Pest Control for Students: How to Keep Pests out of Your Dorm Room

The move to college and that first, heady taste of freedom is a whirlwind time for most new students. Between joining sports clubs, attending class and taking advantage of the freshman party culture, cleaning will fall way, way down the list of priorities (any free time should be used strictly for napping). Let’s face it; when you’re busy integrating with campus life, who has time to clean?

Throw in some general messiness, a love of takeout food and shared living space, and your average college dorm gets pretty disgusting within a couple of weeks. Unsurprisingly, dorm rooms are magnets for a variety of pests, who easily find food, shelter, and places to nest among the debris.

Keeping pests out of your dorm room needn’t be a chore, however. Following a few simple pest management strategies can help to keep your room bug and rodent free, so you can get on with enjoying freshman year and kickstarting your adult life.

What are the most common dorm room pests, and how can you keep them out?

Most of the infestations found in college dorm rooms are of the insect variety, with cockroaches, ants and bed bugs dominating the student pest scene. Rats and mice can also find their way inside, especially if you’re in the habit of leaving food out. Read on to learn more about each of the most common types of dorm room pest, and how you can deal with each.


Cockroaches are prevalent throughout North America and are one of the most common (and hated) household pests in the country. These filthy creatures can squeeze their way indoors through tiny gaps, and often do so in search of food, shelter, and water.

The cluttered environment of the college dorm is, therefore, their ideal nesting ground, and many students will encounter these loathsome bugs in their first year.

Cockroaches in your dorm room are not only gross but can also be detrimental to your health. Roaches are well-known vectors of a wide range of harmful bacteria and can easily contaminate food items, with the potential to make you very sick.

How can you keep cockroaches out of your dorm room?

No-one wants roaches in their dorm room, but how can you keep them out?

  • Keep food stored away properly: Store all food in airtight containers to avoid attracting roaches, and clean up all crumbs and spills immediately.
  • Minimize moisture: Cockroaches often come indoors looking for water. Fix any leaky AC units and eliminate any other sources of standing water in your room.
  • Tidy up: Cockroaches love clutter, so having a good tidy up can help to eliminate their hiding places and dissuade them from nesting in your dorm.

Bed bugs


Bed bugs are a nocturnal nightmare, tiny bloodsucking bugs that emerge at night to feed on your inert body as you sleep. Their small, red bites are usually identified by their placement in rings or rows and are very, very itchy. These bites can take a long time to heal and can result in irritation, secondary skin infections, and even allergic reactions.

Bed bugs typically hang out near sleeping areas, so they’re usually found in the lining of bedding. These sneaky critters can hide very effectively and can be tricky to spot, but usually, leave telltale trails of poop (which looks like black or brown dots) on linen.

How can you keep bed bugs out of your dorm room?

Bed bugs in dorms is a common problem, and these persistent pests can be very tricky to get rid of. The most effective way to deal with bed bugs in college dorms is to stay vigilant and take preventative control steps to stop them from moving in in the first place.

  • Inspect your bedding: Make sure you don’t already have bed bugs by inspecting your bedding. Look for live or dead bugs and their poops in the lining of your pillows, mattress, and sheets.
  • Wash your sheets regularly: High temperatures kill bed bugs, so washing your sheets regularly (and we mean at least once a week) is a reliable way to keep your dorm room free from these pests.
  • Beware of other people’s laundry: Bed bugs often move from household to household by hitching a ride in luggage and laundry. Leave your friend’s bags by the door, and never rest bags on your bed after returning from a trip until you’ve checked them for bed bugs.


Ants in dorm rooms are a common problem, especially in the summertime, and especially for people with a habit of leaving food out.

College students are notorious for their collections of greasy takeaway boxes, which can act as a homing beacon for every ant in the vicinity.

Although generally harmless, several ant species bite and some are known to carry infectious bacteria, which can contaminate food sources.

How can you keep ants out of your dorm room?

  • Store food properly: All food should be kept in sealed containers and stored off the ground to avoid attracting ants.
  • Use ant traps: Baited ant traps can be used to lure ants to their death if you are starting to notice the insects in your room.
  • Use ant spray: If you have a heavy ant infestation, you may need to consider using an insecticidal spray to kill them off.


Pest control is an important part of adulting, as many college students find out in their first year. Messy dorm rooms attract a wide range of insect and rodent pests, which is not only a nightmare to live with but can also be detrimental to your health. Keeping bed bugs, roaches, ants and rats out of your dorm is easy when you follow a simple, integrated pest management plan. Keep your room clean and free of crumbs, store all food securely in airtight containers and keep the place tidy to keep dorm bugs at bay!

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