Of all the insects in the world, the one that creeps people out the most may be the lowly cockroach. In fact, Americans shell out more than $1.5 million each year to get rid of them.
In addition to their gruesome, prehistoric appearance and the fact that they come out at night, cockroaches are responsible for transmitting disease, and they are second to house dust as the biggest cause of indoor allergies.
Although there are an incredible 4,500 species of cockroaches in the world, the two most commonly found in the U.S. are the German cockroach and the American cockroach. German roaches are usually discovered in kitchens and bathrooms, while the larger American roaches, sometimes called “waterbugs,” are often found in basements, drains and sewers.
Cockroaches are amazingly resilient creatures, and getting rid of them can be a slow and discouraging process. While you may see effective results initially with spray insecticides, you may just be chasing the roaches deeper into the walls and woodwork of your home. In addition, you will be exposing your family to toxic chemicals.
First, here are some steps for keeping roaches out of your home:
- Keep it clean. Roaches are attracted to food and food residue, especially grease. Avoid leaving dirty dishes and dirty pots and pans in your kitchen overnight, and thoroughly clean your counter and stovetop each evening. Sweep up crumbs and mop up spills right away. Put away and/or securely cover leftover food promptly. Take out your trash.
- Seal cracks and crevices. Look for cracks and other openings in your pantry or kitchen cabinets that can give roaches hidden access to your food. Also, examine cracks under the sink and near the doors and windows of your kitchen and bathrooms.
- Remove yard waste. Roaches will hide in decaying wood, branches and leaves. Keep these piles as far away as possible from your home.
Now, here are some natural methods for getting rid of roaches:
1. Sugar and baking soda. Mix equal parts baking soda and sugar and sprinkle the mixture near areas in your home where you have seen the creatures. The roaches that feed on the mixture will die as the baking soda reacts with their stomach acid.
2. Bay leaves. Place fragrant bay leaves where you have seen roaches. They hate the smell and will avoid that area.
3. Soap and water. Make a solution of dish soap and water and spray it directly on roaches, making sure it makes contact with the insect’s head and lower abdomen. Since roaches breathe through their skin, the soap essentially suffocates them.
4. Diatomaceous earth. This all-natural chalky, soft powderwill rid your home not just of roaches but also ants  and pretty much any bug with an exoskeleton. Apply it along the baseboards with a brush or with an empty ketchup-type squeeze bottle. It kills the bugs by puncturing their skin, and they dry up and die. It is safe for humans and mammals to consume.
5. Borax bait. Mix together equal parts of Borax (found in the laundry aisle of your grocery store) and sugar. Then sprinkle the mixture in cracks and along baseboards where you have seen roaches. The insects will eat the mixture and then die when it damages their digestive system. Keep in mind that Borax loses its effectiveness when it gets wet. Store any unused mixture in an airtight container.
6. Pepper, garlic and onion. The roaches will hit the road when they take a whiff of this mixture. Combine one tablespoon of cayenne pepper powder, one crushed clove of garlic and one tablespoon onion paste in a sprayer bottle filled with water. Let it stand for one hour before spraying the solution where you have seen roaches.
7. Cucumber can trap. Here’s an easy one to try. Place some cucumber peels or cucumber pieces inside a clean aluminum can and put the can by walls or floorboards where you have seen roaches. Leave it there overnight. Apparently, the cucumbers combine with the aluminum to make an odor that roaches will avoid.
8. Water jar trap. This one is nice and easy. Place a clean glass jar half-filled with water close to floorboards or walls where you have a roach problem. Adult roaches will climb into the jar but will not be able to climb out.
Keep in mind that roaches can enter even the cleanest of homes. They often hitch a ride in a suitcase, in a gym bag or even in a bag of groceries. In these cases, we bring them into our homes without even knowing it. Then, because roaches are nocturnal, we may not realize we have a problem until a full infestation has developed.
With all of these measures, it is important to be vigilant. If you have a roach infestation, it may take weeks of applications to notice any difference in the roach population. Also, please keep children and pets away from mixtures.
Do you have any tips for ridding your home of roaches? Share your suggestions in the section below: