Does Bleach Kill Roaches?

Written by Brandi Allred
Published: February 3, 2022
Image Credit pixfly/Shutterstock.com
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You see a cockroach scurry across your kitchen floor. Immediately, you wonder: will bleach kill cockroaches? The answer may surprise you. There are many ways to get rid of roaches, and even more ways to prevent them from moving in in the first place. Whether you decide to take the DIY approach to your cockroach infestation or call in a professional, this information is for you.

Here, we’ll learn a little more about cockroaches, and how to distinguish them from other common bugs. Then, we’ll analyze what you should look out for in terms of an infestation. Then, we’ll go over just how effective bleach is against these tiny intruders, and what other methods there are for preventing and killing roaches. Finally, we’ll discover how to bring cockroaches out of hiding, and how to prevent them from moving into your home or business.

What Are Cockroaches?

Cockroaches are medium-sized insects with brown or black bodies composed of a head, thorax, and abdomen. They have six legs and two very long antennae; each leg is covered in sharp spikes which help the cockroach climb walls and furniture. Roaches have three distinct life stages: egg, nymph, and adult. 

Other insects, like beetles, bed bugs, and termites, are often confused with cockroaches. Roaches feast on all kinds of debris; including plant, animal, and human waste. There are many ways of managing household roaches, but, will bleach kill a cockroach? Read on to find out.

Signs of a Roach Infestation

Certain species of roach, like German and American cockroaches, are more likely to come into your home than other species, like wood roaches. Things like garbage, leaky pipes, left out food, and cluttered, dark areas all draw cockroaches indoors. Once inside, they make their presence known, unfortunately, through unpleasant smells and stains and the spread of pathogens. 

Signs of a cockroach infestation range from seeing a single roach, to finding entire ‘nests’ of roaches. Cockroach nests are places where roaches congregate; they’re often dark, damp, warm, and close to food. Wherever roaches go, they leave behind feces, shed exoskeletons, egg cases, bad smells, and stains. Many people have allergies to cockroaches, so your body may know they’re there before you do.

Will Bleach Kill Cockroaches?

Baby Cockroach - Cockroach Egg
Bleach will only kill roaches if they happen to fall into a vat of it, which is unlikely. It is not an effective weapon against roaches

Georgy Dzyura/Shutterstock.com

Upon seeing a cockroach, your first instinct may be to grab the bleach. But, will bleach kill roaches?

Unfortunately, bleach is a very ineffective method for killing cockroaches. It has a very strong smell, so it doesn’t work as bait, and cockroaches won’t willingly go to it. The only real way to kill a roach with bleach is to drown it, and there are much more effective ways of killing cockroaches. Bleach is also highly corrosive, and can easily damage any surface you apply it to. It doesn’t stick to roaches either, so they won’t ingest it from grooming or spread it to other cockroaches.

What Kills Roaches Instantly?

Bleach may not kill roaches, but other pesticides, like boric acid, are much more effective. Boric acid can be sprinkled in areas that cockroaches frequent, or even on the roaches themselves. Unlike bleach, boric acid sticks to roaches. When they clean themselves, they ingest it and die quickly. 

If a cockroach is coated in boric acid, it rapidly dehydrates or loses the ability to breathe. It’s the closest thing to killing a cockroach instantly that you’ll get without crushing them, one at a time, under your shoe.

What Smells Keep Roaches Away?

While bleach is ineffective when it comes to killing cockroaches, it does repel them. But, bleach should only be used with extreme caution, as it is toxic when ingested, and has the potential to bleach or damage anything it touches.

When it comes to deterring roaches with smells, bleach may not be the best option. There are many folk methods involving oils and spices, though these remedies don’t have proven efficacy. The regular application of pesticides by a pest professional may be the best option for keeping cockroaches out.

Does Lysol Kill Cockroaches?

Lysol can be used to suffocate cockroaches, but it shouldn’t be your first choice. Lysol is meant to kill bacteria, not bugs. Instead of Lysol, consider setting out baited traps specially designed for cockroaches, or calling in a professional pest exterminator to take care of the infestation.

Does Bleach Kill Cockroaches - Dead Cockroach
Household items like bleach and Lysol are not effective against roaches. Instead, opt for pesticides specially designed for taking care of cockroaches

pixfly/Shutterstock.com

How Do You Get Roaches Out of Hiding?

Cockroaches come out at night, and hide during the day. This can make it very difficult to know if your traps and pesticides are working. Many people ask: how do you draw cockroaches out of hiding? Well, the truth is, you don’t really need to.

When a cockroach smells food, they will go to it. If that food is in a baited trap, then they will die. If you’ve put down boric acid or had a professional spray pesticides, then the roaches will die. So, while bleach may not kill cockroaches, pesticides will, and there’s no need to actively get the roaches out of hiding to eliminate them.

The one place bleach is really effective, when it comes to cockroaches, is after they’re dead. A solution of bleach, administered using proper precautions, like gloves and a breathing mask, is highly effective for cleaning up roach remains. As always, use caution; too much bleach can do more damage than help.

How to Prevent a Cockroach Infestation

As you might have guessed, the best way to keep cockroaches out of your home is to clean up after yourself. Remove all uneaten food immediately, and store all foods in plastic containers. Cockroaches are also attracted to clutter, so decluttering is also a good idea. While you’re taking care of any clutter, keep in mind that roaches love cardboard boxes; replace any corrugated cardboard boxes with plastic totes.

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About the Author

I am a professional writer by day and a fiction writer by night. My nonfiction work focuses on animals, nature, and conservation. I hold degrees in English and Anthropology, and spend my free time writing horror, scifi, and fantasy stories.