Can Alcohol Kill Roaches?

Roaches have a way of appearing at the worst times, and when you are relaxing and having a beer, the last thing you want to see is these nasty pests popping up.

If you live in an area where cockroach infestations are common, you may have considered using different kinds of alcohol to get rid of roaches after all, it’s on hand and easy to get.

Key Points:

  • Alcohol can be used to kill roaches, but it is not recommended because some kinds are attractive to cockroaches.
  • Cockroaches can quickly become immune and learn to avoid certain alcoholic beverages.
  • White powder such as diatomaceous earth, baking soda, or boric acid will work better and be cheaper than using alcohol to kill roaches.

We have already looked at using isopropyl alcohol in a spray bottle to kill roaches but are any other types of alcohol effective for killing roaches?

Beer, wine, vodka, and tequila with so many kinds of alcohol on hand which ones are good for getting rid of cockroaches, and is there an exact concentration needed for specific cockroach species?

Join us as we look at what alcoholic beverages will do to stop a cockroach infestation and what, if any, dangers exist in using alcohol to kill roaches. 

Can Alcoholic Drinks Kill Roaches?

Alcoholic Drink

It is possible to kill American cockroaches and German cockroaches with strong alcohol when sprayed or poured directly on them. Alcoholic beverages are not long-term remedies for roaches and are not nearly as reliable as traditional pesticide products when it comes to keeping cockroaches at bay.

Beer and wine have high levels of sugar that will actually attract cockroaches, making them a less-than-ideal solution for cockroach control. 

Beer and wine can be used as bait to trap cockroaches, but other cheaper alternatives exist, like peanut butter, that can work just as well, if not better. Higher concentrations of alcohol with a greater APV will cause cockroach damage and can even kill cockroach eggs if it seeps into the hiding places where they were laid.

You can kill cockroaches with alcohol, but it isn’t comparable to other remedies for roaches. 

Do Cockroaches Hate Alcohol?

Alcohol contains sugar, and these sugars can be used as food and fuel for cockroaches in need of a fast meal. Alcohol can also lead to intoxication, making it hard for roaches to move and possibly causing dehydration and death.

Cockroaches in a residence may learn which forms of alcohol used will cause immediate death and which ones might become a favorite food. 

Most of the alcohol is also a mixture of water and other ingredients that cockroaches and other pests can use as food sources.

It is unlikely that cockroaches will avoid spills or dousing of alcohol in the same way they would chemical pesticides. Even if the high percent alcohols do have an unpleasant odor, it likely will not stop roaches even just hours later from returning and looking for food particles. 

Alcohol Percentages and Roach-Killing Capabilities

Dead Cockroach

If you plan on cleaning homes and kitchens with alcohol in an effort to stop roaches, it is a good idea to know which ones will kill and remove brown cockroaches and which ones will attract them.

While alcoholic beverages are not a recommended cleaning product or a natural insecticide, some will kill roaches on contact, and the effects of alcohol we enjoy can make them drunk as well.

In general, the higher the levels of alcohol and fewer ingredients in alcohol, the better remedies for roaches the drinks become. 

BeverageAlcohol per Volume (APV)Roach Killing Abilities
Beer5-8%Attracts roaches
Wine10-15%Attracts roaches
Liquor20-80%Intoxicates, dehydrates, and kills roaches
High-Proof Alcohols 90-100%Immediately kills roaches 

Are There Better Alternatives to Alcohol for Roach Killing?

Any formulated pesticide or natural insect killer is going to be a far better solution for killing cockroaches than alcohol. Although not the preferred method, alcohol can be an effective roach killer when it has a high enough APV and is sprayed directly on the pests.

However, there are countless better and cheaper alternative treatments that can stop roaches fast and saves your alcohol for drinking. 

White Powder

Countless natural pesticide powders exist in various forms for home and garden use. Diatomaceous Earth, baking soda, and boric acid all have scientific evidence showing that they can kill roaches when injected and lead to dehydration and other vulnerabilities through direct contact.

These powders do not evaporate, and some are still viable after drying when wet. 


Soap and laundry detergent can effectively kill roaches as sprays or when they are dumped into a solution. Keeping roaches at bay with simple soap and laundry detergent is a cost-effective way to eradicate these pests. 


A tried and true remedy for cockroaches, commercial pesticides have fast-killing action and long residual effects that keep everything from brown-banded cockroaches to Australian cockroaches out of your home and yard reliably.

However, more and more, the long-term health effects of exposure to these chemicals are raising the question of whether the cure is worth the treatment. Chemical bait in cockroach traps is a good alternative to more harmful aerosol products. 

Natural Products

Coffee grounds and essential oils can work as repellents to keep roaches out of your homes, and ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and baking soda can all wreak havoc on roaches.

Finding natural products that work well may take more time but the long-term benefits in cost and family health are worth the work. 

Which Alcohols Attract Roaches?

Some alcohol repels and kills roaches, while other drinks attract them. It is easiest to look at it from a purity and strength standpoint.

100% alcohol can kill and sterilize, making it a poison to any surrounding pests. A spilled beer or not completely empty wine bottle, on the other hand, can bring bugs out of hiding to slurp up some delicious booze.

Below is a breakdown of the drinks that bring the roaches to the yard. 


Roaches love beer and, over time, may develop favorite brews. If you don’t mind sharing your near empties with their roaches, then keep leaving them out, but if you want to keep your living space clean, you should dispose of empty cans properly and clean up any spilled beer immediately.

This beverage will almost certainly attract roaches and other pests. 


Like beer, the sugar content is high and the alcohol content lower than the point of sterilization, making it a drink that brings bugs.

Leaving a glass out or spilling a bottle will attract roaches if it is not cleaned up.  Empty wine bottles can be rinsed before discarding to discourage roaches from trying to gain access to recycling bins which are often less tightly sealed than household trash cans. 


If a combination of alcohol and sweet syrup or some other cockroach-enticing flavor, there is a good chance a spill or glasses containing residual liquid will attract nearby roaches.

Some roaches may even develop a liking for alcohol and frequent trash bins where empty cans and bottles end up.

Liquors that are a high volume with no other ingredients will not attract cockroaches and can be used to repel and destroy them. 

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