Home » Cockroaches » Is Cockroach Spray Harmful to Humans?

Is Cockroach Spray Harmful to Humans?

Cockroach spray, and many kinds of insecticides, are everyday household items used to kill pests inside your home.

But if pesticides are meant to kill pests, can they also harm humans?

While you can safely use cockroach spray, the ingredients in various sprays can cause health problems in humans. Direct contact or inhalation of cockroach spray can be dangerous and harmful; however, proper use of spray is generally considered safe. 

Harmful Effects Of Cockroach Spray

A hand spraying a cockroach spray in a room.

The ingredients that go into pesticide sprays and poisons can be toxic to humans, plants, and pets inside your home. 

Using any kind of aerosol pesticide is not recommended, as it puts the spray’s active ingredient directly into the air. In addition, using aerosol pesticides lets the chemicals spread out more efficiently and makes it more likely that you will inhale the poison. 

Different roach sprays contain different ingredients, but some chemicals are more commonly found in pesticides. The most common of these is pyrethrins and pyrethroids. 

Pyrethrins are chemicals derived from chrysanthemum flowers and aren’t harmful if you get them on your skin (as long as you clean the area thoroughly). Pyrethroids are synthetic (artificial) versions of pyrethrins.

Inhaling pyrethrins or getting them in your eyes can cause life-threatening breathing problems. They can also accumulate in fatty tissue, becoming toxic to the central nervous system in humans, causing asthmatic issues and severe nausea, itching, and burning. 

After using a roach spray, minor symptoms may include difficulty breathing, headache, nausea, itchy feeling on your skin, or irritated eyes. 

Some people are more sensitive to the ingredients of roach spray than others. Therefore, always follow the directions for using these products and seek professional healthcare in case of an allergic reaction. 

How Roach Spray Can Get Into Your Body

Cockroaches spend most of their time in a few specific areas, which unfortunately also include areas that humans spend time in. 

The kitchen is one of the biggest roach hotspots because there is plenty of food for them there. 

Using roach spray in a kitchen can be dangerous, if not deadly. Spraying the aerosol in the kitchen means the pesticide will get onto your counters and any food laid out. 

Eating off the countertops or plates after spraying a pesticide will make you ingest the pesticide. 

It’s also important to remember that any time you use an aerosol poison, that poison mixes and spreads throughout the air in your room or home. 

When using roach spray, it’s best to spray the poison and leave the building until the pesticide has settled out of the air. 

More likely than not, you’ll be breathing in the active ingredients of the poison if you spend any time in that room for quite some time. Therefore, bug bombs and roach sprays are generally not recommended, and most professionals suggest poison baits and traps instead. 

If you use a roach spray, remember to thoroughly clean the surfaces in your kitchen and any other areas you used the spray. 

Why Are Roach Sprays Considered Safe For Humans?

Roach sprays tend to poison and stop roaches’ nervous systems from functioning.

However, because cockroaches are much smaller than humans, it takes much less to block or poison their nervous system, and the spray concentration doesn’t need to be as high. 

However, if a person ingests enough roach poison,  it can lead to life-threatening health issues. Continual exposure to the active ingredients of roach sprays would allow enough of the active ingredients to build up in the human body and eventually kill them. 

So, roach sprays are considered safe because it would take quite a lot of exposure and intake of pyrethrins to kill a person.

While these chemicals can cause asthmatic symptoms and breathing issues when inhaled, properly using the spray minimizes exposure, making it safe for most people. 

Body size, age, and known health problems also contribute to how your body will react to pesticide exposure. 

The larger the person, the more poison it takes to become neurotoxic. The younger and healthier you are, the easier it will be for your body to break down the active ingredients. 

Why Do People Use Pesticides If They’re Dangerous?

With plenty of drawbacks and possible health concerns surrounding pesticides, why would anyone use them in their home?

The short answer is because they work. Despite the risks, pesticides are incredibly effective at eliminating pest issues. In some cases where an infestation is out of control, they also may be the only solution. 

Pesticides also work quickly. Most people want roaches (and other bugs) out of their homes as soon as possible. 

Baits and traps are effective but take time to work. For example, if you only used glue traps, it could take weeks before you notice a difference in the number of roaches in your home. 

Living with roaches is simply not something many people are willing to be patient about, so they opt for pesticides despite the possible health risks. 

Alternatives To Cockroach Sprays

A person's hand spraying on a cockroach with a white background.

Since aerosol sprays can leave poison in your home’s air for a while, it’s usually recommended to use some other form of pest control. 

Glue traps in high-traffic areas do an excellent job removing roaches from the house. They walk across the trap and get stuck, and you can dispose of the cockroaches at your leisure. 

On their own, however, it’s not likely that glue traps will get rid of a roach infestation. Poison baits are much better at getting rid of roaches and should be used in combination with glue traps. 

Boric acid and baking soda are both effective at killing roaches. Mix these two everyday household items with sugar and water before placing the mixture in a place roaches can reach. After eating the combination, the roaches will eventually die. 

You can also use essential oils to repel roaches. For example, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender are all effective roach repellents. These oils can be diluted and sprayed around the home, repelling cockroaches and freshening up the house without posing a danger to you or your family. 

While it won’t get rid of a major infestation, the best protection against roaches from your home is to make it as uninviting as possible.

Seal up all possible points of entry for roaches, from gaps around doors to cracks in the wall and drain pipes. Always store food in sealed containers. Glass and thick plastic work best, especially in airtight containers. 

Make sure to fix and eliminate any standing water in your home. Leaky pipes, cracks in the foundation or basement walls, or standing water in drains are all roach hotspots. 

Finally, always ensure your home is as clean as possible. For example, cleaning up food crumbs, keeping dog food from lying around, and removing clutter roaches could use as a hiding place. Following these steps will make it much less likely for roaches to take up residence inside your home. 

If you aren’t having success with home remedies, call an exterminator immediately. They will be able to estimate the size of your infestation and take steps to eliminate it. 


Cockroach spray can cause human health issues, including asthmatic symptoms and eventual nervous system poisoning. Despite the risks, roach spray is generally considered safe if properly handled and deployed. 

If you’re concerned about the health risks of cockroach spray, try glue traps, poisoned bait, or essential oils instead, and call a professional exterminator to eliminate a cockroach infestation.