best cockroach killer


The best defense against cockroaches is to keep them out of your home in the first place, for example by sealing potential entry points, eliminating food and water sources, and reducing clutter where they can hide. But cockroaches are resourceful creatures, having survived this world for hundreds of millions of years, so the occasional infestation is inevitable. In fact, 63% of homes in the US contain cockroach allergens, according to the National Pest Management Association.

The experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute work closely with entomologists and pest control professionals to come up with best practices for controlling all types of pests, including ants, mice, silverfish and more. For this report, we’ve reviewed the best types of cockroach killers: gels, powders, and bait stations. We did not look at sprays and bombs because, as Dr. Changlu Wang of the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University states: “Insect bombs are completely ineffective. Sprays can kill some cockroaches, but they are not very effective and can easily contaminate surfaces.”

Our top picks:

Once you’ve read through the roundup of winners, stay tuned for more information on how we pick the best cockroach killers, what to keep in mind when shopping, and answers to common questions about cockroach infestations.

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Best Overall Roach Killer

Max Roach Killing Gel

  • Kill cockroaches quickly
  • Easy to apply
  • Exposed gel is a hazard to humans and pets

Gel bait is the most effective killer “because it can be applied in many places and closer to cockroach havens,” says Dr. Changlu Wang, Rutgers University entomologist. In extreme outbreaks, you may need to drop dozens of pea-sized dots wherever cockroaches are hiding to completely eradicate the infestation. Our experts like this version of Combat because the spray allows for easy application, including in cracks and crevices where cockroaches nest. A single tube should be sufficient for a one-bedroom apartment; multiple tubes may be required for larger homes. Keep in mind that the exposed gel contains the insecticide Fipronil, which is dangerous if it comes into contact with the skin or eyes, so you may want to choose a different type of roach killer if children and pets are present. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully


Best Powder Roach Killer

T530 Roach bait powder

  • Good value
  • Good for hard to reach places

Powders are the most affordable cockroach killer, and the longest lasting as well, provided they stay dry. Our experts note that this version of Terro claims to do the job not only on cockroaches, but also ants, silverfish and other pesky insects. The active ingredient is abamectin, which has been shown in outdoor studies to reduce cockroach populations when applied properly. However, it is also a known toxin, so it is important to avoid contact with skin and eyes. A single tube contains enough powder for 150 placements, easily applied with the 360-degree nozzle, 0ur pros say. “Powder is a good option for getting behind appliances and cabinets, two common hangouts for cockroaches,” explains Rachel Rothman, Executive Technical Director at the Good Housekeeping Institute.


Best Roach Killer with Boric Acid

Boric Acid Roach Powder

  • Not as toxic as other treatments
  • Cheap

The concept of “integrated pest management” (explained in more detail below) says to start with the least toxic option to see if it eliminates the problem before moving on to stronger pesticides. Our experts like that this powder is 99% boric acid, an inexpensive material that is less toxic to mammals than most synthetic insecticides, according to the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension. The puffer bottle with a nozzle applicator makes it easy to apply the powder into cracks and crevices. Boric acid can slowly lose its effectiveness after exposure to environmental moisture, so you may need to reapply the powder every one to two months until cockroaches are eliminated. For best results, you may need to combine the treatment with another type of cockroach, such as a gel or bait trap.


Most DIY Friendly Roach Killer

Home Insecticide

  • Easy to use
  • Little risk for skin/eye contact
  • Least cost effective
  • Large casings cannot fit into cracks and crevices

Bait stations are the easiest type of roach killer to use. “Just place individual stations in the desired location,” says Dr. Wang. “They are easily thrown away after cockroaches have been eliminated.” These fast-acting lures from Hot Shot use a liquid gel that our experts say should do a good job of attracting jackfruit because it contains attractive food sources. It contains the active ingredient dinotefuran, an insecticide, but the plastic container should limit exposure to skin and eyes, provided you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. The downside with this and other bait stations is the high cost, plus the fact that even the best of the best will not be as effective as pure gel in defeating cockroaches.

How we choose the best cockroach killers

For this report, our experts at the Good Housekeeping Institute scoured the market for cockroaches to identify the products you’re most likely to find in stores and online. We also consulted with outside experts at the Department of Entomology at Rutgers University and the Building Performance Institute, which develops standards for managing pest-free homes. Although we didn’t test cockroaches in our lab, we based our brand selection in part on home tests conducted by Good Housekeeping staff. We also reviewed the safety data of all selected products and reviewed online reviews for red flags related to performance, safety or usability.

What to look for when choosing the best cockroach killer

To find out which cockroach is the best fit for your home, weigh the pros and cons of the three main types. As mentioned earlier, our experts do not recommend sprays and nebulizers, as they are both ineffective and potentially dangerous. Keep in mind that cockroaches can become resistant to killers, so it’s a good idea to try a variety of products, especially if one proves ineffective.

✔️ Yellow: If you’re dealing with a serious cockroach infestation, reach for the gel. This is the most direct treatment, as gels are filled with a tasty food source that attracts cockroaches. They then bring the slow-release poison back to the nest, where it kills the entire colony. If cockroaches are still present after a few weeks, apply a second application. The main disadvantage of gels is that they are more difficult to apply than baits and the exposed substance is a potential hazard if ingested by humans or pets.

✔️ Bait/traps: With this option, a slow-release poison gel is housed in a plastic station, which is placed wherever cockroaches are present. Baits are much easier to install, but they are not as effective as raw gels, and tend to be the most expensive option. The relatively bulky enclosures mean they can’t be shoved into tight spaces where cockroaches like to hang out. As with gels, follow-up treatments should be repeated every few weeks until roaches are eliminated — meaning no roaches are found over a four-week period, according to the Rutgers University Cooperative Extension.

✔️ Powders: This treatment is affordable and easy to apply. Powders often contain boric acid, which is less toxic to mammals than most synthetic insecticides. It kills cockroaches after ingesting it, so it’s good to spread the dust thoroughly under and behind appliances, in cracks and crevices along walls or behind baseboards.

Are cockroach killers safe?

Based on our expert review of the safety data sheets, the products included in this summary pose minimal safety risks when used properly. That said, it is important to avoid ingestion, as well as contact with skin and eyes. This is possible with gels, baits and powders, but less so with sprays and foggers, which is why we do not recommend them. “Fertilizers can kill those pests that come into direct contact with the chemical residue, but they do not penetrate the crevices where cockroaches are known to hide and nest,” says the Building Performance Institute. “Foggers can also be dangerous to human health, and the chemicals are a fire risk that when exposed to an open flame such as a pilot light can ignite and cause the fogger to explode.”

The pest specialists we consulted also say to stay away from essential oil-based sprays, which are often marketed as “all natural.” Most of them only work when applied directly to the roach and offer little to no after-effect, making them much less effective for long-term control.

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Integrated pest management, or IPM for short, is based on the idea that there is no single cure-all solution to pest control. “Several things must be done to prevent pests from entering the home and to make the home a less desirable habitat if they do enter,” reports the Building Performance Institute. The strategy follows a pyramid approach. In the case of cockroaches, involves the bottom of the pyramid make the structure cockroach-proof, for example by sealing openings with caulk and foam sealant. The second phase includes elimination of sources of food and moisture, by, for example, fixing leaking pipes and storing food properly. Only then does IPM come in chemical treatments, start with the least toxic options, such as boric oxygen, then move on to bait stations and gels. Sprays and nebulizers are at the top of the pyramid and are rarely used in IPM except for emergency applications.

Why Trust Good Housekeeping?

The Good Housekeeping Institute Home Improvement & outdoor Lab offers expert reviews and advice on all things home, including pest management. In his role as Director of the Home Improvement and Outdoor Laboratory, Dan DiClerico brings more than 20 years of experience to the Institute, having reviewed thousands of Good Housekeeping products, as well as brands such as This Old House and Consumer Reports. He has also written extensively on the topic of healthy homes, including the negative impact of pests and other allergens on indoor air quality. And he used all the different cockroaches covered in this report.

For this report, Dan worked closely with Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and director of engineering at the Institute. For more than 15 years, Rachel has put her training in mechanical engineering and applied mathematics to work researching, testing, and writing about products across the home improvement space.

Health, Beauty and Sustainability Lab Director Birnur Aral, Ph.D. shared her expertise on insecticide safety. In addition to holding M.Ing. and Ph.D. degrees in chemical engineering, Birnur recently added a professional certificate in sustainability management from Columbia University to her credentials. She has been an active leader in conceptualizing many of our green initiatives, including the GH Sustainable Innovation Awards and our annual Raise the Green Bar Summit.

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