Does Baking Soda Kill Roaches? 5 Important Things to Know Before Using It

Written by Thomas Godwin
Published: October 25, 2023
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Sodium bicarbonate has so many uses that the idea of using baking soda to kill roaches is only natural. As a staple in households since the mid-19th century, the uses for baking soda are so numerous it requires a separate article just to cover them. You probably have one of those small, orange-colored boxes in your fridge right now.

So, how do you use baking soda to kill roaches? Is it a safe and effective method? Baking soda is relatively cheap, which makes it an ideal pest control method. However, it’s not the cockroach slaughtering machine it’s made out to be, nor is it completely ineffective.

Before you start sprinkling baking soda everywhere, there are a few things you need to know, including its uses and its dangers. No one looks at baking soda and sees much of a threat, but that’s before you start using it throughout the house as a pest control solution.

What Is Baking Soda?

What Is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is the term used for sodium bicarbonate



Baking soda is one of those products that is so ingrained in the consumer consciousness that it’s hard to imagine not having a box of it somewhere in the house. Otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is an early 19th-century invention.

John Dwight and Austin Church (two bakers in 1846 America) took a Nicolas Leblanc and Valentin discovery/invention and ran with it, creating a factory for mass production. Baking soda is now one of those things we can’t imagine not having in the home.

As an alkaline substance, it neutralizes acids, which makes it an option for indigestion or GERD issues. It’s a natural cleaning agent for use throughout the home, a produce wash, a laundry detergent or supplement, an anti-inflammatory agent for angry bug bites, a mouth rinse, an antifungal agent, and a cockroach killer.

5 Things to Know Before Using Baking Soda

Besides making cookies much larger when they come out of the oven, baking soda will kill roaches. However, you shouldn’t use it indiscriminately, and it’s more or less effective depending on how you use it.

1. Baking Soda Alone Won’t Work

1. Baking Soda Alone Won't Work

A roach infestation is notoriously difficult to reverse.

© wijitpanya

While baking soda will kill roaches, it won’t do so on its own. Roaches come inside the home for the same reasons that other bugs do the same. They are looking for shelter, food, and water. If your home readily provides at least two of the three, roaches are liable to show up in numbers.

Sprinkling baking soda in areas where you know roaches frequently will do nothing. Baking soda doesn’t work on roaches like diatomaceous earth does. Diatomaceous earth, under a microscope, is a deadly house of horrors, full of razor-sharp particles that attach to roaches, slicing them apart. While these shards of diatomaceous earth don’t outright kill roaches, the cuts drain the roaches of fluids, dehydrating them.

Baking soda cuts roaches as well, but it’s not as brutal as diatomaceous earth. Baking soda will kill roaches, but they need to eat it first. The best way to do that is to mix some sugar in with the baking soda before you lay it out. Starchy and sweet foods are good substitutes for sugar as well. If you can mix baking soda in with something roaches are known to love, you’re in business.

2. Baking Soda Won’t Always Eliminate Your Roach Problem

2. Baking Soda Won't Always Eliminate Your Roach Problem

Baking soda is great for preventing roach infestations, but not for handling one.

© Ide

If you have an infestation, you’ll need a lot more than baking soda to deal with it. A female American cockroach will lay one ootheca per month, which houses around 16 eggs. She’ll lay about ten in all, totaling 160 new roaches. The German cockroach, however, will create the same number of ootheca, with each containing up to 40 eggs.

Imagine a bunch of females creating 400 new cockroaches every 10 months, with each of those new cockroaches capable of breeding quickly. Baking soda won’t be able to handle that. You should use it only as a deterrent for the occasional roach. If you have an infestation, you’ll need something much stronger or a professional exterminator.

3. Baking Soda and Combinations May Harm Your Pet

3. Baking Soda And Combinations May Harm Your Pet

Small amounts of baking soda are harmless, but puppies are more susceptible to eating too much per pound of body weight.

©RoschetzkyIstockPhoto/iStock via Getty Images

The baking soda is supposed to kill roaches, not make your puppy or kitty sick. While even a small dog has to consume quite a bit of baking soda to get sick, it’s not just baking soda. Since you have to mix it with sugar or other sweets, the potential for making your pet sick just goes up.

A polite sniff or a quick lick won’t do anything, but you want to keep your pets away from areas where you are using large quantities. Baking soda has a few positive uses for dogs and cats, such as an alternative to shampoo. However, you don’t want them eating it, along with whatever it’s mixed with.

4. Combine Baking Soda With Potato Cubes

4. Combine Baking Soda With Potato Cubes

Starch is high on the cockroach’s list of favorite foods.

©Picture Partners/

Cockroaches love starch almost as much as they love sugar. Cubing semi-cooked potatoes and sprinkling baking soda on them is an effective way of attracting and killing roaches. It’s far more convenient than sprinkling the stuff around or laying out paper plates.

They’re like little cockroach traps you can lay just about anywhere. Unfortunately, using starches and sugars combined with baking soda to kill roaches does come with one major caveat. This leads us to our next point.

5. Baking Soda and Food Attracts Other Insects

5. Baking Soda and Food Attracts Other Insects

Ants can smell food from a long distance and will come running.

©Victor Suarez Naranjo/

You may think this is okay since it will kill other insects as well. However, when you have a 50′ long trail of fire ants running through your home, you might change your mind. The thing is, you have to be careful about where you lay out food or baking soda mixed with sugar.

Roaches aren’t the only things on earth that are highly attracted to sugars and starches. Ants are likely to be your biggest problem since they can smell food from a long way away.

How Long Does Baking Soda Take to Kill Roaches?

For the most part, expect to wait around 24 to 48 hours for a roach to die from exposure to or consumption of baking soda. The thing is, if you’re dealing with an infestation, you probably won’t even notice a slow-down in roach appearances.

Baking soda only kills roaches that come directly into contact with it. Though the roach may carry some sharp particles around with it, it’s usually not enough to kill other roaches. Think of baking soda as a one-on and one-off pesticide. That’s why it’s a much more effective deterrent for roaches that wander in from outside, not for hordes of them.

Other Natural Roach Deterrents

Baking soda isn’t the only natural substance that kills roaches. There’s a fairly wide variety of natural substances useful for killing roaches.

Boric Acid

Boric Acid

Boric acid is far more effective at killing roaches than baking soda.


Boric acid attacks the roach’s gut and, like baking soda, is more effective if consumed. Mixing it with peanut butter is an excellent combination, or with sugar for the roaches to walk through. It’s not as brutal on their exoskeleton as diatomaceous earth is, but it is capable of killing them that way as well.

Unlike baking soda, boric acid should not be consumed in any way, shape, form, or amount by your pets. Keep it and them away from the other. Also, like baking soda, the need to mix boric acid with sugars or starches attracts other insect traffic into and throughout the home.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth kills bugs, yet it won’t stop them immediately.


Food-grade diatomaceous earth is a fantastic alternative to chemical pesticide use in the home. Like boric acid and baking soda, the roach needs to be drawn in. Like baking soda, it will kill roaches. But it won’t do so in the same way. Diatomaceous earth is a death by a thousand cuts.

Walking through diatomaceous earth will cut the roach’s exoskeleton into ribbons. With their bodies compromised, their internal fluids leak out, dehydrating and killing them. The biggest thing you need to be concerned with is choosing the right diatomaceous earth. Stick with food grade, as the other stuff is very bad for you.

Final Thoughts

Baking soda will kill roaches, but it’s not as effective as chemical pesticides, boric acid, or diatomaceous earth. However, it’s a good choice for control, rather than combatting a full-blown infestation. Other natural means didn’t make our alternative list because they are often misleading or ineffective.

These include lemon juice, coffee grounds, dryer sheets, and isopropyl alcohol. Think of baking soda as somewhere comfortably in the middle. While it is effective, you need to look elsewhere if your roach problem is severe.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © gan chaonan/

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About the Author

Thomas is a freelance writer with an affinity for the great outdoors and Doberman Pinschers. When he's not sitting behind the computer, pounding out stories on black bears and reindeer, he's spending time with his family, two Dobermans (Ares and Athena), and a Ragdoll cat named Heimdal. He also tends his Appleyard Ducks and a variety of overly curious and occasionally vexatious chickens.

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