How to Use Catnip to Repel Roaches?

Insect repellents for flies and mosquitos, as well as spiders, ants, and other insects, exist, but when it comes to cockroaches, all we see are poisons to kill them. It seems that simply using a roach repellent instead of a cockroach killer isn’t as popular.

Key Points:

  • Catnip is 100x more powerful at repelling roaches than DEET.
  • Catnip can be applied as a living plant, as dried leaves, or in essential oil form.
  • When brewed into a tea and sprayed, it can be an effective form of insect control without the use of harsh chemicals that may pose health risks.

Maybe it is because they are bigger or seem dirtier, but cockroaches often pose very few health risks, and the dangerous chemicals in the bug spray is often more dangerous to pets and asthmatic children. 

Fortunately, there are countless ingredients that can make an effective natural roach repellent that can keep pests away without harmful toxic residue. All-natural cockroach repellents are so easy to make that I bet you have what you need on hand already to mix up a batch.

You can use almost anything to restrict cockroach activity, even catnip; read on to find out how. 

Will Catnip Repel Roaches?

Catnip plants repel roaches so well that it is a natural insect repellent 100x more powerful than DEET, according to an earlier study. The catnip leaves contain the chemical nepetalactone, which confuses a roach’s senses and makes it hard for them to hunt or escape predators.

While this perennial herb will not eradicate a cockroach infestation, it has a chemical basis to repel and potentially kill cockroach populations.

It is a member of the mint family, which has toxic properties for roaches and can be used to kill a roach in high concentrations but will repel effectively even at low doses. Other active ingredients make catnip a powerful insect repellent that fights both the common German cockroach and the larger American cockroach.

Effects of Catnip on Roaches

Although catnip is not as lethal as other cockroach removal methods like boric acid, food-grade diatomaceous earth, or rosemary oil, the chemistry of catnip can alarm cockroaches by making it hard for them to get their sense of direction.

This disorientation is a minor inconvenience at best but will stop roaches from entering a room that has no food crumbs or fragrant foods nearby. The table below shows some of the effects different amounts of catnip spray have on roaches and the results of catnip for roach control overall.

Amount of CatnipApplication MethodEffects on Roaches
SmallSprinkle or Spray Roach AreaMay work as a roach cockroach deterrent if a stronger smell like a food source doesn’t drive these pesky pests past it 
ModerateFresh Catnip plants, dried catnip leaves, or catnip tea in a spray bottle sprayed directly on roaches Direct contact will mess up a cockroach’s sense of direction and make it easier to kill or remove from the home and acts as an effective cockroach repellent
LargePour a catnip brew directly on the roaches or directly contact with a catnip spray of catnip essential oilsWhile small amounts of
nepetalactone in catnip confuses roaches a large amount in a high concentration range similar to mint, is a more
potent form

How to Apply Catnip against Cockroaches?

Catnip as a roach repellent is easy to apply and can be an effective method of cockroach control when used correctly. Natural cockroach-repellent plants can be procured as fresh herbs, plants that are living, dried leaves, and essential oils.

Any of these forms can be applied to confuse roaches, but better formulations can last longer and repel better. Following are some of the ways to apply catnip and the benefits of each. 

Fresh Herb

A living catnip plant will repel insects as the oils on the leaves atomize during evaporation. These airborne oils can stick to surfaces and create a cloud that repels insects and attracts cats. With living catnip herbs, you can harvest leaves and dry them and also press them for oils using an infuser or other distillation processes.

Having different forms of the repellent of cockroaches that catnip provides can help you create an effective, safe, and natural product.

Dry Herb

This is a common way to purchase catnip for cats. Any pet store is going to have catnip in sachets that you can brew into a tea or sprinkle around areas where cockroaches enter. Places like storage rooms and garages can benefit from the leaves as you will need to reapply them less.

Constantly dropping crushed-up catnip leaves around the kitchen on the hand would not be fun to do and clean up regularly. 


Placing either fresh leaves or dried leaves into a pot of water, boiling it, simmering it, and letting it sit for 10 to 15 mins will yield you a catnip tea. This solution can be added to other natural pest controls or used as is in a spray bottle.

Once cooled, spray in areas roaches are or are likely to show up and keep track of if it is effective. If it doesn’t seem to be working, try increasing the concentration by adding more leaves, simmering longer, and reducing the water further.

Essential Oil

Purchasing catnip as an essential oil, using an infuser to make your own, or buying a premade catnip oil spray can all get you a strong concentration of catnip. Directly spraying the essential oils on roaches may kill them, but it is still most useful as a strong repellent.

Oil doesn’t make the mess of crushed leaves and lingers longer than the water solution making it the best option for ultimate roach removal. 

Does Catnip Repel or Kill Roaches?

Catnip will not kill roaches unless other toxic chemicals are used, or a highly concentrated oil is applied to them. In most standard applications, catnip will effectively repel roaches and can be especially useful at keeping roaches from coming back to an area you recently wiped them out of.

The effectiveness of catnip relies on the strength of the catnip tea and whether you use catnip in conjunction with other natural cockroach deterrents.