If, like many Singaporeans, you believe placing a bunch of the sweet smelling pandan leaves in your car and cupboards will keep the cockroaches at bay, think again.

First of all, it’s essential to understand why and how the practice first came about. Now like other insects, cockroaches breathe through a system of tubes called tracheae which are attached to openings called spiracles on all body segments. That means they breathe through their ‘skin’ and so they cannot tolerate fragrance particles that can clog their skin. By filling the air with something aromatic, such as pandan for example, it suffocates them.

Coming back to the original question, the answer would be yes but with a disclaimer. In order for pandan to be effective, one would need to use only fresh leaves and ensure that there is a constant supply. So if the bunch of pandan has been laying around in your cupboard for over a month, it’s probably no longer doing what it was put there to do.

A simpler solution to using pandan would be to use fabric softeners instead. Not only are fabric softeners fragrant, they are also soapy. The soapiness prevents cockroaches from breathing properly as well. Mix a cap of fabric softener with half a cup of water in a spray bottle and you have your own homemade insecticide.


Here are 5 other facts you didn’t know about this common household pest

  1. Cockroaches are known to have existed on earth since 200 million years ago. In fact, some of the earliest fossils show that cockroaches may have been around even before the dinosaurs walked the earth.
  2. Cockroaches produce a type of protein, which can cause breathing difficulties in some people. Their fecal matter is also a form of allergen and they carry bacteria on their exoskeletons.
  3. Because they breathe through their skin, cockroaches can live without a head for up to a week.
  4. Cockroaches are drawn to beer, because of its high sugar content.
  5. Cockroaches can survive for up to a month without food and very little and very little oxygen. 


If you like this story, check out the other forms of natural insecticides out there: