Cockroaches are known to be extremely resilient and secretive creatures, which means they can be especially challenging to get rid of. If you like the idea of a chemical free approach to pest control, you can try using diatomaceous earth (DE).
In order to have success using diatomaceous earth for cockroaches, you need to follow a three step plan that involves: establishing good preventive habits, applying the diatomaceous earth, and then reapplying and cleaning up, as needed. Following these steps can help ensure that you can get rid of roaches for good.
Cockroach Prevention Methods
Before you start trying to control cockroaches, it is important to do some preventive things to keep more roaches from coming into your home while you are treating the current infestation. Continue doing these things after the cockroaches are gone for long-lasting results.
- Thoroughly clean your home and try to keep it clean by sweeping, mopping, and vacuuming regularly
- Take out the trash often and use a garbage can with a lid
- Do not leave dishes in the sink
- Store food properly in sealed containers
- Get rid of excess moisture in and around your home by fixing leaky pipes and faucets, unclogging gutters and downspouts, correcting landscaping problems, and installing a dehumidifier if necessary.
- Seal the exterior of the home using caulk for small cracks and gaps or expandable spray foam for larger openings
Applying Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is a mechanical killer, meaning that the insects have to directly contact it in order for it to work. This means that you need to apply it in the right places. Using a flashlight, check common cockroach hiding places for signs of roaches. The closer the DE is to the roaches, the more likely they will contact it.
When you have a good idea of where the roaches like to hide and travel, lightly dust these areas with the diatomaceous earth. You do not want to apply it too heavily, or the insects will not want to walk through it. Common places to apply DE for roaches include: cracks and crevices, under and behind kitchen appliances, behind baseboards, inside wall voids, around cupboards, near potential entry points, around the foundation, along window sills, and wherever else you may see cockroach activity.
Depending on where the DE is being used, you can sprinkle it by hand, use a scoop, or purchase special dusters or other kinds of diatomaceous earth applicators that can get it into hard to reach areas. DE kills insects by dehydration, so it is beneficial to wear gloves to keep it from drying out your hands.
Re-application and Clean Up
Diatomaceous earth will be effective as long as it remains dry. If it gets wet or blows away in outdoor areas, you may need to reapply it regularly. In areas that are out of the way, like crawl spaces and wall voids, you can leave it indefinitely, and it will continue to work as a preventive measure. In other areas of the home, you may wish to clean it up after it has served its purpose. Sweeping, wiping it up with a cloth, or using a shopvac are all great ways to clean DE. If you are using a filtered vacuum cleaner, be very careful, as diatomaceous earth can clog the filter and damage the motor. For more information, see How to Clean Up Diatomaceous Earth.