Natural Cockroach Killers & Repellents

  • Written By Dan Edwards on August 12, 2018
    Last Updated: November 25, 2020

Roaches are some of the most hated pests in the world, and it’s no wonder. These creepy-looking bugs can spread infections, such as salmonella, and even plague in some parts of the world. These six-legged insects will eat close to anything, including fingernails and live baby mice! Do you have chills yet?

We don’t want them around, but sometimes it seems like they are here to stay. Let’s look at how we can get rid of them using natural roach repellents.

Why Choose Natural Repellents Over Other Types?

Roaches are a common household pest throughout the United States. The most prevalent of the cockroach species is the tiny German roach, although larger ones such as the American cockroach are also common. They can make their way into our homes by hiding inside shopping bags, cardboard boxes, or even used appliances.

Cockroaches reproduce at an insane rate. During a female’s lifetime, she can lay over 400 eggs, depending on the species, of course. Once you’ve got a couple of roaches living somewhere in your house, an infestation is inevitable. Did you know that some females only need to mate once and are set for a lifetime of back-to-back pregnancies?

The best way to eliminate a cockroach infestation is by using a gel or flowable bait. These are easy to use and allow you to get the chemicals very close to the target: the roaches. One problem is that these types of repellents need a lot of thorough cleaning to remove all the leftover chemicals.

If you have young children, or even pets, then using strong chemicals is not the wisest choice. There are a lot of risks involved, especially if the bait is used in a location with easy access. Any type of chemicals should always be kept out of their reach. Another issue with chemical-based repellents is the smell. Pesticides and insecticides tend to have strong, unpleasant odors.

Natural repellents can work just as well as the harsh chemicals, but with a much lower risk. Most of them are safer to use in households with children and animals. Unlike chemical-based repellents, the natural options won’t smell bad. In fact, some of them might even have a pleasant scent.

Best Natural Repellents & Remedies For Cockroaches

Cockroaches are scavengers, and they will consume anything to feed their hunger. Fortunately, there are a few things—including natural products—which can repel and even kill roaches. Let’s go through some the most effective natural ways to get rid of these roaming insects. Then, the next time you suspect or discover an infestation, you will be ready to take action.

Cockroaches In House


Let’s start with one of the scents that roaches hate the most: catnip. Catnip is a plant very much favored by most cats. The herb’s leaves and stem contain an oil, nepetalactone, which is known to change a cat’s behavior entirely. Some compare the cat’s reaction to that of a female in heat.

While this herb is attractive to cats, roaches are another story altogether. Placing catnip around the house will make these unwanted bugs run for the hills. Cockroaches are very sensitive to the scent of nepetalactone. There are a few ways to utilize catnip as a roach repellent. Let’s take a look.

Fresh Catnip

When using fresh catnip to repel roaches, place the leaves—alone or complete with the stem—in all the areas where you notice cockroaches. This could be under the kitchen sink, behind the fridge or under furniture. I recommend placing the catnip in a small sachet, just to avoid making an unnecessary mess.

Dried Catnip

If you have seen something that looks suspiciously like black pepper in some corners of your house, it might be cockroach droppings. In these areas, spread some dry catnip powder. You could also try to fill a few cracks in the walls or floors with the powder, to make the cockroaches run away.

Catnip Spray

You can easily make your own catnip spray to get rid of any roaches that might be lurking. The recipe is simple to make and will last you a while. Here’s how to do it:

  • Boil some of the catnip leaves and stems in a pan of water
  • Let the mixture bubble away until the water becomes a dark yellow-brownish color
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let the concoction cool
  • Once cooled, pour the liquid into a clean spray bottle

Use the catnip spray to target all of the unwanted insects quickly. I suggest keeping the bottle close at hand if your home is heavily infested, therefore, whenever you next spot a roach, you can spray it.

If you don’t have catnip, bay leaves will work just as well. You can use the same method to create a repellent spray. I also suggest using bay leaves if you have a cat, otherwise the catnip scent will probably drive your pet crazy.

Catnip is great at repelling cockroaches, but don’t rely on it to actually kill the insects: it only repels them. Heavy infestations should be treated first, then you can use catnip to prevent any new cockroach populations from making your house their home.


Not everyone loves a good pinch of garlic in their food. Vampires hate garlic, and so do cockroaches. There are two common ways to use garlic as a repellent, either in powder or spray form. Let’s take a look at each one.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is found on almost every spice rack. Dust the powder in different areas of the house to repel any cockroach living in your home.

Garlic Spray

There are two different homemade garlic sprays that I highly recommend you to try. One features only garlic, and the other contains a few other ingredients.

Garlic only:

  • Boil some water in a pot; the amount of water depends on the size of your spray bottle
  • When the water is boiling, throw in four or five garlic cloves
  • Let the water and garlic slowly simmer. Garlic is not like catnip, it will need a little more time to release all of its repellent power. You should be able to smell it once it’s ready—the garlic aroma will begin to fill up the kitchen
  • Take the garlic water off the heat and let it cool down, before straining out the cloves and pouring the liquid into your spray bottle

Garlic works great on its own, nevertheless, if you want to create a super repellent, you’ll need a few more ingredients. This homemade repellent spray contains onion and black pepper, along with the garlic. Here’s how to make it: Super Garlic Repellent:

  • Take a medium-sized pot and fill it halfway with cold water
  • Pour in one tablespoon of ground black pepper and let it come to a boil
  • Cut one onion into quarters and place that along with three garlic cloves into the pan of boiling water
  • Let the mixture simmer for approximately five minutes: the black pepper should darken the water a bit
  • Leave the mixture to cool before straining and pouring the liquid into the spray bottle

Use the spray anywhere in the house where you might suspect an infestation. You can also use it as a preventative measure in your kitchen or other areas of your home. Spray in the corners or openings where roaches might have access. Creating this pungent barrier can keep the cockroaches away.

CC Image courtesy of louento.pix

Similar to catnip, garlic will not kill cockroaches. It is, however, one of the more effective ways to keep them at bay.


Coffee is a favorite for people all around the world. Many of us rely on it to get started on a cold Monday morning. Coffee is not only favored by us humans, but is also something that cockroaches find absolutely irresistible. There is an interesting catch though: coffee is fatal for roaches.

The coffee bean itself is not what kills the insects: it’s the caffeine. While too much caffeine is not healthy for anyone, for roaches it’s actually deadly. There are two effective methods for using coffee to get rid of cockroaches: coffee grinds, or a liquid coffee trap.

Coffee grinds

Grind up some coffee beans as fine as you can. Soon after, sprinkle some of the ground coffee around the dark corners of your home, or in kitchen cabinets. The cockroaches will smell the bitter scent of freshly ground coffee and come running. The roaches will feed on the coffee grinds, and then slowly die.

Coffee trap

When making a trap to catch roaches, you need some bait. Your morning coffee fits this role perfectly. Make a large cup of coffee and pour it into a bowl or any other container. Place the coffee as close as you can to where the cockroaches are hiding, and then wait.

coffee roach trap

The cockroaches will smell the coffee and instantly be lured out of their tiny crevices. Leave the coffee out in the day when you’re at work, as well as during the night. While cockroaches are nocturnal, you still might see some during daylight hours. When there is a heavy infestation, some roaches, particularly nymphs, choose to feed throughout the day.

The roaches will climb up the side of the cup/ bowl using the sticky pads they have underneath their feet. They will jump into the coffee and slowly drown as they can’t get out.

Check Your Coffee Maker

Coffee can be an excellent repellent, but it can also attract cockroaches when you don’t want it to. Since cockroaches are notorious coffee-lovers, if you suspect an infestation, make sure to check your coffee maker. This should be done before and after you’ve used it. You might find roaches hiding inside. There have been reports of people finding a cockroach nest inside the machine.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly has seemingly unlimited uses. It is good for many things, such as rehydrating dry lips and skin and protecting wounds from unwanted bacteria. While petroleum jelly is not exactly a repellent, it can make an excellent trap for cockroaches. Here’s what you will need:

  • A cardboard box or another container with easy access for the roaches
  • Petroleum jelly
  • A delicious bait for the cockroaches

Spread out a good amount of petroleum jelly on all sides of the container. Don’t hold back—use plenty. In the middle of the trap, place the bait. This can be anything that roaches find irresistible, such as a sugar cube or maybe some coffee grinds. Place the trap in the place where you have noticed the most cockroaches.

Leave it overnight, and the next morning you might be shocked to see how many roaches you have caught. The bait will attract the cockroaches, and as soon as they step on the jelly, they will be stuck.

Baking Soda and Sugar

Baking soda is good for many things other than baking. It works great at cleaning a dirty stove, as well as for whitening teeth. You might not have realized that this basic kitchen staple also kills roaches.

The best way to do this is to make a baking soda and sugar mix. In order for the baking soda to kill cockroaches, they need to ingest the powder. Baking soda itself is not very appealing for the roaches, but sugar definitely is.

Mix equal parts of sugar and baking soda, then sprinkle the white mixture anywhere there might be a few cockroaches. The cockroaches will unknowingly eat away at baking soda. Once ingested, the powder will create gas within their abdomen, which kills them.

Homemade Chrysanthemum Spray

Chrysanthemum is a genus of flowers typically found in Asia and North-eastern Europe. These flowers have bright colors and a daisy-like crown. You can easily find them in almost any local florist or garden center. This pretty flower is lethal to cockroaches. Lucky for us, but unlucky for them, it is quite easy to make your own spray using these flowers.

chrysanthemum roach repellent

Unless you can get your hands on dried flowers, you will need to prepare them first. After buying or growing your own flowers in the yard, hang them upside down in a dark, dry room. Depending on the humidity, it can take a while for them to dry. To speed up the process you can use a fan.

How Chrysanthemum Kills Roaches

The flower creates toxins when crushed; the toxins are safe for humans, though deadly for cockroaches. These toxins immediately attack the cockroach’s nervous system, paralyzing the bug, and eventually killing it. This is an extremely effective natural repellent, which works not only against cockroaches, but also for other bugs as well.

Making the spray:

  • Crush the flowers—I prefer using a mortar and pestle to make a fine powder. The seeds of the flower are the most lethal, so don’t leave any out. The finer the powder, the more potent a mixture you will get.
  • Mix the powder with cold water. The exact ratio is difficult to say since each flower differs in potency; this is more of a trial and error situation. What I like to do is mix enough powder and water to have a sprayable mixture. Try it out if you see a roach coming by, it should die within minutes.
  • Some people like to add in a small amount of dish soap. Dish soap or soapy water also works to kill cockroaches. As the soapy mixture hits the roach, it will form a shield on its body, suffocating the bug.

Chrysanthemum spray won’t last long. Once the mixture is exposed to light and air it will evaporate fast. Reapplying is key if you want to get rid of the roaches. The leftover mixture should be kept in a dry, dark location. I recommend using it all at once, so don’t make too much at a time.

If you notice that the flowers are difficult to find, it is a good idea to freeze some of them. Use good quality freezing bags, and try to push out all of the air when closing. The dry or fresh flowers will last in the freezer for up to six months.

You can also store the dried flowers out of the freezer. If you have a vacuum sealer, I recommend using it to make sure all of the air is out. Keep the sealed bags in a dark location.

The chrysanthemum spray works just as effectively as cypermethrin. Cypermethrin is one of the pesticides most commonly used by professional exterminators. The only difference is that the chemicals last for much longer compared to the flower.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is used for many purposes. It can treat yeast and fungal infections, as well as cleaning eyes and ears. Boric acid is also essential for bone health. It is found in many foods such as raw fruit, wine, and peanuts.

Does Boric Acid Kill Bed Bugs

Another great benefit boric acid has is that it works great as an insect repellent. Boric acid instantly kills cockroaches—not only the adults, but also their offspring—eliminating the roach population. I will share with you a few effective ways to use boric acid.

Boric Acid and Sugar

It’s no secret: cockroaches love sugar and sweets. Therefore, what better way to lure the bugs in than using this sweet substance. Mix one part boric acid with one part sugar and a little water. Roll the mixture into tiny balls and place them throughout your home.

The cockroaches will be attracted to the sugar. They will then pick up the balls and carry them to their nest where the nymphs will also feed on them. The boric acid has the potential to kill the entire infestation. This method will also work on other pests.

Mix Boric Acid With Grease

Another thing cockroaches love is grease, and above all they prefer bacon grease. Next time you cook your breakfast bacon, don’t throw away the fat. Instead, mix it with a teaspoon of boric acid and you will have your lethal mixture.

Disperse the greasy mix to the places where you most often see cockroaches. When you’re away or sleeping, the roaches will come out to feed.

Risks & Precautions

There’s always a certain risk when using anything that kills insects, even if it is natural. It’s critical to take a few precautions when using these methods to make sure it won’t negatively affect family members.

Not Everything Will Kill the Roaches

Some of the natural repellents that we have described are only that—repellents. They will make the cockroaches avoid the area, but won’t kill them off. When you need to get rid of a massive infestation, it is necessary to use other, sometimes harsher methods. You want to eliminate not only the adults, but also the offspring.

Natural Doesn’t Always Equal Safe

Products like boric acid and chrysanthemum are natural, but they should still be used with caution. The chrysanthemum flower should never be ingested or inhaled. This is especially important for children, as it can cause irritation and allergic reactions.

Never use the chrysanthemum spray on or around food. If you treat any surface which is also used for eating, make sure to clean it thoroughly once the treatment is done.

When using the boric acid and sugar balls method, it is vital you do not place them within a child’s reach. This can not be stressed enough. If someone swallows pure boric acid, it will result in acute poisoning and they will need to be hospitalized.

Symptoms of acute boric acid poisoning include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Bright red rash
  • Blisters
  • Fever
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Vomit will be a blue-green color
  • Low blood pressure
  • Decreased urination

The same precautions go for pets. All repellents should be placed far away from animals.


There are a few signs to look out for if you suspect an infestation. Seeing cockroaches during daylight hours means the population may be getting too large. Watch out for cockroach droppings, which look like ground black pepper. The nymphs of the German roach species, the most common in the US, emit a musty odor when the population is crowded. This is something to look for as well.

I recommend using natural roach repellents when possible. They will not only save you money, but are also much better for you and your family’s health. When an infestation has gotten too out of hand, you might need to seek professional help to get rid of all insects. Once the infestation has been eradicated though, use the catnip spray or super garlic repellent to deter roaches from entering your home.