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What smell do roaches love?

Cockroaches are known for invading homes and spreading bacteria and disease. They can survive on little food and are notoriously difficult to get rid of. One reason roaches can thrive in human dwellings is that they are attracted to certain smells. Understanding what odors roaches love can help people prevent and eliminate infestations.

Do Roaches Have a Good Sense of Smell?

Yes, roaches have an excellent sense of smell. Their antennae contain sensory receptors that can detect odors and chemicals in the air. Roaches use their sense of smell to find food, mates, and suitable habitats. They can pick up scents from far away and follow odor trails to locate resources. Their keen smelling ability aids their survival.

What Smells Attract Roaches?

Roaches are attracted to smells associated with food and moisture. Some of the odors roaches love include:

– Grease and fat: Roaches enjoy fatty foods like oils, butter, and meat drippings. The scent of grease cooking or accumulated on surfaces will lure them.

– Sugar and carbohydrates: Roaches love sweet foods high in carbs like fruits, juices, soft drinks, sugars, flour, and starch. Sticky spills also attract them.

– Fermenting foods: The smell of fermenting foods like bread, pasta, and alcohol entice roaches. They are especially drawn to yeasty smells.

– Decaying matter: Roaches feed on rotting organic matter. Smells from drains, garbage disposals, trash cans, and compost will attract them.

– Moisture: The scent of wet surfaces, leaks, steam, and standing water signals water sources to roaches.

– Soap and cosmetics: Fragrances in soaps, lotions, and cosmetics contain fatty acids that appeal to roaches.

Which Smells Do Roaches Dislike?

Certain strong smells deter roaches. Smells they dislike include:

– Citrus: Strong citrus scents from fruit peels, essential oils, and cleaners repel roaches. Lemon and orange are especially offensive.

– Peppermint: The minty aroma of peppermint oil and extract helps ward off roaches.

– Cedar: The woodsy scent of cedar chips, closets, and chests can repel roaches.

– Onions and garlic: The pungent odor released when onions and garlic are cut is unpleasant to roaches.

– Ammonia: The sharp smell of ammonia-based cleaners is offensive to roaches.

– Vinegar: The tang of vinegar makes for an effective roach repellent.

– Chili powder and cayenne pepper: These strong spices contain capsaicin that roaches avoid.

Why Are Roaches Attracted to These Smells?

There are a few reasons why roaches are drawn to certain scents:

– They need to find food and water to survive, so smells indicating edible matter and moisture cue them to approach.

– They rely on smell to locate safe harborage sites away from predators. Inviting food odors lead them to potential nesting spots.

– Yeasty and fermenting smells signal beneficial microbes and bacteria roaches may acquire in their guts.

– Females give off pheromones that smell sweet to males who track this scent for mating.

– They avoid repellent smells that indicate danger, like onions releasing sulfuric compounds to defend from pests.

How to Use Smells to Repel Roaches

You can use roach-repelling smells strategically to prevent or get rid of infestations:

– Place cotton balls soaked with citrus oils around potential entry points.

– Spray vinegar or essential oils on baseboards and other surfaces.

– Sprinkle cedar chips or pepper in drawers, closets, and cabinets.

– Set out dishes of onions, garlic, or ammonia where roaches gather.

– Use scented cleaners with mint, eucalyptus, or lemon instead of non-scented ones.

– Seal food aromas by storing them in airtight containers and cleaning spills promptly.

– Fix plumbing leaks and limit moisture smells that attract roaches.

Are Traps With Food Smells Effective?

Yes, bait traps containing food aromas roaches find irresistible are an effective control method:

– Bait gels and stations use food scents like peanut butter, oil, or sugar to lure roaches in.

– Once roaches eat the bait, they will die from an insecticide or take the poison back to kill other roaches.

– Look for traps with low-toxicity baits if concerned about pets or children.

– Monitor and replace bait stations regularly to keep killing roaches.

– Use trap smells roaches love to tempt them away from real food sources.

Other Effective Ways to Control Roaches

While removing scents roaches love is helpful, a combined approach works best to eliminate infestations:

– Use insecticide sprays and dusts in cracks, corners, and entry points roaches frequent.

– Vacuum thoroughly to remove roach droppings and debris.

– Seal off access by caulking cracks and fixing leaks roaches use to enter.

– Clean kitchen and bath areas daily to remove grease and residue roaches feed on.

– Use bleach and ammonia-based cleaners to sanitize surfaces.

– Store food in airtight containers and limit available water by fixing plumbing.

– Set off insecticide bombs or foggers to reach roaches deep inside walls and cabinets.

– Work with a professional exterminator for severe infestations.


Roaches rely heavily on smell to survive, so they are attracted to food, moisture, and habitat odors that promise resources. Scents of grease, fermentation, sugars, and decay draw roaches via their keen sense of smell. Repellent aromas like citrus, vinegar, and cedar can deter roaches. Traps use tempting food smells as bait to control roaches. Along with scent deterrents, sanitation and chemical treatments are needed to eliminate roach problems. Being aware of smells roaches love and hate allows you to reduce infestations and roach activity in your home.