6 Simple Ways to Keep Cockroaches Away From Your Clothes

Cockroache on floor in the house

When you think of creepy crawlies, one of the main things that comes to mind is probably cockroaches. In fact, cockroaches are so despised by people they often portray them as villains or monsters in pop culture and television. With this, what are some simple ways to keep cockroaches away from your clothes?

Boric acid, bay leaves, coffee grounds, cayenne pepper and garlic are great ways to keep cockroaches away from your clothes. These options will either exterminate the cockroaches or repel them from the area. What you use will depend on preference and severity of the situation.

Read on to learn more about what may cause cockroaches to be attracted to your clothes and some simple repellents that you can use against them!

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What Are Cockroaches? 

In the rush of seeing a bug on your clothes, it can often be hard to identify what insect it truly is.

To describe what a cockroach looks like, they are usually semi-long, flattened, and are brown/black. They usually appear hard, having a tough, often shiny exoskeleton, as well as very long antennae on their heads. 

Going on, cockroaches can, in fact, fly, and often are very adept at flying. They also can emit noises like hissing if frightened, so characteristics such as these can easily tip you off to a cockroach infestation.

Can Cockroaches Even Live In Clothes?

To put it simply, yes! Cockroaches have been known to hide and live in piles of clothes, especially in the right conditions.

Damp clothes, or clothes left out for long periods of time, attract cockroaches, allowing the roaches to grow and multiply without disturbance. 

In general, damp, warm places attract cockroaches. This means that leftover piles of laundry and other clothes make the perfect habitat for them to live and reproduce.

Making sure you are frequently washing your clothes and not allowing them to sit on the open ground (especially in places like your garage) is the first step in keeping cockroaches away from your clothes.

Cockroach Eggs In Clothing

Unfortunately, cockroach eggs can be very small and hard to see. This can make removing a cockroach infestation from your clothes very difficult, as they simply will just lay eggs you cannot remove by hand.

If you do find cockroaches in a pile of your clothes, make sure that you wash all nearby clothing throughly and machine dry (use hot water and high heat if you can!)

This will help to get rid of the nymphs.

Why Cockroaches Hide In Your Clothing In The First Place

Big heap of colorful clothes isolated on white

Roaches use piles of clothes and debris as hiding spots to survive. If you leave the pile for too long, they can burrow and forms nests, allowing them to reproduce. 

First off, cockroaches want to reproduce to continue their genetic line. With this, if they are in your pile of clothes for a few days or longer, they most likely will have been laying eggs. These eggs are very small and hard to see, so in most cases, it is best to treat your clothes if you suspect cockroaches have been in them. 

Cockroaches may also smell remnants of other things on your clothes, such as soap, food, or sugary drinks. These remnants will draw them in, and they will feed off of them for as long as they can. After they eat, they can leave many droppings, which you will detect on your clothes.

Again, WASH your clothes if you find any cockroaches and clean clean clean. Ultimately before going further, you should discuss things with a local pest professional to make sure you don’t have a deeper issue at hand.

What Actually Causes Cockroaches To Come Near Your Clothes?

There are a few main things that are well known to attract roaches to your general area. Some of these include:

  • Open food or drinks
  • Dirt, mud, and debris
  • Trash
  • Clutter 
  • Neighbors/Other factors

Open Food And Drinks Can Attract Roaches

Cockroaches forage on white beverage cans.

Discarded food and drinks are probably one of the most common pest attractors. Cockroaches are especially liable to be attracted to these, as they can eat almost anything.

Most people also say if your food and drinks are sugary or fatty, it will attract the cockroaches even more. These act as long-term sources of calories and nutrients, which is what they look for.

Because of this, make sure that you do not have any leftover food or drinks anywhere in your home that may attract roaches.

Dirt, Mud, And Debris Draw Roaches In

Dirt, mud, and debris are also things that can easily attract roaches into your home.

These all can easily accumulate in areas of your home that are not regularly cleaned, such as behind furniture, in dark cupboards, or even in your garage.

Cockroaches are attracted to these factors because they usually also bring food, shelter, and even warmth with them.

Cleaning your areas, especially in places like your garage or room corners, is a great way to begin your process of cockroach infestation prevention. 

Cockroaches Love Trash

Similar to dirt and debris, trash can also be a big attractant for roaches. In many cases, roaches will find small piles of trash, and as it accumulates over time, they colonize the area, leaving droppings and eggs in their wake. 

Cockroaches are usually attracted to trash because it offers lots of loose food that they can live off of for weeks or months. In addition, piles of trash also provide dark shelter that can protect and hide the roaches. 

Also, much like with dirt and mud, making sure your areas are clean and free of trash piles often can help to prevent cockroaches from accumulating.

Clutter Is A Cockroach’s Best Friend

Clutter, even if it is not trash, can entice cockroaches. This can mean piles of objects such as clothes, children’s toys, yard furniture, the works.

A good rule of thumb to follow with roaches and other pests is simply to make sure they have no piles of anything on the ground they can colonize in.

Oh, and especially if they’re in your clothes – PICK THEM UP! Keeping clean will help solve a majority of your issues.

If you’re finding cockroaches inside your home, take a look at our guide on how to get roaches out of your house!

Neighbors And Other Factors

Sometimes there are factors out of our control that could also attract roaches. Many times, one large factor is if you have any neighbors around you who are irresponsible with their garbage and debris.

This often can lead to many roaches accumulating in your area, and terrorizing you and your neighbors.

Some other factors could attract roaches to your area.

One key factor is changes in weather or external conditions, such as temperature. If there are harsh changes, like a steep drop in temperature over a short period, roaches may try to find their way into your home in search of heat.

6 Simple Ways To Keep Cockroaches Away From Your Clothes

Now that we know how cockroaches function, and some things that may attract them to your belongings, we can now discuss specific methods in which you can try to repel them. Let’s get to it!

Bay Leaves Can repel Cockroaches

Similar to other smelly herbs, bay leaves are also strong cockroach repellents. The main difference is the essential oils hold the repellent compound.

This means you cannot simply put bay leaves out and call it good, as the compounds would be too weak. 

Either way, bay leaves have very strong repellent properties. Many people argue the added extra work to set up the repellent is more than worth it.

To use bay leaves to repel cockroaches, you will first have to purchase a bay leaf essential oil. You can then dilute the essential oil with water and spray it in areas that cockroaches may frequent.

Another option is to grind up fresh bay leaves and place them in satchels near cockroach sensitive areas – this will give you an even stronger scent!

Lavender is also an excellent scent to repel cockroaches with!

Coffee Grounds Keep Roaches Away

coffee grounds on spoon

Coffee grounds are another great repellent for a wide variety of insects, cockroaches included. Generally, the sheer strong and astringent smell of coffee (or possibly some other secondary compounds in the beans) is what repels insects.

To use coffee grounds, it is best to brew them first. This allows you to get a delicious cup of coffee, while also breaking some of the cell walls in the beans. After brewing, more of the active compounds are available and as strong as possible. 

Once you brew them, you can then leave them around the area of infestation. The coffee grounds will signal to cockroaches that humans are nearby and can keep them away. Additionally, the strong scent will mask other attracting scents that cockroaches love!

Cayenne, Garlic, And Onion Deter Cockroaches

Cayenne, garlic, and onion are all very effective repellents for a wide variety of insects, including roaches, silverfish, earwigs, ants, and many more. Cockroaches cannot stand the potent scents and will avoid them.

To use, you can simply put crushed garlic, onion, or cayenne pepper in the areas you would like to repel the roaches.

If the smell of the fresh crushed pepper/onion is too strong, you can also substitute this for powdered versions, which can be cleaner and a little less harsh on our noses.

Overall, using things like peppers and onions as repellent can be a great way to fix your issues on a budget, as they are far cheaper than other options like fabric softeners or essential oils.

You can read our full list of scents that roaches hate for more options!

Boric Acid Can Eliminate Cockroaches

Now, this method is for eliminating cockroaches instead of just repelling them.

Probably the most popular way to repel cockroaches, boric acid, is a surefire way to keep them out of your home. Be warned, if you do not want to harm the cockroaches, this option is probably not the best for you.

To put it simply, boric acid works to dehydrate and interrupt the digestive system and exoskeleton of many insects, including cockroaches. 

If you are looking for a boric acid repellent, Harris Roach Tablets are a great choice! They include a lure and the cockroaches will take the solution back to their nest and take out the infestation themselves.

If you do go with this method, Its usually best to go with a pre-formulated product that has instructions for you!

Keeping Cockroaches Away Long-Term

Making sure you have eradicated the infestation will most likely be a long and grueling process. Cockroaches can easily hide, survive, and reproduce over days following your attempts. 

Because of their reproductive habits, you most likely will have to monitor the area you are repelling them long-term, possibly for days, weeks, even months.

You will also most likely have to treat the area multiple times, as one treatment most likely will not get rid of everything, meaning they will simply come back again.

Using Multiple Cockroach Repellents

Like with most things, people also say using multiple repellents at once can aid in getting the cockroaches away. 

This can also mean using regular repellents such as catnip and bay leaves, alongside the more harsh bait like boric acid.

Remember, prevention is key!

That’s A Wrap!

In the end, roaches can be a tough pest to have. This is true because they are small, quick, can easily hide, and reproduce quickly with little to no resources.

Roaches can be especially hard to deal with when in clothes because they lay eggs often and eat remnants of stains. You should wash your clothes and make sure you do not make any more open piles of them.

There are a few main repellents and remedies that can help to get rid of cockroaches like garlic, coffee grounds, and cockroach traps.

Overall, dealing with roaches can take a while, so don’t waste any time and good luck with repelling them! 


Cochran, D. G., & World Health Organization. (1999). Cockroaches: their biology, distribution and control (No. WHO/CDS/CPC/WHOPES/99.3). World Health Organization.

Yoon, C., Kang, S. H., Yang, J. O., Noh, D. J., Indiragandhi, P., & Kim, G. H. (2009). Repellent activity of citrus oils against the cockroaches Blattella germanica, Periplaneta americana and P. fuliginosa. Journal of Pesticide Science, 34(2), 77-88.

Gore, J. C., Zurek, L., Santangelo, R. G., Stringham, S. M., Watson, D. W., & Schal, C. (2004). Water solutions of boric acid and sugar for management of German cockroach populations in livestock production systems. Journal of economic entomology97(2), 715-720.

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