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How Should I Kill Cockroaches?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 16, 2024
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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.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon324457 — On Mar 11, 2013

Boric acid crystals are like razors to the external skeletons of cockroaches -- so my question (for anon24390) is: does sterilization occur by castration?

By anon323346 — On Mar 04, 2013

Silverfish like humid, wet places. Put a dehumidifier or get some more airflow through the space where you want to get rid of them.

By anon308715 — On Dec 12, 2012

Roaches are a nuisance. It's really up to the homeowner whether to get rid of them or not. The roaches themselves pose no threat to humans, but you may want to keep the appearance of cleanliness around your home and get rid of roaches before the company you keep sees them!

By anon282213 — On Jul 27, 2012

Boric acid does not work at all, sorry to tell you. Try using demon wp. It works great.

By anon106021 — On Aug 23, 2010

i use dry sand and vodka. they get drunk and stone each other to death.

By phillybama — On Jul 22, 2010

Thanks for the boric acid tip. I'm going to place mine in old jar lids so that I can move it around.

By earth — On Jul 10, 2010

get a duck. They're the best roach hunters.

By anon91144 — On Jun 20, 2010

i recently repossessed a four bedroom home from a heroin addict family member and the roaches were so bad there they fell from the door as you opened it, like out of a movie.

i bought moth balls to get rid of the smell and some got crushed in to the carpet of one room and there's a lot of dead roaches all over the house just from that room. I'm going to spread them through the whole house next.

By anon36264 — On Jul 11, 2009

I live in senior housing and we are totally infested outside at night. They come out of the ground by the thousands. We get the inside sprayed but nothing is being done about the outside. What can I do to get rid of them outside?? We also have animals so I don't want to have them get hurt. I have a service dog myself.

By Rocksterr — On Feb 07, 2009

Get "Dead Fast". Google it. I've used boric acid and it works fairly well, but compared to Deadfast it's in the slow lane. If you have roaches and you try Deadfast you won't have roaches for much longer and you will be amazed at how effective and fast it works.

By anon24465 — On Jan 12, 2009

I tested using BORIC powder which works like the BEST and less harmful. But it starts working only after a week or ten days and it is good for at least for one year!

By anon24456 — On Jan 12, 2009

I've lived in cockroach heaven (Hawaii) and I found the best way to kill cockroaches was to use Boric Acid powder puffed into hidden spaces -- backs of cupboards, along the stove. Caution: it may be harmful to crawling children or animals which I had none of. I had a roach-infested neighbor in Boston, and I used this there. My roaches moved on -- perhaps to room with hers.

By patcox — On Jan 12, 2009

I got rid of cockroaches by laying down moth balls in the area. I'm not sure why it works or whats in the moth ball but it works.

By anon24441 — On Jan 12, 2009

my wife does good, she gets condensed milk mixed with boric acid in little balls. Placing them in corners all over the house she got rid of them really quick

By rleroygordon — On Jan 12, 2009

One story I heard of years ago is of the guy who bought a tarantula. He tied it to the end of an 18-inch long piece of string. Every night he'd tie it to a table leg, then scatter fruit within the radius of the string. Supposedly, after a month he went from seeing something like 30 a night to seeing maybe one a week.

By Granny41 — On Jan 12, 2009

What about borax? I've heard that borax will kill roaches. Is this not true?

By screenwriter — On Jan 12, 2009

Additionally, apartment complexes, multiple family dwellings can make this problem exponentially worse.

Casual measures are ineffective. What is required to bring about control is an all out assault which means, aerosol, baiting and chemical barriers, all of which the professional is more suited to deliver safely. BTW, Roach Chemicals are the most expensive and the most toxic materials commonly employed by a Pest Control Operator.

By screenwriter — On Jan 12, 2009

My family's business was pest control. I worked in the business for more than ten years. Cockroaches are extremely difficult.

They are chemically resistant, (they develop immunity) they multiply rapidly and gaining clear access to their nesting area is nearly impossible.

For these reasons I highly recommend consulting a professional experienced Pest Control Operator.

Mistakes you may make in battling them can often compound making the situation worse.

By anon24408 — On Jan 12, 2009

using diatomaceous earth (used in pool filters) works too........just leave a trail of it, like a little hill, along the area of problem......it feels soft to us but it is really made up of razor sharp crystals that slice into any bug that attempts to cross it cause death..........also available in better hardware stores in small packages in the bug spray isle....

By anon24404 — On Jan 12, 2009

Have you people never heard of boric acid? It's cheaper and safer than sprays. That's what I used. And as a bonus I got to watch them crawl across the floor when their body parts started falling off.

By anon24397 — On Jan 12, 2009

I want to know how to get rid of silverfish. It's taken us years and constant vigilance (24/7) to get rid of them completely (?) from the house but we still come across one or two when we bring things in from the storage room. They are really destructive - causing real monetary damages to clothing, furniture and papers.

By anon24396 — On Jan 12, 2009

someone advised me, when he lived in Texas he worked for a co. who just put boric acid behind stoves, fridges etc. (keep away from cats and babies or other. The cockroach gets it on their legs and cleans it off in their nests, it makes them thirsty and they more or less drink themselves to death. But it's cheap and you don't have to pay a company all that money. All I can say is creepy!

By anon24392 — On Jan 12, 2009

Yes sir, this is very useful topic that people of all walks of life will be interested and will definitely make use of he remedial measures you suggest. Please keep it up.

By anon24390 — On Jan 12, 2009

The best way I've found to eliminate cockroaches in their nest is to sterilize the males... by sprinkling boric acid (powder) behind the stove, refrigerator and inside the far end of cupboards safely away from children and pets:) Nothing works better and there is no smell...

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to HomeQuestionsAnswered, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a...
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