If you find your washing machine has been infested with roaches, you’ll need to remove them fast. Otherwise, they’ll breed and multiply, becoming a nuisance. They’ll also destroy your clothes.
Roaches can live in washing machines because they provide them with food, shelter, and moisture. There are also hiding places for them, such as the soap tray, pipes, and the drum itself. Cockroaches eat starch-based items, so if you don’t thoroughly clean your washing machine regularly, you’re at risk of developing a roach problem.
Removing roaches from a washing machine isn’t easy, but it’s possible. Many detergents contain boric acid, which is an effective roach killer. A hot cycle can also drown or suffocate cockroaches if it’s on for long enough.
Can Cockroaches Get in Washing Machines?
At first, washing machines seem like an unlikely spot for cockroaches to hide. But when you think about it carefully, washing machines provide the essential things roaches need to survive, including:
Cockroaches are also attracted to washing machines because they provide food. When clothes are in the machine, roaches will eat stray threads, chew at the ends of fabric, and find calories in leather trims commonly used on clothes.
They also eat starch, which they find through non-toxic soaps and detergents. Roaches can eat starch because they have gut bacteria capable of digesting cellulose. This bacteria is a living organism that uses roaches as hosts. In return, it helps them digest the materials they eat.
Many washing detergents also contain animal fats, which roaches like to consume, providing them with an essential nutrient source. Cockroaches can get into washing machines through the:
- Underside of the washing machine
- Sides and cabinets
- Drain hose
- Holes in the back for the power supply
That’s why it’s so easy for them to enter a washing machine.
Can Roaches Survive a Washing Machine?
Cockroaches can survive in washing machines while they’re switched off. Because there are so many compartments, there are many places where roaches can hide to keep themselves safe, even when they’re turned on.
However, once the washing machine gets switched on, roaches are likely to drown. Cockroaches have spiracles that allow them to breathe. When they’re submerged, they shut. If you use soap or detergent in your washing machine, you can prevent roaches from shutting their spiracles. This will cause their respiratory system to fill with water, and they’ll drown. The soap may also cause them to suffocate.
The problem is roaches can hold their breath for around 40 minutes. If they get the chance to close their spiracles, they can wait out the rinse cycle. If you suspect you have cockroaches, set the rinse cycle to 60 minutes or more to drown the bugs.
Be wary, though. If your washing machine spins the moisture out beforehand, the roaches can survive. There’s also a chance they can climb free, saving themselves. To prevent this, don’t leave the water to sit, and make sure it’s constantly moving. Frequently check to make sure the roaches haven’t found a lip to rest on.
Another issue is roach eggs. They’re more resilient, but they require oxygen to survive. Submerging them in soapy water for as long as possible will help kill them off. Place your clothes in a dryer on the highest heat to make sure they’re dead.
Can Roaches Survive a Dryer?
Because cockroaches are so resilient, they’re capable of surviving both high and low temperatures. So much so, they’ve been known to survive scalding temperatures of at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Most dryers are capable of reaching scorching temperatures and can get as hot as 176 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check to see if yours does this, as the lowest settings only reach 125 degrees, which might not be enough to kill them if they’re not exposed to this temperature consistently for several days.
Roach eggs are also resilient to temperature fluctuations. Instead of killing them, your dryer may delay the hatching process. To kill the eggs, you’ll need to expose them to high heat to prevent them from hatching at a later date.
While washing machines and dryers are sometimes effective on their own, they’re better when you use them together to kill roaches, pairing hot water from the washing machine with the heat of the dryer. Use both devices on their longest setting and send your clothes through multiple times to be sure.
Be careful with this approach, though, as high temperatures can ruin the fibers of your clothes, stretching or shrinking them. If you have clothes you want to keep, try another cleaning method.
How To Remove Cockroaches From Washing Machine
Removing cockroaches from your washing machine isn’t easy. They have several parts and components and are difficult to clean. However, with time, effort, and patience, you can eradicate the pests for good, ensuring the appliance is clean and sanitary for your clothes in the future. Here’s how:
Drains and Pipes
Before you start cleaning, check the hot and cold water pipes under the sink and the waste water hose to make sure there are no leaking parts. If there are, you’ll need to replace them.
Washing Machine Door and Compartments
Roaches are likely to be hiding in the soap tray, so you must deep clean all compartments to ensure you get all of them. Put on some gloves and clean the door and compartments with:
- Soap and water
- A baking soda and white vinegar mix
Check the rubber door seal to ensure it’s not cracked, ripped, or damage, as this can provide another hiding point for the roaches. Although, if the rubber is damaged, it should be evident, as you’ll already have experienced water flowing out during a cycle.
If you do notice any problems with the seal or tray, replace them to prevent cockroaches from using them as an entry point.
Inside and Outside the Washing Machine
Cleaning the inside and outside of the washing machine is a longer process, but this is one of the most vital steps to eradicating the pests.
You’ve already cleaned the compartments, so the next step is to deep clean in and around your washing machine. There could be roaches under the washing machine, so unplug and move the appliance (with the help of another person) to clean the underneath. You’ll be surprised by how much dirt and debris is under there.
The aim here is to replace any traces of starch, laundry detergent, or crumbs that roaches have been feeding off, cutting off the food supply. Use the same cleaning materials as before and clean every inch of the washing machine. If you can, tip it on its side and deep clean the bottom.
We’ve already explained how soap can suffocate cockroaches, but some detergents, including powder forms, are toxic and will kill cockroaches outright. That’s because they can:
- Break down the roach’s protective oily coating
- Absorb moisture
- Kill them from dehydration
The reason detergents are so effective against cockroaches is that they contain boric acid – a known cockroach killer. The Journal of Economic Entomology confirms this and explains how this chemical is one of the most effective roach pesticides. Boric acid is commonly found in the cleaning agent borax.
Sprinkle it into the washing machine before you begin a high-heat cycle to help kill any cockroaches inside. Borax won’t kill them immediately, but over time, the pests will dehydrate and die. Even if they survive the initial cycle, they’ll die after a few days.
Detergents containing boric acid and borax will deal with the infestation inside the washing machine, but you could sprinkle a thin layer underneath the washing machine before you put it back. As soon as the roaches take refuge under it, they’ll come into contact with the boric acid, killing them. It’ll also kill roaches trying to re-enter the washing machine.
However, according to Scientific Reports, cockroaches are becoming immune to certain insecticides. Instead, diatomaceous earth is an effect and natural roach killer.
It’s extracted from diatoms, which are microscopic, fossilized shells of algae and aquatic organisms. It looks and feels like sand, but because it contains 80-90% silica, it absorbs water, fats, and oils out of roaches, dehydrating them to death. In fact, it’s lethal to anything with an exoskeleton.
If you have pets or small children, you might want to use diatomaceous earth instead, as it’s far safer for them if they come into contact with it.
Once you’ve scrubbed all parts of the washing machine, put it on the hottest spin with a generous amount of detergent to clean and sanitize the parts of the machine you can’t get to. This has an additional benefit, as it’ll drown or suffocate any roaches that are lying in wait.
Can I Spray Raid in My Washing Machine?
The most common reaction to spotting a roach is to spray it with an insecticide to kill it. However, spraying Raid or other kinds of poison over your washing machine isn’t a good idea, especially if you have clothes in the drum. That’s because it’s:
- Ineffective long-term and won’t kill all the roaches
- Dangerous for humans coming into contact with it
- A waste of time and money
- Likely to affect your clothes or the washing machine’s function
Raid has its time and place, but using it on your washing machine is, unfortunately, not it.
How To Avoid Cockroaches in Washing Machine
There are many things you can do to prevent roaches from getting into your washing machine. Focus on these methods, as it’ll minimize the risk of you having to go through this stressful process again. Before you do, try to understand:
- Which spots you need to clean
- Which roach products are most effective
- How to seal off all entry points
This will keep roaches away from your washing machine for good.
Depending on where you keep your washing machine, you might want to use a more natural pest control method. If so, use natural oils and scents that roaches hate. These include:
- Bay leaves
These things are highly effective at keeping roaches away, so use them around your washing machine using open containers filled with the oils or products.
Don’t Leave Clothes in the Machine
If you’re too busy or haven’t heard the machine finish its cycle, your clean clothes will remain in the drum until you move them to the dryer.
Unfortunately, if you don’t remove them quickly enough, roaches will eat them. That’s why, as soon as you know the cycle’s ended, you should put them on a dryer or out in the yard to dry, removing this essential food source that roaches need.
The washing machine is commonly neglected when it comes to cleaning. While you don’t need to do a deep clean every time, washing the drum, door, and tray with bleach or a vinegar and baking soda solution once a week will help keep cockroaches away. This process also allows you to inspect the machine for any signs of cockroaches, including:
- Cockroach egg shells
- Exoskeletons they’ve shed
- Foul odor
- Brown stains
- Cockroaches themselves
These are all tell-tale signs that cockroaches are living in your washing machine. If you’re not careful, cockroaches can take over your entire washing machine. By cleaning it and putting it on a long, hot cycle, you should be about to remove them before they cause a significant problem.