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5 Ways to Kill Cockroaches on the Cheap

Updated: Apr 11, 2022 18:30
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“What is…? Kill it! Wait, is it dragging my tennis racket?!”

Growing up, I’d never seen a cockroach. When I moved to NYC, a few fellows warned of these critters, telling fables about the roaches flying, eating through concrete…and dragging tennis rackets.

I’d snicker.

I don’t snicker anymore.

After a few months here, I’ve entered full-blown insect warfare, trying everything short of carpet-bombing the suckers—insect Dresden has crossed my mind. Foot combat proved ineffective. Weaponry, like a day-old Times, proved messy. And modern tactics, like boric acid and caulk, proved oddly ineffective to roaches but strangely damaging to my cat (Winston’s fine, by the way).

With the assistance of childhood adages, here are proven and cheap alternatives to insecticide and exterminators. Plus, all of these ingredients can be found in your cupboards.

*As a warning, these tactics won’t stop an infestation, but they’ll easily eliminate the occasional outbreak—similar to combatting eighth grade acne.

  1. “Sticks and stones may break its bones, but boiling water finishes the job.” I’ve bludgeoned, beaten, and battered them with my Louisville Slugger, only to watch it return to fight—pointers up—like the a boxer before the knockout blow. Solution: Boil water. Splash water onto the roach. Watch it sizzle away, saving you time, effort, and a bat cleaning.
  2. “Sugar is sweet but sweeter with…baking soda.” Due to arson’s, generally, damaging qualities, I’ll focus on the importance of baking soda. Cockroaches love sugar but are deathly allergic to baking soda. Mixing a bowl of half water and half baking soda is enough to lure the roach and instantly destroy it.
  3. “Trap it in a crack, and then break its back.” I understand these tactics veer on violent and cruel, but, as someone who’s struggled with cockroaches for a few months, all compassion has evaporated. Take a jar and lubricate the insides with some Vaseline or petroleum jelly. Fill the jar with a sugary beverage—I prefer grape Kool Aid or stale PBR. The Kool Aid charms the roach, and, once inside of the jar, it’s stuck because of the lubricated walls. Next, squash the bugger with a paper towel.
  4. “Liar, liar, set ‘em on fire.” Female cockroaches can produce three-hundred to four-hundred offspring in its lifetime…and do this asexually! While I’m convinced carpet-bombing is the only sure-fire way to eliminate the enemy, a simple candy-coated candle will do the trick. Use a sugary-scented candle or douse the interior with a Pixy Stick, set it aflame, and watch the roaches jump into Hell.
  5. “Treat roaches the way you’d like to be treated—if you bombarded a stranger’s apartment, jumped on their face as they slept, and defecated on the dinner table.” I’m not advising you to defecate on a roach’s dinner table, but bleach it for them. Bleach to roaches, much like humans, creates a deadly reaction. I recommend pouring some down the drains and drenching each nook of your apartment, ensuring a most untimely death. If the bleach isn’t working, then do unto others as they do to you. Jump on the roaches face. While you’re at it, reenact scenes from STOMP.

Again, none of these methods will fully exterminate cockroaches. That’s why we have Orkin and geckos.

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Tommy Burson - Tommy Salami Never Expires

Tommy Burson - Tommy Salami Never Expires

Manufactured in Detroit and displaced East. He writes, jokes, and has perfected the karaoke rendition of Toto's "Africa."


  1. victiminmyownhome
    February 6, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    think I’ll try the sugar and baking soda…I actually just bought some baking soda today cause I researched it the night before but I forgot if it needed to be wet or not

  2. […] […]

  3. JoJoe
    June 11, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    I used bleach on a Roach it violently threw up and died pretty gross but yea I hate them sometimes I use a sticky pad then pour hot wax in there face an watch them scream

    • Kimberly A. Wilson
      March 21, 2017 at 6:20 pm

      That’s horrible. It’s hard for me to see even a roach suffer..but there’s no polite asking them to leave,unfortunately. Especially with my German roach problem :/

  4. roach hater
    June 16, 2014 at 10:02 am

    thanks to whoever wrote this, I m trying on the sugar baking soda…love your writing cracks me up..

  5. jlbpenguin
    August 23, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    Ok…I know you want believe me when I tell you this but here it goes. Mix water and dish soap in a spray bottle. Not enough to foam but enough to tint the water blue, yellow, or whatever other color. Just a few sprays will make them die a very twitchy and satisfying death. Something about the soap clogging their breathing pores and the surface tension of the water keeping it in place. But its child and pet safe so go crazy and blast those buggers

  6. gina
    October 14, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Cedar wood repels them to they hate the smell buy the chip or oil spray around your home or Kay chip around you can even burn the chips in a burner

  7. Charles Clayton
    March 30, 2015 at 5:27 am

    You missed out the main and very easily available product is Boric acid.

  8. […] Don’t just scatter baking soda on the ground because chances are cockroaches will ignore them because it doesn’t taste good. You’ll need a bait, to be more specific sugar then mix it with water (53, 54). […]

  9. Janet Neese
    May 7, 2016 at 11:58 am

    Clorox bleach spray is pretty much instant death for a roach. I keep bottles in the kitchen and bathroom where see them most. We live in an apartment complex and was the worst mistake we ever made never had them before we moved here. I think the only way they could ever get rid of them permanently is burn the place down. Once I get out of here I will never live in an apartment ever again.

  10. Artivist
    November 3, 2016 at 10:33 pm

    409 cleaner in the jet spray setting. When I lived in a shithole roach infested studio apartment in the tenderloin owned by a slumlord, I kept a bottle of 409 by my futon, and picked the cockroaches off the walls and ceiling before they crawled down and into my mouth.

    Instant and very satisfying death. Ptew ptew ptew!!!!