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  • Writer's pictureNoel McCarthy

Mom Was Right. To Get Rid of Roaches You Gotta Clean

Updated: May 25, 2022

Roaches. I hate them. You hate them. Everyone hates them.

And with good reason. It turns out that everything having to do with cockroaches ̶ including their droppings, their saliva, even their decomposing bodies ̶ contain a range of proteins that known to elicit allergies of various kinds and increase the acuteness of asthma symptoms. And children, unfortunately, are particularly prone.

More seriously, cockroaches are also able to transmit diseases, including the bacteria that trigger food poisoning. In fact, these unsightly and unwelcome pests have been proven to spread over 30 different kinds of bacteria, as well as parasitic worms and a number of other kinds of human pathogens. There have even been suggestions that roach droppings are linked to increases in eczema!

The Real Reason Roaches Show Up

You may not want to hear this, but the main reason you have roaches is that you aren’t observing some basic sanitation do’s and don’ts. In other words, if your house ain't clean, you won't be able to get rid of the cockroaches.

But don’t take our word for it! According to the results of a recent collaborative study between Rutgers University-New Brunswick and the New Brunswick Housing and Redevelopment Authority ̶ led by Changlu Wang, professor of entomology at the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences ̶ the best way to “Keep these pests from invading, follow the common-sense rules

of cleanliness.”

“With cockroaches, the best way to keep them away is to keep the kitchen clean,” says Dr. Wang.“ Don’t leave food around; wash the dishes often; reduce the clutter in your kitchen as much as possible.” Of course this makes sense, but sanitation efforts should go far beyond clean dishes and clutter-free kitchens.

The Basics of Anti-Roach Sanitation

To get rid of roaches ̶ and this applies to homes, offices, dorm rooms, and anywhere that food can be consumed ̶ the first step in any sanitation program is to remove all sources of food and water from the cockroach’s environment. Unfortunately, while this objective is rarely accomplished, that should not stop you from removing as many food and water sources as possible.

The fact is that while good sanitation methods alone rarely prevent cockroach infestation, employing scrupulous levels of cleanliness will go a long way toward controlling the problem. (It will also help you get rid of mites, ants and other pests.) It’s also worth pointing out that if you haven’t removed dirt, grease and moisture to the fullest extent possible, you’re not going to succeed as a roach killer. Actually, their presence can in fact interfere with, or greatly lessen, the effectiveness of the pesticides you use.

As the University of Nebraska’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources notes, insecticides and baits are more effective when other sources of food are not available to the invading roaches. Research has shown that while roaches will happily munch on baits, they are rarely content with such fare and will often go foraging for other sources of nutrition. But this can have hidden advantages: as they delve further into a room these same roaches may well expose themselves to already pesticide-treated surfaces. And that is invariably lethal for them.

The Sterifab Solution

Whether you’re trying to get rid of mites, fleas, lice, bed bugs or roaches, your first priority it to eliminate them. After you have removed all food sources and thoroughly cleaned, we humbly suggest you try Sterifab®. As an EPA-registered product, it’s acknowledged to be among the most efficient and cost-effective agents available today. It’s a really powerful disinfectant spray and a potent agent for eliminating insects, as well as fungus and odors.

Getting Rid of Roaches: The Do’s and Don’ts

The New York State Department of Health suggests the following steps to get rid of roaches:


  • Keep food in sealed containers or in the refrigerator.

  • Paint cabinet shelves and drawers with enamel and keep them clean.

  • Rinse all recyclables clean and take them out every few days.

  • Put garbage in tightly covered containers and keep them outside.

  • Wash dishes, tables, counters and stove tops every day.

  • Store flour, sugar, cereal, pasta and crackers in tightly covered plastic or metal containers.

Hiding Places

  • Clean out junk and clutter from storage shelves, drawers and closets.

  • Don't use shelf paper.

  • Get rid of unused furniture, appliances, food and clothing.

  • Do home repairs: fill in cracks, seal openings around pipes, and remove chipped paint using care not to make dust if paint contains lead.

  • Remove or repair loose wallpaper and plaster.


  • Fix all leaks.

  • Clean drains.

  • Keep all areas clean and dry.

Where Cockroaches Live: Stay Alert to Other Problem Locations!

What holds true for homes and offices vis a vis roach control also holds for a variety of other locations and facilities, although each has its own set of specific problems and issues.


Cockroach infestation is a particular problem here since roaches are known to spread bacteria, parasitic worms and a number of other human pathogens. As carriers of bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella, roaches can not only contaminate food, cooking equipment and food preparation surfaces, but, according to Jim Fredericks Ph.D. and Missy Henriksen, they can also “Compromise the sterile environment of operating rooms and the cleanliness of exam rooms and patient rooms.”

The authors write that roaches can be “found in locker and break rooms, laundry rooms, janitorial closets, food service areas, restaurants and snack bars, vending machine areas, food carts, floor drains and sink areas, intensive care units (ICUs), kidney dialysis and autopsy rooms as well as loading docks and garbage disposal areas."

Clearly, hospitals, urgent care facilities, clinics, even retirement homes, need to maintain superior levels of sanitation, especially while caring for ‘sensitive’ populations.

Hotels, Motels and B&B’s

Places that offer over-night accommodation also present their own fair share of issues ̶ and not just with roaches. Bed bugs, fleas, ticks and other pests can be added to the list.

The main problem lies not so much in sanitation levels, per se, but the fact that these places, by definition, are host to transient visitors and they can bring with them a whole host of unwelcome ‘guests.’ Putting aside the comment of one hotelier who observed that “some guests are simply slobs,”one of the main obstacles to maintaining acceptable levels of cleanliness lies in the generally poor quality of the cleaning staff. This especially true these days because many hotels and motels have moved from in-house to low-bid contract cleaning services.

According to Yannick Thibault, who owns and manages the award-winning Quality Inn and Suites in Matane, Quebec, “The biggest challenge for hoteliers is to assemble — and keep — a really good housekeeping team . . . I [say} you should be happy to sleep in this room. If not, it’s not clean enough.”


Like hotels and motels, the transportation industry (trains, buses, taxi-cabs, airplanes, cruise ships, etc.) also have to contend with people who come and go ̶ day in day out.

And that means you can have lots of bugs on trains, planes and automobiles.

Needless to say, maintaining high level standards of cleanliness in this industry is particularly challenging. In fact, what the National Pest Management Association has suggested that for virtually all pest problems, operators should “Develop a written . . . action plan in advance of problems being identified” they write, “with specific procedures and responsibilities for responding to” pest reports. Operators should also conduct regular inspections of all your vehicles and facilities, no matter how inconvenient that might seem.

Constant vigilance and the number of your pest control company on speed dial are your best defense against invading roaches.

Or, you can use Sterifab. (Just saying...)



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