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Cleaning

Expert tips to get rid of cockroaches

You can win the battle against these indestructible pests

A cockroach on the floor being swept up with a broom. Credit: Getty Images / Sparkle

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Let’s paint the scene: You’re home from a long day of work and crack open a bottle of wine. You pull out all the ingredients for your home cooked meal and as you’re chopping and stirring, you see a cockroach creeping up the wall of your kitchen backsplash. If a chill just ran up your spine and you’ve lost your appetite, we don’t blame you.

Pests finding their way into our homes is a nightmare. Cockroaches specifically become a major concern for apartment dwellers because no matter how clean you keep your home, your neighbor’s cluttered home can entice these bugs inside.

Jim Brixius, associate certified entomologist with Ehrlich Pest Control, has provided key guidance on ridding your home of these terrible insects: “There is a natural migration for cockroaches to make their way through cracks and pipes to other units when their original habitat becomes too dense with other roaches.”

If cockroaches have landed in your apartment, it’s time to get them out. If you’re an apartment dweller and your landlord is dragging their feet on getting these pests take care, here are steps you can take yourself.

Stop them at the source

A person repairing a hole in the wall with 3M Hole Repair.
Credit: 3M

For any small but noticeable cracks and holes, a repair putty can seal them up and keep pests out.

If you’re wondering how the cockroaches have weaseled their way into your home, there are a couple of potential routes they take. Most commonly, the cockroaches will travel through any cracks in the walls or through pipes, says Brixius.

If you have prominent cracks or small holes in your walls, you’re vulnerable for them creeping in. For any small but noticeable cracks and holes, a repair putty can seal them up.

Pipes are also culprits for being tunnel systems for cockroaches. While you can’t seal the most common pipe openings—your kitchen and bathroom drains—you can cover them up.

Putting drain covers over your kitchen and bathroom sink drains will prevent those creepy crawlers from coming up and spooking you while you’re brushing your teeth.

The most surprising mode of transportation is cardboard boxes. If you have an influx of cardboard, make sure to break it down and bring it to the recycling. Get it out of your house as soon as possible so it won’t give cockroaches a place to nest.

Seal up your food containers

A pantry full of items that are sealed well.
Credit: Getty Images / Studio CJ

Make sure you your food is totally sealed off so the cockroaches don’t get in for mealtime which inevitably will contaminate your food too.

Making your home inhospitable for bugs will keep them out. Any access to food will keep them well fed, and you want to cut them off.

Make sure your food is totally sealed off so the cockroaches don’t get in for mealtime which inevitably will contaminate your food too. Getting air tight containers will make it impossible for cockroaches to get in.

You’ll also want to keep an eye out for places where food scraps can build-up. Brixius says to clean up crumbs and spills quickly. Your stovetop is a breeding ground for mess. While you’re making dinner, you may not realize the amount of food that can fall between the stove and the countertop. A stove guard can help literally fill the gap so you don’t have to fear fallen food pieces that will build-up.

And at the end of every day, make sure you give your stove top a thorough clean so that you scrub away grease stains and bits and pieces of food.

Suck up the cockroaches—dead or alive

A close-up shot of hardwood floors being vacuumed.
Credit: Getty Images / urbazon

Vacuuming up cockroaches that are alive is a great way to trap them and potentially kill them.

Cockroaches are notoriously hard to kill. They will eventually die if they are unable to find food or water. If you’ve found remnants of cockroaches, vacuum them up to make sure you don’t leave any bits of them behind, says Brixius.

Additionally, vacuuming up cockroaches that are alive is a great way to trap them and potentially kill them. We recommend emptying the vacuum canister or bag as soon as you’re done. Don’t just empty them into your home trash bin – any bugs that may have survived the vacuuming could crawl out.

Instead toss them in an outdoor trash receptacle. If you have a place in your home to safely do so, you can toss cockroaches to the flames since fire is one of the few ways that can truly kill these insects.

Call the exterminator and set your traps

An exterminator spraying pesticide against the baseboard.
Credit: Getty Images / Andrey Popov

A professional will know precisely how to target and kill pests.

Because cockroaches have thick exoskeletons that make them nearly indestructible, it will make them hard to kill yourself, advises Brixius. The best thing to do is to call an exterminator. A professional will know precisely how to target and kill pests.

If you’re an apartment dweller this likely means having your landlord coordinate getting the appointment set-up.

While you’re waiting for an exterminator, you can take some additional steps to start ridding your home of these bugs.

You can set up traps designed to kill cockroach nests. These traps are easy to set in corners of your home or underneath sinks. Plus, they’re safe for your family as they only pose a threat to the insects themselves.

An equally effective tool, but more conspicuous, are glue traps. These sticky sheets will trap pests like cockroaches and even mice. These traps are free of any chemicals, however, you will have to see your caught pests so these traps are not for the faint of heart.

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