Why Apartments Get Roaches (8 Vital Facts + Handy Tips!)

The cockroach is an incredible animal that can run around without its head, lives for weeks without food (handy when you are headless), and is radiation-resistant.

Remarkable as that is for the cockroach, no one wants to share an apartment with them.

why do apartments have cockroaches

1. Why Do Cockroaches Live In Apartments?

Your apartment suits you by providing shelter from the elements, security, a place to sleep, and access to food and drink.

Cockroaches like all these things about your apartment. Some species of cockroach prefer the comforts of apartment living to the cold and dangerous wilds.

Cockroaches like warm, damp, and dark spaces and eat almost anything, including poop and dead cockroaches.

Cockroaches find an apartment attractive living space with plentiful access to food and plenty of comfortable places to live and breed.

2. How Do Cockroaches Get Into Your Apartment?

The cockroach can fly, climb, and squeeze through tiny cracks. When a cockroach searches for a place to live, it has plenty of options.

A cockroach can get into an apartment complex through:

  • Foundation cracks.
  • Damage in sidings.
  • Gaps in window or door frames.
  • Open doors and windows.
  • Parcels and other packaging.
  • Waste Chutes.
  • Ventilation panels.
  • Clothing.

If there is a gap, a roach can squeeze through it, and because cockroaches can fly, they can come through the windows.

Most apartment cockroaches either get carried in or walk from a neighboring apartment.

3. How Do You Deal with Cockroaches?

Dealing with cockroaches means killing all the cockroaches and their eggs inside your apartment and ensuring that no new cockroaches can move in to replace them.

In practice, you need a combination of actions and strategies to stay on top of the issue.

Stay on Top of Maintenance

Although you don’t maintain the entire apartment complex, if you notice potential damage that may provide an entry point for cockroaches, chase up the people responsible for maintenance.

In your apartment, fix any cracks or gaps in your walls, windows, floors, ceilings, and door frames to stop any routes from other apartments into yours.

Watch for water leaks and ensure you don’t provide damp habitats for cockroaches.

Keep a Clean Apartment

Although cockroaches will occupy a clean apartment as readily as a dirty one, keeping your apartment clean means:

  • You minimize ready access to food.
  • You spot signs cockroaches are sharing your living space.
  • You reduce potential hiding spots by removing clutter.

Keep Your Apartment Cool

Cockroaches like it hot, so keeping a cool apartment makes it less attractive for cockroaches to settle in for an extended stay.

In hot summer, it is more comfortable for you to be in a cool apartment and less comfortable for the cockroach.

Lock Away Your Food

Enclosing all food in sealed boxes prevents cockroaches from eating and contaminating your food.

Sealed fridges and freezers are cockroach proof, but you need to ensure you don’t accidentally introduce a cockroach to the inside.

A cockroach will not survive in the freezer but finding a frozen cockroach in your peas is distressing for everyone.

In a fridge, a cockroach may live in the warmer motor and take trips to sample the food.

Storing all food in airtight containers limits access to food. Canned foods, jars, and sealed boxes keep your food free from contamination.

Before you replace jars of food in cupboards, ensure the lids are tight and wipe them clean. Dry foods like rice or flour need to be inside sealed containers.

If you have roaches in your apartment, any food left exposed in a vegetable rack or fruit bowl may be contaminated by a visit from a cockroach when you aren’t looking.

Use Deterrents Routinely

Regular use of pesticides isn’t healthy for you and your family, but there are natural deterrents you can use as part of your routine cleaning.

The cockroach’s keen sense of smell allows it to home in on suitable food.

There are natural scents that have a repellant effect on cockroaches, and the most effective include:

  • Eucalyptus – use ten drops of oil in 3 oz water for a spray to treat infested areas or cracks where cockroaches can hide during the day.
  • Peppermint – add ten drops of essential oil to water in a spray bottle for a fresh-smelling repellant.
  • Catnip – the active ingredient nepetalactone will send your cockroaches scurrying away and won’t be keen on returning. You can use dried herb sachets or essential oil in water.
  • Garlic – the pungent smell is repulsive to cockroaches, and garlic granules and cloves are readily available.
  • Tea Tree – you only need four drops in your spray bottle of water to create a toxic (for cockroaches) spray.
  • Bay leaves – contain eucalyptol and are a general bug repellant. Fresh leaves are best so consider growing bay as a cockroach repellant house plant. You can create a paste for treating cracks and crevices.
  • Oregano – is another strong-smelling herb that cockroaches dislike. Best applied as an essential oil in water.
  • Cedar – clothes chests of cedar keep your clothes bug free. Cedar oil is toxic to cockroaches and can kill on contact. Cedar chips are readily available and ideal for treating your mattress and bed frame and under the sink.
  • Citronella – use the essential oil in a spray rather than a candle.
  • Beta Pinene – an oil you get from pine needles that smells fresh and repels cockroaches.
  • Thyme – like mint, thyme is a natural bug repellant, and you can use the essential oil or the dried herb.
  • Basil – contains linalool, and you can use the essential oil in a spray or a fresh herb.

Except for cedar, all these are repellants and are ineffective at getting cockroaches out of your apartment.

Once you’ve eradicated cockroaches in your apartment, they effectively convince them not to enter. These are only effective when they put scent into the air, and you need to renew the smell weekly.

Other household products in your cleaning kit are equally effective at repelling cockroaches:

  • Vinegar – is an excellent disinfectant and will repel some cockroaches. Add a few drops of cedar, tea tree, or Beta Pinene to your mixture to increase its effectiveness.
  • Bleach – a strong solution of ½ cup bleach with one cup of water will kill cockroaches on contact and provide a strong-smelling deterrent. Bleach is an excellent all-purpose cleaner.

Treat Your Drains

Mixing one cup of bleach and three cups of water is a cockroach-killing solution for your drains – shower, sinks, and baths.

Mix and pour down the drain immediately, and the solution kills any cockroaches in contact, and the scent deters more cockroaches from moving in.

The best time to treat your drains is at night before bed. Cockroaches come out at night, and drains are one of their favorite places to hide and breed.

The problem with consistently using bleach in your drains is the potential for corrosion and reaction with other chemicals.

This technique is best when you are having a cockroach purge and deep cleaning the entire apartment.

Invest In Proprietary Products

Products to help deal with your cockroaches split into:

  • Consumption – gel products that cockroaches eat and subsequently die. A high-quality product will kill the cockroaches that eat the gel and the cockroaches that eat the bodies.

Cockroach Killer Gel

  • Contact – sprays that kill on contact with live cockroaches and act as a killing barrier to wandering cockroaches.

Cockroach Killer Spray

  • Traps – a variety of designs; these traps use bait to attract the cockroaches into the trap so you can remove the cockroaches from your apartment. Some traps are single-use, and others are reusable as a permanent process for eliminating cockroaches.

Cockroach Trap

  • Electronic devices – these plug-in devices send out a signal that repels cockroaches (and other pests), avoiding regular spraying and toxic chemicals.

Electronic Cockroach Killer

Hire a Professional

A professional team will assess the severity of your cockroach issue and provide a quote for complete eradication.

As part of the service, you will get assistance to prevent reinfestation.

The range of treatments varies. You may need to vacate your apartment for a couple of days for complete fumigation with an insecticide.

4. Are Cockroaches an Issue for Humans?

Unfortunately, whatever your principles sharing a living space with cockroaches is not a healthy option because they spread diseases and bacteria.

Living with roaches exposes you to bacteria, fungi, and viruses that cause:

  • Wound and other infections – that harmless scratch can turn nasty.
  • Urinary tract infection.
  • Gastroenteritis.
  • Food poisoning.
  • Conjunctivitis.
  • Gas gangrene.
  • Abscesses.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Leprosy.
  • Septic arthritis.
  • Respiratory infection.
  • Typhoid.
  • Dysentery.
  • Sepsis.
  • Pneumonia.
  • Trachoma – leading cause of blindness.
  • Plague.
  • Worms – seven species that infect humans.
  • Fungi that is a lead cause of polio.
  • Antibiotic-resistant parasites cause fever, green nasal discharge, and pain.
  • E- Coli infections.
  • Salmonellosis.
  • Cholera.
  • Campylobacteriosis.
  • Listeriosis.
  • Asthma.
  • Skin allergies.

Cockroaches transmit disease-causing bacteria, fungi, and viruses through:

  • Droppings on surfaces and food.
  • Saliva left when eating.
  • Vomit while eating.
  • Contact with live or dead bodies.
  • Contact with body parts.
  • Inhalation of cockroach particles in the air.

The cockroach bite is venomous, and if a cockroach is close enough to bite you, it is also close enough to expose you to disease.

In addition to eliminating cockroaches from your apartment, practice safe hygiene by regularly cleaning all surfaces with a sanitizing product and regularly washing your hands.

5. Does the Species Matter?

There are more than 4,500 species of cockroach, but not all of them are potential home invaders.

Some species evolved to live in homes, and others can live in the wild or your apartment.

The two home-living cockroaches are German Roaches and Brown-banded Roaches, and they only live in human habitation.

German Roaches

The name is not a clue to the origin; although identified in Europe, these originate from South Asia.

It is smaller than other cockroaches and will happily eat almost anything in your home, from cardboard to biscuit crumbs.

An infestation that starts with one egg can swell to 30,000 in a year.

If you have asthma, these cockroaches produce plenty of allergens that trigger attacks.

Brown Banded Cockroaches

Like the human bedbug, these only live with humans.

They are tiny (under half an inch) and can hide in furniture, ceiling fixtures, and tiny, almost invisible cracks.

You may be living with thousands of these creatures before noticing them. Millions of years of evolving with humans mean they carry more bacteria that impact your health than other species.

Then there are the cockroaches that can live outside but prefer to live inside – American roaches, Oriental cockroaches, and the Smoky Brown Cockroach.

American Roach

The American roach originated in the Middle East and Africa and is a terrifying two inches.

They like dark, warm corners in your apartment, and the females don’t need a mate to produce healthy clutches of eggs.

Oriental Cockroach

This shiny, black cockroach originated in Africa and is a more modest one inch.

This breed loves drains and sewers, and frankly, they stink.

If you have a musty cockroach smell in your apartment, you probably have oriental cockroaches hanging out in your drains.

Smoky Brown Cockroaches

These are the least likely cockroaches in your apartment unless you are on the ground floor.

They are attracted to standing, stagnant water and are the cockroach that flies in through the window.

Whatever cockroach species you find in your apartment, you will want to eliminate them and deter a reinfestation.

6. Is It So Bad Your Need to Find a New Apartment?

Cockroaches are resilient and opportunistic; if allowed to breed, the infestation can rise to horrifying levels in a few months.

You may need to vacate your apartment for up to a week to enable a complete elimination by a professional team.

Still, using standard products, you can deep clean your apartment and remove the roaches for smaller outbreaks.

The main issue in an apartment block is reinfestation from colonies in your neighboring apartments.

If you live in a country or climate where cockroaches are common and the winters are relatively mild, then cockroach infestations are everywhere.

The best approach is to eliminate an existing infestation and take preventative measures to avoid reinfestation.

In some countries, a routine annual visit from the exterminators while you are on holiday ranks as regular maintenance.

Suppose you rent an apartment and find that your bill to fight cockroaches is higher than your rent (or a significant portion). In that case, you may be better off finding an apartment block with a more proactive approach to cockroach eradication.

If you own an apartment, raise the cockroach issue with your Homeowners Association, as it is a communal issue for everyone to prevent an infestation.

7. How Can You Spot a Cockroaches Infestation?

The signs of a cockroach infestation are:

  • Distinctive smell.
  • Brown-black cylindrical droppings.
  • Brown smears at the bottom of a wall.
  • Shed skins.

The best way of identifying cockroaches in your apartment before they become established is to use traps in the most likely places.

If you routinely clean and spray your apartment, you can use sticky traps to see what pests are running around your apartment at night.

Insect Sticky Trap

8. What About Natural Predators?

Part of why some cockroaches like living with humans is the absence of natural predators (if you don’t count humans armed with a spray can of insecticide).

In the wild, lizards, larger birds, opossums, and some predatory insects add cockroaches to their menu.

If you have a pet monitor lizard, don’t be tempted to add cockroaches from under the sink to their bowl because there is always the possibility that the cockroach has eaten poison.

Most people routinely poison cockroaches, and the cockroaches running around your apartment may die.

Inside your apartment, some spiders, centipedes, and rodents (mice and rats) will eat cockroaches, but these animals tend to class as vermin.


Cockroaches can infest homes worldwide, but they tend to be a more consistent issue in hot countries.

The answer to eliminating cockroaches from your apartment is to stay clean but remain vigilant for these unwelcome visitors.

You can use preventative measures, but if these fail, reach for the insecticide while the problem is minor. If you get a significant infestation (it can happen quickly), involve a professional team.

Cockroaches aren’t a personal failing; they get into the best homes by hitching a ride in parcels, bags, and coats.

Be aware of the signs of cockroaches in your apartment and act fast to evict them before they settle in.