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Keep cockroaches out of your home

A fully-grown cockroach has a flattened brown oval body with long spiny legs and measures 15mm (3/4") in length. Roaches can be brought into the home in the form of egg cases that have been laid in groceries, rugs, used appliances, etc. They are not always a sign of poor housekeeping.

Should I be concerned?

Cockroaches rarely cause structural damage. They can, however, contaminate food and spread disease by walking over, and excreting on, food or food preparation areas after having travelled through garbage and/or sewers. People with asthma may have a negative reaction to their droppings (feces) and body parts.

Cockroaches will live in any area where food, water, and shelter are available. They are attracted to buildings because of the warm, damp conditions offered by kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and plumbing areas.  Once inside a building, they travel quite easily. Because cockroaches are most active at night, they may go unnoticed for some time. Cockroaches are attracted to food sources that contain starches, sugars, and protein, but will eat almost anything when hungry.

How can I get rid of cockroaches?

Intensive cleaning measures and pesticides should be used jointly to control cockroaches. Pesticides alone will not be successful, since the living environment must be physically changed first.


Preventing access to food, water, and shelter, and keeping a clean home are important steps in preventing any pest infestation.

  • Clean up spills immediately. Do not leave pet water and food out 24 hours a day.
  • Keep food in tightly sealed plastic or glass containers, rather than in paper or cardboard that roaches can chew through and lay eggs in. 
  • Regularly clean dark and/or damp areas close to a food source (for example beneath and behind appliances).
  • Store garbage in sealed plastic containers and dispose of it daily.
  • Do not allow dirty dishes to pile up, especially overnight. If you cannot wash them immediately, leave them to soak in detergent and water. 
  • Vacuum often to help remove food particles and insect egg masses. 
  • Wrap or insulate pipes that have excess condensation. Repair leaky faucets and pipes. Ventilate bathrooms and dehumidify moist areas to reduce sources of water.

Steam cleaning, vacuuming, and freezing

If you think furniture, toys, or crafts have roaches, steam clean them if the material will not be damaged by moisture or heat. Regular vacuuming will remove food sources, cockroaches, and egg cases. Make sure they are all destroyed by placing the vacuum bag in soapy water. You can also freeze the infested items for at least 24 hours (but preferably up to a week) at -8°C (17.6°F).


Traps, including sticky traps, let you monitor the population and location of roaches so that you know where to concentrate your efforts. Cockroach traps can be bought or easily built.

  1. Build a trap by spreading petroleum jelly on the inside of a small darkened jar.
  2. Stick masking tape on the outside for grip purposes.
  3. Place a small piece of food (like bread) inside the jar.
  4. Once a cockroach crawls in, it will not be able to crawl out.
  5. Cockroaches that have been caught can be killed in a bucket of soapy water, or by placing a lid on the jar and putting it in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

Sealing hiding spots and entry points

Seal and caulk all cracks, crevices, and pipe openings to reduce cockroach hiding places. Put a fine mesh screen over cracks and crevices, vents, open pipes, and drains to reduce access to your home.

What should I do if I see evidence of cockroaches?

If you are a tenant:

Report the problem to your landlord as soon as it is discovered so that they can bring in a licensed pest control company to address the issue. Ensure contaminated food is discarded and contaminated surfaces are cleaned and disinfected.  As a tenant, you are responsible for cooperating with your landlord’s efforts to control an infestation.

If you are a landlord, home or building owner:

Contact a licensed pest control company. Ensure contaminated food is discarded and contaminated surfaces are cleaned and disinfected.

If you would like to speak to a public health inspector about a possible cockroach infestation, please contact the Duty Inspector at 705-267-1181 or 1-800-461-1818.