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How To Remove Cockroaches Without Killing Them?

Cockroaches are extremely resilient insects that can survive extreme conditions. 

If you have an infestation, it’s very difficult to eliminate them without using pesticides. 

However, if you’re reluctant to bring toxins into your home, there are things you can do to remove cockroaches without killing them.

To remove cockroaches from your home, keep your house clean and decluttered, especially the kitchen. Next, seal all the cracks, holes, and openings where cockroaches can enter (including the spaces under your doors). The final step is to use non-lethal bait traps and essential oils like citronella or eucalyptus oil to repel them and keep them away for good. 

5 Ways To Remove Cockroaches Without Killing Them

A close-up shot of a cockroach.

Cockroaches are attracted to dark corners and food and water sources. If you cut off their food and water sources and nesting areas, they have less of a reason to stay in your house.

Clean Everything Thoroughly​​

The first step when you notice cockroaches in your home is deep cleaning everything, particularly your kitchen and bathroom. Removing grease, baked-on food, crumbs, and other food/water sources will help make your house less attractive to cockroaches.

Clean in and around your cupboards and appliances, including refrigerators, stoves, and freezers (and the walls around them). 

When cleaning your appliances, carefully wash the outer parts with water only. You can use a vacuum for the dusty areas around the motors.  

Scrub your bathroom from top to bottom with bleach or other cleaning products, and keep it as dry as possible. 

Fix any leaky faucets and avoid letting water pool. Seal the area around light fixtures and pipes (especially around your dishwasher, washing machine, and under your sinks) to ensure there’s no way for cockroaches to get in. 

I also recommend keeping your drains covered with screens or plugs.

Keep Your House Clean 

While a good deep cleaning may help deter cockroaches, they’re very crafty, and starving them isn’t enough. You will have to maintain a high level of cleanliness to keep these critters away. 

Don’t leave dirty dishes in your sink, sweep (and mop) the floors as often as possible, and wipe down your counters and kitchen appliances regularly. 

Take out the trash daily and keep your food in tightly sealed containers.  

Look After the Area Outside Your Home

Cockroaches aren’t picky about where they live, so they’ll happily live outside if they can’t make a home inside.

To keep them out of your yard, move your outside trash and recycling bins away from your house. 

Remove stacks of firewood in your backyard, thin out vegetation near your home, and keep your pipes, windows, and doorways well-sealed.

Also, make sure to put a few inches of gravel in your water-meter box as doing so reduces moisture and cuts off the cockroaches’ water supply.

Get Rid of Hiding Spots

The final step to removing cockroaches from your home is to get rid of their hiding spots.

Cockroaches love living in big messes and hard-to-reach areas, so clear out piles of junk and anything that clutters up areas of your home and makes it hard to keep clean.

You must also remove stacks of newspapers, cardboard boxes, magazines, and brown paper bags. They like to lay eggs in the glue that seals these types of things, so get rid of anything that might look cozy to a cockroach.

If you do need to keep things like this, seal them in plastic bins so the roaches can’t access them.

Create a Vaseline Jar Trap

If you want to capture cockroaches and release them humanely, I’d advise you to create a Vaseline jar trap.

To create a trap, you’ll need a glass jar. 

Tape the outer part of the jar with a newspaper and smear the inner lip of the jar with Vaseline. 

Place food inside the jar and put it somewhere away from your kitchen counters.

After a while, you’ll find cockroaches stuck inside the jar because of the slimy, sticky Vaseline.

You can then release the cockroaches wherever you want.

How to Repel Cockroaches?

Once you’ve cleaned your house and made it inhospitable to cockroaches, there are a few things you can do to keep them away for good.

Use Citronella

Like most insects, cockroaches avoid citronella products because they find the smell truly disgusting. The best part about citronella is that it works against other insects (like pesky mosquitoes) and is non-toxic for kids and pets.

To use citronella effectively, I suggest buying cleaning products geared specifically to repelling insects or adding citronella oil to a soap and water mix. 

When you clean your floors, cupboards, and counters, adding citronella oil brings a fresh scent to your home and deters cockroaches from the area. 

You can also add 15-20 drops of citronella oil to a spray bottle full of water and spray it around doorways, windows, and other areas where you’ve previously seen roaches. 

Unfortunately, you can’t just use citronella once to solve your problem. You’ll have to use it regularly to keep your home cockroach-free.

Use Essential Oils

Some essential oils, including eucalyptus oil, peppermint oil, and catnip oil, keep cockroaches away. These essential oils are affordable, effective, and non-toxic for kids and pets.

The best combination is eucalyptus oil and peppermint oil, as both are lethal to cockroaches, and they avoid any areas containing these scents.

Add 15-20 drops of each to a spray bottle with water and a little white vinegar.

Spray the mixture around your home at least once per week, focusing on doorways, windows, and anywhere you’ve previously seen cockroaches. The best frequency is every 3-5 days.

Like citronella, you’ll have to continue to use the mixture to keep the roaches away for good.


The truth is, it’s really difficult to get rid of cockroaches without using pesticides. And, even if you do kill them, you won’t necessarily deter others from invading your home.

To prevent cockroaches from infiltrating your house, keep your home as clean and dry as possible. 

Discourage cockroaches from nesting by decluttering your home inside and out. 

Lastly, use products (either ready-made or DIY) that contain citronella or other cockroach-repelling essential oils to make your space as undesirable as possible.