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What Do Roaches Smell Like?

The sense of smell is a powerful and vital tool that humans and animals are equipped with. It not only makes your life pleasant, but the sense of smell also helps you stay aware of the dangers in the environment and food. For example, if your sense of smell is not working, you might eat stale food that can cause food poisoning.

Cockroaches emit a strong, musty, and greasy smell like urine when they are alive. This is because cockroaches do not urinate; instead, the poop and urine get mixed, emitting this peculiar musty odor. However, when cockroaches die, the intensity of the smell drops profoundly, and the smell feels like an old worn-out piece of wool cloth stored in closed cabinets for months.

What do roaches smell like? It is a legit question to ask when considering indoor infestations. This will help you identify cockroach infestation at the earliest stages. Almost everything, including fridges, microwave ovens, and gaming consoles, smells musty when infested with roaches. Therefore, we will be discussing the roach smell in detail.

Before you read further, just a quick question. Tired of cockroaches and looking for a permanent solution?

Stop wasting your time, invest in these products and follow this guide: How to get rid of roaches? You will be roach-free in 10-20 days.

1. Max Force Glue Traps
2. Advion Gel Baits
3. Harris Powder Bait
4. Gentrol Insect Growth Regulator
5. Loctite Foam Sealent


Optional Items
1. Gel Bait Professional Gun
2. Torch
3. Powder Bait Puffer
4. Insecticide Spray to kill a reveled colony in a single shot

Cockroach Smell Explained

Cockroaches, like other insects, do not have a urinary system. Instead, they have malpighian tubules that secrete urine into the junction between the midgut and hindgut (Reference). This is why cockroach poop is always slimy like liquid. Moreover, pheromones are secreted by bacteria living inside the cockroach guts that also add to the cockroach smell (Reference).

The mixture of cockroach poop, urine, and pheromones with a desquamated exoskeleton, eggshells, and dead roaches all adds to the roach smell. All these factors combined, roaches smell like greasy, slimy, musty urine-like odor.

It is also essential to know that the cockroach smell also keeps on changing because of the changes in diet. This is because of the mixing of urine and poop, as explained earlier.

A cockroach that feeds on large quantities of sweet will emit a sweeter odor. That is why some people also describe the cockroach smell as sweeter.

Another critical factor that plays a role in cockroach smell is the type of cockroach that infest the home. An infestation with a cockroach that lives and eats on filth like the American cockroach is more likely to smell worse than the one that lives outdoors like the Wood roaches.

Can you smell a cockroach infestation?

Million of bacteria colonize the guts of cockroaches and help them secrete chemicals called pheromones. It is a scientific fact these pheromones help cockroaches communicate with each other.

Once cockroaches segregate into an area called a nest, they secrete poops to let know other members that they have discovered a safe place to live in. Once a large population of cockroaches infests a place, the area gives a musty odor (Reference).

The musty urine-like odor emitted by roaches is a vital early sign of an infestation. This is how you can smell a cockroach infestation pretty early.

Why do cockroaches smell bad?

Cockroaches smell pretty bad, and that might make you think, why do cockroaches exist? However, you would be amazed to know that they have a significant role in maintaining the environment, like the nitrogen cycle.

Cockroaches are excellent decomposers and eat all decomposing organic matter, including filth and feces.

Cockroaches smell bad because of 3 reasons,

  1. They release pheremones to attract members of colony
  2. They excrete a mixture of urine, pheremones and poop that has a distinctive musty stench.
  3. A colony of cockroach comprises of dead cockroaches, egg shells and desqumated exoskeleton all emiting a bad smell.

Do cockroaches release a smell when killed?

Cockroaches are very clever insects and actively communicate with other colony members. Once a cockroach is killed, it releases oleic acid that gives a smell called the stench of death that has two different but unique roles,

  1. The smell from dead cockroach informs the other members of the colony to stay away of the danger.
  2. At the same time starving cockroaches are attracted to the smell in order to consume the dead roach.

It is essential to know that the smell of cockroaches, when killed, depends on the way you killed the roach. For example, if you kill a cockroach with an insecticide spray, it will never attract roaches, but if you kill it by squashing it to death, the oleic acid released will attract cockroaches.

How to get rid of roach smell

Roach smell can haunt your everything from electric appliances to electronic chips. Once the cockroaches infest a place, it transforms into a breeding colony, and the place starts to smell awful.

However, you can quickly get rid of the roach smell by the following steps,

Step 1: Identify the level of infestation

Before getting rid of the roach smell, you must identify the level of infestation. It is essential because you will never successfully get rid of the cockroach smell if you fail to exterminate roaches completely or clean the cockroach products.

To identify the level of infestation, carefully look around all the cockroach hiding places including,

  1. In and around the furniture and fridges,
  2. Under the carpet,
  3. In the basement and attic,
  4. Kitchen and bathroom cabinet.

To know more about how to get cockroaches out of hiding? Please read this article.

Step 2: Exterminate the roaches

Now that you have successfully identified the level of infestation, you must work on exterminating roaches. To exterminate roaches, you should follow any of these methods,

  1. Gel Bait Method
  2. Cockroach Traps
  3. Insecticide spray
  4. Borric acid

Please read this article to know the exact steps to exterminate roaches professionally!

Step 3: Clean and Disinfect the place

First, clean all the surfaces infested with cockroach products with soapy water or detergent and then disinfect them with a recommended disinfectant spray.

Ensure not to leave any cockroach products because they start to smell awful when they get wet.

Step 4: Prevent the roaches from establishing the colony

After successfully getting rid of the cockroach smell, you must prevent reinfestation. For this, you are advised to use any of the two products,

  1. Natural Cockroach Repellents
  2. IGR (Insect growth regulator) Spray or Device (It will prevent baby roaches from maturing into adults)

Cockroach Poop Smell

Let me tell you a joke! One of our faculty members at King Edward Medical University told his students to stop asking patients with Gastroenteritis how their poop smelled? He told them all poop smells terrible! LOL!

Similar is the case with cockroach poop; It smells terrible with a stale urine-like smell because of pheromones released by gut bacteria living inside cockroaches.

If you are a keen smeller, you will immediately notice if your place has roach poop.

Additional Read!