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Why Do I Have Roaches in My Clean House? What To Check First

A light-brown cockroach walking across a clean, white surface.

No one likes finding roaches in their house, but it can be especially troubling for people who go out of their way to keep their house clean in the hopes of avoiding these disgusting critters.

Common sense tells us that dirty houses are more likely to attract roaches, so why do they sometimes end up in clean houses?

Why do I have roaches in my clean house? If you have roaches in your clean house, it might be because:

  • There’s access to food.
  • Strong smells are luring them.
  • You have a leaky pipe.
  • They’re seeking warmth.
  • Your home is cluttered, giving them places to hide.
  • They’re entering through cracks in the home.

Let’s examine what attracts roaches to clean homes, how to find and eliminate them, and how to prevent them from returning.

Knowledge is power. Click here to read through all of our key roach tips, facts, prevention guides, and elimination strategies.

Why Do Clean Homes Get Roaches?

Roaches are synonymous with filth, and a roach infestation can be more than annoying—it can be embarrassing.

But the truth is, even clean homes can become infested with roaches, especially apartments.

If there are roaches in your home, then they were attracted by something—even if that something was just the opportunity of an open window.

There Is Available Food

It goes without saying that roaches are attracted by food, but if you keep a pretty clean house, it might not be clear what the food sources are.

Roaches can make a meal out of even the tiniest amounts of food, so to eliminate their food sources:

  • Sweep kitchen and dining area daily.
  • Take out the trash regularly.
  • Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink.
  • Wipe down counters and stove tops nightly.
  • Don’t leave dog or cat food out at night.

It might sound like a pain to have to be so meticulous, but saving yourself the trouble of a roach infestation makes it more than worth it.

There Are Strong Smells

Roaches are attracted to strong smells that tell them there might be something worth checking out, like:

  • Garbage.
  • Rotting food.
  • Dirty drains and garbage disposals.

Smells that we think are disgusting are prime indicators to roaches that there’s something tasty available.

There Is Water or Moisture

There’s a reason that it’s common to find roaches in bathrooms and under sinks—they’re attracted to water. Common water sources include:

  • Leaky pipes.
  • Standing water (sinks, tubs, laundry areas, pet water bowls).

Roaches can live for weeks without food but only a few days without water, so cutting off their water source is a sure way to make things less hospitable for them.

They Are Seeking Warmth

As temperatures start to drop in late fall, roaches may venture into your home simply for warmth and shelter, even if your house is spotless and provides no other attractants.

There Is Excess Clutter

Roaches love to hang out and reproduce in dark crevasses, like in between stocks of cardboard.

Even if a house is clean, clutter can attract them, so it might be time to pull a Marie Kondo and clear your home of excess.

Roaches Have Easy Access

Roaches are creatures of opportunity, and if they find an easily accessible home, they’re going in. Make sure to:

  • Seal up any cracks.
  • Apply weatherstripping to doors and windows.
  • Keep windows closed at night.

Cockroaches can flatten themselves to fit in even the thinnest cracks, so you really can’t go overboard when it comes to eliminating entry points.

How to Find and Eliminate Roaches From a Clean Home

Once you’ve taken care of everything listed above that might be attracting roaches to your home, it’s time to find and eliminate roaches that are already there.

Look for Signs of Roaches

There are a few telltale signs to look for to find roaches and figure out where they’re spending most of their time:

  • Roaches: The most obvious sign of an infestation is seeing multiple roaches or baby roaches (discover why here). Seeing a roach during the daytime is a sign of an extreme infestation since they only come out during the day if they’re desperate due to overcrowding.
  • Feces: Roach poop can range from tiny, pepper-like specks to larger pellets similar to mouse droppings or even brown stains. (Learn the differences between mouse and roach poop here.)
  • Cast skins and egg casings: You’ll usually find these in hidden areas like the undersides of furniture or drawers.

Once you have an idea of where the high traffic areas are, you’ll be better able to effectively place roach bait.

Find and Remove the Roach Nest

If you’ve found any of the signs listed above, you might already have a good idea of what area of your home the nest is in.

Look in dark, warm, or moist areas like:

  • Kitchen cabinets.
  • Behind refrigerators.
  • Under the fridge or in appliance motors.
  • Crawl spaces.

Once you find the nest, completely remove it and all feces, egg casings, and other traces.

Don’t worry. Although these bugs are gross, roaches usually won’t bite (we explain more here) and aren’t capable of stinging.

Lay Down Roach Bait or Traps

Some people like to use a fogger (you’ll find the best foggers here) to broadcast fine particles throughout a room and eliminate even the roaches that are well hidden.

However, the step most people are familiar with in roach elimination is laying down traps and bait. These can come in many forms:

If you’re able to, identifying the type of cockroaches you have will help you get the most effective bait or trap. It often helps to use more than one type too.

Be sure to check out our complete elimination guide “How To Get Rid of Roaches” for both natural and pesticide solutions.

Hire an Exterminator

If your infestation is out of control or you’re not making headway no matter what you do, it’s usually a good idea to call an exterminator.

They’re specially trained to locate and destroy roaches and have access to more potent pesticides than are commercially available.

How to Keep Roaches Away From a Clean Home

Now that you know how to get rid of cockroaches, it might help take a look at ways to keep them from coming back.

Clean Well and Often

The cleaner your home is, the easier it will be to prevent roaches and spot infestations early.

  • Keep food put away.
  • Clean up spills immediately.
  • Don’t leave dishes in the sink overnight.
  • Make sure to wipe down countertops and sweep floors before going to bed.

The less food there is to find, the less likely roaches will call your place home.

Also, consider adding a few essential oils to your cleaning routine. Some are effective repellents, while others are considered toxic to roaches.

In this article, you’ll learn which essential oils are best to use for eliminating roaches from your home and disinfecting surfaces after they’re gone.

Remove Clutter

Removing clutter does more than make you feel good—it also removes the common places that roaches like to hide, sleep, and breed.

Homes with lots of junk to hide under or between are cockroach playgrounds.

Excess clutter not only makes a home more appealing to roaches, but it makes them more difficult to spot and eliminate quickly.

Secure Your Home

Ensure that there are no cracks or crevices that will make your home an easy target for roaches.

Look out for:

  • Uncovered drains.
  • Holes under sinks.
  • Crevices under electrical plates and light switches.
  • Broken window screens or cracks between the screen and frame.
  • Excessive cracks under exterior doors.

Roaches can fit into the tiniest spaces imaginable, so if you’re not sure if a spot is worth sealing, it probably is.

Repair Leaky Pipes

Leaky pipes are among the major factors that attract roaches to a home, providing them with an unlimited water supply.

Make sure to call a plumber or fix leaky pipes yourself as soon as you notice them. Don’t wait for them to get worse—the roaches sure won’t wait.

Treat Your Home Regularly

It might be worth considering having your home preemptively sprayed for roaches a few times a year, rather than waiting for an infestation to take place.

You can also lay down and change out bait stations or glue traps every six months or so.

See our article “Best Roach Killer” for more options to use in your battle against these creepy pests.

Final Thoughts

Although eliminating a roach infestation can be frustrating, it is possible to do, so keep at it and know that you’ll gain the upper hand eventually. 

If your infestation is really out of control or your efforts don’t seem to be making a difference, it might be time to call a professional.

Once the problem is taken care of, you’ll be able to keep them away for good using the tips above.