Dear PoPville – How Do You Get Rid of Roaches?

by Prince Of Petworth July 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm 39 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

A question for the fellow readers… I just moved into a new apartment in Mt. Pleasant this week, only to be unpleasantly surprised by the presence of cockroaches.

I put insecticide down outside of the house and cleaned and scrubbed the inside, but am certain that’s not going to be enough. I’m sure this question has been addressed on the blog before, but I’ll take all of the new tips and/or old tricks of the trade I can get: How do you get rid of these things?!”

We spoke about some exterminators here. Anyone else have experience getting rid of roaches from your apartment?

  • Anonymous

    Use the roach bait disks. I have found these to be very effective.

  • textdoc

    Spraying the baseboards on the inside will help tremendously. If you’re renting, your landlord or management company should do it. If not (or if they do a shoddy job of it), you can get a large container of bug spray with an attached sprayer at a place like Home Depot.

    Don’t leave anything out that roaches can get to — unwashed dishes, cereal boxes in cabinets, etc. Put things in sealable containers.

    If the roach problem doesn’t go away after you’ve taken these measures, it’s probably coming from one or more of your neighbors. Pressure your landlord/management company to address the problem in those units.

  • m

    As long as you don’t have pets or children: boric acid.

    • anon


      • 14th St Heights

        Yup. Always good. So is diatamaceous earth, with which I had some success in getting rid of bed bugs.

  • Anonymous

    Pointy shoes. Hungry Cats.

    • Claire

      Yes on the cat – my cat managed to bring a cockroach to my room the other night to “play” (it was flushed down the toilet when I discovered it in the morning). We only have the occasional roach that makes it in from the alley, not an actual problem though.

    • TEM

      I WISH my cats would kill roaches–instead, by big 20 lb. tomcat runs away from them! :-P

  • ET

    I have a regular guy come and spray. It is pricy over time but I don’t care. I am from NOLA and this is standard practice, because if you didn’t you would be overrun in no time at all.

  • Razman

    When I moved into my house in Columbia Heights (reno project) the place was full of roaches, mostly due to poor maintenance and leaving food out. (I suspect)

    I put out the roach bait that you can buy at the grocery/hardware store and I haven’t seen the roaches for months. These bait stations look like little plastic boxes. There are still a ton of roaches outside of the house at night but I haven’t spotted any inside.

  • anon. gardener

    Another person from the deep south here – the roach gel stuff works the best. don’t leave dirty dishes sitting in your dishwasher (if you have one) for too long. Roaches are also attracted to the warmth and moisture of the dishwasher, so put roach bait nearby. If you have pets, use tupperware or something similar to store petfood. keep garbage cans as far from house as possible. Be vigilant about cleaning up crumbs. Sadly, you can do nothing about the habits of your neighbors, so you may still have bugs no matter what you do.

    FWIW, we always had one of those ultrasonic antipest things plugged in at home, and never had bugs. No idea if they really work, but you might want to try it if you’re desperate. And +1 on the cat! :)

    • anon

      Totally right on the dishwasher. I used an exterminator (American Pest – good and pretty reasonably priced) and they first used a spray that made a ton of them come out and die. He followed up a couple weeks later with the gel and left out a couple traps. Problem solved!

      • anon. gardener

        Friend of mine back home, his dishwasher has a touchpad display. It stopped working. He called the dishwasher repair guy, who came out and took the cover off the control pad, which was filled with gunk. Roach poo. The repair guy cleaned it and told him to buy the gel. I said, “so, you bought a new dishwasher, right?” He actually kept the thing. Me, I would have been in the car on the way to home depot as soon as the heaves stopped. Yeesh.

    • They may work for insects, but I can tell you from experience that the ultrasonic devices don’t work on mice!

  • How do you NOT get rid of them? They’re awful! Get rid of them!

  • iwill

    Nth-ing boric acid and diatamaceous earth.

    Being clean helps a lot, but not completely as roaches need water. Bengal spray has worked best for me. It’s becoming more common but some people still don’t have it.

    After using Bengal I set up some sticky traps and I didn’t catch a thing.

  • Eckingtonette

    Does anyone have any thoughts on how to keep them away from outside decks/stoops, or is that just a lost cause?

    ps: Affordable Pest has been great, not too pricey annual contract and I haven’t seen one inside since. Silverfish in the basement though, that’s a little tougher.

  • victoria

    In an older building particularly, where people may have been frying food for years, a film of oil coats cable tv wires, inside the cracks of bifold doors and on top of cabinets. Not usually areas we think to clean, and teeming roach nurseries. Roaches love cracks.

    Clean – bomb – spray along baseboards and use Combat gel in cracks and hinges. And hope the surrounding apts. are equally diligent.

  • en

    +1 to the under the dishwasher comment. They really like warm places. In my case we couldn’t tell where the tiny roaches were coming from for a long time and had moderate success at keeping them at bay with the bait disks. Turns out they were living around the water heater that was located under the kitchen counter, only accessible by pulling out the stove. If you have anyone come to spray, pull out all the appliances, clean really well back there, and have them spray or put down powder under/behind all of them. A lot of kitchens in older buildings in DC have funny nooks and crannies because of multiple renovations over time.

    Before I used the bait disks, I asked my vet what she recommended because I do have a cat (who may be too lazy to chase bugs, but just in case). She said it’s probably fine but recommended moving the food and water bowls out of the kitchen (if that’s where the bugs are and where you have the chemicals) and if I did see the cat sniffing around the sprayed zones or trying to eat any bugs around after the chemicals, to watch out for seizures or increased thirst as a warning sign.

    • Anony

      My dog chewed up one of those roach bait traps (the black ones) when she was about 60 pounds. The animal poison control said she would have to essentially eat the whole package for any negative side effects, so they aren’t as toxic as one would think, though some precaution should be used when using them with animals around.

  • TEM

    The roach bait in the little plastic disks/boxes has worked well for me (I’m right next to an alley where all the trash cans are kept–roach heaven!)

    Also, definitely keep ALL food in sealed containers–cereal, flour, sugar, etc should be kept in sealed glass or plastic containers, not the boxes or bags that it comes in (it has the added benefit of keeping things fresh longer also!)

  • MotoMoe

    +1 on the Gel / disk combo if it’s a mild infestation. Had mucho luck with the gel stuff- we put it inside the hinges of the cupboards so our cats wouldn’t mess with it. Also put a bead around the bottom seal of the dishwasher too (as it was mentioned before, they really dig the dishwasher).
    Found dead roaches for a week or two before they were gone. If you have them dropping from the ceiling and stealing your remote, I would call a professional.

  • KenyonDweller

    Keep your place clean. The key to roach and rat control are the same: deny them food, and they will go somewhere else.

    As for bug killers, it is important to catch them at the right point in the life cycle. As soon as you see babies, kill them. I once rented a house that was infested. It took several bombings, but we eventually got rid of them.

  • Anon

    Agree with the boric acid comments. In fact, I made a small dusting horseshoe around my back stoop. Anytime roaches cross it, they get it stuck to their feet. When they clean themselves, they ingest it and poof, dead. I’ve gone from dozens outside to just a couple at most.

    Warning: boric acid should be kept away food sources, pets and kids. Wash your hands immediately after using.

  • PETE

    This stuff works VERY well. Safe, too.


  • ForTheShorties

    This has worked fantastically for us. Only downside is a lingering peppermint smell. VERY safe for kids and dogs and YOU!

  • Andy(2)

    I had them in my building when I first moved in. I am clean but with no dishwasher water was around the kitchen frequently (drying rack, wet sink…).
    I got sprayed every week for three months and put glue traps out. If you use the black disks/roach motels they need to be thrown away regularly (weekly) as once the poison is gone they become great roach homes.

    Regular spraying and fresh glue traps are probably the best way to go. I’ve not had to respray in two years and ahve seen one tiny roach in that time.

  • MishiL

    This is so not your responsibility:


    See #6: “The landlord must maintain your apartment… including keeping the premises safe and secure and free of rodents and pests”

  • Anonymous

    Boric Acid!

  • K

    I’ve had amazing success with Raid Max’s Bug Barrier with Auto Trigger (http://www.killsbugsdead.com/bugbarrier), which you can pick up pretty much anywhere.

    Knock on wood, I haven’t had any roaches in my place. I have them outside around my patio, though, as I live in a basement unit. I sprayed my entire patio, as well as the threshold in between my storm door and my regular door. It really does “kill them dead.”

  • Anonymous

    If your apartment is carpeted this will work:A few boxes of borax and a ton of salt to dry them out. Never had bugs. They can’t survive that low to the ground, especially being that dehydrated.

  • Anonymous

    Be thankful you only have roaches…they are relatively easy to get rid of compared to bed bugs!!! **shudder**

  • snob

    I’d kill myself before living in a place with roaches. Move the fu*k out.

    • Anonymous

      I’m moving from the suburbs to DC. Is it possible that there isn’t a place in the city without roaches? I’m being serious. It’s a big worry of mine.

      • textdoc

        There are places in the city without roaches.

    • anon

      Moving out is easier said than done, if it involves having to get out of a lease.

  • City of Los Angeles Pest Connoisseur

    the reason why you see roaches in warm areas (dishwasher area, coffee pots, toasters etc…) is not only because of food residue. They like to reside in warm areas. So save electricity and unplug all appliances.

  • rockcreek

    A few things that have helped us that haven’t been mentioned:

    1. Roaches are often looking for water – don’t leave anything to soak in the sink overnight, and wipe it down before you go to bed. Ditto for any condensation on the refrigerator.

    2. Look for entry points along the baseboards, window frames, and in the backs of your cabinets (many will have open screw holes that were not used in attaching them that in some cases open directly into the wall.) Caulk them shut, or put duct tape over the holes in the back of the cabinets.

  • Lisa

    NOTHING works except “Roach Prufe” (100% Boric Acid).
    PERIOD. The end.

    Srays, traps, “environmentally friendly” what-evers, diatomaceous earth…all that crap is just money wasted.


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