Pest control pros share how to get rid of cockroaches from the kitchen properly

Here's how to get rid of cockroaches from the kitchen

cockroach in kitchen
(Image credit: Alamy)

No one wants to find a cockroach in their kitchen cabinets – they're unpleasant, can worsen allergies and asthma, and make your kitchen less hygienic. 

These pests are attracted to food, moisture, and electricals, making the kitchen a pretty ideal habitat. We spoke to pest control professionals for the best ways to get rid of cockroaches in the kitchen, as well as preventative measures and cleaning tips to stop them from coming back.

There are various methods you can try to get rid of cockroaches naturally and special products that are designed to kill roaches and their eggs, which you may want to try if it is becoming a recurring problem.

How to get rid of cockroaches in the kitchen

Act swiftly when dealing with cockroaches, as if you've spotted one dashing across your kitchen floor, there are probably many more lurking. 'Cockroaches prefer to stay in tight confined hiding spaces because it's dark and they love pressure on their bodies – so they typically only come out in the open to eat or move from one hiding area to the other,' explains pest control expert Matt Smith (opens in new tab)

Here's how to keep cockroaches at bay in the kitchen.

cockroach in kitchen

(Image credit: Alamy)
Matt Smith pest control expert
Matt Smith

Matt Smith (opens in new tab) has been working in the pest control industry for 14 years. He started Green Pest Management, Delaware-based pest control company, nine years ago. With his background and experience he is knowledgeable about a variety of pests, pest activity, and ways of dealing with infestations.

1. Identify the source

It might not be clear at first where the cockroaches are coming from, but identifying the source will enable you to target them. The pests find their way into the house through plumbing, hitching a ride on grocery bags and used books, and simply entering through small cracks or doorways. 

Common cockroach hideouts are places where there is food or moisture and outlets. Check inside and above kitchen cabinets, around the dishwasher and stove, underneath the sink, and in tight spaces, such as the area behind your refrigerator. Fix any leaks and consider purchasing some of the best kitchen organizers to keep food contained.

2. Targeted treatments

Cockroach gel baits, at Walmart (opens in new tab) are a popular solution that can get rid of roaches within a couple of weeks – simply apply dots of the gel over cracks, seams and corners, along baseboards, around appliances and so on. Replace the gel after six months so that the roaches cannot build up intolerance and remove any killed cockroaches as other roaches can feed off them.

'The best way we have found to treat them is a combination of gel baits, boric acid, IGR (insect growth regulator), at Walmart (opens in new tab) and pesticide spray,' shares Matt Smith.

Insecticides that contain boric acid, $4 at Walmart (opens in new tab), are effective in killing both adult roaches and eggs, and can help with getting rid of ants, too. Be sure to follow the instructions carefully.

3. Seal up entry points

black and white kitchen with window and baseboards

(Image credit: Future PLC)

As mentioned above, cockroaches often find their way into our homes through small cracks and openings. These include areas around baseboards, cabinets, windows, and flooring. They then linger in spots where they won't be disturbed. So seal up any crevices in your kitchen as these may be providing shortcuts into your home.

4. Cleaning

Cleaning the kitchen regularly will help to deter cockroaches, so be extra vigilant in wiping down surfaces, getting rid of crumbs and spills and cleaning kitchen cabinets. The fewer tight corners the better, so some decluttering and organization are sure to help.

'Vacuuming regularly can also help remove any eggs or cockroaches that have made their way into your kitchen,' adds Lauren Doss from Nashville Maids (opens in new tab).

5. Try other deterrents

cockroach on kitchen tap

(Image credit: Getty images / KLH49)

Lauren Doss recommends using natural compounds like boric acid and diatomaceous earth, at Walmart (opens in new tab) to help to keep the roaches away by creating an environment that is less comfortable for them. Out in the yard, diatomaceous earth will also keep aphids and slugs away. Baking soda is another cupboard staple that can also be used to get rid of roaches.

6. Call in a professional

Fumigation is costly and means moving out of your home while the procedure is being carried out, but may be an option to consider if dealing with an infestation.


Is there a smell that will keep cockroaches away?

Various DIY and natural methods are out there. Stuart Flynn the owner of Bug-N-A-Rug Exterminators (opens in new tab) recommends placing bay leaves in drawers and cupboards and using peppermint oil, which roaches find unpleasant. You could mix it with water in a spray bottle, at Walmart (opens in new tab) and use it when cleaning. Citrus scents, cedar, and eucalyptus are also known to repel roaches, but may not be good enough deterrents on their own.

What kills roaches and their eggs?

Derek Carter (opens in new tab), owner of Pests Termination says cockroach gel (Advion), glue traps and pesticide when used properly will eliminate roaches and
their eggs. 'One of the keys to stopping the cockroach from reproducing is
using an IGR (Insect Growth Regulator) like Gentrol or Tekko Pro,' he says.

Why do cockroaches suddenly appear

Similar to silverfish, roaches are attracted by moisture, warmth and food. Pest expert Derek Carter says cockroaches also prefer to come out at night. 'You may never see them until your home is infested and you start seeing them in the day because there are so many,' he says. 

The combination of warmth, food, moisture, and electrical appliances make the kitchen an appealing spot for cockroaches to hide. Gel baits combined with regular cleaning and some natural deterrents will help to keep them away.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is Section Editor at Homes & Gardens, overseeing the Solved section, which provides readers with practical advice for their homes. She has been in the world of digital journalism for six years, having previously worked as Senior SEO Editor at News UK both in London and New York. She joined the Future team two years ago, working across a range of homes brands. Millie formerly worked as Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home, taking care of evergreen articles that help and inspire people to make the most of their homes and outdoor spaces. Millie has a degree in French and Italian and lives in North London.