St. George & Southern Utah Pest Control Experts

Good Sanitation is as Important as a Treatment

By Eric Palmer February 12, 2022
If you see a cockroach dart out from under your freezer, your first reaction may be to reach for a can of bug spray. Before releasing a cloud of poison into your kitchen, pause, and reconsider.


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However, before releasing a cloud of insect poison into your kitchen, it might be worth pausing to reconsider. A quick spray will probably kill the individual cockroach. But what if there are more?

Obviously, it is better to prevent a roach infestation than remove just one. And the best way to do that is by good sanitation.

That may sound too easy. After all, we like to think of our homes as clean and we probably spend hours working hard to keep it that way. Isn’t that enough?

No. You are up against masters of survival.

Before looking at good sanitation, let’s see why roaches are such successful pests.

Roaches as a successful pest

Cockroaches normally only roam after dark and scoot quickly from one sheltered place to another. If you see one roach, there are probably more.

Cockroaches want three main things – water, food, and shelter. Unfortunately, they have become experts at exploiting our homes for their benefit. To make matters worse, they are remarkably resilient creatures:

  • Roach eggs are protected inside hard capsules.
  • Adults can go for six or seven weeks without food.

With the ability for a single female German cockroach and her offspring to number over 30,000 in a single season, it is clear that more than a quick spray is required.

Once roaches find a good food source, they let others know about it by emitting a chemical smell, known as a pheromone, which attracts other roaches to them.

That’s why you need good sanitation! It’s the best way to prevent infestations and to encourage visiting roaches to leave. Let’s look at what good sanitation involves, both indoors and outdoors.

Good sanitation indoors

If there is a shortage of food or water, roaches will look for a better location. The lack of these basic needs will put stress on a population, forcing it to move on.

Cockroaches can survive on very little food – just a few crumbs or a small piece of old cardboard. With this in mind, let’s see how you can focus your efforts on preventing roaches.

The basic aim of good sanitation is to remove all food sources, no matter how small. What you may view as insignificant might be a feast for a roach.

The following food sources are often overlooked but can be responsible for keeping roaches well-fed:

  • Food left out uncovered overnight.
  • Food or drink spills that are not cleaned up immediately or thoroughly.
  • Pet food left overnight on the floor.
  • Unwashed plates left in a sink
  • Dried crumbs around the toaster or under a table
  • Grease or bits of food behind or under an appliance
  • The inevitable small food particles that accumulate in cupboards and pantry corners.
  • Open waste bins, with unwashed tins or cartons, or waste food.

Food should be kept in containers with tight-fitting lids or sealable plastic bags.

It is important to vacuum thoroughly, Ideally, use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. This will help keep down roach-associated allergies but vacuuming will also remove the small specks of food that will sustain a roach. If you vacuum under furniture and along skirting boards, you may also remove their egg cases.

Good sanitation outdoors

Some species of cockroach spend the warmer months outdoors, only venturing indoors when the weather becomes cold. By removing suitable hiding places and food, you can deter them from living in your yard. Which, in turn, should prevent unwanted indoor visits during the winter.

Roaches are drawn to any garden debris, piles of logs or wood, and compost. These should be removed. If that’s not practical, keep them as far away from the house as possible. Rotting leaves or fallen fruit should be swept up and removed.

Many gardeners mulch their garden to help their plants but it’s not just the plants that benefit. It’s better not to mulch within a yard of the house. A 12” wide layer of gravel along house walls will reduce ground moisture and dissuade roaches from living close to the dwelling.

Although it can look attractive, ivy growing on the walls of a house can encourage roaches. They can thrive among the leaves until they think it’s time to come inside for warmth.

Watch out for food spills from livestock and pets kept in the yard which can be a great lure for roaches. Garbage bins should be sealed with tight-fitting lids.

Garages, sheds, and even basements are often used to store old newspapers and cardboard boxes. These are ideal hiding places and a welcome source of roach food.

Restrict water access

A roach can survive for several weeks without food but it can only survive a single week without water.

It’s rarely practical to remove all sources of water, either indoors or out. But with care, the availability can be reduced enough to discourage a roach infestation.

Leaking pipes are an obvious source of water, but so are pipes running with condensation. Putting plugs in sinks and baths when not in use prevents roaches from accessing the pipes and dirty water.

If your pet doesn’t need water at night, remove the bowl. Empty water from sinks when not in use. Wet cloths are a great water source when you’re a small insect! Dry them or put them in plastic bags.

Clean and then block any drains.

Need help?

Spotting a cockroach racing alongside a skirting board doesn’t mean your house is dirty. But it is a timely reminder that at least one of these inquisitive pests is investigating your home. It’s the perfect time to review your sanitation policies. Don’t forget, you are up against an insect that has spent thousands of years exploiting human habitation. Prevention is far easier than fighting an infestation.
If, despite your best efforts, you are tackling an infestation, contact Southwest Exterminators immediately. If you would like advice on how to secure your home or business against roaches, give us a call.


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