German cockroach, pest extraordinaire.
What does and doesn't work for getting rid of them
I never intended to become an expert on these bugs from hell, but had no choice when I lived for 5 1/2 months in a home heavily infested with them.
I did a lot of research to figure out what could be done about them, although 5 1/2 months wasn't long enough to learn about them, acquire poisons and things, and entirely eliminate them. However, my efforts reduced their numbers significantly, and I know I could've achieved total success if I'd had enough time.
What I learned with all my research and experimentation is shared below, and I hope this will help others who are unfortunate enough to need this information. I explain what does and doesn't work, what these bugs eat, what makes the problem worse, how they behave, and much more.
What are they and how might they become a problem?
Why they’re called “German” I don’t know, as they did not originate in Germany, and are originally from tropical portions of Africa. They are now a worldwide pest, found in homes in many places everywhere.
There are actually about 4,500 species of cockroach, but only four are pests that afflict human habitations. The four pest species are:
1. American cockroach
2. Asian cockroach
3. Oriental cockroach
4. German cockroach
American and Oriental cockroaches are around an inch (2.5 to 3 cm) in length. The Asian and German species are smaller, at around 0.6 inches (1.5 cm) in length.
Asian cockroaches fly well, similar to a moth, and are attracted to light like a moth. American and Oriental cockroaches can fly short distances. German cockroaches have visible wings, but are not able to fly.
All are brownish, although Asian cockroaches are usually light (more like tan) in color, and the other three pest species are a darker brown.
The insects can spread from one home to another fairly easily. In homes ripe for an infestation, their numbers may explode. Homes with better conditions of cleanliness and order are less likely to become a new habitation for them.
Visitors from houses with the problem may unintentionally bring some with them, like in a bag or something else that they come into your house with.
If they appear in your home, it’s not necessarily your fault or a reflection of you being a messy or unclean person. However, maintaining cleanliness and being vigilant against messes, as you’ll see, is critical to get rid of them for good and to prevent them from proliferating.
Scourge of the German cockroach: First things to know
A lot of this information and advice likely applies to all pest species, although from here on I am discussing German cockroaches. Besides differences in what they look like and their flying abilities, I don’t know what other differences the other species have from German cockroaches.
What I do know is that websites on pest control consistently state that the German species is the most awful, and the hardest to get rid of. If you see any at all, beware. Likely the amount you see is far less than how many are actually there.
The first important thing to know is that they like to hide, and they like to be in the dark. If it’s light out, or if a light is on, they’ll likely run for a dark space to hide. If you see them where it’s light, that’s a big problem and indicates that there may be very high numbers of them hidden where you’re not able to see them.
They hide in tight spaces and cracks, such as in a wall or cupboard, or in appliances. They make huge nests, most often in spaces within walls. They always live near water, within a few feet, such as near sinks or toilets or a bathtub. This means they are almost always found in the heaviest numbers in kitchens and bathroom areas.
It’s critical to understand that you must get rid of them, because they literally spread disease, allergens, bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Many people have severe allergic reactions to their presence. The insects and their rotting corpses and feces can make a house smell horrible – it affects everything in the house, anything can pick up the smell, and anyone who visits is compromising their physical health. Weakened immune systems increase the catching of colds, worsen allergies, and can result in bacterial or fungal infections, etc. Items owned can be ruined, including expensive items like appliances or musical instruments that the insects invade.
The bugs are very unsanitary and must be destroyed. Every effort must be taken, and no half measures or weak efforts will do. This means doing everything required, not just what you feel like, and not just whatever is sufficiently convenient. Grit your teeth and be determined – you have to get rid of them and will not stop until success is achieved.
You’re in a race against time when they’re in the house, and if your house is such that it offers conditions for proliferation, you could have a lot of damage – economically, and also regarding the physical health of anyone in the home. Drastic changes may be necessary, although it will be worth it, because what these bugs can do is a lot worse than making difficult changes.
More information about them that is critical to understand follows below. I will explain what they eat, how they behave, what makes an infestation worse, and what makes an infestation go away for good (how to kill them all).
What German cockroaches eat
Their very favorite foods are sugary and greasy foods, and meats, although they eat a lot of other stuff. I’ve observed them to eat all of the following:
- Soap (liquid, bar, etc)
- The sticky part of tape
- The backs of postage stamps
- Book bindings
- Paper, napkins, paper towels, toilet paper, Kleenex
- Printed photographs
- Cardboards, boxes for food products
- The labels of canned foods
- All human foods
- All pet foods
- Each other (they will become cannibals if food runs low)
They’ll resort to things we wouldn’t consider food (paper, soap, etc) only when their favorites, human and pet foods, are becoming scarce. Cannibalism is the last resort but can sustain a large population for quite some time and will make the amount of time that it takes for them to dwindle considerably longer.
Cutting down on available food is a must, but killing them solely through starvation is probably impossible. This is because of the wide variety of things they’ll eat, plus a rather disturbing fact: They can go three months (yes, three months) without food and still survive.
Just as a curiosity, what eats these bugs? Spiders are one thing that eats them, and if there’s a lot in a house this can increase the number of spiders in the house – including ones that are poisonous to humans. Also, there are some wasp and centipede species that eat them – again, not something you want in your house. Basically, you can’t control them very effectively with other animals that will eat them.
Other known behaviors of German cockroaches
We’ve already discussed how German cockroaches hide, how they want to be in the dark, and how they make nests in areas near water, most often in a space within a wall. Here are some other things that I know they do:
At night if you flip on a light, they’ll suddenly scatter everywhere. Any time you see any eating food, they’ll run when you come near, as though they know they’re disgusting and deserve to be killed.
If they’re on a counter or table, they may suddenly run (they’re very fast), and they won’t slow down whatsoever as they dive over the edge, crazy kamikaze style, and keep running at the same speed as soon as they hit the ground.
They can easily walk on walls, plus upside-down on the ceiling. At night they can emerge and walk around on walls in all parts of the house, not just the kitchen or bathroom areas.
They can be put in water and it’s almost impossible to drown them because they can survive underwater for 45 minutes.
They can survive inside a refrigerator and eat your food – although they can’t survive in a freezer. This means that even inside a refrigerator, you have to ensure food is enclosed and not available for cockroaches to munch on.
They reproduce rapidly, grow rapidly, and each insect lives for six months to a year unless something kills it.
If you try to smash them, they are like miniature water balloons and practically explode and get their greenish juices all over. Then these juices must be cleaned or they’ll rot and stink. And besides, you have to hit them hard with a direct hit to kill them like this, plus you have to be quick because they’re quick.
They produce a foul smell intentionally when disturbed, afraid, or excited.
They molt their skins and you can have super thin, light roach skins in places where they congregate, including inside things you own such as appliances, televisions, computers, etc. The molted skins stink and are difficult to clean up because they’re easily disturbed with the slightest air movement and go flying through the air and break into dust which you don’t want to inhale.
If you put them outside, they will huddle underneath something for shelter, and then will try to get back into the house if they can.
If you spray an insecticide or fogger, it nearly always has no effect on them. Most store-bought cockroach killing sprays and other products don’t work on this species. Some may cause them to be stunned or to stop moving, but they usually recover.
They will get into anything with even the tiniest of cracks. Things you may think are air tight or bug-proof, if it isn’t, they will prove you wrong. They will get into cracks that appear too small, because they can flatten their bodies and squeeze into super tiny spaces.
When they get into appliances, they leave feces, molted skins, and some die, leaving corpses. This means that some items they’ve gotten into may smell horrible with no real way to get rid of the smell, which can last years. Often if they’ve gotten into something, it’ll need to be thrown out. This can include TVs, refrigerators, ovens, box springs, pianos, couches, and other expensive items.
Carpets can be ruined by these bugs, and the smell won’t come out. If they’ve walked on and defecated on your carpets for any length of time, your carpets will probably require replacement once the problem goes away. An infestation that’s widespread and long lasting will guarantee a need for carpet replacement.
Females walk around with egg cases on them, making their posterior extend more. Each egg case has 30 to 40 eggs. Each female can have hundreds of offspring in her lifetime, and each of them can have hundreds more, and you can see how their numbers can explode quickly.
In bathrooms they’ll get into the toilet and water tank, and run around on the toilet seat, making using the toilet a potentially awful experience.
If your bedroom is near a bathroom with them, they’ll go into the bedroom at night. It’s almost impossible to prevent them from getting up onto your bed, and inside the box spring.
They can cause people to feel physically stressed, potentially worsening any health problems, and to have anxiety from constantly trying to deal with their presence.
If you try to kill some but don’t do enough to kill all of them, you’re helping them – natural selection means that those easiest to kill have died, and you’re left with the ones that are harder to kill.
They love to get into garbage cans.
They will climb around on plates, cups, utensils, and things you eat food with. Remember that they spread diseases.
Cockroaches have been on the Earth for 300 million years and have been disgusting the entire time. Be glad this species doesn’t fly, even though they have wings.
What not to do, that makes an infestation worse
First, don’t assume that some small and easy efforts will suffice. Not only does getting rid of them take a lot of effort, but it takes a lot of time as well. A friend who is a pest control expert (he manages several locations for a major pest control company) told me that a very large infestation will take six months to get rid of if you do everything right.
The most important thing to know is that you have to do everything you can to succeed. If you ignore some of the steps, success probability drops near zero. If you find yourself resisting any of the steps, question why you’re resisting – and whether you’d rather have them just get worse and ruin your house, your personal possessions, and your family’s health.
Some other things to avoid:
1. The typical sprays and foggers sold in stores that say they’re for cockroaches. They don’t help with German cockroaches, only with other species.
2. Having a garbage can indoors. It will need to stay outside until the problem is gone.
3. Not immediately cleaning up food messes. No leaving spilled food or crumbs on the ground, table, counters, etc. It must be cleaned up as soon as possible.
4. Having dirty dishes in the sink. They’ll have to be washed immediately after use.
5. Not cleaning dishes before use – remember what I said about how they’ll get into any cabinet or drawer and they’ll run around on items you eat food with, spreading disease.
6. Leaving pet food in the house. If you have pets, it’ll have to go outside. If this isn’t possible, have someone else care for your pets for awhile.
7. Leaving standing water anywhere. Rules are: No water in the sink. No water spilled on the ground. No water in the bathtub – wipe it up with a towel. No bowl of water for a pet sitting around. No wet rags or towels sitting around.
8. Leaving any bags of food (cereal, chips, etc) out that they can get into. You may have to use plastic tupperware-type containers or zip-loc type bags.
10. Cardboard boxes – they’ll both hide in them and eat them.
11. Spills of soap or toothpaste.
12. Clutter, unnecessary-to-own household items that just provide more hiding spots.
13. Messes, of anything, that just provide more hiding spots.
14. Holes in walls, gaps in baseboards or cabinets, and other spaces they can go in and out of in the overall structure of the house. This includes holes in the wall from nails or screws.
15. Food left out (such as fruit in a bowl – you may have to only eat canned fruit for awhile).
16. Piles of laundry, or laundry baskets that they can get in. They’ll hide in and amongst clothes, sometimes large quantities of them. This especially applies to damp clothes.
17. Anything you notice that large numbers of them are hiding in. If they’re in your television or refrigerator for example, put it outside. It may be possible to salvage items (discussed below).
18. Leaking pipes or anything that provides them with water. Eliminating water as much as possible is critical, and kills them a lot faster than attempts at eliminating food.
19. Unclean counters, stove tops, sinks, floors, tables, etc. Everything needs to be kept clean and washed and dried continuously to thwart them.
20. Toys, VHS tapes, and anything they can get into and hide in, molt in, die in, and defecate in. These may need to be tossed if they get infested, or in some cases they can be salvaged. Items may need to be put away or outside (discussed below).
A plan for killing them all and minimizing damages
My apologies if I’ve painted a picture of invincible super bugs. I’ve tried my best to be factual, and want to emphasize the difficulty of eliminating these insects, but to give hope that it can be done.
In total you’re going to do multiple things that will minimize their chances for thriving and surviving. To summarize, your efforts must minimize hiding spots, minimize food, minimize water, minimize economic damage, minimize damage to your health, plus you will kill them with specific poisons, all in the most effective manner that you can. You will attack them in every way that you can.
Have hope: You can win if you do what’s required, but be patient and accept that winning the war may involve losing some battles – you won’t get out of a major problem without some losses.
#1 - Minimize hiding spots
Be aware that practically anything with any holes, cracks, tight spaces, or that’s dark inside can become a place where they will hang out, poop, molt the outer layer of their skins, mate, bear young, and die.
Although you want to eliminate hiding spots, you simultaneously want to save things that you care about if possible. Here is what I recommend:
Throw out anything you really don’t need or don’t use, that you can bear to part with. If it has the bugs already, throw it in the trash. If not, consider giving it to a thrift store – most give you a receipt that you can use for a tax deduction.
For things you want to keep, or that you want to try to salvage, consider the following:
1. Large items such as refrigerators or televisions may be ruined by the cockroaches. Even if you kill them all, these items may stink for a long time with dead bugs and rotting feces. If you live where it’s cold in the winter, you can consider putting the item outside and letting the freezing weather kill the bugs. This requires it getting below freezing for more than just a few hours.
2. For items not yet infested, be careful that they are truly free of the bugs. They could be hiding, and if you put the item in storage or give it to someone else, you could be transferring the bugs elsewhere. If you put an item outside or in a shed, the bugs can live three months without food and may just wait until you bring the item back into the house.
3. For smaller items, you can try putting them in a freezer for 24 hours to kill any bugs, or you can put them in something airtight such as a plastic trash bag closed well (tied in a knot). Be aware that many plastic containers are not sufficiently tight, and sometimes bugs can get into containers that you might have thought were bug-proof. If you put anything in a trash bag, keep it there long enough to ensure they’re dead (at least three solid months), plus you have to make extra sure the bag has no holes whatsoever.
4. Furniture items may have bugs deep within them. They may get into box springs and couches, for example, and these items may need to be thrown out. If there’s been a big problem in a house, and if they’ve been in a room with furniture items, it’s guaranteed the furniture items have bugs deep within them and will have to be thrown out.
5. Be careful with anything the bugs can get into, such as VHS tapes, plastic toys, cardboard boxes of any kind, computer equipment, musical instruments (pianos, guitar amplifiers, etc), books on a shelf, drawers, cabinets, filing cabinets, and the list goes on and on. They may get into beloved photo albums, old record collections, you name it. Their smell and feces can ruin pretty much everything in the house.
Probably the most important for eliminating hiding spots is sealing holes and cracks in walls. This also includes cabinets, along baseboards, electrical outlets, around door frames, inside cupboards – be very thorough in checking the house and all things attached to it for cracks, holes, or any spaces or crevices that the bugs could enter.
Look underneath sinks, behind toilets, under the edges of cupboards and cabinets, on the tops of door frames, at the edges of carpet (they will hide under carpet in places where it’s loose or torn), at the edges of counters, inside closets, underneath counters, around bathtubs, at gaps in tile or linoleum, etc.
Consider everywhere they could be. Have a mirror or picture on the wall? They could be behind it. Have a medicine cabinet in the bathroom? They could be in it, or behind it if it’s attached to the wall. For each room, look around carefully and consider anywhere they could be that you could plug up or eliminate to make it harder for them to hide.
Since their main nests are usually within walls, eliminating all possible holes or gaps may cut off their access to the nest. This would be a major blow but don’t count on this to result in total elimination. The fact that they’re in the house means they have an established nest somewhere, or will soon if the infestation began recently. Cutting off places where they could establish one is critical.
Use silicone caulk (you can buy a caulking gun, or smaller tubes that you use by hand – I prefer the ones that you squeeze by hand), drywall or wall patches for bigger holes or gaps, spackle, and whatever you have to for completing the job. Seek help from others if you need it!
The products below contain affiliate links that generate the author a small commission on purchases made through the links.
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#2 - Minimize food
Already mentioned was not leaving out any human or pet food. No bowl of dog or cat food, pet cage or terrarium that the bugs can get into, bowls of fruit, bags or boxes of chips, cereal, or other food that they can get into or possibly get into (don’t underestimate what they can get into).
Look at the list above in this article of the other things that they eat.
Eliminate cardboard as much as possible. If you buy a box of crackers or cereal for example, throw out the box right away. If needed, write what the item is on the bag with a permanent marker.
Replace storage boxes with plastic bins, but ensure they’re tight. Use duct tape or other means to make sure there’s no way bugs can get in. Make sure tape is pressed down properly, because they’ll eat the sticky part of tape.
Buy things that are frozen or that can be put in a freezer – the bugs can’t survive for long in freezers, and a kitchen with these insects will be an unpleasant place to prepare foods, which will necessitate buying items you can just throw in the oven and cook up easily and quickly.
Toasters and toaster ovens will likely need to be tossed, because the bugs can easily get inside, and crumbs or food particles inside attract them. Bugs that get in might get cooked – burnt cockroaches is not a smell or taste you want to experience.
Put papers, envelopes, stamps, books, and other things with paper or cardboard away somewhere. Don’t leave it out where bugs can get into it and eat it.
Ensure soap bottles, toothpaste tubes, shampoo bottles, and glue bottles are closed well, and that no amount of soap or anything is on the outside of the bottle or tube.
Either get rid of soap bars, or find out what you can put them in (like a small plastic container, or a zip-loc bag) to keep bugs away when they’re not being used.
Put canned foods somewhere away from the bugs, because they’ll eat the labels, especially the glue that holds the label to the can. Maybe you can put the cans in the garage or somewhere else that’s safe, and only bring a can into the house when you’re going to eat it.
Don’t ever leave food messes, including crumbs or any spills. Clean the stove top immediately after using it. Clean dishes immediately after using them. Clean pots and pans as soon as they’ve cooled after cooking something. Keep counters, floors, tables, and everything clean.
If you have children who spill food or make messes, consider having them eat outside, or in the car, or somewhere so that they won’t drop things in the house. Clean any messes you notice as soon as you can.
Don’t keep trashes in the house. A trash can could be placed outside your back door for example, but don’t keep it in the house.
The bugs will eat toilet paper, so consider keeping it in a plastic bag near the toilet. If you have a large quantity of rolls for future use, keep them somewhere safe such as the garage or outside. Be careful though, because garages can become infested as well, if conditions allow.
Keep up with killing as many as possible (discussed below), which partially decreases their food supply – remember that they will be cannibals and eat one another to survive.
#3 - Minimize water
This is super critical. They will die without water in a matter of a week or two. If you can eliminate their access to water, they cannot survive.
Check pipes, such as underneath sinks, for leaks. Fix any that you find. Check behind and around toilets for leaks. Check around the edges of bathtubs, faucets, shower heads, and anywhere that you use water for leaks.
Wipe up excess water, such as in sinks after using them, and in the bathtub or shower after using it. However, don’t leave any wet towels or rags or sponges around – the bugs will suck on them to get water. Put them in the clothes washer, hang them outside, or anything to ensure that they aren’t where the bugs can get to them.
Don’t leave a bowl of water in the house, such as for your dog or cat. If you have other pets, such as in an aquarium or cage, ensure the bugs can’t get the water. If you think the bugs may be able to, they probably can. Consider having someone else watch your animals until the house is safe again.
In the kitchen or bathroom, the bugs will crawl down the drain and eat old rotting food and stuff. They are almost impossible to drown because they can stay underwater for 45 minutes and survive. Super hot water will kill them – consider pouring boiling water down any drain you suspect has the bugs. Also consider totally plugging sinks and drains, water tight (and bug-tight) when not in use.
Success with eliminating water sources can get rid of the bugs within a few weeks, although it’s likely that they will find ways to get some water, and more efforts toward killing them will probably be required.
#4 - Minimize economic damage
Steps listed above for minimizing hiding spots will also minimize a lot of the economic damage that can occur with an infestation. These insects can ruin pretty much anything in the house.
The way to minimize economic damage is to take all actions you can, that I’ve listed here in this article, as thoroughly and quickly as possible. Taking too much time toward getting around to eliminating food sources, for example, could be disastrous because of how quickly the insects multiply.
A major infestation is guaranteed to result in economic losses, and not taking necessary actions will harm you financially, plus it will harm your physical health, which is discussed next.
#5 - Minimize damage to your physical health
As with economic damage, taking all steps on this article will give you the maximum potential to save your physical health and prevent disease, allergies, infections, and other problems that can result from these very unsanitary insects.
Some people have severe allergic reactions. For example, I would immediately begin to sneeze, have a runny nose, and have watery eyes if the bugs were in a room. It would be an immediate indication that they’re present, and I would have to search for what they’re hiding in. Most often it was a pile of clothes, a clothes hamper, a cardboard box, or a trash bag that hadn’t been thrown outside.
Not getting rid of a German cockroach problem can harm the health of anyone who enters the home. The problem may result in not wanting to invite anyone over, although anyone who does come over may have an allergic reaction, and their immune system could be damaged, resulting in more easily catching viruses, or getting bacterial or fungal infections.
Physical health problems resulting from these bugs can also be financially damaging, as you have to pay for thing like doctor visits or medications, or may have to take time off work to recover.
#6 - Kill them with poisons
Don’t be afraid to contact a professional exterminator, although oftentimes the problem can be taken care of if you’re educated about this species and you do everything that’s required. Chances are any exterminator will have you take many of the steps listed in this article – their efforts won’t get far in a messy house with problems which facilitate proliferation.
I’ve mentioned already that most cockroach sprays, foggers, and other insecticides commonly found in stores have little or no effect on the German cockroach species. They typically help with other pest species, but not the German ones.
As part of my research, in which I aggregated information from many different websites, I made a list of effective poisons that work on this species and I bought and tried all of them. The most effective one is listed below, which can be purchased from Amazon.
Please be careful with any poisons, as some are harmful to adults and children, and others harm only children. Boric acid for example can be sprinkled around where they may walk, like on a counter, although be aware that it is harmful to children. This stuff kills the insects by dissolving their legs when they walk in it – they do not eat it.
Some tips for the application of poisons:
1. Place poisons in locations where no one is likely to see or touch them. Especially ensure that children aren’t likely to be able to get them (both what you put out to kill the bugs, plus products that have yet to be used).
2. Focus on areas where they are most commonly seen, especially near their likely nesting sites in kitchens and/or bathrooms.
3. Read all instructions carefully and follow them as best as you can.
4. If you get any poison anywhere that it’s not supposed to be, including on your skin, thoroughly wash and increase how careful you’re being.
5. Don’t use sprays or other products that you aren’t sure work on German cockroaches. You may make the problem worse if you use an ineffective product.
Note you can also suck them up with a vacuum, which is a good way to get rid of groups of them that you encounter. Have a canister or hand-held vacuum ready for such cases. I periodically went into the super heavily infested kitchen and sucked up a hundred or so at a time by opening cupboards and letting them have it.
One other effective way to kill them is with traps meant for fruit flies or wasps that have holes in the top, and a sugary liquid at the bottom. If there’s a large cockroach infestation, it will be filled with dead bugs quickly and you can empty it and reuse it over and over. Gross to empty of course, but works.
Best poison for German cockroaches
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Recovering and maintaining vigilance
Much of what is on this page is for more major infestations, or for houses where major infestations will happen if proper action isn’t taken. Remember that it typically takes a few months minimum to get rid of these insects, and it can take this long to get rid of lesser infestations too.
Once you think they’re gone, wait at least another month and be careful. Put out pheromone traps (look it up, ensure they work on German cockroaches) in their former favorite locations to see if you catch any. If nothing happens and you’ve been following all the rules and recommendations, begin to get your house back to normal.
If you took anything out of the house, be careful about bringing it back in. Check everything very thoroughly. For refrigerators or other items taken outside, put poison in a few spots under and around and inside the items and let it stay for a week or so to kill any that might still be there.
Check your household items for the smell. If you take it outside away from the interior of the house, which may still smell, you’ll better be able to tell if a specific item has a problem. Eliminating the smell could take time and may require getting rid of or replacing some items, ensuring constant flow of fresh air, and maintaining cleanliness and order in the house. Consider purchasing something that purifies the air.
Clean areas where they’ve been known to hang out thoroughly. Look for the dark brown spots that are their feces. Sometimes there’s a large area, a few inches across or larger, with their feces in areas they were hiding or hanging out. Cleaning bug messes can result in the awful smell being released as the mess is disturbed. Beware.
Be vigilant against household spills, clutter, disorder, and messes. Continuing vigilance should be a permanent change to ensure the problem never comes back. Other changes were temporary and you can slowly go about reversing them, such as keeping things in bags or airtight containers.
Keep on the lookout for any bugs. Flip on the kitchen or bathroom light late at night and see if there are any scurrying for cover.
If you see any don’t despair or panic. Instead, put out more poison and increase how careful you are being – hold off on bringing things back to normal for awhile and then try again.
If you’re neat, orderly, and ensure minimizing all conditions that facilitate an infestation, the problem will likely never come back.
The goal is total elimination, and this will require continuously watching out, and not slacking off in neatness, cleaning, avoiding making messes, etc.
Any house that had a big problem that overcame it required the residents to make major changes in their lifestyle and daily activities. As stated, many of these changes ought to be permanent and will ensure better health and minimization of problems for years to come.
If you had items ruined, and want to replace them, go about it slowly. More expensive items may be available used (such as online or in thrift stores). Less expensive items should be replaced in order of priority. Whatever is least important should wait and you should consider whether you really need whatever it is. Some items might not be able to be replaced, such as if a photo album was ruined.
Your house and life can get back to normal, but it may take time, and some good habits that you acquired will hopefully remain for life.