7 Surprising Places Roaches Enter Your Home (That Aren’t Your Pantry)

published Aug 11, 2023
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puppy eating food out of bowl
Credit: Vesnaandjic by gettyimages

Spiders don’t bother me because, thanks to their dining habits, I consider them allies. I transport them outside where they belong and wish them well. Fruit flies are annoying, but not distressing, as they’re pretty easy to eradicate. But cockroaches, the zombies of kitchen pests, are the stuff of my nightmares. They refuse to die, have regenerative superpowers, and they can survive a month without food. Yikes. 

For all these reasons, it feels like a Sisyphean task to banish cockroaches once they’ve established themselves in a home. “The best strategy for the control of household cockroaches is to be proactive,” says Ian Williams, entomologist and technical services manager at Orkin. I asked him to spill the beans on all the sneaky ways these speedy vermin can enter a home, and while I can’t say the conversation was fun, I’m glad to have an expert’s intel on where to look for cockroaches. And now, you can too.

1. On that Facebook Marketplace score. 

“Some cockroaches, like the German cockroach, are primarily carried into the home,” says Williams. “Inspect items such as used furniture or appliances for cockroaches before bringing them home.” In case you were wondering, the German cockroach is the troublesome variety that can’t fly and refuses to leave, so give that used coffee maker a very thorough search before you set it up in your kitchen. 

2. With your Amazon deliveries. 

Break down those cardboard boxes and get them to the recycling ASAP, because as Williams warns, “Cardboard is a particularly comfortable harborage for German cockroaches.” And if you’re reusing cardboard boxes as drawer organizers, consider this your sign to treat yourself to a little something. 

3. In your pet’s food bowls. 

Bad news for parents of fur babies. “Pet food dishes should be maintained, cleaned, and stored properly,” says Williams, or they will attract the sort of creatures you definitely don’t want to pet. 

4. In the neglected space under your appliances. 

“Cockroaches are attracted by their need for food, moisture, and a temperature-friendly environment that provides protection and shelter,” says Williams, making your large appliances a safe harbor for them — especially if there are crumbs lingering there. I’ll be the first to admit I do not clean under my refrigerator, dishwasher, or oven as often as I should, but after chatting with Williams, my calendar now regularly pings me with, “Clean under appliances or you’ll live with ROACHES!” No greater motivator than fear, I say. 

5. In your blender, food processor, and other small appliances. 

If cockroaches love your big appliances, think of the small ones as their version of vandwelling. This means — even though it’s a hassle — you must clean the bases of your small appliances every time you use them, not just the parts you can toss in the dishwasher. 

6. Around that plumbing leak you’ve been meaning to fix. 

Cockroaches love moisture, remember? And they can only live a week without water, so making sure your kitchen is dry is a really effective preventative measure. They’re big fans of drains, too, and while it’s impossible to keep your drain dry all the time, regular cleaning will help. 

7. In your overflowing trash can and compost bin.

Store your compost in the freezer, take the trash out often, and clean the bin regularly. Is this starting to feel like a full-time job yet? 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed just reading this list, know that you can always call in a professional to help. Williams says, “[Professionals] can often get a situation under control quickly and work to help ensure it doesn’t happen again.” But if you want to save money, avoid stress, and you’re able to put the work in, the best offense is a good defense. 

Have you seen these unwelcome visitors in any surprising places? Let us know in the comments.