Bugs love to make their way into our homes, where it’s warm and food is plentiful. Roaches are especially gross. As embarrassing as it is, we’ve likely all been there. Especially those of us living in apartments. We live in a building with over 25 floors so our space is shared with a lot of people. This was bound to happen eventually. The potential for creepy crawly visitors coming from your neighbors (who dig through the trash bins outside – cue all the eye rolls) place is pretty high.
I. Can’t. Wait. To. Move.
My husband and I haven’t seen roaches in the 10+ years he’s been living here (I moved into his place), so it was pretty surprising when they started to appear. We never leave food or dirty dishes out. I clean the apartment (I mean, really clean. Like an insane person.) at least 2-3x a week. I even put all dry goods in glass jars so that no food is out. I am known for being a bit of neat freak. What can I say? I like a clean home.
There’s not much for roaches to find around here, except maybe some cat food. I don’t think she’s willing to share, though. That makes this situation all the more frustrating. It doesn’t really matter if I’m doing everything right, it can happen to the best of us. Especially when those around us are bringing bugs in from outside (Is it obvious I’m annoyed?). At least the roaches are tiny and not enormous. I don’t think I’d be able to sleep if that were the case.
After killing 12 roaches in about 15 minutes, I frantically started searching for a roach repellent. I wanted these unwelcome visitors gone and fast. That’s when I found Tiffany’s blog post: Natural Roach Repellent: What’s Working for Me. There’s only a few ingredients, and if you love essential oils you likely already have everything on hand. She uses peppermint and cypress since roaches don’t enjoy the smell.
Now, I’ll be honest. In the past, my experiences with essential oil recipes have been hit or miss. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was willing to try anything. Desperate times, right? This was definitely a HIT! It’s been a few days since I started using the spray, and I’ve only maybe seen three roaches. (Update: I haven’t seen any in the last 3 days!)
This stuff works great! I’ve been using the spray and running a diffuser with cypress and peppermint in it. The spray and diffuser together seem to be keeping them (
mostly entirely) at bay. I’m not real sure how this works long term so I can’t really say whether this is a permanent fix. I’ve been doing this for about a week, along with cleaning the entire kitchen daily, and it seems they’ve disappeared.
If you live in an apartment, an old building, or have a pretty bad infestation this may not cut it long-term. If you’re trying to avoid calling an exterminator to spray a ton of toxic fumes throughout your home, I highly recommend giving this a try first. It will at least give you some time to think about some more options. I know this has put my bug-fearing mind at ease for the time being. Overall, I think this homemade spray is a great solution and it really does work! I’d definitely use it again if I needed it. Although, I hope I won’t have to!
Update September 2018:
I had really high hopes this would work long-term on it’s own, but unfortunately it only worked for a short time. Living in an old apartment building makes getting rid of roaches especially difficult. What seems to be working now:
- First, I took everything out of our kitchen cabinets and gave them a really good scrubbing. I mixed baking soda, hot water and dawn dish soap in a glass spray bottle (like the one pictured), and scrubbed each cabinet with a sponge. If you have nice cabinets, make sure you test an inconspicuous area before doing everything.
- Next, I dried everything with a towel and sprinkled borax powder on the shelves. Make sure you to do this in a very, very thin layer or the roaches will avoid it. It is key that it gets onto them so they will eat it and take it back to their nest.
- I laid wax paper on top of the powder, so it doesn’t get onto our dishes and food.
- I used an empty spinach container to create traps by cutting the lid into squares. It doesn’t really matter what size you make them as long as they’ll fit where you plan on placing them. I used a mixture of borax, powdered sugar and milk to make the “poison”. You can read how to do this here. Caution: If you have pets or children, please do not use these traps where they can reach them. Do not sprinkle borax powder on lower cabinets where children or pets may be able to get in. Our cat opens the lower cabinets on a regular basis, and climbs inside; obviously I did not use borax in those.
- I used caulk to close any gaps/spaces in our cabinets, floors, walls…etc.
- I still use the diffuser with the oils Tiffany has in her post which is a huge help in combination with the other steps I’ve mentioned.
- I’ve also been vacuuming the floor every other day, making sure all our dishes are washed at the end of the night (and throughout the day), storing any packaged food items in glass jars (roaches love to eat the glue on cardboard), and emptying all trash daily.
All of these things have significantly reduced the roaches we’ve seen. This isn’t a quick fix though, and as you can see it’s a lot of work. It’ll take time for them to eat the poison and head back to their nests. It’s likely we will have to keep using the traps as long as we are living here. I don’t really mind as long as it keeps them away. I’ll update again in a couple of months and let you all know how everything is going.
How to Store
One more thing worth mentioning before you make this: you’ll need a glass spray bottle (Aluminum or stainless steel work too!) since essential oils can break down plastic bottles. As always if you have pets or children, use caution when spraying this. Neither oils are particularly safe for cats and cypress may be unsafe for dogs. They’ll likely avoid it but just keep an eye on them after you’ve sprayed. Better to be safe!
Check out Tiffany’s blog post (linked above) for the full directions.
Do you have a tried and true method for getting rid of roaches? Let me know in the comments!