Natural vs. Chemical: Effective Remedies to Eliminate Cockroaches from Your Home


They scuttle across your kitchen counter, invade your pantry, and send shivers down your spine. Cockroaches are not only unsightly, but they also carry diseases and contaminate our living spaces. When it comes to eliminating these pesky pests, homeowners often find themselves torn between natural remedies and chemical solutions. In this article, we will dive deep into the battle of Natural vs. Chemical: Effective Remedies to Eliminate Cockroaches from Your Home. Discover the pros and cons of each approach as we explore which method truly reigns supreme in the war against these resilient insects.

Key takeaways

What are some common natural remedies for cockroach control?

Common natural remedies for cockroach control include the use of boric acid, diatomaceous earth, essential oils (such as peppermint or lavender oil), and vinegar. Boric acid, when applied in thin layers, can dehydrate and kill cockroaches upon contact. Diatomaceous earth is a natural, abrasive substance that damages the exoskeleton of cockroaches, leading to their dehydration and eventual demise. Essential oils can be diluted and used as sprays or deterrents in problem areas, while vinegar can be used as a cleaning solution to eliminate cockroach scent trails and discourage their presence. These natural remedies are often preferred by those seeking alternatives to chemical pesticides due to their reduced toxicity to humans and pets.

Are natural remedies as effective as chemical pesticides for eliminating cockroaches?

Are natural remedies as effective as chemical pesticides for eliminating cockroaches

Natural remedies for cockroach control can be effective, especially for prevention and deterring cockroaches. However, when it comes to active infestations and rapid elimination, chemical pesticides are often more potent and provide quicker results. The effectiveness of natural remedies may vary depending on the severity of the infestation and the specific product or method used. Some people opt for natural remedies due to safety concerns, while others choose chemical pesticides for their faster and more assured impact. The choice between natural and chemical solutions should be made based on the specific circumstances and preferences, always considering safety and environmental concerns.

Natural Remedies 

Diatomaceous Earth 

Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is a naturally occurring substance composed of fossilized diatoms, primarily silica, with remarkable porosity and an abrasive texture. It is used in food-grade form for pest control and potential detoxification, industrial-grade DE for filtration, and in skincare and agriculture. While generally considered safe when used appropriately, precautions should be taken to avoid inhaling DE dust and to consult professionals when using it for dietary purposes or pest control.

How it works 

Diatomaceous Earth works through its physical properties, primarily due to its abrasive nature and high porosity. Here’s how it functions:

  • Pest Control: When DE is used for pest control, it is typically applied to areas where insects or parasites are a problem. The microscopic particles in DE have sharp edges that can puncture the exoskeleton of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. It is effective against various pests like ants, bedbugs, fleas, and cockroaches.
  • Detoxification: Food-grade diatomaceous earth can be consumed as a dietary supplement for detoxification. It is believed to help detoxify the digestive tract by binding to and removing heavy metals and other toxins from the body. It may also improve digestion and promote healthy gut bacteria.
  • Skin Health: Some people use DE as an exfoliant in skincare products due to its fine texture. It can help remove dead skin cells and impurities, leaving the skin feeling smoother.

Application methods 

The application methods of diatomaceous earth depend on its intended use:

  • Pest Control: When using DE for pest control, make sure to use food-grade diatomaceous earth (not the type used in pool filters, which is toxic). Here’s how to apply it:
  • Sprinkle: Lightly sprinkle a thin layer of DE in areas where pests are present or where they may enter your home, such as along baseboards, in cracks and crevices, and under appliances.
  • Repeat: Reapply as needed, especially after rain or if the DE gets wet, as it becomes less effective when wet.

Baking Soda and Sugar

Baking Soda and Sugar 

Lure and kill method 

Baking soda and sugar can be combined to create an effective lure and kill method for controlling pests like ants. The sweet sugar attracts the ants, while the baking soda disrupts their digestive systems when ingested, ultimately leading to their demise. This simple DIY pest control approach can be quite effective in managing ant infestations around your home.

Safe for pets and children 

When used with care, the baking soda and sugar lure and kill method is generally considered safe for pets and children. To ensure their safety, it’s essential to place the bait where they cannot access it, and always monitor the bait stations to prevent unintended ingestion. While this method is a relatively non-toxic alternative to chemical pesticides, responsible use is key to maintaining a safe environment for your loved ones.

Essential Oils 

Types of oils  

Essential oils are concentrated extracts derived from various plants and herbs, each possessing unique scents and properties. When it comes to creating DIY repellent sprays, certain essential oils are particularly effective at deterring insects. Popular options include peppermint oil, known for repelling ants and spiders, lavender oil for warding off mosquitoes and flies, lemon eucalyptus oil as an effective mosquito and tick repellent, citronella oil for its well-established mosquito-repelling abilities, tea tree oil for deterring ants and flies, and cedarwood oil, which effectively discourages moths, fleas, and certain beetles.

DIY repellent spray 

Crafting your own natural insect repellent spray with essential oils is a straightforward and eco-friendly alternative to chemical-based repellents. To make one, mix 10-15 drops of your preferred essential oil(s) with 1/4 cup of witch hazel or vodka in a small spray bottle. Add 1/4 cup of water, leaving some room for shaking. Optionally, include a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to help the oils blend with water more effectively. Shake the bottle well, and apply the repellent to exposed skin and clothing before going outdoors. Reapply as needed, especially if you sweat or enter heavily infested areas. Always consider potential allergic reactions and perform a skin patch test before widespread application.


Surprising effectiveness 

Catnip (Nepeta cataria) is a herb that is well-known for its ability to induce a euphoric response in many cats when they come into contact with it. This response includes behaviors such as rolling, rubbing, and purring. What’s surprising is that while catnip has a stimulating effect on cats, it also has practical uses. The compound in catnip, nepetalactone, acts as a natural insect repellent, making it effective at keeping mosquitoes, flies, and other insects away. This dual function of catnip, both as a cat stimulant and an insect repellent, showcases its versatile and unexpected effectiveness.

Catnip sachets

Crafting your own natural insect repellent spray with essential oils is a straightforward and eco-friendly alternative to chemical-based repellents. To make one, mix 10-15 drops of your preferred essential oil(s) with 1/4 cup of witch hazel or vodka in a small spray bottle. Add 1/4 cup of water, leaving some room for shaking. Optionally, include a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin to help the oils blend with water more effectively. Shake the bottle well, and apply the repellent to exposed skin and clothing before going outdoors. Reapply as needed, especially if you sweat or enter heavily infested areas. Always consider potential allergic reactions and perform a skin patch test before widespread application.

Chemical Remedies 


Insecticides are chemical compounds designed to combat insect pests that threaten crops, public health, or property. They encompass a diverse range of categories, from organophosphates and pyrethroids, which disrupt insect nervous systems, to neonicotinoids and insect growth regulators, which target insects’ growth and reproduction. Biological and botanical insecticides offer more environmentally friendly alternatives, while systemic and residual insecticides provide longer-lasting protection for plants and structures. Proper and responsible use of insecticides, in conjunction with integrated pest management practices, is crucial to mitigate their impact on non-target species and ecosystems while effectively managing insect infestations.

Advantages (quick results) 

Chemical remedies offer the distinct advantage of providing rapid and often highly efficient solutions to various problems. Whether it’s eliminating insect pests, controlling weeds in agriculture, or treating acute medical conditions, these chemicals typically act swiftly to address the issue at hand. This quick action can be crucial in emergency situations or when immediate intervention is necessary, ensuring timely relief and damage mitigation.

Disadvantages (chemical exposure) 

The use of chemical remedies is accompanied by significant drawbacks, primarily related to the potential for chemical exposure. Improper handling, storage, or application of these chemicals can lead to adverse health effects in humans, including acute poisoning or long-term health risks. Moreover, chemical residues can accumulate in the environment, affecting ecosystems and non-target organisms. To minimize these disadvantages, responsible and safe practices, stringent regulation, and the exploration of less harmful alternatives are imperative.

Roach Baits 

How they work 

Roach baits are a highly effective method for controlling and eliminating cockroach infestations. They typically consist of a small plastic or cardboard bait station filled with a mixture of attractive food bait and a slow-acting insecticide. The way they work is as follows:

  • Attractive Bait: The bait is formulated to be highly attractive to roaches, containing ingredients that mimic their preferred food sources. Roaches are drawn to the bait station, lured by the scent of the bait.
  • Ingestion and Contamination: When roaches feed on the bait, they ingest the insecticide mixed with the bait. This insecticide is usually slow-acting, allowing the roach to return to its harborage before dying.
  • Secondary Kill: After consuming the bait, roaches can also transfer the insecticide to other members of their colony through contact or by feeding on their feces or carcasses. This secondary kill effect helps eliminate not only the roaches that directly consumed the bait but also those within the colony.
  • Population Reduction: Over time, as more roaches feed on the bait and become contaminated, the roach population declines until the infestation is under control.

Best practices for placement 

To maximize the effectiveness of roach baits, proper placement is crucial. Here are some best practices:

  • Identify Key Areas: Determine where roaches are most active or where they are likely to forage for food. Common locations include kitchen cabinets, under sinks, near appliances, along baseboards, and in bathrooms.
  • Place Bait Stations Strategically: Position bait stations in areas where roaches are likely to encounter them but out of reach of children and pets. Place them against walls, in corners, or in areas where roaches have been spotted.
  • Avoid Direct Contact: Do not place bait stations directly on surfaces where food is prepared or stored, as this can lead to contamination. Instead, place them nearby or in concealed locations where roaches can access them.
  • Do Not Disturb Roaches: While it may be tempting to kill or remove roaches you see, it’s important to allow them to feed on the bait and potentially return to their harborage to share it with others. Avoid using repellent sprays in conjunction with baits.
  • Monitor and Replace: Check bait stations regularly and replace them as needed, typically every few months or when they are empty. This ensures a continuous supply of bait for roaches to consume.
  • Maintain Cleanliness: Keep the areas around bait stations clean and free of food debris. Good sanitation practices can complement the effectiveness of roach baits.
  • Follow Product Instructions: Always read and follow the instructions provided with the specific roach bait product you are using. Different brands and formulations may have slightly different guidelines for placement and usage.

Foggers and Sprays

Foggers and Sprays

Wide-area treatment 

  • Pest Control: Foggers and sprays are used to disperse pesticides to control insects, rodents, and other pests in outdoor and indoor settings, such as agriculture, forestry, and public health programs.
  • Disinfection: These devices are also used to distribute disinfectants and sanitizers in various settings, such as healthcare facilities, public spaces, and transportation systems, to control the spread of pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
  • Environmental Management: In forestry and land management, foggers and sprays can be used to apply herbicides, fertilizers, and other chemicals to control vegetation and promote desired plant growth.

Safety precautions

When using foggers and sprays for wide-area treatment, it’s crucial to follow safety precautions to minimize risks:

  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Operators should wear appropriate PPE, which may include gloves, goggles, masks, coveralls, and respirators, depending on the chemicals being used. PPE helps protect against exposure to chemicals and potential inhalation hazards.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ensure good ventilation when working in enclosed spaces. This helps dissipate fumes and prevents the buildup of potentially harmful chemicals.
  • Read Labels and Instructions: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions and product labels carefully. Use the recommended concentrations and application rates to avoid overuse or underuse of chemicals.
  • Training: Operators should receive proper training in the use of foggers and sprays, including how to mix and handle chemicals, operate the equipment safely, and troubleshoot common issues.
  • Environmental Considerations: Be mindful of the environmental impact of the chemicals used. Avoid contaminating water sources, and follow local regulations and guidelines for chemical use.

Considerations for Choosing Remedies 

Severity of infestation 

The severity of the infestation is a pivotal factor to assess. Before choosing a remedy, it’s essential to determine the extent of the problem. For minor infestations, localized treatments or non-chemical solutions may suffice. However, severe infestations may require more aggressive measures. Assessing the severity helps tailor the response appropriately, minimizing unnecessary interventions and costs.

Safety concerns (pets, children, allergies) 

The safety of occupants, especially pets and children, must be a top priority. Consider the toxicity of any chemicals or methods you intend to use. Opt for remedies that are safe for pets and kids, or implement strategies to minimize their exposure. Additionally, be mindful of any allergies or sensitivities within the household that may require alternative solutions or special precautions.

Long-term vs. short-term solutions 

Determine whether you need a short-term or long-term solution. Some remedies may provide quick relief but not address the root cause, leading to recurring issues. Long-term solutions aim to eliminate the source of the problem, preventing future infestations. Your choice should align with your goals, budget, and the persistence of the issue.

Environmental impact

Consider the environmental impact of the remedies you choose. Opt for eco-friendly and sustainable options whenever possible. Some pest control methods, such as integrated pest management (IPM), focus on minimizing environmental harm by using biological controls, traps, or less toxic chemicals. Be mindful of the potential effects on local ecosystems and water sources, and adhere to relevant regulations and guidelines.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) 

Overview of IPM approach 

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a comprehensive approach to pest control that prioritizes sustainability and minimal environmental impact. It begins with regular monitoring and identification of pests, allowing for a better understanding of their behavior and populations. IPM sets action thresholds to determine when intervention is necessary. Prevention is a key focus, addressing factors like sanitation and habitat modification to discourage pest presence. Cultural and mechanical controls, such as crop rotation and physical barriers, are employed to manage pests. Biological controls, like natural predators and parasites, are integrated into the system, reducing the reliance on chemical pesticides, which are used only as a last resort. The process involves constant evaluation and adjustment to ensure effective, long-term pest management.

Combining natural and chemical methods 

IPM’s strength lies in its ability to blend natural and chemical methods judiciously. Natural predators and biological controls take precedence, fostering a balanced ecosystem. When chemical pesticides are necessary, IPM selects those targeting specific pests and posing minimal harm to non-target species and the environment. They are applied with precision, reducing unintended consequences. This harmonious integration of natural and chemical approaches optimizes pest control while safeguarding ecological balance and human health.

Regular maintenance and prevention tips

Regular maintenance and prevention are essential to keep your home cockroach-free. Maintain cleanliness, store food in airtight containers, dispose of trash properly, fix leaks, seal entry points, conduct regular inspections, declutter, screen vents and openings, use natural deterrents if needed, consider professional pest control, and educate yourself about cockroach habits. By following these practices, you can create an environment that discourages cockroach infestations and ensures a pest-free home.


Whether you choose natural or chemical remedies to eliminate cockroaches from your home, the most important thing is to act quickly and consistently. Natural remedies can be effective in deterring and repelling cockroaches, while chemical treatments can provide a more aggressive approach for severe infestations. It’s crucial to always prioritize the safety of your family and pets when choosing any type of remedy, so be sure to carefully read and follow all instructions provided. Remember, prevention is key in keeping cockroaches out of your home in the first place, so maintain cleanliness and regularly inspect for any possible entry points. Don’t let these resilient pests take over your living space – take action now to eliminate them once and for all!


Are natural remedies safer for my family and pets than chemical pesticides?

In general, natural remedies are often considered safer for your family and pets than chemical pesticides. Natural remedies like boric acid, diatomaceous earth, and essential oils are typically less toxic when used correctly. However, it’s essential to follow safety guidelines for any product, natural or chemical, to minimize risks to your loved ones. Additionally, if someone in your household has specific allergies or sensitivities, it’s important to choose remedies that won’t trigger adverse reactions.

Do chemical pesticides pose health risks to humans and pets?

Yes, chemical pesticides can pose health risks to humans and pets if misused or overused. These risks include potential skin and eye irritation, respiratory issues, and, in severe cases, poisoning. It’s crucial to follow the instructions on pesticide labels carefully, avoid direct contact with treated areas, and keep pets and children away from recently treated spaces to mitigate these risks. In some cases, seeking professional pest control services may be the safest approach.

Do natural remedies have any disadvantages compared to chemical pesticides?

Natural remedies for pest control, while safer for the environment and health, may sometimes be less effective than chemical pesticides, particularly in rapidly eliminating pests in large infestations. They often require more patience and persistence. Additionally, some natural remedies, such as essential oils, may have a strong scent that not everyone finds pleasant, and they may need frequent reapplication to maintain their effectiveness. It’s essential to choose the right remedy for your specific pest problem and consider the trade-offs between natural and chemical options.

Can I use both natural and chemical remedies together for better results?

Yes, it is possible to use both natural and chemical remedies together for enhanced pest control results, but it should be done cautiously. This approach is often referred to as an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy. Start with natural methods to deter and reduce pest populations while minimizing environmental and health risks. If the infestation persists or worsens, consider targeted and judicious use of chemical pesticides as a supplementary measure. However, it’s crucial to follow safety guidelines, prevent overexposure to pesticides, and avoid unnecessary chemical applications to maintain the balance between effectiveness and safety.

What steps can I take to prevent future cockroach infestations naturally?

Prevention includes maintaining cleanliness, proper food storage, sealing entry points, fixing leaks, and reducing clutter. Natural deterrents like boric acid can also be applied in problem areas as a preventive measure. Regular inspections and vigilant hygiene are key to preventing cockroach issues naturally.

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Written by
Dhesaka Jayasuriya
Former Writer & Editor, Insurance

Dhesaka Jayasuriya is a writer, editor and insurance professional with over a decade of experience in the insurance industry as a licensed insurance agent.