Effective Ways To Affordably Get Rid of Roaches

by Reader Contributors

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Getting rid of roaches can be tough. If you’re looking to solve a roach problem, try these effective tips that have worked for our frugal readers.

Dear Dollar Stretcher,
Help, I can’t get rid of roaches. I’ve tried so many chemicals the family and pets should be dead. I can’t afford a monthly fee to have someone come in all the time. I’ve emptied every cupboard and have sprayed, powdered and sealed. Nothing works. They leave during the day but at night are back and it seems they bring more friends. My walls, baseboards and cupboards are being ruined by the constant spraying.

Is there any help out there from your readers? Thanks
JoAnn W.

Homemade Recipe

Since moving to Florida, our home has been infested with roaches. There is an old remedy that includes white flour, boric acid, and powdered sugar.

Mix equal amounts of boric acid and flour. Then add just enough confectioners sugar to attract the roaches. Add just enough water to make a soft dough. Roll the dough into little balls and place in the little candy paper cups (like the cups muffins come in). Place the balls in corners of cupboards and behind furniture where other animal life cannot reach. The roaches eat this and it causes them to dry out. It takes about two to three weeks before they will be completely gone.

Replace the boric acid balls every month to ensure that there is no re-infestation.

Advice From a Property Manager

I have found through working in the property management business a product that works great. It is called Terro. They have two products, one for roaches, and one for ants. It can be purchased in hardware stores, or a local supercenter. Also, it is very inexpensive.

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My son brought cockroaches home with him from college years ago. It was embarrassing to me because, when my mother-in-law would visit, she thought I must be a lousy housekeeper.

I bought some of those Roach Motels and set them around the kitchen, mostly, and in my son’s room. One thing you should do is be sure that the counters and sink in your kitchen are completely dry at night; the roaches LOVE moisture. And never leave food or crumbs anywhere in the open.

If you live in an apartment, as I once did, you may never be rid of them unless the entire building is sprayed at one time. If one person sprays, the roaches will just move on to the next-door neighbor.

When you bring home your groceries, check rolls of toilet paper and any other item where they could be hiding.
Doris N.

Bay Leaves

I went to college in Kentucky, and for three years, I lived in a dorm that was (at the time) nearly 100 years old. Let your imagination run wild. After having years to multiply and grow, we had roaches so large that they could not squeeze under door frames or baseboards! Gross!

We took bay leaves and crumbled them all along the baseboards. Put whole ones in the window sills and made little “bouquet garni” bags stuffed with them and left them sitting out on the kitchen counters and scotch-taped them to the closet walls and doors. We had bay leaves in one form or another everywhere. The roaches seemed to stay away. Roaches are evidently repulsed by the smell of bay leaves and it worked wonders.

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Baking Soda and Sugar

We controlled the roach population in our garage with a mixture of baking soda and powdered sugar. The theory is that the sugar attracts the roaches and the baking soda mixes with their stomach acids which causes them to explode.

The total solution came when we adopted a couple of feral cats. It sounds gross, but much of their natural diet is roaches and other small insects.

Control In an Apartment

I lived in an apartment building at one time that had a horrible roach problem. First, I learned to caulk all cracks and openings around baseboards, in cupboards, and even in the medicine cabinet. Just use standard caulk and a caulk gun. Look around for any cracks in the walls, which I patched with grout. I then purchased Raid Max traps. I put at least two per room, and changed them as instructed on the package. It seems expensive, but no more expensive than using spray cans.

The next thing is to put your food in airtight containers. Flimsy cardboard boxes are no match for roaches, and they can smell the food. Put everything in containers or in the refrigerator. I kept bread and cereals in the refrigerator and flour, sugar, rice, etc. in airtight plastic containers. Coffee cans with lids work well too. I would put a layer of plastic wrap over the can, then put the lid on, for some extra insurance.

Lastly, I never killed any spiders who lived in my apartment, never. I was told to let them live and they would help keep the roach population down, and it seemed to help. It also helped me overcome my fear of spiders. I was the only apartment in the complex without roaches. It was hard. You have to be vigilant about it, but it is possible to keep them to a minimum.

Treat the Carpets

I have the answer for the roach problem! It also works on fleas and other hard-shell type bugs. And, the solution is cheap. This may not solve your problem completely if the roaches are settled into a non-carpeted area, but if you have them near carpeting, this will work for sure. We actually used it for a flea problem, but it also worked on the “palmetto bugs,” which were the same as roaches, as far as I could see!

First, vacuum your rugs thoroughly. Then, apply Twenty Mule Team Borax Laundry Booster to your carpets with a broom. (You’ll need about two boxes for every 1200 sq. ft.) Break up any clumps and let it sift down into the carpet. Leave it there for seven days, and don’t walk barefoot on it. (Skin oil will make it less effective.) After seven days, vacuum again. The Borax dries the bugs out, as well as their eggs.

Be sure to vacuum and apply the Borax to every square inch of carpet, even moving furniture, if you have a severe bug problem. We used this tip when we lived in Orlando, and only had to do this twice in nine month’s time. The tip was given to us by an exterminator, after his fourth or fifth visit to our apartment.

Be Careful When Bringing Things into Home

I live in a wooded area, and at times, I have a problem with wood roaches since I burn wood. I spray the doorstep of every door and window seal with Bug Stop® by Spectracide®. It has a residual effect, which lasts for approximately six months.

I also place baking soda in jar tops and place them in inconspicuous places. Also, be careful when you bring items into your home. Immediately empty potatoes into a container and never store paper bags from the grocery store. At times, they will contain roaches. So far, I do not have roaches or any other bugs except for stink bugs and will begin to tackle them this fall.

Get a Gecko

This might bother some people, but it worked for one of my previous roommates. She had amazing results. Get a gecko (it’s a kind of lizard) and let it loose in the house. The natural food chain process kicks in, the gecko eats the roaches and there you have it.

The gecko will most likely start to hang out in the open more as the population of roaches dwindles. When they are gone, keep your gecko in an appropriate tank and feed them crickets daily, which you can purchase at any pet store. Geckos need to eat every day (unlike snakes that can go prolonged periods without food). As I said, this might bother some people. So, if you don’t like lizards, I suggest another approach. Oh, and don’t spray the roaches with insecticides. They shouldn’t be poisoned when the gecko eats them.

Keep It Clean

The best way to get rid of roaches is to keep your house super clean and continue to have it sprayed for roaches on a regular basis. Make sure that your counters and floors are clean. Wipe up spills when they happen. Store food in glass jars and sealed plastic containers. Fix leaky faucets. Keep the refrigerator and the oven clean.

Do not use the same pest control company every time. There are a lot of dishonest people out there and it costs them less if they spray with a mixture of water and alcohol than a roach-killing compound. The one you have been using may not have been using the proper chemicals.
Penny C.

Killing Roaches

I have found a solution for getting rid cockroaches. It is cheap and very effective. Put boric acid around the inside of every cabinet you own, especially the ones that have any plumbing. The roaches carry this powder off on their legs and lick it off like fleas do and this kills them. I have used this everywhere I have lived from the north to the south and it works immediately.
Becky in Oklahoma

Easy Way to Kill Roaches

Living in Florida, bugs are quite normal and a force to be contended with. Unfortunately, even the cleanest housekeeper encounters the occasional critter. Recently, when reaching for a can a bug spray, all I could find was spray cleaner, which was better than nothing. To my surprise, it worked. It killed the roach and left minimal cleanup, since it was cleanser to start with. Now that’s all I use when I see a roach somewhere in the house. This cuts down on the need for several cans of expensive bug spray to be close at hand.
Karen B.

Killing Roaches with Sweets

Take a can of sweetened condensed milk and mix as much as you need with bread crumbs to form a soft paste. Add about 1 – 2 tablespoons of boric acid and mix well. Spread on wall or in nooks and crannies or cabinets where you notice the bugs. Be careful of spots where children or pets could get to it.

The bugs only like this stuff when it is “fresh.” If you make too much, it won’t usually work if you keep it for several days, so be careful on the quantity you make. As you notice your little dabs disappear, make more and reapply until bugs are gone.

Reviewed July 2023

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