Cockroaches: What Do They Smell Like?

Cockroaches are one of the most despised household pests. They hide in our walls and creep around in our trash. They are a common pest that can be found in many homes throughout the world and which can elicit fear and disgust.

A cockroach infestation may seem like a daunting task to deal with unless you know how to identify and locate both the bugs and their nests. Spotting a roach running around your home may be easy, but are there other clues that can help you identify an infestation?

For instance, do roaches give off a smell? The answer is “Yes!” Not only are they unsightly guests, but they even come with their own particular smell. While this may seem like just another undesirable aspect of having a roach infestation, it can actually be a helpful tool in locating and ridding your home of these pests for good.

If you are tired of living with roaches, read on to find out how to identify their distinct smell and how to banish them from your home.

How do cockroaches produce smells?

Later we will learn how to identify the smell of cockroaches and how to use it to eliminate these pests from our homes, but it would be helpful to understand how roaches produce a smell in the first place.

Did you know?

Cockroaches, like many animals and insects, use scents to communicate. This scent is a blend of chemicals called cuticular hydrocarbons. These chemicals are excreted to send messages to other cockroaches for mating, shelter, and feeding purposes.

Along with the smell of the cuticular hydrocarbons, cockroaches also produce a smell as they die off due to the oleic acid that develops during decomposition. This was probably an evolutionary trait developed by the species to warn others about dangerous living conditions. Again, as the infestation grows, this smell will become more noticeable as the number of dead roaches increases.

The feces of cockroaches can also easily develop a mold which, in turn, produces its own scent. Since roaches tend to like dark, wet, hidden places, this mold will accumulate quickly if you have a large infestation. If the roach nests are in an area of your home that attracts moisture, this smell could become quite powerful and help to lead you to the decomposing nests.

Even after all cockroaches have been eliminated from your home, their scent could still linger. It is important to remove all roach bodies and feces to fully eliminate the smell. Once all debris is gone, consider airing out your home or using natural air purifiers to fully eradicate any remaining odor.

What do roaches smell like?

You will recognize the smell of cockroaches when you come across it.

It is a musty, oily, pungent odor that increases with the size of the infestation. Even though this odor is most noticeable with large quantities of roaches, it is possible to smell even a few roaches.

The German cockroach, for example, is notorious for being able to create a smell with just one roach.

In many cases, the distinct roach smell will alert you to the fact that there is a sizable roach infestation. Since roaches are nocturnal and tend to hide from humans, this smell can provide you with a good idea of where the majority of the roaches are hiding. If you notice a strong, pungent odor and suspect a roach infestation, your best option is to contact a pest management professional.

How can you get rid of the smell of cockroaches?

As you may know, managing a cockroach infestation can be an intimidating task. To free your home from roaches, you must first find the source. Enlist a trained pest management professional and then work to maintain a roach-free home.

Roaches need food, warmth, moisture, and shelter to survive. If your home provides these things, it is possible for a cockroach infestation to occur. An important part of keeping roaches (and their smell) out of your home is to make sure that your home is inhospitable to these creepy creatures.

Start with good food storage practices:

  1. Immediately throw out rotting food or food scraps
  2. Keep all the perishables in the refrigerator
  3. Keep all the packages tightly closed
  4. Maintain clean general kitchen spaces and counters.

You will also need to make sure to keep your home dry and to not allow excess moisture to accumulate. This can be especially important in the kitchen, basement, and bathroom areas. Make sure to fill any cracks or gaps in sinks, tubs, walls, and any other area where a roach could hide.

The next step to getting rid of roaches and their smell is to get rid of all potential remaining leftovers from the infestation. Remove any dead roaches and their feces. Since the roach odor will linger on their skins, feces, and dead bodies, this is a crucial step. Once your home has been cleaned, keep it in tip-top shape by eliminating clutter, sealing any holes, fixing leaks, and storing food properly. Do not let garbage remain out or leave food on the counters. Throw out any dead cockroaches you find so as not to attract more.

Act now for a roach-free home!

The best defense against roaches is prevention. Follow the above steps to make your home an unfriendly environment for roaches and then make sure to maintain a clean and healthy living space.

If you find yourself needing more substantial help, it may be the time to seek professionals. Find a trained pest management team to help you return your home to normal then do your part to maintain a roach-free environment. Then you will be able to find peace and enjoy being in your home, without being bothered by roaches or their smell.


Meet our team

We are a team of experts in various fields who have come together to help you get rid of pests quickly and efficiently.



Do cockroaches or water bugs smell like gas


    Both waterbugs and cockroaches have a very distinct smell. But I haven’t heard anyone refer to it as smelling like gas. Therefore, the gas odor you’re smelling most likely doesn’t come from the bugs.

Betty Lowman

Do roaches smell like chicken


    Not that I’ve heard of.

Delfia Marcum

Does cockroaches have a pee like smell


    Cockroaches usually don’t smell like pee, they produce pungent, oil-like odor.

Submit a comment

Your email address will not be published*