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How to Keep Cockroaches Away at Night: Easy, Effective Tips for a Roach-Free Home

Cockroaches are nocturnal creatures, and can crawl over your food (and into your bed) when you’re fast asleep. The best way how to keep cockroaches away at night is to starve them, stop them from getting into your home, and find safe ways to kill them before they breed. 

Why do I need to roach-proof my home?

  • Cockroaches can spread disease. They carry bacteria that has been associated with diarrhea and intestinal disease, salmonella, streptococcus and staphylococcus.
  • Cockroaches can also trigger asthma and allergies. Even after they die and their bodies naturally decompose, the particles travel through the air and can irritate the skin or be inhaled. Even cockroach poop that lies hidden under beds or behind cabinets can eventually disintegrate and become allergens.

Why do I have so many cockroaches in my home?

There are three things that cockroaches love—and if these are in your home, you’re basically running a roach hotel.

  • Cockroaches love food, and they will eat anything. Food scraps in your garbage can, the oily grease on your stovetop, or even the toothpaste residue on your toothbrush.
  • Cockroaches love damp and dark places. That’s why they love the bathroom, kitchen, and storage areas like the basement or a cabinet. But they can also survive in pipes and drains, and can crawl out of the sink when you’re not looking.
  • Cockroaches love messy, cluttered areas. There are more places for them to hide, breed and hatch their eggs. Cockroaches have unique egg cases called oothecas which contain up to 20 cockroach embryo in each egg. One cockroach can produce up to 90 eggs in a lifetime—so even a few hidden roaches can quickly colonize and take over your home.

Protect your health and your home with these tips on how to keep cockroaches away at night. 

Store your food

Always keep leftovers in tightly closed containers, and seal any open bags of bread or chips with a clip. If you have pets, give only enough food that they can finish in one sitting—or you’ll be sure that the cockroaches will feast on any leftovers in the bowl.

Wipe down counters and tables

Cockroaches can live off the crumbs and other food residue left on kitchen counters, sinks, or even your oven. Keep them clean with a damp rag. Use a lemon-scented cleaner, or add a few drops of citrus-scented essential oil to water and keep in a spray bottle. Cockroaches hate the scent!

Wipe condiment, sauce and spice bottles

Most people keep cooking ingredients in open shelves, for easy access. Wipe these bottles regularly to remove any spills or residue, and make sure they are always tightly closed. Aside from keeping away cockroaches, it also prevents mold and bacteria from developing.

Regularly clean the oven and the walls around it

Cockroaches can eat oil and grease that clings to your stovetop or the back wall. Wash these with warm water mixed with a little dishwashing liquid.

Clean the hidden spots

Be sure to vacuum or sweep the areas that are hard to reach, such as under the sofas and beds, behind the bookcases, or on high shelves. Cockroaches like to hide in those dark spaces, and that’s where they’re most likely to lay eggs too.

Try to do these “deep cleans” at least once a week. If you’re busy, deep clean one room every week, and aim to do all the rooms within a month. Aside from getting rid of any eggs, regularly moving furniture or objects also discourages cockroaches from nesting there at all.

Store items properly

Cockroaches can eat through paper and then slip into cardboard boxes. So if you really need to keep items in long-term storage, keep them in tightly sealed plastic boxes.

That’s especially important for food items that you may keep in your pantry or cupboards. If you know you won’t use the items in a month, either transfer them to plastic containers or make sure they’re behind tightly closed doors. That prevents cockroaches from eating them and pooping on them—cockroach feces can cause many diseases.  

Avoid paper piles

Cockroaches love paper, so throw away newspapers or cardboard you don’t need, and keep important papers in a tightly sealed cabinet. Regularly empty out bookcases or filing boxes to clean them.

Avoid stagnant water

Cockroaches can survive for weeks without food, but they will die without a week of water. Make sure any pails or water containers have lids, and that you don’t have any leaky faucets. Regularly clean areas where water tends to collect, such as the sinks or dish drying rack.

Cover drains and pipes

Cockroaches will like to hide in pipes and drains. The best way how to keep cockroaches away at night is to keep these covered with a wire mesh. You may also want to spray the areas with insecticide. While it may not completely kill all the cockroaches, it will keep the population under control.

Use cockroach repellant

If you prefer commercial cockroach repellants and sprays, here are some tips for using them safely and effectively:

  • Do not spray repellant near food or eating surfaces
  • Close doors and windows of a room. Spray the insecticide, making sure to reach hiding places like  behind furniture.  
  • In the kitchen—where cockroaches tend to propagate the most—remove or cover food, utensils and plates. Then spray areas like the sink, trash cans, around windows, and behind the refrigerator and oven. In the bathroom, spray under the sink and into the drains.
  • Immediately leave the room to avoid inhaling commercial insect sprays. Keep the room closed for at least 15 minutes. When the waiting period is over, open all windows and turn on the fan to aerate the room.

Try DIY/Natural cockroach repellants

While a full-scale cockroach infestation may need stronger chemical insecticides (or even hiring a professional exterminator), you can help prevent or curb cockroach population with DIY cockroach repellants.  

Borax

Mix three parts of boric acid (or Borax) to one part sugar. Then, sprinkle this in areas where cockroaches hide, such as behind cabinets, near drains, or in areas with a lot of plants. However, this mixture is toxic for pets and children, so just make sure that they cannot touch the powder or go into that room.

Diatomaceous earth

If you want a mixture that repels cockroaches but won’t hurt your kids or pets, try sprinkling food-grade diatomaceous earth. This isn’t poisonous, but it destroys the cockroaches’ exoskeletons.   

Catnip

Cat owners will love this natural cockroach repellant: catnip! Your pets love it, but cockroaches hate it. That’s because it contains nepetalactone, which drives them away.

Essential Oils

Cockroaches don’t like the smell of essential oils like rosemary oil, cedar oil, eucalyptus oil, and any citrus oil like lemon or orange.

So, using essential oils is one of the best ways how to keep cockroaches away at night—while simultaneously lifting your mood while keeping your home smelling fresh! You can try:

  • Make a cleanser. Mix bleach, water and a few drops of these essential oils and then put in a spray bottle. Use this to clean countertops and tables, or even to mop down bathrooms and kitchen floors.  
  • Get a diffuser. Use these relaxing scents in the bedroom, living room, or dining area. The diffuser also helps release the scent over long periods of time.
  • Make a linen spray. Spray beddings, curtains, sofa upholstery and pillows. Aside from preventing cockroaches from crawling on your bed, the fabric will also hold the scent longer.
  • Scent sachets. Place them in your storage areas (such as the pantry, clothes cabinet, or file boxes) to prevent cockroaches from staying there.  

Cigarette Butts

Roaches hate the smell of cigars and cigarettes. You can ground up the sticks, then place them in small open cans. These are good for areas like behind cabinets or bookshelves, or in parts of the garden with a lot of foliage where cockroaches like to hide and breed.

Get a cockroach trap

Cockroach traps emit a scent that attracts them, and then traps them with a sticky glue. While effective, the problem with these traps is that they can also get stuck on the fur of curious pets (and are almost impossible to remove without hurting them).

So, only use them if you don’t have pets, or put in areas where you know they can’t reach (such as locked cabinets or rooms).

If you have the freedom to place them anywhere you want, we suggest under sinks, behind the refrigerator, under the oven, in storage areas like basements or attics.

Use cockroach bait

These are poisoned pellets that cockroaches eat. They may not die right away, which is actually a good thing—when they return to their nest or colony, they spread the poison to the others. Do not use poison pellets if you have children or pets, since these are very toxic when consumed.

Seal any openings and cracks

While the earlier tricks can drive away cockroaches from rooms in your home, you want to prevent them from getting in at all. That’s why it’s important to make sure there aren’t any cracks or crevices where they can enter.

Check for cracks in the walls, loose floorboards, gaps in the windows sills, holes in window screens, or large uncovered drains. You may want to add weather strips on doorframes as well—cockroaches can slip through the smallest gaps!

Since it’s possible for cockroaches to enter through pipes and drains connected to the central sewage system, make sure that you close the sink hole at night, and keep the bathroom door tightly closed.

Install screens on windows or sliding doors, so that you can let in the breeze or sunlight while keeping out cockroaches (and other pests like mosquitos, flies or mice).

Try electronic sound waves

Some devices supposedly repel cockroaches because they emit a high-frequency sound that drives them crazy. While reviews are mixed, and the science isn’t quite proven, some people feel that it doesn’t hurt to add another barrier of defense. And as a bonus, they also drive away mosquitos!

You can try getting dedicated electronic insect repellants, or look for a binaural record or video set at that specific frequency (there are many on Youtube, music streaming sites, or even apps). Play it on a speaker or from your phone and see for yourself if it makes a difference.

These are just some ways to keep cockroaches out of your home. Try different tips, and use them in combination, to prevent these pests and the diseases they bring. 

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