Keeping cockroaches out of your house might sound like an impossible task but there’s good news! There are simple steps you can take right now to better defend your house against roaches (as well as other pests).
Hint: Want more information about natural cockroach deterrents? You may find our Natural Cockroach Repellent guide helpful.
From cleaning and organizing to sealing up entry points and using natural repellents, here’s how to keep roaches away from your home- forever.
Make Your House So Clean Roaches Won’t Be Interested
Cockroaches only become a problem when they invade homes, businesses and other buildings. And they only enter buildings when there are better conditions and more food inside than outside.
Most cockroach infestations start in the kitchen or bathroom and there’s a good reason for that: roaches are attracted to food and water. Those are the places to start your anti-cockroach efforts, and we have lots of tips for doubling down on cleaning up!
Stop Serving Roaches Dinner on a Silver Platter
What do roaches eat? Well, just about everything. But beyond decomposing leaves and garbage, their food sources are primarily food, the same kinds of things we eat: crumbs, grease, sweet treats and other leftovers.
The biggest boosts to your cleaning routine are the simple ones: always clean your dishes, wipe counters, put away leftovers and keep the floors crumb-free. Vacuuming and wiping your counters and tables are quick ways to remove roaches’ main food sources.
But good cleaning goes beyond sweeping up crumbs.
Deep Cleaning Tips: Don’t Forget These Areas
There are a few places you might be forgetting (or hesitating) to clean around your kitchen and bathroom. When’s the last time you cleaned the drip pans under the burners on your stove? It’s easy to forget how much oil splatter and crumbs they collect. Luckily, it’s also pretty easy to take them out and scrub them with a sponge.
If you enjoy using a garbage disposal in your kitchen sink, it’s probably built up some gunk and bacteria after all of the food waste it shreds. It might even start to stink and if you’ve started to smell it, you can be sure cockroaches did a long time ago.
You can easily clean your garbage disposal without any disassembly in just a few minutes. Start by grinding a handful of ice cubes to loosen any buildup from the blades. Then mix 2 parts vinegar to 1 part baking soda and let the disposal soak in that bacteria-killing solution for 10–15 minutes.
Finally, fill the sink at least halfway with water, drop in some of your favorite-smelling dish soap and run the disposal until the water drains. That’s it!
Oh, and don’t forget to dust, sweep or vacuum behind your refrigerator/stove from time to time. The combination of crumbs swept underneath and warmth from the appliance is as enticing to roaches as a beachfront property in the Hamptons. Clean those hard-to-reach areas to keep roaches away.
Seal Up Your Stored Food to Keep Hungry Pests Out
There’s nothing like a fully-stocked pantry to make a home-chef excited about cooking dinner. But those “closed” bags of flour and boxes of cereal might not be enough to keep pests out of your food. Tiny German cockroaches will have no problem sneaking into a bag of sugar with a hole in the top.
The best containers for storing food are made of hard glass and metal. Plastic works too, just make sure it’s in good shape. And, of course, make sure any containers you’re using have lids that form a good seal.
Your Pet Doesn’t Want to Share Their Food With Roaches, Either
When it comes to eating others’ food, roaches don’t discriminate between people or pets. Unfortunately, pets are rarely tidy eaters and you might be in the habit of leaving pet food out overnight. Each of those is like putting out a fresh dinner plate for cockroaches.
How to keep cockroaches away from your dog’s or cat’s food? Try to pour only enough food for the day and give their bowl a quick wipe before bed—that’s all it takes!
Change the Trash Often
Speaking of leaving food out overnight, that trash bag that’s almost full but not quite is like a smorgasbord for cockroaches. Take your garbage bags outside as soon as they’re full and, if possible, store them in a can away from your house. That way any lurking American cockroaches won’t follow the smell of dinner right to your front porch.
How to Seal Up Your Home to Keep Roaches Away
There’s plenty you can do to remove cockroaches’ food sources and cut down on their hiding places but the real win is preventing roaches from coming inside in the first place. That starts with eliminating the things that attract them.
By making some quick adjustments and tiny repairs, you can seal your house from cockroaches and other pest invaders in no time.
Window Screens Are Your Friends
Bar the doors, board up the windows! Right?
…No, not exactly.
Keeping roaches out is simpler than that. Make sure all of your windows (and doors) have screens on them before you leave them open. There are several species of flying cockroaches and some of them are attracted to lights. They’ll fly right through an open window to attack lamps, fans and TV screens.
P.S. You can learn all about how to get rid of flying cockroaches with our in-depth guide.
Seal Holes, Cracks and Crevices
Take a good look at the floors and walls in each room of your house, especially the kitchen and bathrooms.
See those pipes coming in for your sink and toilet? You should seal up any gaps around them with caulking. Noticed cracks and holes where the wall meets the floor? Seal those up, too. Roaches are almost flat and can squeeze through tiny crevices to hide. Closing up the spaces roaches use to enter your home will go a long way toward keeping them out.
Close Up the Drains and Stop the Leaks
Speaking of sink pipes, did you know some cockroaches crawl through the pipes to get from their hiding places to your bathroom and kitchen? You can stop them in their tracks by plugging your sinks at night and installing a cover on your bathtub or shower drain with holes that are too small for a roach to fit through.
Fixing any leaks will also cut off an easy source of water for pests and make them think twice about getting comfortable.
Organize Those Storage Areas
If you’re like most people, your attic is the junk drawer of your home. It’s probably stuffy, dark and full of boxes. Guess what roaches love: dark, humid, cluttered places. (Your basement’s not off the hook, either.)
The best thing you can do is declutter: organize those files, photos and holiday decorations. You’re better off using plastic bins with lids—cockroaches love cardboard boxes and using bins will help keep the dust off of your definitely-important stuff, anyway.
Ventilation is also key in attics and basements. Adding a vent and fan (or simply moving one temporarily) can help dry out the room, which is probably better for the things you’re storing there, too!
While we’re at it, make sure your closets aren’t trapping humidity and attracting cockroaches. These bugs don’t usually live in bedrooms but organizing and dehumidifying your wardrobe will help prevent cockroaches.
How to Keep Cockroaches Away From Your Garage
All of those organizing and ventilation tips will also help keep your garage cockroach-free.
Garages are tough spots to defend against pests because there are so many ways for tiny bugs to get in. It’s more about reducing potential hiding spots and generally making it less attractive to roaches. Shelving is a great way to store boxes off the ground and make it harder for cockroaches to get to them.
Are There Natural Cockroach Repellents?
There are! You can find out which DIY solutions to try and which to skip in our breakdown of the most popular natural cockroach repellents. There are lots of (good and bad) ideas out there from bay leaves to garlic, so here’s a quick overview.
With their potent scents, some essential oils are pretty effective at repelling cockroaches. Lavender oil, peppermint oil and others can overwhelm a roach’s sense of smell and cause it to avoid the area.
A few herbs and spices can also do the trick. Plants from the mint family are especially effective and their insect-repellent powers are backed by research.
Meanwhile, that bag of catnip that your cat won’t stop trying to open is actually a strong cockroach repellent. It just might be tricky to keep your cat away while it does its job!
When to Call in the Professionals
With the tips in this article and the in-depth information we’ve got throughout the site, you’re prepared to tackle most small cockroach infestations.
When you’re facing a serious problem or a true roach infestation, natural ingredients might not be enough. That’s where a roach control professional can help. They’ll have the expertise to find exactly which areas to target and the tools and techniques to get rid of the roaches for good.
You Can Start Preventing Cockroaches Today
We’ve said it before, but finding cockroaches in your house doesn’t mean you’re a bad homeowner. These bugs are clever and determined and, although we can always clean a little more than we do, we’re often not to blame for a few pests.
Now that you know how to keep roaches away, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. With patience, determination, and small adjustments to your home and lifestyle, you’ll be well on your way to a pest-free home!