How to Get Rid of Cockroaches

Use this guide to kill cockroaches fast and keep them from coming back.

If there's a most-dreaded and detested pest among all insects, it might just be the cockroach. There is just something about these flat, oval, brown crawlers that makes a home feel, well, dirty. And while the cleanliness of your home can play a role in cockroach attraction to your living space, there's more to it than that.

What Attracts Cockroaches

Just like other invasive pests that find their way indoors, cockroaches move in because they find an entryway such as a tiny crack, crevice or hole to navigate through, and your home has the food, water, and shelter they need.

These nasty, invasive bugs are food foragers and garbage scavengers. They will devour crumbs, spills, and anything else they can find, whether it's in the pantry, the garbage, or even your pet's food bowl. Cockroaches don't stop at the kitchen, either, as they will also eat glue from book bindings, feces, dead insects, and more.

Where to Find Cockroaches

In general, cockroaches like to hang out in dark, moist places where food and water are easily accessible. Look for them behind appliances like ovens and refrigerators, under sinks, and in the basement, especially around the furnace.

Signs of a Cockroach Infestation

Learn to recognize the subtle signs of a cockroach infestation before they become unmanageable.

Roaches Next Door
If your neighbors mention they have a roach problem or you see roaches near their trash cans or landscape, take heed because your home might be next.

Cockroach Sighting
Wherever you see a cockroach, there are typically many more that you don't see. Cockroaches are nocturnal and spend 75% of their time hiding, so unless you're raiding the fridge in the dark, you may only see one now and again. 

The most obvious sign of the presence of cockroaches is their droppings, which look like pepper flakes or coffee grounds. Larger species, such as American cockroaches, leave behind larger droppings about the size of a grain of rice.

Egg Casings
Cockroach egg casings are long, hollow, and slightly rounded. They range in color from light brown to dark brown and can contain upwards of 50 eggs. If you find egg casings, dispose of them immediately by flushing them down the toilet. Be sure to wear latex or nitrile gloves to protect yourself from bacteria.

Musty Odor
If you have a lot of cockroaches, you'll have a lot of droppingsā€”and that means you'll start to smell them, too. Their collective signature scent? A noticeably strong musty odor.

3 Ways to Kill Cockroaches Fast

Cockroaches populate quickly, so you'll want to take action as soon as you suspect you have them. First, don't panic. Second, follow these simple steps to kill cockroaches and keep them from coming back.

  1. Kill on sight. If you see a cockroach, try to not let it get away. A female German cockroach produces 40 eggs at one time. Kill roaches on contact with OrthoĀ® Home DefenseĀ® Ant, Roach & Spider Killer2. For best results, spray directly on pests and follow all other label directions.
  2. Poison the colony. For all the cockroaches you don't see, place an OrthoĀ® Home DefenseĀ® Roach Bait station every 6 feet. Put them in any area where you suspect cockroaches are most active, such as the kitchen and bathroom. Cockroaches take the bait and share it with other roaches, killing the adults, nymphs, and eggs. One caveat: While using bait, try to avoid spraying roaches you see since they will need to take bait back to share with the colony.
  3. Create a barrier. To protect your home from a future roach infestation, create a long-lasting bug barrier. Follow label directions and spray a wide band of OrthoĀ® Home DefenseĀ® Insect Killer For Indoor & Perimeter2 along baseboards, door and window casings, and around the entire perimeter of your home. This fast-drying, no-odor formula provides up to 12 months of protection indoors on non-porous surfaces.

How to Keep Roaches from Entering Your Home

To help prevent household cockroaches, make your home less attractive to them. These tips can help:

Eliminate food sources.

Store food in the refrigerator or in airtight containers. Clean up after every meal, including washing dishes, picking up crumbs, and wiping up spills. Take out garbage regularly and store trash in tightly sealed bins.

Take away entry points.

Seal cracks and repair holes, especially around baseboards, shelves, cupboards, sinks, pipes, and windows. (Weather stripping, caulk, and spray foam work well for this.) Replace or repair ripped, torn, and damaged window and door screens.

Remove potential water supplies.

Fix leaky faucets, pipes, and sinks. Cover or cap drains. Insulate or tape pipes to reduce condensation.

One more thing to keep in mind: If you live in an apartment, condo, or row house, you may also end up dealing with your neighbors' cockroach infestations. Talk to your neighbors (tactfully, of course) about working together to get rid of cockroaches. Then go ahead and share these tips with them!