How to Keep Roaches Away and Prevent Infestations

By: Emilie Sennebogen  | 
Live cockroach in a person's open hand
Unless you like to keep cockroaches as pets, it's best to prevent them from invading in the first place.

With no disrespect to the mosquito, there's no other pest in the world that is so widely despised as the cockroach. Sure, mosquitoes are a nuisance, and spiders may scare those with phobias, but there aren't many people that wouldn't hit the roof at the sight of a cockroach crawling over their bare foot.

If you've ever had a confrontation with one, you've probably wondered how to keep roaches away from ever sharing space with you again. Fortunately, we'll reveal how to prevent cockroaches from noticing your home altogether!


The Effects of a Roach Infestation

Firstly, let's consider the negative consequences of not identifying a cockroach infestation in a timely fashion. After all, these annoying pests can impact both the physical structure of the house as well as the health of its inhabitants.

Cockroaches are known to carry a variety of pathogens, including bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, which can contaminate food surfaces and lead to food poisoning. Their droppings, shed skins, and urine can also exacerbate asthma and allergy symptoms, particularly in children and sensitive individuals.


Moreover, these pests can cause physical damage to your home. Cockroaches are omnivorous and have been known to chew on a variety of household items, including cardboard boxes, leather, and even soft metals, leading to the deterioration of these materials.

Finally, their presence can create unpleasant odors and stains, particularly in crawl spaces or hidden areas like behind appliances. The psychological distress caused by an infestation can also not be understated, as the mere sight of cockroaches can lead to significant discomfort and stress for many people.


Identify Your Roach Problem

There are several species of cockroaches, each with distinct characteristics. German cockroaches, small and light brown, are notorious for their rapid reproduction and preference for warm, humid environments like kitchens and bathrooms. American cockroaches, one of the largest species, are reddish-brown and often found in basements, sewers, and other damp conditions.

The Oriental cockroach, dark brown to black, is often called a "water bug" due to its preference for wet, cooler areas, and is slower than other species. Finally, the Australian cockroach is known for its outdoor habitat but can invade homes, feeding on a wide variety of organic matter. There are many signs that predict an infestation, such as finding dead roaches or droppings in your home.


How to Prevent Cockroaches

The trick to avoiding a face-to-face meeting with a cockroach is to avoid attracting them to begin with. Once you have a few cockroaches, you could quickly end up having a few thousand, thanks to their speedy reproductive capabilities.

Dirty Dishes and Leftover Food

There are a few things cockroaches look for when scoping out a potential crash pad: warmth, moisture and food. For this reason, keeping your home clean is the first step in prevention. Empty your garbage on a regular basis, especially during the summer months.


Keeping your pantry tidy and making sure to store food in tightly sealed containers are other good tips. Try keeping your cereal and other grains in plastic containers. It's also a good idea to not put a lot of stinky food waste (like pet food) into your bin because these smells really attract roaches.

Tidy Up Garbage and Recycling

Make sure your outdoor trash cans aren't located right beside your house. If they're parked directly by the back door, you could be leading them right into your house.

Keeping your recycling clean is another key. All those little bits of soda, beer, wine, milk and juice that drip out into your recycling bin are a haven for cockroaches. Make sure you do a thorough rinse of any liquid containers as well as food jars and bottles. These simple considerations can help you prevent cockroaches from noticing your home.


Your Best Weapons Against Cockroach Populations

The battle against a cockroach infestation can be effectively waged using a variety of tools.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth, a powdery substance made from fossilized algae, is particularly effective. When sprinkled in areas frequented by cockroaches, it works by absorbing the oils and fats from the exoskeleton of the insects, leading to dehydration and death. This method is non-toxic to humans and pets, making it an environmentally friendly option.


Baking Soda

Baking soda, another household item, can be used in combination with a bait like sugar. The sugar attracts the cockroaches, while the baking soda reacts with the acid in their stomachs, causing internal disturbances leading to death. This method is safe and easy to use, although it may take some time to see significant results.

Insect Traps

Sticky traps and glue traps are useful for monitoring and reducing the population of cockroaches. These traps are coated with an adhesive that captures cockroaches when they walk over them. Placed in strategic locations, they can help identify high-activity areas and reduce the number of roaches. However, while effective for trapping, these methods do not address the root cause of the infestation.

Boric Acid

Boric acid has always been an effective cockroach deterrent as long as you use it properly. Its toxicity is low for humans, but deadly to cockroaches. When spreading the boric acid, go light. In fact, the acid should barely be visible to you. A very light line under the stove and refrigerator, behind the trashcan and nears cracks and crevices near doorways will help keep roaches at bay.

Call a Professional Pest Control Company

For a more comprehensive solution, engaging pest control professionals is often the best course of action. These experts have access to a variety of tools and techniques, including more potent insecticides and bait systems, which are not readily available to the general public.

Pest control can also identify and treat hidden breeding sites, providing a long-term solution to the infestation. The combination of professional expertise and advanced treatment methods makes this option particularly effective for severe or persistent cockroach problems.

This article was updated in conjunction with AI technology, then fact-checked and edited by a HowStuffWorks editor.


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