Introduction

When you find yourself face-to-face with a roach infestation, certain discoveries are unpleasant, while others are just plain… awful.

Roach poop for most of us fits right into the awful category. And if you’ve been unlucky enough to find the stuff somewhere (like where your family eats and sleeps and lives), you’re probably not only thoroughly disgusted. But angry. And more than a little confused.

After all, roaches haven’t just been attacking your home. They’ve been using it for a toilet. And if there’s enough poop around that you’ve actually seen it (think for a moment about all the poop in places you can’t see), the roaches have been winning. That is, until right now.

If you can manage to hold your nose to the end of this article, you’ll not only have a better idea of how and why roach poop got into your home. But how to get rid of it, along with all the roaches too. Ready?

What’s Inside Roach Poop

Cockroach poop is made up of all sorts of things that roaches have digested: Food from your cupboards, counters, and drawers. Garbage. Rotting flesh. And dead insects, including the carcasses of other cockroaches.

Cockroaches don’t pee (a not-so fun fact), but instead secrete solid and semi-solid waste. All of which varies in appearance, depending on the size, age, and species of roach you’re dealing with.

What Cockroach Droppings Look Like

What does roach poop look like? What you find will probably look something like this:

Cockroach poop on wall beside a light switch

Generally speaking, cockroach droppings are dark brown or black pellets. They’re either roundish chunks or oval-shaped, and much of what you find will simply appear as smears and stains on the surfaces that cockroaches have been crawling over.

Of course, before a full-blown infestation, roach droppings will be so minimal and scattered that you may not even see them. While during a large infestation they’ll be almost impossible to miss – with cockroach poop (and other nasty cockroach stuff like egg cases, discarded shells, and cockroach body parts) literally everywhere you look.

Since you’ve managed to make it this far, let’s take a closer look at the poop of some leading culprits.

Poop From Large Cockroaches

If there were a single rule of thumb that helped identify roaches by their poop, it would be this: Larger roaches make bigger roach poop. American, SmokyBrown, and Oriental cockroaches are all considered larger species. They are usually more than 1 inch long. They produce solid, cylindrical feces that can be as large as a grain of rice.

Roach poop example from large species such as the American cockroach and Oriental cockroach

If you were to look closely, you’d see ridges running from one end of the dropping to the other – giving it an appearance sort of like a fennel seed.

Do you have mice, too? Other than cockroach poop being smaller, this is one of the main differences between mouse poop and roach poop. Because mouse droppings will be mostly smooth. It will also be pointed at each end (unlike roach feces which is blunt), and sometimes has small hairs from the animal’s body stuck to it (which roaches of course don’t have).

Poop From Small Cockroaches

The poop from small cockroaches is different. Not just in size, but in shape. Small species like Brown-Banded and German cockroaches leave behind tiny brown or black specks or stains. The droppings can look like coarse ground coffee or grains of coarse black pepper, while the stains can be inky, smeared, or raised.

Cockroach poop from small species such as the German roach and the Brown-Banded cockroach

If you had to distinguish German cockroach poop from Brown-Banded cockroach poop, you’d find that German roach poop was moister (more smeary), due to the German roach’s preference for wetter environments.

Poop From Baby Cockroaches

Baby cockroaches (called nymphs) produce feces similar to adult roaches, but smaller. The droppings of large cockroach nymphs are small, cylindrical, and ridged, while those of small cockroach nymphs are minuscule brown or black specks.

Does Roach Poop Have a Smell?

Does roach poop have a smell? Absolutely. Cockroach poop stinks and has an acrid, oily odor. But what your nose smells is only half the story. Because the odor roach droppings give off harbors a sinister secret.

It conveys signals to other cockroaches that they’re around, provides a trail for other roaches to follow, and ultimately helps them find each other.

Which means that the smell of roach poop isn’t just bad. It’s actually attracting more roaches.

Can There Be Poop But No Roaches?

In a word, yes. There can be roach poop from roaches that once lived inside your house, but have died or somehow left (like from a past extermination). Unless a roach or other insect eats it, or you knuckle down and clean it up, the droppings will just sit there, slowly decaying and sometimes molding for many, many years.

One way to tell if you have an active cockroach infestation is to clean up all the poop you’ve found, then monitor your home to see if more appears. If it stays roach poop-free, you probably don’t have a current infestation. If you find that more droppings appear however, it means it’s time to get those roaches out.

Can Roach Poop Make You Sick?

Can cockroach poop make you sick

Even if you don’t have an active infestation, roach feces is a bad thing to have around. Can roach poop make you sick? Yes, it can.

Cockroach droppings (and shed skin) contain proteins that trigger allergies and asthma attacks in some people. They may even cause children to develop asthma. These proteins can linger in the home even longer than the feces themselves, remaining dangerous for years after the roaches themselves have gone.

Not only that, but cockroaches’ eating and living habits bring them into contact with bacteria, mold, fungi, viruses, and worms that they leave behind in their feces.

Couple that with the fact that roaches poop literally everywhere, including in the food that you and your family eat.

Let that sink in for a moment. It means that if cockroaches are living anywhere inside your home, there’s a good chance you’re ingesting roach poop.

Now consider this: Food poisoning can be caused by cockroach poop. And if the harmful bacteria that’s sometimes carried by cockroaches spreads from your digestive system to your blood stream, it could – potentially – even kill you.

How to Clean Roach Poop

Vacuum cleaner cleaning carpet
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

Cleaning up roach poop is nobody’s idea of a good time. But with your family’s health and safety on the line, you’ll be more than glad you did.

Suit Up

Suit up before you get to work. Old clothes are fine, and put on a pair of gloves. Purchase a protective face mask or a respirator to reduce exposure to potential airborne allergens.

Vacuum

Plan to vacuum first, using the vacuum to remove loose, dry roach droppings that have accumulated over time. Since vacuuming can stir up allergens, you’ll want to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to keep the air around you safe. If a HEPA vacuum isn’t available, soak the feces in disinfectant spray instead, then wipe it up by hand.

Clean

Everywhere that you find roach poop will require different cleaning methods.

  • For carpets, start with the vacuuming tips above (you can scrape any dried, stuck-on cockroach poop off before vacuuming to get the most poop up to begin with). Next, either use a carpet detergent (read the label to determine how much to dilute it) or mix up white vinegar, dish soap, and water (one teaspoon each of vinegar and soap to a full spray bottle of water) and spray the area. Scrub to work the soap into the carpeting. Let it fully dry before vacuuming again.
  • On walls and hardwood, tile, cabinets, or vinyl flooring, choose a disinfectant spray that is safe for the material. Spray the affected area and leave it on for the recommended amount of time, then scrub to get out the stains.
  • If you find roach droppings on your clothes, first scrape off any dried poop, then treat stains and wash in the warmest water that is safe for the fabric.
  • Cockroaches can also infest mattresses. As with clothing, the first step is to scrape off the dry feces. Next, mix disinfectant soap and warm water in a spray bottle, spray the area, and scrub with a coarse sponge. Spray again with just water to rinse the soap out, then let the mattress air dry.

Dispose

Since roach poop is so unhealthy, you’ll want to wash or throw away anything that comes into contact with it. When you’ve finished the job, be sure to wash (or throw away) your gloves and work clothes, and dispose of rags and vacuum bags, preferably in sealed plastic trash bags that animals or other people can’t get to.

Next Steps

Cleaning up the cockroach poop is the first step to living cockroach-free and ultimately reclaiming your home. The next steps are to get the roaches that have set up residence, and to keep them from coming back. You can attempt to do that by yourself (and we’ll show you how here), or call in a professional pest control service to do it for you (we’ll show you how to do that here).

Either way, by knowing what to look for and knowing what to do, you don’t have to live with the stains, bad smells, and health risks of roach poop even one more day, so long as you take action.


Questions & Answers

How to Clean Roach Poop Off Circuit Boards?

Circuit boards are delicate. They need to be protected from water and kept away from cleaning agents. They also need to be protected from static electricity when exposed.

Take the same precautions you normally would when removing or exposing the board (such as wearing an anti-static wrist band). Then gently vacuum up loose roach droppings. Dip a small, soft nylon brush in isopropyl alcohol, remove excess alcohol, then carefully rub the cockroach poop that remains.

How to Clean Roach Poop Off Books?

Because books are handled regularly, you might first consider whether those contaminated with cockroach feces should be simply thrown away. Otherwise, this site offers a good place to start on cleaning them.

Are Roaches Attracted to Dog Poop? Do Cockroaches Eat Cat Poop?

Cockroaches aren’t especially attracted to dog or cat poop, but will eat it when they find it. If you’re trying to eliminate roaches and are removing potential food sources, you should plan to remove any dog and cat poop, too.

4 Comments

  1. Hello. I live in an apartment building. Why do the roaches keep defecating in my kitchen cabinets where I have prescriptions and vitamins, herbs,? I’ve taped off as many cracks and crevices as I can and started caulking with clear silicone. The Harris roach tablets did nothing, I spray around a bleach & water mix some nights, I tried mint oil and tea tree oil. I think the oils attract them. The glue traps did nothing, the gel tube poison hardens up. I spray Raid when I see a roach.

  2. Whats happens to roach poop when it gets old from a large roach. I found one single black thing in my trash can under the bag. I dont even know if it was a dropping. Its hard. I know mouse poop gets hard and crumbles when pressed. This doesnt crumble but i can squeeze it. Dont they usually leave multiple droppings?

  3. droppings left by american roach how do they age? I know new ones are soft and oily. I found one black thing in my trash can underneath the garbage bag. It was black the size of a grain of rice. It was hard and doesn’t break easily. it can be bend. Dry. I thought it was a piece of food so i touched it with my hand. Now Im not sure as it looks like poop.

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