How to Get Rid of Roaches in the Bathroom

man holding cockroach with bathroom in background

The bathroom, with its damp and dark corners, seems to roll out the red carpet for roaches.  These pests carry germs and bacteria to your home. But don’t despair. In this guide, we’ll show you how to get rid of roaches in the bathroom and prevent their return.

From understanding why your bathroom might be attractive to these pests and where they’re likely to hide to implementing practical steps for keeping your space roach-free — we’ve got you covered.

Why Are There Roaches in My Bathroom?

Your bathroom might seem like a place of cleanliness and solitude to you, but to roaches, it’s a paradise. It provides everything they could wish for, making it one of their preferred hideouts. Here’s what attracts roaches to the bathroom:

  • Plenty of hiding spots: The bathroom offers a variety of cozy hideaways for roaches to live in, such as cabinets, under sinks, behind toilets, and inside drawers — perfect for nesting.
  • A haven for moisture: Roaches thrive in moist environments. A bathroom with leaking pipes and drainage problems, like clogged sinks and standing water in the shower, is especially attractive to them. 
  • All-you-can-eat buffet: Roaches are not picky eaters. They will feast on anything from toilet paper and soap residue to trash, toothpaste, and even dead skin cells. This abundance of food sources is ideal for these pests.

As you can probably guess, making your bathroom less hospitable to roaches will help prevent and get rid of them, but we’ll talk more about that in the following sections.

Where Do Roaches Come From in the Bathroom?

cockroach bug in bathroom
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Roaches primarily infiltrate from the outside, exploiting any available entry point to make your bathroom their new home. Here are a few examples of entry points from where these unwelcome visitors tend to make their entrances:

  • Cracks in the walls
  • Gaps around bathroom fixtures
  • Crevices in the structure of your home, near windows, or around door frames
  • Bathtub and shower drains
  • Sink drains
  • Items from outside, like cardboard boxes, second-hand appliances, and grocery bags

Where Do Roaches Hide in the Bathroom?

Roaches are masters at hiding, adept at squeezing into the smallest and most unexpected places to make their homes. Their favorite hideouts include:

  • Under the sink
  • Inside cabinets
  • Behind the toilet
  • Behind and under the sink
  • Inside drawers
  • In piles of clothes
  • Inside or behind laundry baskets
  • Inside garbage cans

Signs of Roaches in the Bathroom

American cockroach sitting in a white background
American cockroach
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Identifying a roach infestation early can reduce the effort needed to eliminate these unwelcome guests from your bathroom. Here are red flags that indicate that you might have roaches in your bathroom:

  • Finding live cockroaches: Spotting a live roach may indicate a larger population hiding.
  • Finding shed exoskeletons: Roaches molt multiple times during their lifecycle, leaving behind their exoskeletons, or shed skins, as they grow.
  • Finding oothecae: The presence of oothecae, the oval-shaped case that contains multiple roach eggs, is a clear sign of a breeding population of roaches.
  • New allergy symptoms: If you or your family members experience sudden allergy symptoms or asthma attacks in the bathroom, it could be due to roach allergens.
  • Must or oily smell: A large roach infestation can produce a noticeable musty or oily odor that wasn’t there before.

How to Get Rid of Roaches in the Bathroom

Getting rid of roaches in the bathroom is no small feat. These persistent pests often require multiple methods to manage and eliminate effectively, like an integrated pest management approach. Below, we outline several things you can do to rid your bathroom of roaches:

Keep Your Bathroom Clean

person cleaning a bathroom
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A clean bathroom is your first line of defense against roaches. These pests are attracted to organic debris as a food source and to litter as hideouts. Ensure you:

  • Pick up and wash dirty clothes promptly. Don’t let them pile up.
  • Clean up residues like toothpaste spills and toilet paper on the floor.
  • Remove hair from drains.
  • Use a vacuum or a steam cleaner to reach every nook and cranny.

Use Boric Acid

boric acid in a bottle
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Boric acid is a well-known remedy for roaches due to its ability to poison or dehydrate them. You can apply a fine layer of boric acid powder in areas where roaches are likely to crawl, using a product with a narrow applicator tip, or you can buy a powder duster to apply it. 

Alternatively, you can create a mixture of 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of borax in one gallon of water. Place this solution in trays around your bathroom, especially on the floor and under the sink, to attract and kill roaches.

Note: Although low, there’s a risk for children and pets when using boric acid, so avoid this method in the kids’ bathroom.

Spread Diatomaceous Earth

powdered diatomaceous earth being sprinkled in a garden
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Another roach dust that every homeowner should have at home is diatomaceous earth (DE). This fine powder is made from fossilized diatoms, a type of algae. When used against roaches and other insects, its microscopic, sharp edges cut through their exoskeletons, ultimately dehydrating and killing them.

Spread DE in areas where roaches hide or travel, but make sure the area is dry, or DE will lose its effect. Apply a fine layer so it does not deter roaches from crossing through the dust.

Employ Roach Baits

cockroaches fell into a sticky trap
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Store-bought roach baits contain a food source laced with a slow-acting insecticide. When roaches eat the bait, they return to their hiding spots and die. As other roaches eat the remains of their poisoned nestmates, they eventually die, too, spreading the poison throughout the colony to eliminate the infestation.

Place the baits in areas where roaches roam, like near drains and behind toilets. Just don’t use sprays with insecticides if you’re using baits, since they can repel roaches and prevent them from eating the bait.

Use Roach Traps

Just like roach baits, roach traps lure roaches with a scent or food, but they kill them in a different way. Roaches are trapped in a sticky substance, which they can’t escape from, and end up dying.

You can use these traps to monitor and reduce the roach population. Place them in strategic locations around your bathroom.

Sprinkle Baking Soda

baking soda in a jar on wooden surface
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If you’re looking for home remedies, look no more. Baking soda, when ingested by roaches, reacts with their stomach acid to produce gas, leading to their death. To increase the likeliness of roaches eating the baking soda, you can mix it with sugar in a 50-50 proportion and sprinkle it around your bathroom.

Baking soda has the advantage of being non-toxic to humans (including children) and pets.

Spray Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs)

Insect growth regulators, or IGRs, act by inhibiting the growth and reproduction of roaches. These chemicals prevent cockroaches from reaching maturity and their eggs from developing. This may take a while, but it leads to a gradual decrease in the roach population over time. 

According to the Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, the following IGRs are effective against roaches:

  • Hydroprene (Gentrol)
  • Pyriproxyfen (Archer, Nylar)
  • Noviflumuron

Remember to carefully follow the label instructions, and note that this is not an immediate solution but a long-term one.

Pour Boiling Water

boiling water
Photo Credit: Scott Akerman / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Pouring boiling water down your bathtub, shower, and sink drains serves as a simple, immediate action you can take to combat sewer roaches, which often enter bathrooms through the plumbing. These roaches are attracted to the moisture and organic material that accumulate in pipes.

You can also repeat this process weekly as a preventative measure to keep roaches at bay and maintain clean drains.

Call a Professional

If the infestation is severe or you’re concerned about it spreading to other areas of your home, hiring a professional pest control service may be the best course of action. They can apply insecticides more effectively and safely, targeting the roaches where they live.

How to Prevent Roaches in the Bathroom

two bottles of essential oils
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Transforming your bathroom into a fortress against roaches starts with proactive strategies. Below, we unveil some strategies to fortify your bathroom against roaches:

  • Maintain cleanliness: Regular cleaning is crucial for getting rid of roaches and also for preventing them. Ensure your bathroom is free of hair, soap scum, and organic debris. Frequent vacuuming and wiping down surfaces can reduce your bathroom’s attractiveness to roaches.
  • Seal entry points: Inspect your bathroom for any cracks, crevices, or gaps in the baseboards, walls, or around plumbing fixtures. You can use a foam insulator or silicone caulk to seal them. Take a look at this video by Brittany Bailey to learn more about how to seal around pipes:

  • Fix leaking faucets: A damp bathroom provides an ideal environment for roaches. Repair any leaking taps or pipes to reduce excess moisture and make your bathroom less appealing to pests.
  • Cover drains: Roaches can enter through drains. Install water traps (P-traps) or put drain covers to block their access.
  • Spray essential oils: Essential oils like thyme and cinnamon can repel roaches due to their strong scent. Spraying these oils around your bathroom can act as a natural deterrent.
  • Seal garbage containers: Ensure that your bathroom trash cans have tight-fitting lids to prevent roaches from accessing waste. Remember to empty the trash regularly.

FAQ About Roaches in the Bathroom

Can Roaches Come Up Through the Toilet?

No, roaches can’t come up through the toilet due to the water in it. Roaches are not swimmers, and the water in the toilet acts as a natural barrier that they cannot cross.

Toilets are designed with a water trap (or P-trap), which is a bend in the pipe filled with water that prevents gases from the sewer line from entering your home. This water trap serves as a seal against roaches.

Does Pouring Bleach Down the Drain Stop Roaches?

Bleach can kill roaches. However, it’s not recommended to pour bleach down the drain to kill them. This method can release harmful fumes that pose a danger to your health and potentially damage the plumbing system.

Instead, you can use bleach as a roach deterrent. Mix 5 tablespoons of bleach with 1 gallon of water to mop the floors, or 4 teaspoons per quart of water to spray surfaces. Let the solution sit for 6 to 10 minutes and rinse. Don’t ever apply it to aluminum, marble, tile, granite, unsealed wood, copper, brass, silver, and chipped enamel. 

Do Cockroaches Only Live in Bathrooms?

No, cockroaches do not only live in bathrooms. While they are often found in bathrooms due to the humidity and availability of water, they are just as likely to be found outdoors in places like parks, subway tunnels, and sewer systems, as well as other rooms in your house that provide easy access to food sources. 

To learn more about how to get rid of roaches in other places, here are a few links to informative articles:

Call the Professionals

If you have found that your roach foes are more resilient than expected, or you’d rather not dance with pesticides and traps, calling in a cockroach exterminator is the way to go. Don’t let these pests turn your bathroom into their playground.

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Maria Isabela Reis

Maria Isabela Reis is a writer, Ph.D. candidate, and plant enthusiast from an area where mosquitoes are as relentless in their pursuit of blood as she is in her quest for knowledge. When she’s not swatting away these buzzing annoyances, she’s playing with her dogs and savoring a cup of tea.