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How To Get Rid Of German Cockroaches

Have you woke up in the middle of the night to grab a drink or snack from the kitchen only to turn the lights on and find, to your horror, an infestation of cockroaches scurrying on the kitchen tile or across your counter tops? More often than not, you have encountered an invasion of German cockroaches, the most common household cockroach pest found in the United States. Most people who encounter German cockroaches are embarrassed to admit it because they feel it’s akin to admitting that they are filthy or don’t value hygiene. This is simply untrue because German cockroaches can and will invade homes whether they are filthy and clutter or whether things are kept neat and tidy. German cockroaches are a terribly frustrating pest to control because of their persistence and ability to multiply at an alarming rate of up to six generations per year. German Cockroaches are cold-blooded and thus thrive in warm areas of the country such as the southern part of the United States.

Background Information On German Cockroaches

German Roaches

Despite their name, German cockroaches are not originally from Germany at all and are instead believed to be native to Southeast Asia. German cockroaches can be easily recognized by their small appearance and the unique 2 dark stripes that run along behind their head and down their back. German Cockroaches, when fully developed, are light to medium brown and range in size between a half-inch to 5/8ths of an inch in length. German Cockroach nymphs are significantly smaller than adults and don’t have wings. They are usually totally colored black aside from a light-colored marking on their backs. German cockroaches are active mostly at night and prefer hiding out in either warm places that radiate a lot of heat (such as around an electronic power supply, appliances etc.) or places that are moist or are in close proximity to food. Roaches are usually at rest or in hiding during the day, but if you see some that are out in plain sight, it may be a sign of a heavy infestation with cockroaches leaving the overcrowded nest to find another place to rest--a major cause of concern.

The Frustrating Reasons Why German Cockroaches Are So Hard To Get Rid Of

German cockroaches have been an issue to humans since the beginning of civilization and look to continue being a problem for the foreseeable future. Why is that they are so prolific and difficult to eradicate? Well, there are three simple reasons why:
  1. The way they rapidly reproduce. A single pair of German cockroaches can pump out 800,000 cockroach babies in a single year!
  2. German cockroaches have become domesticated. This means they actually prefer living in our homes rather than out in the wilderness. They have adapted from being outdoor pests that survived off leaf litter and debris to living off of the easy access to food and water our homes give them.
  3. They are resistant to most conventional insecticides. Due to the overuse of bug sprays, highly adaptable German cockroaches have developed a resistance over most generic cockroach sprays you’d find at the store. Spray all you want with watered-down pesticides, cockroaches will keep coming back and will carry on and continue multiplying in numbers.

Eliminating German Cockroaches: Not Easy, but Not Impossible.

Getting rid of a German Cockroach invasion is no easy feat. There is no single product or approach that will wipe out an entire population but rather it will take multiple approaches and products that can provide the biggest chance of success. Seeing even one German cockroach, especially if it’s during the day, crawling around indoors should be a concerning sight that should not be taken lightly. Where there is one cockroach scavenging around, there are potentially hundreds or even thousands that are hiding away. And though they are inactive until nightfall, they aren’t just sitting still— they are growing their family larger and larger! As discouraging as this all sounds, it is possible to successfully get rid of German cockroaches and keep them gone, if the right insecticides are applied and proper techniques are implemented. Follow the 3 steps below and you will be successful in ridding German cockroaches for good:

Step #1 – Conduct an Inspection to Determine the Severity Level of German Cockroaches

A solid German cockroach control program should start with a detailed inspection. Before you can conduct an inspection, it’s important to first have knowledge of the tendencies of German cockroaches. For instance, German cockroaches love heat. This is evident by German roaches gathering around and leaving all their droppings near electronics, appliances and power supplies. The warmth and seclusion attract them. German cockroaches also love water and moisture. Even if there is a little bit of water that is out or spilled, cockroaches will gather around it to drink, which is why it is important to keep areas where German cockroaches are absolutely dry. German cockroaches will also hide inside cabinet crevices, under stoves, behind dishwashers, refrigerators, etc. When they are hidden and out of sight, the infestation can quickly grow to overwhelming numbers right under your nose without you even realizing it. German cockroach population can get really out of control because of their rapid reproductive rates. The female German cockroach can often be seen carrying an egg capsule with her until it’s ready to hatch and then she’ll release it. In those egg capsules can be as many as 50 baby cockroaches, known as nymphs. One of the best ways to determine the size of a German cockroach infestation you are dealing with is to wait until before bedtime and turn the lights off in the kitchen. After waiting a few minutes, return to the kitchen and quickly flip the light back on. Chances are you will see a large number of cockroaches scattering around. German cockroaches do all their food hunting when you’re sleeping and it’s totally dark. If there are no German cockroaches found during the day then it is probably safe to assume that the infestation is “low”. On the other hand, if you see German cockroaches in the middle of the day, this is a clear sign that the German cockroach population is very big and their nests are to capacity that roaches are leaving to find another place to reside. Another big indicator of the severity of a German cockroach infestation is the excrement they leave behind on or behind appliances and electrical outlets. German cockroaches are known for leaving feces that look like coffee grounds everywhere they frequent. The odor is both sweet yet off-putting and is another sign that you have a severe infestation. Determining the severity of the German cockroach infestation during the inspection is crucial before you move on to any treatment measures. If the infestation is mild, then you will not have to work too hard to kill off the population. If you have a large infestation, then it would require a full-blown German cockroach control program that involves multiple methods of attack and repeated applications.

Step #2 – Deep Cleaning Your Home to Eliminate Food Sources

Proper sanitation is a crucial task in getting rid of German cockroaches and should be conducted thoroughly before applying any German cockroach control products. You can have the strongest insecticides on the planet as part of your arsenal but without a thorough and detailed cleanup of your home, you won’t see lasting results.

roaches in kitchen

German cockroaches are not picky eaters. These bugs are insatiable scavengers that will eat practically anything edible that they can find. They’ll even eat grease spills if there is any. German cockroaches also need water to live. By taking away all these types of sources of nourishment, you put cockroaches in desperation mode. Sanitation also helps to improve the effectiveness of the products you apply. Insecticide dusts and powders won’t be effective in a wet area, as they need to be dry to work. Cockroach baits won’t be effective if there are crumbs and other food sources present that compete with the bait. When you take away their food and water by wiping up well and keeping everything dry and then lay out bait and dust, the cockroaches will have no choice but to consume what they see.

Eliminate Roach Food Sources

Recommended Read: What Attracts Cockroaches to Your Home?

For the best possible results in eliminating German cockroaches, you will need to use a combination of insecticide dusts, baits, and sprays. But if you didn’t do a good job cleaning up, no amount of product will be enough to eliminate their presence. This means sweeping and wiping up everything, especially under your appliances. You should also always dry your sink and make sure there's no dripping water or moisture anywhere before going to sleep. A spotless kitchen is 90% of the battle against a German Cockroach infestation. They become easier to control after your home is sanitized properly. The other 10% is simply applying the German cockroach control products while doing your best to stay clean around the home.

Step #3 – Apply High Quality German Cockroach Control Products

Once you have conducted a detailed inspection and thoroughly deep cleaned your home, you can then break out the big guns to get rid of the German cockroaches invading your home. As mentioned earlier, there is no single product or pesticide that can totally eliminate German cockroaches by itself. German cockroaches adapt well and are constantly developing resistances to pesticides so the pest control industry is always churning out new products with new formulas to keep German cockroaches guessing. German cockroaches can even develop resistance to professional products exterminators use which makes getting rid of German cockroaches all the more frustrating. This is why when dealing with a German cockroach invasion, you need to use a multi-pronged approach using more than one pesticide product so that if one product doesn’t kill the roaches, the other one will. The best types of German Cockroach killing products are the following:
  • Cockroach Gel Baits – Attractive baits which contain food attractants cockroaches enjoy (sweets and proteins) mixed with lethal, potent and slow-killing insecticides. Used inside of cabinets, around packaged food, utensils, along counters, and practically anywhere German cockroaches are found. Gel baits are applied in tiny “pea-sized dots”. Example: 50-100 pea-sized bait placements may be needed in a kitchen, an entire house may need 150 or more.
  • Insecticide Dusts – A powder form of insecticide that will reach places where other insecticide formulations are not able to reach. Typically applied inside walls, voids, cracks, and crevices. Dusts should not be visible when applied. Electrical outlet plates and plumbing accesses can be removed to apply dust inside of walls and voids.
  • Insect Growth Regulators– Used to control and slow down the rapid reproduction habits of German cockroaches. IGRs work as a birth control of constantly reproducing roaches, causing eggs to be unable to hatch and nymphs to be unable to develop into full-grown, reproducing adults.
  • Liquid Insecticidal Sprays – Used for immediate knockdown and kill of exposed German cockroaches and as a barrier treatment for German cockroach prevention.
Follow the labels carefully and adhere to the safety instructions when applying these products in your home. Apply strategically and maintain cleanliness and you should see dead roaches before long and a significant reduction of German cockroach activity.


German cockroaches are an irritating presence wherever they are established but the key to getting rid of them is a good inspection, thorough consistent sanitation of your home, and strategically applying recommended cockroach control products. If your German Cockroach infestation is particularly heavy, you will need to reapply the products every 7 to 10 days so that the entire population becomes exposed so don’t think that this is a one-and-done process. It will take patience and persistence on your end to eliminate German cockroaches. Keep at it and you will soon be cockroach free.

Recommended Read: Where Do Cockroaches Come From?