The survival skills cockroaches have are amazing. They can continue living, for a short time, without their heads. They can hold their breath underwater for 40 minutes. They can run up to three miles in a single hour.
This is all great for roaches (and pretty interesting too) — until the ugly bugs infest your apartment. Once they’ve made their way into your home, all you want to do is get rid of them. But, before you make an appointment with an exterminator, consider an organic, DIY approach. Use one of the many natural remedies for roaches to keep them away.
How to get rid of cockroaches
Once you’ve established you’ve got unwanted visitors, whether you’ve seen roaches or just their nasty trails, it’s time to consider how you want to get rid of them. You can use chemicals to do the job, but if you have pets or young children or you’re sensitive to certain products, going natural might be a better option.
When it’s time to get rid of unwanted insect visitors, look to your pantry first, you might already have some of these natural remedies for roaches ready to go.
This is an example of using something sweet to lure cockroaches to their demise. You just have to add a little something extra. Mix one part powdered sugar with three parts boric acid. The sugar brings the bugs in — the boric acid takes them out.
Boric acid isn’t toxic to people or pets, but it can irritate skin. When putting this mixture down, avoid counters and stick to the hidden spots roaches can use for hiding places. Good spots are behind appliances, under the sink and in any cracks along the edges of cabinets.
If either ingredient isn’t readily available, this is a versatile recipe, so you can swap out ingredients to achieve the same effect. Instead of powdered sugar, you can use peanut butter or jelly. You can also replace the boric acid with food-grade diatomaceous earth.
2. Soapy water
If you spot a cockroach and want to kill it without having to get close enough to step on it, keep a spray bottle of soapy water handy. Use diluted dish soap so that whatever surface it gets on also gets clean (an added bonus).
Spraying this mixture directly onto a roach makes it impossible for the bug to breathe. It clogs up their skin, which is how they take in air. It may take an extra little bit to do the trick, and you still have to dispose of the roach but hey — it won’t head back to hang with its buddies.
3. Coffee grounds
This easy-to-find food staple helps make a perfect cockroach trap. They serve as bait to bring the roaches in and are non-toxic for every other member of your home. To make a trap, all you need is a glass jar, coffee grounds and water.
To build your trap:
- Fill a large glass jar about halfway with water.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of moistened coffee grounds.
- Place the jars as close to potential nesting spots as possible.
The roaches will come in to check out the coffee, climb into the jar and get stuck and eventually drown. Then, dump the entire contents of the trap into the toilet for a goodbye flush.
While lemon won’t work on its own to keep roaches away, using lemon-scented cleaners around your home can have a big impact on keeping the place cockroach-free.
A clean home is the best way to avoid an infestation, and the scent of a lemon actually works to keep a variety of insects from wanting to live in your place.
For an easy, all-purpose cleaner you can make at home, you only need two ingredients — citrus peels and vinegar. To make:
- Fill a glass jar with clean, chopped-up lemon peels.
- Pour white vinegar over the peels to submerge them and seal the jar.
- Let the mixture sit for about four weeks, shaking it regularly.
- Strain out the peels and put the liquid into a spray bottle.
This will keep countertops, appliances, floors and glass all clean and smelling great, while also helping you deal with the cockroaches.
Make sure to clean your place regularly, focusing on areas like the kitchen and dining room. Roaches love crumbs and can smell food if packages get left open in your pantry. It’s also a good idea to empty your trash regularly to keep food odors out of your home.
Another big attractor for roaches is moisture. One way to deal with excess moisture in your home is to check your pipes regularly for leaks, but sometimes it’s a matter of high humidity. To deal with this, consider buying a few house plants.
You’ll need a specific type, epiphytes like ferns, orchids and cacti. These are special plants that work as a natural dehumidifier, pulling water from the air to keep themselves hydrated. They’re easy to care for and will help reduce moisture levels in your home.
Place one in every bathroom, on a screened-in porch, or anywhere where the air feels heavy. They won’t repel cockroaches themselves but will help take away a serious temptation for the bugs to come into your home.
This is maybe the strangest of the natural remedies for roaches, but it uses ingredients you’re bound to have at home right now. All you need is an onion and baking soda. Again, the food attracts hungry insects, and the baking soda does the dirty work.
To set this up:
- Dice up about half an onion.
- Sprinkle baking soda over it.
- Place on a small paper plate anywhere roaches may hide overnight.
Since roaches prefer the dark, you’ll most likely “feed” more if you wait until evening to put out your trap. It’s also best to do it when there’s minimal risk of running into the nasty guys yourself.
When you need to cover up cracks to keep the roaches away, this remedy is a great choice. Not only will it fill the space to let fewer roaches through, but it will also kill any of them who eat it.
Mix equal parts of cornstarch and Plaster of Paris to make a powder you can sprinkle anywhere. Don’t activate the Plaster of Paris with water beforehand. The roaches do that after they eat the concoction when they drink water. It’s the mixing in their stomach that ultimately kills them.
It’s important to note that Plaster of Paris is a toxic ingredient and dangerous for children and pets. Using this recipe specifically in cracks helps keep it away from everyone but the roaches.
Roaches hate the smell of peppermint. They’ll avoid it like the plague. It can also actually harm them if they come into contact with it. Spraying a mixture with peppermint oil directly onto roaches can mean lights out, but that’s only if you see the invaders around.
You’ll have more success using mint as a repellent, targeting areas near where you think roaches are hiding. To make a mint-infused spray:
- Mix two parts water with one part white vinegar into a spray bottle.
- Add about 10 drops of peppermint oil.
- Shake up and spray.
Chemicals aren’t required to keep the roaches away
The question is never if you’ll see a roach in your apartment, but rather when. They’re out there, and there’s a lot of them, but knowing how to repel them and say good-bye for good means you don’t have to live with them. Us
ing natural remedies for roaches allows you to live insect-free without having to buy harsh chemicals or spend money on an exterminator. Just make sure you’re targeting the right areas. Roaches love to live in places like boiler rooms, basements, crawl spaces, steam tunnels, drains and sewers. Happy hunting!