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Maybe you saw one in the bathtub at night and squished it. Maybe you turned on the kitchen light one evening and caught a glimpse of little brown torpedoes rushing to hide behind the refrigerator. However you found out, now you know: you have an infestation.

So how do you get rid of them? Especially if you share a wall with another apartment and the neighbors are total slobs?

Fancy chemicals won't work, because one of those suckers hiding in your wall is immune to it, and she'll survive and breed and you'll be right back where you started. It's the same sort of problem we see with antibiotics. (See the dangers of antibacterials.)

What you want is boric acid. It comes in powder form, possibly even in a bottle that you can squeeze to propel the powder out. Put it in the corners, under the fridge and stove, behind the shower, any place you think they might be hiding. They walk through it and it sticks to them, slowly drying them out. Meanwhile they go back to the nest and spread it there, killing others. It's just too simple for them to be immune to!

If you have pets or small children, you need to make sure to put it in places they can't get to. But that's okay, because the roaches will still go there!

If you want to be really nasty, mix it with powdered sugar before spreading it around, and they'll think the whole thing is food and scarf it down! But that's not necessary.

So throw away that Raid or Combat or whatever else you've got. They not only won't eliminate your infestation, they'll force the roaches to evolve, thereby improving the whole population! The old Far Side cartoon that shows roaches dancing in front of a mushroom cloud won't be too far off from the truth!

There are several ways to get rid of cockroaches, differing in their effectiveness, side effects and ease of application:

Starvation
Cockroaches won't stay where they find no food. However, this is more difficult than it sounds, because it means absolute cleanliness. No bread crumbs, no unwashed dishes, no leftovers in the wastebasket. Remember, cockroaches can live for a month without food, and they might even be able to subsist on the dead skin flakes that people are shedding all the time.
Moving
Perhaps the most effective way is to move to a part of the world where cockroaches are not common; usually because it's too cold for them. Canada, northern Europe are perhaps the best options.
Chemistry
You can buy cans of vermin-killing gas. You put the can in your room, push a lever, and get the hell out. Stay out for a few hours and upon your return you'll find dead vermin everywhere. You have to repeat this after two weeks, because it doesn't kill the eggs which cockraoches lay. Of course, this also doesn't prevent new ones from coming, so you'll have to repeat it eventually. Also, I doubt that stuff that kills vermin is healthy for people, and wouldn't rely on it magically disappearing after usage.
Roach traps
In my opinion, the best way: cheap, effective and relatively hassle-free. Lay out the traps (two or three per room, placed behind furniture, etc.), and you'll catch the first of the greedy buggers within hours. After a few days, you'll have caught most of them. Exchange the traps every couple of weeks, and enjoy relatively roach-free rooms. The only downside is that the traps smell relatively intensively for the first day or so (but continue working afterwards) and are not exactly decorative.

Dessication (drying out) should also be mentioned. Cockroaches are insects of the tropical rainforest and need a moist climate. Of course, they can always find a small amount of water in the dark, subterranean spaces they live in; but leaving open pools of water encourages them to congregate.

So one of the first things you should check in a roach infested home is that the plumbing isn't leaking. A kitchen sink that drips water around it is sure to attract cockroaches, in addition to the fact that there is always food in the kitchen area.

The first step in getting rid of roaches is removing their food source. Sweep and mop all floors regularly, and keep all sources of food covered, bagged, or otherwise inaccessible. If you've got roaches in your car, vacuum the carpets (especially under the seats) to remove any crumbs which are hidden below. Removing the back seat cushion (usually by pushing it back and upwards) and searching for dropped French fries and small fortunes in missing coins is also a viable option. This alone may get rid of your roach problem.

If you've still got the annoying bugs around, it may be time to take some additional steps. I prefer using non-chemical means of pest control, so I usually pick up a few Roach Motels. The Roach Motel is a glue trap, which roaches and other insects get trapped inside after being attracted by a pheromone attractant. Place Roach Motels or other glue traps near where you usually see roaches enter or leave a room. (Closing off this entrance/exit, if it's an unwanted hole, is also a good idea.) Discard and replace the trap when it's full.

If trapping the roaches doesn't solve the problem, it may be necessary to set out poison baits. These are usually sealed inside a plastic disk to make them accessible only to roaches, but not to humans or other animals. The roaches will supposedly consume some of this, and take some back to their nest, eradicating the whole bunch. Of course, always take these marketing claims with a grain of salt. They do seem to greatly reduce the number of roaches running around, though.

There are other methods of removing roaches, which are best left for application by a professional exterminator. These include the placement of a bait compound inside walls, crawl spaces, and spraying.

Of course, stomping or otherwise squishing roaches is always helpful, as long as their gooey remains are cleaned up.

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