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FAQ: Home Remedies for Roaches

April 27th, 2018

Cockroaches (along with bed bugs) are some of the most hated pests among renters and homeowners: they're not only disgusting but also disease-ridden. And unfortunately, they are notoriously hard to kill. They're fast, they hide out of sight, and they multiply quickly—making it easy for just one or two roaches to become a full-blown infestation.

When you're dealing with cockroaches, you want them gone, and you want them gone fast. You might have read online—via Google search or on Pinterest—about a few home remedies that will kill cockroaches. But are they effective or even safe?

Let's look at some of the most commonly asked questions regarding home remedies for roaches. We'll let you know which ones contain a grain of truth—and which should be avoided entirely.

Does boric acid kill roaches?

Boric acid does kill roaches—provided it is applied correctly. In order for boric acid to work, the cockroaches must walk through the powder. The boric acid then sticks to their body and is later ingested, causing death.

That being said, there are a few problems with boric acid that make it an ineffective method of cockroach elimination when used alone.

First, proper application is difficult. Boric acid must be applied in very thin layers. If a cockroach sees a large clump of powder, it will walk around it rather than make an effort to climb over it. Boric acid must also be applied to a dry surface. If it gets wet, it becomes ineffective.

In addition, it's almost impossible for homeowners to reach the majority of the cockroaches: they like to hide inside walls and under floorboards, where you can't apply boric acid.

Finally, boric acid can be toxic to humans and animals if accidentally ingested. (This is why you should never apply boric acid to your countertops or any other food preparation area.) Although boric acid poisoning is rare, it is something to think about if you have small children or pets in your home.

Does distilled vinegar kill roaches?

Distilled vinegar does not kill or repel roaches, making it completely ineffective. Distilled vinegar will help keep your kitchen clean, giving cockroaches less to snack on. However, roaches can live for months at a time without any food at all, and they will eat almost anything to survive. As a result, this home remedy is one that you can skip.

Does rubbing alcohol kill roaches?

There are a few articles online that claim rubbing alcohol will kill roaches on contact, but this is a home remedy that should be avoided. Using rubbing alcohol as an insecticide can be dangerous.

Rubbing alcohol is hazardous to your health: if inhaled, it can cause respiratory problems, and if accidentally swallowed, it is poisonous. Young children or pets can easily be harmed by rubbing alcohol.

In addition, rubbing alcohol is highly flammable. Several Cincinnati residents have accidentally set fire to their homes by using rubbing alcohol as pest control!

Finally, even if used carefully, rubbing alcohol is just not very effective. Cockroaches are fast—making them difficult to hit with sprays—and they usually hide during the day.

Can you kill roaches with heat?

Cockroaches don't do well in extremely hot (above 115 degrees) or cold (below 45 degrees) temperatures. (It's also why they love our homes so much: it's the perfect environment for them to thrive.)

That being said, this "home remedy" isn't really a home remedy at all. Because cockroaches nest mainly inside the walls, a heat treatment would need to heat up the entire house to work. Most homeowners don't have the equipment to heat or cool their home to that degree and maintain that temperature for several hours (the length of time it takes to kill the roaches).

Heat might be an effective roach killer, but it's a treatment best left to professionals.

Can mothballs kill roaches?

Like the home remedy involving rubbing alcohol, using mothballs as pest control is both ineffective and dangerous.

Many people don't know this, but mothballs are actually pesticides that are strictly regulated by the EPA. They are designed to be used in closed containers. The pesticides, which have been solidified into the mothball, break down into a gas. When used inside a closed container, the gas builds up and eventually kills the insect (usually a moth) inside. Because of this, mothballs are not as effective when used in open spaces: the gas is not able to build up enough to kill the insect.

Mothballs are also dangerous for adults, children, and pets. Breathing in mothball fumes is hazardous for your health. In addition, mothballs are poisonous when swallowed and can cause serious harm. (While an adult wouldn't eat a mothball, a young child or pet might: a mothball can look like candy.)

Can dish soap and hot water kill roaches?

This home remedy is appealing because it's so simple: just mix some water and soap in a bottle and spray away. The idea behind this method is that roaches, which don't have lungs and breathe through holes in their body, are 'suffocated' by the mixture.

While this method might have some success killing a few roaches, it unfortunately won't solve a cockroach infestation. As mentioned above, cockroaches are fast and nest out of sight. Even if you do hit and kill every fast-moving roach that you see, there will be many more behind your walls. It is impossible to kill all of the cockroaches in your home armed with just a spray bottle.

What can I mix together to kill roaches?

There are a number of different insecticide 'recipes' on the Internet: boric acid and sugar, boric acid and flour, bleach and water, vinegar and water, dish soap and water, baking soda and sugar…the list goes on.

A few of these mixtures will be somewhat effective at killing individual roaches (see boric acid, above), while others will be completely ineffective (see vinegar and water, above).

However, the best mixture to eliminate a cockroach infestation is not a mix of kitchen ingredients at all, but a mixed-method approach to pest control.

Eliminating a cockroach infestation should start with a thorough evaluation of the problem. From there, treatment methods might include the following:

  • Using caulk to close gaps where cockroaches can enter
  • Cleaning and vacuuming regularly to remove roach food sources
  • Fixing leaky pipes to remove roach water sources

After treatment, the home should be monitored to make sure that the cockroaches are gone and that they do not return.

Need Help? Contact Us!

Tackling a cockroach infestation on your own can be very difficult—but we're here to help.

Contact Scherzinger Pest Control, a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton, OH, and now Columbus, OH. We've been pioneers, engineering new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Authored By: Eric Scherzinger

Quality ProNational Pest Management AssociationOPMABetter Business BureauAngies List Super Service Award

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