How To Get Rid Of Roaches In Your Home: A Complete Guide [2021]

Last modified on: August 27, 2021


Roaches: the name alone is enough to make your skin crawl. Unfortunately, they’re common pests, and they can be difficult to get rid of. If you have roaches in your home or apartment in areas such as kitchen cabinets, the attic, or in your bathroom, it’s important to get rid of them fast.

Here at Smith’s Pest Management, we help homeowners throughout Northern California, from Marin to Monterey, get rid of pests. Our team offers professional cockroach control services to help you reclaim your space and get life back to normal.

In this post, we’ll share the best and fastest ways to get rid of roaches for good, and everything you need to know about your various options. 

Let’s dive in. 

how to get rid of roaches in house

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What Type of Cockroaches Are in My Home?

While there are more than 4,500 roach species in the world, only about 69 of them live in the U.S. 

Although most species of roaches have no interest in invading homes, there are a few that will happily set up shop in your house. 

Here’s an overview of the roaches you’re most likely to see indoors:

German Cockroaches
german cockroach in the house

Image: LMBuga via Wikipedia / CC by SA 3.0

The German cockroach is the most common cockroach in the U.S. Because they breed so rapidly (each egg case can produce 20-40 baby roaches), even a single female in your home could produce a cockroach infestation of more than 30,000 individuals in a single year. 

Unlike other roach species, the female German cockroach carries her egg pouches with her until they’re ready to hatch. This means infestations spread easily and can be difficult to contain. 

All cockroaches have flat, broad bodies with long hind legs and antennae. Their wings lie folded flat on their backs, and most are black or brown. The German cockroach, however, tends to be light-brown with two dark, parallel stripes that run down the body from the head to the wings. 

Brown-Banded Cockroaches
brown banded cockroach in a house

Brown-banded roaches love warm, dry areas, and are commonly found inside walls or electronics like televisions or refrigerators. A flying cockroach, this species hates water and doesn’t like to live in moist or damp places. They are about 0.5” in length, and tend to be dark brown. Both males and females have light yellow bands on their wings and abdomens. 

American Cockroaches

american cockroach
 Image: Gary Alpert via Wikipedia / CC by SA 2.5

While the American cockroach isn’t the most common roach species in the U.S., it is the largest. It’s also one of the longest-lived - with lifespans of about two years. These roaches are sometimes called the “sewer roach” or “palmetto bugs.” They can reach 1-3” in length and tend to be brown or reddish-brown with light yellow edges around their bodies. 

What Attracts Roaches to My Home? 

Regardless of what kind of roaches you have in your home, one thing is certain: you don’t want them there.

In addition to giving you the creepy-crawlies, roaches can trigger allergies, spread disease, and create an unsanitary living environment. 

Fortunately, the first step to getting rid of roaches is understanding what’s attracting them to your property in the first place.

Here are some of the most common culprits:

1. Food sources

Roaches are omnivores, meaning they’ll eat anything. They are particularly fond of starches, sweets, greasy food, and meats. Easy sources of food - like dirty dishes in the sink, pet food on the floor, or crumbs on the counter will draw them in.

2. Shelter

Cockroaches enter homes for shelter. Depending on the species of roach, they may live behind picture frames, in hollowed-out wood, in damp places like beneath the sink or behind the toilet, or in the backs of your electronics. As the temperature dips outside, roaches will venture indoors. They love quiet, forgotten areas, and may live underneath large appliances, in the corners of basements, and the attic. 

3. Location

If you’re wondering “why do I have roaches in my clean house?” we understand. Solving a roach problem can be frustrating - especially if you’ve been careful to avoid common attractants.

Unfortunately, some locations are just more appealing to roaches than others. Species like the American cockroach don’t need unsanitary conditions to thrive - they simply enter through a gap in a window seal or a door left open and start establishing themselves in your house. 

4. Water

Like all animals, roaches need water to survive - and they’ll enter even the most sanitary homes to find it. Leaky pipes and faucets are common attractants.

5. Landscaping

While roaches love to live inside, they’ll also enter your yard in search of food, shelter, and water. Standing water in birdbaths, gutters, and flowerpots will all attract roaches, as will food sources like birdseed or fruit plants. 

How to Get Rid of Roaches Naturally: 6 Home Remedies 

home remedies for cockroach extermination

If you want to get rid of roaches without chemicals such as bombing, foggers, or sprays you’re in luck. There are a handful of effective home remedies that will send these nasty critters packing and many of them are not harmful to children or pets. 

Here are a few we recommend:

1. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, or DE for short, is an excellent natural insecticide. Composed of pulverized, fossilized algae, DE’s particles are sharp and dehydrating. When roaches come into contact with DE, it damages their exoskeletons and dehydrates them to death. 

Purchase some food-grade DE and sprinkle a light coating on any surface where you’ve noticed roach activity. 

Pros: Effective, affordable, safe for kids and pets

Cons: Messy, requires re-application, you will have to locate and dispose of dead roaches after each DE treatment

2. Baking Soda

Baking soda is one of the fastest, easiest ways to get rid of roaches - and it’s probably something you already have in your pantry. To make a DIY roach bait, dice a handful of onions and sprinkle them with baking soda. 

Place this appetizer in a shallow dish anywhere you’ve noticed roach activity. When the roaches consume the baking soda, it creates gasses in the roaches’ stomachs, causing them to burst. 

Pros: Effective, non-toxic, affordable

Cons: Pets may consume the onion mixture (onions are toxic for dogs), messy, requires you to locate and dispose of dead roaches

3. Boric Acid

Boric acid is a naturally-occurring compound. A mixture of water and boron, it shows up in fruits and plants.

And while it’s harmless to people and pets, it’s deadly for roaches. When cockroaches come into contact with boric acid, it sticks to their legs and wings. When they ingest the powder, it acts on the roach’s nervous and digestive systems - killing it rapidly

To use boric acid to get rid of roaches, sprinkle a light dusting onto a paper plate. Put an orange peel or spoonful of peanut butter in the middle of the plate and place the whole thing anywhere you’ve noticed roach activity. 

Pros: Effective, affordable, natural, non-toxic, easy

Cons: Can be messy, requires several applications or treatments, may not be ideal for homes with pets or young kids, requires you to track down and dispose of dead roaches 

4. Borax

Borax is a readily-available laundry product that’s excellent for killing roaches. For best results, combine equal parts borax and white table sugar. Dust the mixture any place you’ve seen roach activity. When the roaches consume the borax, it will dehydrate them and kill them rapidly. 

Pros: Effective, affordable, kills both adult and baby roaches  

Cons: Can be messy, requires re-application, requires you to track down and remove dead roach bodies

5. Citrus 

Citrus is a tasty treat for humans, but it’s a repellent to cockroaches. The smell of lemons, specifically, deters roaches. Add a few drops of lemon oil to the water you use to mop your floors. The scent won’t be detectable to people, but it will send roaches packing.

Pros: Effective, affordable, ideal for homes with kids and pets

Cons: Does not kill roaches - only deters them

6. Essential Oils

Essential oils are a great natural roach repellant. For best results, purchase peppermint or lemongrass essential oil and mix it with a bit of water. Spray the mixture anywhere you’ve seen roaches.

Pros: Effective, affordable, safe for kids and pets, non-toxic

Cons: Does not kill roaches 

How to Get Rid of Roaches Inside the Home: 4 Conventional Methods

glue strips for cockroaches

Looking for more conventional options to solve your roach problem? Here are some of the fastest ways to get rid of roaches:

1. Use Glue Strips to Identify Problem Areas

Glue strips are an effective way to identify roach problem areas. The smell of the trap lures roaches in and, once they step on the strip, the glue traps them. For best results, place store-bought glue strips in any place you’ve noticed roach activity, including behind the refrigerator or under the sink. 

Pros: Effective, safe for kids and pets (as long as the strips are hidden), fast-acting

Cons: You must monitor strips for a few days or weeks and change and replace them when they become filled with dead roaches 

2. Set Bait Stations

What kills cockroaches almost instantly? Bait stations. Typically, these bait stations come in a long tube and can be placed anywhere you’ve noticed roach activity.

The smell of the bait attracts roaches who then eat the poison. When the roach travels back to its home location and dies, the other roaches will eat it, passing the poison through the group. 

Pros: Effective, fast-acting

Cons: Bait stations look unattractive around a home, can be toxic to kids and pets, will leave dead roaches around the home, dead roaches may be consumed by non-target species like birds and other animals - poisoning them as well

3. Caulk all Entry Points 

While glue strips and bait stations can be effective to get rid of roaches, they won’t do much good if new roaches are constantly entering your home. With this in mind, use caulk to seal gaps and possible entry points. Pay close attention to gaps between walls or tile, worn-out weather stripping, or gaps in door and window seals.

Pros: Effective, safe, affordable

Cons: Caulk wears out over time, so you must check and recheck access points routinely

4. Hire a Pest Management Professional

For best results, hire a professional roach management team like Smith's to get rid of your infestation once and for all. Professional teams know how to locate and eradicate roach infestations safely and effectively, without putting your kids, pets, or household at risk. 

Pros: Effective, safe, long-lasting, can deal with roach infestations both indoors and outside the home

Cons: Requires a larger upfront investment than DIY options

Roach Bombs: Avoid if Possible

When wondering how to get rid of roaches without an exterminator, some people turn to roach bombs. Also called “foggers,” roach bombs spray a pesticide into the air. When the pesticide falls to the ground, it coats indoor surfaces and kills target pests. Most roach bombs are designed to be placed in the center of the room and activated.

Unfortunately, roach bombs are extremely toxic, and we recommend against using them. There are safer and more effective ways to get rid of your roach infestation. 

Pros: Fast-acting

Cons: Toxic, flammable, most effective only for flying roaches, not suitable for homes with pets or young children, requires you to vacate the home while the roach bomb works 

How to Get Rid of Roaches Outside Your House 

If you want to prevent cockroaches in your house, you have to start by limiting their numbers outside your home. 

Here’s how:

1. Clean Up

Remember: roaches need three things to survive - food, water, and shelter. While you can’t eliminate these things in the outdoor environment, you can make your landscaping less welcoming for them. 

Here are a few tips:

  • Remove woodpiles, leaf piles, stagnant water, and overgrown underbrush
  • Secure lids to outdoor trash cans
  • Trim foundation plantings back away from the home
  • Limit water sources by emptying standing water in pots and birdbaths

Pros: Effective, affordable, makes your landscaping look beautiful

Cons: Does not kill or get rid of roaches - only makes your landscaping less appealing for them

2. Use Sticky Traps

Sticky traps aren’t only for indoor use - you can place them outdoors, too. Lay sticky traps down any place you see roaches entering your home, such as cracks around doors or windows, or foundations.

If you’re not sure where the roaches are coming from, lay the traps down in a few locations and check the traps daily to identify high-traffic routes.

Pros: Effective way to identify roach routes

Cons: Unsightly, time-consuming

3. Place Bait

To decrease the number of roaches entering your home, kill them with bait before they get inside. Since roaches like to keep the top or side of their bodies pressed against something as they walk, your bait stations will be most effective when placed next to outbuildings, ledges, corners, fences, or the foundation of your home. 

Pros: Effective, fast-acting, long-term solution

Cons: Toxic, can be dangerous for kids, pets, and other animals 

4. Spray Pesticide

One of the more effective ways to get rid of roaches is to spray a pesticide around the perimeter of your yard and home. These sprays are long-acting (many last three months or more) and will kill roaches on contact.

Pros: Effective, long-acting

Cons: Toxic, can be dangerous for kids, pets, and other animals 

How do Exterminators Get Rid of Roaches?  

roach exterminator in san francisco, california

If you hire a professional exterminator to get rid of roaches, what can you expect? Here’s how our team at Smith’s Pest Management does it:

Step 1: The Inspection

Our cockroach control experts will arrive at your property to inspect the infestation. We’ll look for areas where the roaches are accessing your home, and sources of moisture or food that may be enticing them. 

We’ll also identify the species of cockroach you’re dealing with and formulate a plan for cockroach control.

Step 2: The First Treatment

Based on the information we gleaned during our initial inspection, we’ll develop a treatment plan for your home. Since cockroaches can be a difficult pest to eradicate, we take a two-step process to get rid of them. 

Depending on the severity of your infestation, our preliminary treatment may include baiting, monitoring, trapping, or spraying the cockroaches or providing education, cleaning and sanitization services, or insect growth regulators. During this step, we’ll place cockroach monitors to gauge activity. 

Step Three: The Follow-Up Visit

Once we’ve deployed our initial treatment, we’ll check our monitors and deploy additional treatments, as needed. The result is a complete end to your infestation, as quickly as possible. 

How Do I Keep Roaches Out of My House?  

cockroach prevention tips

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Keep roaches out of your home in the first place with these simple tips:

1. Clean the House

First things first: start by removing everything that could attract roaches. Any homemade roach killer you employ will be more effective if you make your home as unwelcoming as possible before using it. Here are a few items to check off the to-do list:

  • Wash and put away all dirty dishes immediately after use.
  • Clean up any crumbs and spills promptly.
  • Empty sources of standing water, including pet bowls.
  • Take out the garbage daily, and especially before going to bed at night.
  • Mop and sweep the floors regularly, including under and around large appliances.
  • Avoid leaving pet food out for an extended period.

2. Get Serious About Storing Food

If you want to keep roaches out of your house, eliminating food sources is critical. One of the best ways to do this is to store food in airtight glass or plastic containers. Store perishables in the refrigerator, and avoid leaving fruits and vegetables out on the counter.

3. Clean Kitchen Appliances

Remember: roaches love fat and grease, and your kitchen is a great place to find these tasty treats. With this in mind, keep the stovetop, dishwasher, and other cooking appliances clean. Pay special attention to areas like the drip pans under stove burners, the backsplash, and your garbage disposal. 

Additionally, make sure you’re wiping counters and tables after you cook each night. To add an additional layer of protection, add a few drops of lemon oil to your cleaning water. The scent of citrus will keep cockroaches from coming back. 

Are Roaches Taking Over Your San Francisco Bay Area Home? We’re Here to Help! 

Our team is here to help you get rid of roaches permanently. We provide top-quality pest control services to residential and commercial customers in Northern California - from Marin to Monterey. 

Don’t settle for living with roaches - call our team for fast, effective roach control services.

 


Author Bio: Zach Smith

zach smith, owner of smith's pest management

Landscape Pro Turned Gopher Pro: Owner, Zach Smith, graduate of Cal Poly’s Horticulture program worked nine years as a landscape professional- dealing with gophers, moles, and ground squirrels and was quickly recruited by other local gardeners. Fast forward to the past 10+ years, where Zach and his team trap and remove burrowing pests from residential, municipal and commercial properties throughout the San Francisco Bay area, from Marin to Monterey.

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