While ladybugs and stinkbugs can be annoying, no insect has a reputation quite as terrible as the cockroach. These fast-moving insects can flatten down to fit in the tiniest of spaces, using openings as a highway tunnel system throughout your home. Luckily, roaches are repelled by lavender, which you can use in a variety of ways!
Cockroaches have an excellent sense of smell that they use to find food and follow trails from roaches. You can use lavender to repel cockroaches by creating a spray, growing the plant itself, using sachets, and soaking cotton balls in a lavender mixture to keep them away from desired areas.
Below we’ll go over all the ways you can use lavender to repel those pesky and persistent cockroaches. This simple plant can go from your favorite soap scent to your favorite roach repellent!
Why Do You Need To Repel Cockroaches?
There’s a reason why cockroaches are considered one of the worst pests to have in the home. They’re difficult to get rid of, unsightly, and just plain old gross.
But what specifically makes you feel icky when you see a roach?
Roaches Rapidly Reproduce
Try to say that three times fast! Insects in general are known for their short life span and rapid reproduction rate, but cockroaches are the mother of all rapid reproducers.
German cockroaches, in particular, can produce several thousand offspring in a single year according to the University of Kentucky. I repeat…several thousand in a SINGLE year!
This rapid rate of reproduction has two consequences. The first is that it’s a heck of a lot of cockroaches to contend with. If your elimination tactics don’t get rid of all of them, you’ll be stuck with just as many, if not more, over the next year.
The second consequence is that cockroaches will quickly become sensitized to certain insecticides and pesticides. Generation after generation of exposure to insecticides allows the cockroach to evolve rapidly in specific situations.
Roaches Live In Filth
Cockroaches aren’t known for their clean lifestyle. They can be seen walking over food, garbage, and even feces.
The problem happens when roaches go from garbage and feces to your home and personal spaces. Cockroaches don’t know the difference between filth and clean. To them, everything is a highway to the next food source.
If a cockroach walks over animal feces and then on your kitchen utensils or toaster, whatever might be hiding in the animal feces is now transmitted to your kitchen tools.
Stinkbugs can emit a foul odor, and ladybugs can stain your curtains with fluids. Cockroaches? They combine both of these awful attributes into one.
While cockroaches are out foraging for food, they’ll often excrete feces that can stain your countertops, floors, and walls. They also emit a foul odor to help other cockroaches follow their trail.
These are called pheromones, and send signals to other roaches when good food is around.
Roaches also shed their skins as they molt and grow. The shed skin and excrement of cockroaches which can cause issues to those who may be sensitive.
How To Repel Cockroaches Using Lavender
For a long time, scientists didn’t think cockroaches could smell at all. According to information published by the University of Florida, scientists thought these insects simply wandered around until they bumped into food.
However, more recent research has concluded that cockroaches use an extensive olfactory system located in their antennae to sniff out food and pheromone trails left behind by other cockroaches.
So, cockroaches can smell. That’s a little terrifying, but we can use this to our advantage!
Lavender can be used as a scent deterrent for cockroaches, keeping them away from your personal space. Scents work to mask other attracting scents that cockroaches will find rewarding. So the lavender will be a stronger masking scent than the attractive scent of say, ground beef on your floor.
Please note, scent deterrents will not eliminate your cockroach problem. Furthermore, they are used as a deterrent only and the results can be highly variable depending on a variety of factors. To eliminate cockroaches from your home, you will need a multi-prong approach.
But more on that later…
For now, let’s get into all the ways you can use lavender to keep those pesky cockroaches out of your kitchens, basements, and bathrooms.
If you’re interested in a more exhaustive list of smells to deter cockroaches, take a look at our piece on the scents that roaches hate here!
Make A Lavender-Based Spray To Repel Cockroaches
Linalool is the main chemical that gives lavender its wonderful and calming aroma. This chemical is also the main reason for its insect-repellent properties.
One way you can use lavender to keep cockroaches away is by using a lavender-based spray. This option works great because you can target a larger area than if you used a lavender sachet or a lavender plant.
You can buy a premade product such as Victoria’s Lavender Organic Insect Repellent. This product is made with lavender as well as some other essential oils that work to repel roaches and a host of other insects.
If you’d rather make your spray, you can use lavender essential oil, adding 10-15 drops for every 1 cup of water. Place the mixture in a spray bottle and it’s ready to go!
You’ll want to use this spray outdoors in areas where your electrical and plumbing reaches outside. These holes and cracks can act as a flashing beacon to uninvited cockroaches.
Repel Cockroaches By Planting Lavender
Lavender plants are colorful, aromatic perennials that will come back year after year. They can be planted in a garden or flowerbed, but for repelling cockroaches they’re best planted in a container.
Containers give you the freedom to move the plant around to certain areas where roaches are finding their way inside.
However, planting lavender in general around your home, in a flowerbed, or a garden, can help repel cockroaches from your yard, making it less likely that they’ll make your home, their home.
Once planted, you’ll want to place your pots of lavender near any possible openings that lead inside. Openings as small as 1/16th of an inch will allow roaches free access to your home.
Think about all the ways your plumbing and electricity reach the outdoors and place your lavender plants outside of your home near these areas.
Use Lavender Sachets To Repel Cockroaches
Lavender sachets are like little packets of insect repellent. While lavender sprays can be applied to a wider range of areas, sachets are better for targeting specific locations.
Roaches don’t often hang out in the open for long. When you flick on the light and see one scuttling to the nearest wall or corner, it’s most likely scooting back to its hiding place.
And by hiding place, we mean inside the walls, beneath large appliances, behind the toilet, and beneath kitchen sinks.
Lavender sachets are great for this because you can shove them into small spaces, targeting those buggers before they make their way into your kitchen or bathroom
You can use something like these French Lavender Sachets by placing them in target areas. If you’re seeing roaches beneath your appliances, place a few sachets there. If they’re coming from the hole made by the plumbing between apartments, shove a few sachets beneath the sink or near the plumbing hole.
If you’re thinking you need more than lavender to get rid of roaches, take a peak at our piece on getting rid of cockroaches in your house.
Dried Lavender Can Work To Repel Cockroaches
When using dried lavender, you are using lavender sachets but without the sachet part. They are small flakes of dried lavender flowers, which roaches do not like the smell of.
Dried lavender has the benefit of fitting into even smaller spaces than sachets, and unlike lavender plants, you can spread these around to multiple areas.
FGO’s Organic Dried Lavender Flowers is a great choice to use, especially if you’re not sure where the uninvited roaches are coming from. You can sprinkle this near drains, beneath kitchen sinks, behind your toilets, and beneath large appliances.
The main idea of using dried lavender flowers is to repel the roaches from those areas. The lavender won’t harm the roach. It’s like us deciding not to walk down an alley because of a horrible garbage smell.
Use Cloth Or Cotton Balls Soaked In Lavender To Repel Cockroaches
Cockroaches may not have noses like you and I, but they do have a pretty incredible olfactory system. It’s located in their antennae, which they use to smell. Sound a bit weird? We know…but it’s true!
When roaches smell the scent of lavender, they’re not likely to go near that area, especially if the area is saturated with the smell.
Sprays are good for saturating areas with a lavender smell, but so are cotton balls and cloth soaked in lavender. You can take your store-bought lavender spray or an essential oil mixture and soak cotton balls or strips of cloth in the liquid.
Place these items in cracks, openings, holes, or any area where you suspect cockroaches are hanging out.
Using them on countertops and baseboards isn’t as effective as using them in cracks and holes that the cockroaches are coming out of.
Dryer Sheets Can Repel Cockroaches
If you use dryer sheets for your laundry already, consider switching over to a lavender-scented dryer sheet like Downy Infusions Lavender Dryer Sheets.
These puppies will make your clothes smell amazing, reduce static buildup, AND repel cockroaches! Well, PROBABLY not at the same time.
Dryer sheets can be used in a similar way to lavender sachets. Simply stuff the dryer sheets in holes, cracks, beneath appliances, or near basement drains to repel those scuttling roaches.
Using Epsom Salts To Repel Cockroaches
We’ve talked a lot about the items you can use indoors like sachets, lavender flakes, and dryer sheets. Let’s move to the outdoors and see how you can repel cockroaches before they move inside.
Lavender-scented Epsom salt like Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt with Lavender can help repel roaches before they step one of their six legs into your home.
To use Epsom salt to repel cockroaches, it’s best to shake it out near areas with openings. For example, if there’s a drain opening two feet off the ground, create an Epsom salt barrier below this drain to deter roaches from approaching the opening.
Use Lavender-Scented Soap As Cockroach Repellent
There are tons of products on the market that are scented with lavender. From shampoos and soaps to sprays and lotions.
Lavender-scented soap is a good option for the ‘spot’ treatment of cockroaches. This is less of a repellent and more of an immediate fix to a roach you see right now.
Soapy water mixtures can eliminate cockroaches by coating their carapace and abdomen in sticky soap, which prevents them from drawing air.
While the lavender scent isn’t necessary, it can aid in repelling future cockroaches from that specific area, as the eliminated cockroach may have left a pheromone trail to its location.
Long Term Solutions: Keeping Cockroaches Away For Good
Cockroaches are NOT fun to have in the house. You can keep your home or apartment as clean as can be and still see these buggers around if the apartment next store isn’t so concerned with hygiene.
So, we know we can repel them with lavender, but how do we get rid of them for good?
Identify Your Roaches
Five main types of cockroaches tend to make their way indoors. The German cockroach, brown-banded cockroach, oriental cockroach, American cockroach, and the Pennsylvania wood cockroach.
Control of cockroaches may be easier if you can identify what type of cockroach you are dealing with. Each cockroach has a different target area that they like to congregate to.
If you’re noticing them scurrying around in your bathroom, beneath the kitchen sink, or in other warm, humid environments, you’re most likely dealing with the German Cockroach. This is the most commonly seen cockroach in the home according to the University of Minnesota.
If you’re seeing a big cockroach scuttling around your basement in moist places, you’re probably seeing an American cockroach.
Identifying your cockroach will help you target the most likely areas your problem cockroach is hiding, giving you an edge in the battle.
Using a roach trap like Black Flag’s Roach Motel can help you trap cockroaches for easier identification. If you place several around your house you can see where the highest concentration of cockroaches are and target that area.
Seal Up Points of Entry
One of the most effective ways to keep cockroaches out for good is to seal the holes and cracks where they’re getting inside
However, this can also be the most time-consuming and tedious option.
You’ll need to find every little crack and hole you can and seal it up with caulking or other sealants. Once you control your indoor cockroach population, you won’t have to worry about more moving in rent-free.
Maintain A Clean Home
The reason cockroaches are in your house in the first place is because they’re either looking for food or looking for shelter.
Food is a big motivator for roaches. They love sugary sweets, yeast, and fermented foods. But really, they’ll eat anything in their path. It doesn’t even have to be food – soap & toothpaste do just fine for a roach.
So, be sure to clean up any spills. Keep food in tight-fitting containers. Don’t let fruit or bread sit out on the counter, especially if it’s going bad.
Keeping your home clean involves keeping up with maintenance as well. Allowing moisture to build up from a leaky sink or tub can unintentionally invite roaches inside.
Keep Your Yard Clean And Seal Cracks In Your House
Just like having a messy home can invite cockroaches inside, having a messy yard can attract them closer to your home than you’d like.
Cracks in your foundation, broken window screens, and open drains are an oasis to a cockroach. Be sure to seal these openings using caulking or wire mesh less than 1/16th inch.
Woodpiles and building materials can be great hiding places for outdoor roaches like wood cockroaches. These roaches can’t survive indoors but can be accidentally transported inside via firewood or other materials brought inside from the yard.
Keep your woodpiles stacked in a neat and orderly manner. If possible, elevate the wood off the ground. You can also trim any overgrown vegetation close to your home to avoid providing a highway system for roaches.
When it comes to roaches, using multiple tactics is going to be your best bet for keeping them out for good.
Scent-based deterrents are a great option to repel roaches from certain areas. It can be combined with other long-term solutions to eliminate your cockroach problem and help with other pests as well.
Lavender is one of many scents that cockroaches can’t stand. Now, for a quick recap:
You can use lavender in the following 9 ways to repel cockroaches:
- Pre-made Lavender Spray
- Homemade Lavender Spray
- Lavender Plant in Container
- Lavender Sachets
- Dried Lavender Flakes
- Soak Cotton Balls/Cloth Strips In Lavender Mixture
- Lavender-Scented Dryer Sheets
- Lavender-Scented Epsom Salts
- Lavender-Scented Soap
If you have a roach problem that you just can’t shake, or if you need additional guidance, consider reaching out to a professional! Our nationwide pest control finder can get you in contact with an exterminator near you!
Erland, L. A.E., & Mahmoud, S. S. (2016). Chapter 57 – Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) Oils. Essential Oils in Food Preservation, Flavor, and Safety, 501-508.
Sever, M. L., Arbes, S. J., Gore, J., Santangelo, R. G., Vaughn, B., Mitchell, H., Schal, C., & Zeldin, D. C. (2007). Cockroach allergen reduction by cockroach control alone in low-income urban homes: a randomized control trial. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 120(4), 849-855.
Ye, S., Leung, V., Khan, A., Baba, Y., & Comer, C. M. (2003). The antennal system and cockroach evasive behavior. I. Roles for visual and mechanosensory cues in the response. Journal of Comparative Physiology A, 189, 89-96.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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