Does Bleach Kill Roaches? Best Roach Killer for How To Kill Roaches at Home

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | November 22, 2023

Woman on the floor wonders does bleach kill roaches and speculates about the best roach killer methods and treatments for getting rid of roaches for good, and how to kill roaches at home.

Does bleach kill roaches?

Cockroaches are one of the most resilient and adaptable pests, capable of surviving extreme conditions. You’ve probably heard that they can even survive nuclear fallout.

While bleach can be toxic to roaches, it might not be the most effective way to eliminate an infestation. There are far better roach killers and more comprehensive approaches to getting rid of roaches for good.

To get rid of roaches, you need products specifically designed to kill them.

This complete guide provides information about the following:

  • What attracts roaches and signs of an infestation
  • Does bleach kill roaches?
  • Most effective roach killers
  • How to get rid of roaches in your home
  • When to call a professional exterminator
  • Preventing future roach problems
  • FAQs about killing roaches

Always exercise caution when handling bleach or other household chemicals.

When dealing with a cockroach infestation, it is best to take a comprehensive approach by addressing what attracts roaches, using the most effective roach killers, and preventing re-infestation. With the right techniques, you can kick roaches out of your home for good.

This will help you answer the question “does bleach kill roaches?”

Does Bleach Kill Cockroaches? (Does Bleach Kill Roaches?)

Well, this is not a simple yes or no question. Can bleach kill roaches? Yes. Will bleach clear out your roach infestation? Most likely, no. Here’s why:

The chlorine in bleach is toxic to roaches.4 That said, roaches can only die from bleach in the following scenarios:

  • Ingestion: Roaches would have to drink or eat the bleach.
  • Contact: Spraying roaches directly with bleach could potentially penetrate into their bodies and kill them.
  • Drowning: Submerging roaches in a bleach solution may kill them through suffocation.

However, bleach has the following limitations as a roach killer:

  • Strong odor repels roaches: Roaches avoid the strong chemical smell of bleach, which means that baiting with bleach rarely works as roaches will avoid ingesting it. Although the odor will repel roaches from treated areas, it will not kill them.
  • Little residual effect: Bleach does not stick to roach bodies, which means they won’t spread it to other cockroaches they contact.
  • It needs direct contact: Bleach must directly contact each individual roach you want to kill. Additionally, the roaches must be thoroughly soaked. This means that hidden roaches won’t be affected.
  • Damage to surfaces: Bleach can discolor, corrode, or damage the surfaces it contacts.

So, while bleach sprays and vapors are toxic on contact, roaches typically avoid treated areas and will not ingest the bleach. It also lacks residual activity, allowing populations to recover. Manually drowning each roach is also not feasible.

What’s more, the strong fumes can also be hazardous to humans and pets.

Graphic that shows the most effective roach treatments and killers such as insecticides, roach baits, non toxic traps, bug bombs and foggers and vacuum.

As such, you are better off using more effective roach baits, traps, gels, or sprays specifically designed as insecticides. However, you can also use bleach as a repellent and for cleaning up after treatment since the strong scent will deter roaches.

Additionally, once roaches are dead, a bleach solution helps remove roach remains and droppings.

Most Effective Ways To Kill Roaches at Home (Does Bleach Kill Roaches?)

To get rid of roaches, you need products specifically designed to kill them. Here are the most effective roach treatments and killer to eliminate infestations:5

  • Insecticide Sprays and Gels

Sprays and gels allow you to apply targeted roach treatments to specific areas indoors and outdoors. Look for sprays containing fast-acting synthetic pyrethroids5 like lambda-cyhalothrin, deltamethrin, or cyfluthrin.

Use gels in tiny amounts along baseboards, under counters, and roach migratory pathways. Avoid sprays on mattresses, toys, prep surfaces, or clothing.

  • Insecticide Dusts

Dust containing boric acid or diatomaceous earth is highly effective against roaches. The fine particles adhere to roaches’ bodies, abrade the exoskeleton,6 and get groomed into their digestive tracts, steadily dehydrating and killing them.

Apply dust into wall voids, cracks, and crevices, beneath appliances, and other secluded areas where roaches hide.

  • Bug Bombs and Foggers

Total-release foggers can reach into cracks and voids to kill hidden roaches. However, you must leave the treated area for several hours, properly ventilate afterward, and thoroughly wash exposed surfaces.

Their convenience comes at the cost of higher chemical exposure.

  • Roach Baits and Traps

Baits and traps draw roaches in with food attractants, keeping the insects localized so they ingest or contact lethal insecticides. Look for baits with fipronil, abamectin, hydramethylnon, or boric acid as the active ingredient.7 Use many small bait placements, rather than a few large globs, for best control. Monitor baits frequently and replace eaten ones.

  • Non-Toxic Traps

For a chemical-free option, use non-toxic traps like sticky glue boards or roach motel-style traps. These capture live roaches, so you can dispose of them.

However, you must replace traps frequently to keep catching newly hatched roaches.

  • Vacuuming

A simple vacuum with a crevice tool can suck up roaches and egg cases from cracks and hard-to-reach spots. Empty the vacuum debris into a sealed plastic bag right away.

This primarily works on visible roaches, so combine vacuuming with other methods.

An image showing the phrase "cleaning home" with gloved hands holding it.

(Image: Tima12)

The most effective roach treatments combine multiple methods like baits, dust, and insecticide sprays for full control.

Continue using treatments until all signs of roach activity stop. Always read and carefully follow label instructions when using any pesticide product.

How To Get Rid of Roaches: Step By Step Process

A comprehensive roach treatment regimen7 following Integrated Pest Management (IPM),8 is the best way to get rid of roaches. Here is a multi-step process:

  1. Inspect and Clean: Locate and eliminate food sources, moisture, and clutter where roaches hide. Use soapy water or disinfectant cleaner to wash infested areas.
  2. Seal Cracks and Crevices: Caulk and seal gaps where roaches enter and move between wall voids. This helps cut off their harborage.
  3. Apply Insecticide Spray: Treat under and behind appliances, cabinets, along baseboards, window and door frames, and other areas where roaches travel.
  4. Use Insecticide Dust: Apply dust products into cracks and crevices, into wall and equipment voids, under appliances, and in areas not easily sprayed.
  5. Set Out Bait Stations: Place roach baits or traps where you see roach activity. Concentrate in moist areas like under sinks and around pipes.
  6. Follow-Up: Monitor traps and regularly replace bait to continuously kill roaches that emerge. Re-treat if needed.

When To Call a Professional Exterminator

While small roach issues can often be self-treated, the following signs indicate that it might be time to contact a licensed pest control professional:5 You spot large roaches, indicating a severe infestation needing stronger chemicals to control.

  • Baits and sprays aren’t resolving the problem.
  • You need bait treatments in unsafe areas, like inside wall voids.
  • You want to avoid handling pesticides yourself.
  • You need help locating gaps where roaches enter from outdoors.

Benefits of professional roach treatments9 include:

  • They have access to powerful commercial-grade insecticides and IGRs to kill resistant roaches.
  • They offer pinpoint inspections to find all roach hiding spots, including inaccessible spaces like wall voids.
  • They can deliver treatments in inaccessible and dangerous areas like walls, attics, vents, and electrical systems.
  • They stop re-infestation by applying outdoor perimeter treatments.
  • They provide follow-up applications to kill newly hatched nymphs and prevent re-infestation.
  • They offer advice on roach-proofing your home and preventing future issues.
  • They help you avoid the mess and exposure to chemicals.

The initial extermination process may take 3+ visits over 2 to 3 months to completely get rid of the roaches. That said, thorough treatments by pest experts can successfully rid your home of stubborn roach problems.

A photo of a person using a vacuum cleaner on a furniture.

(Image: Giorgio13)

Look for9 a licensed, experienced exterminator with specific expertise in treating roaches. Discuss any prep needed and stay out of treated areas until dry. Ongoing preventative service10 helps keep roaches and other pests away.

Preventing Future Roach Problems (Does Bleach Kill Roaches?)

No matter what roach-killing methods you use, limiting the conditions that attract roaches in the first place is key for long-term prevention. Recommended roach prevention tips11 include:

  • Seal cracks and crevices where roaches enter with caulk. Pay special attention to utility entry points.
  • Install weatherstripping under doors and repair screens to block access.
  • Store all food, including pet food, in sealed containers. Avoid open bags or boxes.
  • Fix any water leaks and dry out moist areas. Repair dripping faucets and pipes.
  • Replace corrugated cardboard boxes with plastic containers. Cardboard harbors roach.
  • Clean frequently to remove grease, crumbs, and residue that attract roaches.
  • Take out trash regularly, and avoid overflowing bins.
  • Vacuum and sweep away dirt, debris, hair, and roach droppings.
  • Limit clutter like paper piles, containers, and items stored on flooring.
  • Keep wood piles, leaves, grass, and shrubs away from the home’s exterior walls.
  • Apply boric acid, diatomaceous earth, or insecticides around the home’s perimeter to deter roaches.

Follow these sanitation and home-proofing tips to deter roaches from your property long-term. Call in a pest control professional at the first sign of roaches to prevent major infestations.

What Attracts Cockroaches? Signs of a Roach Infestation

Cockroaches will mostly enter homes looking for food, water, warmth, and shelter.1

Their common entry points include under doors, through cracks and crevices, pipes, drains, and on boxes or bags brought inside.

Close up image of a cockroach.

(Image: Dimitar11)

Once inside, roaches thrive when they find the following:

  • Food Debris: Roaches eat anything from crumbs to grease to paper. Kitchens and pantries provide plenty for them to feed on.
  • Standing Water: Roaches require moisture. As such, drips, leaks, drains, pipes, and humidifiers attract them.
  • Clutter: Roaches hide in dark, confined spaces like boxes, furniture, and piles of items. This is their preferred habitat.
  • Warmth: Roaches prefer temperatures around 70°F to 90°F, which is the typical temperature setting for most homes. Heat sources like appliances or vents also draw them in.

Once inside, here are the signs that show you have cockroaches in your home.2

  • Roach Droppings: Small, dark oval-shaped droppings in areas like cabinets, along baseboards, and under sinks.
  • Odor: A musty, stale odor from roach feces and secretions.
  • Cast Skins: Light brown, translucent exoskeletons left after molting.
  • Live Cockroaches: Spotting live roaches, especially small nymphs, which indicate breeding.
  • Staining and Damage: Greasy smears along walls, oily spots, and chewed materials.
  • Egg Cases: Brown, purse-shaped ootheca holding up to 40 eggs glued to surfaces near food.

Seeing live roaches, especially the small, light brown nymphs,2 indicates a more serious infestation. Additionally, seeing one or two roaches during the day likely indicates a larger hidden population that is active at night.

Note that certain species, like German cockroaches,3 multiply rapidly once established indoors. As such, getting rid of roaches at the first signs of activity is key.

Take a Full-Scale Approach to Getting Rid of Roaches

In conclusion, while bleach can repel and even kill roaches through ingestion or drowning, it is not a practical or effective treatment overall.

There are better commercial roach killers, baits, gels, sprays, and traps to eliminate and prevent roach infestations.

A photo of a hand about to spray Clorox.

(Image: Clay14)

Combine multiple methods for thorough results. Keep your home clean, dry, and decluttered; seal entry points; and call an exterminator at the first sign of roaches for the best results.

For the question, does bleach kill roaches, it is a yes, but you now know of more effective ways to eliminate and deter roaches from your home.

Frequently Asked Questions About Killing Roaches

What Kills Roaches Instantly?

Insecticide sprays, roach foggers, soapy water, and traps can kill cockroaches immediately upon contact. Of these, sprays with pyrethroids like deltamethrin provide the quickest knockdown and death when directly sprayed on roaches.

Traps also instantly contain live roaches. Borax and boric acid powders don’t provide instant death but are effective roach killers.

Does Lysol Kill Cockroaches?

Lysol can kill cockroaches through toxic inhalation if sprayed directly. However, it is not very lethal through ingestion.

Roach baits and sprays designed specifically for insects work much better than Lysol.

What Scent Keeps Roaches Away?

Strong odors like bleach, ammonia, vinegar, citrus, peppermint, and eucalyptus oil can repel and deter roaches. However, scents alone will not get rid of established roach populations.

Use these smells in combination with sanitation, sealing entry points, insecticide treatment, and trapping to drive roaches away and prevent future infestations.

Can I Get Rid Of Roaches Overnight?

There is no overnight fix for established roach infestations. Even professional treatments require multiple visits and diligent ongoing sanitation.

However, fast-acting sprays provide quick knockdown of the roaches you directly contact. Traps also immediately contain any roaches caught. However eliminating an entire population takes dedicated effort over time.

Does Bleach Kill Cockroach Eggs?

Bleach can kill cockroach eggs if sprayed directly and in strong concentrations. However, bleach quickly loses potency once dried.

Plus, it cannot reach the majority of hidden egg cases deep in cracks and wall voids. Insecticide dusts are more effective for killing roach eggs.


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2University of Minnesota Extension. (2019). Cockroaches. University of Minnesota Extension. <>

3PennState Extension. (2013). German Cockroaches. PennState Extension. <>

4Arizona City Sanitary District. (n.d.). Roach Control. Arizona City Sanitary District. <>

5ENTOMOLOGY at the University of Kentucky. (n.d.). Cockroach Elimination in Homes and Apartments. MARTIN-GATTON COLLEGE OF AGRICULTURE. <>

6Mississippi State University Extension. (n.d.). Control Cockroaches In and Around Your Home. Mississippi State University Extension. <>

7Cockroach Control Manual. (n.d.). Cockroach Manual.indd. <>

8United States Environmental Protection Agency. (2023, June 20). Introduction to Integrated Pest Management. United States Environmental Protection Agency. <>

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