7 telltale signs of roaches in your home

A roach poking out from behind a door frame
A roach poking out from behind a door frame (Image credit: Shutterstock)

The idea of having cockroaches in your home can often be unnerving. Not only are they considered unhygienic pests, carrying a host of diseases, but roaches can quickly multiply into a nightmarish infestation. 

But how do you know if you have dreaded roaches in your home? Similar to knowing whether you have mice or even bedbugs, there are certain early warning signs that indicate whether there is pest activity. 

What’s more, cockroaches are notoriously hard to get rid of, with impeccable (yet frustrating!) survival skills — especially in warm and humid environments such as pipes, drains and bathrooms. That’s why it’s so important when spotting these crucial signs to deal with pests as soon as possible. This also includes knowing what attracts roaches to your property in the first place.

So if you want to avoid an infestation, be on the lookout for these 7 telltale signs of roaches in your home. 

You might also want to know these 7 active pests to watch out for in the fall. 

1. Droppings 

Roach with droppings and egg cases

Roach with droppings and egg cases (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similar to most pests, one common telltale sign are roach droppings. But since such pests are small, their droppings can be hard to spot, and can often go unnoticed. 

Their feces tend to resemble coffee grounds or clusters of dark specks, and you’re likely to spot these in dark areas such as the back of cabinets, behind appliances or on any surface.

If you do spot these, ensure you wear protective gloves and a face mask when cleaning this area with a disinfectant cleaning product. Roach feces is known to spread more than 33 types of bacteria, and can trigger serious health issues such as asthma symptoms.  

2. Streaks or smears 

Door hinge with roach smears

Door hinge with roach smears (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Another early sign of cockroaches are strange smears or streaks that are visible on walls, inside cabinet doors or surfaces that roaches have crawled on. These are often red-brown in color, and are a type of ‘food stain’ from the food that has passed through a cockroach’s body (very gross!). 

So if you do notice strange smears on any surfaces, it’s a sure sign that you’re dealing with dreaded roaches.

3. Shed skin  

Roach shedding skin

Roach shedding skin (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This might sound horrid, but if you see shed skins lying around, these are sure signs of cockroaches. Roaches don’t have any bones, but have a hard case to hold their bodies together. As these pests mature and grow over time, they need to shed these hard cases (usually in dark, moist areas), otherwise they will die.  

Typically, shed skin is white in color, and often has an appearance of a deflated cockroach. In fact, through their various lifecycle stages, cockroaches shed their skins 5-8 times, so keep an eye out for these around the home. 

4. Egg cases  

Roach egg cases

Roach egg cases (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Similarly, once you have cockroaches in your home, they will quickly start to breed. Roaches lay their eggs in cases called oothecae, and can vary in appearance depending on the species. For instance, those left behind by American cockroaches are dark brown and about 8 mm long, while ones left by brown-banded roaches are reddish-brown and 8–10 mm long. 

Often, you’ll spot these egg cases hidden in dark corners, under the sink or cabinet ledges. If you do see these, you’ll need to act fast before the eggs start hatching to avoid an infestation to deal with.

5. Musty smells

A cockroach sitting on a toothbrush next to a faucet

A cockroach sitting on a toothbrush next to a faucet (Image credit: Shutterstock)

If you smell a strong, musty or in some cases, garbage-like odor in certain rooms or areas, this might be another sign of roaches in your home. 

In fact, this is likely the case if the odor smells stronger in wet areas, such as the bathroom or basement. These are the ideal places where roaches are first drawn to and tend to congregate. If you do have humidity problems, be sure to ventilate the room as much as possible or invest in one of the best dehumidifiers to reduce some of the moisture. In addition, make sure you repair any leaks under sinks or other appliances that may create damp environments.

In any case, always make it a priority to thoroughly clean and disinfect your surfaces, floors, and garbage cans to help eliminate any odors. Although if the roach problem isn’t dealt with properly, chances are, the smell may keep coming back!

6. Signs of feeding 

A cockroach eating a cookie

A cockroach eating a cookie (Image credit: Shutterstock)

Just like most pests, roaches seek warmth and food, and they're not fussy eaters! In fact, they will consume practically anything — even wallpaper paste. However, they will keep coming back to a property if they know that food is easily accessible. 

Keep an eye out for any signs of feeding around the home, particularly disappearing food, or holes in food packaging, as roaches can easily chew their way through packages. In any case, always ensure that food products are sealed in an airtight plastic storage container or glass jar.

In addition, they consume pet foods that are left out and can feed off dirty dishes in the sink or on the stove. That’s why it’s so important to avoid letting dirty dishes pile up in the sink, and keep all areas clear and sanitized.  

What’s more, roaches are known to prefer sweet scents, so if you have a sweet bowl of potpourri or even a scented candle, that could be luring them in too. Alternatively, replace sweet candles with other scents that roaches dislike. Strong aromas such as lavender or lemongrass are known to repel roaches, so you could dry the Yankee Candle Dried Lavender & Oak Scented ($16.88, Amazon).  

7. Allergy symptoms 

Man sneezing into tissue

Man sneezing into tissue (Image credit: Shutterstock)

This is the worst case scenario, but if you’ve been feeling ill or have unusual allergy symptoms, you may have roaches in your home. Cockroach exoskeletons and droppings contain certain proteins that can trigger allergies, especially in children. 

Common symptoms include sneezing, blocked nose, itchy/red eyes, wheezing or difficulty in breathing. If symptoms worsen, consult a medical professional immediately, and ensure that you deal with the pest problem. 

Of course, if you do have an infestation on your hands, it’s best to contact the professional pest control. They will inspect your home, and take the right course of action and methods to get rid of roaches for good. 

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Cynthia Lawrence
Content Editor, Homes

As the Homes Content Editor, Cynthia Lawrence covers all things homes, interior decorating, and garden-related. She has a wealth of editorial experience testing the latest, ‘must-have’ home appliances, writing buying guides and the handy ‘how to’ features. 

Her work has been published in various titles including, T3, Top Ten Reviews, Ideal Home, Real Homes, Livingetc. and House Beautiful, amongst many.

With a rather unhealthy obsession for all things homes and interiors, she also has an interior design blog for style inspiration and savvy storage solutions (get rid of that clutter!). When she’s not testing cool products, she’ll be searching online for more decor ideas to spruce up her family home or looking for a great bargain!

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    If you suspect you have roaches in your home, these are the common early signs to look out for in your property.

    7 telltale signs of roaches in your home : Read more
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