How to get rid of a roach infestation

If you think you may have roaches in your house, you need to act quickly before the problem gets worse.
Written by Lynell Spencer
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
If you see a roach in your home, take quick action by locating and blocking entry points, securing food sources, and choosing an appropriate extermination method. This is your best bet for dealing with a roach infestation. 
Ok, you flip on the lights in your kitchen, and you catch the scurry of roaches heading for cover. Your first instinct may be to burn your house down, but your home insurance doesn’t cover arson so it is time to consider other alternatives. 
Cockroaches happen, but you don’t have to live with an infestation. Certainly, we all hope to prevent cockroaches and other pests from taking up residence in our homes—but sometimes, despite our best efforts, it still happens. 
It’s actually more common than you might realize—and if it is happening to you,
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has got your back with everything you need to know to get your house roach-free. 
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How to get rid of an infestation

There are quite a lot of methods and products recommended for roach extermination. Here are some of the best conventional and natural methods to rid your home of pests: 

Conventional Methods

  • Glue strips are a great way to identify the location of the nest and other high-traffic roach areas. Just place strips around (out of reach of kids and pets). The glue strips have a smell that attracts the bugs, and then they are trapped when they step on the strip. 
  • Bait stations are very effective but can be toxic to kids, pets, and other animals like birds. Bait stations work by luring roaches in to dine on poison. They eat and return to the nest, then die. Their family members eat them and die as well. However, any species that may ingest a dead roach will also be poisoned. 
  • Caulk entry points to limit access to your home.
  • Hire a professional. Professional exterminators will do an inspection and will have a much easier time finding nests and identifying the specific species of roach in order to come up with the best treatment plan. They will treat your home and generally follow up later to make sure you are still roach free.

Natural methods

A lot of people prefer to use natural methods to control an infestation. This is a great way to keep the human and pet members of your household safe. 
On the downside, however, these methods can all be a little messy, and will certainly leave you to deal with dead roaches scattered about and in need of disposal.
  • Essential oils and citrus will not kill roaches, but they will help discourage them from entering your home. Lemongrass, peppermint, and citrus smells are all repellant to cockroaches, so add them to cleaning products for extra protection. 
  • Borax is an easy-to-find laundry detergent that is used to make boric acid (see below). Mix Borax with a bit of sugar and sprinkle in areas where you have seen roaches. 
  • Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a popular natural insecticide. It is made with dried, pulverized, and fossilized algae. When roaches ingest it, it dehydrates them and damages their exoskeleton.
  • Baking soda is another common household item that will kill roaches when they eat it. Experts say to dice an onion and mix it with baking soda to attract roaches so that they will eat the baking soda and die.
  • Boric acid occurs naturally in fruits and plants. It is harmless to children and pets but deadly to cockroaches. Just sprinkle some on a paper plate, put a little bit of bait (like peanut butter) in the middle, and then set the plate wherever you have seen roaches scurry.

What to avoid

Roach bombs—often the first method that comes to mind—may be a bad idea. 
First, bug sprays and bombs may create a flammable film on your walls and furniture. And, the more you use them, the more likely you are to experience the side effects of toxic pesticides
Maybe most importantly, bug bombs are not often useful with cockroaches because they don’t do a good job of getting into where the roaches hide—under furniture and appliances, behind picture frames, and in cupboards. 

Signs of an infestation

While it’s important to know how to get rid of roaches, it’s helpful to determine the signs of an infestation in the first place. 
Even if you haven’t seen a roach, there are other signs that will let you know if you have an infestation. Here are a few clues that will give you a heads up:
  • Droppings: Cockroach droppings are small and black, usually resembling black pepper or very fine coffee grounds. They can spread bacteria to the surfaces they touch, and to anyone that comes in contact with them, so clean with caution (and antibacterial cleaner).
  • Eggs: Cockroaches lay their eggs inside a capsule that contains up to 15 embryos. Depending on the species of cockroach you have, these capsules will look different, but they most often resemble a brown pill capsule or bean. They are fairly hard, and female roaches may carry them on their backs until they hatch, or put them somewhere for safe-keeping.
  • Smell: Once roaches have established themselves in a space, you will notice an unpleasant smell. Roaches communicate by emitting an oily, musty smell that is sometimes described as sweet.
  • Smear marks: Especially where there is plenty of water, roaches leave behind brownish, oily smear marks as they travel along walls and floors. 
  • Shed skin/ carcasses. If you have roaches, you have roach carcasses. A dead roach is fairly easy to identify—while their shed skins may be less so. Roaches shed their skins an average of 8 times as they grow to adulthood, so it is not uncommon to find the discarded skins they leave behind. 
  • Nests: If you don’t spot a roach right away when it gains entry to your home, it will likely reach out to friends and family and invite them to stay. If roaches build a nest in your house, you will need to find it. Look for a warm, sheltered spot that has all of the other signs on this list in the same spot. 

How to prevent a cockroach infestation

The best way to deal with a roach infestation is to never have one. Unfortunately, there are times—due to location and climate, mostly—that despite your best efforts, you may find yourself with these unwanted roommates. 
But, it always helps to make your environment less hospitable to these (and other) pests. Here are some things you can do to prevent an infestation:
  • Clean your home, garage, and yard areas. Remove or secure anything that could provide food, shelter, and water for roaches. Woodpiles, birdbaths, and patio furniture can all be problem areas, so if you have these fixtures, make sure to pick them up and clean under and around them regularly. Try to store cut wood or other materials away from your home. 
  • Clean and maintain kitchen appliances. Appliances large and small provide shelter and warmth for roaches, and (especially in the kitchen) can provide plenty of dropped and forgotten morsels of food. Make sure to wipe down all appliance surfaces including the backs, and move them to clean under and behind them regularly.
  • Check your home for cracks and holes in the foundation. The more you can limit entry points, the better luck you will have at staying roach-free. As an added bonus, sealing holes and cracks in your home can make it more eco-friendly and easier to heat or cool. 
  • Check for broken or leaky pipes. These can provide entry points for these pests and also gives them access to the water that roaches need to survive.  
  • Keep food and garbage well contained. Use sealable containers for food storage, and make sure that your garbage cans also have lids that fit tightly. Clean up spills immediately, and do not leave food sitting out. Take your garbage out frequently, and consider keeping the bins away from the house if possible. 

Does home insurance cover getting rid of cockroaches?

Adding insult to injury,
home insurance
does not cover pest infestations, or the damage done to the structure of the home and other possessions. A roach infestation is considered a preventable maintenance issue, so filing a claim will likely do nothing—except maybe raise your insurance rates. 
In general, it can be difficult to understand what is and is not covered by your homeowners policy. It is also hard to know if you are getting the best possible rates. Make sure that you have what you need at the best price you can get by using the
insurance super app. The insurance pros at Jerry can find and compare rates, help you bundle your home and auto for even more savings, and even help cancel your old policy. 
While your insurance won’t cover your roach problem, Jerry can at least find you savings just in case you ever need to hire that exterminator. 
 “I signed up for a new policy with
help. I ended up saving $236 a month after my switch. Thank you Jerry!” —Adelaide C.
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