What Smells Do Cockroaches Hate? Using Aroma as a Weapon

While there are many ways to get rid of cockroaches, it’s better to prevent their invasion before it happens. One of the methods to do it is to answer: what smell do cockroaches hate? If they hate it but you rather like it, it will be an efficient and a pleasant way to keep your household roach-free.

With the list of smells to use against them, you feel armed and prepared. So, here is something about smells these little insects detest, and also how to apply them right. Now, prepare your nostrils: we proceed to a real fragrance of a text.

What Smells Do Cockroaches Hate?
There are a variety of smells that cockroaches hate:

  • Citrus,
  • Eucalyptus,
  • Lavender,
  • Peppermint,
  • Cinnamon.

cockroaches in the hand

Cockroach Smells Guide

If you want to keep cockroaches away with aromatic substances, you need to:

  • Choose among the scents roaches hate.
  • Apply it where they may be.
  • Do it for a long time so they form a strong behavioral pattern to avoid your territory.

Easily said, but there are always details to which we proceed.

Benefits of using smells to repel roaches

There are various ways to get rid of cockroaches: gel baits, baking soda or borax mixtures, or calling pest control services. Still, keeping them away with smells seems one of the most attractive options. Why? Because there are some benefits about it:

  • You don’t have to deal with the dead ones. In fact, you don’t even have to kill them at all.
  • You don’t put your kids or pets at risk.
  • Most smells that repel roaches are rather pleasant for humans.

Knowing this, you can build an efficient method of keeping roaches out of your household. Just make sure the smell is strong enough for them to feel it and not too strong for your family and especially pets to tolerate it.

There are other conveniences about using smells as roach repellents:

  • Easy to apply. You don’t have to search where roached prefer to dwell. The smell should be in the air, that’s it.
  • May be pleasant for humans. Tastes differ, of course, but most smells from the list below are usually conceived as “pleasant” rather than “disgusting” (though for each of them, there are persons who hate it).

Scents that roaches hate

Oh, get ready: it will be a long list. Even mentioning all the scents that repel roaches would be quite a job. So let’s focus on those that are probably among your household items or are easy to buy and apply.

cockroach died from the smell

Citrus fruits

Lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits are universally loved by humans. Not so much by insects. Any of these smells is repelling cockroaches… but only in a certain concentration. You may remember that lemon, lime, or orange peels often appear in your garbage bin, and not that it repels all the cockroaches immediately.

So, using them must be a little harder. You can just place some slices of fresh lemon and lime in locations where you spot roaches the most often or you see most of their feces and traces. This may be efficient enough.

To make sure, I’d recommend also spraying around some juice (if it’s concentrated, you don’t need to dilute it) where they roam. Repeat the procedure two or three times, after a day or two.

After you succeed, it would be great to add a bit of lemon juice to the water you use for cleaning your floors. This will keep the smell unnoticeable (or pleasantly present in the background) for humans, nut for cockroaches, should they explore the chance to return, it’s a sign of danger still present.

Yet the result is not granted. Some populations may be well accustomed to these smells because they often deal with citrus smells in waste. If so, you better try another smell for them, which may be just as pleasant for you: for example, mint.

Mint

Mint (in our case, peppermint) is a classical flavor for almost everything that should be pleasant, from tea and lemonade to menthol cigarettes and shisha. No, one mint tea party or hookah session will not be enough. Mint should be applied differently if you want to spoil someone’s life with it. Growing mint in your courtyard will be a good way to repel them even outside your house.

As for indoor use, if the roaches are already in, you can use it as an oil, diluted with water, the same way as you do with other essential oils.

cockroach on green leaves

Eucalyptus

Koalas may adore it. But roaches, being nowhere as cute, detest this Australian scent. So, using eucalyptus essential oil is a good idea to keep them away. This tree works as a guard even if it’s made small and put into a small bottle of essential oil.

It’s recommended to apply the oil not all-around your household but mostly where you locate the roaches’ nest or where they frequent the most. In the kitchen, at your garbage bin, or in the closet where you store food. It’s better to remove all the food before applying it, of course.

The recommended ratio is 3 oz of water and 10 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. Then spray this mixture around the infested area. If you keep seeing cockroaches or their traces in a day or two, you better reapply it. Repeat until they’re gone.

The problem is that eucalyptus smell is not as universally loved by humans as, say, mint or citric scents. If you or some of your family members dislikes it, you better try something else, which may be just as efficient against insects. And must be much easier to grow, should you ever want a live plant instead of processed oils. For example, lavender.

Lavender

Lavender oil for roaches is a well-known repellent. But there are some populations resistant to it; maybe they even sort of like it. If it’s the case with your uninvited guests, you’ll have to find another aromatic repellent for them.

If you want to try it, the best way of using it is spraying. Spray a little of it where roaches often appear: on their roads or near the nest. If your population is sensitive to it, it will quickly react and call the movers to find a new street address. If not… Then you’re gonna need a bigger bottle.

And, by the way, living lavender will also be great for keeping roaches away around your house. So some plants in your courtyard may work as a sort of barbed wire for cockroaches.

Cedar

But if you judge by the touch, cedar (as a conifer) feels much more like barbed wire with its sharp shoots. So is its sharp aroma, famous enough to be also produced as an essential oil. Growing a natural cedar (no matter which kind) in your yard is a long work, it takes decades. So we’re left with essential oil, which isn’t hard to find.

a live cockroach on a white background

The natural cedar fragrance is quite strong and even amplified in essential oil. So I’d recommend diluting it before using. It’s not as sweet as lavender, and you’ll probably prefer it not so strong.

Tea tree

There are some species collectively known as “tea tree,” and the scent they produce is really that of tea (though it’s a different plant altogether). Some say it helps with the sort of exorcising you need. Others, though, argue that the efficiency of this essential oil (in what other form are we supposed to use it?) is, to say the least, doubtable. The deterring effect is very low if any.

Yet the greatest thing about these oils is that they fill your household with aromas. Driving the cockroaches away will be just a side effect. So, if you just like its scent around, you may also hope it helps against insects.

Cypress

Hello, is your name Dr. Greenthumb? If not, I won’t recommend you growing real cypresses around your house. Especially if you’re not going to wait 30-40 years for these trees to reach their height. Cypress essential oil, though, it just what you need if you want to try.

Though its success is not universally proven, there are reports that it helps to drive roaches away. And I wouldn’t dismiss these reports, given how diverse roach populations and breeds are. Some may really be sensitive to cypress oil. The method of using it is generic: mix it with water and spray where you have spotted them.

By the way, if a thought of weed just crossed your mind… just don’t. Not only does weed itself just attract cockroaches, no matter how thick the smoke. But if you abuse it, you may one day slide into the lifestyle that roaches adore, with the mess in your room, dishes unwashed, bed unmade, and so on. Not that I mind it as a recreation, but it’s another reason to keep roaches away rather than a tool for that.

How to use smells to repel cockroaches

As most of these smells above are floral, it gives us some options in terms of how to use them – mostly the choice is between natural and processed forms. What do roaches hate the most? That’s the first thing for you to learn by trial and error. Then find your method of applying what you’ve chosen.

Plant natural plants

dead cockroach near plants

With plants like lavender, it makes sense to have them live in your courtyard or even an apartment (if you are into flower growing). This is more than just eco: this provides a pleasant look along with a good smell. Of course, plants require some care, but it’s fun, unlike taking care of cockroaches.

Choose essential oils

Essential oils are the form in which most of these smells are available, especially tree aromas. You can buy cypress, cedar, eucalyptus, or other essential oils, so you don’t have to grow a real eucalyptus or cypress tree in your courtyard. If it can ever grow there.

These oils can provide what you need – a strong smell carried by the essence of the tree, preserved by specially crafted oils that keep these fluid substances controllable. A small bottle of essential oil can contain enough smell to fill a large house with it multiple times.

Concentrated juices

When it comes to lemon or lime juice, they are better when fresh, but only for cocktails. Unless you’re seriously going to treat your roaches with a sort of daiquiri or mojito, you don’t need it freshly squeezed. It’s just easier to buy it concentrated.

Dilute before applying

Why are essential oils called essential? Because they are essential, that is, highly concentrated. The smell they provide is, yes, strong enough to repel cockroaches. But it may as well repel you and your family. So to minimize it, you can do the following:

  • Dilute it with water. Usually, it will take more water and a little oil (like 3 oz and 10 drops). If the smell is still felt, it’s okay. It works fine with, say, eucalyptus oil, and is said to work well with cypress or cedar oils.
  • Dilute it with a mixture of water and vinegar. This recipe is said to work with tea tree oil (though you may try it in other forms because its efficiency is questionable).

cockroach on a wooden floorIf you want it to act faster, you may use higher concentration. But usually, there’s no need to.

Spray it around

Not all around, of course. Apply it the same way that you do with various poisons. Take some time to spot where cockroaches in your household prefer to appear and where they are seen the most frequently. It’s great if you find the nest, but if you just uncover their roads, that’s fine too.

Then spray a little oil, juice, or whatever you choose down at these roads or spots. This is where they will surely feel that intolerable smell and seriously think of moving somewhere else. Isn’t that what you want?

Spraying has some advantages:

  • Easy to apply;
  • The smell stays for some time, making it impossible for the roaches to dismiss;
  • Can be applied where you cannot put a tray (including vertical surfaces);
  • Requires no extra liquid.

Finding a spray bottle (if your oil didn’t come with it somehow) is no big issue. As you spray the liquid around, the concentration of it remains high, and the area you can apply it to is also larger. Mind the surface you spray it onto: for example, wood or cardboard can absorb the smell. And when it comes to repelling roaches, it’s just for the better.

Alternatives

As you read this, you may think using scents to repel cockroaches is the best method. No, in fact, it’s just the most pleasant one. It doesn’t require dealing with the dead or using lethal poison (if your moral codex goes that far).

But if it doesn’t help, you’ll have to switch to gel baits, borax or baking soda with sugar, and other WMD for roaches. The good thing is that you haven’t wasted the money anyway: a good scent is always useful.

FAQ

To concentrate the knowledge like a juice, I address some questions raised the most frequently by the idea of exorcising these infernal creatures with smells.

What smell do cockroaches hate the most?

What smells repel cockroaches depends on the population. Various populations may have different preferences about both the smells they love and those they detest. Among those listed above, you’ll need to find your own aromatic weapon, and it may take more than one try.

a cockroach died on a wooden floor

What are cockroaches afraid of?

It differs, but mostly it’s light (that’s why you mostly see them in the night), cleanliness (which means hunger and thirst for them), and certain smells. Again, it may be very individual for various populations, so you need to try your approach. If a certain smell doesn’t deter them, try another.

What smell do roaches love?

There is nothing special about what they love to smell: sugar, honey, cheese, meat – well, I’m in it too! But it means these smells should not prevail in your kitchen if you don’t want to invite these little creatures. Instead, override these with those they hate.

Do dead cockroaches attract more?

Yes, and that’s because of another smell they adore. This time, it’s oleic acid which smells quite strongly. Roaches can consume their dead as well (no fava beans and chianti required), and yes, a dead body attracts others. That’s how poisons work, by the way: one poisoned roach kills more.

My Neighbor Cocoro / Smelled Away

If it’s not the most efficient way to get rid of roaches, it’s arguably the most pleasant. Among what smells keep roaches away there’s one you’re going to enjoy; just pick it and watch them leave. Just be consistent and continue this aroma practice even after you haven’t seen a single one for a while.

Have you ever tried to smell your neighbors away? Did you succeed? What smell would you prefer to use for this purpose? And could it be that it will become your new habit to keep this aroma around? Welcome to the comments, let’s speak aromas!

Also read:

References

  • It’s a different plant altogether (Wikipedia):
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melaleuca
Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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