How to get rid of roaches naturally – 5 remedies to keep them away for good

These are the organic ways to treat your cockroach problem

A split header image featuring coffee grounds, peppermint oil, and lemon and vinegar spray
(Image credit: Getty Images)

A cockroach problem isn’t an abnormal occurrence. These speedy pests thrive in human conditions and are notoriously hard to catch – so it is important to know how to get rid of cockroaches for good. 

If you find yourself battling this pest, it can be easy to call on a professional immediately. However, just as when you’re getting rid of fruit flies, the best cockroach deterrents may be hiding in your kitchen cabinet. 

According to pest control experts, you can get rid of cockroaches with five natural remedies – many of which are already pantry staples. From coffee grounds to dish detergent, these cockroach repellents can help get rid of cockroaches naturally, and permanently. Of course, prevention is better than cure, and we have included ways to discourage cockroaches from entering your home in the first place, too.

How to get rid of cockroaches naturally – 5 expert-approved methods  

According to certified entomologist and technical director at Braman Termite & Pest Elimination, Natasha Wright, the fight against cockroaches doesn’t need to involve harsh chemicals and toxins. Here are five organic methods that you can try. 

Natasha Wright
Natasha Wright

Natasha is a board-certified entomologist and a member of the Entomological Society of America. She earned her bachelor’s degree in entomology at the University of Florida in 2009 and received her master’s degree in entomology at the University of Arkansas in 2013.

1. Sugar and borax

Cockroaches prevention

(Image credit: GettyImages)

‘Borax is effective for roach infestations because it will slowly dry the exoskeleton of the insects, affect their digestive system, and finally kill them,’ Natasha says. 

The entomologist recommends mixing borax and sugar in a 3:1 ratio before spreading the homemade deterrent in the spots where you have noticed them.

Alternatively, you can make 'dough balls' made of boric acid, sugar, and flour. Mix them by combining equal amounts of each of the three ingredients to make dough balls around an inch in diameter. Put them where you've seen the cockroaches; they will feed on them and be killed. Be careful, though, as it is really important to ensure that pets and children do not have access to the dough balls.

2. Peppermint oil

Cockroaches prevention

(Image credit: GettyImages)

Peppermint oil is one of the most celebrated pest control deterrents on the market, so it is unsurprising that this remedy is effective in curing a cockroach infestation, too.

‘A peppermint oil spray can deter roaches in a non-toxic way and is safe to use around children,’ Natasha says. The expert suggests mixing 15 drops of peppermint oil, available at Amazon, with 10 ounces of water before spraying the formula around infested areas. 

3. Dish soap

Dish detergent

(Image credit: Alamy)

If you know how to clean an area rug or remove coffee stains from your favorite fabric, you may already know about the power of dish soap. However, it has its place in your battle against cockroaches too. 

‘A mixture of water and soap can suffocate and kill cockroaches and is especially effective against German roaches. Mix four tablespoons of dish detergent in a liter of water and spray it where you’ve noticed activity,’ the entomologist says. 

4. Coffee grounds

Coffee grounds for cleaning furniture

(Image credit: GettyImages)

You can also use some leftover grounds from your coffee maker to deter these pests – but not in the way you might initially expect. Cockroaches are attracted to the aroma of ground coffee – meaning it can create the perfect trap.

‘First, put the grounds in small paper cups. Then, place those cups in water-filled jars, then place the jar against walls or baseboards where you’ve seen bugs,’ Natasha instructs. The scent will lure the pests into the trap where they are unable to escape, so you can dispose of the contents the following day.

5. Lemon juice

vinegar, lemon and rosemary in spray bottle

(Image credit: Getty Images)

‘Lemons possess natural anti-pathogenic properties that keep roaches away,’ Natasha says. Sharing her cleaning tips, the expert recommends adding two to three tablespoons of lemon juice with a few gallons of water in a bucket before mixing and washing the problem areas with a mop in the solution.

Now you know how to get rid of cockroaches (the natural way), only one question remains – which solution with you begin with?


What does vinegar do to roaches?

'Vinegar is a natural solution often suggested for deterring cockroaches, primarily because of its strong odor,' says Richard Mullins from H20 Plumbing. 'While it might temporarily repel them, it's not a reliable method for getting rid of a cockroach infestation. 

'Cockroaches are highly adaptable pests, and they can become accustomed to various scents over time. Plus, vinegar doesn't address the root causes of the infestation, such as food and water sources.'

How can I prevent roaches from coming into my house?

The best way to get rid of cockroaches permanently is to remove whatever it is that's attracting them in the first place. They are known to be resilient and can adapt to various conditions, hide in crevices during the day time and are attracted by food sources left out in the open.

So it requires a little more than good housekeeping and kitchen cleaning:

  • Empty the garbage regularly or keep it sealed. Cockroaches really aren't fussy about what they eat and there's no nastier surprise then lifting the lid on the garbage to find them rooting about in it.
  • Don't leave dishes in the sink: roaches are always on the hunt for food and this is just as attractive to them as food left out on countertops (which needs to be put away in sealed containers, too). 
  • Don't leave uneaten pet food out. It attracts rodents, too. 
  • Vacuum the floors after meals. It's a pain, to be sure, but if you have a cockroach problem, even the crumbs from the floor of a meal you've just eaten or cooked is enough to keep them fed, just as with getting rid of mice.
  • Deprive them of water. Remember that sink full of water? Dripping bathroom faucets? Bowls of pet water? They're all great sources of water for thirsty cockroaches, too. 'Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures that prefer dark, warm, and humid environments,' says Richard Mullins. 'They are excellent scavengers and can eat a wide range of food, from crumbs to organic matter.'

'When trying to get rid of cockroaches, you must be persistent and thorough,' says Richard Mullins. 'Address not only the visible pests but also their hiding places and potential food and water sources. Regular cleaning, sealing entry points, and using appropriate pest control methods are key to successfully eradicating cockroach infestations and preventing their return.'

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.