Can Cockroaches Come Up Through the Toilet? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Cockroaches are one of life’s nasty little critters and are persistent bugs that can seemingly infiltrate any place at any time. The fact that they can live even after being decapitated makes them especially gross and unwelcome. But, is the classic horror movie scene, true; can cockroaches come up through the toilet?

Cockroaches can’t come up through the toilet because of the water trap at the toilet’s base that seals out sewer gasses. But, cockroaches can come through other drains and possibly your toilet if the trap is faulty or the toilet is clogged. To get rid of the roaches, do not use chemicals or pour products down the drain; instead, seal off entry points and take preventative measures.

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Are Cockroaches Able To Swim?

If you are wondering just how cockroaches manage to live through their travels in the drain or toilet, the explanation is pretty simple. No, cockroaches don’t “swim” in the literal sense of the word. They are just really good at surviving underwater.

The body of a cockroach is really quite light. So instead of having to swim, they simply just float on the water instead, letting the current take them.

They are also able to close off their respiratory organs while in water. That action makes them capable of traveling through the water with no issue whatsoever.

So, Can Cockroaches Come Up Through The Toilet?

While cockroaches can’t really swim and they do not breathe underwater, they have other means of traversing the water. As they float, they are capable of holding their breath for very long periods of time. That makes them perfect to travel through pipes.

However, it is extremely difficult and unlikely that a cockroach would make its way up through your toilet. The reason for this is modern toilets feature a water trap at the toilet’s base. The trap stops sewer gasses from coming up into your home and it’s full of water.

A roach can make its way up the pipe, but it would need to tread water for a while to make it through the trap. And remember, roaches can’t swim. Therefore, this is no easy feat, and the roach would likely drown before making it into your toilet and out of the water successfully.

But, I See Cockroaches Coming Up Through The Toilet!

If you do see a cockroach making its way out of your toilet, then you might have a clogged toilet. Or, your toilet could be older and not have a trap. Either way, you should notice other signs besides roaches, like bad odors and issues with flushing your toilet.

If this is the case, you need to address these problems immediately. Not just because of the roach, but because these odors are sewer gasses coming into your home, and they are toxic.

Why Do I See A Dead Roach In My Toilet?

If you notice a dead cockroach floating in your toilet, the odds are good it climbed in from the bathroom, not from underneath. It might have climbed in or fallen in, and then been unable to escape, eventually drowning.

Another possibility is the roach was exposed to poison and simply died as it was trying to get a drink of water from your toilet.

Why Do Cockroaches Like Bathrooms?

Cockroaches find bathrooms especially tantalizing because bathrooms have all of their favorite things.

Bathrooms Are Dark And Humid

Finally, you don’t spend too much time in our bathroom, which means it’s usually empty and dark. Plus, any windows are likely shaded or frosted for privacy reasons, letting in less light.

This perfect place for roaches to hang out. They like it when they can chill undisturbed and feel safe to make their nest.

Bathrooms are moist places thanks to the shower, tub, sink, toilet, etc. Cockroaches will seek out damp places and drink from these different areas.

Cockroaches also like warm climates, so a bathroom after a steamy shower is the perfect setting for a roach. If the rest of your home is cold, then after taking a hot shower, cockroaches will see this as a beacon to your bathroom.

Cockroaches Can Hide And Find Food In Your Bathroom

Plus, your bathroom is full of great hiding places, which is especially important to cockroaches since they are prey to other animals. Therefore, cockroaches will seek refuge in places like cabinets, trash cans, behind the toilet, under the tub, in the shower, or tucked behind bath products on shelves.

Of course, the top place to find food in your home is the kitchen, but for cockroaches, they’ll also feast on toothpaste, soap, and toilet paper. They also find certain bath products tasty that are infused with things like cream or mud, and they’ll chow down on used items like ear swabs.

Are You Finding Cockroaches In Your Bathroom At Night?

If you notice cockroaches in your bathroom a lot at night, this is because they feel more comfortable coming out in the open during this time. The bathroom is especially dark at night, plus it’s quiet. If you take a hot shower before you go to bed, then you can bet your bathroom just became a cockroach’s paradise.

Where Do Cockroaches Come From?

You might assume since you find cockroaches hanging out in your bathroom that they come from the sewers. After all, sewers house many pests, and your bathroom is directly connected to it. But, a cockroach problem isn’t likely because of the sewer. Instead, cockroaches are likely invading your home for one of these reasons.

Cockroaches Come Through Drains And Pipes

Drains are certainly not going to hold cockroaches back. They are capable of easily making their way through pipes and drains, and can even show up surprisingly in your faucet. If it seems crazy that cockroaches could come up through your drain, think again.

Drains offer a full-blown highway throughout your house, and they are often a great way for cockroaches to travel throughout your home. If you have any leaking, damaged, or broken pipes, they become instant access for roaches.

Also, if you live in an apartment or other multi-dwelling complex, a neighbor with a roach problem can quickly become your roach problem. After all, if the roaches are in the pipes, the pipes connect through various residences, giving roaches access to your place too.

Plus, if your neighbor starts to fumigate or spray for roaches, it can drive the roaches over to you.

Cracks Or Holes In The Walls Invite In Cockroaches

Nobody wants cracks or holes in their walls, it can lead to structural issues, leaks, and other problems. But, if you see a small crack you might not think much of it at first. Perhaps you figure you’ll get to it later.

However, a full-grown American cockroach can fit through a space as small as 3mm, which is less than 0.12 inches.

Cockroaches Enter Through Tiles And Baseboards

Cockroaches can also squeeze through the tiniest of gaps near your foundation, including near baseboards. Likewise, a crack in your bathroom tile can also invite in a cockroach.

Wooden baseboards in the bathroom tend to expand over time from the moisture and can warp, pulling away from the wall and creating gaps for cockroaches to come through.

Cockroaches Squeeze Through Gaps Under Doors

Cockroaches also come through gaps below doors and other areas of your home, and they find their way to your bathroom. Therefore, if you notice cockroaches in the bathroom, don’t immediately assume the entry point is in the bathroom too.

Plus, bathrooms are full of places where roaches can get trapped, like the slippery sides of your tub or sink. So, if you find roaches in your bathroom, don’t neglect to take preventative measures throughout your home.

How Long Can Cockroaches Live Underwater?

Though they are able to hold their breath for a long period of time, they are not immune. If they stay underwater for too long, they will drown like any other oxygen-breathing creature. So, the real question becomes “how long can they live underwater?”

The way that they last so long underwater is that they are able to close off their respiratory organs (spiracles as they are known).

The majority of cockroaches are able to hold their breath while submerged for up to 40 to 60 minutes at the most. When they are under hot water, however, they become vulnerable. The heat makes it difficult for them to survive, limiting their capacity further.

Avoid Using Chemicals To Stop Cockroaches Coming Up Through The Toilet Or Drains

Are you considering using a chemical or homemade cleaner down your drain to keep from an unexpected visit? Not so fast. First and foremost, most cleaners are ineffective against cockroaches. Remember, they can operate without their head.

Furthermore, pouring those chemicals down the drain can potentially damage your drain. In the worst-case scenario, it can result in damage to your plumbing and sewer system. Avoid pouring these down the drain:

  • Insecticides or pesticides. This one is actually illegal in most municipalities. The reason is that these chemicals can potentially get back into the water supply or the environment. That can result in serious issues with the water supply in the area.
  • Vinegar and baking soda. Though this combination can be used for a lot of different things, it should not be used here. In particular, flushing this mixture can lead to clogs and even add to the water pressure in your pipes. In the most extreme of cases, it can lead to leaks and even pipes bursting.
  • Scaling chemicals. There are certain chemicals meant to wear at minerals like calcium that can build up. What it may also do is potentially weaken your pipes and create even worse problems than an infestation.
  • Hot water. Though it may irritate the cockroaches, if they are far enough down, the water might not even be that hot by the time it hits them. Furthermore, hot water can clog up the toilet by melting any grease and fat within, solidifying them in the pipes. Take measures for preventing their appearance instead of trying to treat the problem at the moment.

How To Get Rid Of Cockroaches By Sealing Entry Points And Water Sources

No one wants to look into the toilet bowl and find one of these creepy critters hanging out. They tend to thrive in areas of standing water and small entryways. Thankfully, by eliminating their entry points and water sources, you can keep those ugly bugs from making an appearance.

  • Seal the drain pipes. Take a flashlight and look for any holes or cracks in the drain pipes. Should you find any, use some caulk to seal it up. Those holes and cracks are likely where the cockroaches are coming in.
  • Repair leaky faucets. Any source of standing water is a beacon for cockroaches. Fix any leaky faucets to prevent that buildup of standing water in your bathroom.
  • Seal holes and crevices. Take a look around the drain pipes. If you notice any crevices or cracks, there are two things you should do. Use duct tape as a temporary fix. Then, for something more long-term, use plaster, silicone caulk, or cement to permanently seal them.
  • Look for gaps. Check for any gaps near the sink’s pipes. Use urethane foam or silicone sealant to fill in those gaps. For spaces around the pipes where they emerge from the wall, use an expanding insulation foam to properly seal those spaces.
  • Holes in the wall. Should you notice any holes in your walls, they need to be addressed. Use the aforementioned expanding insulation foam to fill in those gaps to keep cockroaches from using those holes.
  • Find condensation sources. Like standing water, continuous sources of condensation also attract cockroaches. Use tape to wrap foam insulation around pipes that tend to produce a lot of condensation. Taking away the water source, cockroaches will move on.

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How To Prevent Cockroaches From Infesting Your Home

While getting rid of them is certainly a good thing, why not prevent them from showing up at all if you can? There are more than a few preventative measures that you can take to keep cockroaches from making an unexpected appearance.

  • Move garbage cans. If you keep a garbage can under the bathroom or kitchen sink, consider moving it. The potential for a water source and food source may be too enticing for cockroaches to pass up. Consider changing the garbage can locations.
  • Cover drains using a stopper. When your drains are not in use – generally at night – use a rubber drain cover or a metal screen over the drains. Cockroaches are naturally nocturnal creates, so blocking their access points at night is particularly important.
  • Clean the kitchen drain. Make sure that you rinse out your kitchen drain with a quality sink cleaner. It should remove any food particles that can be particularly attractive for cockroaches.
  • Keep counters clean. The same goes for appliances. Make sure that there is no food left out in the kitchen sink or on the counters. This rule applies, especially for overnight.
  • Seal windows. Cockroaches have also been known to make their way into homes through improperly sealed windows. They can crawl up walls, entering through windows that are either open or have not been properly sealed. 

How To Keep Cockroaches Out Of The Bathroom

In addition to the above-mentioned tips, here are a few extra considerations for your bathroom, specifically.

  • Check toilet seals. Remember, cockroaches love standing water – that includes toilet water. Check the seals on your toilet regularly. Cockroaches can fit into even the tightest spaces in your bathroom. When you find seals that have been compromised, seal them immediately to prevent constant access.
  • Clean hair and other organic matter out of bathroom drains. It might not be appealing to humans, but cockroaches solve eating dead skin and hair. All of these things are in your shower, tub, and sink drains. Use a drain catcher to catch hair and other materials and dump it in the trash and clean it, then dispose of the trash properly. It will help prevent your drains from clogging too.
  •  Keep your bathroom clean. Obviously, this is a good rule of thumb no matter what, but a dirty bathroom is especially appetizing to roaches. They love all of the skin cells and mildew and other things that come with an unclean bathroom.
  • Store your bar soap or switch to liquid. Cockroaches like to chow down on soap bars because of the high oil content. So, get a sealed soap container for your soap or switch to a body wash or liquid soap in a closed container.
  • Don’t open your toilet paper until you need it. Keep toilet paper in its original packaging or store it in a container. Cockroaches love to eat paper, and toilet paper is no exception.
  • Install water traps as needed. If your toilet doesn’t have a water trap, you need to install one or get a new toilet. Plus, install traps to your sink drains too if for some reason they don’t already have them.
  • Install an exhaust fan or use a dehumidifier. Run the exhaust fan for about 20 minutes following a shower or bath to help decrease humidity in the bathroom. If you don’t have a fan, install one or use a dehumidifier in the space.
  • Hang up your bathmat to dry. Don’t leave your bathmat on the floor after a shower or bath. It can grow mildew or worse and become an attractive item to roaches. Hang the mat up to dry to keep it clean and avoid mildew and mold growth.

Related Questions

How do cockroaches breathe?

Though they can hold their breath for a long time, cockroaches do need to breathe eventually. They do this through the use of their trachea. The trachea are tubes that connect to another portion of their body known as spiracles.Their spiracles are actually quite similar to gills on fish. They work to suck air into the body and then push it out into the trachea so that the cockroaches can breathe. Since they do not have a windpipe as humans do, they don’t actually need to breathe through their mouths. That is how they are able to traverse through the water for so long without suffocating.


Is it a problem if I just see one or two roaches?

If you see a roach in your home, don’t take it lightly as there could be more nearby. However, this doesn’t automatically mean you have a large infestation. But, don’t concentrate your efforts just on where you see the roach.Doing this could give cockroaches uninterrupted entry through other parts of your home. Take action quickly, and call in a professional if you think the problem has escalated.


How much does professional cockroach extermination cost?

Cockroach extermination can cost between $100 and $400, with an average cost of $150. Typically, you might need two treatments to effectively get rid of a cockroach infestation.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

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