I have wanted to write this Instructable for a long time but could not bear the thought of a photo of a roach. I found a plastic one; problem solved. I think you get the idea from that sentence that I am just a little bit, somewhat, sort of, come to think of it, mildly, TERRIFIED of roaches. This is the story of how I got rid of the roaches in my home and they have stayed gone for 10 months now after just the initial treatment.
Update: By the time I moved from this home described here, the roaches stayed gone for 6 years, I baited one more time inbetween. It is important to click the button right under the title that says '8 Steps' or you will think that this 'ible is only one step long - it is 8 steps long. Be sure to read all of the steps before asking questions. Other questions you might have, might be answered in the comment section. Which is not to say not to ask questions, please by all means do so if you need to.
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Step 1: What You Will Need
Boric acid powder*
Karo syrup - you may substitute honey, maple syrup, pancake syrup or make a simple syrup of sugar and water.
Rice flour - you may substitute any flour you have on hand.
1 Popsicle stick
1 Mixing bowl
Amounts as follows:
2 parts Boric acid
1 part flour - any kind of flour is fine: white, whole wheat, rice, etc.
Enough Karo syrup, or what ever sweetener you choose, to make a peanut butter-ish consistency mixture
Important note: Boric acid powder is not something you want to inhale, get into your eyes or swallow so mix this up outside. Wear a dust mask until it is mixed up. It has no odor.
For a 2800 square foot home with 4 bathrooms, I mixed 2 cups of boric acid with 1 cup rice powder (any flour will do) and about 3/4 cup of Karo syrup. I used a plastic bowl to mix in and stuck the bowl and left over bait up into the attic/crawl space when I was done baiting. If you don't get finished baiting in one day put the bowl into the fridge, covered, and it will stay workable for another day or two.
*(Sometimes available in hardware stores in the US as "Roach Prufe" (this was the only way I was able to buy it, the canister is 98% boric acid and 2% blue coloring). Also, commenter ScottP6 says he was able to buy boric acid on Amazon for $7 for a pound. That is enough to share with neighbors and friends for years. Any boric acid that you find will be fine though, just make sure it is mostly boric acid.
Step 2: What My Kitchen Used to Look Like
For every roach you see there are probably 100 hiding in the walls. If you see a roach in the daytime it means you have such an infestation that they are crowding each other out of their hiding places. Did I say gross?
Step 3: What My Kitchen Looks Like Now
No more roaches!
Step 4: Once Upon a Time....
About 16 years ago I rented a house that was infested with roaches, I called an exterminator who declared it was the worst infestation he had ever seen (in case you don't want to take my word). His company used a bait that had the consistency of peanut butter and he put a little dab of it behind all the drawers (out of reach of pets or children), under the sinks on the pipes coming out from the wall, and he even took off all the outlet and switch plate covers to put the bait inside the walls.
It was a miracle, I never saw a roach again. In that house.
When I moved I used the same service and the same guy (let's call him John because that was his name) did the same thing, but this time is was a new house that I had bought. Once a year John would come back and do the same thing and in 14 years I never saw a you know what. Alive that is. Once in a while there would be a dead one. Back then I had a husband so the dead ones were not so much a problem.
Step 5: Then.....
The husband left, I had to move and buy a new house and guess what? I took John with me, but this time John wasn't using the bait. In fact I was calling John every week for help with the roaches. My new house was new to me but really very old, and it had a lot of roaches. A week would not go by when I did not see one or two or .... more. It was so bad I could not get out of bed at night and turn on a light for fear of what I would see. I implored John to use his magic peanut butter but he just told me "we don't do that anymore". What was a poor girl to do?
The Internet to the rescue!
Step 6: And This Is What I Found Out!
The magic peanut butter that John's company had been using was so successful that clients started canceling their contracts. Oh. Gosh why hadn't I thought of that - who's going to hire a pest control company if they don't have pests. John wasn't using the stuff that WORKED because if he did his company wouldn't have any business.
It has been 10 months since I ended my contract with the pest control company and I baited my house with my home made poison, and (drum roll please) I have found one dead roach in all that time.
Step 7: How and Where to Use It
Using the popsicle stick, put a dab of the bait where roaches like to go - up high and near water. They also like to live in your home's walls so undo all of your switch plate covers and outlet covers and smear some on the back of the outlet cover itself. The bait is not sticky so I find it easier to put it in areas where it can sit so it won't fall off. After it dries out it becomes hard and stuck to where you stuck it.
Roaches like to bring food back to their colony and when they bring this food back it will kill lots and lots of roaches, roaches who never even scurried over to your house. This is disgusting but even if he's a greedy roach and just eats and does not share with his buds, when he poops back at the colony and his buds eat that poop they will die.
It took me most of a day to go all around my home looking for out-of-the-way places to place the bait, undoing all the switch plate covers took the longest. Pulling out the drawers in the kitchen was really easy because most of the time you can access the back of the drawer from the cabinet underneath. At my former house it used to take a crew of 2 guys, 4 hours to do the whole house.
The most important places are the pipes coming into your home either for your sinks or you washing machine and dishwasher. Attics and crawl spaces are prime roach habitat. Roaches have no bones so they can slip through the smallest sliver of space. It's gross.
Step 8: Why This Works
Boric acid powder is a proven roach killer, what I am presenting here is a way to get the roaches attracted to it (sweet smelling Karo syrup) and to eat it (flour and Karo syrup). Making it into a paste enables you to place it in areas where powder alone would not stay.
I read a lot of information online 10 months ago to come up with this solution but aside from the boric acid powder it's not an exact science - I think peanut butter mixed with boric acid powder would work just as well. The thing that really got me really interested is when I read industry information about folks canceling their pest control service because the baiting method was so effective. I made up the recipe based on common sense, what I read, and what I had in the cupboard. The proof is my roach free house. It's a huge relief and I wanted to share.
2015 Update: It's been 6 years since I wrote this and I would like to add an especially helpful comment by NorEaster. There are over 900 comments at this point and they are very helpful, so here is this one, know that NorEaster's comment is about German roaches, which are a whole different bug game:
NorEaster to jules0803
Hope I can help with this. I moved to Hawaii 2 months ago and have already seen more roaches here than I've even seen in all my life (zero). I spend all my days planning and preparing for my escape off this infested island when military orders are up in 3yrs. So far this is my list:
(1) Get many, I mean A FRKN TON of airtight plastic storage bins (ZipLoc weathertight is a brand), it may end up costing, but its the way to go since roaches love to hide & lay eggs in the flaps & weaving of cardboard boxes.
(2) Tiny roaches will live & breed in the motors of appliances so toss them in plastic/garbage bags & store in freezer for a couple days before the move to freeze the life out of them!
(3) wash all your clothes, curtains & bed linens on the hottest setting (without damaging) and IMMEDIATELY move them from dryer into plastic bins so roaches wont have time to attach & hitch a ride.
(4) Those efficient little devils can feed off of the GLUE in your book bindings so throw all your office supplies, magazines, tampons, diapers, etc into the sealed bins with a roach bait station in every bin to feed & kill them & DONT open the bins for a few weeks, so that any placed eggs can hatch, feed & die also.
(5) Do a thorough cleaning of the new place before your stuff arrives, behind fridge & oven, etc then bring your stuff over & shake everything off outside! I know you'll worry what the neighbors think but at least they will see that you obviously are not comfortable living in filth & are taking measures to avoid another such situation. Wipe down & inspect everything before stocking shelves & cabinets & rewash all the linens again for good measure. I wish you luck & cant wait to do this myself in the roach-deterring snowy weather of NewEngland!