Since roaches are covered in bacteria and germs, knowing how to dispose of them properly is really important. Throwing them in the trash may allow them to crawl out again or leave a pheromone (scent) trail for other roaches to follow. Instead, flushing them down the toilet seems like the answer. After all, the water should kill them, while the toilet itself will flush them right out of your home, or so you’d think.
You can flush a roach down the toilet, but you need to make sure that it’s dead first. You can’t kill a cockroach by flushing it since it can hold its breath for up to 40 minutes. It will arrive in your sewer alive. In that state, it’s able to make its way back into your home or a neighbor’s home.
The same applies to cockroach eggs, which should be crushed before flushing. Whenever you’re trying to get rid of the body, be sure to check that it’s dead. When it is, pick it up with gloves or a paper towel to avoid contamination. If you’re still concerned about the roach playing dead and coming back later, we have some solutions below.
If I Flush A Cockroach, Will It Come Back?
If you flush a cockroach down the toilet, it’s unlikely to return. That’s because the water pressure will force it down the pipes. Even if this failed, your toilet’s water trap should keep the roach from returning up the pipes to your toilet.
In fact, the most likely outcome is that you’ll never see the roach again. However, that doesn’t mean that a flushed roach can’t come back. Here are reasons why it could return:
The roach may crawl back up when the toilet doesn’t flush properly. This is because the toilet fails to push the roach down the pipes and past your water trap. The roach may bob right back up into your bowl.
Escape from The Sewer
Aside from the direct approach, the roach may survive the encounter and come back through other means. If it escapes from the sewer and finds its way into the wild, it can seek entry to your home through:
- Cracks in your pipes
- Gaps in your walls
- Packages to hitch a ride on into your house
As such, it may be a quick solution to flush a roach. However, by allowing it to live, you’re encouraging it to come back.
What Happens When You Flush A Cockroach Down The Toilet?
When you flush a cockroach down the toilet, it goes through your pipes and into the sewer. That’s no different than anything else that you flush down the toilet. However, this process won’t kill the roach.
That’s because roaches are hard to drown. Across their body are many slots that can open and close, called spiracles. Cockroaches use these to breathe. They can easily close these slots, effectively holding their breath.
This also makes them buoyant, which helps them to float. As a result, a flushed roach will harmlessly be forced down through the pipes. With its new home in the sewer or septic tank, the roach can seek a way out. Worse still, if other roaches present in the sewer, they may join their colony and start breeding.
If you happen to flush one or more roaches over the course of a few days or weeks, you may be creating a new colony in the sewer. With time, they can feed on waste, reproduce, and enjoy an ample water supply. That will lead to an expanding population. You’ll then find them spreading out from the sewer, into your area, and back into your home.
Can Cockroaches Come Up Through The Toilet?
Since roaches cannot drown, they can survive the conditions necessary to get up through your pipes. This can provide them with access to your toilet bowl. However, they lack the physical ability to do this. They are not strong swimmers and cannot maneuver well underwater.
If your toilet has elbow joints in its plumbing, or a water trap, then cockroaches can’t navigate up into your toilet. Most modern toilets have these features, keeping you safe.
Can I Flush Cockroach Eggs Down the Toilet?
Flushing roach eggs will leave no scent trail, and they will be deposited into your sewer. However, roach eggs are also unlikely to drown. They’re encased in a thick, protective sac that shields them from harm. Theoretically, not all eggs will survive the journey. The problem is that not all of them need to do so.
Be sure to destroy the eggs before flushing them. Otherwise, there’s a risk of the eggs hatching in your pipes or the sewer. Once they do, they can grow into adults while surrounded by ample food and water. If they escape these spots, like adult roaches, they can quickly find their way into your home.
You can smash the eggs with a shoe or something heavy. The key is to burst the tough outer layer of the sac that holds them together. This can be unsanitary, so be sure to clean any surfaces that touched the eggs afterward.
Cockroaches will be attracted to any residue, from a dead carcass to their own eggs. Likewise, roach eggs carry bacteria from their mother, which could infect anything that they touch. According to the Journal of Food Protection, salmonella is just one bacteria they can acquire and carry from one cockroach to another. As such, the problem with flushing roach eggs isn’t the flushing process but the smashing process.
How To Dispose Of A Cockroach
You may feel that flushing a roach is too much trouble. However, placing it in the trash also has its negatives. This leaves the average person between a rock and a hard place, saying, “I caught a cockroach, now what?” Let’s explore your options for safely disposing of roaches:
To get rid of cockroaches, you first need to kill them. A roach should never be disposed of while it’s still alive, even if that feels more humane than squashing it. You can be sure it’ll seek out your food and shelter. Instead, you can either:
- Step on it
- Use insecticide
The latter is recommended if you’ve encountered more than one roach, which is usually the case. Many sprays are designed to deter nearby roaches, in addition to killing the one you’re specifically targeting.
Trash And Immediate Removal
If you want to avoid the toilet, you can place the roach in a trash bag. However, this bag must be immediately removed from your home. Place it where your garbage services can collect it. Preferably, this will be far away from your home, such as out on the street.
Flush And Clean
As long as the roach is dead, flushing is a good way to dispose of it. However, be sure to confirm that it’s dead, as roaches are good at faking it.
If you can’t be sure, it’s better to use the trash bag and remove it from your home. Once your garbage service collects it, it’s no longer your problem. If the roach survives and regenerates from injuries in your sewer, it’s still in your area.
How To Flush Out A Cockroach
What if the initial flush had weak water pressure, and you’re concerned that the roach is stuck halfway? Then use these tips to flush out the cockroach properly.
Rebalance The Water
Your toilet may be old and in disrepair. To help flush the roach, you need to rebalance the pressure. Here’s how:
- Drain as much of the water from your toilet as you can. If the roach bubbles back up, don’t touch it. Just flush it again and see if the roach goes down.
- If it doesn’t, pour two cups of plain water into your toilet. If this is boiling water, that’s even better.
- Add a squirt or two of dish soap.
- Flush the toilet.
This will help the toilet flush more effectively by breaking up any clogs and resetting the water levels.
If your roach didn’t properly flush on the first try, you might have an issue with your water trap. If the water level in the trap becomes too low, it may allow insects or gases to travel up through your pipes. This can let a live cockroach, or any already in the sewer, crawl right up into your toilet.
A trap primer can be installed in your toilet by a plumber. Here, the primer can identify when there isn’t enough water in the trap. It will then encourage more water to fill it, restoring the balance. That will help maintain the pressure you need to flush a roach on the first try.
If the roach happens to be alive since they’re good at playing dead, don’t worry. The water trap will at least ensure it doesn’t crawl back up the pipes.
How to Pick Up a Dead Cockroach
Once a cockroach is dead, you shouldn’t pick it up with your hands. Cockroaches carry diseases. According to Pest Control, a peer-reviewed academic journal, cockroaches (even dead ones) are “a serious health hazard.” Even if you wash your hands later, trace contaminants can linger. Instead, use these steps to handle a dead cockroach:
Protect Your Hands
Wear gloves before touching a roach. What kind of gloves should you use?
Thin, flimsy plastic can help prevent roach bacteria from touching your skin. By throwing them away, you’re avoiding any chance of cross-contamination.
You may have thicker plastic ones on hand for cleaning the dishes. These can work fine. However, it’s not recommended to use them for kitchen cleaning after touching the roach. Instead, wash them thoroughly with soap and water. Then, set them aside for the dirtier tasks around your home – like disposing of insects.
If you’re dead set on using the gloves for cleaning again, be sure to sanitize them with bleach. After the pest has been disposed of, be sure to wash your hands as well. While taking off the gloves, it’s not hard to accidentally touch your skin with an infected bit.
Use Paper Towel
If you don’t want to pick it up with gloves, you can use:
- A paper towel
- Toilet paper
This allows you to throw away or flush the material once you’re finished.
Use A Dust Pan And Brush
Alternatively, you can use a dustpan and a brush to sweep the roach up. This is the less sanitary option, however. Bacteria can easily coat the bristles of your brush and become difficult to clean out. In any case, be sure to give both objects a thorough bleach bath after you’re finished.
How To Prevent Flushed Roaches from Coming Back
If you’re uncertain if the cockroach is dead, you can take extra measures to make your bathroom less appealing:
- Remove all organic matter, like hair and soap.
- Get your pipes checked over for any leaks or cracks the surviving roach could manipulate.
- If you’re concerned about a roach infestation in your sewer, you can speak with a professional exterminator. They will have a method of cleaning out the problem.
On the whole, flushing a roach is an effective way to dispose of it. Just make sure that you’re sufficiently thorough as it could return to your home or that of a neighbor.