How to Get Rid of Roaches Naturally

Someone deep cleaning their granite countertops with a purple cleaning rag.

Ekaterina Goncharova

Cockroaches are very persistent and elusive pests. Besides rats and mice, cockroaches are at the top of the list when it comes to homeowner (and apartment dweller) concerns due to their reputation of being incredibly filthy and invasive.

If you have a pest issue, it's always favorable to seek out natural treatments and pest solutions, but it's also important to go into cockroach control with realistic expectations.

Understand that if you're seeing cockroaches inside on a regular basis, the problem is likely bigger than you might think. This is especially true in apartments and multi-family dwellings, where cockroaches can use the building's infrastructure as a cockroach superhighway, stealthily traveling from unit to unit using utility lines, cables, and natural gaps in the building's construction.


There are some cockroach issues that require an element of chemical control, and avoiding this process can further spread illness and damage, including serious smell problems. Start with the natural steps in this guide, but don't avoid calling a professional if the issue is worse than you thought.

What do Cockroaches Look Like?

Roaches are easily recognized by their flattened, oval-shaped bodies and long, visible antennae. Males have two sets of wings, generally kept folded along the back, while females are often wingless. While some winged roaches are capable of flight, most species are poor fliers and generally prefer walking across surfaces.

There are more than 4,000 species of cockroaches, but only a few species comprise the iconic pests that commonly dwell in homes. The most common indoor invader is the German cockroach, but if you have roaches inside, there are a few suspects to consider:

  • German cockroach (Blattella germanica): This roach is smaller than most people would expect, but that doesn't limit its ability to infest. If anything, it helps them stay hidden longer. Generally growing no more than 1/2 inch long, German roaches reproduce very fast and often enter homes in grocery containers or packaging (especially cardboard). German cockroaches have two dark stripes just behind their head. Overall, their body color can range from tan to nearly black. This is the fastest reproducer of all the roaches, going from egg to adult in 50 to 60 days.

  • Brown-banded cockroach (Supella longipalpa): This species resembles the German cockroach, though it is slightly smaller. It has visible lighter striping across the back, and the males are stronger fliers, often seen flapping around lights when disturbed. Don't confuse the brown stripes of the German roach for those of the Brown-banded roach. Brown-banded cockroaches have light and dark striping along their abdomen (back), not behind their head.

  • Oriental cockroach ((Blatta orientalis): This species is sometimes regarded as the filthiest of cockroaches because of the damp, nasty places where they hang out, but ultimately, all cockroaches are filthy. Oriental cockroaches grow to approximately 1 inch long and are a shiny dark brown or black color.

  • American cockroach (Periplaneta americana): When people think 'cockroach', they are likely picturing an American cockroach. Often on display in zoos and used in film depictions of squeamish cockroach scenes, these are the largest cockroach found in homes. Capable of growing up to 2 inches in length, they are reddish-brown in color and are most likely to be found in dark, heated areas (furnace rooms, near water heaters, behind or under appliances).

Signs of a Cockroach Infestation

Roaches feed on almost any organic material, no matter how disgusting. They thrive in the dark, warm conditions that are often found in our homes and structures. Roaches are resilient, tolerating occasional freezing conditions, breeding very quickly, and becoming more resistant to many chemical treatments over time. Extensive infestations can be nearly impossible to eradicate fully, meaning that controlling roaches will likely require almost non-stop effort in regions where they are prevalent.

Human dislike for cockroaches is completely understandable. From the disgusting, musty odor they spread to their habit of passively carrying and spreading a variety of microbes and disease-causing pathogens, cockroaches don't care if they weren't invited; to them, your home is their home!

And just in case you needed another reason to be diligent about keeping roaches out of your home, cockroaches are linked to many cases of allergy-induced asthma. Tiny bits of dead roaches and dropping particles in the air can be severely irritating to certain people.

5 Ways to Get Rid of Roaches Naturally

Understandably, people often want quick and easy solutions when it comes to pest control. Unfortunately, "quick and easy" rarely equals "low risk and effective."

Starting with all-natural solutions is wise, but it's going to require some elbow grease and attention to detail. Be sure to wear clothes that can get dirty, have a dust mask handy, and have high-quality flashlight nearby. Natural cockroach control is all about removing and monitoring what pros call 'conducive conditions'.

What are Conducive Conditions?

Conducive conditions are any circumstances that could encourage a pest's presence. Food sources, water sources, and hiding spots (also called harborage areas) are all examples of conducive conditions.

Examples of conducive conditions for cockroaches would be:

  • Food-related mess in a kitchen, where roaches can feed freely
  • Accumulations of grease around or under appliances
  • Water leaks that provide the moisture cockroaches need to thrive, especially near a heat source
  • In-buidling garbage chutes where rotting material provides food and the chute itself provides a way for the roaches to travel between units

Deep Clean

Long-lasting cockroach control starts with a clean space. Since cockroaches are so good at finding filth, you can get ahead of the problem by not giving them any filth to find.

Filthy conditions provide cockroaches with food. Combine this with clutter, which provides them with hiding spots them with hiding spots. If you provide the cockroaches with a free meal and a place to chill, they'll be happy to stake out and sneak a bite while you're sleeping. Roaches are nocturnal, meaning you're not likely to see them during the day unless the issue has reached infestation levels.

Focus your cleaning efforts on the areas where you've seen roaches. Kitchens, bathrooms, and garbage areas are the most common areas to spot them.


Kitchens and bathrooms provide food (like food waste and drain scum), moisture (from sinks, drains, and leaks), and hiding places (under sink cabinets). If you have a recurring cockroach issue, the cabinets below your sinks will become an area to address, from cleaning to addressing leaks, to monitoring roach populations.

Vacuum Regularly

Often part of a thorough cleaning plan, vacuuming is especially important when it comes to control of the German cockroach. Considering German cockroaches are the #1 interior invader, vacuuming definitely be on your cleaning list.

Not only does vacuuming remove food particles and asthma-causing droppings and roach bits, but it's also essential for eliminating future German cockroach populations. Where some roach species deposit egg cases, German roach females carry their eggs on their backs. By reducing the number of adult roaches (including females), you're limiting reproduction and removing eggs all at once. Just don't forget to empty your vacuum frequently!


Cockroaches commonly hide in the crack between the wall and the back of the cabinets. This is a tight space, and checking it for roaches can be tricky. Use a can of compressed air to flush roaches out of hiding. Just be ready to suck them up with the vacuum if they do come out!

A pregnant woman in overalls and a green shirt uses a small vacuum to remove crumbs from her kitchen counters.



Not only should you inspect frequent roach hiding places, but it's also a good idea to check items coming home from the grocery store. Grocery stores = cockroach heaven.

Cockroaches like cardboard, especially produce boxes. If you are bringing home groceries in cardboard packaging, look them over before putting them in your cabinets, and avoid bringing produce boxes into your home whenever possible.


Monitoring simply means keeping a watchful eye out. Once you've cleaned and tidied your home, insect monitors will be the best way to watch what the cockroaches are up to.

Insect monitors are a type of glue trap that is folded together and placed in areas where insects like to hide. They're not just made for roaches; they can also trap spiders, earwigs, and other occasional invaders. Insect monitors give you an opportunity to see which pests are frequenting which areas of your house, as well as identify areas where cockroach populations are most dense. Not only does this information help you, but it will be very helpful should a pest professional need to get involved.

Simply place assembled insect monitors in favorable cockroach hiding places, such as:

  • Behind the fridge or stove
  • Underneath the sink
  • Near the water heater
A large number of cockroaches and other insects stuck inside a paper glue trap.

razaklatif/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Seal Them Out

This method is best used in apartment buildings and in warm, humid climates where roaches can live outside. Sealing cracks around your windows and doorframes can help keep roaches outside. Exterior doors should have door sweeps attached, and they should be in good working order, free of holes and other damage.

If you live in an apartment building, ensure that the escutcheon plates are in place and caulked tightly to prevent roaches from passing between units using the water lines. If they're not, be sure to notify building maintenance. If you're not sure what an escutcheon plate is, it's the small metal plate that seals the holes water lines pass through.

What Causes Roaches?

In places where roaches live outdoors, they can be introduced into homes when they migrate indoors as the weather cools. More commonly, though, they are brought into the home from an outside source, whether that's a grocery store, school, or neighboring apartment.

Roaches can consume almost any organic material, but messy homes with tidiness problems where human food, pet food, or garbage is readily available will be most prone to infestations.

How to Prevent Roaches

Keep a tidy home and check grocery items before bringing them inside, especially cardboard packaging. Combine good hygiene with periodic inspection and repair of the home's exterior to block cracks and crevices. Caulk off the areas where utility lines enter your home or structure.

Keep foundation plantings and mulches set back from the foundation of the home to prevent nesting places for exterior roaches. Keep firewood piles stacked well away from the house.

  • Do roaches carry disease?

    Along with houseflies, roaches are among the filthiest of insects. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the cockroach is known to spread Salmonella typhimurium, Entamoeba histolytica, and the poliomyelitis virus.

  • Do roaches bite?

    Although rare, roaches have been known to bite humans on occasion, primarily when the infestation is severe and food sources are scarce. Roaches are not blood feeders, however. They don't deliberately seek to bite humans or animals. They feed exclusively on non-living organic materials.

  • How long do roaches live?

    On average, cockroaches live about 1 year, though some have been known to live well past this. This relatively long lifespan, combined with a fairly rapid reproduction rate for species such as the German cockroach (egg-to-adults in 60 days or less), means that a few roaches can become an overwhelming infestation in less than a year.

When to Call a Pro

Homeowners can generally get rid of roaches themselves with natural methods if the issue isn't severe. In more severe infestations, especially those occurring in multi-family dwellings, it's best to get a pest control company involved. Improper cockroach control in your apartment building can lead to cockroach populations that are resistant to chemical treatments, creating much bigger issues long term.

If immediate and complete eradication is critically important, your best option may be to call an extermination service. While they are likely to use professional-grade products, most modern-day roach control programs are low-stress for owners and tenants, and focus primarily on baiting programs as opposed to liquid insecticide treatments.

The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Cockroaches and Food-borne Pathogens. National Library of Medicine.

  2. Control Cockroaches In and Around Your Home. Mississippi State University Extension Service.

  3. Healthy Housing Reference Manual: Chapter 4 Disease Vectors and Pests. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.