5 Home Remedies for Roaches that Actually Work

Cockroaches make crappy houseguests. And when you're dealing with a roach infestation, all you want to do is clear them out of your house as quickly as possible.

Which is why the idea of using home remedies for roaches is so appealing - you just grab what you have lying around and voila! Roaches. Dead.

Except most roach remedies don't work.

Trying to get rid of a cockroach infestation with things like bay leaves and cucumber peels is just about as effective as crossing your fingers and hoping that the problem goes away.

So step away from the spice rack and find out which home remedies for roaches actually work - and which to skip - so you can use your valuable time and energy toward getting rid of these awful pests once and for all.

Home Remedies for Roaches that Don't Work

To be fair, the below remedies can be somewhat effective roach repellents but they won't do much good to wipe out a cockroach infestation already living in your house. We list them here, from order of not very effective to hey, give it a try if you've got the time.

  • Listerine. No, this just doesn't work.
  • Cucumber peels. Seriously?! No.
  • Bay leaves. Has a scent roaches don't like. You'd have to either crush the leaves or place them in little satchets and sprinkle them near where roaches roam. Effectiveness? Meh.
  • Cayenne pepper. Roaches don't like the scent but you'll have red pepper dusted everywhere and the powder doesn't stay in place so expect frequent re-application. Not worth the trouble.
  • Citrus liquids. Your house will smell nice but spraying lemon juice everywhere doesn't really work - the buggers will still hang around.
  • Moth balls. Moth balls are slightly better and make fairly effective pesticides since roaches, like moths, don't care for the scent. They're also easy to scatter around your home, although they will make your house smell and are not good for humans - so don't place them around your kitchen or anywhere else you usually prepare food.
  • Dish soap. A mixture of dish soap and water is supposed to kill roaches. Doesn't really work - even if you spray them with it directly, all it does is slow them down a bit.
  • Fabric softener. Same thing with fabric softener and water - it slows them down, enough of it may kill them. Not very efficient.
  • Vaseline. If you want to experiment with a little DIY, you can put together a homemade roach trap using a jar, vaseline and some bait - roaches love onions. You line the insides of the jar with vaseline, drop the bait in the bottom of the jar and place them where roaches roam. This can work for killing a few, but really - there are more convenient and effective roach traps.

Okay, now that we've covered the ones that don't really work - which home remedies for cockroaches actually work?

Home Remedies for Roaches that Actually Work

Sure, some of these aren't as simple as sprinkling powder here and there but they're actually really effective at killing cockroaches and preventing them. Focus your energy on these and you'll be rid of the buggers before long!

1. Clear away the food supply

Roaches don't like tidy environments - they much prefer damp, crumb-laden places they can feast in. So make your home an inhospitable place to roaches by cleaning the area you're finding roaches with a burning passion. The goal is to leave not a single crumb.

Store all your food in the fridge - even the fruit bowl - and seal all your dry goods in sealed-tight containers. Remove all clutter - newspapers, magazines, paper bags from the grocery store, boxes, etc. - from infested areas since this gives them more places to live and breed. Do the dishes as soon as you eat, dispose of all food scraps in sealable Ziploc bags, and wipe the counters, seats and floor as often as possible.

Keep the house - especially the kitchen - gleaming and pristinely clean.

2. No more water

Cockroaches can go for a month without food, but they need water on a daily basis. So eliminate their access to any water sources in your house.

Always drain the sink and check your home for other sources of water - leaky plumbing and even dampness under the fridge. To leave the roaches thirsting for water, make sure there's not a drop of it in your kitchen after you're done by wiping all traces of water from the sink.

You can go even further by wiping down the bathroom after you're done as well.

3. Seal off your home

Here's a disturbing cockroach fact: they can fit in any space that's as big as their head...and they have really tiny heads.

Stop them from getting into your house in the first place by sealing off any and all cracks and crevices that the roaches are using to get into your home.

Also, roaches often live in drains and climb up into your home this way - an easy way to eliminate entry is to use a stopper in your sink and tub whenever you're not using them. A better idea is to sprinkle some boric acid down there and then plug it up.

Speaking of boric acid...

4. Get boric acid or borax

home remedies for roaches

This stuff is cheap, easy to find and one of the best home remedies to get rid of roaches. It doesn't really matter if you get boric acid or borax - both of them have boron in them, which is what works the magic.

When the cockroach eats the boric acid or borax, it destroys their stomach lining, which, according to one study, causes the roaches to die of starvation.

The only thing you have to do is get them to eat it.

How to use boric acid for roaches? Mix the boric acid with sugar, honey, jelly, peanut butter, onion juice, or anything else appealing for roaches and leave it in roach-infested areas. Go for a high concentration of the poison (i.e. 3 parts borax to 1 part sugar).

Also, place the boric acid in places where the roaches crawl around so they step on the powder during their travels. When they get to their nests, they'll clean themselves by licking it off and effectively poison themselves.

Don't overdo this, though - roaches will avoid obvious obstacles in their path, i.e. a thick layer of boric acid, so aim for a light dusting of boric acid in the most strategic locations.

Boric acid vs Borax? Both have boron so it doesn't really matter but boric acid seems to have a higher concentrate and is also a finer powder so it's hard for the roaches to eat or step around it.

Is boric acid safe? It is natural, but it's not non-toxic. It's classified as a Category III toxin, which means that it is moderately toxic. If you have pets and children, you need to be very careful about where you leave this stuff since ingestion can cause nausea, vomiting, throat swelling, amongst other health problems.

It can even be fatal if ingested by pets and small children, so if you are going to use it, do not use it in any area within a child or pet's reach.

How long does boric acid take? Boric acid is one of the most effective home remedies for cockroaches - but it is certainly not an instant one. It can take a few weeks for you to notice a dramatic difference in the cockroach infestation but keep replacing traps - it'll be over in a few months.

5. Baking soda will work in a pinch

Don't have boric acid lying around but want to kill cockroaches now?

Grab your baking soda and make some roach traps by mixing a 50% baking soda with 50% something yummy like sugar, honey, jelly, peanut butter, or juice. Leave it where the roaches can find it.

It's not as effective as boric acid, but it's natural and who doesn't have a box of baking soda lying around?


The above home remedies for roaches are pretty good but keep in mind that roaches proliferate quickly. That means any time you're wasting not waging complete, nuclear war on cockroaches is time those roaches are mating and multiplying. 

If you'd like to skip straight to all-out cockroach war, check out the best way to kill roaches!​

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