Cockroaches are among the most common household pests, infesting millions of homes around the world. Unlike mosquitoes, houseflies, or rats, cockroaches are not seasonal pests – i.e. they can infest your home regardless of the season – nor do they take up residence in small numbers in a house – a cockroach infestation consists on average of dozens of cockroach colonies.
The sheer population of cockroaches and the likelihood that these pests will infest a house is a reason why many people wonder how to get rid of them.
Why is cockroach infestation something that needs to be “dealt with”? Why are cockroaches bad for a household? Well, apart from the fact that these pests look disgusting and cause deadly fear when they grow wings out of nowhere if you try to kill them, they are also carriers of bacteria that can cause food poisoning, diarrhea, rashes, and even allergies in humans, especially children.
And if they have not already become public enemy number one for your wellbeing and health in your own home as a result, once these vermin feel comfortable in a house, they multiply and multiply rapidly, further cementing their infestation. In large numbers, cockroaches and their excrements cause a particularly unpleasant smell in infested areas.
There are several different types of cockroaches that infest households around the world. However, whether they are American cockroaches, Oriental cockroaches, German cockroaches, smoky brown cockroaches, wood cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches or palmetto bugs, the process of eliminating their infestation can be divided into the same four phases:
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches
Phase One: Reconnaissance
For those who wonder how to get rid of cockroaches, getting rid of a cockroach infestation is a struggle. And the first stage of the fight is reconnaissance – you have to know your enemy to defeat them. After dark, take a flashlight into the darkest corners of your house and search every inch of your home for signs of roach life. Cockroaches try to avoid contact with people as much as possible. So if you can’t find cockroaches, look for poop!
An excess of cockroach droppings is a telltale sign of cockroach infestation. The goal of this fact-finding mission is to identify problem areas in your home and places with high cockroach infestation where you can focus your cockroach control efforts.
Phase Two: Eradication of Sustenance
Like humans, cockroaches need food and water to survive, but due to their size, they need very little of both. If you deprive cockroaches of food, you can still largely eliminate the cockroach infestation itself. If you have found a cockroach problem in your home, a small clean-up is the answer: Clean your drawers and cupboards (even behind them and behind your fridge!), to make sure there are no sources of food lying around for cockroaches to feed on; make sure that all containers in your house where food is stored (even grain packages!) are properly sealed; and make sure that even the smallest crumbs of food are quickly cleaned up because a bread crumb the size of a pea is nothing to a human, but enough rations for an entire cockroach colony.
You must also make sure that there are no leaking water containers in your house, and that all water sources and outlets (taps and the like) are well-sealed and do not leak, and that any damp clothes or materials are either sealed in containers/bags, placed in dryers, or taken out of the house.
Unlike for humans, “food” for cockroaches does not have to be fresh or even clean – trash cans are a cockroach’s best friend. Make sure that all garbage cans in your house are clean and locked at all times, because every garbage can that a cockroach has access to is an infinite supply of food for the little pest.
Phase Three: Elimination
When it comes to actually eliminating the wretched cockroaches that infest your home, the common sense of the average person leads to a fairly predictable goal: a powerful pesticide spray that kills the cockroaches.
While pesticide sprays are quite capable of killing cockroaches, they can also contaminate surfaces with which the human inhabitants of an infested house come into contact (worktops, tabletops, appliances, etc.). For this reason, it is recommended to use a gel bait instead.
Gel bait is supplied in a tube so that it can be easily applied to any and all surfaces. The gel inside attracts cockroaches, which feed on it and die soon after. A cockroach poisoned by the gel bait will infect an average of 40 other cockroaches, usually through feces and when other cockroaches feed on the now dead body of cockroach zero.
To eliminate the cockroach population living in your home, purchase an appropriate amount of gel bait and apply it in generous amounts to and around any problem areas and high cockroach population sites that you have identified during your first phase: reconnaissance mission.
Phase Four: Preventative Measures
If you have ever wondered how to get rid of cockroaches, you must know that gradually choking the life from the cockroach infestation that is currently infesting your home is only half the battle – the other half is to make sure that the cockroaches you have worked so hard to eliminate do not return to your home for a sequel, and to prevent any future infestation.
A key aspect of this is to ensure that you stick to the measures you have taken and continue the practices you adopted during the second phase of your war against cockroaches.
Apart from food and water, cockroaches stumble into homes in search of shelter. To prevent cockroach infestation in the future, not only must you make sure that there is as little hiding place as possible in your house for any pests that may be present, but you must also board up and seal all the paths that these pests use to get into your house. The reconnaissance you have done during the first phase of this operation will have given you an idea of the level of cockroach traffic in your house.
Look for any cracks, crevices and gaps that you can find in or around these areas and in your home in general. To fill and seal cracks or gaps between walls or tiles and all entry holes, use caulking putty, cement or even metal mesh, make sure that areas around pipes and other fixtures are sealed and have no gaps, and make sure that all your doors and windows have no gaps either.
Boric acid, a substance with incredibly low toxicity to humans, is pure poison to cockroaches. Boric acid is in the form of a powder; scatter this powder in places where cockroaches are likely to hide when they settle in your home (e.g. in dark corners of your rooms and in cupboards and drawers). Boric acid not only helps to rid the stragglers of a persistent infestation but also keeps potential new invaders from taking root.
To prevent a cockroach infestation in the future, you must transform your home into an inhospitable environment for cockroaches. Complete eradication of all sources of food and water for cockroaches is not completely achievable, but you can take the trouble to make your house completely incompatible with cockroach infestation by using essential oils. Eucalyptus, tea tree, lavender, and peppermint oils disturb the scent trails on which cockroaches search for food, and contact with a large concentration of peppermint oil is certain death for a cockroach.
In this case, you should wipe dark surfaces and places where cockroaches normally hide or enter your home with a cotton swab soaked in a few drops of peppermint oil, or spray these areas with a solution of 15 drops of peppermint oil and 10 ounces of water, mixed thoroughly in a spray bottle.
Alternatively, boil catnip or neem leaves in water for a total of 10 minutes, allow the solution to cool, remove the leaves from the solution, pour it into a spray bottle, and spray the solution regularly around your home to ward off these pests and keep them from settling in your home.
A Word to the Wise
You’re asking how to get rid of roaches? Getting rid of a cockroach plague is a marathon, not a race – it can take anywhere from four weeks to six months to successfully eliminate only 80% of the cockroach population currently in your home, and the remaining stragglers will undoubtedly prove even more annoying.
However, it is crucial to your cause that you do not lose your determination, that you find encouragement in even the smallest success and that you consistently implement the measures you have taken to eliminate the cockroaches, prevent population growth and prevent future pest infestations. Only with perseverance will you win this war you are about to wage, soldier!