Many people who have encountered a cockroach infestation in the past would say the best way to kill cockroaches is early and often. Because cockroaches tend to remain hidden in their nesting areas, it is often said that the sight of one cockroach in the open indicates the presence of at least 100 more which remain hidden behind walls and under floors. Fortunately, there are several ways to kill cockroaches which address both the visible and the invisible variety.
One way to kill roaches is through aerosol or non-aerosol bug sprays. These chemical sprays are designed to kill many roaches on contact, then create a line of poison which individual cockroaches drag into their nesting areas. Some insecticides act as deadly nerve agents, attacking the central nervous systems of the cockroaches and rendering them dead within seconds of contact. These spray insecticides may only have a minimal effect on reproduction, however, and they can be toxic to animals and children.
Another popular method to kill cockroaches is the use of bait traps, or so-called "roach motels." These traps usually contain a small amount of a chemical bait, which entices cockroaches to enter the trap through small openings. Once inside, however, it is nearly impossible for the cockroaches to escape and they die from exposure to poisoned bait or the effects of starvation. At least these cockroaches cannot return to their original nests to reproduce or continue scavenging for food.
There are some insecticide products available which address the reproductive side of a cockroach infestation. The active ingredients not only kill the adult cockroach, but also neutralize the unborn offspring inside the cockroach's egg sac. Killing all the visible cockroaches in an infested area may eliminate some immediate problems, but the larger problem cannot be addressed until the reproduction cycle is stopped. This is why many pest control experts do not recommend stepping on cockroaches as an extermination method. This action may release the egg sac, allowing many more baby cockroaches to take up the cause.
If all else fails, the infested area may have to be fumigated or sprayed by professional exterminators. Professional exterminators have access to chemicals which will kill virtually every living thing in a prescribed area, which usually means a complete evacuation of the entire household and several days of cleaning all exposed objects after the treatment. They may also be able to determine the main areas of infestation and introduce powerful insecticides with egg-killing capability directly into the walls and flooring. These services are not inexpensive, but they will usually get the job done when other methods fail.