No one likes finding a cockroach in their home. Finding a roach in your kitchen is the worst, and it probably gives you the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it crawling around all over the area where you eat!
Roaches don’t need much to survive indoors and are attracted to any place with a water source and food. To keep roaches out of your kitchen, seal up entry points, remove food and water sources, reduce clutter, and roach traps in hard to get areas.
We will cover each of these prevention tips in more detail below. We’ll also give you some useful information about the biology of cockroaches, how to identify them, and where you’re most likely to find them hiding in your home – Let’s get to it!
Where Do Cockroaches live in your home?
Before we jump into the details of how to keep roaches out of your kitchen, let’s learn a bit about their biology, which will help you understand why cockroaches are such a common problem in some homes.
Believe it or not, most cockroaches don’t actually like living indoors with us. According to the University of Kentucky, there are 69 cockroach species present in North America. However, only a handful are commonly associated with human dwellings.
Below is a table with the five most common roaches you’ll find in your home. The table includes how to identify each species and where you’ll typically find them in your home.
Most Common Cockroach Hiding Spots In The Home
|COMMON NAME||CHARACTERISTICS||HIDING SPOTS|
|German Cockroach (Blattella germanica)||0.5 inches long, light brown, 2 vertical stripes behind the head||Most common in kitchens and bathrooms. Will hide in any crack or crevice behind stoves, refrigerators, and in cabinets. Also attracted to appliances that produce heat.|
|American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana)||Largest species in the home at 1.5 inches, dark reddish brown, single yellowish band at the base of the head||Moist, dark places, congregating near sump pumps, floor drains, and laundry rooms|
|Brownbanded Cockroach (Supella longipalpa)||0.5 inches long, 2 horizontal yellowish stripes across the wings||More sluggish, typically living near sump pumps, basements, crawl spaces, and floor drains at ground level|
|Oriental Cockroach (Blatta orientalis)||1-inch long, shiny black or brown, wings cover no more than half the abdomen||Prefer cool, damp areas like crawl spaces, basements, sewers, and cellars|
|Wood Cockroaches (Parcoblatta spp.)||All species are brownish in color and about 1 inch long||Typically only found in the home if you live in the woods|
|COMMON NAME||WHERE THEY HIDE||PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS|
|Norway rat||Burrowers, typically stay close to the ground in basements, crawl spaces, or the first floor||Around 13 to 18 inches long including the tail, tail shorter than the body, blunt snout, hairless tail, brown coat, droppings about 3/4 inch long with blunt ends|
|Roof rat||Climbers, typically found in attics, drop ceilings, or walls||Around 13 to 18 inches long including the tail, tail longer than the body, blunt snout, hairless tail, black coat, droppings about 1/2 long with pointed ends|
|House mouse||Climbers, can be found hiding anywhere in the house but prefers enclosed, cluttered areas||Around 7.5 inches long including the tail, pointed snout, tail slightly hairy, droppings about 1/4 inch long with pointed ends|
|CHARACTERISTIC||ROOF RAT||SEWER RAT|
|Scientific Name||Rattus rattus||Rattus norvegicus|
|Other Common Names||Black rat, house rat, ship rat||Norway rat|
|Body Length (inches)||7-8||8-10|
|Tail Length (inches)||7-10||5-8|
|Fur Color||Typically black, can be brownish or grayish||Brownish-gray|
|Dropping Size (inches)||1/4 to 1/2||3/4 to 1|
|Dropping Shape||Banana-like shape with pointed ends||Blunt ends|
|Preferred Habitat||Good climbers, commonly found nesting in attics or trees. They can occasionally burrow as well.||Good diggers, commonly found burrowing along foundations, under garbage, or in thick vegetation. Will nest at ground level in places like basements and crawl spaces.|
|SPECIES||ALSO KNOWN AS||SIZE|
|Norway Rat||Brown Rat | Sewer Rat | Wharf Rat||12 to 20in|
|Roof Rat||Black Rat | Ship Rat | House RatTree Rat||6 to 8in|
|Woodrat||Pack Rat | Trade Rat||1 to 1.5ft|
|Marsh Rice Rat||Florida Marsh Mouse | Swimming Rice Rat||3 to 5in|
|NESTING SPOT||REASON THEY'RE THERE||SOLUTION|
|Attics||Protection from predators and proximity to people||Limit access and close any entrances and use scents to keep them out|
|Eaves||Flat surfaces for nesting||Owl Decoy to keep them out of the area or owl boxes to attract owls|
|Balconies||Safe, flat surface for nesting||Wind chimes to disrupt pigeons from settling in|
|Chimneys||Flat surface for nesting||Bird spikes to keep them from landing on the chimney|
|Shed||Often has entry points||Close any entry points|
|Barn or Warehouse||Beams and rafters for perching and nesting||Use bird netting to keep them from reaching perching places|
|Silos||Easy food source||Cover entry points with plastic strips and cleans up stray grain from surrounding areas|
|Window Sills||Flat surface near food sources||Use repellent gel to keep pigeons away|
|GROUP||GENERAL APPERANCE||PLANT PREFERENCES|
|Hornworms||Blue-green, up to 4 inches long, large spine "horn" on rear||Solanaceous plants (tomato, eggplant, potato, peppers)|
|Cutworms||Smooth, very few hairs, up to 2 inches long, color varies||Most common vegetable plants|
|Armyworms||Various shades of green or brown with yellow or white vertical stripes||Most common vegetable plants|
|Loopers||Green with several vertical thin white stripes and can be distinguished from armyworms by the looping motion they make with their rear while moving||Cruciferous plants (broccoli, kale, turnips), lettuce, peppers, spinach, and others but most destructive on crucifers|
As you can see in the table above, each roach species tends to be attracted to specific areas of your home. If you can correctly identify the species of roach living in your home, it will help you determine which areas of your home to focus on to eliminate them.
So, Why Are Roaches In Your Kitchen?
Most people consider cockroaches to be associated with filth and are mortified when they find cockroaches in their own homes.
However, cockroaches can find their way into and survive in just about any home, all because they stay where they can eat.
Cockroaches will eat things that we don’t consider to be food such as hair, fingernail clippings, cardboard, toothpaste, soap, and leather. That’s why cockroaches can become a problem in your kitchen, even if you keep your kitchen clean.
Now that you know a little more about cockroaches, let’s go over how to keep them out of your home.
7 ways to Keep Cockroaches out of Your Kitchen
The best way to keep cockroaches, and most other insects, out of your kitchen is to prevent them from getting into your house in the first place.
Let’s face it, if roaches are getting into your home from any area, they will likely find their way into your kitchen where they can find the food and water sources they need to survive.
Before you keep reading if you’re considering a more natural approach to repelling cockroaches check out our article about ways to use lavender to keep roaches away! Not only can use lavender in addition to our tips below, but it can be helpful in and of itself too!
Check Seals Around Windows And Doors to Keep Cockroaches Out
If you look at the seals around your door and windows during the day and see sunlight seeping through – roaches can get in and it’s probably time to replace the weather stripping.
Fortunately, replacing the weather stripping around your doors is easy!
There is a variety of weather-stripping available for doors including foam and rubber. We like this Foam Weather Stripping which is easy to install and will work for both doors and windows.
Check The Frames Of Your Windows
Next, check around your window seals, where the frame of the window meets the drywall. This area is typically sealed with caulk, but caulk can break down over time, especially on the window seals.
If you see cracks or gaps around the frame, you should refill them with fresh caulk so that cockroaches can’t come in. First, remove the old caulk using a putty knife or utility knife and clean the area. Then, simply fill the gap back in with new caulk.
We recommend using DAPs White Acrylic Latex Caulk because it’s mildew resistant and has a 35-year durability guarantee.
Now that you’ve sealed up your home from the inside, you’ll want to check for entry points around the exterior where roaches can enter.
Seal Cracks And Crevice Around Exterior Utilities
As you walk around the exterior of your home, you’ll notice there are actually all kinds of gaps created in your walls for utilities to enter your home. You’ll want to make sure to seal these up to keep roaches from having access to your kitchen and home.
Check areas around hose spigots, the cable and internet lines, and your air conditioning drain line. You can seal up any gaps between your home’s siding and the utility lines using caulk, if the gaps aren’t too large, or spray foam for larger gaps.
For large gaps, we like this Big Gap Filler Spray Foam which expands to fill gaps up to 3 inches wide.
Placing Screens Over Exterior Vents
Most homes have vents located around the roof line to allow the house to ‘breath’. This is an entry point for roaches into your attic and ultimately your home. However, you can’t just seal these up because they’re necessary to protect your roof from heat and moisture damage.
Instead, you can put a screen on the vents to prevent most insects from making their way in, including cockroaches.
If the vents are easily removable, you can place the screen underneath the vent which will be more aesthetically pleasing. You can also hire a professional to install the screens which is the best choice if you live in a two-story home where vents are difficult to reach.
For Apartments And Townhomes, Seal Up Plumbing!
If you live in a building with shared walls, your cockroach problems may be coming from your neighbor’s home. Cockroaches can move from one unit to the next through shared walls.
The most likely place for this to occur is where holes are in the wall for plumbing to come through. You can prevent this by sealing up any gaps around the plumbing under your sink, behind your toilet, and anywhere else you may have a utility line coming from the wall.
We love using this Pest Block Spray Foam because it adheres to all sorts of building materials and can be sanded and painted to blend into the surrounding surfaces! The foam expands after being sprayed to completely seal cracks and gaps up to 1 inch wide.
Clean Up Any Food Sources To Get Rid Of Cockroaches
Food sources are one of the main reasons why roaches are attracted to your kitchen and allows them to thrive and multiply in your home. By removing as many food sources as possible, you can limit the roach population in your kitchen significantly.
Tidy Your Trash Cans And Recycling Bins
You can’t really prevent all food sources from being present in your trash can. If you have a garbage disposal in your sink, you can reduce the amount of food going in the trash can but you’ll likely still have some food that can’t go down the disposal or remains in packaging.
Using a trash can with a lid is your best option to keep roaches from using your trash can as a food source.
The same goes for your recycling bin. Make sure you rinse any food containers you recycle and use a recycling bin with a lid to prevent roaches from getting in.
Also, clean your trash periodically and remove any spills that could attract roaches to your kitchen.
Additionally, make sure you don’t have dirty towels or clothes that can also provide cockroaches a place to hide.
Wipe And Mop The Floors And Counters
The floors and counters will inevitably have crumbs after you’ve prepared a meal. To keep roaches from using crumbs as a food source, try to wipe down counters after preparing food and make sure to vacuum or sweep the floors regularly.
Don’t forget to mop on a regular basis as well to make sure any drips from food or beverages aren’t acting as a food source for roaches.
Keep Under And Behind Appliances Clean
Even in a clean kitchen, you’re bound to have some crumbs underneath your large kitchen appliances.
Pulling out your fridge and stove once a month and vacuuming or sweeping up any food that’s made its way underneath it, will help keep roaches away. This process will be much easier if you have someone to help you move your appliances.
Don’t forget to wipe down the sides of your stove while it’s pulled out since most of us have a spill on the stove or counter every once in a while that will leak down between the stove and cabinets.
Wash out Sinks And Garbage Disposals
Sinks and garbage disposals can also harbor small bits of food which will attract roaches to your kitchen.
Make sure to wash out the sink after cleaning the dishes. Also, clean out food from the sink strainer which prevents food from going down the drain if you don’t have a garbage disposal. Give the sink strainer a good cleaning on all of its surfaces to keep it from attracting roaches.
Your garbage disposal should also get cleaned regularly to help reduce residue buildup which roaches will feed on. These Garbage Disposal Cleaning Tablets are easy to use and are septic tank safe.
Now that you’ve taken care of cockroach food sources in your kitchen, you’ll want to eliminate water sources in your home as well.
Check Your Home For Water Leaks to keep roaches away
Roaches require a source of water to survive and thrive in your kitchen. By eliminating any sources of water, you will prevent cockroaches from being able to survive long-term in your home.
Of course, you would probably notice if you have a major leak under the kitchen sink, but pipe leaks can often begin as just a few drops which you may not notice.
Remember, roaches may be moving into your kitchen at night but utilizing a water source in another part of your house. You should check for leaks under the sinks and behind the toilet in the bathroom as well.
Even if you don’t have an active water leak under your sink or toilets, the pipes that lead to them can produce condensation.
To prevent this source of moisture, which will allow cockroaches to survive in these areas, you’ll want to properly insulate the exposed pipes.
Now that you’ve taken care of food and water sources, it’s time to get rid of any excess clutter!
Reducing the Clutter in your house will keep out cockroaches
Since cockroaches typically only come out to eat at night, they need somewhere to hide out during the day.
Roaches prefer to hide out in tight crevices and cracks which remain dark during the day. Eliminating clutter around your house, which provides these types of cracks and crevices, will help reduce cockroach populations.
Reducing clutter will also help increase your ability to clean regularly and thoroughly to reduce alternative food sources (remember cockroaches will eat things like hair and cardboard) from your home.
You Can Use Sticky Traps To Get Rid Of Roaches
Sticky traps can be useful in two ways when it comes to keeping roaches out of your kitchen. They can both help you get rid of cockroaches that become stuck to them and they can help you monitor for roaches in your kitchen.
The University of Minnesota recommends using sticky traps to monitor for roaches in your home. Keeping a few sticky traps around, hidden in areas like behind the fridge or under the sink, can also help you find out if you have roaches without having to wait for populations to build up before you notice them.
By seeing which traps end up with roaches on them, you’ll be able to narrow down where they’re hiding during the day or where they’re going to get food and water at night.
You can use these Catchmaster Sticky Traps which come with 36 traps per pack.
If you don’t want to purchase sticky traps, you can even use duct tape to detect roaches in a pinch!
You Can Use Insecticides To Keep Roaches Away
There are many types of insecticides you can deploy to help eliminate roaches in your kitchen. Using pesticides/insecticides along with the other control measures mentioned above will give you the best chances of eliminating roaches from your kitchen.
Always make sure to contact a professional before using any of the listed pesticides. They can help tell you exactly what is best for your home and offer you placement tips based on your specific situation.
Of course, you need to strongly consider using these in your kitchen as you’ll be in the area everyday as opposed to your basement or garage. Below, I’ll review the most common types of insecticides that are used in these products rather than specific products themselves.
Pesticide sprays for roaches will typically contain chemicals such as permethrin, cypermethrin, and imiprothrin. Organic pesticide sprays will contain chemicals such as geraniol and lemongrass oil.
Roach sprays work as a contact insecticide and begins working when roaches walk across them making contact with them.
The longer a roach contacts the sprayed area, the more effective the spray becomes at eliminating the roach.
Dust for roaches includes things such as deltamethrin and boric acid. They are applied as a fine powder along areas cockroaches are most likely to crawl across.
Dust contains a pesticide that the cockroach will ingest when it cleans the dust off its legs and body.
Yes, cockroaches do clean themselves on a regular basis! By ingesting the pesticide, the cockroach will succumb to the effects and be eliminated.
Use Roach Baits
Baits are one of the most effective pesticides you can use to fight cockroaches in your kitchen. Rather than acting like sprays or dust, which cockroaches have to crawl over for them to work, baits will actually attract the roaches to feed on them.
Baits will contain an attractive odor to cockroaches which lures them in. They also contain a pesticide that will get rid of the roaches that feed on them.
Natural Roach Repelling Options
If you don’t have roaches or have a very small number, you may be able to use specific scents to repel roaches. Basically, certain strong smells confuse cockroaches and cause them to stay away from specific areas because they can’t sense any mates or preferred shelter spots.
There are a few options to use, but a perfect one for your kitchen is lavender!
Hiring A Professional to get rid of your roach problem
If you’ve been dealing with a cockroach infestation for a long time, it might be time to ask for additional help.
Not all pesticides are available for the general public to purchase and can only be used by a trained professional. If you have a serious infestation you can’t seem to get under control, consider contacting a professional.
A professional may also be able to spot something that’s attracting cockroaches to your home that you haven’t considered. They’re trained to spot all of the nooks, crannies, cracks, crevices, food, and water sources that attract pests to your home and will help you mitigate these attractants.
When it comes to hiring a professional, we’ve got you covered. You can use our Pest Control Locator to find an exterminator near you.
That’s A wrap!
Finding roaches in your kitchen can be an upsetting experience but there are plenty of things you can do to get rid of them and keep them from coming back.
We’ve outlined 7 ways to keep roaches out of your kitchen. Using more than one of these strategies at the same time will allow you to eliminate the problem as quickly as possible!
If you’re having trouble figuring out where roaches are coming from, or what is attracting them to your kitchen, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for help.
Cochran, D.G. and World Health Organization, 1999. Cockroaches: their biology, distribution and control (No. WHO/CDS/CPC/WHOPES/99.3). World Health Organization.
Eggleston, P.A. and Arruda, L.K., 2001. Ecology and elimination of cockroaches and allergens in the home. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 107(3), pp.S422-S429.
Wang, C. and Bennett, G.W., 2006. Comparative study of integrated pest management and baiting for German cockroach management in public housing. Journal of economic entomology, 99(3), pp.879-885.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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