How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Apartments

Having cockroaches is never pleasant, and it’s an unfortunate situation that many people find themselves in when they live in an apartment. Cockroaches spread very easily in apartment blocks, and it only takes one neighbor with an infestation to end up with one yourself. So, let’s look at how to get rid of cockroaches in apartments.

There are many things that you can do to get rid of cockroaches in an apartment, including spraying, poisoning, and trapping them. You can also take steps to remove their food and water supplies and to deter them from staying in your home. You should remember to notify building management about the problem.

Why Do Cockroaches Spread Easily In Apartment Blocks?

Unfortunately, apartment blocks are vulnerable to cockroach infestations for a number of reasons. Firstly, the cockroaches can easily travel between the different areas by using plumbing pipes, which usually run through the whole building and give them access to pretty much every space.

The pipes often tend to be damp, dark, and reasonably warm, and this makes the perfect living situation for cockroaches, as well as making it very easy for them to travel.

Secondly, there are a lot of people living in a small area. That means there are many more people bringing in cardboard boxes, carrying home shopping bags, or getting second-hand furniture that may have been stored in an infested warehouse.

Any of these things can introduce cockroaches to the building, which will then spread to your home. The increase in people heightens the chances of them being brought in.

Thirdly, you may have untidy neighbors. It’s important to remember that this isn’t the cause of cockroaches, but it will contribute to the size of an infestation if they can find a lot to eat.

If your neighbors leave unwashed dishes around or rarely sweep their floors, cockroaches that are brought into the building will have a foothold. They can make a secure nest in the dirty apartment, and then spread to or at least explore other apartments – including yours.

Apartment blocks also have lots of communal areas. Hallways and elevators may be damp, dark, and have undisturbed corners for the cockroaches to take shelter in. These spaces are often warm and may contain food and debris from foot traffic, so they make a good home for the insects.

How to get rid of cockroaches in apartments

What Should I Do If I Have Cockroaches In My Apartment?

There are a number of steps and methods that you can use to tackle these nasty beasts, so we’ll explore how to get rid of cockroaches in apartments now. Follow the below ideas for a cockroach-free home in no time.

Alert Management

Your very first action should be to tell the building managers about the infestation. There is likely some information in your lease about responsibilities on both sides regarding pest management, so you should read up on this. Understand what your building managers are obliged to do, and ensure that you follow up with them.

It’s really important to tackle an infestation from the perspective of the building as a whole, and you will need the management’s involvement for this. If the cockroaches are in your apartment, they are likely to be in other apartments or the main structure of the building too, and the managers may need to call in experts.

That doesn’t mean you don’t need to take action yourself but don’t just free your own apartment from the cockroaches and leave it at that. If they are in other parts of the building, they will keep coming back to your home unless the other nests are dealt with, so bear that in mind.

Cockroach laying egg

Locate The Nest

Next, try to find out where the cockroaches are. You can often find cockroaches hiding behind or beneath things, such as fridges or freezers. They like damp and dark spaces with minimal disturbance, and this is where they will retreat when they are resting.

Cockroaches only come out at night, as they are nocturnal. If you can’t find them by looking for the nest, you can try to catch a glimpse of them at night. To do this, turn off the lights and wait quietly with a flashlight (turned off). Usually, cockroaches are to be found in the kitchen at night, since they are looking for food.

When you have waited for a while, turn the flashlight on and look around the room. You should be able to see the critters, although they will probably flee as soon as they detect your presence. Following their movement may give you some indication of their hiding spot, although they may just dive into any safe crevice they can find.

Once you have found the nest, you can either call pest control or start laying traps or disturbing the nest by moving things. However, before you spend money on pest control, make sure you know what the building managers are doing and what their responsibilities are.

Clean Thoroughly

The next step is to clean up. That doesn’t mean your home is necessarily unclean to start with, but you should still clean it. Cockroaches will spread germs on their feet, so it’s a good idea to do this for your sake, as well as to remove the food available to the roaches.

You should disinfect floors and surfaces with bleach or white vinegar on a regular basis. This will remove the cockroaches’ scent trails and make it harder for them to find their way around, and it will also take care of any bacteria that they have spread, as well as decrease the amount of food available to them.

Put all your food in sealed containers to ensure the cockroaches can’t get at it, and make sure you clean up any leftovers each evening before you go to bed. Remove food spills from the surfaces so there is nothing for the cockroaches to eat at any time.

Regular cleaning will make it hard for the cockroaches to find enough to eat, and this will encourage them to go elsewhere. However, you will have to keep this up until the infestation has been properly tackled, or they will probably just relocate to another apartment for now.

Fix Drips

If you have any leaky pipes, make sure you alert maintenance and get them to address the problem as quickly as possible. Cockroaches need a damp environment to thrive in and if they can easily access water, your apartment will be much more attractive to them. 

Get any problems with pipework or taps fixed quickly, especially if you know that there are cockroaches in the building. If you can’t get them fixed promptly, make sure you keep drying the area.

You can also buy a dehumidifier to help dry your apartment out. Damp problems are common in apartments, especially if you need to dry laundry indoors, and this makes the area much more appealing to cockroaches.

If you can, open windows regularly to air out and dry your home, and keep it dry with a dehumidifier.

Lay Traps

There are many kinds of traps you can put down for cockroaches and these should work fine in an apartment, particularly if you can identify cockroach hot spots. Try a selection of products to see what works effectively for your situation, or use several in conjunction with each other for maximum effect.

Gel baits are one of the most effective and tidy ways of killing cockroaches. These can be smeared around and will poison any cockroaches that consume them, causing minimal mess or fuss in your home.

Alternatively, you can use powders such as diatomaceous earth. This scratches the exoskeleton of any cockroach that crawls through it. With a damaged exoskeleton, the cockroach will start to lose moisture, and it will soon dry up and die.

You should be careful not to breathe in this powder as you lay it, as it can be damaging to the lungs, although it is otherwise harmless.

You can also try glue traps, which the cockroaches will stick to. Lay these around your kitchen surfaces or any water sources, or near the cockroach nest if you have managed to locate it. The insects will get stuck and die. These aren’t very pleasant, but they are effective.

Alternatively, use a cockroach spray. However, you should discuss this with building management and your neighbors before doing it. These sprays are highly toxic and require you to leave the building for a while, so you may not be allowed (or want) to use one in an apartment.

Baking Soda And Sugar

Cockroaches like the smell and taste of sugar, and if you mix sugar with baking soda, they will eat the mixture and then die as a result of the baking soda. Little bowls or piles of this around your home can be a great and cheap way to get rid of cockroaches, and you probably already have both ingredients to hand.

You should place them on sheets of cardboard to avoid getting the floor sticky. This will make it easier to clean up dead cockroaches, too, as you can just tip the whole lot into the garbage can and start afresh with more baking soda and sugar on the cardboard.


If you want to buy something, borax will also kill cockroaches (and other insects) very effectively when they come into contact with it. Borax can be purchased cheaply and easily and then simply sprinkled around your kitchen or near the cockroach nest.

As with baking soda, when consumed, borax dehydrates the insects and kills them. It is an effective method, provided the cockroaches actually eat it – which they usually do. You may want to use this in conjunction with other approaches.

Set Up Deterrents

If you know the cockroaches are in the building but they aren’t yet in your apartment, or even if they are but you want to increase the effectiveness of your campaign against them, deterrents can be a good way to go.

There are quite a few things you can use to make your apartment unattractive to cockroaches. One popular one is sprigs of lavender, which cockroaches hate the smell of.

You can spread these around your home and in your kitchen cabinets. They will make the apartment smell lovely and should keep it cockroach-free. Replace them when the smell begins to fade.

Alternatively, a few drops of lavender essential oil on a paper towel should do the trick too, as long as you also refresh this when the smell starts to fade.

You can similarly use eucalyptus oil if you prefer this scent, or go for a double hit and put both around. Sprinkling paper towels makes it easy to place them anywhere you feel they will be effective, without the risk of the oil staining your furnishings.

Another good option is bay leaves. You may already have them in your store cupboard, or they can be purchased reasonably easily from stores. You can spread them around in the kitchen, and the strong smell will deter cockroaches. Again, refresh the leaves when their smell starts to fade, as they will lose their effectiveness quite quickly.

If you are a fan of eating oranges, you are also in luck, as the peel from an orange will deter cockroaches too. Spread orange peels around doorways or the cockroach nest, or use citrus-scented essential oils on paper towels for a similar effect.

It’s a good idea to remember that cockroaches are adaptable and an unpleasant (to them) smell won’t work indefinitely to keep them away. You also need to tackle the infestation with more aggressive techniques.


So, now you know how to get rid of cockroaches in apartments. Talking to management is the key first step for this situation, so they can deal with the building as a whole, leaving you free to clean your space, lay traps, and spread deterrents around the apartment.

It’s a good idea to use a selection of different offensive and defensive strategies for the maximum cockroach-repelling effect. Don’t depend on just one method, but keep trying new things.

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