Home » Does Roach Repellent Actually Work? Here’s What Does and Doesn’t

Does Roach Repellent Actually Work? Here’s What Does and Doesn’t

So you’ve come here seeking a roach repellent to keep these dirty pests away from you and your home for good. Clever cookie.

You see, there are certain combinations of words that you never expect to hear together. For instance, can I please pay more for this item? Or, no thank you, I don’t like ice cream. Or how about, I had cockroaches once. It was awesome!

No one wants their home to become that house. The one that has cockroaches. So if there are steps you can take to prevent that from happening, you would take them, right?

Well, actually, there are.

Why Use a Roach Repellent?

The number one thing you can do to make sure that you never have a roach problem in your house is to keep it clean. Don’t have food lying out where they can get to it. Clean up any spills as they happen.

Once in a while, pull your kitchen appliances out from the wall and clean underneath them. The cleaner your home is, the less likely you are ever to have a problem with cockroaches.

But if you’re trying to be proactive, you may have considered using a cockroach repellent. It’s not a bad idea. Especially if you live in an apartment or a townhouse and share walls with neighbors.

Cockroaches are highly mobile, so if one of your neighbors has a problem, it may only be a matter of time before you develop a problem too. Roach repellents can stop that from happening. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

But not all cockroach repellents are created equal. Some work. Some don’t. So read on before you spend a penny and find out which products actually repel cockroaches, and which are a waste of time and money.

What’s the Best Roach Repellent?

The best roach repellents, of course, are the ones that actually work. And whereas there’s no one-in-all solution that guarantees you’ll never have a roach problem, there are some very effective roach repellents you can combine to keep roaches away from your home for good.

What are they? Here’s the list of cockroach repellents that actually work.


Okay, this doesn’t sound much like a repellent. But it ties into the point made earlier. The cleaner your home is, the less attractive it will be to roaches.

Vacuum regularly to keep the house free of clutter and free of food crumbs. Not only will this help you not attract roaches in the first place, but it also means that if any do end up in your home, they are less likely to stay.

If there’s no food, the cockroaches will either starve to death or move on somewhere else where the food is better.

Make especially sure that you vacuum in the dark, hard-to-reach places where roaches are the most likely to hide if they ever sneak into your home. Preventing cockroach nests from developing in the first place is the smartest move you’ll make.

Caulk up cracks and crevices

Simply caulking up all the cracks and crevices – roach entryways – in your home is the single most effective, natural roach repellent you can have in your arsenal.

Cockroaches love to hide. These insects are thigmotactic and will seek out any narrow crevice they can squeeze themselves into. So get yourself a tube of silicone caulk and start sealing up those gaps.

Check around water pipes and heat pipes, since cockroaches often enter this way.

Also pay attention to crevices in kitchen and bathroom cabinets, since these make ideal habitats for cockroach populations. This way, if you do get cockroaches, you’ll be aware of it much sooner and be able to treat the problem before it gets any bigger.

Store food properly

Food is one of the main reasons cockroaches come in to human homes. Make sure all food is stored in a way that cockroaches can’t get to it. Cockroaches are capable of chewing holes in paper and thin plastic bags, so invest in some Tupperware or glass containers.

what causes roaches in a clean house

And remember that cockroaches have an incredibly broad range of dietary preferences. They’ll eat almost anything.

Don’t forget about your pets food, and even the cat’s litter box. All of these are potential food sources for cockroaches.

Peppermint oil

Do you like the smell of peppermint? Cockroaches don’t. In fact, they hate it. Peppermint is one of a few essential oils for cockroaches that actually works. Roaches simply can’t tolerate the smell of it.

Peppermint oil will kill cockroaches on contact, but you don’t need to spray them directly for it to have an effect.

Spray diluted peppermint oil around your home, focusing especially on potential entry points such as heat and water pipes and gaps around doors and windows. This will help keep them away.

Cypress oil

Like peppermint oil, cypress oil can kill cockroaches. And like peppermint oil, cypress oil is also thought to have a repellent effect. To enhance the effectiveness of these two oils, you can even combine them together in one spray.

Add ten drops of peppermint oil and eight drops of cypress oil to a quart of water and pour it into a spray bottle. This will give you an effective cockroach repellent that also smells nice.

Catnip oil

Your cat’s drug of choice can also be used as an effective roach repellent. Don’t believe me? Check out this study.

Catnip oil contains a compound that roaches find highly unappealing. While it won’t drive cockroaches away once they’re established, it could make the difference as to whether they come into your house in the first place or not.

Plus, if you have a cat, you’ll make their year by spraying catnip oil around the house.

The only downside to this method is that catnip oil is quite pricey. You may want to try out the other, more affordable essential oils for roaches first.

Oregano oil

In this study, a variety of essential oils were tested for their cockroach killing power. While several of the oils were found to be capable of killing cockroaches, oregano oil was found to be the most effective at repelling them.

At the right concentration, oregano oil repelled 97% of the test population of cockroaches. So this can be an extremely effective repellent. However, it will make your house smell like a pizza parlor. Whether that’s a bad thing or not is up to you.


Borax is a naturally occurring chemical that has been used as an insecticide for generations. While it is not harmful to people, it acts as a stomach poison for many insects, including cockroaches.

Cockroaches explore the world with their long antennae. These antennae often get dirty, and cockroaches clean them by running them through their jaws.

So when a cockroach’s antennae pick up traces of poison like Borax, the cockroach is doomed to ingest it and die. Basically, Borax will either drive the cockroaches away or kill them. Either one works.

Wondercide spray

If you don’t feel like making a trip to that weird health-food store for the essential oils you need, you could consider using Wondercide spray. This spray uses the repellent power of essential oils in a handy, ready to use concentration.

It comes in a variety of different formulations, such as peppermint, cedar, and rosemary. All of these oils are known to kill and repel insects, including cockroaches – but if you can’t decide, go for the cedar. It makes your house smell like a fresh forest and cedar is repellent to most pests, roaches included.

All in all, this spray is a great option to keep your home cockroach free. And it may be the most easy-to-use repellent on this list.

Which Roach Repellents Don’t Work?

Good question. There are a lot of rumored roach repellents that do diddly squat. You should avoid them.

So here’s the list of roach repellents that don’t work at all.

Cucumber peels

This home remedy for roaches is by far the most ridiculous. The idea behind this is that roaches don’t like fresh food. It might work better if you were trying to prevent an infestation of picky, vegetable-hating children.

But while a fresh slice of cucumber might not be a cockroach’s favorite meal, it certainly won’t repel it. In fact, cockroaches can and do eat cucumber as well as almost any other vegetable, so save the cucumbers for your salad and try something else to get rid of roaches.

Bay leaves

The idea here is to crush up bay leaves into a powder to release the smell. It’s the same principle as essential oils. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to work.

Essential oils are a highly concentrated form of the active compounds within a plant. To get enough of the compound in bay leaves that repels roaches, you would need to crush hundreds of pounds of leaves.

That sounds like way too much work, especially when there are better options available.

Cayenne pepper

This one really seems to make sense on the surface. It’s easy to imagine cockroaches being repelled by the spicy scent of cayenne pepper. And it’s true that they don’t much care for it.

But it’s also true that you’d have to sprinkle a lot of cayenne pepper around your house for it to have any effect. And do you really want to live like that?

You’d need to be regularly reapplying any pepper that gets scattered, and the red powder isn’t going to look particularly attractive on your kitchen countertop. There are better ways to keep roaches out.

Ultrasonic cockroach repellers

You may have seen these devices online or in hardware stores. They claim to repel not only cockroaches but also other pests such as mice and rats.

You plug them into an electrical outlet, and the little plastic box makes a sound that is outside the range of human hearing, but that is supposed to be intolerable to pests. On hearing this noise, the pests will quickly leave.

Your first clue that this is mumbo-jumbo is that it claims it will work on both rodents and cockroaches. Two species of animals that have very little in common, biologically speaking.

About the only thing they share is a love of hanging out in human homes and eating our food. But their hearing ranges, and the kind of noises they like and don’t like, are entirely different.

Manufacturers of these devices have gotten into legal trouble in the past for making wild claims about what the devices can do.

Eventually, the Federal Trade Commission was forced to step in and demand that they back up their claims with scientific evidence. The studies they produced were underwhelming, to put it politely.

Look, it’s not that these devices are useless. In certain situations, they have been shown to make rats and mice less likely to set up a home in an area where the devices are used.

What they won’t do is chase rats or mice out of an area where they have already established a presence and have a food source.

What about cockroaches? Forget it. You’d probably have better results if you just played Nickelback nonstop.

In fact, cockroaches have been found living behind and inside these ultrasound units while they were switched on. They are about as repellent to cockroaches as a strongly-worded letter. And we all know that doesn’t work.

So go with one of the effective roach repellents above and rest easy in the knowledge that you’ve done your part to prevent cockroaches in your home.

1 thought on “Does Roach Repellent Actually Work? Here’s What Does and Doesn’t”

  1. The biggest problem is when those cockroaches fly towards you, I hate when they do that. I have used everything to eliminate them, now I am using several home remedies and electronic repellent liste in https://www.cockroachkiller.org with some results, but does not kill cockroaches, I will try these recommendations for use of borax to see if I have results and comment again.


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