Essential Oils for Roaches: Which is The Best Pest Repellent

Essential oils can repel roaches. They can even kill certain types of roaches with sufficient repeated exposure.

Not all essential oils are the same and not all can be used against the same type of roach. Common roaches seen in US homes include the American cockroach. But there are at least a few other species you can use essential oils against.

Some species of roaches such as the Brown-banded cockroach can be killed with oregano essential oil. Other types of essential oils such as peppermint oil, eucalyptus oil, and cypress essential oil can deter common household roaches such as the American cockroach.

American cockroach – mostly repelled by cloves, sesame, and peppermint oil

German Cockroach – mostly repelled by thyme oil

Brown-banded cockroach – mostly deterred and sometimes killed by oregano oil, followed by rosemary, eucalyptus, and peppermint 

Smoky brown cockroach – repelled by cypress essential oil

Asian cockroach – repelled by cypress essential oil

Why use essential oils against roaches?

Essential oils deter roaches in the US rarely killing them. They are still a good option over pesticides as they’re more eco-friendly and they smell better rarely requiring vacating a home.

Essential oils are alternatives to pesticides. They can be used in addition to roach traps to keep the small crawling creatures away from the house.

To deter or even kill roaches

A home that smells good and that’s always clean deters most US roaches. The aromatic profile of plants’ essential oils concentrate is known to destroy scent trails roaches live, essentially stopping other roaches from getting inside the house.

Essential oils smell good

Peppermint and eucalyptus oils are just a couple of popular roach essential oils that make your home smell good. These types of scents are also used in aromatherapy.

They’re cheaper than pesticides

Even the best essential oils are cheaper than hiring a contractor for roaches. Pesticides might be more efficient, but they aren’t cheap and they emit toxic fumes.

Essential oils use natural ingredients

Good essential oils are always made from natural ingredients. Essential oils are a type of plant extract. Various parts of the plant are used to make essential oils which include the flower, fruits, or leaves of a given plant.

Easy application

Unlike pesticides that require a very specific application, essential oils can be sprayed all over the house. You can apply it yourself without previous training.

Essential oils for roaches

8 Types of essential oils for roaches and why they work

The following essential oils can be mixed with water and sprayed inside the house against common roaches.

1. Cypress oil

Cypress is one of the trees that keep bugs and insects away naturally. This tree is used as a source of cypress essential oil.

Pure cypress essential oil can be added to water and sprayed around the kitchen and the rest of the house against roaches.

Up to 15 drops of cypress essential oil are recommended in a 10-ounce sprayer.

Cypress is one of the most potent types of essential oils. Its potency can further be improved by adding cloves of essential oil.

Best against – Smokybrown cockroach

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2. Clove essential oil

Clove oil is made from clove trees. Dry flowers of the Asian Syzygium aromaticum tree are pressed to create this highly aromatic essential oil.

You can use clove essential oil if you have an American cockroach infestation. The essential oil works best to deter this common roach species.

Clove oil is sprayed in the kitchen, around the doors, and windows. It cannot kill cockroaches but it keeps them away successfully if applied at least once or twice per month.

Best against – American cockroaches

MAJESTIC PURE Clove Essential Oil, Premium Grade, Pure and Natural Premium Quality Oil, 4 Fl Oz
  • Pure and Natural Clove Leaf Essential Oil; non-toxic; no additives; unfiltered and undiluted with no fillers
  • Pure and Natural Clove Leaf Essential Oil; non-toxic; no additives; unfiltered and undiluted with no fillers
  • Clove essential oil is derived from the tree Syzgium aromaticum plant
  • Safety Warning: For external use only. Other than aromatherapy, dilute with a carrier oil. For topical use, rub a very small amount on the inside of your elbow area to test for any allergic reaction before use. Avoid contact with eyes, keep out of the reach of children. If pregnant, consult with your health care provider before use.
  • Clove oil blends well with citronella, grapefruit, lemon, orange, peppermint, rosemary, and rose oils

3. Sesame essential oil

Made from sesame seeds, sesame essential oil is recommended for its mild scent. You can consider sesame seed oil when you don’t like the potent smell of cypress or peppermint around the house.

Sesame seed essential oil has a 12-month shelf life so you need to use it through the year before it goes off.

It’s also the type of oil you can add to increase the potency of other more aromatic essential oils such as clove seed oil.

Best against – American cockroaches

US Organic Sesame Seed Oil, Certified Organic, Untoasted, Unrefined Virgin, Pure & Natural, Cold Pressed, in Amber Glass Bottle w/Glass Eye dropper, Sourced from Mexico (2 oz (Small))
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  • Sesame oil is a popular massage therapy and an aromatherapy carrier oil and is efficiently hydrates and also boosts skin elasticity. It effectively reduces wrinkles and skin lines and also appropriate for all skin types.
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4. Peppermint oil

Peppermint oil is one of the most aromatic oils used against roaches. It has a successful role in deterring most types of roaches, even if it doesn’t kill them.

Peppermint oil is routinely used against the American cockroach and the German cockroach. Up to 15 drops of oil are added to water in a sprayer and then applied freely around the house.

Peppermint oil is recommended in the most remote areas of the home such as under the furniture or the basement as its smell tends to linger on longer (compared to sesame seed oil smell).

Best against – any type of cockroach

Brooklyn Botany Peppermint Essential Oil - Huge 4 Fl Oz - 100% Pure and Natural - Premium Grade with Dropper - for Aromatherapy and Diffuser
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5. Oregano essential oil

Oregano essential oil repels and even kills the Brown-banded cockroach with consistent continuous exposure.

Studies show oregano oil tends to linger on up to 2 weeks after application. It’s recommended to re-apply oregano oil around the house a few times per month to kill and further deter Brown-banded cockroaches.

Oregano essential oil is already pungent and it’s not recommended for mixing with other essential oils.

Best against – Brown-banded cockroach

MAJESTIC PURE Oregano Essential Oil, Premium Grade, Pure and Natural Premium Quality Oil, 4 fl oz
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  • Majestic Pure pure and natural premium grade oregano oil from Albania; non-toxic; no additives; unfiltered and undiluted with no fillers
  • Oregano oil is extracted from fresh oregano leaves from oregano plant native to higher altitudes and normally grows in the mountains, which is how it got the name ñOreganoî, which means ñDelight of the Mountainsî
  • use if any allergic reaction occurs. Avoid contact with eyes, keep out of the reach of children. If pregnant, consult with your health care provider before use
  • Delivered with a premium quality glass dropper for ease-of-use

6. Rosemary essential oil

Rosemary essential oil is another type of pungent oil used against a wide number of roaches. It can be lethal to roaches in a certain conditions.

Spraying rosemary essential oils on floors and walls will not kill roaches. Its roach traps where rosemary has a concentration of at least 2.5% that kills Brown-banded roaches.

However, it works for deterring purposes to prevent a cockroach invasion when sprayed around the house. A potent mix with at least 15 drops to a 10-ounce sprayer is recommended.

Best against – Brown-banded cockroaches

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7. Eucalyptus essential oil

Eucalyptus has a pungent smell that deters roaches. Brown-banded cockroaches are deterred by eucalyptus essential oil.

You can add eucalyptus oil to a sprayer with water. Vinegar can also be added to make this essential oil even more toxic against Brown-banded cockroaches and sprayed around key entry points of your home such as around windows and doors.

Best against – Brown-banded roaches

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8. Thyme essential oil

Extracted from thyme leaves, thyme oil proves the most efficient type of essential oil used against German cockroaches.

Thyme is an evergreen herb that naturally deters bugs and insects. Thyme oil is a concentrated version that doesn’t need to be mixed with other oils. You can dilute it in water and spray it in homes where you think German cockroaches live.

Best against – German cockroaches

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When to use essential oil for roaches

Essential oils have a proven track record against roaches. However, evidence of essential oil use is generally based on very strict lab-like conditions. It’s best to recreate these perfect conditions at home whenever hoping for the best results with essential oils.

Only apply essential oils in a clean home

The first step is to only spray essential oil in a clean house. Essential oils will not cover garbage odors and food odors entirely, which means their effect might be neutralized by other smells.

  • Essential oils need to be applied in thoroughly clean homes to work

Deep-cleaning the house is recommended before using any essential oil against roaches. Regular home deep cleaning is recommended against multiple types of roaches.

  • Food traces and roach eggs in drawers and cabinets might further attract roaches

Food should not be left in open spaces but stored in boxes or airtight containers. Essential oils might push out cockroaches from one area of the house to another area where they have sufficient food.

  • Disinfect the kitchen, bathroom, and basement

Disinfection is always recommended in homes when deep cleaning. You should always disinfect a new home you move into to keep roaches away.

  • Essential oils might not reach wall and floor cracks

Essential oils might need to be sprayed on walls, particularly around windows. Cockroaches can climb glass, tile, granite, and even smooth marble surfaces. It’s best to spray these surfaces with essential oils as well.

Before a roach invasion

Most studies show that essential oils can deter cockroaches. It’s always easier to keep them out of the house than to drive them out of the house.

Furthermore, essential oils have a limited impact on roach eggs which might be attached to furniture. Roaches can emerge from eggs up to 38 days later even after spraying and driving out adult roaches.

After a roach invasion

You can use essential oils in a home that’s already been invaded by roaches. This proves the home is on the radar of various pests which means keeping it clean and smelling like oregano or eucalyptus will improve the chances of deterring a future invasion.

When you find a few cockroaches around the house

A single cockroach is a sign of trouble. You can spray it with a large amount of essential oil mixed with water to kill it on the spot or spray the entire area of the house you’ve seen it in.

During a neighbor’s pest control protocol

Cockroaches tend to move away quickly when during pest control actions. They can make it into your home deterred by pesticides used in your neighbor’s home. It’s best to apply essential oils as a perimeter throughout your home in this situation.

When moving to a new home

Moving homes is an ideal time to deep clean and to apply essential oils against roaches. This is a time when you don’t have any idea about existing roaches in a home and when you need to be cautious about home pests.

When not to use essential oil for roaches?

Essential oils can be diluted with reduced side effects or concentrated with potential side effects such as nausea and headaches. Essential oils have limited results and they might not be recommended in the following situations.

When you have too many roaches inside the house

Essential oils have limited effects in case of an invasion. When your home already has more than a few hundred cockroaches, it’s an indication of a more serious invasion where essential oils might only have limited results.

In homes with small kids

Essential oils can cause various health conditions such as heartburn when ingested. You should not leave essential oil bottles within easy reach for children. You should refrain from heavily spraying a home where children live.

In homes with pets

Pets can lick essential oils off the floor. You should let sprayed essential oils dry completely in a room before opening it up again for pets.

How to use essential oils against roaches

Using any of the essential oils above is easy. All of them are diluted by counting drops. In general, 10-15 drops are sufficient for up to 10 ounces of water.

Always mix essential oils with water

Essential oils are always mixed with water. Available in concentrated bottles, essential oils need to be diluted when used against household roaches.

Consider the easiest pathways for roaches into the house

Roaches always take easy pathways in a house. They crawl under doors, walk along walls, and crawl under furniture. Cockroaches have a very good sense of smell which directs them toward food. It’s best to spray these pathways with essential oils.

Spray around cracks and crevices

Cracks and crevices are areas where roaches might hide from essential oils. You need to spray intensely around these areas.

Intensely spray behind furniture

Most roaches hide when they see humans inside the house. They crawl under furniture or behind appliances, especially warm appliances such as refrigerators and ovens.

Cotton balls vs essential oil spraying against cockroaches

Not all essential oils are sprayed when deterring roaches. Cotton balls dipped in essential oil can last longer before evaporating.

Oregano essential oil lasts a long time when sprayed. Its effect and smells are sensed by roaches up to 10 days after application. Its lasting power can be expanded by using dipped cotton balls.


Not all essential oils are the same. They have different results on different species of roaches. It’s best to combine these essential oils and dilute them in water if your home has an invasion of multiple species of roaches.

Otherwise, concentrating on a single type of essential oil is proven to work against individual roach species.

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