How to Handle a Cockroach Infestation

Updated: May 10, 2023

Infestations that take over a home or business can cause health and property damage. Learn what to do when a cockroaches take over.

The cockroach is one of the world’s oldest and most widespread invasive pests, invading homes and businesses everywhere in search of a permanent home. To combat them, learn how they operate and what to look for.

Signs of a cockroach infestation

Cockroaches are a nocturnal insect, preferring dark and moist locations to hide, eat and breed. In the home they’re commonly found behind or under large appliances such as stoves and refrigerators, or near sinks and drains. Because cockroaches can make themselves skinny, they can fit into tight spots. If you see one in your home during the day, there is a good chance you will find more.

Here are some signs that your home or business has an infestation problem:

Cockroach Droppings

Besides seeing a cockroach outright, the most conclusive evidence of cockroach presence is their feces. Cockroaches constantly feed on a variety of foods and defecate often. The droppings will be small and black, often resembling coffee grounds or ground pepper. The more visual evidence of their droppings, the better the indicator of how many cockroaches are present.

Cockroach Smell

Cockroaches can produce a strong and disturbing odor. The larger the infestation and the longer they are present, the greater the smell. Similar to their favorite environments, the smell of cockroaches is musty, oily or mildewy. While just one roach can produce this smell, a group of cockroaches will make it that much more noticeable and raise signs an infestation is present. Learn what smells repel cockroaches so you can keep them away from your door.

Cockroach Eggs

Female cockroaches lay their eggs in a casing called an oothecae. Since cockroaches lay dozens of eggs, finding this casing is a strong indication of an infestation. Locations such as bookcases, major appliances and other hidden and wet spots in the house are common places to find these casings.

Cockroach Nests

Seeing a cockroach in the home is a solid indicator of an infestation. A combination of droppings, eggs and large numbers of cockroaches mean a nest is near and infestation occurring. Look for these signs under refrigerators and sinks, in old book cases and cabinets, and near pipes or electrical wiring.

Where to check for infestations

Cockroaches prefer a warm, dark and moist environment. A good shelter with a constant food source often brings cockroaches together. When an infestation occurs, cockroaches can reproduce quickly and add to their numbers, making for an unpleasant guest. If you notice signs that cockroaches are present, inspect these locations:

  • Kitchen: Check under large appliances like stoves and refrigerators. Make sure dirty dishes don’t build up in the sink. Check underneath for leaks. Search cupboards and cabinets where food is stored.
  • Bathroom: Pipes, drains, bathtubs and showers all provide the moist environment cockroaches desire. Ensure that leaks are fixed and piles of wet towels removed.
  • Laundry Room: Roaches look to hide under washers and dryers, in a stack of clothes or under a pile of towels, so check the laundry room for creepy crawlers.
  • Basement: Cockroaches can squeeze through in cracks in the foundation, holes in the wall, and anywhere leaky pipes and large appliances are present. The wet and protective atmosphere of the basement is a likely site of a cockroach infestation.

What to do with an infestation

When cockroaches have invaded your home or business, it’s time to take action. Act quickly and take the proper steps to get rid of cockroaches forever. Here’s how to deal with an infestation:

  1. Identify the infestation location:  Follow the signs left by the cockroaches, check the common locations where cockroaches are found, and determine their resting place.
  2. Prevent infestation from growing: Cockroaches enter the house through cracks and holes in the foundation, garbage from the garage, and pipes into the home. Caulk and seal any foundational issues and make sure there aren’t any broken or leaky pipes.
  3. Baits, Traps and Pesticides: Gels, traps and toxic pesticides such as boric acid are all potential solutions to begin eliminating the cockroach population in your home or business.
  4. Exterminators: For a more conclusive and strategic approach to dealing with cockroaches, hire an exterminator who can professionally evaluate the infestation and provide solutions.

Cockroach Resources

For more information about cockroaches and what it means when you find this pest in your home or business, check out these pest control articles.