Your guide to keeping cockroaches out of your bed while you sleep

Cockroaches can be a tricky pest to get rid of, especially since they’re nocturnal. It can be stressful wondering if there are cockroaches running around your home while you’re sleeping, but luckily, there are plenty of preventative measures you can take to keep cockroaches away at night. We interviewed pest control professionals Kevin Carrillo and Chris Parker for tips on handling cockroach infestations, and we’ll walk you through all the best methods to keep cockroaches out of your bedroom so you can get a good night’s sleep.

Things You Should Know

  • Elevate your bed and keep your sheets from touching the floor to prevent cockroaches from crawling on you while you sleep.
  • Take out your trash before bed to prevent cockroaches from finding a food source while you sleep.
  • Avoid eating in bed and seal all food in an air-tight container to eliminate crumbs for cockroaches to feed on.
Section 1 of 4:

How to Keep Cockroaches Away at Night

  1. Position your bed high above ground to keep roaches away from it. Opt for a tall bed frame or use bed risers if your frame is low to the ground. Pick up and wash any sheets or blankets that touch the floor and try to keep them on top of your bed to prevent roaches from hiding in them.[1]
  2. UV light disrupts cockroaches’ breeding patterns and life cycle, so it’s an effective way of curbing an infestation and preventing them from entering your bedroom. Use UV light traps, baits, or repellents to capture or deter the roaches. Place the UV light in an area with a lot of cockroach activity and activate it at night.[2]
    • Consider the needed size, coverage, and intended use when choosing which UV light device to use. If you’re unsure, follow manufacturer recommendations or consult with a pest control professional.
  3. Cockroaches are nocturnal and they’re attracted to decomposing food. Empty your trash regularly and do so before you go to sleep so there’s less risk of them being active at night.[3]
  4. Cockroaches come into your house looking for food sources, so one of the best ways to keep them out is to take the food away. Seal and store food in airtight containers and avoid eating in bed.[4]
    • Even if you put your food away after eating in bed, any remaining crumbs could attract roaches, so it’s best to avoid it altogether.
    • If you have pets, be sure you don’t leave their food and water out overnight, either.
  5. Cockroaches are drawn to damp environments, so remove any standing water in your bedroom and try to dry up damp areas. Check for any leaky faucets or pipes, clean any dirty dishes, and always dump and clean your mop bucket.[5]
    • Cockroaches like to hide in damp, dark areas during the day, so by eliminating them, the cockroaches may leave your house in search of better hiding spots. Then, there’ll be less activity at night.
  6. Strong scents like eucalyptus, lemon, lavender, and peppermint repel cockroaches. Dilute a few drops of an essential oil with water and put it in a spray bottle, then spray any areas where cockroaches are commonly seen.[6]
    • Other natural repellents can get rid of cockroaches as well. Kill roaches by leaving out traps of equal parts baking soda and sugar, or spray them with undiluted vinegar or ammonia.
    • Cockroaches are also deterred by the scents of cucumber peels and catnip, so you can also place them in dark areas or entryways.
  7. There are plenty of ways to trap cockroaches. Commercial roach baits and glue traps are available at most hardware stores, or you can DIY your own trap using duct tape and a piece of food. Place the traps in damp, dark areas or anywhere you’ve seen cockroaches. Then, when the roaches wake at night, you can trap them.[7]
    • Another option is to trap cockroaches using boric acid. Mix borax and sugar to attract the roaches, then sprinkle the mixture in a moist, dark area.
    • Pest control professional Kevin Carrillo has a few different tips on how to lure cockroaches out of hiding. “The best thing to do would be to put out some sort of organic food on the counter and wait for them to come eat it,” he says. “You can use certain over-the-counter gel baits under the lip of the countertop or along the hinges of cabinet doors, since those are areas where roaches tend to go for food.”
  8. Cockroaches often seek shelter in unsanitary areas, so one of the best ways to deter them is by keeping your house clean. This includes sweeping, vacuuming, and mopping regularly, as well as wiping countertops, sinks, and your stove to eliminate food residue.[8]
    • Cleaning your home reduces activity at night because the cockroaches will look for other areas where they’re more likely to find food.
    • According to pest control professional Chris Parker, cockroaches are attracted to heat sources since they’re cold-blooded. He encourages you to check and clean “your dishwashers, your ovens, your grease traps in the ovens, and behind mixers in the engines of refrigerators.”
  9. Cockroaches can hide almost anywhere, so eliminate their hiding spaces by clearing out things you no longer need. Get rid of any old boxes or piles of paper, as well as anything else you don’t use or want. When they can’t hide during the day, they’ll go somewhere else at night.[9]
    • Pest control professional Kevin Carrillo says that roaches commonly enter houses via shopping bags or boxes. “You can bring them into your home in the cardboard from something that got shipped to you or if you had groceries delivered from a warehouse,” he says. “You can have roaches delivered at any time, especially if you’re one of those people who store all of your bags under the sink or you keep a big pile of cardboard in your home.”
  10. Cockroaches can slip through the tiniest of openings, so check for cracks or gaps in doors, windows, and walls. Use caulk or weatherstripping to seal them tightly.[10]
    • Since cockroaches need warmth, they’ll likely come into your house. By sealing their entryways, you’ll reduce nightly activity because they’ll seek easy shelter instead.
    • Pest control professional Chris Parker says cockroaches enjoy cracks and crevices because they make them feel safe. “They like to feel a little bit of pressure on them,” he says. “Their body is designed to be flattened.”
  11. If all else fails, call a professional to take care of the infestation. Cockroaches are resilient and reproduce quickly, so home remedies may not work if the infestation is severe. A pest control professional can get to the root of the problem and help prevent future infestations from developing.[11]
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Section 3 of 4:

Signs You Have a Cockroach Infestation

  1. If you’re concerned you might have an infestation, look for the following:
    • Live or dead cockroaches: This is the clearest sign of an infestation. Since they’re nocturnal, you’re more likely to see one at night, but it’s possible to see them during the day, as well. You may also find dead roaches in areas they’re likely to hide.[13]
    • An oily, musky odor: Cockroaches produce an odor that gets worse as time goes on. The smell typically comes from a large number of roaches, but it can also be produced by a single roach.[14]
    • Egg casings: Cockroaches breed quickly and frequently, so finding egg cases is a strong sign of an infestation. They produce ootheca, which are long, brown casings that hold multiple eggs.[15]
    • Cockroach droppings: Cockroach droppings differ depending on the species of roach you’re dealing with. Some common cockroach droppings look like specks of pepper or coffee grounds, brown stains, or oval pellets.[16]
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Section 4 of 4:

How Roaches Get Inside

  1. They’re extremely resourceful and can sneak inside through cracks, open windows, or in bags or boxes you bring home. If you live in an apartment complex, they can slip from one apartment to another through the pipes.[17]
    • Having cockroaches doesn’t always mean your house is dirty. They’re attracted to food and water and will inhabit any space that allows them access to it.
    • Cockroaches can also feed on things like leather, books, drapery, and stamps, so they may enter your house even if you don’t leave food and water out.[18]
  2. Since they need to feel protected, they’ll typically hide in hard-to-reach areas like in cracks or pipes. You may find cockroach eggs and nests in your bathroom or kitchen, under your sinks, in or near your pipes, and in the dark areas under your drawers.[19]
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About This Article

Chris Parker
Co-authored by:
Pest Control Specialist
This article was co-authored by Chris Parker. Chris Parker is the Founder of Parker Eco Pest Control, a sustainable pest control service in Seattle, Washington. With over seven years of experience, Chris specializes in Integrated Pest Management and doesn’t use any chemicals for pest removal. He offers removal services for ants, rodents, fleas, spiders, wasps, and more. Chris is a certified Commercial Pesticide Applicator in Washington State and received his bachelor’s from the University of Washington.
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Co-authors: 5
Updated: January 16, 2024
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