What Smells Repel Cockroaches? (9 Unexpected Scents That Make Roaches Flee)

There are certain smells cockroaches hate and loathe to go near. That is fortunate information because cockroaches can be really disgusting as they love filthy and rotten things.

Spotting them in places like the kitchen or the bathroom is never a good sign as it always indicates that your house has compromised hygiene.

On top of that, these pests eat more or less anything at all and will not differentiate between a rotten apple stem and animal/human feces while seeking nourishment.

When they feed on garbage and then move on to fresh uncovered food meant for consumption, people start to get sick because they also ingest the pathogen that the cockroach brought with them.

Thankfully, roach infestation is not a permanent problem as you can eliminate them in many ways. One of the easiest and most tried and tested methods of dealing with this issue is introducing smells that repel cockroaches in their environment.

What Smells Repel Cockroaches?

What Smells Repel Cockroaches
Cockroaches on the dishwasher sponge / Kaninw / Bigstockphoto.com

It is common knowledge that cockroaches cannot see as we see and perceive things around us using our eyes. They use their heightened senses to rather “sense” the stuff that is around them. Smell and touch are the ones that cockroaches depend on.

This very tendency of theirs can be manipulated by us to clear our houses of roach infestations because there are scents that repel roaches like nothing else.

Here is a list of 9 smells that are the bane of cockroaches.


The scent of Lavender is one of the freshest and sweetest scents known to exist. However, these adjectives cannot be applied when we are talking about cockroaches’ olfactory senses because they seem to hate the scent.

Therefore if you have a lavender plant somewhere in your yard, the flowers will come in handy in warding off cockroaches. The flowers themselves cannot do anything but they have to be dried and converted into undiluted essential oils.

The oil can be directly sprayed onto the areas of roach infestation or you can mix it with some water in a spray bottle. Also, you need not necessarily make lavender oil from scratch because it is just as easily available from any related shop.


If you notice the behavior of roaches, you will see that they seldom go near citrus fruits even when foraging for food. This is because the scent of such fruits is some of the most hated ones by cockroaches.

The smell, which is refreshing for us repel cockroaches and thus can be easily used to keep them away.

You can either keep the peels of citrus fruits in the corners where the cockroaches show up most or just buy pest repellant in the citrus flavour and spray them generously on the same areas.


Mint leaves in garden / Somchaiphoto / Bigstockphoto.com

Who does not love the smell and taste of mint and its derivative, menthol? Be it in chewing gums, soaps, shampoos, cleansers etc, this flavor is a universal favorite.

However, cockroaches are not included in the umbrella of “universal” as this is one of the smells that keep roaches away.

In a research conducted on the American cockroach or Periplaneta americana, it was found that Mentha arvensis, which is the scientific term for the corn mint or wild mint was found not only to repel cockroaches but also be toxic to them. This means that mint is poisonous to cockroaches.

Mint essential oil is easily available and thus can be used to get rid of cockroaches. In a spray bottle add 12-14 drops of corn mint oil and spray the mixture generously in hotbeds of cockroach infestation. Repeat the same every three days for best results.


Peeled garlic lies next to the husks on the table / K1tyara / Bigstockphoto.com

When thinking about repelling cockroaches, we must also pay attention to discarding the eggs because we may succeed in eliminating the cockroaches but if they have already laid eggs, a new wave of roach attack will begin.

Therefore, to combat this problem you must make sure that the cockroaches are unable to lay any eggs.

A study conducted by researchers at Kasetstart University in Bangkok, Thailand proved that garlic oil among others reduces the rate of laying eggs by 96.75%. This research was done on the American cockroach.

The best way to use garlic oil is to dilute it and soak some paper towels or cloth in the oil to place them in areas where the cockroaches mostly appear.

You can also use this oil as an ingredient while cleaning the house but it is understandable if you don’t want your entire house smelling of garlic. Oils of clove and star anise can be used as an alternative.


The efficiency of catnip as a naturally occurring repellent to cockroaches and many other insects, pests and bugs, is common knowledge.

It is known to have quite a strong smell that immediately starts to repel cockroaches when introduced in their immediate surroundings. This happens because of a chemical compound called nepetalactone that is found in catnip.

To effectively apply this scent, you have to boil the catnip leaves in water for around 5-6 minutes after which it has to be cooled down. Pour the leaves into a bottle without straining and use it around your house as an effective cockroach remedy.

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Among the smells roaches hate, thyme takes a prime spot according to this study which also studies 12 other essential oils. A substance called thymol which is found in Thyme oil specifically is the one responsible for eliminating cockroaches.

The study conducted on the German cockroach also revealed that thymol was actually toxic to the adult male, gravid females and medium nymphs among the German cockroach species.

To get the best results, pour 10-12 drops of thyme oil into a cup of water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. Spray it generously onto the cockroach hotspots in your home to drive away the annoying insects.

Bay Leaves

Bay leaves are a common ingredient in most oriental dishes, especially in the middle east and south-Asia. But did you know that these could also be used as an effective cockroach repellent?

You can place crushed bay leaves at places where most of the cockroaches gather or you can also boil the leaves and use the water to spray the very same areas and in every corner as a precaution against further infestation.


Chrysanthemum flowers are very common and naturally occurring pest repellents and also happen to have a scent that cockroaches hate. This is due to a substance called pyrethrum that is found in the flowers of this plant.

The essential oil of this plant can be used as a spray to repel cockroaches or as a room freshener because Chrysanthemum has a very pleasing smell in general.


Last but not least in our list of scents that repel cockroaches, there is the sweet-smelling pine to get rid of a roach infestation.

Pine has a muted musky smell similar to that of basil. And while it may be muted to the human nose, the case is not so for cockroaches who can detect pines and stay away from them.

In the essential oil derived from pine or beta-pinene, the smell is more apparent and it can be sprayed on areas of cockroach occurrence for the best results.

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Wrapping Up

The good part about these listed scents is that almost all of them (except garlic) are very pleasant to the nose and can be generally used as fresheners or cleansers and not solely for the purpose of cockroach repelling.

Essential oils are also used in diffusers as they are said to have multiple benefits. So rest assured, cockroaches may be having a hard time due to your choice of scents but you surely will not.

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