It's almost an Australian write of passage to experience the pure horror of having a cockroach skittering across your floorboards or, worse yet, flying directly at you. And they're not just unsightly, cockroaches can carry harmful pathogens and their presence can exacerbate allergies and asthma.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways to kill cockroaches and prevent them from coming back. Here are the best ways to get rid of cockroaches.
What are cockroaches
While there are approximately 4,000 species of cockroaches around the world with 450 of those found in Australia, only very few of them are pests. Phew. The types you'll most commonly creeping the bejesus out of you are the German cockroach (small and light brown), the Australian cockroach (large, brown with yellow streaks near its wings) and the American cockroach (large and reddish-brown).
What attracts cockroaches
Understanding why cockroaches are infesting your home is essential for removing them, and preventing their return in the future. Cockroaches are attracted to easily accessible food sources whether it’s human food, pet food or even cardboard, glue and soap. Don’t leave food, dirty dishes and plates around, clean under appliances regularly and ensure your garbage bin is well covered and removed regularly. Try to keep pet food dishes clear and clean overnight. Cockroaches also love warm and humid environments, which is why they’re attracted to kitchens and bathrooms. Check around sinks and drains for leaks.
How to get rid of cockroaches
While it might be an urban legend that cockroaches could survive a nuclear holocaust, they are an incredibly hardy creature. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get kill cockroaches once they’ve made themselves at home.
1. Cockroach baits and traps
Cockroach traps and baits are an easy and effective way to kill cockroaches once they’ve entered your home, working for up to three months. They attract cockroaches, killing the critters and their eggs with a single feed from the bait, breaking the breeding cycle. When they return to the nest and die, they will also contaminate other cockroaches and their eggs. They’re best placed around hot water systems and under fridges, bathroom cabinets and washing machines. The benefit of cockroach baits is that there’s no fumes or mess involved, working away out of sight and out of mind. Keep in mind that while the baits don’t release any harmful chemicals, they can be hazardous if your pet chews them.
2. Cockroach bomb
If you can’t figure out where the infestation or track down the nest, bug bobs can be useful. Some also use them as a preventive measure when moving into a new home. Using a cockroach bomb requires a bit more work and it’s important to read the instructions. You will need to leave the area for two hours while it works, then open windows and doors to ventilate the space for 30 minutes before switching the electricity back on. Cockroach bombs also leave residue for up to three months so they’re not ideal for people who are sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Children’s toys should also be covered or removed.
3. Cockroach spray
The benefit of using a cockroach spray is that it is fast acting, stopping individual roaches in their tracks. Some surface sprays can also provide a protective barrier, killing insects for months afterwards.
4. Cockroach repellent
There are a number of sprays and sands you can use around the entry points of your home to repel cockroaches.
5. Baking soda and sugar
Baking soda is probably the most versatile ingredient in the cooking and cleaning world, and now it can add “cockroach killer” to its extensive resume. Make a mixture that is 50 percent baking soda and 50 percent sugar, honey or something similarly sweet and enticing. Leave it in a pot where you suspect cockroaches live and breed. The baking soda will kill the roaches and it’s safe to use around pets and children.
6. Borax and sugar
A mixture of three parts borax to one part sugar works similar to commercial cockroach killers as it dehydrates their exoskeleton. This combination works more quickly than using baking soda and it’s also inexpensive, fume-free and environmentally friendly. Although it is a natural option, you should keep this mixture away from kids and pets.
7. Essential oils
Some people swear by essential oils as a natural, chemical-free way to prevent and kill cockroaches. Add cypress, tea tree, citronella and/or peppermint to a spray bottle of water and use directly on roaches or around nests and the entry points of your home.