How To Get Cockroaches Out of Your Dishwasher

If you keep the rest of your home free from food debris, cockroaches may decide to live inside, behind, or underneath your dishwasher. Access to food debris and water is easily found in and around this appliance.

To get cockroaches out of your dishwasher, you must disassemble it. Check the air gap, drain hose, and seals for damage, and replace them if faulty. Disassemble the front and side panels and clear out any cockroaches from the hardware. Add dishwasher detergent to the dispenser and run a full washing cycle on the maximum heat settings.

Unfortunately, you need a certain amount of technical expertise to carry out this process. Ensure that new cockroaches can’t re-enter. A thin layer of boric acid should be spread underneath the dishwasher. Natural repellents, like oregano oil, can be put in the sink and on countertops around the dishwasher.

Do Dishwashers Attract Cockroaches?

Cockroaches don’t favor dishwashers. They prefer the rest of your kitchen due to its abundant food sources, moisture, and hiding places. It’s easy for cockroaches to find food waste, garbage, spilled food, and leftovers.

However, if these are absent, cockroaches may seek out your dishwasher. After all, dishwashers provide an environment where cockroaches can thrive. Dishwashers have everything cockroaches need, including:


Inside dishwashers, there will be leftover food on dirty plates. Any that’s washed off will gather inside the drain. This provides an ample source of sustenance for cockroaches.

Cockroaches don’t like to scavenge too far from food and water, so they may nest inside or behind a dishwasher. This gives them access to any food scraps.


Cockroaches need water more than they need food. They can survive a month without food but die within a week if they have no water.

For this reason, dishwashers are an ideal source of moisture and condensation. They can even get juices, syrups, and water from the dishes you place inside them.

Even if cockroaches can’t get inside the dishwasher, they may colonize nearby. After all, the sink is close to the washing machine. That means that it’s nearly impossible for any cockroach to die of dehydration.

roaches in the dishwasher door panel


Old dishwashers are more likely to contain cockroaches due to faulty ventilation.

Without a proper air vent, the heating function at the end of the washing cycle won’t dry out the dishwasher. Instead, it will create a damp space where cockroaches can thrive.


When the machine is open or running through a cycle, cockroaches can hide away toward the back of the appliance. This will be dark, warm, and cozy. If the dishwasher is closed or isn’t in use, they can enjoy darkness from the inside.


German cockroaches are smaller than other types, so they have an easier time getting into tight spaces.

This means they can easily get inside the washing machine’s hardware, such as the control panel.

How Do Cockroaches Get Inside a Dishwasher?

After finding cockroaches in your dishwasher, it’s not enough to clean the inside and spray insecticide. Cockroaches will always find a way to get back inside the machine, as long as there’s an opening.

You’ll need to check these openings. Otherwise, any cockroaches that avoid pesticides will start to congregate elsewhere. They’ll return to the dishwasher once they think it’s safe.

Cockroaches can enter a dishwasher from various places. Some of these can only be checked after disassembling the washing machine. This could involve hiring a plumber, but there are videos that explain how to do so.

Cockroaches in Dishwasher Drain

The machine’s drain is located at the bottom of the appliance. This is where all the water and food go after a washing cycle is done. Depending on how the machine was installed, there will be a hose.

This connects the drain to the following:

  • Garbage disposal unit
  • Sink

This hose can be found at the back of your dishwasher or under the sink. Cockroaches prefer to loiter about dishwasher drains since they contain food and water. They’ll enter through the sink pipes or the sink drain.

Cockroaches are attracted to any food debris in the garbage disposal unit. They can gain access through this pipe. From there, they’ll be able to travel through the drain hose to the dishwasher.

If those two options are unavailable, cockroaches will use loose pipes. This doesn’t require them to use the sink drain. Instead, smaller species, such as German cockroaches, will sneak through tiny openings.

Cockroaches in Dishwasher Door Panel

A door panel can be found on the exterior part of the dishwasher. They’re usually attached to the dishwasher with four screws. They can even be customized to blend in with the rest of the kitchen cabinets.

Even when the door panel is securely attached, the distance between the washing machine’s door and the panel isn’t water-tight. Cockroaches can easily climb through, especially when the panel is loose.

Cockroaches Behind Dishwasher

The back part of the dishwasher is the easiest place for cockroaches to access.

Cockroaches will have no problem accessing the back of the dishwasher. This is true even if the dishwasher is secured in place. There will still be a slight crevice between the dishwasher and the cabinet or wall.

A crevice is also formed if the dishwasher has an insulation blanket. Insulation blankets are foamy, soft blankets that cover the top and sides of the dishwasher. They stand between the appliance and the countertop. However, they make it easy for cockroaches to reach the back of the dishwasher.

Cockroaches in Dishwasher Air Gap

During the washing cycle, an air gap prevents the dirty water from draining back into the dishwasher.

Depending on where you live, plumbing codes may require that you have an air gap installed. Others only require that you have a drain hose in what’s called a “high loop.”

This happens when the middle of the drain hose is curved to make an upside-down U-shape. Air gaps have holes that connect to the drain hose and garbage disposal.

Why Are There Cockroaches in My Dishwasher?

Even if it’s only for a short period of time, they can thrive on the food and water in dishwashers.

Unless you’re extremely thorough with your cleaning, dishwashers are rarely ever moved.

Do Dirty Dishes Attract Roaches?

Cockroaches love dirty dishes. It’s common for people to leave dirty dishes inside their dishwasher overnight.

This allows cockroaches to seek out the trace bits of food that are left behind. Even if the dishwasher is closed, there are many ways to get inside.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Dishwasher

Dishwashers have many parts to them, and cleaning them isn’t straightforward.

With these steps, you can ensure your dishwasher is clean, safe, and sanitary:

Drain, Pipes, And Sink

You should check the following:

  • Pipes under the sink
  • Drain hose (connected to the drain)

Ensure that there are no holes or leaky spots. If there are, replace them. After that, you’ll need to flush out any cockroaches in the hoses and pipes with boiling water.

Dishwasher Door and Door Panel

Unplug the dishwasher and remove the door panel.

You can clean the door and the door panel with:

  • Soap and water
  • Bleach
  • A mix of baking soda and white vinegar

Check the seal around the door to ensure that it’s in good condition. The dishwasher seal is a rubber lining. This ensures that water doesn’t flow out of the dishwasher while running its cycle.

A damaged seal needs to be replaced as it prevents a dishwasher from leaking and removes any entry points.

Inside and Outside the Dishwasher

Pull out the dishwasher and clean the area behind it.

You can place some baits or a thin layer of boric acid on the floor before moving it back. This will deter any stragglers and gradually kill off any cockroaches that may return to your washing machine.

Remove components from inside the dishwasher, including the racks and the filter. Unlike the door panel, the contents inside the dishwasher come into contact with the plates you use to eat. Use a strong cleaner.

Once you’ve manually cleaned all the removable parts, put them all back. Now, pour some detergent into the dispenser. Let the machine run on the hottest cycle to sanitize the interior.

how do cockroaches get inside a dishwasher?

Roach-Proof Dishwasher

There are many things you can do to keep cockroaches out of a dishwasher:


There is an easy way to limit cockroach access to the dishwasher. Just use a sink strainer with tiny holes. Leave the strainer in the drain at night when the cockroaches are most active.

The strainer must be clean as this will prevent them from being attracted to the leftover food.

Under the Dishwasher

The underside of a dishwasher mustn’t be neglected, so put a thin layer of boric acid there.

Boric acid is dangerous to pets if consumed. If you have animals that are small enough to get under the dishwasher, don’t let them wander near the kitchen or utility room.

Dirty Dishes

Never leave dirty dishes inside the dishwasher overnight. This will prevent cockroaches from entering your dishwasher. Instead, wash the dinner utensils by hand or run a full washing cycle before bed.

Natural Repellents

Insecticides and repellents have harmful substances that are unsafe to use in areas where food is prepared. Instead, use natural oils with scents that cockroaches hate.

Options include:

  • Oregano oil
  • Eucalyptus oil
  • Tea tree oil

You can place small, open containers of these essential oils in the corners of the kitchen or utility room.

Clean Frequently

Clean the garbage disposal and the drain once a week. Keep the countertop clean and entirely free of food, especially at night. Clean the interior and exterior of the dishwasher every two weeks.

Cockroaches can take over your dishwasher. By thoroughly inspecting and cleaning them and the rest of your home, you can remove cockroaches long before they cause any lasting damage.

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.

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