What Attracts Roaches, Where Do They Come From? What Causes Roaches?

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | January 17, 2024

Woman wonders what attracts roaches, where do roaches come from, what causes roaches, does cardboard attract roaches, are roaches attracted to water, and how to get rid of cockroaches.

You may have noticed a couple of roaches crawling around your house and you can’t help but wonder, what attracts roaches in the first place?

Getting to the root of the problem is a better way of dealing with it before roaches take root, because some species are notoriously hard to exterminate.

It will save you time and effort if you know what do cockroaches hate and what attracts them, and brings them right into your house. If you have been dealing with cockroaches in your house for the longest time, you will be glad to know that there is a way to get rid of them for good.

This guide explains what attracts roaches, where do roaches come from, and what causes them to infest your home so that you can avoid these factors and eliminate roaches for good.

What Attracts Roaches: What Attracts Cockroaches to Your House?

Are you wondering how to keep cockroaches away?

You have to learn what attracts roaches to your home in the first place, this way, you can use it to your advantage by making your home the most inhospitable place for pests such that they won’t try sticking around.

Most comfortable living conditions for roaches graphics showing what attracts cockroaches which include dirty dishes piled up in the sink, open garbage bags and cans, high humidity, and food crumbs.

Here are the most comfortable living conditions for roaches.

  • Dirty dishes piled up in the sink: It may be tempting to just leave the dishes in the sink to deal with them in the morning, but that is the perfect way to attract roaches. The smell of food lures them in and they gladly feast on the leftover bits, coming back for more over and over again.
  • Open garbage bags and cans: Roaches use their strong sense of smell to locate garbage and eat whatever they find, from food to papers. Spills around the trash cans can also attract them, so you have to be religious with emptying, cleaning, and covering your trash.3
  • High humidity: What attracts roaches is the fact that there is a chance to live in conditions that look like their natural habitats.5 They thrive in areas with high humidity, which is why they are more commonly found in kitchens and bathrooms, and inside appliances like air conditioners.
  • Food crumbs: Food is the number one reason why you are dealing with roaches and they love it when there are crumbs left on surfaces, on tables, counters, in open containers, and on carpets.

Food, water, and shelter are the top reasons why there are roaches in your house.

Even the slightest chance of getting that in your home is enough reason for them to take their chances, so you have to do everything possible to make sure that they don’t get any food, water, or a comfortable living environment.

What Food Attracts Roaches?

Roaches will literally eat anything that they come across but the food that attracts them the most includes sugar, meat, starch, and grease. They would find these either in leftover food or as food particles in crumbs and dirty dishes.

So, you have to make sure that your food stays covered and you clean up crumbs and dirty dishes.

What Attracts Roaches: Does Cardboard Attract Roaches?

Looking at the things that attract roaches, cardboard is up there on the list. It offers shelter and food for the roaches, which is perfect, more so when humid.

They love the smell of cardboard and can spend most of their time hiding and eating away at the fibers.

Removing those empty amazon boxes (recycling them of course!) from your garage is crucial for removing any possible ideal habitats for the roaches.

Where Do Roaches Come From?

Truth be told, house bugs are a menace. You will find roaches in Airbnbs, some hotel rooms, and even right in your house.

Graphic of common spaces roaches sneak into showing the places where do roaches come from which include, packages, furniture and electronic appliances, cracks, and drains and pipes.

What may start out as a minor infestation easily gets out of hand and before you know it, there are cockroach eggs all over your house, their population grows, and you just can’t get rid of them on your own. Knowing what do roaches smell like, you wouldn’t want that musty odor in your house.

You need to know when to call an exterminator for roaches to help, but before all these happen, it is vital to determine how roaches infiltrate your space. Cockroaches have mastered the art of sneaking through the tiniest of spaces to get into your house.

  • Cracks: Their flattened bodies make it way easier for them to fit through gaps and crevices in the walls, under windows or doors, or even in the foundation
  • Drains and pipes: The kitchen and bathroom are the perfect entryways for cockroaches to get into your house, all thanks to the drainage pipes and sewer systems
  • Furniture and electronics appliances: You want to be extra cautious when buying second-hand household goods because roaches and eggs hide in the corners, so you may unknowingly bring them in yourself
  • Packages: Not many know this, but there are chances that you personally let in roaches through your groceries or packages considering how great roaches are at hitching rides2

What Causes Roaches? What Causes Cockroaches To Infest Your House?

What attracts roaches the most? That is one of the top concerns from homeowners, because that way, you can prevent them from ever attacking your home.

American and German roaches are the most common types of roaches and just like any other creature out there, they also have their basic needs, which is why they make your house their home.4

This list will show you what are cockroach attracted to.


Ever wondered “What do cockroaches eat?” Food is what attracts roaches the most to your space.

That is how they manage to survive for so long in your house; they have to eat, which means that they find that in your house. They make use of leftover food in dirty dishes, crumbs on tables and countertops, garbage, and of course, food left in the open.


The second thing that attracts pests to your home is if there is a water supply. Roaches absolutely love it when it is damp, that is why you find them around leaking taps and pipes, sometimes also near wet walls and floors.

They also love wet kitchen sponges and towels, so you have to be very careful, fixing any leaks, not letting water stand for long, and drying out wet towels in the kitchen and bathroom.


Your home offers the perfect conditions for roaches to hide and breed. They love the warmth and safety that it accords to them, so they will find a way to sneak inside.

It becomes even more conducive if it is wet, dark, and cluttered, meaning that you will likely find it in the garage, basement, or attic.

Knowing What Attracts Roaches, What Should You Do: Prevention and Treatment

Thinking about how to get rid of roaches coming from neighbors or how to completely stop them from ever coming to your house, you must know how to prevent cockroaches. Find out what attracts roaches and eliminate those conditions from your home.

This includes leaving food and water particles lying around your house because they will definitely come looking for sustenance. Make sure that you maintain the highest level of hygiene at all times and fix leaks and cracks around your house.

Also, be very cautious when bringing anything into the house, from second-hand furniture to packages and even luggage from hotel rooms that were infested with roaches. It also helps to use what roaches hate to your advantage.

Top shot of a large adult cockroach showing brown and segmented back, on concrete surface.

(Image: Spider.Dog7)

Think of repelling smells like those from lavender, eucalyptus plants, mint, citrus, and many others.1 You can use candles, houseplants, sprays, and oils around your home but, if roaches still find a way in, your last resort would be to exterminate, either DIY or through pest control professionals.

There are a few pressing questions when it comes to this, like, does killing cockroaches attract more? Does bleach kill roaches?

Well, DIY methods are not always the best way to go. Apart from being ineffective, they are not recommended when it comes to massive infestations.

For instance, bleach may work but not perfectly, and two, there are chances that killing a few could attract more roaches, no thanks to the acid released by the carcasses. You may have to consider how much does an exterminator cost for roaches in order to get professional help and luckily,6 exterminator prices are not even that high because there are several factors taken into consideration.

You are on the right track if you are looking for what attracts roaches to your house. While others focus more on how to get rid of them, finding ways to stop them from finding your house conducive in the first place is even more effective.

No one wants to deal with roaches because it is tasking and expensive, so you need to start with prevention. Roaches seek food, water, and shelter when they come to your house.

This will lure them in and they will thrive because they are sustained. They have clever ways to do this, by eating the crumbs left after you eat, or the particles in dirty dishes that are left out for too long.

As for water, they get that from leaking taps and pipes, and even wet kitchen and bathroom towels.

If you have been wondering what attracts roaches to your house even after exterminating them over and over again, these tips can help you make an environment that they’ll hate.

Frequently Asked Questions About What Attracts Roaches?

What Are Roaches Attracted To? What Attracts Roaches?

Primarily, there are three main things that attract roaches to your home, food, water, and shelter and as long as they can get the three things, they will live and thrive in your space.

This comes in the form of food left out in the open, crumbs left on surfaces, dirty dishes, leaking taps, standing water, and warm humid spots around your home, which is why hygiene is paramount if you want to prevent roaches.

Are Roaches Attracted to Water?

Cockroaches absolutely love having water around. They tend to live in humid places in the wild, so having leaking taps, standing water, and wet towels in the kitchen and bathroom provides the perfect conditions for them.

Read More About What Attracts Roaches?


1Allred, B. (2023, September 26). What Attracts Roaches in the First Place? A-Z-ANIMALS. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from <https://a-z-animals.com/blog/what-attracts-roaches-in-the-first-place/>

2What Attracts Cockroaches to Your Home. (2023, August 10). PLUNKETTS. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from <https://plunketts.net/blog/what-attracts-cockroaches-into-your-home>

3Wingo, L. (2023, January 26). What Attracts Cockroaches? Ways You’re Inviting Cockroaches Into Your Home. BOBVILA. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from <https://www.bobvila.com/articles/what-attracts-cockroaches/>

4National Pesticide Information Center & Oregon State University. (2023, November 13). Why do I have cockroaches in my home? NPIC. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from <http://npic.orst.edu/faq/roach.html>

5Klass, C. (1978, June). Cockroaches. MAINE. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from <https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/gotpests/bugs/factsheets/cockroaches-cornell.pdf>

6Ogg, B., Ogg, C., & Ferraro, D. (2023). COCKROACH CONTROL MANUAL. UNL. Retrieved December 1, 2023, from <https://lancaster.unl.edu/pest/roach/cockroach%20manual.pdf>

7El Cockroach Photo by Spider.Dog. (2009, September 30) / CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Resized. Flickr. Retrieved January 17, 2024, from <https://www.flickr.com/photos/spiderdog/3967683435/>