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Keeping Cockroaches Out of Your House

Although cockroaches are useful outdoors, where they help recycle plant and animal wastes, they are not usually welcome indoors. Research clearly indicates that roaches can carry disease - causing organisms from sewers, garbage cans, or bathrooms to kitchen counters and human food. Cockroaches can also trigger allergic reactions in some people.




Except for size and markings, all cockroaches have a similar appearance. These insects are dark in color, oval shaped, and have long antennae. Roaches are mainly active at night and generally remain hidden during the day in cracks and crevices near their source of food.

Use nontoxic sticky traps to locate roach habitat. Roaches like to travel by touching the edges of objects. Place traps along the edges of walls, appliances, cupboards, etc., and not in the middle of the room. Sticky traps with a nontoxic “pheromone” attractant will catch more roaches. When you find out where roaches are hiding, you’ll know where to concentrate your efforts.

Less-Toxic Controls

Use sticky traps for small infestations. If you only have a few roaches, you may be able to control the problem with sticky traps.

Use a strong vacuum with a crevice attachment to pull roaches from their hiding places.

Use insecticidal dusts such as diatomaceous earth (DE) or boric acid in wall voids or cracks and crevices before you seal them, under large appliances, or in other prime habitats. One way to gain access to a wall void is to remove the cover plates on electrical outlets and switches. Always turn off the power before applying products near electrical outlets.

When properly used, DE has little toxicity to humans and pets, but kills insects by absorbing their outer waxy coating, causing dehydration and death. Use DE sold for pest control and not for pool filters.

Although boric acid has a low acute (immediate) toxicity for humans and pets, it should be handled carefully and kept out of the reach of children and pets. For roaches, boric acid is a slow acting but effective stomach poison.

When applying these dusts, use a hand duster and wear a dust mask, gloves, and safety goggles. Apply a very light coating because roaches will avoid piles of dust.

Use cockroach baits because they use minimal amounts of insecticide and confine the poison to a very small area.

Kitchen sink



Prevent cockroach infestations by denying them access to your home and to the food, water, and shelter they need to survive.

Store food in the refrigerator or in containers that seal tightly.

Keep things clean and tidy. Thoroughly clean counters and vacuum or sweep floors daily in eating and food preparation areas. Don’t leave dirty dishes out overnight, even in the dishwasher. Any garbage containing food scraps should be removed from the house nightly. Thoroughly clean recyclables before storing them. At night, place pet food and water bowls in a moat of soapy water. Reduce clutter in all rooms (it provides habitat for roaches).

Keep things dry. Fix leaky plumbing. Keep kitchen surfaces dry whenever they are not in use, especially overnight.

Weatherstrip around doors and windows and repair holes in screens.

Seal cracks and crevices. Before sealing, vacuum and wash the area to eliminate all roach egg cases, fecal matter, or other debris. Caulk and paint cracks around baseboards, cupboards, pipes, sinks, etc. Use mildew resistant caulk in moist areas.

Inspect materials you bring into your house for roaches or their egg cases (small, dark, kidney bean shaped). Pay special attention to used furniture and appliances and cardboard cartons from food stores.

Monitor with sticky traps. Once you have eliminated roaches or significantly reduced their numbers, continue to use sticky traps to alert you to a new infestation or a rise in the population. This is especially important in apartment buildings, condominiums, or other connected dwellings where roaches can easily move from one household to another.

For more information, or to keep this available in your home, download the full PDF.