What Smells Repel and Keep Cockroaches Away

Pest Control Specialist spraying smell repellentIt’s natural for humans to dislike a smell and avoid going close to it. The same is the case with animals and pests, especially those crawling in your home: the cockroaches. While many people take it as a myth, there are some smells that cockroaches don’t like.

The most common ones are the smells of cinnamon, peppermint, garlic, bay and thyme leaves, and multiple citrus fruits. Not only that, but these annoying little creatures also dislike scent-based essential oils, such as tea tree and eucalyptus oil.

Therefore, you can put these scents in roaches’ hiding places to keep them away from your home for quite a long time. But that’s just not it; you need to know how to use or apply these smells to achieve better results.

This post lists some best cockroach repellent scents and the right way to use them for quick and long-term results. So, let’s get started!

Can Scents Keep Roaches Away?

Yes, scents can repel cockroaches and prevent them from entering your home. Although there is no specific scientific proof for the type of scents that do so, we do have some anecdotal evidence from the ancient age.

Roaches have a strong smelling sense. They don’t have noses like humans, so they detect odors in the air from their antennae. It’s believed that citrusy, minty, and concentrated essential oils are the most-effective smells to repel cockroaches.

Moreover, these pests also avoid crawling those areas with a strong smell of bleach.

However, cockroaches are pretty adaptable to their surroundings and are quite resilient against harsh conditions. Therefore, they ignore that area for their safety whenever they smell a repelling scent. However, they may come again to check if the smell is still as strong as before, especially in search of food.

Therefore, choosing the right scent to keep roaches away makes all the difference.

What Scents Keep Cockroaches Away and How to Use Them?

Cockroaches can infest your bathroom, kitchen, pantry, living area, attics, and bedroom. These creepy crawlers eat almost anything as they can’t differentiate between feces and food crumbles.

If one or two roaches enter your home, it would only take a few hours to make a colony in your home. So, they definitely need to be repelled from your home. Luckily, you can do so with some natural scents resting in your pantry.

Let’s have a look at 16 cockroach repellents:


Eucalyptus has a strong smell that cockroaches absolutely hate. In fact, a research study shows that eucalyptus is an essential part of pest repellents, and cockroaches dislike its fresh fragrance. You can easily find eucalyptus essential oils on the market.

How to Use Eucalyptus

Mix ten drops of eucalyptus oil in 3oz of water and spray the mixture in the infested corners and crevices where you see high roach traffic. Also, don’t forget to spray around cockroach entry points. This method will help you not only excavate cockroaches but keep them away from entering again.

You can also plant some eucalyptus in your backyard to prevent these creepy crawlers from entering your home.


Lavender’s scent brings serenity and calmness to any environment. But, while you may love the relaxing fragrance, cockroaches hate it equally. Lavender is a natural repellent for bugs, insects, and flies but may not be as effective against roaches.

However, you can ward off roaches by combining lavender with more concentrated scents, like bay leaves and mint.

How to Use Lavender

Mix lavender essential oil with any other type of oil and spray the mixture around your house. Alternatively, you can grow lavender in your backyard to keep different insects and bugs away.


Cinnamon has a pretty strong essence that bugs and insects dislike. The best part is that it is readily available in your kitchen pantry, so you don’t have to go around the town to buy them. Cinnamon is more effective in killing ants, but you can also use it to suppress roach populations.

How to Use Cinnamon

Sprinkle the cinnamon powder around your kitchen tops and cabinet corners to ward away the roaches.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint oil has a refreshing and strong smell that makes eyes watery within a few minutes. Due to these qualities, they are considered quite valuable in deterring cockroaches. So, if you don’t want your home to smell like a peppermint factory, you can dilute the essential oil with water.

How to Use Peppermint Essential Oil

Mix ten drops of peppermint oil with two parts of water and transfer the solution into a spray bottle. You can also mix 1 part of vinegar into this mixture for more effective results. Finally, spray this peppermint oil roach-repellent in every nook and cranny of your house.

Note: Don’t expect to kill roaches with this peppermint spray, as it is only effective to make your house an uncomfortable place for bugs to stick around.

Corn Mint Oil

Corn mint oil consists of two primary ingredients that cockroaches dislike: menthone and menthol. These components give strong roach-repellent powers to corn mint oil, which you can easily buy from your nearest superstore.

In fact, a study found that corn mint oil can effectively repel German roaches.

How to Use Corn Mint Oil

Essential oils usually come in small bottles, but you can make them last longer by diluting them with water. So, start by mixing 12 to 16 drops of the corn mint essential oil with one cup of water. Then, transfer the mixture to a bottle, and spray it in high roach traffic areas.

Note: It’s better to reapply this mixture once or twice weekly. Also, the corn mint spray is more effective for smaller spaces and may not give results in open spaces.


Catnip is a herb belonging to the mint family. It consists of the chemical “nepetalactone,” which roaches hate. Not only cockroaches but mosquitoes are also sensitive to nepetalactone, making catnip an effective pest and insect repellant.

Since roaches can’t bear the catnip’s smell, they are less likely to return after they leave your home.

How to Use Catnip

Mix one part of catnip oil with 1 part of water. Transfer it to a bottle and spray it around the house. Alcohol is an excellent way to make the mixture stronger. You can also make small packets of catnip in all the small places of your home to force these little bugs to come out and leave for good.


Spices usually have pungent odors. Many pests, including roaches, are sensitive to these strong smells and prevent going near them. For instance, place a clove of garlic in any place of your house, and see how roaches are nowhere to be seen in that area.

The best part is that you can use garlic as powdered or whole.

How to Use Garlic

Mix the garlic powder with water to make a strong roach repellent. You can also add onions and pepper to the mixture and pour it into the bottle. Then, spray this mixture into every corner of your house where roaches are likely to be found.

Note: The natural smell of this mixture can be too strong for the places where you usually hang out. So, if you don’t want to keep smelling garlic all day, it’s better to use it only in the kitchen or maybe try another oil.

Citronella Oil

Citronella candles have been repelling mosquitoes for centuries, but can they deter roaches too? Well, the answer is quite complicated. Unfortunately, citronella candles aren’t much effective in preventing cockroaches, but citronella oil can.

The primary reason candles aren’t very effective for roaches is that these pests rarely fly. Whereas citronella candles better target flying insects, such as gnats and mosquitoes. But luckily, citronella oil can do the job.

You can also use citronellic acid, derived from lemongrass, as an alternative.

How to Use Citronella Oil

The dilution process remains the same for citronella oil. First, add 10-15 drops of the oil to a cup of water. Then, soak a piece of paper towel or cloth in the mixture and place them near high cockroach traffic areas to keep these bugs at bay.

Tea Tree Oil

Concentrated tea tree essential oil has a strong, toxic smell, making it an excellent remedy to keep roaches away. Like other essential oils, cockroaches don’t like the pungent smell of tea tree oil.

The best part is that tea tree oil is used for several beauty purposes, so you can easily find it.

How to Use Tea Tree Oil

You know the drill; add a few drops of the oil to 4 parts of water. Then, to enhance the mixture’s effectiveness, you can mix 1 part of vinegar in it. Finally, transfer the solution to a bottle and spray it everywhere you suspect roach infestation.

Bay Leaves

When it comes to strong smells, bay leaves are no less than any other ingredient. They have a pungent scent that cockroaches avoid going close to. In addition, bay leaves contain “eucalyptol,” an organic component that works as an effective bug repeller.

All you have to do is take out some bay leaves from your pantry and place it in roaches’ homes to convince them to run away. Rest assured, this ingredient is not harmful to humans and pets, so don’t worry about that.

How to Use Bay Leaves

There are two ways you can use bay leaves:

  • Place fresh, whole bay leaves in containers and place them near roaches’ hideouts.
  • Take a handful of bay leaves and crush them into a paste. Then, spread them near the roach homes in every hole and crack.

Oregano Oil

Oregano oil is powerful in repelling roaches as these bugs hate its strong smell. It is preferred to use oregano oil to remove cockroaches from your pantry and kitchen. This remedy works well for a week, so you may have to reapply it.

How to Use It

Mix a few drops of oregano oil with water, transfer the mixture to a bottle, and generously spray it in roaches’ hideouts. Make sure not to use it in living areas or where you spend most of the day.


If you’re a nature lover, you may already be familiar with the strong scent of pine. Imagine the time when you visited a lush pine forest and walked over crunching pine needles. You took a deep breath, and the amazing pine aroma blessed your mind. Yes, that’s the smell cockroaches don’t like.

Beta-pinene’s scent is similar to hops and basil, extracted from cedar trees, pine trees, parsley, and other plants. It is a terpene that repels cockroaches and, in some cases, even kills them.

How to Use It

You can buy pine oil from the market. Simply add a dozen drops of pine oil to a cup of water, pour the mixture into a bottle, and spray it all over the roach-infested area.

Alpha-pinene, the cousin of beta-pinene, is also a cockroach repellent. However, it’s not that effective.


Thyme is indeed a flavorful herb, but it can even repel cockroaches. This is because it contains carvacrol, a chemical that roaches don’t like and prefer to stay at a distance. So all you have to do is use the herb thyme from your pantry and keep those bugs away.

How to Use It

Thyme is used in three ways:

  • First, sprinkle dried and crushed thyme in high roach-traffic areas.
  • Second, mix the thyme essential oil with water, transfer it to a bottle, and spray it throughout the house.
  • Third, plant the thyme herb in your yard to warn those pests from entering your home.


Basil has a similar scent like beta-pinene that keeps the roaches far from them. In addition, it contains linalool, which effectively repels several types of bugs, including cockroaches.

How to Use Basil

Like thyme, basil is also used in three ways:

  • If you opt for basil essential oil, dilute it before spraying it in your home.
  • Sprinkle dried basil in corners and gaps.
  • Plant the herb in your garden or backyard to prevent new cockroaches from entering.

Note: Be sure that roaches aren’t already inside the home, or the basil plant may repel them from coming out.


Cedar’s strong smell wards away several bugs, such as moths and roaches. It also serves as a harsh toxic that kills the roaches within a few minutes. Cedar comes as chips and essential oil, so choosing the right type depends on you.

How to Use Cedar

You can use cedar in two ways:

  • Put cedar chips in high-traffic roaches and hideouts, such as under the sinks, cabinets, bathroom pipelines, and the bed.
  • If you opt for cedar oil, you can add its few drops in alcohol and rub it in roach-affected areas.

Alcohol enhances the effectiveness of cedar oil and keeps it last longer.


Who doesn’t like the solid citrusy, acidic smell of lemon? Well, roaches don’t. Even a piece of lemon is enough to keep bugs away from your bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen for days.

Using lemon is the easiest. Simply squeeze out its juice or scrub it as it is on roach hideouts; the scent is going to show its magic anyway.

How to Use Lemon

Lemon is used in two ways:

  • Take four lemons and squeeze them in half a gallon of water to make the solution. Then, use this mixture to wipe every nook and cranny of your house.
  • Place lemon peelings in roaches’ pathways, such as under the bed, behind the fridge, or in your sink.

How To Repel Roaches Long-Term?

Different types of roaches roam around certain areas. So, you need to know what kind of cockroaches, whether German, Oriental, or American, you’re dealing with to choose the right repellent.

To stay on the safe side, and getting rid of roaches, it’s better to spray insecticides in cracks, pipe entrances, holes, and entryways that lead roaches to the walls and ceilings. That’s because cockroaches use them to move into every corner of your house.

Here are some tricks to repel roaches long-term:

  • Place bait traps before applying roach-repellent scents.
  • Keep your home clean; no dirty dishes in the sink overnight, no litter, and no uncovered food items.
  • Seal all caulks, wall cracks and window cervices to block the entry of roaches.
  • Clean and maintain your yard.
  • Use boric acid and diatomaceous earth dust to eliminate and repel these bugs.


What Smell Does Cockroach Hate?

Cockroaches hate the smell of eucalyptus, lemon, peppermint, vinegar, garlic, tea tree oil, catnip, cedar, pine, thyme, basil, and cinnamon, etc. The good thing is that most of these items are readily available in your pantry or nearest superstore.

What Essential Oils Keep Roaches Away?

Lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, corn mint, tea tree, citronella, and oregano essential oils keep roaches away from your home.

Do Roaches Hate the Smell of Bleach?

Yes, roaches hate the strong smell of bleach. It’s better to use household bleach to repel cockroaches as it is relatively safe to use than the concentrated form.

Final Thoughts

Roach extermination is time-consuming and quite expensive. The worst part is that these bugs always return to your home even after treatment. So, what’s the point of spending your hard-earned money on something that will not end anytime soon?

This is when natural scents help you out. After getting your home roach-free by a professional service, the next thing you must do is prevent roaches from returning.

Many essential oils, such as tea tree, lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and citronella, work wonders in keeping these bugs away. Moreover, several food items, like lemon, thyme, basil, vinegar, and garlic, also restrict roaches from entering your home.

Just keep your home clean with no leftover food or litter, and you’ll probably never see roaches again.