I wish I’d known in college how to get rid of cockroaches because some of the cruddy apartments I lived in literally swarmed with the things when the lights were off. Of course, if I’d known how to clean correctly — and insisted my roommates learn, too — I probably could have cut their population down significantly or at least sent them to live with the neighbors.
Now, even though 20 years have passed, I still shudder when I think of how the things skittered around in our kitchens and bathrooms.
COCKROACHES CARRY DISEASES
Cockroaches aren’t just unsightly bugs — they also harbor a number of vicious bacteria. Cockroaches are thought to carry salmonella, staphylococcus, and streptococcus. They’re even suspected of carrying the polio virus. Some research indicates that cockroaches may also trigger human allergies.
HOW THEY GIVE DISEASES TO HUMANS IS GROSS
Cockroaches aren’t picky about what they eat: they’ll feast on everything from crumbs to fecal matter. They’re also not picky about where they poop. They’re happy to do it on your food, your kitchen counters, wherever. Their poop contains bacteria that can survive in their digestive system for months. When that bacteria makes its way to your body — by eating contaminated food 0r touching contaminated surfaces — you get sick.
Dealing with cockroaches in apartment buildings
While it’s almost impossible to kill cockroaches throughout an entire multi-family structure without heavy toxins, there are many steps you can take (including the DIY Roach Killer, below) to reduce their population and send them looking for somewhere else to live.
How To Get Rid Of Cockroaches
1. Get rid of clutter.
Roaches love the smell of paper, which does a great job of holding on to a pheromone they put out to tell their friends when they’ve found a feast. Your first step in reducing roaches is to eliminate these potential bug-magnets:
- Stacks of newspapers and magazines
- Paper bags from the grocery store
- Unused cardboard boxes
- Other forms of clutter, especially on the floor or bottom of cupboards, where roaches can set up camp.
- Don’t know where to start? Follow the 30-Day plan in my book!
2. Starve them.
Roaches love to eat. Treat them like the unwelcome house guests that they are: to get rid of them, stop feeding them!
- Don’t leave food sitting on your counters, including fruit bowls.
- Store dry goods in tightly-sealed containers.
- Varnish or paint wood shelves to seal them, then wipe them clean regularly.
- Rinse your cans, bottles, and plastics before putting them in your recycling bins.
- Empty trash cans, diaper pails, and litter boxes daily.
3. Clean properly.
A pile of crumbs or splatter of grease is an all-you-can-eat buffet for these bugs.
- Use a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water in a spray bottle to clean under sinks, around water heaters, and inside appliances.
- Vacuum behind your fridge and behind your washer and dryer. Mop the floor there, too.
- Clean your refrigerator regularly. (Yep, they can get in there.)
- Clean spills in your oven.
- Keep your cooktop clean.
- Never leave dishes in the sink.
- Wipe your counters after food preparation, and sweep the floor after meals.
- Mop your hard floors regularly.
- Vacuum each room thoroughly at least once a week, more often if you have small children or pets.
- Keep drains free of grease.
- Scrub the cat litter box weekly with a 50-50 mixture of water and white vinegar.
- Wash pet bowls daily.
4. Use DIY Roach Killer
Once you’ve eliminated the clutter, food sources and breeding areas through the above steps, you’ll want to repel roaches, so they don’t return. Rather than call a pricey exterminator to fog your house, try making this DIY Roach Killer.
DIY Roach Killer Balls
1/8 cup Crisco or bacon drippings
1/8 cup powdered sugar
1 cup Borax
1/2 cup flour (they don’t care if it’s white or wheat)
1. Combine the first four ingredients, then add water slowly just until it forms a soft dough.
2. Roll into balls about the size of an olive.
3. Stash two or three balls where roaches are likely to hang out — under sinks, behind appliances, in food cupboards, etc.
4. Lightly mist the balls with water daily to keep their “scent” fresh.
5. Replace with new balls as needed.
The Crisco or bacon grease and powdered sugar in these balls attract the roaches and give them something to eat. But Borax has very sharp edges, so it tears up their insides and kills them. The result? Dead bugs!
Is Borax safe to use?
Borax is an all-natural substance that is considered safe for use around humans and animals. Like any substance — even water — it can be harmful if ingested in large quantities.
So, it’s a good idea to pop the DIY Roach Repellant Balls in a plastic berry container (which has vent holes that let cockroaches get in) and tape it shut before stashing them where kids or pets can get to them. Or put them down when the kids are asleep at night — which is when cockroaches usually come out, anyway — and pick them up in the morning.
Don’t forget: keeping your home roach-free requires diligence, so even if the roach balls seem to work you’ll want to stay on top of proper food storage, clutter, and cleaning. Good luck!