Does Lemon Juice Repel Roaches?

Waking up in the morning and seeing telltale signs that roaches have been on your counters is never fun. Whether there is a random leg or twitching antennae, you know cockroach activity occurred, and you are desperate for a way to be rid of cockroaches. Before you call a pest control expert, it might be worth looking into a natural repellent.

German cockroaches and American cockroaches can both be warded off and, in some cases, killed with natural remedies like diatomaceous earth, boric acid, baking soda, coffee grounds, and peppermint oil in a spray bottle. Lots of these chemicals have repellent properties that can help keep a cockroach infestation at bay, but one remedy for cockroaches is so common we even count on it for freshening up our dirty dishes.

This article explores whether or not lemon juice will repel roaches; let’s find out.

Does Lemon Juice Kill Roaches?

Squirting lemon juice directly on a roach might kill it, depending on what else the pest has been exposed to. It doesn’t have insecticidal properties, but it might be acidic enough to burn some smaller cockroach species. Putting lemon juice in a spray bottle with hot water and baking soda can help increase the effectiveness of lemon’s roach-killing capabilities. 

A strong lemon smell around water sources and food items can be disorienting for cockroaches and can keep them away, but unless the lemon is mixed into heavy-duty cleaning products, it is unlikely to have a residual effect, keep cockroaches at bay, or be recommended as a reliable pest control method by a professional exterminator. Lemon juice is not an effective method to kill a cockroach clan.

Does Lemon Repel Cockroaches?

Cockroach activity can be greatly reduced by using lemon ingredients in pest sprays. Most cleaning supplies already have some lemon scents in them, and wiping cabinets and kitchen counters regularly can help keep roaches from crawling around. Adding petroleum jelly to the base of surfaces roaches climb can keep them off counters and lead them to cockroach baits or other roach-killing devices. 

Lemon oil or lemon juice mixed with other solutions like vinegar, plant materials, or essential oils that repel roaches can increase the effectiveness of a homemade spray. These sprays can keep pests out without harming the earth or people and animals in your home. Lemon peels tossed in areas where roaches frequent might deter them initially, but if the peels are not changed out often enough, could also attract other pests that see it as a food source.

Citrus Cockroach Solutions

Citrus is extremely common and has many beneficial properties. Citrus juice, especially from lemons and limes, is acidic, which makes it good for our skin and gives it antibacterial properties. These same chemical properties can be put to use with a few simple steps and sprayed into tight spaces to keep roaches out.

Not all citrus fruits are equally effective or have the low pH needed to be effective as a cleanser. Below are a few different citrus types as well as ways to combine lemon juice and oil with other solutions to make powerful cockroach repellents and even a natural cockroach killer. 

Citrus SolutionPreparationEffect
Lemon and WaterMix lemon oil, peels, or juice with waterStuns and sometimes kills roaches, as well as sanitizes surfaces
Lemon and VinegarMix equal parts lemon juice and vinegarHigher acidity spray can kill roaches and their egg with direct contact
Lemon and Alcohol Mix equal parts lemon juice Suffocates and Kills roaches and leaves a citrus scent 
OrangeMix with waterCan leave a nice citrus scent
GrapefruitMix with waterSome acidity can repel insects 
Lime SprayMix with waterCan kill and repel roaches, similar to how lemon works


Lemon is the go-to cleaner scent to make a house smell fresh after a thorough cleaning. While not necessarily always consistently effective, lemon juice and other lemon products can be used as a cockroach deterrent and hold off the exploration of a colony of cockroaches into your kitchen. Lemon sanitizes and repels roaches and other pests that climb on counters and tables while allowing you to avoid toxic chemicals on surfaces where food is prepared. 

Citrus Varieties

Other citrus types, like orange and grapefruit, are not as effective against cockroach populations. These fruits would be better used as bait for cockroaches to get them to ingest borax or other poisons provided by a cockroach exterminator. Lime has a similar acidity to lemon and can be used in much the same way as a lemon-based cockroach product.

The scent of lime isn’t as strong as lemon, and less juice is produced per squeeze, so if you will be using citrus to fight roaches, opt for lemon for the best results. 

Lemon Spray Recipes

Chasing a cockroach with a lemon wedge in each hand and trying to squeeze the juice on the fly is not the best way to use your lemon. It is extremely easy and affordable to get lemon essential oil which has the concentration needed to really put a hurting on cockroach nests. Below are some ways to mix your lemon products for the best results against pesky roaches. 

Lemon Oil

Lemon oil can be used in spray bottles with water to produce a strong scent and possibly damage a roach with direct contact. Mix at least 20 drops of lemon essential oil into 500ml of water in a spray bottle. Try it out and if you need a stronger solution, continue adding drops until you have what you need. Spray the solution into cracks and gaps along the floor, and other places house pests are common. 

Lemon + Acid

Adding another acid, like vinegar, can help make the spray more lethal. Vinegar is a strong acid but leaves an unpleasant odor. Mixing citrus acid does not dilute the acidity like water would but does mask the smell making it a more attractive pest control method. 

Lemon + Alcohol

Alcohol can suffocate cockroaches if sprayed directly into their mouth while they are breathing. Alcohol is also a very effective sanitizer that can help destroy the pathogens roaches carry with them. Adding alcohol and lemon juice together makes it much easier to spray cockroaches, clean counters, and even sanitize dishes.

If you are able to directly hit one with this concoction, you should be able to kill roaches with lemon juice.