There’s nothing quite as disheartening as the discovery that your garage has been secretly taken over by unwanted guests—especially when those squatters are roaches! The good news is that you don’t have to move or burn your house to the ground to get rid of them. Roach control is easy if you make your garage an uncomfortable place for them to live in.
Roaches need three things to survive: warmth, moisture, and food. Different species have specific needs, but in general, if you want to find where the roaches are hiding in your garage, check out areas where it’s dark and humid. Garbage cans and recyclables that aren’t rinsed before storing provide ample food sources for cockroaches, who may nest nearby.
Sometimes, cockroaches in the garage are simply wayward wanderers who managed to squeeze in during the night, so don’t panic if you only see one cockroach in your garage and can’t find his lair. He may just be passing through—a swift dispatch with your shoe, if you’re compelled, will take care of him.
Start With Sanitation
Keeping roaches at bay is an ongoing process and even clean houses get roaches sometimes. You may bring roach eggs in on used clothing, cardboard boxes, paper bags or even your shoes, so don’t kick yourself too hard if your garage develops a cockroach problem. To win the cockroach battle, you’ll have to do some spring cleaning. Often, if you eliminate the areas giving the roaches safe harbor, they’ll die out from lack of food and lack of proper environment, so start by:
- Tossing cardboard boxes. Innocuous cardboard boxes and paper bags are breeding grounds for cockroaches and their ilk. Cockroaches are well-equipped to use the starches in the adhesives on these paper items as food and seem to be drawn to them as a place to lay their eggs. Start your cockroach elimination party by moving everything in bags and boxes into air-tight plastic storage. You may find a few dead roaches next time you break the seal, but that should be the last of them.
- Rinsing recyclables. Many people recycle without rinsing their containers first—this is a terrible idea if you’ve got roach problems! Even if you bag your recyclables, roaches can get inside and will readily eat the remaining food. Remember, these little monsters can use just about anything as a food source and will, so recycle what you’ve already got and start rinsing out any new to-be-recycled items and allow them to dry before you toss them into the garage.
- Taking out the garbage. Out of sight is out of mind, but if you stash your trash in the garage between pickups, you’re opening an all you can eat buffet for cockroaches. Get that trash outside right away! If you’re worried about animals spilling the garbage can, use a bungee to keep the lid tightly attached.
- Removing sources of moisture. Drippy hoses and leaky hot water heaters can contribute more than enough moisture to the garage to keep a family of roaches going for a while. Dry up these areas and you’ll remove much-needed moisture. Like many insects, cockroaches can’t survive without adequate humidity.
Once you’ve turned your garage into an unfriendly place for roaches, it’s a good bet you won’t see them again. If you're still having problems, you can always try some cockroach killing poison or roach traps. Although insect baits can have some effect on cockroach populations, these pests will just keep coming back if you don’t remove the things that are attracting them. You can prevent new infestations by inspecting and repairing your garage door seals, caulking the trim around the door(s) and around any windows in your garage, and leaving cardboard boxes and paper bags outdoors.
Calvo Martín, M., Nicolis, S.C., Planas-Sitjà, I. et al. Conflictual influence of humidity during shelter selection of the American cockroach (Periplaneta americana). Sci Rep 9, 20331. doi:10.1038/s41598-019-56504-w