Cockroaches find their way into houses, apartments, sheds, and even vehicles where they can quickly become a full-blown infestation. Unfortunately, cockroaches are incredibly resilient creatures and cannot be eradicated by ordinary bug killers.
For these situations, a quality roach killer is needed that either kills on contact or brings poisons back to the nest, annihilating the infestation completely. There are many potent weapons in the roach wars, from sprays to bait stations to full-on foggers. Read on to find out which products are the best roach killers on the market and return the home to a place of peace—not pests.
- BEST OVERALL: Harris Boric Acid Famous Roach Tablets
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Safer Brand 51703 OMRI Listed Diatomaceous Earth
- BEST SPRAY: Raid Essentials Ant & Roach Killer Spray Bottle
- BEST TRAP: Hoy Hoy Trap-A-Roach Bait Glue Traps
- BEST GEL: Syngenta 383920 Advion Cockroach Gel Bait
- BEST FOGGER: Hot Shot Fogger With Odor Neutralizer
- BEST FOR SMALL INFESTATION: Hot Shot HG-95789 Roach Killer
- BEST FOR LARGE INFESTATION: Zap-A-Roach 3 Pack, Boric Acid Roach & Ant Killer
Before You Buy Roach Killer
Shoppers often turn to powerful insecticides as a pest control solution because getting rid of roach infestations isn’t easy. However, the active ingredients in these toxic pesticides can cause lasting environmental damage. Liquids and powders can seep into the soil, where they may affect beneficial insect and plant life in the surrounding area. These toxic solutions can also move into the water table or be carried to nearby lakes and rivers where they negatively impact fish and marine life.
Many gel baits cause problems because the roach bait gets eaten by insects that are in turn often consumed by predators, like birds. The insecticide remains active in the roaches and spreads to the birds, leading to secondary poisoning. Before deciding on a pest control solution, take some time to consider a more natural approach to handling roach infestations.
A roach trap can attract and kill roaches without using poisons, making it a good choice for wiping out minor infestations. However, if dealing with a larger pest population, a more potent solution that has minimal environmental impact is boric acid. Research the product before purchasing in order to make an informed decision about pest control.
How We Chose the Best Roach Killers
Compiling a list of the best roach killers was challenging because we found so many products and formulas to sift through. Not every infestation is the same, so not every roach colony will respond to the same treatments. With this in mind, we sought to present a range of pest control solutions, including traps, sprays, gels, and foggers.
Product effectiveness was also a top priority, so we researched products’ active ingredient, length of efficacy, and ease of use. Roach baits that are nontoxic and safe to use in homes with kids and pets stood out from products that relied heavily on powerful synthetic chemicals.
We also extensively researched how well products worked to destroy an entire colony of roaches that may be breeding unseen as well as those that simply killed visible insects. That’s why our final selection of products includes a variety of roach killer types.
Our Top Picks
We chose the best roach killers available, taking into account effectiveness, brand reputation, and budget.
Place up to 12 tablets per room around the home and let this roach bait do its job. Each tablet contains 40 percent boric acid, which dehydrates and destroys roaches from the inside out once consumed. Then, the potent product keeps on killing, as other roaches in the nest will ingest the feces and bodies of dead ones, causing further dehydration and death.
Boric acid is one of the more environmentally friendly active ingredients in roach killers because it has a low toxicity in mammals and is almost completely nontoxic to marine wildlife. These tablets can last for up to a year in a dry location, but they are vulnerable to rain and moisture, so they cannot be used for outdoor treatment.
- Type: Bait
- Active ingredient: Boric acid
- Length of efficacy: 1 year
- Long efficacy period
- Low environmental impact
- Easy to use
- Kills the entire colony
- Susceptible to rain and moisture
Get the Harris roach killer on Amazon or Harris.
Diatomaceous earth is a great option for homes with kids and pets because it contains no poisons or toxins. Instead, this naturally occurring sedimentary rock in powder form kills mechanically by cutting into the carapace of roaches once bait is consumed. Roaches breathe through their shells, so this damage causes them to suffocate and die.
Diatomaceous earth is also a potent weapon against other pests, including fleas, bed bugs, ants, and earwigs. The product can be used effectively outdoors and indoors, but due to its powder form, diatomaceous earth is vulnerable to wind and rain. If using outdoors, be sure to monitor tagged areas and reapply as necessary.
- Type: Bait
- Active ingredient: Diatomaceous earth
- Length of efficacy: 48 hours to 1 week
- Mechanical killer; completely nontoxic
- Safe for use in homes with kids and pets
- Works on roaches, fleas, bed bugs, and more
- Requires reapplication after rainy or windy weather
Get the Safer Brand roach killer on Amazon or Safer Brand.
While roach baits are effective, they do require patience. To get rid of visible roaches quickly and effectively, reach for Raid Essentials Ant & Roach Killer. This spray uses all-natural essential oils to kill roaches on contact. Just point and shoot to immediately destroy invading pests.
This solution relies on the one-two punch of geraniol and lemongrass oil to kill roaches yet will not harm people, animals, or the planet in general. While this Raid product is easy to use, it only kills insects that are sprayed directly; it does not continue to work for a given period of time, so isn’t the best choice for treating a nest.
- Type: Spray
- Active ingredient: Geraniol and lemongrass oil
- Length of efficacy: N/A
- Contact killer
- Safe for use in homes with kids and pets
- Ready-to-use spray bottle
- Environmentally safe
- Only kills roaches that are directly sprayed
Get the Raid roach killer on Amazon or at Walmart.
To eradicate a roach infestation without putting kids and pets at risk, try these Hoy Hoy traps. The pesticide-free weapon against roaming roaches lures bugs in, and its powerful, textured adhesive floor traps them until they starve to death.
Simply place the roach trap on the floor, counter, or anywhere else insects invade. Rather than chemicals, the highly attractive bait is made with four types of real food that roaches can’t resist. Just keep in mind that roaches caught in traps don’t bring poison back to the nest, so this method will not kill a colony.
- Type: Trap
- Active ingredient: N/A
- Length of efficacy: Reapply as needed
- Adjustable structure
- Safe around kids and pets
- 4 real-food baits to attract roaches
- Not effective for killing the nest
Get the Hoy Hoy roach killer on Amazon or at Walmart.
Gel baits, like this product by Syngenta, are excellent for treating narrow cracks, crevices, and other hard-to-access locations where roaches tend to travel and nest. The gel comes in four ready-to-use plunger tubes and includes two application tips for superior control.
Syngenta’s roach bait has a nonrepellent formulation that is highly attractive to all common roach species. It relies on the active ingredient indoxacarb, a chemical that has been shown to be a reduced-risk pesticide, but it should nonetheless be used minimally, responsibly, and out of reach of kids and pets.
- Type: Bait
- Active ingredient: Indoxacarb
- Length of efficacy: 2 weeks
- 4 easy-to-use application plungers
- Reduced-risk pesticide
- Nonrepellent formulation is highly attractive to roaches
- Ideal for use in cracks and crevices
- Chemical pesticide; not safe for use around kids or pets
Get the Syngenta roach killer on Amazon or at Walmart.
Roaches tend to hide in difficult-to-access areas, but this fogger from Hot Shot infiltrates up to 2,000 cubic feet of unobstructed space. When used according to the manufacturer’s directions, the fogger seeps into cracks, crevices, and gaps to kill roaches on contact.
After application, the fogger continues to work for up to 2 months, without leaving any harsh odor or oily residue. However, while the chemical pesticide tetramethrin is relatively safe, the fogger’s other active ingredient, cypermethrin, poses a risk to local wildlife. The fogger solution cannot be allowed to enter nearby lakes, rivers, or ponds, as it will kill aquatic invertebrates.
- Type: Fogger
- Active ingredient: Tetramethrin and cypermethrin
- Length of efficacy: 2 months
- Value pack comes with 6 foggers
- Lasts up to 2 months
- Penetrates deep into cracks and crevices
- Nonstaining formula; no oily residue
- Cypermethrin is highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates
Get the Hot Shot Fogger roach killer on Amazon or at Walmart.
Small infestations can rapidly get out of control if the roaches have access to food. To stop the growth of the nest, set up these six bait stations in areas where roaches have been spotted. They’ll be drawn to the liquid bait and the active ingredient dinotefuran will quickly kill roaches and any eggs it comes into contact with.
These bait stations can remain effective for up to 3 months, though users should check them monthly to determine if they are empty. Dinotefuran is considered to be a relatively low-risk ingredient for nontarget organisms, but it remains highly toxic for insects. These traps should only be used indoors because not only is the bait vulnerable to rain, but it will also kill beneficial insects, such as bees.
- Active ingredient: Dinotefuran
- Length of efficacy: 3 months
- Easy-to-use bait stations
- Kills roaches and their eggs
- Lasts for up to 3 months indoors
- Dinotefuran is relatively low risk for nontarget organisms
- Not suitable for outdoor use
Get the Hot Shot HG-95789 roach killer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
When roach infestations get out of hand, sprays just won’t cut it. This three-pack of Zap-A-Roach boric acid can be used indoors or outdoors to treat a serious roach problem. Boric acid powder is an odorless and nonstaining compound, so users can apply it without worrying about damage to surfaces or noxious odors.
Once the boric acid bait is consumed, it dehydrates roaches from the inside. It continues to kill when other roaches eat the boric acid-laced feces and bodies of their brethren to eradicate the nest quickly. This product is vulnerable to rain and moisture, so users may need to reapply frequently if applying outdoors. For indoor use, it can remain effective for several months.
- Type: Bait
- Active ingredient: Boric acid
- Length of efficacy: Reapply as needed
- Kills roaches and the nest
- Nonstaining compound
- Odorless solution
- Easy-to-use application nozzle
- Vulnerable to rain and moisture
Get the Zap-A-Roach roach killer on Amazon or at Walmart.
For a potent option with low environmental risk, Harris roach killer lures roaches in, then kills via dehydration. An alternative natural method for wiping out roach infestations is the inexpensive Safer Brand roach killer, which kills through mechanical means, not pesticidal ingredients.
Or, DIY Your Own Roach Killer
Rather than rely on commercial products to get rid of roaches, shoppers may want to consider making their own solution, quickly and inexpensively. One method is to cut up onions, coat them with baking soda, and place them where roaches roam. The onion will attract the insects, and the baking soda will create gas inside the roaches, causing them to rupture.
For a more aggressive bait, combine equal parts borax with white table sugar. Sugar attracts roaches, and the borax-laced bait will rapidly dehydrate and kill them.
Rather than bait and wait, consider direct action with this formula: Fill a spray bottle with three parts natural fabric softener and two parts water, then shake well and spray visible roaches. Like many insects, roaches breathe through their carapace, and this DIY spray formula will coat their bodies, leading to suffocation and death.
Types of Roach Killers
Roach killers come in several different variations, with the most popular and effective being traps, gels, sprays, and foggers.
- Traps are one of the most common roach-killer products, with so-called “roach motels” as a go-to for treating infestations. Some traps feature a bait within an enclosed space containing poison, such as hydramethylnon, effectively luring and killing pests. Other designs use a one-way door to trap roaches inside, without using poison. This design offers the benefit of being safe for use around children and pets as well as reducing the impact on the environment.
- Baits are substances that attract roaches and often contain powerful insecticides, like fipronil. Attractive scents and tastes lure the roaches to the poison. After eating it, they go back to the nest and die. The live roaches in the nest eat the dead roaches and spread the poison through the nest—though it may still take up to 2 months to wipe out the entire colony fully. Unfortunately, roach bait can cause secondary poisoning in roaches’ natural predators, such as birds. To avoid this, select a product that uses an active ingredient with minimal impact on the environment and surrounding wildlife.
- Gels can be easily applied on the ground, walls, behind appliances, or inside cupboards. Individuals can use gels in conjunction with traps for better results. However, households with children and pets should take precautions by not placing gels in easy-to-access areas.
- Sprays are handy for covering wide surface areas and spraying into crevices that traps and gels can’t reach. Many sprays rely on pyrethroid chemicals to shut down the roaches’ nervous systems, but users can also find a variety of nontoxic options that use essential oils, like geraniol and lemongrass oil. These substances kill most insects in less than a day, though some roaches have been known to live for up to 2 weeks after treatment.
- Foggers, otherwise known as a “bug bombs,” are cans of pesticide that are placed in a room and opened to activate. The can releases a steady stream of gaseous poison that seeps into cracks and crevices that would be otherwise inaccessible. Foggers generally use pyrethroids to attack the roaches’ nervous systems. Users must cover all foods, cooking implements, and cooking surfaces before using the fogger and vacate the home for a minimum of 4 hours after use for safety.
What to Consider when Choosing the Best Roach Killer
When choosing the right roach killer, there are a handful of factors to keep in mind before buying.
Length of Efficacy
Length of efficacy refers to how long the roach killer will continue to work before requiring replacement. A roach killer’s length of efficacy depends on two things: how quickly the active ingredient breaks down and how much of the product is applied. Most roach killers have a minimum efficacy period of approximately 1 month and a maximum efficacy period of 2 years.
Major infestations will call for additional traps, as the poison will deplete quickly if a large number of roaches are eating it. Always follow package directions to understand when to replace roach killers.
The types of pests that a roach killer will eliminate depends on the active ingredient, the product type, and the bait used to lure the pests. Some larger traps use a glue sheet that can trap anything from small insects, like ants, to mice or rats—and everything in between.
Because roaches are so adept at survival, many roach killers use high levels of pesticide that can kill a wide variety of other pests, such as bees, ants, hornets, mice, spiders, rats, and silverfish. For this reason, it’s important to keep pets and kids away from roach traps and areas where the roach killer has been applied.
Ease of Use
Another factor to consider when selecting gel baits, roach bait stations, or any other means of killing roaches is how easy or difficult the solution is to apply and use. The best roach killer should be relatively simple to use. This helps keep users safe from accidental poison ingestion and improves the chances that the selected pest control approach is actually killing roaches.
Traps are a simple method for killing roaches, and they are relatively straightforward to set up and use. Gels and sprays must be applied to crevices, cracks, and other areas around the home where roaches commonly lurk. Foggers are the least user-friendly option because these bug bombs require considerable preparation beforehand and cleanup afterward to ensure that the home is roach-free and poison-free.
Boric acid powders can be used indoors or outdoors, but powders can be messy and difficult to clean up indoors. Consider using boric acid outdoors only or in isolated areas of the home to avoid accidental contact or ingestion.
Bait Type and Ingredients
Roach baits come in two main types and can include a range of active ingredients, such as geraniol, lemongrass oil, fipronil, hydramethylnon, indoxacarb, or boric acid. The first type uses a mixture of sugar (to attract the roaches) and poison (which kills the insects quickly). This method is frequently seen in roach motels and other roach trap products that are intended to kill the roach on the spot.
The second type of bait uses a similar mixture of sugars to attract the roaches, but the death process is slower. Roaches consume the roach baits they find in the bait stations or applied throughout the home, as is the case for gel baits. This form of bait uses a delayed-transfer toxic action that kills the roach over several days. During this time, the roach leaves poison-laden feces around the nest that other roaches consume. After the roach dies, the other roaches also eat the corpse, transferring the poison throughout the nest. This style of bait is very effective for handling an ongoing infestation, but depending on the active ingredient, it can be incredibly harmful to the environment, so it’s important to research the product before buying.
Natural ingredients, like geraniol and lemongrass oil, act as deterrents and can also kill on contact, making them a great option for a roach killer spray. Users can also set up a boric acid barrier or bait a roach trap with boric acid tablets, which have limited toxicity in mammals and are almost completely nontoxic to aquatic life.
When treating a roach infestation, first consider personal safety and the safety of the family and pets. Roach traps and gels can be attractive to pets and kids due to their bright colors, sweet smells, and sweet taste. Sprays can be absorbed through the skin, and foggers create a toxic space for several hours after use.
Child- and pet-friendly roach killer alternatives are an effective method for treating roach infestations without harming the local ecosystem. These safer options use methods to trap, kill, or repel roaches, such as by using a one-way doorroach trap, glue paper roach trap, natural sprays, and ultrasonic pest repellents that are placed around the home to drive insects away.
To learn more about effective pest control options for eliminating roach infestations, take a look at the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about using a roach trap, roach baits, and other roach killers.
Q. How do you find a cockroach nest?
To get the best results from a roach trap or roach baits, try to apply the roach killer within close proximity to the nest. The most common places for a roach nest include behind refrigerators, in cracks and crevices, under furniture, and inside baseboards. These insects like warm, humid environments that are close to food and water supplies.
In determining the location of a roach nest, expect to see several live roaches, a few dead roaches, lots of droppings, and old egg cases. Especially look for signs of roach droppings, which are very small and look like coffee grounds or black pepper.
Q. Is it better to spray or bait roaches?
The answer depends on the situation. Roach baits are more commonly used in homes with children or pets because the bait can be placed inside a roach trap to help prevent accidental ingestion. Baits can also last for a significant period of time before needing to be replaced, like some gel baits that can last up to 2 months.
Sprays kill on contact, but beyond attacking visible roaches and nests, they are limited. This is because roaches are rarely out in the open where a human could take advantage of the situation with a can of roach spray.
For a long-lasting solution that could eliminate the infestation entirely, opt for a roach bait. If you are looking for a product that can kill a roach on contact, then a spray is the right choice.
Q. How long does it take to get rid of roaches?
Unfortunately, there is no set time period to get rid of roaches. Seeing just two or three in the open could indicate that there are hundreds nesting nearby, which may take considerable time to wipe out.
The important thing is to continue treating the roach infestation until you are sure that the problem has been handled. This could take a week or it could take several months, so be prepared for an extended fight to get rid of this resilient pest.