What Do Cockroaches Hate? Plants That Repel Roaches, Roach Prevention Tips

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

Pest Control | January 5, 2024

Person with roaches coming into a home wonders what do cockroaches hate, do roaches like the cold, are there plants that repel roaches and can you use essential oils to repel roaches?

If you’re asking the question, “What do cockroaches hate,” you’ve likely seen at least one of these creepy crawlers skitter across your kitchen floor.

But, you may be surprised to learn that there are tons of things that roaches really hate and that you can use to deter them from infesting your home.

And, although depending on the level of infestation, you may need to contact a professional pest control company for roaches, there are some things that you can easily implement at home right now to control roaches.

And, with a better understanding of ‘what do cockroaches hate,’ you can keep these pests out of your home for good.

What Do Roaches Hate?

Cockroaches are one of the last things you want to see in your home. Unfortunately, harsh pesticides come with drawbacks.

So, what can you turn to as an alternative repellent? From plants to essential oils, here are some ways to keep roaches at bay.

What Do Cockroaches Hate Most? Plants That Repel Roaches

What do roaches hate most in the natural world? Mostly, it’s things that attack their olfactory senses.

Plants that repel roaches graphic showing a mixture made from lavender and mint, citronella, oregano, and bay leaves, citrus and pine, and flowers and spices are effective in repelling them away.

Some of the best examples of roach repellent include:

Lavender and Mint

A treat for human noses, the pleasant floral smell of lavender is offensive to cockroaches. You can plant lavender bushes outside or use lavender oil inside to deter roaches without chemicals.

Mint contains menthone, another scent roaches hate, so use mint oil diluted in water as an indoor spray to make your home less hospitable for roaches.

Citronella, Oregano, and Bay Leaves

Citronella oil, known for its mosquito-repelling properties, also overpowers cockroaches with its strong aroma. You can make a diluted citronella spray to use preventively around the house.

Similarly, oregano and bay leaf scents are offensive to roaches. Place bay leaves in bowls around the kitchen or spray diluted oregano oil in problem areas.

Citrus and Pine

Cockroaches turn up their noses at citrus, especially fresh peels. Place peels strategically around the home for a natural roach barrier.

Pine’s robust aroma, which comes from beta-pinene, also makes a great repellent.

Flowers and Spices

The smell of chrysanthemums repels roaches. You can grow these flowers outside or place them in vases throughout your home.

Garlic also deters roaches, but its pungent odor may be too much for you to bear. If you can stomach the smell, use cloves or powder carefully in key areas only.

Repel Roaches Naturally With Strategic Scents

Cockroaches have an astute sense of smell. Leverage this against them by placing strategic scents that send roaches running.

While never guaranteed, natural aromas can make your home inhospitable to these pests.

What Do Cockroaches Hate? Scents That Indicate Danger

Roaches rely on their keen smell to navigate and locate food. When they detect an aroma that signals danger, they instinctively flee.

You can use this reaction to your advantage by introducing scents roaches find unpleasant or alarming. Take steps to associate these odors with your home, so roaches will leave to search for more suitable shelter elsewhere.

Cockroaches have two sophisticated antennae that detect scents with precision. These organs create spatial maps in roaches’ brains pinpointing the location and form of smelled objects.

This acute sense guides roaches to ideal hiding spots and food sources. You can exploit this strength by weaponizing scents roaches wish to avoid.

Can You Use Essential Oils To Repel Roaches?

Many essential oils like citrus, lavender, and eucalyptus have roach-repelling effects.1 Experiment with mixing oils into custom scents that you enjoy but roaches detest.

With several available options, you can find a formula that suits your home.

Strategic Use of Bay Leaves

As previously mentioned, bay leaves’ robust odor offends roaches. While not a standalone solution, bay leaf essential oil discourages localized roach activity.

Pair with other scents for comprehensive pest prevention.

Slice Cucumbers for Short Term Effects

Freshly cut cucumbers can repel roaches, but this effect fades quickly. You can use sliced cucumbers for temporary roach deterrence at outdoor events.

Bear in mind that you will have to reapply frequently for ongoing impact.

 What Do Cockroaches Hate? Mint’s Mighty Roach Rappelling Reputation

Of all scent options, mint has the most science and real-world support for repelling roaches. Create mint oil spray mixtures and apply them along baseboards and entry points.

Mint’s clean aroma freshens your home while driving roaches away.

What Do Cockroaches Hate? Does Cinnamon Repel Roaches?

Strong smells generally deter many pests. And cinnamon has an especially robust, spicy smell that roaches find downright unpleasant.

But cinnamon alone won’t solve an infestation problem. Think of it more as a handy repellent or temporary deterrent.

Top shot of cinnamon barks which is among the list of what roaches hate.

(Image: anuandraj7)

For best results, sprinkle the powder in hot spots and access points where roaches are likely to congregate.

Does Bleach Kill Roaches?

Does bleach kill roaches? Yes, it can kill roaches but it’s not a practical long-term solution.

To work, the roach has to either soak in the bleach or ingest it. Just spraying it around won’t do the trick.

What Roaches Hate

What do cockroaches hate? Lack of food mostly.

What do cockroaches hate the most? A date with the Grim Reaper.

Unfortunately, when you kill one roach, you can bet that countless others are lining up to take its place. With this in mind, it’s important to ward away roaches as much as possible.

From colors to temperatures, here are some of the biggest turnoffs for these creepy critters.

Do Roaches Like the Cold?

Cockroaches absolutely detest chilly temperatures. As cold-blooded critters, they thrive in a narrow comfort zone.

If their environment gets too cold or hot, they struggle to survive. Yes, roaches are some of nature’s toughest, most adaptable bugs.

In turn, they can withstand a lot. But fluctuations in temperature can cause them to struggle.

When the mercury dips, roaches won’t suddenly die off. They will, however, seek warmer hideouts.

And while they can survive cold snaps, given a choice, roaches will always seek a toasty habitat.

Will Sleeping With the Light on Keep Cockroaches Away?

What do cockroaches hate the most? Contrary to popular opinion, it isn’t light.

Cockroaches love the dark since they’re naturally nocturnal. But simply keeping the lights on won’t scare them off for good.

What cockroaches hate is having a hungry stomach. To effectively discourage roaches, cut off their access to necessities like nourishment and moisture.

Shining a light may temporarily cause roaches to run. But a well-rounded approach is needed to keep them away for good.

How To Get Rid of Roaches Coming From Neighbors

Roach invasions from a neighbor’s unit can be frustrating. But you’re not helpless against these unwelcome visitors.

How to get rid of roaches coming from neighbors, you ask?

Arm yourself with some fundamental roach-blocking tactics. First, seal up entry points along shared walls, focusing on cracks and openings around pipes, cables, windows, and doors.

A dead cockroach on its back on a tiled floor.

(Image: Quinn Dombrowski8)

Next, maintain an immaculate home through diligent cleaning, especially in the kitchen and bathrooms. Roaches crave food and water, so don’t leave anything out overnight.

Store all edibles in sealed containers, including pet food. Take out the trash regularly and avoid clutter heaps, which provide cozy roach hideouts.

If possible, kindly discuss the issue with your neighbor. When all else fails, loop in your landlord or manager.

In tough cases, local health departments can also provide guidance.

How To Get Rid of Roaches in Airbnb

Found roaches crawling across the floor of your Airbnb? Inform your host immediately about the infestation.

Many hosts will offer solutions like pest control or alternate accommodations. If your host won’t act, take charge of the roaches in Airbnb yourself.

Disinfect surfaces, vacuum thoroughly, and try to starve out the pests. You can also try using plants and oils to temporarily ward away roaches during your stay.

How To Get Rid of Roaches Overnight

Eager to eradicate resilient roaches rapidly? Arm yourself with speedy roach-killing solutions. Here are some methods on how to get rid of roaches overnight.

From your pantry, wield baking soda. Mix the powder with sugar to bait roaches, and sit back while the expanding gasses kill the pests from inside.

Bleach and ammonia are also fast roach killers when used properly. Classic borax and boric acid powders dehydrate roaches’ exoskeletons for lethal results.

Foggers, traps, and baits are also quick roach killers that should always be used with caution.

Does Killing Cockroaches Attract More?

If you’re wondering, does killing cockroaches attract more? That is a big yes.

When a roach dies, it releases a smelly chemical called oleic acid. This distinct odor actually lures other roaches to the area.

When To Call an Exterminator for Roaches

Tired of battling resilient roaches on your own? Know when to call an exterminator for roaches and ask for professional backup.

Watch for these telltale signs that your infestation requires expert help.

Reappearing Roaches

Persistent pests that keep reappearing despite your best DIY efforts? This tenacity indicates a severe underlying infestation.

Large hordes of roaches or abundant egg cases also signal a major problem.

The Cycle of Life

Spotting roaches of all life stages–eggs, nymphs, and adults?3 This means an actively breeding colony has taken root in your home.

Roaches emerging during daylight hours often means overcrowding has driven them out of hiding.

How To Keep Cockroaches Away

Cockroaches are resilient pests, but you can outwit them through diligent home habits centered on their dislikes. So, what do cockroaches hate and how to keep cockroaches away?

Here are a few examples:

 Cleanliness: The #1 Weapon Against Roaches

A clean home is a cockroach-free home. As scavengers, cockroaches feast on leftover food, crumbs, and garbage.

Maintaining tidy rooms, especially the kitchen, eliminates their food supply. Stick to a regular cleaning routine, and don’t let dirty dishes linger.

Starve roaches out with spotless surfaces.

Cut Off Cockroaches’ Water Sources

In addition to food, cockroaches need water to survive. Dry up their watering holes by fixing leaky faucets, emptying standing water from sinks and tubes, and removing outdoor reservoirs like bird baths.

Dehydration makes your home inhospitable to moisture-seeking roaches.

Seal Cracks so Roaches Can’t Squeeze In

What do roaches hate the most? Being left out in the cold.

Unfortunately, these critters are champion infiltrators, squeezing through impossibly tiny cracks and crevices. Inspect your home and seal potential entryways with caulk or spray foam.

This blocks access and tells roaches they’re not welcome.

Store Food in Inaccessible Containers

Like tiny burglars, cockroaches can break into flimsy food packaging. Use secure containers, bags, and bins to store dry goods and keep food out of roaches’ reach.

Proper storage techniques reinforce your home’s defenses against sneaky pests.

After reading this guide, it’s clear a roach’s worst nightmare is an informed human. So, next time you ask, ‘What do cockroaches hate?’ take steps to make sure the answer is ‘you!’

Frequently Asked Questions About What Do Cockroaches Hate

What Attracts Roaches?

Cockroaches thrive on food sources, so keeping a clean home is key. Be sure to throw away unused food, rinse out containers thoroughly before tossing them, and take out the garbage every night.

What Do Roaches Smell Like?

Roaches give off a pungent, musty odor that worsens as the infestation grows. Even one breeding roach has the power to affect your home’s odor.

How Much Does an Exterminator Cost for Roaches?

According to the most recent data,4 homeowners pay an average of $113 to $411 for roach extermination services. Bear in mind that exterminator prices can vary based on your location.

How Much Offspring Can Cockroach Eggs Produce?

Roaches are extremely productive parents. One roach female lays around 40 eggs at a time and can produce up to 30 egg batches in one lifetime.5

What’s the Best Way To Get Rid of Roaches?

An effective roach removal plan uses sanitation, prevention, and targeted extermination–often involving pro exterminators for severe cases.

What Color Do Roaches Hate?

Roaches, like many insects, do not perceive colors in the same way humans do. That said, there is some scientific evidence that roaches may dislike red light.2

Read More About What Do Cockroaches Hate


1Sharififard, M., Siahpoush, A., Safdari, F., & Kassiri, H. (2016, October 4). Evaluation of Some Plant Essential Oils against the Brown-Banded Cockroach, Supella longipalpa (Blattaria: Ectobiidae): A Mechanical Vector of Human Pathogens. NCBI | NLM | NIH. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5186743/>

2Dean, K. A. (2017, April 2). Step into the Light: How Choosy Are Cockroaches about Light? USC. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <https://csef.usc.edu/History/2017/Projects/J2306.pdf>

3Klass, C. (1978, June). Cockroaches. MAINE. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/bugs/factsheets/cockroaches-cornell.pdf>

4Hawkins, A. (2023, September 18). How Much Does a Roach Exterminator Cost? 2023 Guide. MARKETWATCH. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <https://www.marketwatch.com/guides/home-improvement/roach-exterminator-cost/>

5Victoria State Government & Department of Health. (2018, October 23). Cockroaches. BETTERHEALTH. Retrieved December 2, 2023, from <https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/cockroaches>

6Image removed <https://a>

7Cinnamon Photo by anuandraj. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Cropped, Resized, and Changed Format. Retrieved from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/7970831@N08/9434356267>

8Tiny monster. Quinn Dombrowski. CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED | Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic. Cropped, Resized, and Changed Format. Retrieved from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/quinndombrowski/8213219045/>