Cockroaches are among the most common household pests in existence, infesting millions of homes all across the globe. Unlike mosquitoes or houseflies or rats, cockroaches are not seasonal pests (they can take over your home regardless of what season it is), and neither do they take up residence inside a house in small numbers (a cockroach infestation will, on average, consist of dozens of colonies of the buggers).
The sheer population of cockroaches that exists and the likeliness of these pests infesting any given house are the reason why many people end up wondering how to get rid of cockroaches.
Why is a cockroach infestation something that needs to be “dealt with”? Why are cockroaches bad for a household? Well, beyond these pests being disgusting in appearance and deathly terrifying when they sprout wings out of nowhere when you try to kill them, they are also carriers of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, diarrhoea and skin rashes in humans and even trigger allergies, especially in children.
And if that did not already make them public enemy number one to your comfort and health within your own home, once these vermin get comfortable inside a house, they quickly reproduce and multiply, further cementing their infestation. In large enough numbers, cockroaches and their droppings give rise to a particularly unpleasant odor in infested areas.
There are several different kinds of cockroaches infesting households across the globe. However, whether you’re dealing with American cockroaches, oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches, smoky brown cockroaches, wood roaches, brown-banded cockroaches or palmetto bugs, the process for eliminating their infestation can be broken down into the same four phases:
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches?
Phase One: Reconnaissance
For those who wonder how to get rid of cockroaches: eliminating a roach infestation is a battle. And the first stage of the battle is reconnaissance – you need to know your enemy to defeat your enemy. After dark, take a flashlight to the darkest nooks and crannies of your house and scour every inch of your home for signs of vermin life. Cockroaches try to avoid contact with humans as much as possible, so if you can’t find roaches, look for poop!
An abundance of roach droppings is a telltale sign of a cockroach infestation. The goal of this recon mission is to identify problem areas within your house and high roach traffic spots for you to focus your cockroach-killing efforts on.
Phase Two: Eradication of Sustenance
Like humans, cockroaches need food and water to survive, but due to their size, they require very little of either. Even so, taking away a cockroach infestation’s sustenance goes a long way in eliminating the infestation itself. If you have identified a cockroach problem in your house, a little cleaning is what the roach doctor ordered: Clean out your drawers and cabinets (even behind them and behind your fridge!) to make sure there are no sources of food lying around for roaches to feast on, make sure all of the containers in your house that have food in them (even cereal boxes!) are appropriately sealed, limit eating to one room (if possible), and make sure that even the tiniest crumbs of food are quickly cleaned up because a breadcrumb the size of a pea is nothing to a human, but enough rations for an entire colony of roaches.
In addition, you need to make sure that there are no unsealed containers of water inside your house, all sources and outlets of water (faucets and the like) are aptly sealed and not leaking, and any damp clothes or materials are either sealed inside containers/bags, put into dryers or taken outside the house.
Unlike humans, “food” for cockroaches doesn’t have to be fresh or even clean – garbage cans are a cockroach infestation’s best friend. Make sure all of the garbage cans within the confines of your home are clean and closed at all times as any garbage can a cockroach has access to is an infinite supply of nourishment for the little pest.
Phase Three: Elimination
When it comes to the actual elimination of the wretched cockroaches infesting their home, the average person’s mind leads to a pretty predictable destination: a powerful pesticide spray that kills cockroaches.
While pesticide sprays are entirely capable of killing roaches, they can also contaminate surfaces that the human residents of an infested house come in contact with (countertops, tabletops, appliances and what have you). That being the case, the recommended course of action is to use a gel bait instead.
Gel bait comes in a tube, making it easy to apply to any and all surfaces. The gel inside attracts cockroaches who proceed to feast on it and die soon after. One cockroach poisoned by gel bait infects 40 other cockroaches on average, usually through feces and when other cockroaches feed on cockroach zero’s now-dead body.
To eliminate the cockroach population living inside your house, buy an appropriate amount of gel bait and apply it in generous amounts to and around all of the problem areas and high roach traffic spots you identified as part of your reconnaissance mission during phase one.
Phase Four: Preventative Measures
If you’ve ever wondered how to get rid of cockroaches, you need to know that gradually strangling the life out of the roach infestation your home is currently afflicted by is only half the battle – the other half is making sure the cockroaches you worked so hard to get rid of don’t make a return to your home for a sequel and preventing any future infestations.
A key aspect of doing this is to make sure you stick to the measures you took and continue the practices you adopted during phase two of your war against cockroaches.
Apart from food and water, what cockroaches stumble into homes looking for is shelter. For you to prevent future roach infestations, not only do you need to make sure there is a little hiding space for any pests inside your home as possible, you also need to board up and seal every avenue these pests use to find their way into your house. The reconnaissance you performed during phase one of this operation will have given you an idea of what the high roach traffic areas in your home are.
Look for any cracks, crevices and gaps you can find in or around these areas, and in your house in general. Use caulk to fill in and seal cracks or gaps between walls or tiles and any entry holes you find, fill in any crevices with cement or caulk or even metal mesh, make sure the areas surrounding piping and other fixtures are sealed and have no gaps, and ensure that all of your doors and windows have no gaps.
Boric acid, a substance incredibly low in toxicity to humans, is straight-up poison to cockroaches. Over the counter boric acid comes in the form of a powder – sprinkle this powder in places you believe cockroaches are likely to hide in when they take up residence inside your house (dark corners of your rooms and inside cabinets and drawers, for example). Not only will boric acid help eliminate stragglers from an ongoing infestation, but it will also repel any would-be new invaders from putting down roots.
To prevent future cockroach infestations, you need to turn your house into an inhospitable environment for cockroaches. Completely eradicating all sources of food and water for cockroaches is not completely achievable, but you can go the extra mile and make your home completely incompatible with cockroach infestations using essential oils. Eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender and peppermint oils disrupt the scent trails cockroaches use to look for food, and a coming into contact with a large concentration of peppermint oil is certain death for a roach.
That being the case, you should wipe down dark surfaces and places cockroaches usually hide in or enter your home from with a cotton ball that has soaked a few drops of peppermint oil, or spray these areas with a solution of 15 drops of peppermint oil and 10 ounces of water, thoroughly mixed inside a spray bottle.
Alternatively, boiling catnip leaves or neem leaves in water for a total of 10 minutes, letting the solution cool down, removing the leaves from the solution, transferring it to a spray bottle and regularly spraying the solution around your house will repel these pests and discourage them from trying to take up residence inside your home.
A Word to the Wise
How to get rid of cockroaches, you ask? Getting rid of a cockroach infestation is a marathon, not a race – it might take anywhere between four weeks to six months for you to successfully eliminate only 80% of the cockroach population currently taking up residence in your house, and the stragglers left behind will undoubtedly prove to be even peskier.
However, it is instrumental to your cause for you to not lose your determination, to find encouragement in even the tiniest of successes, and to be staunch in practicing the measures you have implemented to eliminate roaches, discourage the growth of their population and prevent future infestations. Only with endurance will you win this war you are about to wage, soldier!