How To Avoid Bringing Roaches Home From Work

Cockroaches infest all manner of environments frequented by humans, including the workplace. If this happens in your place of employment, you may bring roaches home with you, risking an infestation.

Cockroaches smuggle themselves into bags and coat pockets, so keep these items off the floor to avoid taking roaches home with you from work. Alternatively, keep your pockets and bags fastened at all times. If you bring in packed lunches, store them in a secure, airtight container that roaches can’t get into. And, when you get home, empty your bag and pockets before you go inside.

With the right measures, you should be able to avoid bringing a cockroach problem home with you. However, you may need to talk directly to your manager or the building owner to eradicate the pest problem.

Can You Bring Cockroaches Home from Work?

If you work in a cockroach-infested building, there’s a chance that you could take one (or more) home with you. While this isn’t necessarily a reflection that your workplace is dirty, cockroaches carry harmful human diseases and trigger asthma attacks, making them unsanitary pests.

Roaches get into buildings through the smallest of entrance points. They can also get in through the building’s plumbing and drainage systems. Similarly, in most workplaces, doors and windows are opened and closed continuously throughout the day, so it’s hardly surprising that cockroaches have plenty of opportunities to get inside.

Many employees bring in their lunches and store their food in a communal kitchen or on their desks. Unfortunately, this provides cockroaches with the sustenance they need to create a full-scale infestation within the workplace, especially if the food isn’t safely secured.

Then, if you leave your bag on the floor by your desk for the duration of the day, cockroaches can get inside, especially if there’s food or water inside your bag to attract them.

If you do bring a cockroach home with you, there’s every possibility that it’s a female about to lay her eggs. In her lifetime, females can produce anywhere between 240 to 320 offspring.

When you’re at work, you’re distracted by the tasks and stresses at hand, meaning roaches are far from your thoughts. By being mindful of the preventative measures, you can avoid taking cockroaches home with you.

What Are The Signs Of Cockroaches In The Workplace?

If you suspect your workplace has a cockroach infestation, there are things you can look out for. While there’s a small chance that the building only has a lone roach, it’s more likely that there’s a small infestation. That’s because, given the right conditions, cockroaches breed and multiply quickly. Here are the signs of a roach infestation:

can you bring cockroaches home from work?

Foul Smells

If you notice an unusual, foul-smelling odor that won’t go away, you could have roaches in the workplace. Cockroaches store uric acid in their fat. They also emit pheromones to communicate with one another.

Cockroach Feces

Cockroach feces look like tiny brown or black coffee granules. They’re likely to be more prevalent in the kitchen or around food sources, but they can be found anywhere. The more roaches there are, the more feces you’ll see. Don’t touch them with your bare hands as roach feces harbor disease-causing bacteria.

Smear Marks

Brown, irregular-shaped smear marks are another tell-tale sign of cockroaches. They commonly appear around water sources, but they could show up on floors and walls. As with feces, don’t touch these smear marks with your bare hands. They carry harmful pathogens that can make you unwell if they get into your digestive system.


You may find shed cockroach exoskeletons, which most commonly appear in the areas where roaches are most likely to take shelter. For example, you may discover exoskeletons behind drains or inside kitchen cupboards. Instead of whole skeletons, you may only find small brown shells broken up into various segments.


If your workplace has roaches, you might notice damage to books, paper, or packaging materials. Cockroaches eat these substances as they contain starch, which they convert into glucose.

Live Cockroaches

As well as these signs, you may even notice the odd cockroach scuttle across the floor. According to the University of Florida, if you see this activity level, the infestation is a large one. When people are about, roaches are vulnerable, so they hide until nighttime where they’re protected by darkness. 

How To Prevent Taking Cockroaches Home From Work

The last thing you want to do when going home from a busy day at work is deal with a cockroach problem resulting from a workplace infestation. Follow these steps to prevent cockroaches from coming home with you:

Keep Your Bag Secure

The easiest way for cockroaches to go home with you is through your bag. As mentioned, roaches can get into anything if there’s enough opportunity. To minimize the chances of this:

  • Keep your bag fastened at all times, leaving no tiny gaps that small cockroaches can crawl through.
  • Ensure all pockets are secured fastened.
  • Hang your bag onto a hook or place it off the floor to make it harder for roaches to get into.
  • Keep your bag locked in your car, taking only the essentials you need into your workplace.

Depending on the bag’s fabric, machine wash it on the highest heat you can to kill roaches and their eggs.

Hang Your Coat

Roaches can also leave the workplace through your coat or jacket pockets. Never leave your clothes on the floor. If you don’t have a coat hook to hang your garment on, drape it over the back of your chair, ensuring it doesn’t touch the floor in any way. Worryingly, starving cockroaches will also eat the fabric of coats because:

  • There might be body odors that roaches can sniff out.
  • Your jacket may have traces of food that they will eat.
  • If you’ve recently washed your garment, it may have leftover traces of soap residue containing starch.
  • Roaches will find calories from leather jackets or coats with leather trims.

It’s not only coats and jackets you need to be mindful of, but any wearable items. This could include hi-vis vests and overalls, to name a few.

Use A Lunchbox To Store Food

Like keeping your bag and coat secure, do not leave loose food items in your bag; otherwise, roaches are more likely to get in and come home with you.

According to Chulalongkorn University, cockroaches prefer bananas over other foods because they are rich in carbs. Many workers enjoy them as a pre-lunch snack and leave them out on their desks.

Similarly, female roaches prefer protein-based foods, as they require more energy for breeding and incubating their ootheca (eggs). This means you need to be careful about where you store these lunch items, as they’ll attract roaches while making it easy for them to get access to the sustenance they need to survive. Also, if one gets into your lunchbox, you could easily take it home at the end of the day.

Whenever you take your own lunch to work, use a plastic box with a secure lid and put it in the fridge as soon as you arrive. Even if roaches are present in the kitchen, they won’t be able to chew through the solid lunchbox quickly enough to get to the food. If your lid doesn’t do up properly, discard it and get a new one.

Unpack Your Belongings Outdoors

Before you go into your house, empty your bag and garment pockets beforehand to check that roaches haven’t snuck inside. That way, if you do find one, you can discard it outside rather than letting it loose inside your home.

Empty all rubbish into the outdoor garbage can and zip the bag and pockets back up once you’ve determined that you’re clear of cockroaches. That way, if there’s a roach you haven’t spotted, it won’t be able to escape in your home.

How to Prevent Cockroaches At Work

While it’s a good idea to take measures to prevent taking cockroaches home from work, it’s an even better idea to remove them from your workplace altogether. That way, there’s no risk of you bringing one home with you. Roach infestations are difficult to prevent in large workplaces, but it’s not impossible to do if you follow these steps:

Keep Paper Locked Away

As mentioned, roaches eat paper because it contains starch. They’ll also eat books, including journals that you use for your notes, because they have strong chewing mandibles to tear off tough pieces of paper.

Roaches love starch because they use their saliva to turn it into glucose. Therefore, keep all paper locked away in a cupboard that cockroaches can’t reach. Otherwise, they’ll always have a reason to stay in your workplace’s building.

Secure Doors And Windows

As we’ve said, cockroaches can get into buildings through windows and doors. While you can’t keep doors closed forever, you can make it more difficult by sealing all cracks and gaps, including those around window panes or under doors.

If you’re a building owner, you might want to consider installing an air conditioning system to prevent the need for windows to be open but be aware that roaches can live in AC units. Similarly, an automatic door open and close system will prevent doors from being open for too long, reducing the chances for roaches to get in.

Cut Off The Water Supply

Cockroaches need water to survive – they can only live for about a week without it. As a result, cutting off the water supply can help drive them out of the building or kill them.

We don’t mean stopping all water coming out of the taps. Instead, focus on cleaning up any water spills whenever you see them and report any leaking taps to management. Cockroaches will congregate around bathrooms, so make sure the faucets aren’t left running.

Perform Regular Checks

Carrying out regular spot checks around the building is a good way to prevent cockroaches, as you can address problems as you see them. Focus on checking the bathrooms and kitchens; looking inside cupboards, inside the fridge, and behind the toilet.

working in a place with cockroaches

How To Remove A Workplace Cockroach Infestation

Unfortunately, if your roach prevention measures don’t work and your workplace develops an infestation, you’ll have to eradicate it before it becomes a health hazard. There are several pest control methods you could use, including:

Diatomaceous Earth

Over the years, roaches have become more resistant to pesticides. Because they’re sometimes less effective, diatomaceous earth is a preferred method of roach removal. It’s also natural, occurring from fossilized algae shells and other aquatic organisms. As a result, it’s safe to be used in a busy workplace full of people.

Sprinkle it around the workplace’s problem areas and leave the cockroaches to walk in the powder. It’s made from silica, so it’ll absorb the roach of its water, oil, and fats, dehydrating it to death.


If you want to eradicate your roach infestation sooner, insecticide sprays or powders are more effective. Poison sprays get into the roach’s trachea, causing havoc with their nervous system by paralyzing them, causing them to starve.

On the other hand, you can sprinkle insecticide powders in areas you know roaches are likely to be hiding. Mix it with other substances that cockroaches eat, as it’ll get to work on their digestive systems quicker, dehydrating or starving them to death (whichever comes first).

No one should have to work where there’s a cockroach infestation. Even though you should always take preventative measures to prevent one from traveling home with you, talk to a member of authority within your workplace to ensure they hire a pest control company to tackle the problem head-on.

Photo of author

Jack Andersen

Hi, I'm Jack. A close friend of mine went through a cockroach infestation about 5 years ago, so I'm here to share what I've learned with everyone. I hope that you find the information useful.

1 thought on “How To Avoid Bringing Roaches Home From Work”

  1. I’ve found out the lady who does my ironing has roaches. How do I make sure my ironed clothes are free from roaches? Will a long clear plastic Dillards garment bag knotted at the bottom deter roaches??


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