German cockroaches are the number one species of cockroach you’re likely to find in your home in North America. They are a very hardy species that can survive in any climate, but prefer the warm and humid southeastern climate. If you live in Florida or Texas, you are surely familiar with the huge size German cockroaches can reach in those areas. They thrive in large metropolitan cities as scavengers to human waste, and are slightly less a nuisance in rural areas and colder climates.
Once you have German cockroaches in your home, it can be very difficult to get rid of them. The most surefire way to eliminate an infestation is to hire the services of a professional pest control company, if you have the ways and means to do so. But I will assume that anyone reading this article is searching for information on do-it-yourself cockroach control. The good news is that this is also certainly a viable option. So let’s take a look at the steps necessary to control a German cockroach infestation.
Select the best cockroach pesticide for your situation
I’ve written an entire article on choosing the best do-it-yourself cockroach killer products, if you want to research the topic in detail. In a nutshell, though, there are a few products you can choose from and they all are great for killing German cockroaches.
My first choice is boric acid powder, because it is the cheapest option and highly effective. Boric acid is a white crystalline powder that you should spread and sprinkle around the baseboards of your home. I won’t get into the details of how boric acid kills roaches in this article, but I will tell you that you will start to see good results (dead roaches) very quickly. The downside of boric acid is that since it is a powder, it is easily dispersed by wind or swept are vacuumed up when you are cleaning. So it is necessary to reapply boric acid regularly. But since it’s so cheap this is not a big deal for most people. If you have dogs or cats, however, I would recommend using a different product because if ingested in quantities, boric acid can cause internal organ damage.
You may also choose to use cockroach gel or paste, which works equally as well as boric acid for getting rid of German roaches. A great benefit of the gel is that one application will last months. On the downside, cockroach gel is more expensive than boric acid. I also don’t recommend that you apply gel directly to your flooring or baseboards because cleaning up the gel can be a mess. It can leave a lasting stain or discoloration on the surface to which it was applied. A great trick is to cut small squares of cardboard and place the gel directly on those, which you can slide into hidden areas such as under the refrigerator.
You can also use traps, but in my opinion, cockroach traps are only suited for dealing with smaller cockroach infestations. Traps will kill many roaches and reduce their presence, but are not ideal for eliminating all roaches for good. The good thing about traps are that they are not messy, easy to dispose of and replace, and can be slid into hard-to-reach places.
Barricade German cockroaches from getting in your home
For more detail on this, please read my in-depth article on how to keep roaches out of your home. You need to look for and determine the locations where the cockroaches are getting access to your house. If you notice that most of the cockroaches in one area of your home, this is a sign that you should search for crevices in the floor there to see where they are coming in.
Fill-in any of those cracks with caulk, and it is a good idea to also caulk around your entire home where the floor meets the base of the wall and also in the cabinets, etc. These little cracks are the place where the roaches are getting in, and you should get down on your hands and knees and search around your home, caulking as you go.
Get rid of the roaches access to food and water
Like every living creature, cockroaches need access to food and water in order to thrive. That is why you will most commonly find roaches in your kitchen and bathroom. You should focus the bulk of your attention to cockroach proofing these two rooms. You can read my detailed instructions on how to keep roaches out of your kitchen, although the gist of the matter is quite simple.
You need to thoroughly clean your home and keep it clean. Especially the bathroom and kitchen. Make sure that the food traces and food smells that are attracting the roaches to your home are eliminated. Any food left on the counters or floors, even in hidden away places like in the stove or under the refrigerator, are like magnets to roaches looking for a meal.
Sweep up and clean your home thoroughly and regularly. Wipe surfaces with a disinfectant cleaning solution or a diluted bleach solution to kill bacteria and remove residual smell and food residue. Don’t leave any standing water that can attract roaches in places like the bathroom floor or kitchen sink. If you eliminate food and water sources, the roaches will have no reason to stay inside your house.
If you follow these steps, you stand a great chance of getting rid of German cockroaches forever. These are tried-and-true methods that have been tested and work well. But remember that German cockroaches are the most hardy and ever-present roach in the world. Roaches are highly adaptable and proficient at survival. It is not easy to get rid of an entire population. So you must be vigilant and persistent in your efforts. Good luck.
Cockroach Control: Terminate with Extreme Prejudice
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Photo: German Cockroach, by Sarah Camp, (CC BY-ND 2.0)