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What smell keeps roaches away? Roach Repellents Guide

Cockroaches have excellent smelling capabilities. The antennas on the cockroach head help roaches smell food that might be hard for humans to smell. For example, they can smell decomposing wood, small insects, scrape food, etc., from a distance. However, research has shown that cockroaches don’t like all smells, and you can use this to your advantage.

Cockroaches hate smells of oils from Neem, Tea tree, Eucalyptus, Lavender, Cypress, and Peppermint. Certain herbs and plants will also repel roaches like bark from cinnamon, leaves from mint, bay, pandan, and pieces of garlic. Disinfectants like vinegar or bleach will also repel cockroaches due to their pungent, strong smell.

However, our experiments have not found these smells to be very effective if you already have an infestation. These techniques can help you in the short term, but these are not long-term solutions.

A proper solution is to use insecticides, sprays, gels, or baits. However, I will still list down how you can use these natural smell repellents and how long they can keep the cockroaches at bay.

Before you read further, just a quick question. Tired of cockroaches and looking for a permanent solution?

Stop wasting your time, invest in these products and follow this guide: How to get rid of roaches? You will be roach-free in 10-20 days.

1. Max Force Glue Traps
2. Advion Gel Baits
3. Harris Powder Bait
4. Gentrol Insect Growth Regulator
5. Loctite Foam Sealent


Optional Items
1. Gel Bait Professional Gun
2. Torch
3. Powder Bait Puffer
4. Insecticide Spray to kill a reveled colony in a single shot

Why coackroaches hate certain smells?

All living beings tend to identify harmful consumables with their smells. For example, we recognize rotten food with its smell, and our brains automatically generate feelings that keep us away from it.

Similarly, cockroaches also sense smells of products that are harmful to them. Essential oils have a mild tendency to kill cockroaches and palmetto bugs. Essential oils have been used as insecticides, but they are not super effective.

This natural tendency of essential oils keeps roaches away from places with these smells. However, cockroaches can overtake these smells like we humans get used to bad odors after a particular time. Someone living with many pets will never notice the smells coming out of their homes vs. an outside visitor. This applies to cockroaches as well.

How long will these smells repel cockroaches?

Cockroaches’ repellence depends on the essential oil or things you use to repel cockroaches out of your home or apartment. The level of infestations will also play a vital role in how long these repellents can work.

Using these repellents will never work if there is an already established infestation. The cockroaches may stay away from where you have used the essential oil for a few hours.

For instance, if you have applied the essential oil everywhere, you usually spot free-roaming cockroaches; you will limit the roaches to their nests or hiding places. However, once they feel hungry, they will come out of their nests in search of food, and a smell of natural repellent will not be able to stop them.

On the other hand, insecticide sprays will keep them away; they will even kill them if they walk of places with applied sprays.

Do all smell repellents work the same way?

Almost all essential oils work the same way. For example, coffee grounds or cinnamon barks keep cockroaches away due to their texture and feel.

These Smells keep cockroaches away

These scents have a mild insecticide property, which can kill a roach if directly sprayed on a cockroach in high concentration. However, doing so for many cockroaches is not a good solution as it will be costly and inefficient. Finding good-quality essential oils can also be a little tricky.

Still, it is a good idea to use the smells of these raw ingredients or essential oils to repel cockroaches away in the first place from y our home, bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, etc.

There are a few advantages of these essential oils or leaves. They are safe to use as they are not harmful like poison-based insecticides. Far easy to apply as it does not require special gear or clothing. They also have a pleasant smell, unlike commercial sprays.

Precaution: Always read all hazardous instructions provided with essential oils as they can be harmful to certain animals and pets like birds due to their strong smells.

1. Raw Leaves and Scents to deter cockroaches

Smell SourceUsageHow does it work?Effectiveness
Bay LeavesSprinkle crushed fresh or dried bay leaves around places you want to deter cockroaches. Can also keep in a small potIt has a pungent smell and insecticide properties. The smell keeps the roaches away.Moderate.
The smell will fade away and will need a replacement every week.
CinnamonSprinkle ground cinnamon on surfaces that roaches visitThe texture of cinnamon bark keeps roaches away, not its smell.Moderate.
Will need reapplication as they will blow away. Cockroaches can comeover the texture and may start consuming it
GarlicSprinkle garlic powder in tight corners. You can also use a full clove of freshly crushed garlic.The strong smell of garlic keeps roaches awayMild.
Fresh crushed garlic will rot in a week and will attract more pests. Will need a quick replacement.
Coffee GroundsSpread coffee grounds in areas where you commonly find roaches. Don’t use instant coffee.The coffee texture and strong smell keep roaches away.Moderate.
Place more coffee grounds if the existing is blown away. The smell of coffee grounds remains strong for months.
CitrusPlace cut open oranges or lemons are places where you find cockroaches. It can also be mixed with real roach poison for better results.Cockroaches dislike the strong smell of citrus fruits.Mild.
Will need quick replacement as the fruit will rot and attract flies, plus cause smell loved by cockroaches.
EucalyptusSpread crushed dried or fresh leaves in corners to deter cockroaches.A strong smell keeps cockroaches and bugs away.Moderate.
Easy to find, needs infrequent replacement. Works great.

2. Cockroaches hate these essential oils the most

Following is a list of essential oils that work wonders. Of course, you can also experiment with other oils, but I recommend starting with these.

According to research in the Journal of Anthropoid-Borne Diseases, it is concluded that essential oils are very effective against baby cockroaches and baby palmetto bugs. Furthermore, the mortality rate for the cockroach contact with these essential oils was 100% in most cases.

Due to the safe nature of these oils, they provide a great alternative to industrial pesticides. Therefore, the research was done on the following oils with individual results attached.

Essential Oils mortality rate for roaches

The essential oil works both ways. It helps deter roaches due to their smell and kills roaches if they consume it. In addition, the oils destroy the breathing mechanism of cockroaches after consumption.

Smell SourceUsageHow does it work?Effectiveness
Lavender OilUse a diffuser or smear around places you want to keep roaches away. Placing in a bowl is also an option.The pungent smell of lavender oil keeps roaches away. Works great if mixed with Citronella, Lemon, Rose, Basil oilsModerate.
It can be a little messy and will keep roaches away from the applied surfaces.
Tea Tree OilMix 1 tablespoon of vinegar in 4 tablespoons of water. Add two drops of tea tree oil. Use a spray bottle to spray it around places you want to keep roaches away.Strong smell and insecticide natureGood.
Easy to use, cost-effective, and a great way to keep pests and roaches away.
Eucalyptus OilMix 2 tablespoons with 100ml water. Spray around places where you see roachesThe strong smell of eucalyptus oil keeps roaches away.Good.
Easy to use. Have a tremendous pleasant smell.
Peppermint OilSpray after mixing water. Can make it more lethal by adding vinegar. Can also make place cotton balls soaked in peppermint oil.Powerful smell and skin-burning capabilities. Lethal for cockroaches.Good.
Storng sweet frangnance. Easy to use and very effective.
Citronella OilApply directly or after mixing with waterIt has a strong smell, mainly used against mosquitos and other bugs. Work for cockroaches as well.Mild.
It Will evaporate out quickly and needs to be re-applied.

So the above list of items will help keep roaches away.