What Attracts Cockroaches to My Home?


It’s demoralizing to rid a home of a cockroach invasion only to experience another intrusion soon after. Yet, most people unwittingly do things to attract these unwelcome insects. This no-nonsense piece answers the common questions: what attracts cockroaches to my home, and how do they enter? It also looks at practical ways to deter these critters from gaining access in the first place.

4 Reasons to Rid Your Home of Roaches

The variety of cockroaches found in American homes has a menacing appeal but rarely bite. These shy creatures live in the shadows, mostly out of human sight. One of the signs of a large roach infestation is an unpleasant musky oily smell. But the biggest problem is the harmful bacteria and diseases a roach can carry and spread. They can even aggravate allergies, especially in kids.

Below are 4 reasons to eliminate a roach invasion at its source as quickly as possible:

  1. Potentially harmful to human health
  2. The insects multiply extremely fast
  3. Contaminate the food they contact
  4. Roaches can make a mess of walls and floors

A residence overrun by cockroaches doesn’t mean sickness is inevitable. However, occupants should embrace extra stringent hygiene measures until the home is free of these pests.

How to protect food from roaches

It’s worth expanding on point 4 above. Roaches can easily chew through sealed food packets. Dry foods that contain sugar, starch, and flour are especially attractive to these critters. Throw out any bread, pasta, rice, or cereals, etc., if you see roaches or suspect they’ve gotten to the food. Typical signs are tiny roach droppings nearby or holes and tears in paper, cardboard boxes, and plastic.

There are two occasions when you should store food in cockroach-proof containers. One is when you have—or suspect—an invasion, and the other is when you don’t. The latter is a precaution.

Why Are Roaches in My Clean Home?

It’s true; cockroaches prefer homes that offer a plentiful supply of food and water. It’s why households with lower hygiene standards have such a problem with bugs and pest control.

Roaches will find out-of-sight food crumbs on floors and behind kitchen appliances. They love to feed off the surface of unwashed dishes and chew through weak food packaging. Dirty carpets can also trigger a cockroach feeding frenzy after the occupants are tucked up in bed. Despite these favored conditions, a roach invasion is not unique to homes with subpar cleaning standards (see next).

Homes that attract roaches

Cockroaches only nest in homes that allow them to thrive. Those conditions include:

  1. A regular food supply
  2. Regular moisture
  3. Hidden shelter, e.g., seldom-used cabinets, under skinks, dark nooks & crannies
  4. Warmth

Your house may be clean, and your hygiene standards high. But if you have a growing roach infestation, then there are reasons behind it. Let’s look at the above points in more detail.

#1 Regular food supply matters

Roaches have preferred foods, but they’re not fussy eaters. Seriously, these insects will eat anything and everything. That includes cardboard, hair, soap, human excrement, wallpaper paste, and book bindings. The list goes on. So, even a spotlessly clean home has a potential food supply for the hungry roach. They prefer easy access to human fare, but they can adjust their diet to whatever’s on offer.

#2 Moisture matters

A cockroach cannot survive for long without moisture. Thus, water is one of the vital attractions for the insects as they look to nest in structures. Any home that has leaking faucets or pipes catches the attention of these pests. It doesn’t need to be a noticeable drip, either. Slight yet constant dampness around joints, or an area of persistent condensation, is usually enough.

Check your pipes and faucets for leaks if you see roaches in the laundry room, kitchen, or restroom. Also, think about any water left out regularly overnight in sinks, pet bowls, or plant saucers.

#3 Shelter matters

All cockroaches need shelter and a place to hide, whether they live indoors or outside. Human homes offer lots of dry, safe, sheltered spaces for roach nests. It’s one of the reasons we see an increase in invasions during times of heavy rainfall. All they need to survive is a dark, warm, dry space that’s close to a constant supply of food and moisture. Many US households unknowingly check all the above.

Disorganized homes where regular cleaning is not a priority offer the best environment. Even so, a cleaner place does just fine if there are roaches nearby that need to shelter from the elements.

#4 Roaches need warmth

The American and German species found in US homes and other structures do not like the cold. They also breed more in humid, warm temperatures, and breed fast. It’s why these heat-seeking cold-blooded insects prefer homes to outbuildings during a cold winter. The ideal temperature range is 77–86°F. Spaces that are consistently below 77°F are not attractive to cockroaches.

How to Prevent a Roach Invasion

A roach infestation can affect any home at any time. The bigger the nest, the harder it is to get rid of using over-the-counter products. Sometimes, the only solution is to call a professional pest control service. Prevention, therefore, is always a better option than cure. Below are some practical anti-roach tips to help keep your home free of this unwelcome critter.

Use the DIY suggestions below to form an anti-roach check and maintenance schedule:

  • Find and seal any exterior cracks, gaps, and crevices, even tiny ones
  • Check faucets and pipes for minor leaks and repair as necessary
  • Insulate (lag) any pipes prone to condensation
  • Don’t leave water standing out at night
  • Avoid overwatering houseplants
  • Never leave unwashed dishes (including pet bowels) out overnight
  • Always wipe down kitchen counters, stoves, and grills after meals
  • Sweep hard floors every day, vacuum carpets and rugs once a week
  • Clean under the refrigerator monthly or more often if you have an invasion

It’s a good idea to remove temptation away from the house. Keep any compost heaps and firewood well clear from the main building. Don’t leave clutter or garbage close to the backdoor if possible, and always seal the lid. Lastly, tidy, well-maintained yards, gardens, and lawns are also good deterrents.

How to Deter a Roach Invasion

Okay, your home is well-maintained, and you’ve done a lot to prevent roaches from coming in. There are no 100% guarantees, but you can get close to it. The suggestions above are effective measures that don’t take too much time or effort. You may also want to add a final layer of defense to discourage any pests that may lurk around your perimeter walls.

There are natural and chemical roach deterrents that can stop the insects from hiding out in buildings. All you do is place them in the most vulnerable areas around the home, inside and outdoors. Opt for chemical-free, all-natural deterrents if you have young children or pets at home.

You can read more about all-natural roach deterrents and repellants here.


Simon Mann is a "handy man" to have around the house. Although he was a trained carpenter he went on to become a VP of a construction company. Any pest or DIY problem you may have, he always seems to come up with the right solution.

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