By Zachary Ciras on January 13, 2021.

Thanks to the economy, we’re downsizing and moving from our duplex to an apartment building. I’m worried about taking cockroaches with us (our next door duplex neighbors have had roaches in the past), and even more worried about acquiring cockroaches in our new apartment. Any advice for the move?

S. N., Uxbridge, MA

Good for you, thinking this through ahead of time! Hopefully you’ve been in touch with your new property manager who has arranged to have your apartment treated by a pest control professional while it’s still vacant and before your move-in. It’s also a good idea to have your present home treated by a pest control professional before you begin the packing process.


1. Use the move as a good time to get rid of clutter

Don’t move items that are broken, unwanted, or haven’t been used in years (these are more likely to harbor cockroaches, anyway). Don’t pack any stored grocery bags, plastic bags, papers, cardboard boxes or other stacked items that could be hiding cockroaches or their egg cases. Throw them out and, if possible, use new packing boxes. Boxes that are gifted by friends or picked up near dumpsters could also be infested.

If you have clothes or other items already stored in cardboard boxes, wash them and repack them in new boxes (or better yet, plastic tubs) before you move them.

2. Pay more attention when packing high-risk items

Keep an eye out for roaches as you pack. Know what a cockroach egg case looks like (see Cockroach Egg Cases Are Hidden) so that you don’t take any with you. Shake out items that might have cockroaches hidden inside. Vacuum items that can be vacuumed. If you have some items, like small kitchen appliances or electronics, that could be hiding cockroaches, pack them separately.

Place a plastic cockroach bait station in any packed box that is at high risk for transporting cockroaches. Save these bait stations as you unpack boxes. They may come in handy before your apartment is scheduled for regular pest control service.

Pay special attention to food items, especially boxed or bagged foods that could be hiding cockroaches or egg cases. Pack food items separately in sealed plastic bags or plastic tubs.


1. Unpack and put things away ASAP

Try not to let packed boxes sit for long periods in your new apartment. Don’t bring them in until you’re ready to unpack them so that you can check for any hitchhiking pests or egg cases at the time. As you put things away, look for any evidence of roaches already in your new apartment. Take the boxes and packing materials to the dumpster immediately after unpacking.

2. Check for gaps or cockroach entry points requiring repair

Before, or ASAP after you’ve moved in, give some thought to “pest-proofing” or sealing openings into your new apartment to help keep cockroaches and other pests from entering. Cockroaches, and even bed bugs, can easily exit under the door of an infested apartment, cross the hall or follow the wall, and enter under the door into a neighboring apartment. Pests can also move next door and to floors above and below through wall voids, pipe chases, trash chutes, or by following utility lines.

Check with your property manager to find out which types of pest-proofing tasks maintenance might perform and which may not be allowed. For example, some properties require a gap under the apartment door for delivery of resident notices. 

3. Cockroach bait stations can provide temporary peace-of-mind

After you’ve moved in, if it’s going to be awhile before regular scheduled pest control service, re-use those cockroach bait stations that were in your packing boxes, or purchase some new. Placing a few cockroach bait stations or cockroach sticky traps (your property might supply these) in the kitchen will provide an easy, low-risk way to intercept any early, wandering cockroaches. But leave standard pest control to the professionals. Setting off “bug bombs” or “foggers” isn’t safe or effective.

Knowing that you’ve done what you can to start out cockroach-free provides considerable peace-of-mind. Here are some tips to help keep your new apartment comfortable and pest-free:



We’re not satisfied until you are. Learn More