German Cockroach Management and Elimination/ Extermination

Here is information on how to get rid of your cockroach problem without using potentially dangerous pesticides. Pesticides can be dangerous for you as the end user, but also dangerous during production  (anybody remember Bhopal?) and shipping and after applications, pesticides often end up in rivers (we drink that!) and air. (We breathe up to
20 000 liters of air a day.)
So trying to avoid chemical pesticides whenever possible makes a lot of sense, it’s the smart thing to do.

Please be advised that this is my best advice on eradicating your cockroach problem. The information is offered free of charge, we do accept donations. Please understand that there is a charge for individual consultations.

Roaches are hard to live with (you know that!) and can possibly create health problems as they can carry disease like salmonella and travel from some disgusting place like the sewer to your food or toothbrush.
Therefore one should control roach populations and clean up their feces.
If you live in a multiple dwelling unit like an apartment complex our non-toxic approach is good for you, because you are looking for long-term strategies that are safe and effective.

We offer a unique combination approach to successful roach management and possible elimination. Getting permanently rid of roaches depends on various factors, e.g. if you live in a single dwelling unit or apartment building, level of cleanliness in the building, cooperation of neighbours if in a multi dwelling unit,...

Your options if you have roaches:
1.    Do nothing. Let roaches take over. Not recommended, because most of us find roaches disgusting and roach excrements can transmit disease and may make people more prone to asthma.
2.    Use pesticides yourself or hire exterminator. Not recommended, because repeated pesticide exposure is dangerous to your health and even more so to children, babies and pets. If using exterminators, you often get stuck with having to repeat the process of pesticide application and spending money on a regular basis for this service. Roaches become resistant within less than 10 years to specific pesticides.
“The use of insecticides indoors is a questionable practice. The insecticide is only a temporary measure, and if the conditions leading to an infestation are not altered, the insects will likely return.” Cornell University
3.    Use non-toxic methods to control and/or eliminate roaches. Recommended, because you will see results without jeopardizing your family’s health. We teach you here how to effectively control/exterminate cockroach populations and how to keep them out of your place even in high-density apartment buildings where roaches often thrive.

Thank you for choosing non-toxic pest control/extermination.

Why non-toxic:
Pesticide use on cockroaches will often bring quick relief for some time, but as not all of them are poisoned and some roaches survive behind the walls, you will need to spray pesticides in frequent intervals. Besides from costing money, this also exposes residents to constant pesticide exposure, which is not a healthy thing.
When we treat a building for roaches, we do it two-fold; we limit their food supply and then use bait. If you just do one, you will control them, but not get rid of them.
You will want to focus on areas where they are seen the most, usually kitchen, pantry and bathroom.

Step one in cockroach control:
Limit their food supply

Roaches live on anything, from the grease behind and under the stove and in the stove exhaust fan to the little crumbs around the toaster, to the dirt under the fridge and on the walls. Removable top stove elements usually supply ample food as well. Roaches also like pet food and cardboard. Clean these areas well so there is less food for the roaches. The cleaning also gets rid of roach droppings, saliva and roach vomit. I have worked in units where the cleaning was not done very well and still got rid of the roaches, but for health reasons (allergies and asthma), the clean up should be thorough, if at all possible.

        Pet food; put a thin layer of food grade Diatomaceous Earth around the bottom of the bowl or bag. Or put bowl inside a dish of water with a tiny bit of soap inside the water so roaches can’t use it for food. Or just put the food out a few times a day.
        Foodstuff should be put in containers with tight fitting lids. You can also store food in the fridge, if there is space. Your cleaning water should contain some baking soda. If your cleaning wasn’t perfect, the residue of the baking soda will still prevent the roaches from feeding or kill them slowly if they do feed on the dirt. Especially in apartments and homes that are not in tip-top shape this is good to do, as you do not have to aim for perfection. Hard to keep clean areas like around the stove and stove exhaust fan, the wall behind the stove where fat tends to splatter are great places to wash with the baking soda and water solution. One part baking soda, ten parts water and a squirt of soap works well. You can add a small amount of borax if you like.
Then in all out of way areas like behind fridge and stove, on top of upper cabinets (there often is a thin layer of grease), under cabinets, behind cabinets, under sink, put a thin layer of food-grade Diatomaceous earth. Wear a dust mask when applying it. This will stay effective as long as it stays dry! This is your deterrent, so even if the clean up wasn’t perfect, this will prevent them from feeding. Food-grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE) is non-toxic to mammals and used for parasite control in domestic animals; however, you want to avoid breathing it in large amounts. Think of it as tiny, little needles, you would not want to breathe these for a prolonged period. Never use swimming pool DE, as it is heated up, changes its structure and therefore can damage your lungs when you breathe it! (Also, for your health, check that there is no exposed fiberglass insulation in your home, often in the basement ceiling rafters the fiberglass is just stuffed in and not sealed off with 6 mil plastic and acoustic sealant caulking the way it should be.) If there are ceiling tiles, put some on top of these too, but only if there is no strong air movement. If there is strong air movement (some commercial buildings), do not put DE, as it will get blown around too much, besides there wont be many roaches as cockroaches do not like air movement. Lightly coat a thin layer of Diatomaceous Earth in the area where these pests are found or may hide such as cracks and crevices, behind and beneath refrigerators, cabinets, stoves, garbage cans, and in and around sewer pipes and drains, window frames and in attics and basements.
 Now, lightly does not mean a big pile, okay? Don’t laugh, it happens.
If you put a thick coat of the foodgrade DE the cockroaches will try to avoid it and while that is helpful in keeping them away from areas, it is better to put a very thin coat of DE in places as then the cockroaches will run through the DE and get it on themselves and only then has the DE a chance to kill the roaches.

In areas where the DE is unsightly or were there is a lot of traffic, you will instead want to wash with warm/hot water and borax and/or baking soda.  This is also good for vertical surfaces where the DE won’t stick. This will prevent the roaches form feeding on the dirt and grease underneath. Or, if they feed on it, the borax and baking soda will slowly kill them off. Esp. around the stove and stove hood where grease tends to accumulate, this is important.

This will give control for cockroaches. Now, if you want to get rid of them faster, you need to get rid of the ones behind the walls that are traveling along electrical wires and plumbing pipes. The only way to reach these is with bait. If you do not use the bait, then you will likely only control them, as they can live behind the walls for a long time.

Step two: use bait

Bait: You can use a nontoxic bait and put this where the roaches are hiding. Where do they like to hide? In dark corners, behind and underneath the kick plate, behind electrical outlets, esp. if a transformer is plugged in (like your phone), as it makes it a warm and cozy place for the roaches. They love places around plumbing pipes as it supplies them with needed moisture. (Even if there are no leaks, there is likely some condensation from the temperature difference. If there are leaks, fix them! Even small leaks can create mold and that is not good for anyone’s health! See mold page on our website.)
If you see areas with small, brown, oval specks, these are the excrements from the roaches and this is where you can place bait.

Choices in bait:

If you decide to make your own bait, you can mix 5% boric acid with foodstuff like sugar and lard or sweetened peanut butter. This can be stuffed in cracks, in holes for water pipes, behind cabinets, under toilets, wherever there is space. Follow up with caulking to prevent any pet or child from reaching the bait.  While this bait is least toxic, it is not non-toxic. So repeat: Any boric acid bait should be stuffed in cracks or you can drill holes into the kick plates and put in bait and then caulk shut. This is safe. Unscrew electrical outlet cover plates and put bait between drywall and electrical box. Be careful you do not get a shock. First turning off electrical breakers recommended. The roaches will eat the bait and die; the roach nymphs behind the walls will feed on the excrement and dead roaches and ingest the bait this way as well. For caulking a latex based product is good, there are clear latex caulks now that blend right in. When you apply them they are white but soon they turn translucent.
Another bait can be made with 5% food grade DE and sugar and fat, (like lard). This bait is safe for human consumption, so you do not have to be as careful as with the boric acid bait. It can be put anywhere and is safe for pets and children except for the sugar. So make them brush their teeth afterwards. (Just kidding.)
You can also omit the lard and just mix the food grade DE with sugar as a bait. Make sure the food grade DE you buy has no additives in it. Sometimes when DE is sold for pest control it has dangerous additives and then it is not non-toxic anymore.

Drains: Do not forget the drains. Put very hot water down.  They can hide out in the overflow drain part; so getting very hot water there is helpful. This will flush them out, but has no residual value, so you have to repeat this, maybe twice a week. You could also use a bit of borax to clean the overflow pipe if needed. You find borax in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores. If you use borax and hot water, you do not need to repeat often.

Stove: Often the roaches live inside the stove and there is always some food for them there. It’s best to heat up the oven and elements so the roaches don’t have a comfortable hiding place. Once a week is good until your problem is solved.

Electrical appliances, like fridges, small kitchen appliances and phones tend to harbor roaches. You can put a non-toxic bait behind these (a DE based bait). If cockroaches live in your toaster, clock, or boxes, you can kill them with cold air. Put the item in a plastic bag, close up the bag, and put the bag in a freezer. In winter, you can put the bag outside. Leave the bag in the cold for 5 days. After that, clean the item well.

You will see an immediate drop in roach activity, but it often takes a few weeks for the bait to work, so do not start clean up too early.

If moisture levels are high in your living space, you may need to reapply the food grade DE after a few month (if there is still a problem), as it tends to cake together in high moisture environments. When the DE cakes together it is not effective anymore, it needs to be dried again. You may also have a mold problem that needs to be dealt with, because mold is a health risk.
If you are in an apartment and the surrounding apartments have roach problems, you may also want to use caulking around water pipes and electrical fixtures. Do not rely on this only so; maybe see if your neighbors are interested in doing non-toxic pest control as well. Cockroaches often travel along water pipes and electrical wires so you need to include your upstairs and downstairs neighbors into this also.

Where to buy:
You often can buy food grade DE in garden centers, building supply stores and feed stores. Feed stores carry the large 50-pound bags that are used for parasite control in livestock. You will not need this much for a residential home, one or two pounds will be enough. Read labels carefully to make sure no nasty additives are in it.
 Remember that DE stays effective as long as it is dry and once you have baited in inaccessible places and the bait has done its job, you can clean up the DE again. You could totally avoid using food grade DE if your place was very clean, no grease anywhere and you did a lot of caulking, but that is very hard to do. Roaches can live on very little food and there is always enough for them in a kitchen. You want the roaches not to feed on other food, only on the bait. This way you can exterminate, rather then having to constantly control them. You are looking for extermination, not ongoing control effort.
So, keep the pet food, the beer bottles, and the recycling materials away from roaches (DE barrier).

How to make your own duster (for food grade DE):
Easy, just take an empty plastic soft drink bottle and poke a little hole in the cap (with sharp scissors), fill the bottle with DE, screw the cap on. Voila, there is your free duster bulb. If the bottle is held horizontal and only squeezed a little, a very fine dust will come out, that’s perfect when you only want a fine dusting. Use a face mask while applying the foodgrade DE,  until after the DE dust has settled.

Make your own:
Grease the rim and top 2 cm of a container (round margarine containers work well), with bacon fat or butter / margarine. Place a banana peel and/or bacon scraps inside and leave overnight in an infested area. Cockroaches will crawl in but can’t get out because of the grease.
You can use glue traps to get an idea about the density of your roach infestation. Personally I do not like glue traps, I think it is a pretty horrible death, even for a roach.
You can make your own trap by using tall, squeaky, clean jars, taping them on the outside with masking tape and putting some bread or banana chips or banana peel inside. Some roaches will get caught inside. This is good to do if you are looking for a compassionate way of dealing with the roaches and do not want to kill roaches. That alone is not enough so to deal with your roach problem.

Clean up:

Wait with the clean up for 5 month after the last roach was seen, because egg development can take that long, or clean up earlier and be prepared to do it again some four month later.
After a few months, when all roach activity has subsided for some time, you can clean up the food grade DE from behind fridges, stoves, garbage areas, cupboards and other places if you want. We recommend using water with a little soap. Vacuuming or sweeping tends to create more dust and then a mask should be worn to prevent breathing it in. You will need to change the wash water frequently so the DE gets all washed away, otherwise you still see some. Food grade DE is non-toxic, non-staining and odorless.
Above clean up applies for a single dwelling unit. If you live in an apartment building or townhouse where you may get roaches from other units coming over, leave everything in place and also go heavy on the caulking to seal them out.

Other considerations:

Additionally, you can use some Citra solve or peppermint oil in the wash water, it will also energize you and make you feel better!

And lastly, you can prevent future roach infestations by properly grading the earth around your home. Okay, just joking. Roaches do not like to run uphill, so if the earth around your building slopes away from it, they will never enter. Okay, still joking. But seriously, proper grading around your foundation can save you countless troubles, like mold, carpenter ants, sow bugs and centipedes, so I do include it on this page, to save you future headaches, in case this area needs attention. One inch of slope per foot away from the building for a length of 10 feet is minimum. Also, fix any water problems in the house, like leaking drains. Concrobium or Teflex are good products if you have water damage/mold problems. Borax is also great, but tends to clog up spray bottles.

And truly lastly you may want to think about how you got infested. Did they come in with groceries, furniture, a new tenant, from the exterior? If you can figure out how you got them, you may be able to prevent future infestations.

Good luck. We value your feedback, opinions and testimonials.

Thank you for supporting eco-friendly pest control.