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How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Your Apartment

April 14, 2020

Your apartment should be your sanctuary, especially in these troubling times. That said, a cockroach infestation will certainly ruin your chances of enjoying your home.

No one wants to share their quarters with these pests. They can carry disease, cause allergy flare-ups, and make your home smell.

You’ll have to act fast!

It’s imperative to understand how to get rid of roaches in an apartment, and, more importantly, how to keep them out. First things first, you should notify your landlord or property manager of the situation, and see how they can help out.

Unfortunately, cockroaches have a well-earned reputation for being both difficult to get rid of and seemingly indestructible. However, that’s not to say that once you have an infestation of roaches you won’t be able to drive them out. 

Here’s everything you need to know about how to get rid of roaches in an apartment. 

What Attracts Roaches?

Before diving into how to get rid of roaches, it’s important to understand what attracts them. Not only can this knowledge help you avoid them in the future, but it can also help you get to the root of your infestation problem. 

These are two of the most common ways renters attract roaches. 


Home pests such as cockroaches need food to survive. Typically, roaches will be attracted to food in homes. 

That’s not to say that you can’t keep food in the apartment. Of course you can! 

It’s how you store food that can be a problem. If you leave food out for a long enough time, it will attract cockroaches (and potentially other pests). 

Anything from crumbs littering cabinet shelves to dishes left on the counter can act as a beacon for roaches. Food storage should be centralized in the kitchen, meaning that even if you eat a meal in another area of the unit, dirty dishes and leftovers should be promptly stored away and cleaned up. 

Dirty Dishes

Dirty dishes can also attract roaches. A few dishes left in the sink overnight won’t necessarily cause an infestation. 

However, a kitchen sink that is perpetually full of dishes with leftover remnants of food will certainly attract roaches. These dishes will inadvertently act as the consistent source of food that roaches need to thrive. 

Keep in mind that dishes or food packaging such as pizza boxes or takeout containers left strewn about an apartment will attract roaches. Failing to maintain a clean and hygienic apartment will result in an infestation. Pests need food, water, and lots of places to hide. 

Signs You Have Cockroaches?

If you want to act promptly and effectively bring an infestation to a stop, then it’s imperative that you know how to recognize the signs of a cockroach infestation. You can keep an eye out for any of these clues. They’ll help you stay one step ahead of your pests and get them out fast. 

Here are some signs that indicate you’re dealing with a cockroach infestation. 

1. You See a Cockroach — Dead or Alive

Cockroaches are nocturnal insects. They often hide out during the day in dark, moist places. 

Often, they’ll invade the kitchen or other area at night when the lights are out. Turning on the light will cause these creatures to scatter quickly, hence the well-known phrase “scatter like roaches.” 

That said, if you see a roach during the day, it’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with an infestation. This goes for all roaches, dead, alive, or unhatched. Roaches leave their unhatched eggs laying about. If you notice any brown pill-shaped cockroach eggs lying around, you may have an infestation. 

2. You Notice Roach Droppings

Roaches, like all pests, leave their droppings in conspicuous places. These tiny dark brown droppings will likely be left in clusters. However, even seeing a single dropping is a cause for concern. Be sure to deeply sanitize any area that you notice the droppings in. 

3. Roaches Bring in a Musty Smell

Roaches are also known for the distinctly musty smell they carry with them. You may notice a musty oily smell that you cannot find the source of, even after performing a deep clean. This scent will grow stronger as the infestation grows. If you have noticed this smell for a while, then it’s likely you have a significant infestation on your hands. 

Getting Rid of Roaches

Once you’ve become aware of an infestation, you should act quickly to help ensure that it doesn’t continue to fester and spread. Here’s how to get rid of roaches in your apartment.

1. Store-Bought Traps

The first step to getting rid of cockroaches is to buy store-bought traps that are designed to attract and then kill cockroaches. Some of these traps work by poisoning food that the roach will then bring back to the other roaches. Others are simple sticky traps. 

Once you’ve put these traps out on the first night, be sure to check them the next morning. If you notice that there are a ton of cockroaches on a single trap, then it may be a sign of a large infestation. 

2. Homemade Traps

If you don’t want to make a trip to the store to purchase traps, don’t worry — making homemade traps can be just as effective. Here are some homemade trap options:

  • Jar Traps: These traps work to drown roaches as they approach the bait left at the bottom of the bottle or jar. You can utilize any sweet or fatty liquid as bait, but beer and wine are most frequently recommended. 

  • Duct Tape Traps: Using a common household item, duct tape, these traps ensnare roaches on the sticky side of the duct tape. 

3. Give Your Apartment a Deep-Cleaning

This is one of the most important steps as it can help you uncover your roaches’ primary hiding spots and help to eliminate their food sources. 

Be sure to deep clean with products that are proven to sanitize and disinfect. Roaches are disease carriers and can make you sick! Start in the kitchen and work your way through the rest of the apartment. 

4. Exterminators

An exterminator should always be called in cases of a cockroach infestation. It’s impossible to ensure that you’ve driven them all out, even if you’ve carried out all the steps we listed above. 

These professionals will use their tools and industrial-grade repellents and poisons to completely eliminate the problem. Be sure to contact your landlord before calling. That’s because they may require other tenants to leave the premises for an extended period. 

How to Prevent Cockroaches

It’s always better to be proactive as opposed to reactive. Here’s how to prevent cockroaches in your apartment. 

1. Clean the Apartment Regularly

Keeping your apartment clean is one of the most effective ways to prevent cockroaches. This method removes their source of food and reduces the chances of them making their way into your home. Be sure to:

  • Vacuum All Areas
  • Wash the Dishes
  • Sweep Up Crumbs on Floor
  • Clean Out Cabinets
  • Ensure all Food is Stored and Sealed Properly

2. Seal Any Cracks in Walls or Flooring and Leaks

Cockroaches are known to get in through even the smallest of openings, so preventing them means removing any and all of their entrances and exits. 

Ask your landlord or property manager to look for any cracks throughout your unit (and the property as a whole). They should seal any holes or cracks to prevent future infestations. 

3. Make Sure Windows are Properly Sealed

Sealing windows works to eliminate any entrances that cockroaches may have to your apartment. However, as roaches have the ability to fit through holes that are extremely small, it’s imperative to ensure that your windows are professionally sealed. 

Final Thoughts

Cockroaches are not only a gross nuisance, but they can also pose a significant threat to your health. That’s why it’s important to maintain a clean apartment at all times and take preventative steps to significantly reduce your chances of infestation. 

If you’re besieged by a roach infestation, talk to your landlord or property manager. They can help you get rid of the infestation and help prevent another one.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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