What Smells Keep Roaches Away? Learn All About It for Good!

Cockroaches or roaches constitute a significant pest problem, particularly in homes. They infest and eat from anything to everything (food waste to feces and dead animals). Cockroaches also feast on their family members.

What Smells Keep Roaches Away Learn All About It for Good!
Madagascar cockroach

Credit: Houston Museum of Natural Science/ Flicker

One of the significant problems associated with their infestation is that roaches contaminate the food items. These roaches often contaminate the food material with deadly pathogens and are responsible for human diseases. They spread animal diseases, damage wallpapers, and trigger asthma and allergies.

Roach infestation is a significant problem for homeowners because this pest is hard to kill, repel, and eliminate. Also, they are highly adaptable to every environment—another important reason for their control difficulty. However, many scents or repellants are available to repel cockroaches.

This writing will discuss roaches and what smells keep them away from homes and kitchens; these smells are organic or contain harmful chemicals.

What Are Roaches?

What Are Roaches?
The unpleasant pest or roaches

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Roaches are the most common pest infestations of homes and apartments. They are trouble makers in kitchens where sanitation is lacking. 

Cockroaches visit these places again and again and contaminate the food material. Moreover, they contaminate utensils and other household items and leave an unpleasant odor.

In homes and apartments, their presence is simply unpleasant and embarrassing. They are difficult to control because cockroaches are highly adaptable to every environment and resistant to most chemicals.

Cockroaches move from filth to food items and can transmit harmful diseases causing pathogens. These roaches release allergens that cause;

  1. Watery eyes
  2. Congestion
  3. Sneezing
  4. Asthma
  5. Cough

The cockroaches lead to asthma is more severe in children living in densely populated areas where roach infestation is severe and uncontrollable.

Five roaches or cockroaches species are considered serious pests such as German cockroaches, brown-banded cockroaches, oriental cockroaches, American cockroaches, and Turkestan cockroaches.

German cockroach
German cockroach—a typical home and apartment pest

Credit: Pixabay

Identification of Roaches

Roaches are medium-sized to giant insects with long and prominent antennas. They appear broad and flattened with a fast-moving lifestyle. Bugs belong to the order Blattodea and are often confused with beetles, but the cockroaches have membranous wings and lack hard forewings(the characteristic trait of beetles).

Note: Termites belong to the same order as cockroaches and are closely related to these nocturnal insects.

RELATED: How to Effectively Control Houseplant Pests?

Life Cycle of Roaches

Roaches are nocturnal insects and instantly scatter and hide when disturbed. An adult female cockroach produces an egg case known as ootheca. They carry this egg case around, protruding from the tip of their abdomen.

Life Cycle of Roaches
A female cockroach with an egg case

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

After the incubation period, which is 30 days and near to hatching, the female deposits its eggs in a suitable location (dark, moist, and protected crevices of trees). The eggs hatch within days to months, and young crawlers emerge.

Crawlers undergo two to three molting before developing into an adult. The young roaches are similar to adults and have the same feeding habits. However, they lack the characteristic wings and are not reproductively ready. After their third molt, the cockroaches are white, and within a few hours, the outer covering darkens and hardens and molts into adults.

Life Cycle of Cockroaches
The complete life cycle of roaches from eggs to the adult stage

Credit: Flicker

The roaches complete their entire life cycle within months to years, depending upon the species. However, the most common and abundant stage is the nymphal stage in roach populations. They remain to hide in the moist, dark, and narrow places, only coming out for foraging.

Management of Roaches by Organic and Chemical Ways

Managing roaches is not easy as many cockroach infestations in indoor and outdoor spaces exist. Sometimes you need pest control services to get rid of them. Or you can prevent these pests on your own with organic and chemical methods. 

To successfully repel cockroaches, you need to identify the species of cockroaches and the places they prefer to hide and deposit eggs.

Natural Cockroach Repellent and Killer

Like mosquitoes, the roaches hate the smell of certain plant species, and these plant-based essential oils can be used as a natural cockroach repellent and killer. These essential oils are;

  1. Tea tree oil
  2. Peppermint oil
  3. Lavender oil
  4. Citronella oil
  5. Rosemary oil
  6. Cinnamon oil
  7. Oregano oil
  8. Thyme oil
  9. Clove oil
  10. Eucalyptus oil

Eucalyptus, lavender, and citronella essential oils effectively repel cockroaches and keep them away from entering homes and offices for working days.

Natural Cockroach Repellent and Killer
Lavender oil is used to repel roaches due to its sharp smell

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

RELATED: 10 Best Natural Pest Control Remedies for Garden!

Essential Oils that Kill Roaches

Oregano Oil

Oregano is a powerful agent that kills, and its smells repel cockroaches. The application of oregano oil repels roaches for at least one week, and constant sprays on their hiding places will kill them.

Oregano Oil
A potent agent to repel and kill roaches in homes, office buildings, and congested house buildings.

Credit: Pixabay

To prepare the oregano oil spray;

  1. Mix the two tablespoons of oregano oil per liter of water
  2. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and regularly apply it to suspected areas to avoid roaches.

Peppermint Oil

Cockroaches hate the smell of peppermint essential oil and leave the places of smell sources. This oil has a strong scent that instantly kills the roaches.

Peppermint Oil
Peppermint oil has a strong scent that instantly kills the cockroaches

Credit: Pixabay

Peppermint oil and other mint oils are most effective against German and American cockroach infestations. To prepare the peppermint oil spray;

  1. Take two tablespoons of peppermint oil with two parts of water
  2. Add one piece of white vinegar for more decisive action
  3. Mix all the ingredients well and pour them into a spray bottle
  4. Apply on infected areas to kill and repel roaches

Tea Tree Oil

It has more significant benefits for human health and the killing of roaches. It helps the homeowners to deter cockroaches instantly from infested areas.

Tea Tree Oil
Applications of 100% pure tea tree oil will kill the roaches from your home and apartment buildings.

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Tea tree oil acts as an insecticide and a natural repellant agent for roaches and repels many other garden pests. To make a spray of tea tree oil;

  1. Take one tablespoon of tea tree oil (100% pure) and two tablespoons of vinegar.
  2. Add both ingredients into one liter of water and mix it well
  3. Pour the solution into a spray bottle and apply to infested places
  4. Keep this solution always ready to use the form to deter roaches 

Rosemary Essential Oils

Rosemary Essential Oils
Rosemary oil kills roaches instantly because of its sharp smell

Credit: Flicker

Rosemary is a delicious herb and uses to roast chicken and other cuisines. It also has toxic nature toward cockroaches and kills them. Moreover, it repels other garden bugs and helps growers maintain healthy and happy gardens.

Regularly sprinkle it on places or areas you suspect roach infestation. For its proper mode of action, make sure it contacts the body surfaces of cockroaches.

Cockroach Repellent that Dehydrates Roaches

Unlike essential oils, which repel roaches or kill them. Many other chemical agents dehydrate the roach body, killing them.

Cockroach Repellent that Dehydrates Roaches
Boric acid is a death sentence for roaches

Credit: Alwyn Ladell/ Flicker

Boric acid kills the roaches instantly when they come in contact. It negatively impacts the digestive system of cockroaches and ruptures their hard outer exoskeleton. Spread the boric acid over the place you suspect is infested with cockroaches.

You can also mix the boric acid with flour, sugar, and water. Make a thick paste and spread it around the house to feed cockroaches. The flour and sugar attract roaches, and they will eat the dough as the boric acid will enter the roach’s body, disrupt its digestive system, and kill them.

Note: Ensure the kids and pets are not around the boric acid because it is toxic and may harm them.

Use Diatomaceous Earth to Kill and Repel Roaches

Diatomaceous Earth to Kill and Repel Roaches
Diatomaceous earth brilliantly punctures the insect body and kills them

Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Diatomaceous earth kills the cockroach infestation by puncturing and penetrating their body. It is vital in killing and repelling roaches and controlling their population.

Garlic Powder

Garlic powder is excellent for repelling cockroaches, just like eucalyptus essential oil. Apply garlic powder near their hiding places to get rid of cockroaches.

Garlic Powder
Garlic powder repels the roaches.

Credit: Flicker

Practical Tips for Successful Cockroach Control

To achieve successful control against roaches, be cautious with the following tips;

  1. Do not use a few drops of essential oils; use sufficient amounts to achieve successful control.
  2. Reapply the essential oils constantly to deter roaches for successful control
  3. Use strategic applications of essential oils; for example, apply them in areas or hiding places.

Use Sticky Traps

Use Sticky Traps
A successful roach trap with pests in it

Credit: Flicker

Yellow sticky traps or glue boards are the best way to detect and control roaches’ infestation. No doubt the bugs hate the essential oil smell intensely, but these traps provide a knowledgeable guess about their populations.

Place the cardboard with glue and food items (favorite of cockroaches) around your house and in all corners. The food items attract roaches and are glued to cardboard. 


Good sanitation is key to keeping the roaches away from homes, bathrooms, and kitchens. Employ the following practices;

  1. Use insect-proof containers to store food, such as glass jars or plastic canes with sealed lids.
  2. Remove kitchen and home garbage bins daily and use a tight-fitting lid container for waste.
  3. Remove plumbing leaks and other sources of moisture. Encourage proper ventilation in indoor spaces such as the kitchen and living rooms.
  4. Vacuum the cracks and crevices to remove the food debris and waste. It will also remove the cockroaches, egg sacs, skin shed, and nymphal stages. 


Will Bleach Keep Roaches Away?

In terms of repelling roaches, the bleach is an ineffective agent because it does not kill the bugs and only effective in repelling them. Also, it is toxic to both environment and pets. Be very cautious when using it in homes and other places because it may harm the children.

What Is the Best Home Remedy to Get Rid of Roaches?

Boric acid and Coric acid are the best home remedy to kill and repel roaches in your home and apartment buildings. Mix one part of boric acid with one piece of sugar and flour and two slices of water. Spread the thick paste around your home or places where roaches hide or emerge.

The flour and sugar attract the roaches, which die when they ingest the paster.

Do Roaches Hate Baking Soda?

The pungent smell of baking soda is an excellent remedy to repel roaches around your house. The simple way is to make a baking soda spray;

  1. Take two teaspoons of baking soda in one cup of lukewarm water
  2. Add one teaspoon of vinegar and mix all the ingredients thoroughly
  3. Pour into a spray bottle and mist over the places infested with roaches.

This spray keeps the roaches away for almost two weeks and then reapply to keep them away for the next two weeks.

Where Do Roaches Lay Eggs?

Roaches live in cracks, kitchen cabinets, and near kitchen sinks. So, you’ll quickly find their egg sacs or ootheca in these places. However, some cockroaches, such as the German roach, deposit their egg sacs in suitable dark and moist areas, ready to hatch after incubation. 

At the same time, others lay eggs anywhere in a food jar or kitchen cabinets.

Do Roaches Hate Vinegar?

White vinegar is a potent repelling agent against roaches. To repel these nasty bugs;

  1. Mix one part of the white vinegar with equal amounts of water
  2. Sprinkle the mixture over infested areas where the roaches hide

It will work for one week and need reapplications for successful bug repelling.

What Are the Signs of a Cockroach Infestation?

These are the signs of cockroach infestation;

  1. Skin shed in infested areas such as kitchen cabinets and bathrooms
  2. Egg sacs or ootheca
  3. Cockroach droppings
  4. Smear marks of brown color in water
  5. Unusual odor around the house in case of heavy cockroach infestation
  6. Damage to food items

How Long Does it Take to Get Rid of a Roach Infestation?

With the help of essential oils, you can get rid of cockroaches in two weeks, but it needs frequent applications until the problem is gone. In the case of heavy infestations, you will need pest control services to get rid of cockroaches.

Sources for Further Reading

  1. Sutherland, A. M. (2019). Cockroaches Management Guidelines–UC IPM. University of California Statewide IPM Program. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7467.html
  2. Potter, M. F. (n.d.). Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments | Entomology. University of Kentucky. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef614
  3. Entomology, P. E. (2017, January). A Practical Guide to Cockroach Control in Multi-Family Housing Units. Purdue University. Retrieved June 2, 2022, from https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/publications/E-241/E-241.html
Morgan Daniels

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