Does bleach kill cockroaches?

Cockroaches are creatures of our nightmares, or at least for some of us. These hungry survivalists can be around the house very often – mostly due to the presence of a food source or several food sources like dirty dishes, crumbs, or pet food, these often lead to a roach problem. Other environmental factors which may attract cockroaches are excess moisture and the level of ease for them to make it into the home through cracks and crevices of your home, or the holes and pipes. The most common species that live amongst us are the American and the German cockroaches.

Of course, it is trivial that getting rid of these sources and sealing up potential entrances is a solution to this pest problem, however, that’s not really exactly practical especially if you have kids or like.. you know, don’t want to suffocate – you don’t want to always throw away the baby with the bathwater, but make sure to at least throw away your trash. In this post, we answer the question of whether bleach can get rid of cockroaches or kill them too perhaps?

Underlying this, we are interested in how to get rid of roaches. In particular, we examine the effects of directly applying bleach to the cockroach’s skin, submerging the cockroach in bleach, or cleaning around the house with bleach so as it let the fumes fuse with the air. After answering these, one will quickly learn that using bleach as an insecticide is generally not a very good idea despite its effectiveness – alternatives are then proposed.

How do you kill roaches with bleach?

The answer to this question depends on the type of bleach you’re using, most household bleaches are composed mainly of Sodium hypochlorite (3-6% concentration in water). Another variant composed mostly of Chlorine Dioxide (in an aqueous solution) is what is known to kill cockroaches at about 3000 parts per million-hours. To make this gas one has to mix chlorine and pine-sol. Chlorine Dioxide is a well known unstable gas commonly used for disinfectant purposes and bleaching.

However, this gas is not safe to work with (even in aqueous “bleach” solution) since it’s known to cause throat and nose irritation when inhaled and is also generally a fire hazard. This makes it a great tool to kill roaches, but humans along with. On the other hand, the “normal bleach” (Sodium Hypochlorite) may work just as well and whenever the word “bleach” is used from hereon, this is the kind being referred to.

Will cleaning with bleach get rid of roaches?

The smell of bleach is often a viable deterrent if you want to get rid of roaches using bleach. One way to make your house smell like bleach is to clean using bleach, often on surfaces and even floors (that’s if your floors aren’t carpets). Though this method is just going to keep them at bay, in this case – the presence of bleach, so like the pest they are, an old adage tells us that once the smell’s away, the cockroach will play and I bet not many people really want their homes constantly smelling like bleach.

So this method won’t get rid of the roaches for long. But for some, this may be just what they need, a temporary solution but a bleach smell isn’t that pleasant to keep around. There are other products emitting a variety of more pleasant fragrances which are of pest control use.

What smells keep roaches away?

Essentially oils often give out pleasant smells useful for relaxation – these smells can get really strong and a cockroach may not necessarily be a fan. Essential oils which have been reported to work well are:

  • Tea Tree oil
  • Mint Essential Oils (one can even buy mint fume machines that releases minty scents constantly).
  • Peppermint Oil
  • Catnip Oil
  • Lavender Oil

Use these by spraying them around the house, or a fume machine that may release these or a similar scent. In general, the idea is to get their smell out there, so honestly, I would say – be creative maybe let your children paint them onto a patch on the wall you designated for such or make your dog shoes which releases tiny droplets as it runs around the house (assuming your dog doesn’t dislike shoes of course), be creative – get theses pleasant scents out there and the cockroach out there as well. Use sparingly, since the scent can get really strong.

Herbs and spices like Mint Plants, Cinnamon are also effective at releasing scents that a cockroach will dislike.

If you have an infestation of these, a temporary solution is just that honestly – temporary – and shortly after things may just get really bad as these roaches multiply and use more and more of your food and water to survive. More lethal measures are necessary. Of course, you can just call pest control – they kill roaches for a living and other things. But you’re reading this probably because you want to kill roaches on your own using what you have in your home. In the next section, we look into how to get rid of the roaches permanently by looking at what can kill cockroaches and how to use this to kill a cockroach.

What kills roaches instantly?

Drinking bleach can kill roaches, but recall as stated above, roaches don’t like the smell of bleach so it’s not something they’ll voluntarily do and leaving bleach out in lumps of liquid is dangerous for pets and children. So then, somehow you’ll have to find a way to make the roaches drink bleach which sounds really dark and hard to do anyway. Just putting bleach on their skin will have little to no effect. The way bleach can kill roaches is by drowning it.

This way requires one to catch these roaches and submerge them into the bleach (pure or solution) – which also sounds really difficult to do and is extremely inefficient given how fast roaches are and if you have an infestation this could take forever. The best thing you could do with bleach to get rid of cockroaches is to splash it at the nests often found in pipes (caution: bleach is corrosive so pipes may get damaged from this) or wherever you see these creepy little critters crawl out of. This will draw them out and make it easier to kill through some other means.

Boric acid is one of those means. Boric acid is known to wear away the exoskeleton of cockroaches making them vulnerable and leading to their drying up really quickly. Use boric acid near places where cockroaches are known to pass through of like cracks and crevices and near plumbing. Fine dust sprinkles here and there should do. Make sure to not use near places where food is prepared though.

To summarise, we looked into the question “does bleach kill cockroaches”? We then found that the use of bleach is not exactly practical when it comes to killing cockroaches and even less efficient than many other methods out there. We also looked at another type of bleach that is proven to kill cockroaches through inhalation of its gas. This was the Chlorine Dioxide gas which is anyway really dangerous and not recommended. Boric acid on the hand, rather than bleach, has been shown to be effective at damaging the exoskeleton of cockroaches leaving them vulnerable and making it easier for them to die from just…living. Some people say that bleach is effective for killing maggots too.

We’ve seen that essential oils can deter cockroaches (better than bleach in the aspect of pleasantness) but the most effective ways are just keeping your house really clean and your trash sealed, and dishes washed. If one has an infestation it’s probably best to call pest control after trying other natural/home solutions if the problem persists. Pest control guys will know what to do – they will kill cockroaches.


Dave Campbell

I'm Dave Campbell and the owner of You can read more about me and my background on my About Me page.

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