What Do Cockroaches Hate: 7 Things Cockroaches Don’t Like!

Cockroaches are one of the most reviled pests in the world. They’re dirty, dangerous, and just plain gross. But what do these critters actually hate? Turns out, there are a few things that cockroaches are known to despise.

Strong smells seem to be a major cockroach repellent. Things like menthol, eucalyptus oil, and citrus scents tend to keep these pests away. Cockroaches also hate light. This is why you so often see them scurrying for cover when you turn on the lights in a room simply because they don’t like being out in the open.

cockroach near vegetables

Top 10 Things That Cockroaches Hate

Getting rid of cockroaches can be a challenge, but understanding what they hate can give you a leg up on these pests.

Peppermint Oil

If you’re looking for a natural way to get rid of cockroaches, peppermint oil is a great option. Cockroaches hate the strong scent of peppermint, and a few drops of this essential oil can quickly send them running.

Just be sure to apply the oil directly to areas where cockroaches are known to hide, such as under appliances and in cracks and crevices.

You can also try combining peppermint oil with eucalyptus oil or tea tree oil for even more pest-repelling power. In addition, peppermint oil can help to deter other pests, such as mice and spiders.


Catnip repels cockroaches due to its nepetalactone content. It has a pungent smell that cockroaches find offensive, and it’s also known to be toxic to these pests.

Planting catnips around your home’s perimeter can help to keep cockroaches at bay. You can also try crushing up the leaves and scattering them in areas where cockroaches are a problem.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are another great option for keeping cockroaches away. These aromatic leaves release a scent that repels cockroaches, and they can also help deter other pests, such as ants and spiders.

Bay leaves contain a chemical called linalool, which is known to be toxic to cockroaches. When exposed to this chemical, cockroaches will experience neurological damage, leading to paralysis and death.

Place bay leaves in strategic areas around your home, such as in cupboards, near entryways, and under appliances. You can also try boiling bay leaves in water and then spraying the solution around your home.

Petroleum Jelly

This sticky substance can be used to create a simple but effective trap. Just spread some petroleum jelly on a sheet of paper and place it in an area where cockroaches are known to congregate.

The cockroaches will be drawn to the petroleum jelly and become stuck when they try to crawl across it.

human scooping up petroleum jelly

Petroleum jelly disrupts their ability to sense touch and taste, leaving them disoriented and unable to escape. In addition, cockroaches breathe through tiny pores in their exoskeletons. Petroleum jelly can clog these pores, causing the cockroach to suffocate and eventually die.


According to studies, the powerful citric acid in lemons not only repels cockroaches but also disrupts their nervous systems and impairs their ability to process information. When exposed to lemon juice or lemon extracts, cockroaches move much more slowly and tend to be much clumsier than usual.

To use lemons to deter cockroaches, mix equal parts lemon juice and water in a spray bottle and spritz it around areas where cockroaches are a problem. You can also try scattering lemon peels around your home or soaking them in water to create a concentrated repellent solution.


Cinnamon is another excellent option for repelling cockroaches. These pests hate the strong, spicy scent of cinnamon, and a little goes a long way in deterring them.

You can sprinkle cinnamon around areas where cockroaches are a problem or try dabbing some on entry points, such as cracks and crevices. You can also try boiling cinnamon sticks in water to create a potent repellent solution.


This is a common ingredient in many cockroach-killing products. Boric acid is a powdery substance that is deadly to cockroaches.

It is a white powder that is odorless, tasteless, and non-staining. When cockroaches ingest boric acid, it interferes with their digestive system and causes them to become dehydrated and eventually die.

Borax is most effective when used in combination with other baits, such as sugar or flour. Just mix equal parts of borax and sugar or flour and place it in an area where cockroaches are a problem. The cockroaches will be attracted to the bait and consume it, resulting in their death.

Chrysanthemum Flowers

These beautiful flowers not only add a touch of elegance to your garden but also help to keep cockroaches away. Chrysanthemums contain a chemical called pyrethrin, which is deadly to cockroaches. When exposed to this chemical, cockroaches experience paralysis and death.

close up of chrysanthemum flowers

You can grow chrysanthemums around your home or use them to make a potent repellent solution. Just boil chrysanthemum flowers in water and then spray the solution around your home.

Did you know that the most popular cockroach sprays contain pyrethroids? Pyrethroids are synthetic chemicals that are similar to pyrethrin, the active ingredient in chrysanthemums.

Well-Lit Room

Cockroaches are attracted to dark, damp places. This is why they are often found in basements, crawl spaces, and other dark areas of the home.

If you want to keep cockroaches away, make sure to keep your rooms well-lit. While light doesn’t damage cockroaches, it does make them more visible, which can deter them from coming out of hiding.

You can also try using nightlights or placing light traps in areas where cockroaches are a problem. These devices emit a bright light that attracts cockroaches. When the cockroaches enter the trap, they are unable to escape and eventually die.

Silica Gel

Silica gel contains tiny particles of silica, which the roaches cannot tolerate due to their sharp edges. This substance is also hygroscopic, meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air, leaving cockroaches dehydrated and uncomfortable.

When this happens, they will leave the area searching for a more hospitable environment.

You can find silica gel at most hardware stores. Just leave packs of silica gel around areas where cockroaches are a problem. You can also try placing silica gel packets in pantries, cabinets, and drawers to keep cockroaches out of these areas.

Final Thoughts

Overall, cockroaches hate the smell of minty, citrus, and spicy scents. They also can’t stand the sight of light, so keeping your home well-lit can help to deter them. Other effective cockroach repellents include borax, chrysanthemums, and silica gel.