Are There Cockroaches In The Dishwasher? (Possible Causes & Fixes)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Home appliances have come a long way, baby! Today’s home comes equipped with every little convenience that makes household chores a breeze. But when something inadvertently goes wrong with any one of these modern marvels, prepare to spend time and money.

A roach in the dishwasher may not be as inconvenient as a broken washer, but it is distressing nonetheless. The best way to get rid of roaches is to not leave dirty dishes too long in the dishwasher. Also, do not overlook the machine’s nooks and crannies for food particles that may be stuck there.

Seeing a dead or live roach in the dishwasher is an unnerving and unsettling experience. Before you look at the steps on how to get rid of them, it’s essential to know why they are there. After all, bugs and detergent don’t usually go hand in hand, so why are roaches in the dishwasher?

Do you need pest control services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Reasons for Roaches in Dishwasher

Food Residue

Roaches are very opportunistic creatures that immediately navigate towards the smell of food. These crawling critters may not hear very well, but they have a supernatural sense of smell. Stuck food particles in the dishwasher are a magnet to roaches and can cause an infestation in no time.


Roaches need moisture to survive, and a dishwasher is a natural place for them to seek out water. Aside from damp dishwashers, roaches are attracted to leaky pipes and faucets. This is the primary reason why you encounter them in kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms, even in the cleanest house.


Roaches scurry around in the dark and do not need light to thrive. This is why you see them under furniture or flower pots or in cracks in the wall.

Even when open, a dishwasher always has some shade in it. There are also little nooks and crannies with enough room for a roach to take cover and hide.

Steps to Getting Rid of Roaches in the Dishwasher

Now that you know why roaches navigate toward the dishwasher, here are some steps to get rid of them. Using natural cleansers, such as lemon and vinegar, is always the better choice to preserve your health and the environment. But if the roach problem is severe, you may need to use chemicals for complete eradication.

Giving the dishwasher a thorough clean is the first move in the process. Here are some follow-up steps to ensure a roach-free dishwasher.

Tools You Need for the Job:

  • Strong detergent
  • Brush
  • Silicone sealant
  • Caulking gun
  • Vinegar
  • Boric Acid

Step 1: Empty the Dishwasher

To give the dishwasher a deep cleaning, remove all dishes, wash and dry them all by hand. Give the dishwasher an initial visual check and, with your hands, remove all visible food particles.

Step 2: Remove the Racks and Cutlery Compartment

Carefully detach all the dishwasher racks as well as the cutlery compartment. Give these a good thorough scrubbing with soap and hot water.

Step 3: Clean the Drain Hose

While the racks and utensil holder are drying, investigate the drain hose, which links the garbage disposal to the dishwasher. You may locate this either under the sink or behind the dishwasher itself. If there is no garbage disposal, you can usually find the access hole near the back of the dishwasher.

Thoroughly clean out the drain hose with strong soap and hot water. The drain is dark and chock-full of small food particles, making it a likely source of roach infestation.

Step 4: Investigate Cracks, Holes, and Crevices

Cockroaches are notorious for being able to squeeze their tiny bodies in the smallest holes possible. These hard-to-kill bugs are easily able to flatten their limbs and squeeze through crevices of any kind. Silicone is the best sealant to use to patch up these minuscule holes and gaps.

Simply put silicone sealant in a caulk gun and fill in the holes and cracks.

Step 5: Apply Boric Acid

Pour a thin, barely visible line of boric acid right beneath the dishwasher. Do not use too much, or the roaches will avoid it. The boric acid will start to affect the roaches’ digestive and nervous systems and kill them upon ingestion.

Boric acid also clings to a roach’s legs and body and will subsequently kill other roaches upon its return to the colony. It is one of the most effective roach killers available, and you can also use it as trap bait. You can find it in crystallized form in any home improvement store.

If intending to use boric acid, ensure that it is not accessible to children or pets of any kind. It can be harmful, even fatal, to small pets such as rabbits and hamsters.

Step 6: Run the Dishwasher with Vinegar

After completing the first four steps, run the dishwasher. Place a cup of vinegar on the top rack, select the hottest water cycle possible and run the dishwasher for at least an hour. The steam will kill off any remaining cockroaches, and the vinegar will thoroughly sanitize the dishwasher.

How to Prevent Roaches from Returning

Once you have taken steps to eliminate cockroaches from the dishwasher, the key is to prevent them from returning. If roaches are in your dishwasher, that is a sign that they may be in other areas of the house as well. The following simple solutions are easy enough to insert into your day-to-day activities to ensure a roach-free home environment.

Keep the Dishwasher Door Closed

When not in use, keep the dishwasher door closed to prevent bugs from entering. Only open when loading and unloading the dishwasher. Enticing food smells coming from a wet dishwasher is a paradise for roaming roaches.

Throw Out Kitchen Trash Daily

Kitchen trash that has been sitting for days is an irrefutable way to invite roaches into your home. Throw trash out at the end of each day, and you will discourage these pesky critters from taking up residence in your kitchen.

Wipe Down Kitchen Counters and Surfaces

As much as possible, wipe down all kitchen surfaces after food preparation. This includes counters, stovetops, kitchen islands, and sinks.

Spray with a vinegar solution to dilute food smells that may be lingering on kitchen surfaces. A lemon solution also works well as roaches loathe the scent of citrus.

Vacuum and Mop the Kitchen Floor

Aside from kitchen surfaces, the floor may also hold a tantalizing smorgasbord for wandering roaches. Sweep daily, vacuum often, and mop regularly. This ensures that whatever food particles come flying down from the counters are trashed and taken out of the house.

Sanitize the Dishwasher Regularly

Depending on how often you use the dishwasher, a deep-cleaning is needed every week or every fortnight. Choose the hottest water setting, and run the dishwasher empty with a vinegar cleanse. The hot water should deter roaches from feeling at home in your dishwasher.

Run the Dishwasher Immediately After Loading

Do not make it a habit to leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher overnight. Just one evening of procrastination is an open invitation for roaches to party their way into your dishwasher. If you load your dishwasher and it is not full, run it anyway.

Related Questions

I’m wary of using boric acid. What can I use as a natural alternative?

One effective natural alternative is catnip because its smell repels roaches.  However, if you have cats in your household, spreading catnip around may not be a good idea.  Cats may get to the catnip first and eat it, unsuspectingly paving the way for roaches to come in. Another alternative is spraying a mixture of mint and citrus oils in areas prone to roach activity.  These scents deter roaches, and just a tiny whiff will have them running in the opposite direction.  If you don’t have essential oils on hand, simply place lemon wedges in containers around infested areas in your home. If in a pinch, spray hairspray or drop a glob of dish detergent on a live roach.  This should stop the bug in its tracks and kill it by suffocation. Do not spray hairspray directly in the dishwasher.  Likewise, don’t use regular dish detergent in your dishwasher; you’ll end up with a crazy amount of suds.

Can I use Raid in my dishwasher?

The simple answer is NO; you cannot use Raid in your dishwasher.  Raid and other insecticides of its kind are not advisable to use in the dishwasher.  These toxic insecticides are surely not to be for use in food preparation areas.  You don’t use the dishwasher to prepare food, but the dishes washed in it are for foodservice.  If an insecticide is to be employed, you should use it in the areas outside the dishwasher, not inside it. 

Are roaches dangerous?

Roaches are not necessarily dangerous if you see the occasional one or two crawling out from some dark place.  But left unchecked, an infestation will undoubtedly cause food contamination and be a health risk for certain individuals. Roaches pose a health risk for people with asthma, and a roach bite is harmful to pets and small children.  

Do you need pest control services?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Summing it Up

The best way to deal with roaches and other unwanted critters inside your home is to clean often and regularly. Cleanliness not only invites peace of mind, but it also deters unwelcome pests from invading the comforts of hearth and home.

Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

More by Stacy Randall