before humans! They spread a number of different diseases and are annoying for some people.
This little creepy pests remain active throughout the summer. Believe it or not, Scientist found some species of roaches that live and survive in the ice! So you might have to deal with cockroach problem all year around.
So What Should You Do To Kill Cockroaches?
In a nutshell, you have three options:
- Home Made Remedy: Boric Acid and Diatomaceous Earth
- Commercial Products: Gel baits, spray/ foggers.
- Contacting Pest Control Company: How to select the right company
Diagnosing The Level of Infestation
First and foremost you need to get a feel of how many roaches you have in your house. It doesn’t mean you have to count roaches but you can get a better sense by observation and see which level of infestation you have.
It is a very important step. It helps you to select better control method that actually works for you.
I have decided cockroach infestation in three different levels.
Low Level Infestation > Home Made Products
If you see few roaches here and there in the kitchen sink and bathroom, you have a low level of infestation which can easily controlled with home made products.
Keep in mind that you have to spare some time to create these products yourself. But you can save yourself some money if you are able to control using natural and homemade product. However, they do not work for everyone and every situation.
Mid Level Infestation > Commercial products
Do you see a roach whenever you open your kitchen light ? If you can see roaches roaming around in your bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and room doors quite often ( in few dozens) You have mid level infestation and you should use commercial based products.
You need to do some research on commercial products and make sure you are picking product that can work in your situation before pulling the trigger.
High level infestation > Contact Pest management professional
It is pretty self explanatory if you have a roach infestation that is beyond your control, and you have cockroaches roaming around on doors and in rooms you probably have thousands of other roaches hiding in crack and crevice.
My recommendations: Save yourself time/money and contact professional pest management company to deal with the situation. Now lets deep dive into each strategy and see what options are available.
1. Homemade Control Options (Low Level Infestation)
Boric Acid Paste
Boric Acid Paste is a very old school roach control method. Boric acid compound works really well to kill cockroaches. It is a natural compound found in different plants. And pretty safe for humans and pets.
Even most commercial products use boric acid as an active ingredient. Semantic Scholar conducted a study to evaluate the efficiency of liquid baits containing boric acid and sucrose. It was 2 year long fascinating study.
After applying 1-2% boric acid and 0.5m sucrose across 21 bait delivery tubes per room.They found a huge decline in cockroach population. The author recommended to use boric acid as urban roach control compound.
Creating a liquid or paste from boric acid is pretty easy. Here is what else you’d need to make a roach killing paste from boric acid.
- Boric Acid – 3 Tea Spoon
- Sugar – 3 Tea Spoon
- Water – 3 Tea Spoon
Mix it well and your cockroach killing paste is ready! Apply the paste in areas where you see large population of roaches. Especially in holes/ crack and crevice beneath kitchen sinks and bathrooms. Cover your hands with gloves, to avoid contact with boric acid with your skin.
You might be asking if boric acid really work for cockroaches. Read my Does Boric Acid kill roaches post and read what i have to say about it. i quoted different scientific studies in this article to back up my claims. If you don’t agree or have personal experience, please reach me out.
How It Works?
When you sprinkle powder, Cockroach crawl over the substance which attach itself to cockroach body. Cockroach lick to clean out but it consumes boric acid which works as stomach poison and eventually kill roaches within few hours.
Note: It might work differently if you use different ingredients.
For better idea on how it works, watch this video.
Further Resources Include: Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments
Soap & Water
If you have a low level of infestation, soap and water can work pretty well. It only kill roaches on contact so you won’t be able to control a medium or large size roach population with soap and water alone.
To create a soap water insecticide, put water with some soap in a spray bottle and spray the liquid on roaches where you see it. This might be a time consuming process, since you have to follow cockroaches all day long!
Note: This method won’t work if you have a large infestation. Only use it if you have few roaches here and there.
Most urban entomologist do not recommend using soap and water for roaches. However, since it is easy application and soap is available in every house, it is a very popular technique. Your grandma would always recommend to use this technique, however, this is pretty old school and might not work if you have a large infestation.
Due to its popularity and general acceptability, I included it in the list, but I strongly recommend to either use boric acid or commercial products. Soap water spray might kill few roaches but it won’t work effectively and it isn’t a good use of your time.
Diatomaceous Earth As Cockroach Killer
DE is a cheaper alternative. It works really well against cockroaches. Step by step process is given below:
- Buy Diatomaceous Earth from local store or online at amazon.
- Dust DE lightly where you see infestation. Under kitchen cabinets and under the sink are hot spot for roaches. Apply DE carefully in small amount, cover all holes and cracks and crevices.
Here’s a video on How to Clean Up Diatomaceous Earth.
It may take a week to see substantial control. DE won’t kill roaches on contact so you have to be patient along the way.
To save money, diagnosing the type of infestation is the key. You might think you have few roaches here and there but once you investigate, you might find that your home is invaded by thousands of roaches and more roaches are coming day in day out.
Therefore, it is necessary to check which level of infestation you have before deciding any control strategy.
Fun Fact: A cockroach has one heart, but the heart may have as many as 13 chambers compared to 4 in the human heart.Elizabeth Yuster, MSc Environmental Science and Biology, Hood College
2. Commercial Products (Mid Level Infestation)
Lets face it, these big giant companies spend millions of dollars on research and development and go through lengthy regulation and approval process from EPA. it is no joke!
They won’t release something that do not work which ruin their reputation.
Therefore, using commercial products isn’t a bad idea to get rid of cockroaches. However, you should keep an eye on active ingredients and what type of products you are dealing with because there are a lot of crap available when it comes to over the counter DOI pest control products.
There are mainly 2 types of products in the market for roach control. Gel Baits and spray/fogger.
It works like boric acid as i described above but on some advance ingredients and functionality. Honestly, it works way better than boric acid. Because it is manufacturer after studying cockroach biology and behavior.
It won’t just cockroach on contact. It helps you to eliminate large cockroach nests within a matter of weeks. Even the ones that aren’t adults and hiding in crack and crevice where might be beyond your reach.
Gel baits usually comes with application tool which comes very handy in application and help you to reach crack and crevice to apply the product effectively to get control. Most gel baits use cockroach biology against them.
It is pretty clever technique in pest control. How?
Once you put bait it attract roaches, thanks to its ingredients which cockroach like to eat. Normally they would eat this type of substance all day long.
Once the bait is consumed It slowly destroys the nervous system in 24-48 hours. Roach with poison carries the bait to their nest and kill other roaches in the process.
The bait expand itself exponentially. Because: When a roach get killed after eating gel bait it attract other roaches and the dead body works like gel bait itself. It is very powerful!
Here are few top gel baits products that actually works.
Vendetta Plus Cockroach Gel Bait
Kills the life cycle of Cockroaches. It is also effective on German Roaches.
Syngenta Advion Cockroach
Gives you complete control of cockroach colonies. Slow-acting ingredient help it to spread and kill more.
Rockwell Labs – Invict Gold Cockroach Gel
Roaches dies after 20 minutes of consuming the bait.
Commercial products sold are approved by EPA ( In most states) so it is quite safe as long as you use it according to the label. If you are skeptical about product registration use EPA approved product database to make sure it is approved.
To get substantial control, use one product every other month i.e after 60 days.
Important point: Cockroaches can develop resistance to specific type of insecticide, if you aren’t able to get control even after using pesticide. Apply another product with different ingredients it should work.
You shouldn’t shoot for 100% control. It is impossible !
However, you can use different pest control strategies to keep them under control and not letting them increase their population.
Just applying bait every other month won’t work. Try to seal holes in kitchen and bathrooms. Cockroaches can crawl and swim under pipes and gutters so they might find a way to get into your house.
You have to close these holes to discontinue constant flow or roaches under pipes. Having said that, multiple application each quarter can give you pretty strong control. Especially in summer time when roaches are very active.
Precautions For Commercial Products
If you are applying commercial product yourself. Reading the label is the key, it is pretty self explanatory but majority of people do not bother to read it! Here are a few general guidelines that apply to almost every product you buy in the market.
- Apply bait or spray in crack and crevice. Don’t use it where it can contaminate food. Using indoors apply where it is inaccessible to kids and pets.
- After a week, you might see hundreds of dead cockroaches all over the place , clean out and remove the bait. Because it might contaminate utensils and other stuff that you might consume in the future.
- Do not ignore label on each product and use it according to the label. This seems to be obvious. Believe it or not, the majority of household DOI pest control product users do not read the label. I read a study somewhere in which they found that 90% of users do not bother to read the label. You can get a ton of information from the label from ingredients to usage and precautions.
In united states, each label is approved by EPA so it is sort of a government document. Don’t read it as marketing material! Read it as approved document by environmental protection agency.
Spray & Foggers
It is a very popular technique, however it does not work as compared to gel baits. It is popular because it is old school and easy to just spray around in your property all day long.
Professional pest control companies (who knows what they are doing) and urban entomologist do not recommend using spray to kill roaches
It is hard to apply insecticide safely without contaminating your house. Roaches always hide in holes and crack and crevice and your spray/fogger won’t reach that far so it isn’t cost effective. Even if you were able to reach there, you may contaminate your property by applying dangerous chemicals which is a huge risk in the long run.
However, if you have a small level of infestation you might consider using spray. Here are few Top Roach spray products.
3. Contact Pest Management Professional (High Level Infestation)
In the start of this article i recommended using a pest control company if you have thousands of roaches crawling around in your property.
Even if you see a couple dozen roaches in open area ( Room, doors and outside kitchen cabinet) there is a possibility that thousands of roaches are living inside crack and crevice. You should check it yourself to confirm the level of infestation.
If you believe in yourself and have the time and resources you can do it yourself, to majority of people i won’t recommend doing it yourself. You might be wondering that pest control company would charge me a lot of money!
Well I know that but you don’t have any other option. If you do it yourself, you might spend the same amount of money either way and your failure chances are pretty high because it takes hours of research and understanding to diagnose from where these roaches are coming and than planning out control strategies.
Things in pest control are that simple as you think. Only pest control companies that deal with cockroaches can do that efficiently.
If you have a commercial property, you should think one second because it save you thousands of dollars in the long term because you are putting your reputation on a risk. But there is a caveat, you should do your due diligence before picking up your phone and calling a pest control company.
Why? Lot of pest control companies relies on “Spray and Pray Model” which means they spray all around your house without understanding about the chemicals and biology of pests they are dealing with.
This is dangerous, they are putting your health at risk and even if they are charging you for nothing, your roach population is going to pop up with a week. I guarantee!
That’s why you should talk to your potential PMP and ask them which method they would use to control roaches. And suggest them to use gel baits as you don’t want a spray person to contaminate your house all day long.
Do not use a multinational pest control company. Hunt down for individual that cares about people and understand roach biology and chemistry or products he/she is using.
This is the key. Multinational companies focus on volume ( spray and pray model) while small guys invest a lot of time to grow their client base they don’t have millions of dollars to spend on advertising. So they have to satisfy their customers at all cost.
Multinational companies use a person to just spray the heck out of it they put all their resources on marketing instead of investing in their staff Research and development. Very few companies do that but majority of them don’t!
Let me know if you have any questions in the comment box, I’d be very happy to connect with you.