How to get Rid of a Cockroach Infestation

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The German cockroach prefers warm, humid indoor areas such as bathrooms and kitchens.
The German cockroach prefers warm, humid indoor areas such as bathrooms and kitchens. (Image: John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Homeowners are occasionally plagued by multiple species of cockroaches ranging from the smaller, 1/2-inch German and brownbanded cockroaches that tend to inhabit buildings to the larger oriental, Turkestan and American cockroaches that measure 1.25 to 2 inches long and prefer outdoor habitats such as wood piles, storm drains, plant debris and vegetation, only venturing indoors occasionally and often singly. The most effective cockroach control program must include good sanitation and exclusion to prevent future infestations after the existing cockroach population is addressed using chemical controls such as baits and dusts.

Things You'll Need

  • Sticky traps
  • Sealable plastic bags
  • Baits (prefilled or refillable bait stations or gel bait and applicator)
  • Insecticidal dust with puff-type applicator, if needed

Store food in insect-proof containers and keep trash in lined containers with tight-fitting lids. Position trash cans, piles of newspapers, bags and cardboard away from doorways or other entrances or get rid of these excess materials that act as cockroach hiding places.

Address all sources of free moisture including plumbing leaks, excessive condensation and consistently damp areas in the landscape.

Clean up spilled food and drinks promptly and vacuum all debris out of cracks or difficult to reach areas. Do not leave pet food or water overnight, and empty small garbage cans and recycling bins into larger, sealed containers daily.

Seal all cracks or other potential entry points in the structure. Inspect and repair any weather-stripping around doors and windows.

Thin out or remove vegetation next to buildings to increase the amount of air and light next to the structure and remove wood piles and any other debris that could harbor cockroaches.

Set out and regularly monitor sticky traps in areas of suspected cockroach activity for several days before and after chemical treatments. This helps to determine the best places to set out baits and evaluate the success of treatments. When sticky traps lose their stickiness, dispose of them in sealed plastic bags.

Place bait stations in areas where sticky traps indicate roach activity or where roaches will find them when foraging or near hiding places such as near planters, water meter boxes, in cabinets, behind or under appliances and along walls.

Alternatively, use a bait gun or syringe to force a gel bait into crevices or cracks through which the cockroaches are known to travel.

Blow an insecticidal dust that contains boric acid powder into cracks or lightly spread it as a thin layer of dust under sinks, in the panels of appliances or other places where humans will not contact it. This powder can provide effective roach control for a long time but will only work if it does not become wet.

Inspect cardboard boxes, containers, laundry and other objects closely for cockroaches, egg capsules or droppings before bringing any objects into the building.

Tips & Warnings

  • Never step on roaches. When you step on roaches if they happen to be pregnant their eggs can be left unseen on the floor where they can later hatch. If you do step on one be sure to clean up after it with soap and water.
  • Soap and water is your friend where cockroach infestations are concerned.
  • Use baits and other insecticides carefully around children and pets. Choose tamper-proof bait stations and position them out of the reach of children and pets.

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