Reclaim Your Sanity: Repellants

Cockroach infestations create massive mental stress!

Eradicating cockroaches doesn't happen instantly. You can achieve dramatic results very fast, but getting all of the roaches out can take a little time. Until you know they are all gone, you wonder: are they crawling on the tables when the lights go out? Are they partying in your underwear drawer? How many are there? Where are they?

One of the toughest challenges during the eradication process is preserving your peace of mind. You need the confidence to know there is something effective you can do to protect yourself until the roaches are gone for good.

Roach repellents helped my wife and me to regain some sense of control in our home. They helped us to manage our fears while I worked through the process of eradicating our cock-roach infestation.

Roach repellents can be used strategically to direct the roaches away from places like kitchen counters and drawers and toward your traps and powders. Plus, walking into the kitchen and knowing that the roaches haven't been partying on the counters all night is a huge mental relief.

In addition, when it comes to long-term pest control, if the roaches don't like the environment of your home, they are less likely to enter and nest there in the first place. So, these solutions can help prevent future infestations.

Finding roach repellents that don't also repel all the humans you know is the ideal goal. And 4 of the 5 options on this list are pet and people friendly.

The following 5 roach repellents might just do the trick to make your home the last place a roach wants to live.


Roaches don't like red pepper. So, if you spray surfaces in your kitchen and bath with a solution containing red pepper, they will avoid those surfaces.

An easy recipe to whip up a batch of spray is to mix 2 table-spoons of Tabasco Sauce (the primary ingredients of which are red pepper and vinegar) with 1 quart of water. Pour it into a pump spray bottle and mist it onto surfaces.

A word of caution, you will be misting pepper spray into the air. Until the mist settles, you are likely to sneeze more than a few times. Consider wearing a mask when you apply the spray. (You could even squirt a little on your nachos when you run out of salsa!)

Every night, while I battled my cockroach infestation, I sprayed down my kitchen counter and the stove top with pepper spray. It helped me sleep better at night.


Roaches, like moths, dislike the smell of moth balls (who likes it, really?)

One common cockroach remedy is to drop a couple moth balls behind the stove to keep the roaches from running around back there. One or two in the cabinet under the sink can be helpful as well.

I used moth balls for a brief period of time during the initial phase of my cockroach battle. I placed a couple under the sink in the kitchen. But, they were not a good option for a small apartment and I got rid of them as quickly as I could manage.

Moth balls are not good for humans, so don't place them near food or food prep areas - but, they are perfect for crawl spaces, garages, and other out of the way spots where roaches like to hang out!

WARNING: Be careful. The gases released by moth balls are toxic and combustible. Strictly follow manufacturer's instructions when using this product.


The oils in cedar wood are an effective natural deterrent for a host of bugs - roaches included. There are many products available to take advantage of this fact. Look for thin cedar veneers that can be used to line drawers and cabinets, cedar balls, blocks, chips, etc. to place in drawers and closets, and (of course) cedar boards and paneling to line closet walls for the ultimate protection.


Mint oil is a primary ingredient in several non-toxic roach sprays. Researchers at Auburn University found that it was effective at both repelling and killing cockroaches. The roaches avoid it, and when coated with it, they suffocate. The sprays don't kill as fast as typical poisons, but they are safe to use in the kitchen and around pets and children.

The after-smell from using a commercial mint oil spray is intense. It can be a little overwhelming. But, you can at least have confidence that it is not harmful to people like a poison-based spray.

It is possible to create a spray, like the pepper spray, by diluting some Dr. Bronner's Peppermint Castile Soap in water and then applying with a spray bottle. I haven't tried it, but you might be able to create your own roach spray this way if the soap concentration is high enough.

The Auburn research found that 3 percent mint oil was the minimum concentration level required to be effective.


Bay leaves are another scent that roaches avoid. You can pick up a bunch of dry bay leaves in the spice section of any grocery. Place whole leaves or small sachets of crushed leaves in closets and cabinets. This is a good option for kitchen cupboards and drawers - or for making sure the creepy crawly critters stay out of your socks and undies.

One word of caution. Dry bay leaves are similar in size and shape to a large cockroach. Try breaking them into smaller pieces or placing crushed leaves inside sachet bags to avoid causing heart palpitations every time someone in the house opens a cupboard and sees one. My wife insisted that I include this warning (she had more than a few bay leaf inspired scares.)