Cockroaches are creepy, disgusting creatures, and they’re the last animals anyone wants to share their home with – but even worse, once they get inside and set up a nest, they multiply rapidly, and the next thing you know, you’ve got a full-blown infestation.
Once they’re in, they’re also notoriously difficult to get rid of, and for this reason, prevention is always better than a cure. So to help stop an infestation before it begins, in this post, we tell you everything you need to know about how to prevent cockroaches from entering your home.
Why do cockroaches enter our homes?
If we want to know how to stop cockroaches coming into our homes, we need to know why they want to come inside in the first place.
The answer is simple – cockroaches come into our homes in search of three things: food, water and warmth.
Cockroaches need to eat, and they can eat almost anything. They feed on sugar, carbohydrates, protein and starch – and they can get these from any kinds of food they find like breadcrumbs spilled sugar or fruit, but they can also eat paper, glue, fabrics, pet droppings and cooking oil.
Depending on what they eat, they can usually get most of their moisture from their food, but if they can’t, they also need to drink.
And finally, when the weather is cold outside, they prefer to come inside where it’s warm – and if they manage to find somewhere with the right temperature, they can remain active year-round.
It’s important to understand all this because while there are some things you can do to physically prevent them from coming into your home, if you remove everything they need, they won’t want to come into your home anyway.
And that makes the job of keeping them away a whole lot easier.
So now let’s look in detail at all the things you can do to make your home as unappealing to cockroaches as possible.
How to deter roaches from moving into your home
1. Clean up crumbs and spills
To a cockroach, even something as small as cookie crumbs constitute a good meal, and a drop of spilled water is more than enough to quench their thirst – so make sure you clean up all dropped food and spilled drinks as quickly as possible.
2. Clean surfaces every evening
Furthermore, make sure you wipe your surfaces down with disinfectant every night before you go to bed. This will ensure everything is clean and no residues remain that give off food odors that might attract cockroaches into your home.
3. Clean under appliances
Make sure you clean underneath appliances since just because you can’t see the food crumbs under there, it doesn’t mean a cockroach will miss them.
If you leave crumbs under your toaster or microwave, it will undo all your good work cleaning everywhere else so assiduously, so make sure there are no corners where inviting stores of food are collecting for cockroaches.
4. Don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight
Don’t leave dirty dishes sitting in your sink overnight because this is like an open invitation to a cockroach.
A sink full of dishes contains a feast for a cockroach, so don’t leave such an appealing spread out for them.
5. Use sealed trash cans
If you have an open trash can, it’s even more of an invitation to cockroaches than a sink full of dishes because as all the food in there goes bad, it emits pungent odors that cockroaches will find irresistible.
Instead, make sure you use trash cans with a lid that can shut. This will keep the bad smells in and the cockroaches out, giving them one less thing to scavenge.
6. Empty your trash every day
This might not be practical for everyone, but you should try to empty your trash every day. This will mean no inviting morsels are left sitting around that might draw cockroaches in for more than a day.
If you can’t empty your trash every day, it’s even more important to buy a trash can with a lid that closes properly – and you should still try to empty the trash as often as possible.
7. Rinse residue from items for recycling
If you have a separate container for storing recyclable trash items, you should rinse everything before it goes in. For example, you need to rinse yoghurt from yoghurt pots, and if you drink beer, rinse out cans or bottles before they go into the recycling.
If you don’t do this, the food residue and its smell will attract cockroaches, and you’ll soon find them crawling through your recycling storage.
8. Store food in airtight containers
Open food should be stored in sealed plastic containers to prevent cockroaches from getting to it, and it will also help stop them picking up the scent.
This is good practice anyway because other bugs will also be attracted to your food – for example, ants love open bags of sugar, and if you just store flour in your cupboards in the paper bags it comes in, one day you are likely to find that it is full of weevils.
Plastic containers keep all of these bugs out of your food – and most importantly, the open food won’t be accessible to cockroaches, so it won’t attract them to your home.
9. Don’t leave leftover food out
If you have food leftovers, never leave them out where cockroaches can get to them, especially overnight.
For example, if you order pizza and don’t finish it all, you might decide to leave it out in the kitchen just until the morning since you don’t have space in the refrigerator. After all, it won’t go bad in a few hours, and you then just eat the rest for breakfast.
However, while you’re asleep and the pizza sits on the kitchen surface, roaches might be attracted to it and spend the night feasting on it – and you’ll probably never know because they’ll be gone by the time you wake up.
This means not only is the food attracting cockroaches into your home, but you’re also sharing your food with them – which is utterly gross.
So the message is clear: don’t leave leftover food out, even for a short time – and never overnight.
10. Clear away pet bowls before going to bed
Pet food is just as appealing to a cockroach as human food, and a bowl of water is still a bowl of water, even if animals drink from it – so make sure you put them away overnight so that cockroaches won’t be attracted to them as sources of food and water.
11. Remove water from plants
Along with pet bowls, you also need to consider the water you give to your plants. Make sure you pour away any excess water after giving them a drink – otherwise cockroaches might turn up and take a drink from the water in the plant pot too.
12. Pay special attention to the kitchen
Most of the things we’ve mentioned above apply to any room of the house, but you should always pay special attention to the kitchen.
This is because of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen is the one where cockroaches most easily find everything they need – and this is where they normally choose to make their nests.
As a result, you should ensure that your kitchen is especially clean, has no crumbs or spills and is otherwise as uninviting to a cockroach as you can possibly make it.
13. Vacuum regularly
Along with all the other cleaning tasks that will help you discourage cockroaches from entering your home, you should also ensure you vacuum your home thoroughly and regularly.
This will prevent any crumbs or any other food waste from ending up on the floor, in corners, in cracks or crevices or anywhere else cockroaches might find it.
This way, cockroaches won’t find any food to eat in your house, so even if they come inside to investigate, they probably won’t stay because there’s nothing for them to live on.
14. Check for leaks and moisture
Moving away from food and cleaning, something else you need to check for is any sources of moisture coming from your plumbing – because this water could also make your home a more pleasant place to stay for cockroaches.
Check under your sink to make sure that the drainpipe isn’t leaking – water dripping under a sink makes an already favorable spot just perfect for cockroaches who want to move in.
Dripping faucets might also provide cockroaches with the moisture they need to live, and even the condensation on sweating pipes can help to quench their thirst.
Also, don’t forget to check places like your basement since that’s a common place for moisture to collect.
Remember, for cockroaches to survive, they don’t need a big flood. A few drops each day is enough for them, so make sure you don’t give it to them.
15. Keep doors and windows shut
This might be harder during the warmer summer months, but if you want to keep cockroaches out, you’ll need to close all your doors and windows.
This way, even if there’s anything in your home that they might enjoy – like that unfinished pizza in the kitchen – they will find it harder to get in and so won’t be able to share it with you.
16. Block up all entry points
Block up all other entry points where cockroaches might be able to make their way into your home.
This may include cracks around your windows, gaps under your doors, space between your floorboards or anything else.
Work your way around your home, inspecting every room – paying extra attention to the kitchen as always – to work out where cockroaches might try to get in. Then go around and block every gap and hole to keep them outside.
Also, remember that although adult cockroaches can grow up to two inches in length, the babies are far smaller, so even tiny holes may be big enough for them to squeeze through into your home and set up a new nest.
17. Check items you bring in from outside
Having blocked up all the gaps and holes, you should then be strict about checking everything that you bring inside.
Things like cardboard boxes from your garage might have a hidden stowaway on board, and if you don’t notice them when you bring the boxes inside, the bugs will quickly scuttle off when you’re not looking.
18. Remove clutter
Finally, you should remove as much of the clutter as you can from your home – and this is for two reasons.
First, clutter makes it harder to clean efficiently, so if you have certain areas of your home where you can’t vacuum or sweep up, it will be undermining all the other careful cleaning you’re doing in all the other parts of your home.
However, secondly, piles of books and magazines or boxes under beds make ideal places for cockroaches to hide out, and if you don’t know they’re in there, they will likely be filling those hiding places with their droppings.
This is pretty disgusting, but that’s not the worst of it. Cockroach excrement contains pheromones, a kind of chemical message system they use to communicate.
If other cockroaches detect it, they’re likely to want to come in and check it out – and this will bring even more of the critters into your home, making the problem even worse.
Making your home as unattractive as possible to them is the key
As we’ve seen, there are several things you can do to physically prevent cockroaches from entering your house, including closing windows and doors, blocking up gaps and holes and generally making sure they have no way of getting inside.
However, it’s almost impossible to prevent 100% of cockroaches from breaching your physical barriers, and this is why it’s vitally important to make sure there’s nothing in your home a cockroach might need – because that way, they won’t want to come inside in the first place.