Does Bleach Kill Cockroaches?

Dealing with a household cockroach infestation is no easy task. If you’ve been looking for a solution to this problem, chances are someone you know has suggested bleach. But does bleach kill cockroaches or is this just a myth? And if it does, how do you use it to make sure it’s as effective as can be? After all, bleach is quite toxic, and using it wrong could result in serious consequences to your health. 

What Is Bleach?

Bleach is a highly potent chemical used for removing stains (i.e. bleaching). It is a common household staple and can usually be found in liquid form. Most people use bleach to get rid of stains on their clothes and furniture, but this chemical also has strong disinfecting properties. Some other common uses of bleach include:

  • Helping flowers last longer. Adding a little bit of bleach to the water in the vase will prolong the life of fresh-cut flowers and keep the vase clean. Bonus tip: this also works for Christmas trees!
  • Cleaning tile grout. Nobody likes thick, black lines of dirt and grime between their tiles. Luckily, a little bit of bleach will get rid of that issue.
  • Mold removal. Bleach can also remove mold build-up in the corners of your kitchen and bathroom. This will also lower the chances of pest infestation.
  • Cleaning toys. Plastic toys such as Legos can find their way to the dirtiest, dustiest corners of our homes. Ensure your kids are playing with clean toys by disinfecting them with bleach (make sure to rinse them off thoroughly to avoid poisoning!).
  • Killing weeds. If you have a garden, you know all too well how persistent unwanted weeds can be. A quick and fool-proof solution is to kill them with bleach. This also works for moss and algae on your outside walls.

Where Can I Buy Bleach?

If you’ve ever been to a grocery store (which, we’re assuming, you have), chances are you’ve seen bottles of Clorox lined up in the laundry aisle. There are, of course, many other brands of liquid bleach, but Clorox is the most common one, and it can be found in any larger grocery store, supermarket, or home improvement store.

Can Bleach Kill Cockroaches?

We’ve established that bleach is great for whitening and disinfecting things. But how effective is it in killing pests? In general, bleach can kill cockroaches if they ingest it or drown in it. However, making either of those things happen can be quite difficult. 

Bleach is not a viable long-term solution to cockroach infestations. However, if you can’t get your hands on any pesticides, you can still use bleach to keep the problem under control short term.

How to Use Bleach to Kill Cockroaches

Although bleach will 100% kill a cockroach if ingested, making a bug actually eat the chemical is basically impossible. Sure, you can pour some bleach over pieces of food that you’ll leave around your home, but the chemical’s strong smell will alert the pest that something is off. 

A much better (but still short-term) option is to dilute bleach with water, pour the mixture in a spray bottle, and spray it around the areas where you suspect cockroaches might be hiding. Bleach won’t kill the bugs on contact this way. However, the strong smell acts as a repellant and might convince the roaches to stay hidden rather than venture out of their hiding spot.

There are a few things to keep in mind if you decide to do this. First, never let the mixture sit in the spray bottle for more than a couple of days – it might damage the bottle and even leak out. Secondly, spraying bleach in your home can damage your floors, walls, and furniture. Thirdly, the strong smell can be quite unpleasant, especially for dogs and cats, whose sense of smell is much sharper than ours. And lastly, bleach is extremely toxic. While you know that, your pets and children don’t. Using bleach in your home always comes with the risk of a pet or a child accidentally getting poisoned. If you decide to use bleach after all, keep a close eye on them.

Luckily, there are many alternatives, both more effective and safer for you and your family, that you can use to kill the cockroaches in your home. Here’s what they are.

Bleach Alternatives for Killing Cockroaches

Figuring out how to kill cockroaches in your home might be difficult, but it’s not impossible. There are many effective methods, including home remedies and store-bought solutions, that you can opt for to deal with this issue.

Natural Ways to Kill Cockroaches

There are many things you most probably have in your home that can be used to effectively kill cockroaches. These include:

  • Borax. Borax is effective in killing cockroaches when ingested, and it doesn’t have the repelling smell that bleach does. Simply sprinkle some powdered borax on a piece of food or mix it with sugar, and set up these traps around your home. 
  • Boric acid. Boric acid is also effective in killing cockroaches, and it works similarly to borax. Sprinkle it around or on pieces of food and wait for the trap to work its magic. Keep in mind, however, that neither borax nor boric acid work immediately – the cockroach will have enough time to return to its hiding spot and likely die there.
  • Baking soda. When a cockroach ingests baking soda, it causes gases to accumulate in the bug’s stomach. This eventually makes the roach explode. Just like the previous two methods, this one takes some time to work, too.
  • Diatomaceous earth. DE is a substance that has dehydrating effects. When pests come in contact with it, it absorbs the waxy layer off their exoskeletons, which causes a slow death to the bug.
  • Essential oils. Essential oils won’t kill cockroaches. However, certain scents, such as citrus and peppermint, act as repellants. This, however, is not a permanent solution.

Store-Bought Cockroach Traps and Baits

Sometimes, home remedies simply won’t be enough to exterminate a colony of cockroaches in your home. If that happens, you may need to resort to store-bought solutions. Some of your options will include:

  • Traps. Cockroach traps usually use scents to attract the roaches and a sticky substance to prevent them from going back to their dens. If you go for this option, make sure to check and replace the traps regularly.
  • Bait. Store-bought cockroach bait works similarly to borax-based homemade bait. Usually, some form of pesticide is hidden within an organic substance that a cockroach is likely to eat. Once it dies, other cockroaches will eat its body, get poisoned themselves, and die as well.
  • Spray. Pesticide sprays such as Raid kill roaches when sprayed directly on them. Some higher-quality products also remain effective on surfaces for an extended period of time – usually a couple of weeks. However, much like bleach, pesticides are highly toxic and could negatively affect your health, as well as the health of your kids and pets.
  • Cockroach bombs. Roach bombs are known as a very effective tool for fighting pest infestations. But that might be an undeserved reputation. They work by spraying strong toxic chemicals into the air, which then slowly fall to the ground and kill any roaches and other bugs on contact. However, besides not being as effective as people seem to think they are, bug bombs are also very inconvenient, as they require you to vacate your home for a while. What’s more, they are extremely toxic, not just to bugs, but to humans and other mammals, too, so they could endanger the health of all household members.

Should I Call Cockroach Exterminators?

When nothing seems to be doing a great job at killing cockroaches – not bleach, not natural or store-bought solutions – there is still one option to go for. And it’s probably the best one. Calling professional exterminators will rid you of all your pest troubles. Even if you’re not sure whether the bug you’re dealing with is a cockroach – professionals will be able to tell and use appropriate methods.

Sure, hiring exterminators might cost more than buying a pack of baking soda, but it will pay off in the long run. This is because cockroach extermination experts won’t just get rid of the problem temporarily (as most other options listed here will), but they will also teach you all the tips and tricks to ensure the pests don’t return.

In general, if you want to avoid a cockroach re-infestation in your home, you should make sure to do the following:

  • Clean your home regularly
  • Take the trash out every day
  • Don’t leave leftover food outside of the fridge
  • Clean up the dining area after every meal
  • Avoid eating in the bedroom
  • Deal with excess moisture in your home
  • Seal any crevices and other potential entry points.

Remember, roaches, like most other pests, come into our homes for food, water, and shelter, so as long as they can’t find any of that in your household, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Ronald has 25 years of pest control experience under his belt. He scrutinizes each pest control method, product and process. 

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