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7 Mistakes You're Making That Attract Roaches to Your Home

You know not to let your garbage pile up, but here are other errors that could attract roaches.

While no one wants to see a cockroach scurrying across the floor of their home, it's sometimes inevitable. "Roaches are generally looking for three basic things: food, water, and a dark place with peace and quiet," Steve Durham, owner of EnviroCon Termite & Pest in Texas, tells Best Life. Not letting your dishes pile up, keeping food stored tightly, and cleaning regularly are all things that can keep roaches out, but it may not be enough. Ahead, Durham and other pest experts explain some common mistakes you might be making that attract roaches to your home. Read on for their advice.

RELATED: 7 Sneaky Signs Roaches Are Hiding in Your Home.

Leaving towels out after your shower

towels on floor, get rid of kids stuff

Carol Wilson, home decor writer at You Comfort, notes that, like humans, roaches need water to survive. Items such as damp bathmats, wet towels, and laundry piles can give them both a source of water and a place to hide.

Therefore, Wilson says it's important to ensure that areas prone to moisture, like bathrooms and kitchens, are well-ventilated and dry. Make sure to empty your hampers or hang your linens to dry. Leaving them in a ball or pile on the floor is an invitation for roaches.

Overlooking the bathroom trash

Rose gold bathroom garbage

At first blush, the trash can in your bathroom may not seem nearly as enticing to a cockroach as the bin in your kitchen filled to the brim with scraps of food. But according to experts, neglecting to empty them frequently could be creating a place for roaches to get comfortable, especially if the trash cans don't have a lid.

"Always make sure to take these out frequently since the garbage makes an excellent place for roaches to hide out," says Richard Estrada, owner of ATCO Pest Control. "They can sneak into the dark crevices in between trash only to come out at night, and with easy access to water and food in your bathroom, it's the perfect place for them to live."

Experts suggest tidying up even seemingly small messes whenever you go to change the trash—even if it's something that doesn't seem like it could be appealing to a cockroach. "Ensure that you're cleaning up any toothpaste, soap, or sanitation products, as well as cleaning your toilet because roaches will use anything like a free meal," Durham warns.

RELATED: 9 Cleaning Habits That Attract Spiders.

Not checking for leaks or maintenance issues

young white woman fixing leaking pipe
Shutterstock /

Another way to deny roaches something to drink is to take care of any longstanding maintenance issues plaguing your sink, dishwasher, toilet, shower, or bathtub.

"Ensure you don't have a leaky faucet that creates pools of water for roaches or a leak from your toilet that allows a convenient watering hole for these pests," advises Donnie Shelton, owner of Triangle Pest Control.

And it's not just leaks: Gaps between walls and plumbing could be creating a superhighway for roaches if left unattended.

"You should ensure that you are sealing any holes and crevices around your drain pipes with silicon caulk, wrapping insulation foam and tape around any pipes that produce condensation, and consider using a rubber drain cover or metal drain screen overnight to ensure cockroaches aren't slipping into your bathroom," David Floyd, founder of ThePestInformer, recommends.

Neglecting to repair cracks and gaps

Person Sealing Cracks in Home
Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

Not only can roaches enter your home through crevices around pipes, but any unsealed cracks and gaps in walls, windows, and doors can provide entry for American cockroaches.

"These pests are opportunistic and can infiltrate homes through even small openings, seeking shelter and warmth. Perform a 'light-leak' test on all exterior windows and doors," advises Hanewich.

RELATED: 8 Foods That Are Attracting Mice Inside Your Home.

Leaving pet food out

Pet food left outside

Roaches aren't picky when it comes to their meals. "Leaving pet food or water dishes out overnight, outside or in the garage, is a common mistake that attracts American cockroaches to homes," says Lorne Hanewich, corporate trainer at Clark's Termite & Pest Control.

Like any other pantry essentials, it's key to keep your pet's food in tightly sealed containers. Removing food and water bowls from the ground when your pet is finished can also help to avoid roach encounters.

Keeping clutter around

Cluttered Basement
Eleanor McDonie/Shutterstock

Because cockroaches thrive in dark, secluded areas, it's crucial to declutter any places that can act as hiding spots.

"Excessive clutter in basements or attics can create ideal hiding places for American cockroaches," says Hanewich, who adds that the German species can get in through old cardboard boxes or secondhand furniture.

RELATED: 4 Soaps and Scents That Repel Mosquitoes, Experts Say.

Not eliminating previous infestations

cockroach crawling on wooden surface

If you've had a previous pest infestation, whether it's roaches, mice, or something else entirely, it's key to make sure any traces of that invasion are completely terminated.

Molly Keck, integrated pest management program specialist and board-certified entomologist at Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, notes that exclusion is a key principle for large roaches that come in from outdoors.

"However, smaller species like the German cockroach are generally brought in from items that were infested in another location," Keck explains. This can be especially true if you move from an infested space to a new home, or move into an apartment where your neighbors may have roaches.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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