How to Keep Roaches Away – Effective Strategies 

Updated on by Jared Belson | Please note that there may be affiliate links on this page.

If you’ve ever had cockroaches in your home, you know how stubborn they can be! The best way to deal with cockroaches is to never have them in the first place! How can we make our homes as unappealing to cockroaches as possible?

Put the Food Away

Hungry roaches are always on the lookout for food! The easiest way to keep roaches away is to stop feeding them. Use metal, glass, or heavy-duty plastic containers with lids that seal well for food storage.

  • Put food away after eating.
  • Clean up spills and crumbs immediately.
  • Make sure containers are sealed.
  • Clean cabinets and appliances regularly.

Monitor Pet Food

Roaches are not picky eaters! They will go after pet food too. Keep all pet food in a sealed container.

If your pet doesn’t eat all of its food, make sure to dump it back into the sealed container immediately. Wipe out the pet dishes at the end of the day, so there are no crumbs left for the roaches.

Keep Food in the Kitchen

Make a house rule that food does not leave the kitchen. It’s much easier to keep up with the cleaning if all the food stays in one area.

Fix Water Leaks

Roaches are also on the lookout for sources of water! Like most animals, they need water to survive.

  • Fix any leaky pipes.
  • Repair dripping faucets.
  • Empty pet water dishes overnight and store them upside down.
  • Make sure the sinks are drained.
  • Close toilets when not in use.

Keep Your Yard Tidy

Roaches, like most pests, like a good hiding place. Brush, weeds, and tall grass may allow them to approach your house undetected with ease. Keep all tall bushes and grass trimmed away from your house. Keep the wood piles away from the house too.

Seal off the Openings

Cockroaches will look for any opportunity to enter your home and settle in. In order to make that difficult for them, you need to seal off any openings in your home.

Inside the House

Close off any potential hiding spots for roaches. If you have open areas on the floor where pipes lead, make sure those are sealed. Look for openings in floorboards, cabinets, baseboards, or around appliances.

Pay close attention to any area that may be near drains or water. Use adhesive sealant caulk to thoroughly seal any openings.

Outside the House

Roaches can fit through a crack or hole that is only 1/16 of an inch! Look all around your foundation, doors, and windows. Thoroughly seal any openings that a roach could enter through.

Clean the House

Go beyond regular cleaning to give your house a deep cleaning. Remember, roaches can enter any house but they only stay in a home where they have sources of food and water. A deep cleaning should eliminate any incentive for roaches to settle in.

Clear the Clutter

Roaches may take refuge in any hiding spot they can find. They tend to steer clear of open areas. Declutter to give them fewer hiding spots.

Roaches also enjoy breeding in paper products, like cardboard boxes, or old magazines and newspapers. Take these items out right away and don’t leave them around the house.

Clean up Food Debris

You’ve already sealed up food, and are on top of kitchen cleaning. Take your kitchen to the next level by:

  • Keeping counters wiped and disinfected.
  • Cleaning behind appliances.
  • Wiping down the insides of all cabinets.
  • Emptying your toaster tray of crumbs.
  • Cleaning the stove, including drip pans, if you have them.

Take out the Trash

Take the trash out to an outdoor trash can at least once a day! Roaches will be drawn to the smell of old food debris and garbage. Use a trash can with a lid, or, even better, one that seals shut.

Clean the Garbage Disposal

The garbage disposal represents the best of both worlds to a cockroach – food and water. Clean your garbage disposal by grinding up ice cubes to dislodge any stuck-on food.

Next, make a solution of 2 parts white, distilled vinegar with one part baking soda. Pour this into the garbage disposal, and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Finally, fill the sink with water and dish soap. Run the garbage disposal until all the soapy water drains.

Natural Roach Repellents

Essential Oils

Roaches have a sensitive sense of smell. They dislike the scents of some essential oils, like lavender oil, tea tree oil, and peppermint oil. Soak cotton balls in the oil, then place them in cabinets, near drains, or other potential roach entry points.

You can also mix ¼ cup of your choice of oils with ¼ cup white distilled vinegar, and 2 cups of water. Place this mixture in a spray bottle and spray around your home, especially in food preparation areas. Always wear gloves when handling undiluted essential oils.

Coffee Grounds

Not only are roaches disgusted by the smell of coffee, but coffee is also harmful to them! The acidity and caffeine in coffee damages roaches’ nervous systems. Place coffee grounds in corners or near windowsills to keep the roaches away!


Roaches do not enjoy the smell of mint! Soak cotton balls with mint oil or extract, and place them near windows or other potential entry points. If you enjoy house plants, place pots of mint near windows and doors.


Roaches do not like the acidic scent of lemons. Cut fresh lemons into quarters and place them in small dishes. Place them in areas of potential roach activity.

Cayenne Pepper

Strong spices like cayenne pepper act as a natural roach repellant! Sprinkle the pepper near window sills and counter edges.

Final Thoughts

Can roaches enter a clean house? Absolutely. Are they going to want to stick around a clean house? Not so much. A house that is clear of food and water is not going to be very attractive to roaches. Get into a good cleaning routine to keep your home roach-free.

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