How to Use Paint to Repel Cockroaches? (Does It Really Work)

does paint repel or kill roaches

Paint is a substance that doesn’t repel cockroaches in your home on its own. Likewise, the paint will not attract the roaches unless they contain some sort of food source or ingredients that they can eat or are seeking.

Some paints, however, include active cockroach-repelling chemicals, such as insecticide, that the roaches may find attractive. These are intentionally mixed in paint formulas to attract the roaches and bugs at home, making eradication easy.

The good thing is most of these anti-cockroach paints have no fumigation effect, making them safe to paint in human surroundings.

So, if you have a cockroach problem, you can use these coatings to help eliminate the infestation in areas where these bugs usually inhabit. These places generally include the kitchen, bathrooms, cabinets, laundry room, basement, etc.

But how do you exactly use these paint coatings in your home, what colors to opt for, and how fast will they work in getting rid of the problem? Let’s answer all these questions and many more in the following article.

Using Paint to Repel Cockroaches

If anti-cockroach paint that’s infused with insecticides and other harmful chemicals isn’t your choice, or if you can’t find them available near you, there are several other ways to use your regular paint to repel cockroaches.

You can use any type of paint (latex or enamel based) as long as it has a strong odor – it’s the smell of the paint which will help repel the cockroaches away.

Essential oils (such as eucalyptus, tea tree, oregano, yarrow, rosemary, neem, peppermint, cedar, lemongrass, catnip, and citronella oil) can also be mixed with the paint to help create a strong smell that roaches find unbearable to stay nearby.

To use this method,

  • Add 10-15 drops of your preferred essential oil in a quart of paint can and stir it nicely.
  • Apply mixed paint to the areas around your home where cockroaches are usually seen.
  • The strong smell of the essential oils will automatically help to repel the cockroaches and keep them away.

When using EOs in paint to keep the roaches away, remember that each essential oil has varied effectiveness at different concentration levels.

In other words, their repellency power depends on how much of the oil is used and what type of oil you are using.

So, it is crucial to find the right concentration level that works for you and your home. This is especially important if you have a significantly large area to treat. 

Besides essential oils, many organic herbs and spices (like bay leaves, garlic, ginger mint, basil mint, cinnamon, pandan leaves, and pennyroyal) are known to be natural cockroach repellents. 

Adding these substances to your paint will also cockroach-proof your home naturally.

anti cockroach paint and colors

Paint Colors that Repel Cockroaches

Cockroaches are sensitive to light, and flicking the switch is usually all it takes to send them scurrying in every direction. 

It’s not just fake light that they despise. They don’t like natural light, either. As a result, you’re unlikely to see cockroaches during the day. They are nocturnal creatures and are mostly active at night.

Among the six colors (red, green, white, yellow, blue, and no-light group) investigated in the experiment, red light proved to be the most effective in repelling cockroaches. Followed by green, white, yellow, and blue.

Unlike wasps and many other insects that hate the blue color, cockroaches seem to avoid red lights most; you can use this as an advantage to keep them away.

This means using red lightbulbs in lamps around your home or painting your walls red (or green) to help keep these critters at bay.

There are also some UV light traps that use a specific wavelength of light to attract and trap cockroaches around your home. Just place them where the roaches are mostly seen, and you can keep thier population under control.

Why Do Cockroaches Like Some Paint?

Most people believe that roaches only eat garbage, but the truth is they will consume anything – including cracked emulsion paint, natural wood stains, and varnishes.

According to, the main reason for this is that many of these paint finishes and coatings contain either animal-based ingredients or food-based chemicals (binders).

Rather than chemical-based paint (over cars and motorbikes) and air-dry enamel paints (used as a concrete-finishing or on refrigerators and engines), cockroaches prefer eating the starch-based paints on paintings and murals (like oil, watercolor, acrylic, and tempera) because they might contain these tasty binders.

And that’s the reason why you may often see dozens of cockroaches gathering around your old paintings or wall art with flaking paint.

What’s in the Paint Binder That Roaches Like?

The binder in the paint is a kind of glue that binds the pigment together. There are also many animal-based ingredients that contribute to certain hues and tones as well.

The binder and pigment components that roaches like the most in the paints include animal fats, milk, honey, vegetable oil, potato starch, eggs, etc.  

When real food is scarce, cockroaches are known to turn to paint as a source of nutrition. This is because they can detect even the slightest concentration of nutrients in the paint fumes.

All paints are not created equal in the eyes (or nose) of a cockroach, though––they seem to prefer those made with animal products like oil-based paints best.

Besides the above, cockroaches’ ability to store body fat is significant, and that’s the reason they like energy-rich foods that can be readily stored.

They may consume paint and extract the nutritious substance within it. Plus, their bodies keep fat better than other substances, so when a cockroach eats paint with animal fats, the fat storage lasts longer. This is essentially the reason for their survival, even if they don’t eat for a long time.

Is Consuming Paints and Varnishes Harmful to Cockroaches?

A genome is an organism’s complete set of genetic information; it contains everything needed to function. And because cockroaches have a genome that allows them to consume toxic material, eating chipped paint, stains, and varnishes does not harm them.

In fact, of all insects, roaches have the second-largest genome because of which they would often consume plants and can digest them even if they contain toxic substances.

Interesting to note that the cockroach genome is so strong that even insecticides don’t kill them outright. Their ancestors consumed just as many, if not more, toxic materials as they do now.

They scavenge human food, which is often chemically altered and would be harmful to other animals, but their metabolism knows how to process all the toxins, so it’s not harmful to them.

The bottom line

Paint is a great way to help repel cockroaches from your home, but you will need to choose one that has an active cockroach-repelling agent in it.

Or, you can make your own natural cockroach-repellent paint by adding herbs or a few drops of essential oils to your regular paint. Lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemongrass oils are all known to be effective at repelling cockroaches.

Make sure to follow all the safety precautions while handling these anti-cockroach paints at home, as you do with other solvent-based paints.

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