How To Get Rid Of Cockroaches

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Pet-safe way to kill cockroaches

Eliminating cockroaches in your home is a two-step process. First, stop more from coming inside. Then, use natural methods to get rid of the ones already there.

Are Cockroaches Dangerous?

Cockroaches can be a dangerous source of allergens and asthma triggers. Their feces, saliva, and shed skins are irritants that become part of your household dust and spread throughout your home. They also carry dangerous bacteria, molds, funguses, and viruses, including the one which causes polio.

Why Do Roaches Invade Your Home?

Like most household pests, cockroaches search for a comfortable, safe spot to breed where there’s also a ready food supply. The average household provides all these things:

  • Sources of food: Dirty dishes, full garbage cans, pet food, and crumbs.
  • Hiding places: Cardboard boxes, clutter, and crowded cabinets.
  • Breeding spots: Warm, humid areas like refrigerator drip pans, musty closets, and sweaty pipes.

Cockroach Entry Points

Cockroaches get into your home through cracks in your foundation, gaps around windows or doors, or where pipes and utility wires enter your home. Roaches often hitch a ride indoors in delivery packages left on the front step, cardboard boxes or paper bags from stores, and newspapers that sat in your driveway.

Steps To Get Rid of Cockroaches

To get rid of cockroaches in your home, you need to stop new ones from coming inside by eliminating their entry routes and the things which attract them, then use home remedies as roach baits to trap and kill roaches already living in your home.

Step 1. Seal the Gaps

Check your home’s exterior for cracks and holes where pests can enter. Use caulk for gaps around windows and doors and also to fill any crevices between your home’s siding and foundation. Add door sweeps and weatherstripping as needed, too. Before caulking larger gaps, you may need to add foam insulation, backer rod, or steel wool.

Step 2. Remove Their Sources of Food

Having cockroaches doesn’t mean you’re a poor housekeeper, especially if you live in an apartment or other multi-family structure or in a very warm and humid area. A cockroach infestation is a sign that something in your home is attracting them, though, so wipe up spills on the counters or floor when they happen, don’t leave dishes or food sitting out, and empty your trash cans daily. Having a daily cleaning routine helps prevent pests by addressing such things.

Step 3. Use Smells that Repel Cockroaches

Cockroaches dislike the smell of lavender, peppermint, and bay laurel. Place cotton balls dampened with these essential oils underneath sinks and in the corner of cabinets. (If you have pets, stick with lavender since it is one of the essential oils you can use safely around animals.) You can also scatter fresh bay leaves in closets and cabinets to repel them.

Step 4. Make a Homemade Cockroach Killer

The best way to kill cockroaches that are already in your home is to bait them so they ingest powders that will destroy their exoskeletons and cause their death. The recipe below makes simple, homemade cockroach balls that bait and kill roaches without harming pets or kids when placed as directed.

DIY Cockroach Killer Recipe infographic


  • 2 tbsp of Crisco or cooking grease (bacon fat works very well)
  • 2 tbsp powdered confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup borax or diatomaceous earth (DE)
  • water


  • Combine the grease, sugar, flour, and borax (or DE) with just enough water to make a soft dough that holds its shape.
  • Roll the dough into olive-sized balls.
  • Put the cockroach killer balls where roaches like to hide (e.g., behind appliances, under sinks, in the back of cabinets). If you have pets or children, you can first put them into a berry box or other perforated container.

You might see a surge of pest activity when you first use the homemade roach killer balls. That’s because the grease lures bugs from their hiding places. Then, since both borax and diatomaceous earth have microscopically sharp edges that tear up their digestive tracts, they’ll dehydrate and leave you with a home free of cockroaches.

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  1. Will other cooking oils like canola or olive oil work?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Jennifer,

      I don’t think other cooking oils would work as well because they don’t get solid at room temperature the way Crisco or bacon grease does. Since they stay liquid, the other ingredients would dissolve in them — and that would keep the sharp edges of the Borax from killing cockroaches.

  2. One other area you’ll need to seal up, is the porch roof. We think roaches are living in the wood frames. Also, the land from the foundation has separated from the walls. Roaches living in there. They are on the side of our house walls as well. I’m scared they are in the attic too. Lots of fluff up there. Hard to put balls or DE powder up there.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You might try throwing a few Homemade Cockroach Killer balls into a shallow, uncovered box and setting it in the attic.

  3. Hi I just read this article a minute too late I bought borax and through it all over the kitchen counters please advise if this will help in anyway we have a seriously bad infestation like millions at night they are in every room every cupboard every corner I tried almost everything did the borax balls with sugar and flour nothing seems to be working is this infestation to bad… So now I went crazy and just through borax everywhere on the kitchen counters in the cupboards hoping this would help please help… Will this method work in anyway

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Hi Nelly,
      I think the number one concern here is having Borax spread all over your counters. It’s a powder, which means it can easily become airborne and inhaled. The purpose of mixing it as suggested in this DIY Cockroach Killer recipe is to keep it from floating around in the air, so I’d encourage you to clean it up right away and start over with a safe mix.

  4. J.C Engelbrecht says:

    Well people, greetings from South Africa. Just want to give feedback on the advice received here a few months ago. I am an owner of a takeout restaurant. Despite nightly cleaning before lock-up my premises got roach infested. German Type Roaches. Initially I responded with spraying DyRoach aerosol into the spaces I saw them occupy and by using Doom roach powder to make life unbearable for them. They responded by migrating and taking over previously unaffected areas of the establishment like front of house and the office portion!! Needless to say, that was highly embarrassing! The more I fought them with poison the more they became! It was like they kicked their breeding into overdrive to ensure survival! They were popping up everywhere and I nearly became despondent! Enter the D.I.Y Blogs with a very eco friendly simple recipe. Boracic Acid, Cake Flour and Icing Sugar mixture – equal portions as bait stations + Boracic Paste/Gel placed in strategic places all over. The last thing I did was to dust the premises twice, a week part, with clean Boracic powder. It took a bit over a month but there is not a single roach, baby or adult left and I have tested by coming into the kitchen after lights out and lock up. Not a single one in site! Thank you!!

  5. Roaches CAN destory a computer…….my daughters computer tower was infested with them. I am giving her this recipe to make. I hope it works as well as everyone says it does

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yikes! Don’t sprinkle it in the computer tower, of course.

  6. Omg ANYBODY pleasr tell me if this has worked for you.! I moved into a house 5 months ago. First month didnt notice any bug activity. Then we started to see those hoping cricket spiders in the garage along with beetles. I thought “its the garage. Its like being outside practically. Not worried” And rhen the summer heat striked and roaches! First seen baby roach in cabinet. And denied its existence. A month later it must have had a birthday because I spotted the same roach (probably his sibling) on the floor.

    Im not here to vent. So I need to know…. Did this recipe work quickly and efficiently?

    I should’ve cleaned before moving in. But I trusted my boyfriend and just did a quick wipe down.
    Ill have a list of things to do beforw moving into the next dwelling! Because my assumption is I could’ve done something about it before the bugs took over.

    1. Hi Sydney, try to find out where they gather at because that is the nest or one of them anyways Clean the stains and droppings with dish detergent and dry then spray with roach killer and that will be one place they won’t becoming back to again now go find more dropping inside the cabinets under the sink around the stove and clean it up. you can use Combat gel and after cleaning and drying these areas just add a line an inch long every 12 inches and within a week or two NO more Roaches

  7. Food grade DE also works. Lightly dust under appliances and inside walls. It is non toxic to pets and humans. Actually it is healthy for humans to take for certain health conditions. Also works to kill gleas on pets.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      DE is amazing stuff, isn’t it?

  8. Cynthia Holstine says:

    Do you have to use grease I don’t have any.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      Yes, grease is what attracts cockroaches.

  9. I tried this and within a week I didn’t see anything but tiny roaches. How often do I need to do another round? This is the only thing that has worked for me and I have spent a ton trying to kill them.

    1. Katie Berry says:

      I’d repeat it weekly for at least a month, then monthly after that until you don’t see any at all.

  10. How fast do they die with your idea? Will you see dead roaches in the morning in the plastic container?

    1. Katie Berry says:

      No, they eat the stuff and crawl back in their hole to die. Then their friends feast on them (because cockroaches are disgusting) and they die, too.

  11. will the roach killer balls kill the eggs and babies?