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What To Do About Cockroaches in the Dishwasher

a dishwasher with cockroaches inside

Finding cockroaches in the dishwasher is nothing short of shocking, not to mention just plain gross. Why would a cockroach want to invade your dishwasher? The answer is pretty simple, when you think about it. Cockroaches need the same things as every other creature on earth to survive: food, water and shelter. The dishwasher—at least when it’s not running—provides all the needed elements for survival.

If you leave dirty dishes inside the dishwasher for a while before running it, cockroaches will be attracted to them as a source of food. But, even if you don’t have that habit, food and grease residue can build up inside the dishwasher over time. You might find it caked up in the filter or around the rubber gasket that runs along the inside of the front of the dishwasher. If you don’t rinse or scrape food off your dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, those food scraps may be too big to wash away when your machine runs. Then, they could become stuck in the well at the bottom of the appliance, where they’ll become something similar to catnip for cockroaches.

Keeping Roaches Out of the Dishwasher

There are lots of reasons to clean out your dishwasher on a regular basis, and combating a cockroach problem is just one of them. At some point, all that food residue inside the dishwasher will start to stink. That smell is exactly what attracts cockroaches to venture in when the dishwasher door is left open.

The problem is, it’s actually a good idea to leave the dishwasher door open between uses. Doing so airs out the dishwasher, cutting down on the mildew that can build up inside if the appliance is always kept closed. Cockroaches are attracted to the moisture and humidity inside the dishwasher, as well as the leftover food particles. So, cleaning the appliance and airing it out regularly will both help with keeping cockroaches away.

If you do find cockroaches in the dishwasher, be sure to rewash the dishes before putting them away. Cockroaches are dirty pests that will contaminate clean dishes if they touch them. Once you’ve rewashed your dishes, it’s time to do a thorough cleaning of the dishwasher itself.

The first step in cleaning the dishwasher is to get rid of any food residue inside. Empty out the filter, which is usually located under the bottom rotating spray arm. Then, use a damp cloth or paper towel to wipe down the dishwasher’s walls, as well as the rubber gaskets and the large well in the bottom. Finally, place a bowl or a mug in the top rack of the dishwasher and put a cup or two of white vinegar inside. Then, run the dishwasher without soap. The vinegar smell will be strong. While some people find it unpleasant, it’s a great way to cut grease, and clean and decontaminate the entire dishwasher.

What To Do About Cockroaches in the Kitchen

Unfortunately, even once the dishwasher is clean, you’re not done. Now it’s time to address the bigger issue of cockroaches in your kitchen. Larger types of roaches, like American and Oriental cockroaches, usually come indoors in search of food and shelter. Sometimes, they even find their way into homes on accident. So it’s possible that you found just one, stray cockroach that happened to wander into your kitchen and then into the dishwasher, looking for a snack. However, it’s also possible that there are more cockroaches nearby.

These pests are great at hiding. Typically, cockroaches come out at night and stay hidden during the day. Even outdoor varieties of cockroaches can become a problem indoors if they find enough food to stick around and lay eggs. But German cockroaches, which are the smallest variety of cockroach that you would find in your home, become a real issue in many homes. If you see even just one of these pests, it’s a good sign that there could be many more.

The truth is, any type of cockroach indoors can lead to a big pest problem over time. Female cockroaches lay their eggs in hard cases. Cockroach egg cases are usually medium to dark brown or dark reddish-brown in color, banded and small—less than a half-inch long by a quarter-inch wide. Depending on the type of cockroach, some egg cases are only a quarter-inch long and an eighth-inch wide. Each case can hold between 20 and 50 eggs, depending on the species. This explains why a cockroach infestation can get out of hand so fast. If you ever spot an egg case that hasn’t hatched yet, be sure to put it in an airtight bag and throw it away.

Keeping your kitchen and dishwasher clean is a great way to deter cockroaches, but even clean homes can have a cockroach problem. Cockroaches will eat just about anything, including books, corrugated cardboard, wallpaper and even cloth. If your home has a more widespread cockroach problem, it’s time to contact a professional who can treat your property and recommend best practices to keep pests away.

Learning that even clean homes can have roach problems might bring many questions to the forefront of your mind. For one, how do roaches make their way into homes?

a cockroach inside a home

How Do You Get Cockroaches?

Many people wonder, how do you get cockroaches in the first place? What draws them into your home and makes them stay and reproduce? These are smart questions to ask because if you know what attracts roaches, you can take steps to discourage them from sticking around in the first place.

There are different types of cockroaches, and several of the most common species normally live outdoors. These pests periodically come indoors in search of food, water, warmth (in the winter) or shelter. If you find a big cockroach inside your house—one that’s an inch long or longer—it’s probably one of the varieties that came in from outside.

This means it’s a good idea to look around your home and figure out any obvious places where the cockroaches might be getting in. You might need to fix gaps or holes in window screens, or stuff weep holes with steel wool. The problem is, cockroaches are wily creatures, and they can find their way inside through the tiniest cracks and crevices. Once inside, they can easily find everything they need to thrive.

Tips To Prevent an Infestation

All cockroach varieties, including German cockroaches, are attracted to food that they can find inside your home. This is why keeping your home clean is so important in combating cockroaches. In the kitchen, wipe down the stovetop and counters daily, and keep your trash, recycling or compost bins tightly closed. All food in the pantry should be stored in airtight containers so it doesn’t attract roaches (or other pests, like mice and rats). Don’t let dirty dishes pile up, either in the sink or inside the dishwasher. If you have pets, empty out their food and water bowls every night.

Keeping the rest of your home clean and free of clutter can also help keep cockroaches away. For example, if your family likes to snack in front of the TV, it’s important to clean and vacuum regularly. And, don’t miss those hidden spots like beneath couch cushions.

Though it may come as a surprise, keeping up with yard work can also help keep roaches away. Raking up dead leaves and underbrush and keeping bushes trimmed will cut down on the number of places that roaches might nest outside. Still, all these measures can only go so far. Even clean homes with well-maintained yards can have cockroach problems.

Since roaches reproduce so quickly, it can be very tough to control an infestation on your own. If you have an ongoing cockroach problem, it’s a good idea to contact a pest management specialist to tackle the problem for you. Professionals have all the tools, products and strategies needed to get rid of roaches. And, they can set up an ongoing treatment schedule to prevent these pests from returning in the future.

a dead cockroach in a home which makes a homeowner wonder if roaches carry disease

Do Roaches Carry Disease?

Another question people often ask pest control specialists is: “Do roaches carry disease?” The short answer is yes, they do. Cockroaches can spread many diseases, including cholera, leprosy and even plague. They can also cause illnesses in humans, like diarrhea, allergies and even aggravate asthma.

The bigger the cockroach problem in your home, the more likely it is that these pests can be responsible for health problems for the people who live there. This is why it’s so important to get rid of a cockroach infestation as efficiently as possible. Or, if you’re taking steps on your own to control roaches and you’re still seeing them, it’s time to contact a specialist to handle the problem.

Pest control specialists have expertise, tools and products that aren’t readily available to homeowners. And while home remedies may seem like a good way to help keep roaches away, they often aren’t enough to manage an established cockroach infestation. Cockroaches are incredibly resilient creatures, great at both hiding and reproducing. A professional who is trained and experienced in eliminating pests is the best way to solve your roach problem, so you can relax knowing that a long-term treatment strategy is underway.

ABC Can Control and Prevent Cockroaches

Seeing a cockroach is enough to send a shiver down most homeowners’ spines. If you’re fed up with run-ins with roaches, contact ABC Home & Commercial Services. Our professionals know the best strategies and techniques to control cockroaches. Also, for added peace of mind, we offer ongoing pest management, so you don’t have to worry about creepy-crawlies as part of your regular routine.

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