How to Get Rid of Roaches [Fast]

how to get rid of roaches
Photo: Mike Keeling

Cockroaches are without doubt the most common and disgusting pests in homes and buildings across the world. At night, they crawl out of their hiding places and move into kitchens, sewers, food storage places, drains as well as rubbish bins in search for food and water. The insects have very bad smell and dirty habits, and that’s why everyone hates them.

Many people become allergic to the insects after frequent exposure. They sometimes contribute to the spread of diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid and other intestinal diseases as well.


According to the World Health Organization, there are more than 3,500 species of roaches globally. However, just a few of the species have become a menace to people because of their uncanny ability to live in houses and buildings.

There are five common cockroach species:

1. The American cockroach
2. The German cockroach
3. The Australian cockroach
4. The brown banded roach
5. The oriental cockroach

The pests are very primitive since they have only 3 stages in their whole life cycle. The three stages are- egg, nymph and adult.
How to get rid of roaches- how do they behave?

Pest roaches generally live close to people. Even though they originate from tropical areas, most species inhabit parts of buildings with enough warmth, food and moisture, particularly in temperate areas.

The pests have a tendency of living in groups. During the day, they hide in crevices or cracks in walls, furniture as well as door frames. They also hide in secure locations in bathrooms, sewer systems, cupboards, drains, steam tunnels, electric devices such as radio sets, animal houses and basements, among other places. At night, they become very active.

If your kitchen is infested by roaches, you’ll notice them scampering from safety from unwashed dishes, the floor, utensils, sink and other working surfaces whenever you switch on the lights.

What do roaches feed on?

Photo: Richard Baker

The pests feed on a wide range of food types, including everything that you eat at home. They prefer foods rich in sugar and starch. The insects can also sip milk and water, and nibble at chocolate, cheese, sugar, meat, grains and pastry.

Additionally, cockroaches feed on things like cardboard, sick persons, book bindings, sleeping persons, ceiling boards, fingernails, inner lining of soles, sputum, their own shed-off skins, excrement, other crippled or dead roaches and dried blood as well.
How to get rid of roaches- how do they move from one place to another?

Some species of the pest migrate in large groups as a result of overcrowding. They move from one location to another by flying and/or crawling.

Cockroaches can get into your house through boxes that you use to carry items like bottled drinks. They can also move into your house through bags of foodstuffs that were previously stored in infested areas.

The pests can also be unknowingly transported over long distances by aircraft, cars and ships.

Why are they a nuisance?

Roaches are a nuisance since they spread dirt and destroy food, book bindings, cupboards and fabrics, among other items. They have a tendency of disgorging portions of digested food. Additionally, they drop feces everywhere.

The pests discharge secretions from their mouths and other body openings, and the secretions leave a disgusting and long-term smell on food, cupboards and other surfaces that they crawl on.

Spread of diseases

Roaches freely roam from one building to another, and from drainage systems, latrines, gardens and sewage systems to areas inhabited by human beings. Since they feed on a wide range of food types (ranging from human food to feces), the pests can easily spread disease-causing germs.

Like houseflies, cockroaches can contribute to the spread of life-threatening diseases like diarrhea, poliomyelitis and other viral diseases, dysentery, typhoid, cholera, plague and leprosy, among other diseases.

Additionally, they carry eggs of dangerous parasitic worms. That is why the pests cause allergic reactions such as dermatitis, swelling of eyelids and persistent itching.

How to get rid of roaches

1. Environmental management

i. Maintain high standards of hygiene and cleanliness

How to get rid of cockroaches
Photo: oliver.dodd

To eliminate the pests, store food in covered containers, refrigerators and/or screened cabinets. Make sure that all surfaces are clean. Do not leave any organic matter or food remains on the floor or other surfaces. Securely cover all the rubbish bins. If possible, empty them every day.

Ensure that all basements and areas under buildings are dry and completely free of water or food particles.

ii. Minimize accessibility

Carefully check for the presence of roaches in groceries, furniture, laundry, egg crates and laundry before taking them inside your house.
You can limit accessibility to the house by filling in any gaps that may be in door frames, walls and floor. Openings for drainage pipes, electricity cables, sewer pipes and drinking water pipes should be closed as well.

2. Chemical control

You can get rid of roaches using chemicals. However, this may be difficult in some cases because of two main reasons. The pests can develop resistance against frequently used compounds. Secondly, most insecticides are repellent to cockroaches, so they avoid crawling on areas where you have applied the chemical compounds.

Essentially, chemical control only provides temporary relief. For that reason, it should be applied together with house improvement and proper environmental management.

The following are effective methods of eliminating roaches using chemicals

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i. Residual sprays

To eliminate the repulsive roaches, spray biodegradable organo-phosphorous insecticides, insect growth regulators and synthetic pyrethroids.

Insect growth regulators are extremely toxic to larvae or pupa. They work by interfering with the life cycle. They are ideal in cases where roaches have developed strong resistance against frequently used insecticides.

ii. Dusts

Dusts can also help answer the question- how to get rid of roaches. You can make dry powder formulations by mixing an inert carrier powder with insecticide powder. They are suitable for treating places that are not easily accessible, such as ceilings and hollow walls.
You can apply the powders using a spoon, or use a puff-duster to blow into spaces.

When the dusts are well dispersed, they go deep into crevices and other hiding places. Heavy deposits of dust drive away the pests and force them to migrate to open areas.

Do not apply the dusts on wet surfaces because moisture reduces their effectiveness.

iii. Aerosols

How to kill roaches
Photo: Luis Gustavo Lira

These are fine sprays consisting of small insecticide droplets. Aerosol insecticides are suitable for spraying in spaces since the droplets remain suspended in the air for a while, thus eliminating cockroaches by contact. The spray cans contain insecticide that can knock down cockroaches and other insects. Since they are readily available, they are ideal for killing roaches.

Aerosols have the ability of penetrating into cracks and other inaccessible areas where the pests hide. They contain irritants such as pyrethroids or pyrethrins that force cockroaches to move out of their hideouts so as to reduce time needed to eliminate them.

Aerosols can quickly reduce the population of roaches. However, they should be used together with residual sprays to get a long-term solution.

In some cities, roaches are controlled using fog emitted by thermo-fogging devices.

iv. Smoke

This is an effective method of eliminating repulsive cockroaches. Heat is used to generate clouds of insecticide-particles. The size of particles is smaller than those found in aerosols. The smoke penetrates into the hideouts of roaches.

The method is ideal for use in basements, drainage systems and sewerage systems as well.

v. Traps and baits

These two methods have been consistently used for many years to get rid of cockroaches, and they are still widely used in settings like laboratories and offices, especially if the roaches have developed resistance against frequently used insecticides.

Most of the products work by attracting the pests to a particular point, and then ensnaring or killing them on the spot. Attractive chemicals such as pheromones as well as food items are some of the substances that are commonly used to attract the pests. The trapping element usually consists of sticky substance or mechanical trap. You can construct a jar trap using an empty jar, pieces of food and petroleum jelly. When you pace the food at the bottom, roaches will get attracted to it and get stuck.

Toxic baits are also a good alternative to traps. They are made of attractive food mixed with insecticide. They are available as either pastes or pellets. Pastes are commonly sold in large containers, while pellets are availed in small containers. The former can dry on their own, so you can apply on surfaces.

In most markets, you can purchase dry baits in sealed traps. The dry baits are suitable for use in buildings where there are pets and children. Peanut meal, maltose as well as dog food are some of the food materials that are commonly used as bait.

It is easy to get rid of roaches using traps and baits. They should be strategically placed in areas frequented by the repulsive insects. To increase their effectiveness, make sure there is no other food lying around that can compete with the bait. Additionally, the environmental hygiene should be properly maintained. If the building is heavily infested by cockroaches, then you must replace the baits frequently.

Vi. Repellents

This method is suitable for use in shipping containers as well as cases containing food and drinks. Getting rid of cockroaches from these places prevents them from moving from one place to another. Other areas where repellents can be used include beverage vending machines and kitchen cupboards, among other areas.

Essential oils like mint oil, eucalyptus oil as well as spearmint oil are also effective at repelling cockroaches. However, use of synthetic products provides the best results. For instance, you can treat interior surfaces with the right dilutions of deet or DMP. A deposit of half a gram of deet per square centimeter can repel more than 80% of the five common cockroach species for up to seven days. Currently, scientific studies are being conducted on more promising compounds like DECA and DEPA , and they may be available for commercial use in the next few years.

Why you should hire professional exterminators

You can use any of the above-mentioned techniques to eliminate cockroaches in you building on your own. However, the methods may only be effective in the short-term. The pests may re-emerge after a few weeks or months. For that reason, you should consider hiring professional exterminators to eliminate the disgusting insects.

The following are reasons why you should hire experts to deal with the problem:

1. Professional exterminators are effective at what they do. With experts, the possibility of completely eliminating the roaches is more than 90%.
2. They are efficient. Exterminators can complete the job within hours, regardless of how large your building is. On the other hand, doing it yourself may take several days.
3. Exterminators do the job using the right equipment. You only need to pay a one-time fee, then sit back and wait for the job to be done. If you DIY, you would be forced to purchase assorted equipment or even improvise.
4. They know where to smoke them out. Since exterminators have done the job for a while, they know exactly where roaches hide and their behavioral patterns as well.
5. Experts know how to prevent re-infestation. If you DIY, the disgusting roaches may re-emerge a few weeks later.
6. Exterminators know all the right techniques. They have been contracted to do similar jobs in many other places, so they know techniques that work and others that do not work.
7. Professionals know the right insecticides to use that cannot pose a health hazard to you or other inhabitants of the building.

Frequency of treatment

The period during which the solutions described above remain effective is determined by factors like thoroughness of application, extent of rubbing off, rate of re-infestation, humidity, chemicals used, temperature, dosage and type of surface, among other elements.

Safety and care

In a quest to get rid of cockroaches, make sure that you do not contaminate food or drinking water.
Do not treat areas that are easily accessible by pets and children. In the treatment of pet shops, animal zoos and other special situations, avoid using dusts and residual sprays. In such cases, apply chemicals on surfaces using a brush. Using silica aerogel, boric acid or other chemicals that are less toxic to birds, human beings and animals can be a good alternative.

Fabrics, floor tiles, door surfaces and other household materials may get stained by some formulations. It is therefore important to seek information about the matter before commencing treatment.