Few insects attract the sheer revulsion that cockroaches do, even though these beetlelike creepy-crawlies don't bite and are most likely to scurry out sight when spotted. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals urges compassion for these denizens of cupboard corners and wall cavities, but if you're the squeamish type, and you find roaches in your bathroom, you might prefer the problem to go away --um -- permanently. Start by removing incentives for them to be there in the first place, add reasons for them to prefer to be somewhere else, then go after the ones that can't take a hint.
What Nationality Is That Roach?
The common names of the cockroaches you're most likely to find in your house reflect the global range of these ancient insects. German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), which are about 1/2 inch in length and winged, tend to live in all parts of your house, while much larger American (Periplaneta americana) and oriental (Blatta orientalis) roaches -- which prefer dark, damp places -- are more likely to be in the basement or the bathroom. To be sure you have a roach -- and not a water bug -- infestation, look for the characteristic orange coloring on the exoskeleton; oriental cockroaches are darker than American or German ones.
Roaches come into the bathroom because they are attracted to the moisture, and they stay if they find food, too. Cleaning the bathroom, sealing gaps through which they enter and spreading nontoxic deterrents may be all you need to do to eliminate them.
- Wipe up standing water, especially under the sink and behind the toilet. Run the exhaust fan or open the window to provide ventilation and prevent condensation from forming in these places.
- Clean the floors, counters, drawers and shelves inside the vanity to remove any vestiges of anything that could provide nourishment to roaches, especially toothpaste.
- Seal the baseboards, the windowsills, gaps in the floor or walls and the bases of the cabinets with caulk.
- Spread bay leaves inside the cabinet and drawers to repel roaches. You can also use -- your cats will love this -- catnip to repel roaches.
You can buy effective roach traps at the hardware store. These are typically roach-size feeding stations containing a slow-acting poison. If you prefer, you can also use -- an insecticide chemically derived from borax or by combining boron and water. It is one of the most effective cockroach controls known, provided you use it correctly. The insects must ingest it, and when they do, they die. Scientists don't understand exactly how it works -- it probably interferes with the insects' digestion or neurology.
Make a Bait
Spread the bait around the bathroom on paper towels. Put bait stations in the corners of the vanity cupboard and behind the toilet, but keep them out of the reach of children and animals.
Check the stations periodically and replenish the bait if it gets hard or excessively wet.
Dust With Boric Acid
Dusting with boric acid is an effective way to use it, but you must do it properly. The dust layer must be thin -- too thin to see -- or the insects will simply walk around it. Create a thin layer by blowing the dust from your hand or from a bowl over an area where you have seen roaches walking. When they return, they'll walk through the powder, and later, when they preen their legs, they'll ingest it and die.