Whether a homeowner, an apartment renter or even someone staying in a hotel room for just one night, the sight of a cockroach can send some people into a state of panic immediately. After all, they are harbingers of bacteria and diseases, and usually signal that there's a mess somewhere in the infested space, which is what often attracts them.
It's not uncommon to find cockroaches in rooms of the home where there are sinks and drains, such as the bathroom, kitchen or laundry room. Because roaches can crawl through and enter the home through drain pipes and faucets, it's essential that you know how to get rid of them if you see any in your home — and prevent them from returning.
Before you can begin to understand why roaches tend to linger in certain rooms of your home, such as bathrooms and kitchens, it helps to know a bit about roaches and a few of their common habits.
First, cockroaches are very dirty bugs that are known to carry germs and bacteria, some of which can trigger allergic and asthmatic reactions in some people. Roaches are typically found in spaces where food, crumbs or garbage are easily available, and they are especially attracted to beer, most likely for the hops and sugar found within it.
The cockroach is highly adaptable to just about any situation, can withstand extreme heat and cold temperatures, and is able to run extremely fast for an animal of its size — about 3 miles per hour, which gives it plenty of time to cover a lot of ground in any one area.
One thing that's specific to cockroaches is their tendency to live around water. Often referred to as the waterbug, roaches are actually able to hold their breath underwater for about 40 minutes. In fact, most roaches will die due to a lack of hydration over a lack of food — these bugs can go for about one month without eating anything, but can't live for more than about a week without water.
They can even live without their heads for up to one week and can breathe just fine, thanks to minor perforations in their segmented bodies. But the lack of water is what ultimately kills them, which is why many roaches can be found in traditionally wet areas like showers and sinks.
Roaches and Bathrooms
One of the most common areas of the home to find cockroaches is the bathroom because the bathroom has cracks or holes for roaches to crawl through, such as the spaces between tubs and tile floors in need of racaulking. You may have seen roaches in the bathroom at night, seen them scurry off into any dark recesses they can find once you flip on the light switch, or maybe you even found a cockroach in the toilet.
These bugs commonly congregate in these spaces because roaches are usually attracted to warm, humid climates. This is why you'll see more of them in certain areas of the country that boast hotter weather, such as southeastern states. And because the bathroom is where people linger in hot baths and showers, that's where they usually appear indoors.
Roaches and Kitchens
Like the alluring warmth and humidity of the shower or bathtub, the kitchen sink or dishwasher is also a common spot for cockroaches to congregate. In addition to the warm water found in the kitchen sink, areas where food may be found or spilled, such as the refrigerator, garbage can, kitchen floor and even the garbage disposal is almost an invitation for roaches to come in and feast.
In old houses and apartment buildings, especially ones in large, aging cities, it's not uncommon to see cockroaches crawling out of the drain in kitchen sinks, even if everything on the surface is spotless and clean. In cases like these, an overwhelming infestation is usually present elsewhere, such as the basement or boiler room, which may offer roaches easy access to pipes that lead straight into the place you reside.
Because these bugs are so adept at surviving in and around water, crawling through pipes and emerging through faucets and drains is absolutely something a cockroach is capable of doing. You might be tempted to run the water in your sink to flush them down the sink hole or toss them into the toilet bowl and flush them down your pipes.
This may get rid of that particular roach right now, but because roaches can survive underwater for over half an hour at a time, flushing cockroaches won't kill them and will do very little to prevent it from returning. In order to tackle your cockroach problem, you'll need to exterminate existing roaches and prevent new ones from returning.
How to Treat Cockroaches
No matter where you have roaches or why you have them in the first place, the problem must be treated as roach infestations very rarely ever resolve on their own. First thing's first, make sure you clean every area of your home that you can easily reach and take special care to keep all food wrapped and put away, sweep up any crumbs, sweep and wipe down your pantry and cabinets, and wash your dishes as soon after you use them as possible.
If you still notice roaches entering your home through sinks and drains, removing the drain cover and pouring a chemical insecticide is your best course of action for removing the bugs. After you've poured your solution, be sure to replace the original drain cover with a cover than has smaller holes that roaches won't be able to fit through, as some are sure to survive the poisoning and will try to crawl out of the drain to safety.
If you still notice roaches inside your home, or crawling out of your shower or sink drains, repair any leaky or dripping faucets, which can attract bugs through the moisture. Also try setting a roach trap near the drain or point of entry may help you eliminate roaches. To keep your home areas less attractive to roaches, be sure to properly ventilate your bathroom after you've taken a hot shower or bath by running a fan and opening windows and doors.
Do your best to keep any wet areas as dry as possible after using them, such as the kitchen sink after washing dishes, which should be wiped down with a clean, dry towel. A drain cover can be placed over drains at night, which is when roaches tend to enter our spaces. And be sure to clean your kitchen sink pipes and garbage disposals with a cleaner on a regular basis, as old food particles can attract roaches.
If the roach problem is chronic, the help of a professional exterminator will likely be your best bet, although multiple treatments to various areas of your home or building may be necessary.