Home » What Causes Roaches? 10 Reasons Cockroaches Like Your Home

What Causes Roaches? 10 Reasons Cockroaches Like Your Home

What causes roaches to wander into your home? If that question is keeping you up at night, we get it. There are few things as traumatizing as suddenly finding your kitchen floor pulsating with life by way of cockroach.

It’s a horrible sight for the best of us, and a chronic nightmare for some others – but it can also come with some deeply unhygienic complications.

Interestingly, roaches themselves are fairly ‘clean.’ It’s their near constant routine of washing their bodies that actually allows some traditional poisons to be so effective. In essence, the chemicals can stick to their bodies, which is later ingested when they lick themselves clean.

But the thing about roaches is that they will eat anything – cheese, dead animals, even poop. And therein lies the problem. It’s the stuff they walk through and subsequently traipse through our homes, as well as the droppings they leave behind, that can truly cause problems: disease, allergic reactions, bacterial growth… you get the picture. And it’s not one you want to deal with.

What Causes Roaches?

Obviously, the easiest way to deal with cockroaches is to not have them at all.

Which brings us to a simple and yet complicated truth: Given the choice, cockroaches will choose a dirty home over a clean one any day of the week. A dirty, cluttered home provides more food and more places to hide undetected. The perfect cockroach habitat.

But that doesn’t mean clean homes are immune.

Cockroaches aren’t hard to please. Their needs are simple. Food. Water. Shelter. Heat. That’s really all a cockroach needs to survive, and even thrive. And human homes provide all of these things.

Even the cleanest ones.

So is there no hope? Not at all. You can still take simple steps to make your home significantly less attractive to roaches.

Here are the most common things causes of roaches in your home – and what you can do to put a stop to them.

1. Food

One of the most common causes of roaches is exposed food. Cockroaches aren’t fussy. It doesn’t matter what type of food you have lying out on your kitchen counters, even something common like fruit – they’ll eat it.

how to prevent silverfish
how to prevent silverfish

Obviously, the first defense is to keep all of your perishables and foodstuffs locked and sealed away.

Wipe up any food spills as soon as they happen. Keep all food sealed in airtight containers. Cockroaches can chew through thin plastic like Ziploc bags, so invest in more rigid Tupperware or even glass containers to keep them out.

It’s also not just your food – it’s your pets’ as well. Cockroaches are definitely not above eating cat or dog food.  The same also applies to the water you put out for your pet. Consider investing in a special bug-proof bowl that will keep the bugs from accessing the food or water inside.

Note: If you have an indoor cat, don’t forget about the litter. Remember, cockroaches will eat anything organic. You may not think of it as food, but they will. Empty the litter box every day, and never leave it dirty overnight.

2. Clutter and mess

Again, it’s important to repeat that a roach’s diet isn’t the same as ours. Cockroaches will eat almost anything. It’s not just the food you feed your family, although they will happily consume that if they get the chance.

Cockroaches will also feed on other insects, and even things that seem completely inedible like toothpaste and soap. They’re also not above a little bit of cannibalism if other food sources are scarce. Some species of roach are even attracted by cardboard, books, paper and some woods.

In order to give cockroaches nothing to eat, it’s very important to clear clutter and stay clean. Really clean. Meticulously clean.

Keep anything that can be cockroach food sealed up. Clear up clutter.

Always wipe up crumbs. Don’t forget about behind the fridge or under the stove. These are favorite places for cockroaches to hang out, and any food spilled down there is easy to forget. But it could provide a banquet for cockroaches.

3. Exposed trash

Much the same as leaving any kind of foodstuffs out in the open; roaches will be drawn to your exposed trash like a magnet. Food scraps, garbage liquid, cardboard, dark, quiet – it’s the perfect place for a roach infestation.

what causes roaches

A messy, dirty home with food scraps littered over the countertops and trash piling up is like heaven for these roaches – they’ll be able to feast to their heart’s content and have plenty of warm nooks and crannies to live in amongst all the rubbish lying around.

Always take out your rubbish before the smell begins to permeate, and make sure to keep any bin areas as clean as possible to clear away any tempting morsels of food or garbage.

4. Overgrowth

If your house is constantly attacked by weeds in the garden, or main pathways next to doors; then this could provide yet another attractive point for those nomadic roaches in the neighborhood.

This goes double for anything like natural mulch or festering vegetation (think about where your mown grass is stored prior to garbage collection, for example). Keeping a tidy and clean garden, as well as clearing around doors, windows and pathways can be key steps in defending against that cockroach threat.

5. Stuff you bring into your home

Lucky for you, roaches aren’t like bed bugs and don’t typically hitch a ride home on things like furniture or clothes.

But they do like living in cardboard boxes, appliances and electronics. People have unwittingly brought home roach infestations in cardboard boxes, used microwaves and toasters, and even computers and gaming consoles.

Roaches love the heated, quiet and dark spaces appliances and electronics provide so be very careful about bringing used items into your home, especially if it’s coming from a roach infested home.

If it’s an item you absolutely need, prevent bringing roaches into your home by first quarantining the item in a sealed plastic bag along with Nuvan Strips and leaving it for a week.

6. Water

German cockroaches are the species most likely to invade your home. This species can live for up to a month without eating, but it can’t survive more than a week without water.

So if you want to make your home cockroach free, you need to think carefully about the water sources.

There’s a reason German cockroaches are most commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms. That’s where the water is. Check all pipes to make sure nothing is leaking. High humidity is a great attractant for cockroaches.

Check also the condensation on the outside of water pipes. This provides a cockroach with all it needs to drink. Systematically eliminate all water sources, such as dripping taps and sweating pipes.

This will make your house much less attractive to cockroaches.

If you have pets, you also need to think about their food and water. Try to only put out food for your pet at designated feeding times, and put it away somewhere cockroaches can’t get to it at all other times.

There’s another water source you almost certainly haven’t thought of: the drip catchment tray underneath your fridge.

In fact, this is often the most popular place in your entire house for German cockroaches to congregate. It provides darkness, warmth from the running of the fridge’s motor, and a ready source of water in the form of condensation that collects in the tray at the bottom of the fridge.

Always check behind your fridge for cockroaches; it’s the perfect place for roaches to hide.

7. Damp, dark and private spaces

Even if you manage to keep your food at feeler’s length from any nearby cockroaches; the typical beastie can survive around a month without having a meal.

In this interim, they tend to be attracted to any dingy, dark and wet places around the home – hence their attraction to garbage bin areas, garages, basements and some areas of your kitchen.

It doesn’t have to be a combination of the three, though, many homeowners report cockroaches living in storage boxes and cluttered shelves; basically anywhere private and away from the dangers of other predators…like us.

Tip: Make sure to pull out appliances such as the stove and the fridge. These often provide great places for roaches to hide and still be near sources of both food and water.

8. Cracks and gaps

Roaches love to find their way into your home through tiny cracks and gaps around the house. Much like other types of vermin, they can squeeze through spaces which are much, much smaller than their actual body size – German roaches can fit into cracks as thin as a dime!

Gaps in pipe work, under doors, in skirting boards, tiles, and walls are all perfect habitats for them to leave their waste, reproduce and travel back and forth from other locations.

But that’s not all – roaches don’t just use these tiny cracks and gaps to travel into your home, they actually like to live in them.

Roaches are thigmotropic, which means they like to feel something solid touching their bodies, preferably on all sides. As such, they’ll seek out little cracks and crevices that offer them the comfort of a tight fit – these tiny nooks and crannies are like the roach equivalent of a luxuriously plush mattress.

A home with plenty of gaps and spaces in the baseboards, walls, between the counters, and so on is like a 5-star hotel for roaches so you want to plug up as many of these potential roach homes as possible.

Get yourself a caulk gun and seal up any cracks you find with waterproof caulking. The fewer places cockroaches have to hide, the less attractive your home will be to them.

9. Company of other roaches

One of the biggest attractions for roaches will be the presence of its peers. Cockroaches like to live in groups called aggregations. What this means is that once a cockroach has made your home its own, its pheromones become a guide for other cockroaches to follow. It’s only a matter of time before more cockroaches show up to the party.

This is why there’s never just one roach. Cockroaches will quickly find each other and form groups.

This is hugely because roaches like the feeling being squeezed in a tight fit. They hate open spaces in the same way that they hate light, and they will try to hide in tiny cracks and crevices wherever possible.

It’s often astonishing just how many cockroaches can pack themselves into a small gap under a kitchen counter or behind a baseboard. The more tucked away it is, the more appealing it will be to cockroaches. 

So where you see one roach, there’s usually more to come (if not already there). It’ll invite its friends, and rampant breeding can soon take over (and don’t underestimate how quickly these little guys reproduce).

Obviously, the key is to never let a single roach set up shop in the first place, which means going down the avenue of preventative measures – here’s to how keep roaches away from your home for good!

10. Warmth

Cockroaches of all species are warm weather animals. They like the heat, and lower temperatures not only make a home less attractive to them but also slow down their reproductive rate.

Unfortunately, the temperature is the hardest thing to do anything about. Cockroaches thrive at temperatures above 80°F, which is not much higher than most of us like to keep our homes.

And you may have a hard time trying to freeze them out; cockroaches can still survive in temperatures down to 34°F.

You need to be comfortable in your home. But while turning the thermostat down a couple of degrees won’t stop you from having a cockroach problem, it will slow down their breeding rate.

Plus, you’ll save money on your heating bills. Which you can then put towards a vast array of cleaning products and Tupperware food containers to keep the cockroaches at bay.

Why Cleanliness Still Matters

Cockroaches love dirty, crumb-laden, and cluttered places. But as you can see from the above most common causes of roaches – even the cleanest homes have things to offer a wandering roach.

Even places like hospitals battle cockroach issues from time to time!

Roaches will live anywhere that provides them their three basic requirements: food, water and warm shelter. Pretty much any human establishment can provide that, even the cleanest ones.

So even if you keep your home as clean as an operating theater, it doesn’t mean you can’t get cockroaches. After all, anyone can bring roaches home from the grocery store or garden center without even knowing it.

But whereas clean homes aren’t immune to a roach problem, they are much more resistant to a roach infestation.

The cleaner your home, the less easily accessible food there is. Cockroaches need water and food to reproduce so cleanliness slows the cockroaches ability to multiply. And the fewer cockroaches there are, the easier it will be to get rid of them.

Even more importantly, having a clean, clutter-free home also makes it much easier to detect any roaches before it becomes a problem. And spotting the problem quickly is key to preventing a full-blown infestation.

Updated and re-published on May 21, 2024

1 thought on “What Causes Roaches? 10 Reasons Cockroaches Like Your Home”

  1. Thank you for this informative article. I would like to add some other common causes about this:
    -Crawling inside through small holes and cracks in the building.
    -Finding openings around doors and windows.
    -Moving from one apartment to another through pipes and other holes in shared walls.


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