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How To Prevent Cockroaches In NYC Apartments?

Part of living in New York City is dealing with traffic, tourists, and, unfortunately, pests. 

NYC is home to millions, and roach infestations are inevitable because of the abundance of food and water available.

Cockroach prevention is vital if you’re moving into an NYC apartment. For effective roach control, you must remove access to food, water, and shelter. That means proper food storage, maintaining a clean and dry kitchen, and repairing any cracks, holes, or openings in your home.

Preventing Cockroaches in Your Home

An image shows the interior of an old house.

Cockroaches thrive in damp areas with access to food sources.

Roaches aren’t picky eaters, so successful prevention requires effort, and you must maintain a clean and uncluttered space to keep them at bay.

Moreover, you might be the cleanest person in the city, but if you live in a 100-year-old apartment, you shouldn’t be surprised to see the little beasts sneaking out of the cracks.

The following steps can help you successfully avoid an infestation:

Food and Water

  • Store food in sealed containers and put them in a refrigerator.
  • Keep your counters and cabinets clean and dry, especially if you use shelf paper.
  • If possible, do not use shelf paper. Food crumbs and dirt can accumulate at the bottom, attracting unwanted tenants to your home.
  • Use a tightly covered garbage can lined with a trash bag.
  • Take out the trash daily.
  • Wash dishes and clean your sink every night.
  • Store all foods likely to leave crumbs (cereals, pasta, sugar) in tight containers to prevent spillage.
  • Clean your drains and cover them every night.
  • If possible, use a dehumidifier in humid areas of the house, like the bathrooms.


  • Routinely organize your cabinets and drawers to remove clutter.
  • Keep your house clean. Vacuum regularly and mop the floors to remove dirt and traces of food.
  • Repair the house (do this before moving in if possible). You’ll most likely need a professional to do it for you. Ensure they seal the cracks, fix the pipes, and remove loose wallpaper.
  • Dispose of anything you don’t use. That ranges from furniture to kitchen appliances like toasters and blenders.

There are more advanced methods like using baits and making your own traps, but the above should be effective if you’re preventing (not managing) an infestation.

Why Are There So Many Cockroaches in New York?

New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States.

That shouldn’t be a surprise as NYC is a popular destination for residents and tourists alike.

However, the city’s popularity doesn’t improve the pest situation. NYC is infested with rats and roaches because more people (usually) equals more access to food and water.

When you’re moving to (or visiting) NYC, and you want to avoid hotspots for pests, try not to stay in the following areas:

Anywhere Close To a Restaurant

Restaurants have garbage cans at the back where they dispose of their trash, and rotting food is a gourmet delicacy for pests, including cockroaches.

Also, not all restaurants in NYC maintain high standards of cleanliness.

If the restaurant becomes a nest for cockroach eggs, an infestation is almost always on the horizon for neighborhood residents.

Anywhere Close To a Park

These areas are more susceptible to rat infestations as the little critters like burrowing and building nests. 

Regarding roaches, parks have garbage cans, litter, and other debris where cockroaches can easily make a home and spread out into yours. 

Anywhere Close to Old Apartments

Old apartments usually need significant repairs.

Roach infestations are common in old apartments that aren’t well maintained, so you’re better off avoiding neighborhoods with old buildings – if you can.

However, it’s worth pointing out that some apartments in these areas do have aggressive pest control measures as they’re aware of the problem. 

Before moving in, always confirm with the landlord what steps have been taken to mitigate any pest problems.

How to Know if You Have Cockroaches in Your NYC Apartment

A breakfast, a mug, and a plant on a white table in an NYC apartment.

Aside from seeing a cockroach (dead or alive), the clues below will make it clear if you have a problem in your home:

1. Roach Droppings

German cockroaches are the most common roaches, and their droppings look like coffee grounds that smear when you touch them.

You need to take immediate action if you see droppings in certain areas of your house, like in cupboards or the bottom corners of a wall.

2. Roach Eggs

Cockroaches produce egg sacs that contain between 20-50 eggs and kind of look like a brownish grain of rice. 

The insects leave casings after hatching, and you can find these in corners or dark areas of your house (like under the refrigerator).

3. Musky Smell

If your house always has a musky odor even after cleaning, you might have a roach problem.

If that’s the case, you have more than one cockroach to worry about, as a single insect isn’t enough to stink up your whole house.

This stench is usually the animals’ natural smell, but it can also be coupled with the scent of decomposition if some have died.

You’ll have to call an exterminator if you have a roach infestation. Exterminators have more experience with the issue and are likely to know how to handle the situation effectively.


Prevention is always the best way to deal with pests, especially in New York.

The issue is widespread, and you do yourself a world of good by tackling it beforehand.

If you, unfortunately, have a roach infestation along the way, make sure you consult a professional and use the correct pesticides to handle your problem. 

Certain pesticides do not affect cockroaches, and some evidence suggests that using the wrong stuff can increase their resistance.

Call an exterminator if you can, and if you do, ensure the company has a good track record of eliminating the problem.