What odors repel cockroaches?

Written by gryphon adams
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What odors repel cockroaches?
Making your home repellent to cockroaches discourages them from staying. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Cockroaches thrive in warm environments with access to water. In addition to sealing gaps that allow them into the house and reducing the cockroaches' access to food, methods to deter roaches include using odours to repel them. This method allows you to control roaches in your kitchen and other areas of the home without the use of poisons. Perhaps the weirdest odour for repelling cockroaches comes from dead cockroaches.


Cockroaches may enter your home in cardboard boxes, dry pet food and second-hand items. They also crawl in along pipes and electrical lines. Sealing gaps around the pipes, electrical lines and cables with cement or screening helps to keep them out. It's also helpful to caulk cracks along baseboards, in cupboards and around plumbing fixtures. Cockroaches contaminate food with their saliva and faeces, so anything they contaminate needs to be discarded. Roaches can carry disease, including hepatitis, plague, salmonella and typhus, according to Dr. Robert Stauffer at the University of Nevada Extension.

Citrus and Essential Oils

Hedge apple, also called osage orange, cut in half and positioned in basements, cupboards and under the house help to repel roaches. Eucalyptus oil, or eucalyptus or peppermint Castile soap mixed with water and applied with a spray will repel roaches, as will garlic oil or rosemary oil. With each of these methods, reapplying the odour regularly will help keep the repellent effect active.


Crushed bay leaves contain volatile oils that repel roaches.Catnip repels cockroaches and comes in packets or attractive small plants. Stewed cucumber peel and okra -- either raw or stewed -- produce odours to repel roaches. Placing these foods on saucers in cabinets will avoid making a mess. Sprinkling cayenne pepper along doorways, window sills and in cabinets can help to repel roaches. Avoid cayenne pepper if there are pets in the household; the pepper irritates mucous membranes and can irritate an animal's nose and eyes.

Dead Cockroaches

Researchers at the University of Canada identified a universal death stench that repels roaches and other insects, the Wired Science website reports. Grinding up dead cockroaches and spreading the remains repelled roaches. The researchers theorise that the impulse to avoid the smell of death reduces the risk of contagion and gives insects a survival advantage. Although the smell from dead roaches warns away cockroaches and insects, it isn't unpleasant to humans, the scientists assert.

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