How to Get Rid of Roaches in Apartments

Close Up Of Cockroach On A Slice Of Bread.
Sutin Yuukung / EyeEm / Getty Images

Cockroaches are known to cause pest issues all over the world. Not only are roaches unsightly, but they are also incredibly unsanitary. A cockroach issue can lead to a variety of health concerns, not to mention odors and the risks of damage to furniture and electronics. Roaches can ruin food, books, and fabric items, all while leaving their droppings everywhere they go.

Even if you've only heard rumors that a neighbor in your building found a few roaches in their kitchen, you need to know how to inspect your own home for a cockroach issue. What starts as a small, one-apartment roach problem can quickly spread into a cockroach infestation throughout the entire building.

Warning

Cockroaches can trigger asthma, and they have also been shown to transmit various diseases and carry pathogenic organisms or parasites.

4 Ways to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Your Apartment

If you discover a cockroach infestation in your apartment, it may be time to get aggressive with your control measures.

Set Baits

Baiting can be a great tool to use to combat a roach infestation in your apartment. To be able to effectively bait for cockroaches or set roach traps, you must first understand how they feed.

First off, cockroaches eat (and excrete) on the go, scattering dropping from place to place rather than stopping at one verified food source. One thing that makes baiting so effective against roaches is the fact that they consume each other's droppings. As the roaches consume the bait, they leave it behind in their droppings for another roach to come in contact with later.

Because roaches feed on the go, don't just put one big glob of bait in one specific spot. Place small droplets of bait scattered in areas you believe roaches could be passing through. This will help them consume more of the bait by catering to their natural feeding patterns.

Check Crevices With Compressed Air

Gear up with a can of compressed air and a vacuum, and go cockroach hunting in crevices, under sinks, and inside cabinets in your kitchen and other rooms where you've spotted roaches. Compressed air can be an invaluable tool when you are cockroach hunting. Use compressed air to blow into small spaces you suspect roaches could be hiding in, such as the small crack between the cabinet back and the wall. This will flush the roaches out, so be ready to vacuum them up quickly.

Contact Building Management

Apartment roach issues are often less of an individual unit problem and more of a building issue. If this is the case, be prepared to get your building on board with controlling the roaches if possible. If the issue in the building has spread amongst units, it will definitely take a group effort to resolve it, and likely some professional help as well.

Hire a Professional

If the roach issue is severe or if you feel that baiting is a little over your head, don't be afraid to call a local Integrated Pest Management (IPM) professional. They will be able to formulate a baiting program specific to your home or building and they will have access and training to use baits that contain IGRs.

What Is an IGR?

An IGR, or insect growth regulator, is a substance used in some insecticides to stunt the lifecycle of certain harmful pests such as cockroaches and fleas. IGRs are a powerful tool for taking control of an out-of-control cockroach situation.

Signs of Cockroaches in an Apartment

After you see a roach or two, start by identifying whether or not you have a congregation of roaches in your apartment. This will involve identifying and addressing harborage areas (areas where the roaches could be hiding out).

Kitchens are cockroach heaven. If you suspect you might have roaches, start looking in and around the kitchen in your apartment. Some examples of roach harborage areas in the kitchen would be:

  • The small gap behind the cabinet or countertop and the wall
  • Inside kitchen cabinets where food could be available to them
  • Underneath the kitchen sink where they could find water
  • Inside your refrigerator motor compartment

Tip

If you're going to start hunting for hidden pockets of cockroaches in your home, be sure to bring a vacuum cleaner along so you can get rid of the pests quickly. Even the slightest air movement will cause them to scatter, so be stealthy and ready to move fast!

Believe it or not, if there are roaches in your apartment kitchen, one of the most common and easily accessible spaces to find them is the refrigerator motor compartment. To check this space, pull your refrigerator away from the wall and remove the cardboard cover on the back. By removing this cardboard cover, you will expose the motor, so be ready with the vacuum. If there are roaches inside, you want to be prepared to suck them up before they scatter.

Other places you may want to check for roaches in your apartment would be:

  • Around pipes or anywhere you suspect there could be a moisture leak
  • Cracks where they could come from inside the walls, such as gaps between tiles in the bathroom
  • Cluttered areas, especially areas that contain cardboard and newspapers
  • Inside electronics or on bookshelves

Roaches can invade electronics, most commonly in the kitchen but in other places as well. Cockroaches are drawn to the heat emitted by electronic devices, so if you think you see a bug (or multiple) scurrying around inside your clock, your eyes might not be playing tricks on you.

If you're worried about a cockroach infestation, also be sure to check your bookshelf. Not only do cockroaches love paper, but they will also eat the glue in the binding of the books. Flip through the books on your shelf to make sure there aren't any unwanted invaders.

What Causes Roaches in an Apartment?

There are many ways to end up with roaches in an apartment, though some are more surprising than others.

Poor Sanitation

Lack of sanitation is one of the most common and obvious contributors to a cockroach issue. If there are dirty dishes, old food scraps, or open garbage bins left out with roaches nearby, the roaches will likely find it. Even pet food can attract roaches, so if your pet isn't eating their dinner, put it away so the cockroaches can't get to it.

Moisture Leaks

Moisture leaks can also contribute to issues with roaches in an apartment building. Not only do cockroaches love moisture, they also seek out standing water as a drinking source.

Cockroaches can travel through pipes, chimneys, and gaps in the wall to get from one apartment unit to another, and it is also possible to bring roaches from one place to another, whether you're just visiting or moving to a new location.

Tip

Cockroaches love paper products, including cardboard boxes and newspaper. To avoid a cockroach issue, get rid of any cardboard, especially if it has held food. Even egg cartons need to go. Not only will cockroaches hide in paper products, they will also eat them. Depending on the species of roach, it can only take one fertilized female hitching a ride on an apple box to cause a serious infestation.

How to Prevent Roaches in your Apartment

Just like with any pest issue, approach a cockroach problem with an Integrated Pest Management perspective. IPM involves identifying what is drawing a pest to a certain area and changing those factors to make the environment (in this case, your apartment) less desirable to the roaches.

When coming up with a plan of attack, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where are the roaches hiding out?
  2. What are they feeding on?
  3. Where do they find water?

Tip

If you find cracks in your apartment walls that roaches are coming through, call property maintenance and ask them to seal these gaps with caulking. This will help seal the roaches out.

In many cases, addressing sanitation issues, promptly disposing of cardboard and other paper products, and plugging any holes can help keep cockroaches out of your apartment in the first place.

FAQ
  • Will cockroaches go away on their own?

    If you are noticing roaches in your apartment, it is not likely that they will go away on their own. Start by addressing any possible food and water sources for them. Next, find where they could be hiding. If the issue in your building is severe, make sure the landlord knows and be prepared to seek professional assistance if needed. If you decide to move to another building, make sure to clean your items and get rid of anything that has been infested. After all, you don't want to take any roaches along with you.

  • Do cockroaches bite?

    Cockroaches do not bite, but they are known to carry disease and trigger various health issues, and roaches pose a number of health risks. They can carry intestinal diseases and pathogenic organisms and can cause allergies and asthma symptoms.

  • How long do cockroaches live?

    The lifespan of a cockroach depends on the species. Some species require 600 days just to reach maturity and, after that, they can live anywhere from one to two years on average.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. "Prevention & Control: Cockroaches." Illinois Department of Public Health, Division of Environmental Health.

  2. "Cockroaches: Their Biology, Distribution and Control." Control of Neglected Tropical Disease, World Health Organization, WHO/CDS/CPE/WHOPES/99.3

  3. "Disease Vectors & Pests." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.