How to Get Rid of Cockroach Smell

Nothing is worse than having cockroaches. They’re gross, they smell bad, and it seems like no matter what, you can’t get rid of them. Even after you pull off the impossible task of making them go away, it seems that the smell sticks around for what seems like forever!

But how do you get rid of cockroach smell? If you want a short answer, it really depends on the size of your infestation. For smaller infestations, at-home cleaning products such as bleach, odor deodorizer, and homemade roach repellent will work just fine in cleaning up and getting rid of that disgusting roach stench. However, for larger infestations, calling a pest control company is probably the only solution. 

There are many questions that come with the roach smell problem. Read on to find out everything you need to know about how to get rid of cockroach smell! 

What do roaches smell like?

The first thing you’re going to have to do in order to get rid of the smell of cockroaches in your home is to identify it. What do cockroaches actually smell like?

Well, if you ask 100 people you might get 100 different answers. Sometimes it is described as moldy, dank, and musty. Some can’t identify it as well as that and simply say “it’s the worst smell I’ve ever smelled,” or “a terrible stench,” or something along those lines. 

The truth is, there are a number of different smells that can come from cockroaches, so the smell of cockroaches can be described in a number of ways. The eggs smell different from the poop, and the poop smells different from the dead roaches. 

I know, yuck, but it’s important to understand where the smells are coming from in order to figure out how to solve these problems and get your home to smell less foul. 

So, what are all the causes of these hideous smells?

How to get rid of cockroach smell

What causes the cockroach smell?

There are a number of different sources of the awful smells given off by a roach infestation. Each of these gives off a unique stench and varies in difficulty to identify, find, and deodorize. Read on to find out more about what causes that awful cockroach smell. 

Cockroach feces

Like you, me, your pets, and every other animal on the planet, cockroaches excrete feces. The difference between us and them, however, is that they are not trained into placing their droppings somewhere a bit more civilized. This means they just leave it wherever they are walking as they go. 

This means that wherever you have roaches, you have roach poop. Therefore, wherever you have roaches, you have a pretty nasty smell. Sure, they’re small, but when you have an infestation, they’re going to be leaving a lot of droppings behind as they move around the house. 

It kind of goes without saying that feces smells bad, and a ton of roaches producing a ton of feces will smell extremely bad, so this one is a little bit self-explanatory. 

However, roaches have more droppings than just feces, which can help contribute to the bad smell. Roaches love to eat dead skin cells, and also shed a ton of skin as they move around the house. All of this decomposing organic matter also smells quite foul and can contribute to the smell around the house if you’re experiencing an infestation. 

This shed skin smells a bit different than the feces, although with the two smells mixing together, you probably won’t notice much other than, “Wow, that smells terrible.” 

Cockroach pheromones

Another reason that cockroach infestations smell so bad is that cockroaches secrete pheromones. Pheromones are a chemical-like scent that roaches use as a means of communication. They also release pheromones when they mate and when they die. 

The point is, roaches release a ton of pheromones. Once you have an infestation and there are roaches mating, dying, and communicating all over the house, the chemical-like pheromone scent will become extremely strong all over the infested area. 

One roach or even a few roaches’ pheromones won’t be strong enough for a human to smell. If you’re smelling a strong chemical-like scent, and you’re suspecting you have a roach problem, it is likely you have an infestation rather than just a couple of roaches scurrying about. 

Pheromones are one of the biggest culprits for the reported stink of roach infestations. Keep this in mind when you’re smelling strange chemical-like smells in your home. You might have a roach infestation on your hands!


Ootheca, or cockroach egg, is a brown casing material in which baby cockroaches grow. When they burst, a massive amount of insects swarm out of the egg. Ootheca smells quite bad, but more importantly, is a warning sign. 

If you find an old ootheca or egg casing, it means you most certainly have an infestation. Many, many roaches are born out of ootheca at once, meaning if one or more has hatched in your home, those roaches didn’t just disappear. 

They are either alive and well in your home, or dead somewhere in the home. Either way, they are contributing to the cockroach smell you so badly want to get rid of. If you find one of these brown casings, filled with roaches or not, you should be on the case immediately trying to find and solve the source of your roach infestation. 

Dead roaches

As mentioned earlier, cockroaches give off quite strong pheromones when they die. This is to warn other cockroaches that it could be dangerous in that area. However, this isn’t the only reason that cockroach corpses give off such a disgusting scent. 

Like all dead organisms, decomposing roaches give off quite a nasty scent themselves. This isn’t really a problem for one dead roach. However, when you have an infestation, many roaches will eventually die. They don’t live forever, after all. Also, it’s not like roaches have some way of burying or getting rid of other roach bodies. So they sit there and rot, giving off an awful combination of scents. 

The one-two punch of pheromones and decomposing roach bodies is one of the worst smells that can come from roaches, especially when large numbers of dead roaches begin to pile up. Make sure you’re not only killing roaches but disposing of them as well. 

Cockroaches in kitchen at night

How to avoid roach infestation

If you’re reading this, it is probably too late to avoid a roach infestation, and you’re just looking to get rid of the smell they’ve made. However, in this case, the best offense is a good defense, and you should prepare your home to not experience another infestation after you solve the problem of the first one. 

But that’s easier said than done, right? How is it that you actually prevent these tiny creatures from getting into the nooks and crannies of your home at night and stinking up the place?

There are four main contributing factors to roaches being lured into your home. Roaches are nocturnal bugs, so they look for four things. Food, moisture, darkness, and warmth. 

Food and crumbs

One of the main things that attract cockroaches is food and crumbs that are left out. Although you might not see them, cockroaches can definitely sniff out the tiny, microscopic pieces of food that drop on the floor during cooking and eating. 

Not only crumbs do this though. Unclean dishes, food left out on counters, and other unattended food will bring roaches out of the woodwork. This will often only expose roaches that were already in the home, but it can be a factor in luring them in from the outside as well.

Make sure that you keep your kitchen, dining room, and other rooms in the house clean of food debris by doing dishes, vacuuming, and cleaning up regularly. This will help avoid roaches in the most sensitive areas of your home, the places where you cook and eat. 

Wet corners

Cockroaches love darkness and moisture almost as much as they love food. Your home, even if kept quite clean, has a ton of dark, warm, and humid or wet places for cockroaches to creep into. 

Corners of wet bathrooms, laundry rooms, basements, and other areas with water nearby can be great hiding places for cockroaches. Pet food bowls and any leaks or minor floods can also be huge contributing factors to the attraction of roaches. Make sure to regularly inspect these areas for cockroaches and make sure you aren’t seeing the beginnings of an infestation. 

Nooks and crannies

Cockroaches love to squeeze into the tightest spaces they can find in your house. This could be little holes and pits behind your washer and dryer, toilet, sink, or any other space that is hard to reach. This is especially true with anywhere that might have water.

When looking for the source of the cockroach smell, or trying to inspect your home for future infestations, make sure to check these tight pits and areas and not overlook them by mistake. 

How to get rid of cockroach smell

So, now we know why cockroaches smell, and how to avoid them coming back in the future. But how do you actually get rid of the smell of cockroaches? Well, it depends on where the main infestation is, and also on the size of the infestation. 

How to get rid of cockroach smell in cupboard

To remove the cockroach scent from a cupboard, remove the entire cupboard so it can be more easily accessed. Spray a disinfectant all over the cupboard, inside and out, and make sure to get all the corners. Leave it for 10 minutes. Next, apply a light degreaser and leave that for 5 minutes. This will help with the removal of droppings. 

Next, use a non-scratch scrubber to wipe down the cupboard inside and out. Make sure to remove all of the droppings and debris. This might take a while, but be thorough!

How to get rid of cockroach smell in microwave

First, unplug the microwave for safety. Then remove all the pieces of the microwave like the dish and any mechanisms inside. After this, get your hands on some heavy disinfectant with bleach. 

First, get any major debris like roach corpses and droppings out with a cloth or sponge. Spray it down thoroughly and let the disinfectant sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

After this, wipe it down with a clean cloth and take it outside. Spray it down with an anti-roach solution and let that solution sit for about an hour. Spray the disinfectant again to get rid of the roach solution smell. 

How to get rid of cockroach smell in cabinets

First, remove every item in the cabinet. You might want to clean these separately by either putting them in a dishwasher or hand washing each of them individually. Apply an EPA-approved food-safe disinfectant. Spray down the cabinet as thoroughly as you can, and remove any droppings or roaches you find inside. Re-spray with disinfectant and let it sit for 10 minutes at a time. Repeat until the smell is gone. 

How to get rid of cockroach smell from electronics

First, unplug the electronic device. Spray it down with a disinfectant and wipe it up with a dry towel. Make sure to wipe it up relatively quickly, as you don’t want to leave your electronics with any kind of wetness on them for very long. After you feel it is clean, you can plug the device back in and use it as you would before!


So, there are many reasons for cockroach smells and many different ways to get rid of infestations. For minor, localized infestations, you can deal with them yourself. However, if you have a major infestation in multiple rooms of the house, the best thing to do is to call a pest control company. 

It is quite worth the money, as without the proper tools and resources you can’t deal with an infestation this big on your own. Trust me, you’ll think it’s money well spent when the smell is finally gone. 

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