Updated October 2021
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Buying guide for best roach killers

Is your home infested with roaches? If so, you are not alone. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America reports that up to 63% of homes in the U.S. have cockroaches. Similar to their cousins, termites, cockroaches bear a reputation as nasty, dirty bugs — bearers of disease and unwanted insect pests.

There’s a lot of truth in that. Not only do cockroaches provoke an allergic reaction in the nasal passages, eyes, ears, and lungs of a great many people, they are also responsible for skin irritations, itchy rashes, and burning skin. Cockroach saliva, feces, and body parts can act as a potential allergen to everyone in the family who is exposed to roach debris. Dead roaches can be the biggest offenders.

If you’re searching for an effective weapon in your war against roaches, read on to learn more about cockroach killer products and practices. When you’re ready to purchase a roach killer, consider our recommended choices.

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There are two types of cockroaches: winged and unwinged. The largest cockroaches in the world inhabit Panama, Peru, and Ecuador. These creepy critters are over an inch and a half wide with an eight-inch wingspan.

Key considerations

Nocturnal disease carriers

If you’re wondering if cockroaches are a pest you can live with, the answer is no. You may not see them often because they’re nocturnal. But after dark, roaches search for food in kitchens, food storage pantries, laundry drains, sewers, and garbage dumpsters. Roaches play a significant role as carriers of intestinal diseases including cholera, typhoid fever, salmonella, gastroenteritis, dysentery, and diarrhea. The World Health Organization advises cockroaches are suspected or known carriers of a diverse array of microorganisms that can also cause leprosy, typhoid fever, plague, and life-threatening viral diseases, such as poliomyelitis.

Allergy inducers

Cockroaches can trigger severe allergies and attacks in people suffering from asthma, COPD, and emphysema. People with cardiovascular problems are vulnerable as well. Roach feces, saliva, and shed body parts act as allergens when stirred up in the air. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to roach debris include:

  • Wheezing

  • Tightness in the chest

  • Stuffy nose

  • Frequent sinus infections

  • Itchy eyes

  • Persistent cough

  • Shortness of breath

Home invaders

Several cockroach species choose to live near people. Tropical in origin, they prefer a warm, moist environment with adequate food. Living in large groups, cockroaches are most active at night, hiding during the daytime under floorboards, behind wallpaper, and in the cracks and crevices of furniture, closets, and cabinets. Because they are attracted to moisture, roaches hang out behind the toilet, under the kitchen sink, and down the bathroom shower drain. They avoid light; if you turn on the light switch, roaches may scurry and scatter like dust in the wind.

Types of roach killer

Roach killer is available for purchase in aerosol cans, pump sprays, bait boxes, traps, pellets, and powders.

Poisoned bait, presented in the form of bait gel, bait traps, powder, or pellets, is generally the most effective method of eradicating roaches. At night, roaches leave the nest in search of food. Combined with a delayed-action insecticide, a food-based bait entices the bugs. They consume the poison embedded in the bait and then go “home” to die. Carried back to the nest, the poison quickly spreads throughout the colony, killing roaches that consume the first dead roach or those that come into contact with the feces of the poisoned roach. In essence, one poisoned cockroach can kill dozens more.

Roach spray is a popular alternative. Cypermethrin, a chemical that kills roaches on contact, is the primary ingredient in most roach sprays. You can buy these sprays in both aerosol and pump bottles for ease of application. While roach sprays are effective for eliminating visible roaches, they only target insects that come into direct contact with the mist. Therefore, unlike the bait method, spray roach killers fail to provide the “domino effect” that occurs when a roach who has been poisoned carries it back to the nest.



Some brands of roach killers emit a noxious smell. Others have a more pleasant fragrance.


Different brands of roach killer have different suggested methods of application. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s suggested application instructions.


Some roach killer products are specifically formulated to kill roaches only. Other multipurpose insect killers target spiders, silverfish, bed bugs, water bugs, palmetto bugs, earwigs, beetles, crickets, and cockroaches.

Accessories you may need

Ridding your home of roaches requires a multi-method approach. Not only do you need to apply roach killer to kill the colony, it is important to keep your home spotlessly clean to discourage their return. Items to help with that task include:

  • Bathroom cleaners: Rid the bathroom of roach droppings by regularly cleaning with a bathroom cleaner.

  • Kitchen cleaners: Apply kitchen cleaner to a clean damp rag or sponge and wipe down counters to remove crumbs and sticky residue that attracts roaches.

  • Brushes and brooms: Keep floors and cabinets free of crumbs with regular sweeping.

  • Roach bait: After roaches are exterminated, continue to bait for stragglers and new roach hatchlings.

  • Garbage cans: Roaches are attracted to garbage. Secure garbage in a trash can or garbage bin with a tight-fitting lid. Do not allow garbage to accumulate.
Expert Tip

Roach killer prices

The price of roach killer depends on the brand, ingredients, packaging, and product size. Choose a type of roach killer based on the roach problems you are trying to deal with. If you require a chemical-free, nontoxic application safe for use in the kitchen or around food storage, or one that is safe for applications both indoors and out in households with children and pets, expect to pay more than one formulated for non-food grade industrial or commercial applications.

Inexpensive: In the lower price range, expect to pay from $3 to $5 for an off-brand box of eight roach traps.

Mid-range: Mid-range products of the same size with a brand name cost from $7 to $11 for a box of eight bait traps. Fast-acting within 72 hours, nontoxic gel roach killer formulas cost from $5 to $7 per application.

Expensive: For consumers who prefer not to use a chemical poison, a box of eight non-toxic glue traps sells for $8 to $18.


  • Store roach killer safely out of the reach of children and pets.

  • When shopping for roach killer, look for a product that is long-lasting and deadly to multiple species of insects including water bugs, termites, palmetto bugs, silverfish, spiders, weevils, cockroaches, and other invasive insect pests.

  • Keep your family safe. Choose a roach killer that is made in the U.S. and registered with and approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This means it’s certified to be safe for use in homes with children and pets.

  • Before applying a roach killer product, carefully read and follow the package warnings and application instructions.

  • To avoid attracting roaches and rodents, it’s important to keep garbage cans clean and sanitary. After scrubbing garbage bins with biodegradable soap, rinse, allow to dry, and spray both the interior and the exterior of the garbage container with roach killer.

Other products we considered

The Greener Mindset Cockroach Traps are premium and pesticide-free, effectively trapping cockroaches with a sticky nontoxic glue trap at an excellent value. This particular product comes 12 to a pack. Terro T3206 Spider & Insect Trap are great for families with children and pets. Long-lasting, easy to use, and easy on the pocketbook, the traps are nontoxic and safe to use anywhere roaches appear.

Roaches are drawn to the bait in Vendetta Roach Gel Bait Insecticide. You can use it indoors to target hard-to-reach spots roaches frequent, such as behind the refrigerator. Finally, when you want the convenience of a liquid roach killer, Hot Shot Ultra Liquid Roach Bait works instantly to eradicate roaches.

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“Roach killer” is an all-encompassing term that describes various sprays, powders, traps, and baits you can use to eradicate roaches in your home. If you have children or pets, be extra careful when selecting a product.


Q. Can living with roaches make you sick?

A. Yes. Many common stomach complaints, including diarrhea, can be caused by exposure to cockroach droppings. Infants, the elderly, and persons with a compromised immune system are especially susceptible to roach-carried illness. Wear rubber gloves when cleaning up areas infested with roach remains. Wash your hands well after handling any roach killer product.

Q. How do I know if cockroaches have infested my home?

A. Because cockroaches are nocturnal, you may not see them. However, their smell gives them away. If your home harbors roaches, a strong, unpleasant “rotten egg” odor may prevail. You can also recognize signs of a roach infestation if you notice small brownish-black droppings or stains on kitchen counters and bathroom fixtures. If you catch a glimpse of an insect that rapidly scuttles away when you turn on the bathroom light, it is likely that you have roaches.

Q. What attracts cockroaches to move into my home?

A. Dirt and squalor are an open invitation to a roach infestation. The first step in getting rid of roaches is to clean, clean, and clean some more. Roaches are primarily attracted to food. Anything you eat, they eat. They especially love sugary substances, and they crave starch. Do not leave out pizza boxes, crumbs, or uncovered garbage for them to feast on and invite their friends over for the banquet. Store food staples such as sugar, flour, cereal, crackers, grains, and beans in air-tight containers. Become obsessive about wiping down kitchen cabinets and sweeping the floor after meal preparation and dining, as the tiniest crumb can feed a cockroach colony.

Q. Are cockroach baits or sprays safe to use around my children and pets?

A. As with any poisonous household substances, keep roach killer out of the reach of children and pets. After all, it is poisonous. Boric acid-formulated roach killers are the safest type of roach poison to use in households with children and pets. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises boric acid is safe for use around kids and animals, as they would have to ingest massive amounts of the product to be at risk. However, play it safe and carefully follow the manufacturer’s application instructions.

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