Does Salt Kill Roaches or Are They Attracted to It?

Dealing with roaches using natural products can be complicated. Salt is often used as a deterrent, but its effects are minimal.

Roaches don’t like salt and they don’t eat it. They only eat foods with salt. However, in areas with a lot of salt, they will have no other choice than to get in contact with it and even ingest it.

Roaches are neither killed nor repelled by table salt. They can walk on salt and they can ingest small amounts of pure salt or salted food without health consequences. Epsom salt is the alternative salt that can kill roaches.

One of the ideas that led to the false belief salt can kill roaches is its extreme dehydration when eaten in large quantities.

But roaches don’t eat salt in either small or large quantities. Tests show piles of salt placed next to roach nests have not been touched by roaches. They prefer moist food and decaying food.

There’s also a belief salt can cut into the exoskeleton of roaches. This is not true as the exoskeleton has a protective role that can’t be damaged by salt.

Can table salt kill roaches?

When discussing salt against roaches most people think about table salt. Some pest control methods used a few decades ago combined salt and water as a universal anti-pest spray. However, its results were less than satisfying.

It was believed the ammonium nitrate and ammonium chloride in table salt could keep bugs away. While bugs did not eat table salt off the floor, they weren’t repelled by it either.


Roaches are neither attracted nor killed by salt. For them to be truly killed by the salt they’d have to be trapped in a container full of salt. But this would kill just about any bug or insect.

For salt to be of any significant impact on roaches it has to be present in very high quantities. Old salt mines used to be the only places roaches would not live. The salt on the ground and walls as well as the high salt concentration in the air would absorb air humidity, essential for many types of bugs.

Are roaches attracted to salt?

Roaches aren’t attracted to salt but they don’t go out of their way to run from it either. There’s limited scientific data to support the idea of roaches being repelled by salt.

Even more, food packaging dipped in salt was the only salt-insect research in this field. However, salt is known to remove odors. It’s this quality that made salt-dipped food packaging keep bugs away rather than the possible taste of salt.

Can cockroaches eat salt?

Cockroaches don’t like to eat salt as it doesn’t resemble their favorite foods. Salt grains are hard to chew even for roaches with large mandibles. For example, the American cockroach can generate a wider force with their jaws than humans, but this doesn’t help them chew on salt grains any easier.

Cockroaches can only chew soft food. They might consume salt in a dissolved form, but only when sprinkled on soft foods they like.

Is Epsom salt efficient against cockroaches?

Epsom salt is a type of naturally-occurring salt. It can be found in stores as Epsom salt or as magnesium sulfate. This type of salt is completely different from the classic table salt used in foods. It has been used in various industries such as in the health and beauty space where Epsom salt is used to create salt bath bombs.

What is Epsom salt?

Epsom salt is a type of mineral that occurs naturally. Discovered over 400 years ago, it’s a mineral with magnesium and sulfate which can kill or deter roaches.

Epsom salt can be found in 2 main forms. One is aimed for agricultural use while the other is meant for home use. Both can kill roaches but home use Epsom salt is readily available in stores.

Does Epsom salt kill roaches?

Epsom salt causes dehydration in roaches and it acts as a laxative for pets and humans. While people should stay away from drinking it or putting it on foods, this type of salt dehydrates roaches and it eventually kills them.

What does Epsom salt do to cockroaches?

Epsom salt can be one of the natural alternatives to table salt in killing roaches. This type of salt is used frequently on a wide variety of home pests beyond roaches. This is what it does to all pests.

Upset digestive system

Cockroaches will first suffer from an upset digestive system. The extreme dehydration coupled with the laxative effect of Epsom salt will impact the digestive system of roaches to the extent it kills them.


Extreme dehydration disorientates roaches. Most roaches cannot continue with their daily lives when they have been sprayed with Epsom salt.

Does Salt Kill Roaches or Are They Attracted to It?

It kills roaches

The exoskeleton of cockroaches cannot protect them from the high quantities of magnesium and sulfate Epsom salt is known for. It eventually kills them preventing them from laying eggs or from escaping the house in time.

How to use Epsom salt to deter roaches?

Raw Epsom doesn’t attract roaches, similar to table salt. It needs to be mixed with water where it dilutes into a more applicable version that can be sprayed directly on bugs or in areas with cockroaches.

Mix Epsom salt with water

Epsom salt is mixed with water for easy application using a sprayer. The recommended salt-to-water ratio is debatable.

1 cup of Epsom salt for 5 gallons of water is the recommended ratio for most homes.

The salt will dilute on its own without any mixing. For a more potent mixture that’s sprayed directly on bugs, you can add 2 cups of Epsom salt to 5 gallons of water.

Spray key areas around the kitchen

Cockroaches are found in the kitchen in the following locations.

  • Under the sink
  • Next to the fridge
  • Under tables
  • In cabinets
  • Behind cabinets

These areas can be sprayed with Epsom salt to deter cockroaches. The extent to which Epsom salt is sprayed dictates the extent to which roaches can move around the kitchen.

Spray it directly on roaches

Unlike table salt, Epsom salt is used directly on cockroaches. You can spray individual roaches or multiple roaches at a time thoroughly to kill them or repel them away for good.

Spray it on the roach nest

Finding a roach nest is always recommended when dealing with pests. You need to spray the eggs roaches lay here as well as the remaining roaches. Epsom salt dehydrates and kills all of the roaches of a nest.

Spray the garden with Epsom salt

Roaches are often found in gardens next to plants, in garbage, or under mulch. Many types of roaches are seen in high moisture areas such as compost, under mulch, and around garbage cans. You can spray these areas as well.

Pro tip: you can add less than 1 cup of Epsom salt per 5 gallons of water when spraying Epsom salt next to plants to avoid killing them.

How not to use Epsom salt against roaches

Epsom salt is toxic to roaches. However, there are a few methods that aren’t as effective when it comes to keeping them away.

Don’t sprinkle it

Sprinkling Epsom salt around the kitchen might have some results, but it will have a limited impact compared to spraying bugs with Epsom salt and water.

Roaches are eventually known to stay away from the areas with small piles of Epsom salt but they can’t hide when you spray them directly.

It’s best to try and spray roaches first and then spray the key areas inside and outside of the house to ensure you have the fastest results in repelling and killing roaches.

Repair and maintain a clean home once the roaches are dead

Once you’ve successfully used this type of salt to kill roaches you need to know how to keep them away for good. Always spraying Epsom salt around the house isn’t necessary if you know how to maintain a clean living environment.


You first need to declutter your home from all of the boxes and recyclable items that you don’t need. Cardboard boxes can be replaced with sealed plastic storage boxes. Most cardboard boxes on the floor are used as food and shelter by roaches.

cockroach hiding in kitchen


Always maintaining a clean home and a clean yard is important. You will keep multiple types of roaches away when food and food traces aren’t easily available for the cockroaches to feast on.

Dealing with potential leaks is also important. Water leaks can wash away areas sprayed with Epsom salt, so it’s best to repair them as soon as possible.

Check for cracks and gaps in walls, windows, and around doors

It’s also a good time to look for small gaps roaches might have gotten in the house through. Cockroaches can crawl through very small openings and these need to be sealed. A durable sealant is recommended instead of sprinkling salt around wall cracks and gaps.


Table salt has limited to no impact on cockroaches. No matter how much salt you spray on roaches or around the house it won’t be enough to kill or keep them away.

Epsom salt is a better alternative to table salt. It can be sprayed directly on roaches and in the areas they live in to kill them efficiently.

Neither table salt nor Epsom salt should be used as preventive measures against roaches. Epsom salt is only useful to kill them once they get inside. Sealing all entry points to the house and eliminating all food sources in and around the home are recommended measures to keep roaches away.

Epsom salt should be used with caution as it can be dangerous to house pets. You should also apply it sparingly outdoors in the garden as it can dehydrate flowers and other plants.  

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