Sure. Roaches can be controlled with chemical pesticides, but many of us don’t want unnecessary chemicals in our homes. Luckily, roaches can be repelled naturally—and yes, killed naturally, too.
The best natural roach killer? There are a few. We’ll tell you about them along with how they work and how to easily use them.
Ready to learn how to kill roaches naturally, safely, and effectively?
Killing Roaches with Natural, Eco-Friendly Powders
Natural or otherwise, there are two kinds of products for killing roaches: Contact sprays for when you want to kill a single roach outright, and strategic treatments that kill them in far larger numbers, including the roaches that are hiding and you seldom ever see.
How to kill cockroaches naturally with food-grade diatomaceous earth
Diatomaceous earth (DE) is an abrasive, naturally occurring powder made from ground up shells.
Sold in two grades (“food-grade” is the one you want) DE is used in everything from toothpaste to supplements to facial scrubs and is safe to touch and even eat (take care not to inhale the stuff, though—it can damage your lungs).
For our purposes and in addition to its other uses, DE powder is also a great natural way to kill cockroaches!
DE works by damaging a cockroach’s hard exoskeleton, killing it by dehydration. When a cockroach crawls through DE, the abrasive powder adheres to its body, gradually weakening the roach until it dies. Sometimes the powder gets carried back to the cockroach nest, where other roaches die from it, too.
To use DE, you sprinkle a thin layer onto surfaces where roaches are likely to walk, then let it do its job from there. Light coatings work best, and the more places you can find to use it, like wall cavities, cracks and crevices, and gaps in the floor, the more successful you’ll be. Also consider DE for roaches in your car, sprinkling it under mats and seats.
DE has to stay dry to work. If you’re using it in a humid room (or if it gets wet), wipe it away and reapply once the area is dry. During dry weather, you can sprinkle DE outside, too! It’s a great natural way to kill roaches before they even make it inside.
How to kill cockroaches naturally with borax and sugar
Borax is another natural roach killer dust, one you might already have in the laundry room. Unlike DE, borax kills roaches when they eat it.
Using borax takes a bit more work than DE because you’ll have to convince the pests that it’s a food source. To do that, you’ll need to mix in a little bait. Equal parts borax and powdered or granular sugar works fine for this, sprinkled near an entry point or where roaches like to feed. Don’t forget to reapply as the roaches eat it—the more they eat, the better it works!
Note: although borax is less toxic than many chemical pesticides, it still needs to be handled with care. Try to apply only in areas where children and pets can’t access it.
Boric acid: like borax, but works even better
Boric acid is the refined and purified version of borax. Like borax, boric acid is a natural roach killer that needs to be ingested. But unlike borax, boric acid is more finely ground, making it easier for roaches to eat, and as a result, more deadly.
You’re not likely to find boric acid in your laundry room, but its effectiveness makes it worth a special trip to the store.
Boric acid is used in the same way as borax. You spread a light dusting of a boric acid/sugar mixture across surfaces (so slight that you shouldn’t even see the powder from a few feet away). Or mix it with some other sweet or fatty bait. You should notice a difference in the number of cockroaches within a few days.
How to kill roaches naturally with baking soda and sugar
If there’s one thing on this list you almost certainly have in your pantry it’s baking soda. It’s the all natural cockroach killer hidden in plain sight—baking soda and sugar really does kill roaches!
This homemade roach killer is just as simple as the previous powders. Just sprinkle baking soda onto dry surfaces or fill a small bowl with it and add a little sugar. Ingesting baking soda kills roaches quickly. What’s even better about baking soda is that the small amount you need is perfectly safe for kids and pets!
Spot Treatments with All-Natural Roach Killer Spray
Spray roach killers aren’t particularly helpful for a bad cockroach infestation, but they certainly have their place. Natural sprays use combinations of herbs and essential oils to individually kill cockroaches or keep them away.
1. Wondercide Natural Spray
One of these is Wondercide Peppermint Indoor Pest Control Spray. It’s eco-friendly and safe for dogs and cats (and kids!) so you can use it around your home without worrying about harmful chemicals. Wondercide makes natural outdoor spray, as well.
Wondercide uses cedarwood oil and peppermint oil as its main cockroach killing ingredients. It’s 100% effective at killing fleas and ticks and is advertised as killing or repelling roaches, too.
2. Hotshot Natural Spray
You’ve probably seen Hot Shot products at most stores and supermarkets. Hot Shot Natural Insect Control products are non-toxic, pet-safe when dry and, according to reviewers, effective at killing roaches.
Unfortunately, these are kill-on-contact sprays, so you’ll only eliminate cockroaches you can see and spray. But the roaches you see are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tackling an infestation.
3. Zevo Natural Spray
Zevo also makes natural cockroach-killer sprays and traps that utilize essential oils to eliminate pests. They’re safe for use around children and pets because they specifically target insects’ nervous systems.
Zevo sprays use cinnamon, lemongrass and geraniol essential oils as active ingredients to kill roaches and other insects on contact. Again, you’ll have to use the spray bottle to hit roaches directly, so Zevo sprays should be a part of your integrated pest management system.
4. NatureShield Natural Spray
One more outdoor way to kill cockroaches naturally is American Hydro Systems NatureShield spray. It blends essential oils to kill pests that try to sneak into your house while they’re still outside. This one’s designed to be used with specific feeders and sprayers, though, so it comes with more overhead than the others. It guards your house for up to 5 days, making it a better long-term solution.
You don’t have to live with cockroaches. And you don’t always need chemical pesticides to get rid of them.
- With any of the natural roach killer powders—borax, boric acid, or diatomaceous earth—you can eliminate roaches for the long-term.
- With a natural cockroach killer spray, you can kill the occasional roach, saving yourself a little peace of mind.
With some excellent alternatives to chemical pest control (including some great home remedies for roaches), you’ve got a great head start to ending your cockroach problem. Now all that’s left is to do it—naturally.
Frequently Asked Questions
Nope, vinegar doesn’t kill roaches. It can, however, help prevent them. It’s powerful for cleaning sinks, countertops and garbage disposals, all places where roaches often look for food.
There’s not much evidence to suggest that dish soap kills roaches. However, it does kill tinier garden insects, including aphids, mealybugs and spider mites.
- Bunch, T. R. et al. (2013) Diatomaceous Earth General Fact Sheet. National Pesticide Information Center. Retrieved from http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/degen.html
- Strong, Charles A. et al. (1993) Oral Toxicity and Repellency of Borates to German Cockroaches (Dictyoptera: Blattellidae). Journal of Economic Entomology. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/jee/86.5.1458
- Boric Acid: General Fact Sheet. National Pesticide Information Center. Retrieved from http://www.npic.orst.edu/factsheets/boricgen.html
- Huffstetler, Erin (2019) You Don’t Have to Use Unnatural Methods to Rid Your Home of Roaches. The Spruce. Retrieved from https://www.thespruce.com/get-rid-of-roaches-naturally–1388145
- Insecticidal Soaps for Garden Pest Control (2019) Clemson Cooperative Extension. Retrieved from https://hgic.clemson.edu/factsheet/insecticidal-soaps-for-garden-pest-control/