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How to Get Rid of Roaches (or) How to Kill a Cockroach Invasion

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Cockroaches are gross. I don’t know if it’s their relatively large size, their long antennae, those creepy looking legs, or the fact that their backs so disgustingly shiny. Oh… and they’re almost indestructible. It’s like you kill one and three more appear within days, each one having been grown from the pieces of the one you smashed with your shoe! As the saying goes, if you see one wandering around, chances are you have dozens more crawling around in your walls. It’s a disgusting thought that gives me goosebumps and fortunately we’ve been (knock on wood) lucky enough not to have any problems with roaches. (there’s a reason why this post has no picture :))

However, we live in a townhouse, which means our house is physically connected to our neighbors on two sides. One of the first lessons you learn when you live in a townhome is that your neighbor’s problems soon become your own. If your neighbor has his or her house treated for an infestation, like a roach invasion, chances are you have the same problem, even if you don’t know it. If you don’t yet have an infestation, the survivors of your neighbor’s treatment may find themselves moving in.

So while we don’t have a roach invasion just yet, an ounce of prevention is said to be worth a pound of cure.

Preventing a Roach Invasion

There isn’t anything you can do that 100% prevents an infestation but there are some steps you can take that make your home less appealing to a roach family. Like killing ants, the key to preventing infestation is cleanliness. The kitchen is the number one room in your home where this is crucial because it’s like a buffet for them. Put food away, keep your counters clean, and empty your trash regularly. We keep our trash outdoors (we have a sliding door that opens to a “reviewing stand,” we keep the trash bin there) in our attempt to battle back against ants.

Put naphthalene balls (also known as moth balls) in the corners of your kitchen, little critters hate that smell and try to avoid it. Finally, if you can invest the time, try to seal all the external and internal cracks in your home. If they want to get in, they will, but doing this will make it just a little bit trickier for them.

What if the cockroaches have already invaded?

How to Kill Cockroaches

The big problem with cockroaches is that they reproduce very quickly and are notoriously difficult to kill. Each female roach can lay up to forty eggs at a time and produce over four hundred roaches in her lifetime, which is about a year. They can go a month without food, though they eat almost anything (like your dead skin flakes), and breathe using a series of tubes (trachea) in their body so you can chop off their legs or even their head… and they won’t die. Resilient little buggers. Heck, they can even survive the fallout of a nuclear explosion. So what can you use to kill these critters?

Borax. (or boric acid) The treat involves mixing borax with a lure that makes the roaches eat it. With ants, you can use a jelly or jam (we found they loved peanut butter) mixed with about 5% borax. They take the jelly poison back home, share it with their friends, and everyone dies. I’ve seen recipes that call for boric acid with flour and cocoa, I’ve seen it with jelly, and I’ve quickly learned the key is to mix it with something that is both sticky and appealing to the buggers. You want it to be weak enough (5%) so that it doesn’t kill them instantly, you want them to bring it back home and feed it to their friends.

Boric acid is going to be one of the least toxic (though it is still mildly toxic, just not highly toxic) option and is better than insecticides or other purchased remedies like sprays and roach bait. The tricky part about all these remedies is that pets (and kids) are liable to eat them. We have a pet beagle and the little guy absolutely loves all kinds of food, especially bread products, so anything that uses a jelly or a flour is out unless we are cordon off the treatment area.

Water Jars

Water jars have been said to provide a nice alternative. Put a jar with water and some coffee grounds (as bait) beside a wall. Stale beer is said to be a good lure too. Cockroaches feel most comfortable when they can touch a wall so you keep them in that comfort zone when you put the jar beside the wall. The water and the coffee grounds act as bait and the idea is that they crawl in but can’t crawl out (the glass jar’s walls are too slippery). This remedy is the safest but you need to remember to empty out the jar periodically.

{ 49 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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49 Responses to “How to Get Rid of Roaches (or) How to Kill a Cockroach Invasion”

  1. VoorheesKat says:

    Here’s a cheap, easy way to get rid of fleas. Buy a box of 20 Mule Team Borax and sprinkle it on carpet, furniture, etc. like you would Carpet Fresh. Leave it in the carpet and furniture for a day or two, won’t do any harm, and smells nice. If you sprinkle it on your bed, it sort of feels like there’s sand in the bed. Vacuum the carpet and furniture. Fleas gone. Home smells nice. Don’t forget to get Fido or Fifi a flea collar!
    This works.

    • Marie says:

      I wonder if this will work on roaches spiders silverfish and if it would work if cleaned with it too as far as pest control. cutey475@

  2. Anonymous says:

    Lots of great advice here! Since we have neighbors with a major roach infestation we occasionally spy roaches in & around our home (Totally grosses me out!) I’ll be sure to give both the boric acid & the moth balls a try. Thank you so much.

  3. Joy says:

    I’ve used Borax (20 Mule Team Boric Acid) on the carpet and it works! The problem is the little bastards are crawling on the walls now…almost exclusively.

    At this point, I’ve sprayed so much aerosol roach killer that it’s affecting my breathing. I keep my apartment spotless! I don’t know what to do!

    Think the apartment building is infested because my neighbor said she sees them in her place also.

    Any suggestions would be helpful.
    Also, to the person who tried “MaxForce Gel,” did you apply this to you walls?

  4. janice says:

    I dicoverd roaches and plan to hire a bug person but in the mean time I spray those I see with cooking spray and they dies in their tracks and is not harmful to food or pets.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I used the Boric acid! Put it behind…around…under cupboards..walls…appliances. Gone in a week!! Love it! Thank you!

  6. Anonymous says:

    The boric acid works and Bengal spray it in your vents and close them off all day this fogs up the walls its kind of pricey but it works I still see roaches sometimes but I think they’ve been here for awhile!! Just place I’m going to bomb it before I move in

  7. jany says:

    I had roaches in my couch only,I bombed my home 2 times and got rid of couch. …I hope this will work.please help me out here…..i have super clean home & I want. these gone……any help will be appreicated…..thank-you

  8. Dawn says:

    When we were living in Tennessee when I was nine my house became known as the front line of roach defense. The neighbors had terrible infestations and my mom could not stand the buggers. Boric acid is great, but mix it with a bit of Cayenne Power and sprinkle around exposed areas outside the house to keep them out. Roaches do not like the taste or smell of Cayenne and are naturally detoured by it; however, if they are stubborn and still want to come in the boric acid will take care of the rest. We also sprayed once a month just in case, kept the house super clean and placed all non refrigerated food in tightly sealed jars. After living in the home for two months my mom had those little suckers out and they did not come back while we were living there. I am a northern girl and I cannot comprehend how some southerners can handle living with those nasty creatures like they are members of the family and a part of life. YUCK!!

  9. Dominick says:

    Well, My wife and I are currently dealing with a roach invasion. I think I may have caught it early enough that I may be able to get rid of them. Unfortunately, we had a roommate (with whom we have parted ways with since) who brought the little buggers with her after she kept bringing stuff from her mom’s (who has one of the biggest infestations I have ever seen) and she kept her room a disgusting pig sty. I have used a few TAT foggers so far and seen only one or two dead bugs and discarded them quickly. I have also place Combat Gel in and around all the sneaky little places they like to live and crawl through. I did see a bug the other day and it was acting rather weird, anyone who knows anything about roaches know they are generally deterred by light and I saw him in the middle of the day and he was fluttering a bit and kind of floppy. He did not scurry or scamper it seemed like he was dying, of which I have confirmed with an Orkin man. Just to make sure I have them defeated, I have now made the Boric Acid roach bates from a recipe I found online of 50/50 Boric Acid and Flower and a quarter amount of Confectioners sugar with minced onion and scattered them through out the area. The Orkin man also confirmed the effectiveness of Boric acid powder (of which you can get at Family Dollar for about $5) so just to be extra sure I have spread a bunch of that around the roach balls and in several cracks in the walls. I have a baby due in June and I REFUSE to let those disease carrying monsters near my son. I worked in rent to own furniture and appliances and have seen how bad infestations get if left untreated. Also, before anyone says anything I am already aware to not let my wife touch or handle any of this stuff. I will keep you all posted as to my outcome.

    • Dominick says:

      SUCCESS!!! It’s been a month now and have only seen 2 DEAD bugs since all out war. They were crispy and dried up little critters so no more roaches. Honestly a combination of bombing, combat gel, and boric acid treats seems to have done the trick. It can be done. I have done it. Trust me. the boric acid treats are what I am suspecting did the trick to be honest. I also squirted boric acid directly into cracks and crevices in the walls so they had to crawl through it. A big thing that helped too I think was catching it early.

      • Scared of Bugs says:

        I was reading your post so I thought maybe you could answer my question….

        I saw a huge roach about a month ago wondering in my kitchen at night on the floor. I killed….not a big deal. Well my husband told me he has seen them in our bathroom at night. UGH!!!!! Not aware of that because I never turn on the light at night, I just use the bathroom. Well Friday I turned on the light at 3am…low and behold, i saw a roach in the restroom and killed it….then at 5am went to get ready for work and saw another one. Well when that happened I screamed and cried so my husband sealed all the cracks that were noticable, we sprayed insise and outside thehouse and laid bait.

        I have not seen dead or any roaches for 5 days….Is that a good sign?????

  10. Lynn Rogers says:

    We have tried everything! Borax, water, jelly, sprays, aerosols, even the chalk one can buy to line the corners and edges of cupboards etc (this has the best result thus far, but has not resolved the problem). Our kitchen is spotless, our food is all in sealed containers… yet they get into our cutlery drawer, our tupperware drawer, our dishwasher, microwave, stove, oven, cupboards, bathroom mirror, even in our vacuum cleaner and even in my photo albums where they have ruined my photos, laid eggs and pooped and whatever other disgusting things they excrete. We HAVE had pest control in, and even that has proven worthless. It is so bad that we have put our house on the market and are wanting to move.
    I don’t think there is any properly effective way to deal with them!

    • Southern Living says:

      Try diatomaceous earth, food grade, not the kind from the pool stores used in filtration. Diatomite is used as an insecticide, due to its abrasive and physico-sorptive properties. The fine powder absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects’ exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. This also works against gastropods and is commonly employed in gardening to defeat slugs. However, since slugs inhabit humid environments, efficacy is very low. It is sometimes mixed with an attractant or other additives to increase its effectiveness. Medical-grade diatomite is sometimes used to de-worm both animals and humans, with questionable efficacy. It is commonly used in lieu of boric acid, and can be used to help control and eliminate bed bug, house dust mite, cockroach and flea infestations. I’ve used this for flea infestations in the house (looked like it snowed indoors) and in the garage, side effect…roaches dead too. Only downfall, when used outside it gets washed away with watering or rain. I put this behind my baseboards, where ever there is a crack in the house, between the cracks on my deck…fleas gone, or chased away, roaches on their backs with legs in the air!!

      In order to be effective as an insecticide, diatomaceous earth must be uncalcinated (i.e., it must not be heat-treated prior to application)[15] and have a mean particle size below about 12 microns

  11. Anonymous says:

    HELP…… WE recently had a house guest stay with us for a week, they were from Florida. We live in NC. Previous to this guest, we have only ever seen spiders and hornets inside our home. The hornets have a serious nest going on in our roof, and our attempts to rid them have not worked. We have only been here a little over a year.

    Well anywhoo…. I found a huge bug I thought was a cockroach, and immediately wanted to blame my house guest, as it was the very next day after they left that it was spotted…, but didnt want to be rude. Well my mother called anyway and flat out asked. The house guest said, “well down here we get Palmetto bugs but it ain’t from bein dirty.” A sign of relief only to then google it and find out that palmetto bugs are the southern folks fancy way of saying cockroach because thats what they are.ugh

    well we caught the rather large one and destroyed it outside…… almost a month has passed since this incident and we have never seen another, after the incident we searched the guest room top to bottom and did not find another….. WE SHOULD HAVE SPRAYED…..

    I found a small one today, it didnt have wings, but i found out that they dont get their wings until their an adult…. i was able to catch it and put in in a jar… i will find out what the hell it is, but it sure looks like a creepy cockroach.

    Should I just assume I am infested even though I havent seen one until now and they dont seem to be around my kitchen or anywhere else… The large one was in my spare room and the little one was found in my bedroom wich is adjacent to this room………

    WHAT SHOULD I DO>>>>> BORIC ACID or call a pro??

    • Anonymous says:

      You have wood roaches all you need to do is put down a little boric acid around baseboards in closets, maybe under and around your house. And call your house guest and apologize! !!

  12. Kim says:

    I live in an apartment and the couple next door are filthy beyond measure. They have roaches, fleas and bedbugs. They recently started spraying with a very toxic chemical that has driven the roaches over to my apartment. I immediately went out and got some boric acid. I knew from past experience many years ago that this is the only effective remedy for roaches unless you call a pest control service. Some people don’t have the best luck with boric acid because they don’t know how to use it. When I read comments not just on this thread but others as well posted by people who said they didn’t have much luck I always find that they didn’t apply it correctly. #1. Never apply boric acid with a spoon. The plastic bottle has a tip at the end and you turn the bottle upside down then squeeze the bottle which will produce a dust. The objective is to get the roaches to walk across the dust or a line of powder. If you put a spoonful in a corner, this is not as effective because the roaches may not crawl up the mound or eat it. You want a line of powder so that the roaches can crawl across it. Using the tip of the bottle (held upside down) squeeze the powder behind your stove, refrigerator, under your sink and in any crevice or crack that you can see. I have squeezed a thin line of powder on the floor in my kitchen around the entire wall area because it’s not really toxic to humans. In order for a roach to now climb up it has to walk through that powder and it’s going to take it straight back to the nest to kill other roaches. I do not mix boric acid with anything. You cannot get boric acid wet or it will not be effective. I put the boric acid down 4 days ago. I saw about 8 small roaches in my kitchen. I cut the light on last night around 2 am and I saw 2 small roaches. I did not kill them because they are doing what I want them to do which is take the boric acid back to the nest. I know it sounds horrible because we want to kill a roach as soon as we see one but if you kill them then how is the boric acid going to reach the nest? DON’T KILL THEM! They will kill themselves when they go to lick the boric acid off! It takes a full week to see results. I think a lot of people sweep the boric acid up before a full week has elapsed because they think that it’s a chemical that can harm them. I also believe that this is the reason why a lot of people don’t have much luck with boric acid. I had this problem many years ago back in the 80’s (roaches) at another unit I lived in and I left the boric acid down for 3 weeks but the roaches were gone long before then. Leaving the boric acid down for this long was the best thing I ever did because I never saw another roach the entire time I lived in that unit. I plan to do the same at the unit where I am living now. If you put the boric acid behind your stove and refrigerator don’t sweep it up until you decide to pull your appliances out to clean. Even then, apply some new powder behind the appliances and under the sink because it will keep the roaches away.

    • Rosa says:


      I found your post very interesting. Here’s my issue. Early September, we noticed a roach (German Cockroach to be exact). Anyway, my husband put out Combat stations where ever he could. We didn’t think we were infested and were being super careful to NOT get infested. On the 25th, I had Orkin come out and do their magic. I still don’t feel like I have any relief. His sprayed insecticide, put up more bait stations and had a syringe with what he said had bait in it. The roaches will then eat the bait and take it back to their friends. Mind you, the ONLY spot we saw these critters was in the kitchen. This morning I saw a baby in the living room and my son saw an adult in his room a few hours after. Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated. I have a TERRIBLE phobia of ALL bugs and am ready to be medicated.

  13. Shirley says:

    If you will sprinkle table salt on your carpets then lightly take the tips of your broom and brush over your carpet so that the salt can get down in the fibers of the carpet. It will kill fleas.You have to do this for 3 days straight then on the 4th day vaccum.The salt (when it gets down in the fibers of carpet) will burn the fleas.It really works.

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