Cockroaches have roamed the Earth for more than 300 million years and have easily adapted to living with humans, but that doesn't mean you have to accept their presence in your home. German roaches are one of the most common indoor roach species throughout the United States, often hitching rides into even the cleanest of homes on paper bags and cardboard boxes. Once inside, these prolific breeders can quickly cause infestations. Fortunately, you can get rid of German roaches using a multitactic approach.

Woman Wearing Apron Cleaning Kitchen counter
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Clean kitchen surfaces and appliances with soapy water.

About German Cockroaches

German roaches (Blattella germanica) are nocturnal creatures that forage at night and spend their days hiding in warm, humid areas close to water and food sources. They thrive in kitchens and bathrooms but will move into other rooms if populations boom. The pests cluster together when they find favorable hiding spots, such as behind and beneath sinks and kitchen appliances as well as in cabinets and tiny wall voids.

Although just 1/2- to 5/8-inch long, these small pests can cause big problems. German roach populations increase very quickly due to high reproductive rates, with each female generating more than 30,000 offspring each year. In addition, German roaches can carry disease pathogens, including those that cause staph infections, pneumonia, hepatitis, salmonella and E. coli. They can also transfer tiny parasites, such as pinworms, tapeworms and hookwoorms. Roach feces and shed skins also contain allergens that can trigger asthma, nasal congestion, watery eyes and skin rashes in sensitive people.

Roach Baits

Baits are the most effective way to get rid of German roaches, but it might take three or four weeks before you notice results. Look for products containing boric acid, fipronil, abamectin or hydramethylnon for the best results. Those slow-acting ingredients allow the poisoned pests to crawl back to their living areas before dying. Other roaches will die after eating the dead bug or its poisoned feces.

To get rid of the German roaches, use at least 12 small, prefilled bait stations, placing two in each bathroom and 10 around your kitchen. Place bait stations flush into corners and up against walls so the pests encounter the bait while out foraging. Avoid placing stations where curious kiddos and pets can find them, however. Check bait stations once a month until roach populations decline, and then check them four times a year.

Roach Sprays

Insecticide sprays and bug bombs are ineffective long-term German roach controls because those applications have very little residual effect. In fact, those products can cause roaches to scatter throughout your home, making control more difficult while exposing family members to potentially harmful chemicals. With German roach infestations, however, using a liquid insecticide containing pyriproxyfen or hydroprene can give you a jump start on pest control by wiping out exposed roaches. Look for a ready-to-use aerosol spray and apply according to label instructions. Spray around plumbing pipes and drains, kitchen and bathroom sinks, kitchen appliances, toilets and baseboards. Avoid spraying counters or other food prep surfaces. Keep people and pets away from treated surfaces for at least four hours. Some sprays damage tile or carpets, so read the product's label before use.

Boric Acid Dust

One low-toxic approach involves applying a thin film of boric acid dust beneath kitchen appliances, around plumbing pipes and in little wall cracks and voids. Boric acid insecticides come in squeeze-type bottles with thin tips for easy application. The dust clings to roach bodies as they crawl through treated areas, and then the pests consume some of the stomach poison when grooming. Although it can take at least seven days to reduce roach populations, boric acid dust can give you long-lasting control as long as it remains dry. Don't use boric acid where kids and pets will find it or in areas where you store utensils or food. Wearing a face mask can help you avoid inhaling the dust as you apply it. Reapply dust as needed.

Removing Food and Moisture

No matter what kind of chemical control you decide to use, you must also reduce food and water sources in your home or the roaches will rebound. Roaches don't need a lot of food to survive, so keep cupboards, countertops and all kitchen appliances clean and crumb-free. Promptly clean up spilled food and wash dishes immediately after use. Vacuum floors daily, paying close attention to areas where people eat, including around kitchen islands and dining room tables. Not only will this pick up food orts, but it can also suck up roaches along with their shed skins, droppings and eggs. Empty vacuum contents in an outdoor trashcan. Eliminate moisture by fixing all plumbing leaks. Don't leave water in sinks, and pick up pet water and food dishes at night. Fix old grout around your shower and tub, and seal gaps behind sinks and around countertops.