Having roaches in your house is never a comfortable feeling. But knowing that you have roaches hiding in your appliances is somehow infinitely more unnerving.
Whether you have cockroaches living in your oven, microwave, or dishwasher, you need to evict them right now. Not only is their presence a cause for the heebie-jeebies, but they can spread diseases like plague and dysentery, and can cause allergy and asthma flare-ups in sensitive people.
If you have roaches hiding in your home, let us help you put out the no vacancy sign. Pulling from our vast knowledge of household pests, we’ll tell you how to get rid of roaches in your appliances, including those in the kitchen and laundry room as well as your electronics, and help you keep these pests away for good.
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- Roaches are attracted to food debris, water, and dark hiding places.
- Keep your home clean and dry to avoid attracting cockroaches
- Clean appliances thoroughly to make them less appealing
- Use diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and sticky traps to kill roaches that return
- Maintain clean counters, floors, and appliances to avoid re-infestation
Why Are Roaches Attracted to Appliances?
Both the large American cockroach and smaller German cockroach are attracted to homes for the same reasons. They are looking for three things:
As opportunistic omnivores, roaches will eat just about anything. They are especially attracted to starches, sugar, fat, and meat. Anything from a single crumb on the floor to an unattended platter is a potential meal for a cockroach.
While we often focus on food as an attractant for cockroaches, much of the time it is water they’re after when they enter our homes. Like all living things, these insects need moisture to survive. And they seem especially attracted to abundant water sources like leaky faucets, dog dishes, and puddled water.
Once a roach finds a consistent source of food and water, they are likely to post up for a while. For that, they need shelter. And since they are nocturnal insects with a powerful nesting-down instinct, you can be sure they’ll find the darkest, smallest spaces to call home.
And that, in a nutshell, is why cockroaches are attracted to our appliances.
Ovens, microwaves, and refrigerators all provide small, dark, damp spaces that are close to food and water sources. In fact, they often contain plenty of food inside them that the roach can chow on while they rest.
Other appliances, like electronics, washers, and dryers, just happen to provide the right kind of shelter. If they are near a food source, such as a pet feeding dish or a couch full of crumbs, they are even more likely to be targeted.
How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Your Appliances
Now that you understand why cockroaches are hiding inside your appliances, let’s look at what you can do to evict them. And, equally as important, keep them from coming back.
Step 1: Clean
The absolute first thing you need to do to get rid of cockroaches in your appliances is the same thing you have to do to get them out of your house; You have to clean your appliances to remove food and debris.
Roaches find hiding spots in your appliances because they are situated near food sources. The oven and microwave are some of the most common targets because they usually contain food or food residue themselves. Dishwashers are also frequently targeted not just for the food residue on the dishes, but for the water left in them after they run.
While you can’t do much about keeping your dishwasher dry during use, you can clean in and around your appliances to remove attractants and food sources. Don’t forget to scrub away grease residue (cockroaches love grease!) and clean crumbs and dirt from underneath the appliance.
- Cockroaches can squeeze into spaces less than ⅕ of an inch wide, so cleaning inside appliances is just as important as cleaning the outside.
- Pull out large appliances and vacuum and mop under them to remove all food debris.
- Hair and dirt give insects more places to hide, so be sure to clean this kind of debris out from behind appliances and out of vents, as well.
Step 2: Protect
Once you’ve taken away the main attractant of kitchen appliances, use boric acid or diatomaceous earth to create a barrier around the appliance to kill roaches that have been habituated to hiding in those areas.
Diatomaceous earth is a fine white powder made up of fossilized diatoms. The powder consists of tiny crystallized structures that are harmless to people and pets, but deadly to insects. These sharp particles cut into the exoskeleton of roaches and dry them out.
NOTE: Be sure to purchase only food-grade diatomaceous earth for use in the home. This type is much safer to handle and less likely to cause irritation if breathed in.
Boric acid, which is also generally sold in white powder form for pest control, is another great option for protecting your appliances. This powder is harmless to pets and humans (as long as it is not ingested) but will kill insects.
The fine particles are statically charged and will cling to bugs that walk through them. When the bug cleans itself, it ingests some of the powder, which burns away the insect’s gut and kills them.
To use either one of these products, simply create a ring of dust around the appliance to target roaches moving to and from the area. For ovens, dishwashers, fridges, washers, and dryers, you should also spread these powders beneath the appliance where bugs are most likely to travel.
Step 3: Destroy
Once your appliances are protected, you need to use diatomaceous earth, boric acid, and other means to kill the rest of the roaches hiding in your house.
These appliances are prime real estate. They’re dark, quiet, and full of nooks and crannies perfect for hiding during the day. While a clean appliance is less likely to attract new bugs to the area, those already living in your home are still likely to gravitate to them in search of shelter.
Here, your best defense is an effective offense. These are some of our favorite non-toxic ways to target and kill roaches that are safe for use in the kitchen.
- Sticky traps: These heavy-duty glue traps capture insects that walk over them. While they work well for all kinds of roaches, they are indiscriminate killers and can trap mice, spiders, geckos, and other animals that you may not want to target.
- Diatomaceous earth: This powder can also be used to dust counters and floors overnight to kill pests as they move around.
- Bait balls: Mix flour, sugar, water, and boric acid to create a dough. Roll the dough into balls and place them inside appliances, on counters, and anywhere else roaches are likely to go that pets and kids can’t reach.
- Wine:The acidic sweetness of wine attracts roaches, but the alcohol quickly overwhelms them and leads to them drowning. Set glasses filled with cheap wine anywhere you know roaches will be looking for food.
- Boric acid: Mix boric acid with white sugar and set it out for your roaches to gorge on overnight.
Keep in mind that these methods, like many commercial killers, are only effective on adult and nymph cockroaches that are actively feeding and moving. Eggs will not be affected. So it is important to keep your methods in place for at least 3 months to end the life cycle.
Step 4: Maintain
Once you have successfully gotten the roaches out of your appliances and made a dent in their numbers elsewhere in the house, you must maintain a clean, cockroach-unfriendly kitchen and home.
This means keeping up with your cleaning, assuring your surfaces remain free of standing water and food debris, and continuing your kill-tactics until all adults and emerging nymphs have been eradicated.
- Take out your kitchen trash every evening.
- Wipe down your sinks to soak up standing water before bed.
- Address any leaky faucets as soon as you notice them.
- Wipe down countertops after every use.
- Don’t allow grease to build up in or on your oven.
- Pick up and store pet food and water bowls overnight.
- Keep food in sealed containers at all times.
- Ring out wet rags and put them away overnight.
Appliance Specific Tactics For Roaches
Every appliance in your home is a little different, both in terms of why they attract cockroaches and how you should approach cleaning them. Here are some appliance-specific tips for getting rid of roaches in appliances.
Microwaves tend to accumulate a lot of food debris and provide quite a few hiding spots for roaches.
To clean your microwave:
- Fill a bowl with 2 cups of water and 2 tablespoons of vinegar.
- Set it in the microwave and cook on high for five minutes.
- Wait ten minutes after the microwave dings.
- Then, use a damp rag to wipe out the inside of the unit.
The vinegar and steam will help loosen the food debris and make it super simple to clean all the surfaces inside.
Be sure to wipe down the exterior of the unit and clean the counter beneath it, as well.
The grease that builds up on ranges and in ovens is highly attractive to roaches. They can easily access both areas thanks to the vents in the back of most models, so cleaning all surfaces of your range is important.
To easily clean grease from your oven:
- Create a watery paste by mixing about ½ cup baking soda with a few tablespoons of water.
- Use a cleaning brush to apply the paste to all surfaces of the oven.
- Let the paste sit in place overnight. (Bonus: Baking soda will kill roaches if they try to eat it.)
- After 12 hours, wipe out the oven with a damp rag.
- Then spritz every surface with a vinegar-filled spray bottle. The two substances will react and create a scrubbing-bubbles-type effect.
- Wipe down again with a damp rag to remove all debris.
You can use a similar approach to cleaning the range. Be sure to also pull out the appliance and clean thoroughly under and behind it. Spread some diatomaceous earth on the floor in the oven gap, then push it back into place.
If you have cockroaches in your pipes, then you likely have cockroaches in your dishwasher. As long as the unit is working properly, you shouldn’t have a lot of food debris left in it after the cycle runs. But the food on the dishes will attract pests before the cycle begins.
Here are a few tips to make your dishwasher less attractive to roaches:
- Rinse your dishes well before loading them in the dishwasher.
- Set your dishwasher to run in the evening before roaches become active.
- Use your heated dry setting to help evaporate water in the unit that might otherwise attract bugs. (High heat will also drive away roaches.)
- Pull the unit out and clean the floor beneath it, applying diatomaceous earth before pushing the appliance back in.
- Clean your drains, especially your garbage disposal, regularly.
- Place a cup full of vinegar on the top rack and set the unit to its highest heat setting and run to kill any roaches hiding inside.
When washers and dryers are targeted by cockroaches, it’s usually more about finding a convenient hiding place than it is about food or water.
Still, it is a good idea to clean the units, outside and in to assure there is nothing attracting bugs to the area. Pay special attention to the floor under the units. Once it has been vacuumed and mopped, spread diatomaceous earth over the area before pushing the units back into place.
You can also place sticky traps and bait balls behind the units if you suspect there still may be some roaches hiding inside.
Toasters are almost impossible to use without creating crumbs. And this can spell bad news if your kitchen is already full of opportunistic roaches looking for a snack and a place to hide. Luckily, there are some things you can do to make your toaster less appealing.
Here are a few tips for keeping roaches out of your toaster:
- Clean the crumb tray after every use.
- Store the toaster under a clear cover, like this one, that will help keep roaches out without giving them a nice dark place to hide.
- Create a circle of boric acid or diatomaceous earth around the appliance until all the roaches inside have vacated.
- Clean the unit thoroughly every week, following the instructions in the video below.
Electronics are another one of those appliances that roaches are attracted to because they have a lot of small crevices for hiding in. If the unit is dirty or full of hair and debris, all the better for making a comfy roach den.
To get roaches out of your electronics:
- For small devices, place the unit in a sealed plastic bag and set it in the freezer.
- Wait two full days for cockroaches inside to freeze and die.
- Take the unit outside and use compressed air to blow out all the crevices and compartments. This will free and displace any dead roaches, as well as their eggs.
- Use bait balls and sticky traps to protect the electronics once they have been cleaned. Diatomaceous earth and boric acid can be used to create a barrier around the unit, but be careful not to get the dust inside the device.
For larger electronics and cold-sensitive devices, skip steps 1 and 2 and use compressed air and/or a strong vacuum to remove bugs and eggs from inside the device.
Signs of Roach Problem
We are often only made aware of problems with roaches in our appliances after finding a dead cockroach inside. But it is possible cockroaches can be living in your kitchen and appliances without leaving behind such obvious evidence.
For this reason, it is important to be on the lookout for more subtle clues that cockroaches are around. These include:
- Droppings: Cockroach droppings look like coffee grounds or black pepper specks.
- Egg Capsules: Roach egg capsules are red, cylindrical pods about 5 to 13mm long.
- Smears: Roches often leave brown smear marks in their wake as they travel up walls and over counters.
- Musty Odor: Cockroaches leave pheromone markers in their feces that have a musty, unpleasant odor.
- Sheds: Nymph cockroaches shed their skin several times before adulthood. These pale yellow sheds resemble cockroaches in shape but can be hard to miss because of their size and color.
If you notice any of these signs near an appliance, you can assume that cockroaches are likely hiding inside. Use our step-by-step guide above to clean the area and address the problem.
Finding out you have roaches living inside your appliances can be a violating feeling. Luckily, with a little work and a lot of follow-through you can evict these pests and reclaim your property.
This process always starts with a good cleaning to rid the appliance of attractants like food and water. After the area is clean, you can protect it and start targeting the roaches living in the appliance and elsewhere by using tools like diatomaceous earth, sticky traps, and boric acid.
Once you have gotten your roach problem under control, you’ll need to maintain a strict cleaning program and stay vigilant to prevent roaches from finding their way back inside your home and your appliances.
Still have questions about ridding your appliances of cockroaches? Be sure to post them in the comments section below.