What Do Roaches Smell Like?

What-Do-Roaches-Smell-Like-Are you irritated by the stale oil smell in your house? If so, the chances are that your home has got a huge roach infestation. Cockroaches release chemicals and odors to mate with other roaches and find food sources.

The smell of roaches is similar to leaky pipes, rotten food, and decaying dead animals. One or two roaches isn’t a big problem. But when their population becomes uncontrollable, you may not have a chance to sniff the fresh breeze of air in your home.

Roach smells are unpleasant and pungent. If you don’t eliminate these odors sooner, they may invite more pests and worsen your cockroach problem. So, let’s explore more about roach smells and learn some ways to get rid of the nasty odor.

Do Cockroaches Have a Smell?

Cockroaches have a musty smell because of many reasons. If you’re dealing with a small roach infestation, the smell won’t be that obvious. These bugs emit a smell when they grow in numbers.

Cockroaches produce this smell for the following reasons:

  • Communication
  • Leaving trails
  • Marking their nests

What Do Cockroaches Smell Like?

Cockroaches smell like stale oil. Their musty fragrance is a major indicator of their presence in your home. These bugs produce such a strong scent because their body contains high levels of oleic and linoleic acids.

Roaches reproduce rapidly. When their population grows, their smell becomes more noticeable.

Dead roaches smell acidic. When the bugs die, they can release acidic odors. This happens because the fatty acids in their bodies are decomposing. You can compare this scent to a combination of soy sauce and a clogged toilet.

You will also smell these acidic odors when roaches molt. That’s because when the bugs have shed their skin, the remains are usually left behind to rot.

As mentioned above, you can not smell an acidic scent in your home when one or two roaches die. Instead, the scent is only evident when an entire cockroach family dies.

According to an estimation, humans are capable of sniffing over a trillion different scents. So each person may smell cockroach scents differently.

Do Cockroaches Smell Bad?

Roaches have an unpleasant smell, but they don’t have a nasty scent naturally. Instead, multiple reasons give these bugs a bad odor. The 6 most common factors are:

Communication Pheromones

Roaches use pheromones for communicating with their peers. The bugs secrete special chemicals known as cuticular hydrocarbons, which help them send messages across their colony.

These pheromones leave trails of roach scent to guide other roaches to their shelter and food sources. Cockroaches also use pheromones to regulate mating and warn other roaches of danger.

These scent trails may permeate any object or surface they come in contact with. Thus, they leave your home smelling awful.

Death Scents

Roaches release chemicals when they die as a warning signal for other cockroaches. So, when you squish a cockroach, other bugs can sniff the smell to run and hide. If your home has a few roaches, you may not smell these death scents.

Therefore, the death scents won’t overtake your home stink. It’s only possible if a large batch of cockroaches dies in any area of your home.

Rotting Roaches

If a roach dies and its body isn’t removed for long, your house will likely have scents of decaying matter. In case you don’t know, roaches eat their dead fellows. If you don’t clean your home from dead roach bodies as soon as possible, things may get quite difficult for you to control.

This odor is alarming and can invite other pests and roaches in search of free food. So, you must act fast to get rid of the scent.

Roach Feces

Roaches have the capability to poop wherever they want. Their fecal droppings also serve as pheromones, guiding other roaches about food and water sources. While they are a disgusting sight, they also spread several diseases in your home.

Cockroach feces or poop smells like yeast or decomposed matter. You may not notice it unless your house is contaminated with a good deal of poop.

Molting of Roaches

Roaches shed their exoskeleton every few days to grow. When they molt, their old exoskeleton is left behind to rot. If several bugs infest your home, they’ll shed dozens of molts every day. Thus, the decomposing mass can cause an unpleasant smell.

Filthy Living Environment

Roaches smell bad because they live in musty, damp, and dark areas. These nocturnal pests prefer sites like:

  • Leaky pipes in your basement
  • Old cardboard boxes
  • Bathrooms
  • Drains
  • Under sinks

These areas in your home can also host mildew and molds. So, roaches may also carry scents caused by mildew, molds, and rotting matter.

Do Roach Nests Have a Smell?

Cockroach nests have a smell since the bugs produce certain pheromones for marking their territory. They drop feces in their nests to invite other roaches nearby. The stench near roach nests is pretty obvious and can be noticed easily.

However, the smell may not be as powerful in other areas of your home. You’ll be surprised to know that cockroach odors vary based on their diet and type.

Removing roach nests is the best way to get rid of the smell. So if you wish to locate their nests, you should look out for the following signs:

  • Skin sheddings
  • Feces
  • Eggs
  • Musty smell

How Long Can Roach Smell Last?

Cockroach smell can last for many days depending upon the severity of your infestation. However, the worst news is that roach stench can linger in your home even after eliminating the pesky bugs.

To get rid of the smell, you must remove:

  • Roach dead bodies
  • Moltings
  • Feces
  • Eggs

You must also remove their nests and disinfect your whole house. For that, use bleach or a few other handy disinfectants.

Again, if you ignore the smell, it can attract other cockroaches to infest your home.

Can Your Pets Smell Roaches?

Your pawed friends can sniff cockroaches in your house. Here are two common pets that can help you identify roach infestations:


Cats can smell roaches. This indicates that your furry pals are not just good hunters, but they also have a great smelling sense. In fact, these clever creatures are 14 times better at smelling different scents than humans. Cats are adept at smelling faint and faded scents. Therefore, they can easily locate cockroaches in your home.


Dogs are also capable of smelling cockroaches. They can also sniff out other pests in your home. Your loyal friends have around 300 million smell receptors in the nose. This allows dogs to smell roach pheromones in their molts, feces, and body parts.

Do Roaches Smell Like Fish?

Roaches can sometimes also smell like rancid soy sauce. When soy sauce goes bad, it can smell like bad fish. So you may mistake the rusty smell of roaches with fish.

Cockroaches don’t naturally smell fishy. If you smell fish-like odor in your home, there could be other problems, such as:

Growing Molds

Specific types of mold can release a fishy scent. Since cockroaches thrive in moldy spaces, they can spread this scent in your home.

Dead Animals

Roaches love to devour rotting carcasses. These dead animals can smell fishy based on their decomposition state.

Septic Tank Leak

Roaches can access your home through the septic tank if it has any damages or cracks. If you can smell a fishy odor in your home, it may result from sewer gasses collecting in the tank.

Why Do Cockroaches Smell Like Urine?

Roaches can smell like urine if they are coated in nitrogenous waste. However, the bugs do not release any smells similar to urine. Most people also confuse the scent of rot or mildew with urine.

Cockroaches travel to many places. These areas often include sewers, trash cans, and litter boxes. So, if you sniff urine in your home, you can check the space for:

  • Exposed waste from your pet’s litter box
  • Rotting food
  • Areas with leaks or molds like under your sinks

Do Roaches Have Smelling Senses?

Cockroaches have a strong sense of smell. These bugs have a unique olfactory system to identify different scents. They use their antennae with sensors to locate new food sources and safe shelters.

As discussed earlier, roaches also use their smelling senses to communicate with other cockroaches. They release pheromones to attract bugs, warn them of danger, and guide them home.

How To Remove Roach Scents?

You can get rid of cockroach scents with several handy tricks. However, you must know that removing roach smells can be challenging.

Here are a few remedies you can use to remove the unpleasant roach odors:

Remove Roach Bodies

You must remove dead cockroaches in your home to get rid of the musty smell. For this, you can follow these tips:

Track Nests

Locating cockroach nests can help you remove many roach bodies all at once. To find roach hiding spots, you should start by checking areas that are dark, damp, and offer food.

For instance, you can look for roach nests in your basement, drains, cracks, unused bathrooms, and cabinets. These are some common signs of a cockroach nest:

  • Molts
  • Droppings
  • Eggshells
  • Dead roaches
  • Body parts
  • Oily and must smell

Once you find a nest, dispose of roach bodies as soon as possible. Then, clean the nest or remove it. Finally, disinfect the nest and apply roach repellents to keep new bugs from inhabiting the nest.

Wear Mask and Gloves

When removing roach bodies, you should wear protective gear, including masks and gloves. That’s because cockroaches can cause breathing issues in many people. In addition, contact with cockroach corpses can irritate your skin.

Dispose of the Trash Right Away

When you put roach bodies in the trash can, ensure that your garbage service takes out the trash as soon as possible.

Double Check When Flushing

You should double-check if a roach is dead before flushing them. That’s because roaches can play dead. Once you’ve flushed them, clean the toilet to remove scent trails.

When you crush these bugs, inspect the area for any exoskeletons, stray limbs, or antennae. If these body parts are left to rot, more roaches can come to benefit from the food source.

Vacuum Furniture, Floors, Shelves, and Cupboards

Vacuuming roach molted shells and feces can help you eliminate oily odors. To remove the remnants, you can vacuum areas like:

  • The inside of your drawers and cupboard tops
  • Top of your shelves
  • Behind and under electrical appliances and furniture

This can help you pick up even the most minor roach body parts and droppings.

Remove Roach Shelters

You should throw away any items that host roach colonies. For instance:

  • Plastic containers
  • Boxes
  • Clothes
  • Bags
  • Bedding

These items can contain roach poop and dead bodies, attracting more roaches if left uncleaned. Therefore, it is best to remove them from your house.

Disinfect Your Home

If cockroaches have infested items that you can not throw away, you can disinfect them. For this purpose, you can use strong disinfectants, such as bleach. You can use bleach to sanitize the area with no color damage issues.

To clean clothes and furniture, you must use pet-safe sanitizers or sprays. Follow these steps:

  1. Spray disinfected over areas where the roaches lived.
  2. Let the spray sit for around 15 minutes.
  3. Wipe the surfaces.
  4. Repeat the process if necessary.

Once done, you should inspect the area for proper ventilation. That’s because powerful disinfectant odors can harm you and your pets.

Scrub and Shampoo

Rugs and carpets can contain roach smell if the bugs have walked over them. So, to clean these surfaces, you can call a local carpet cleaner. They will remove the unpleasant odors professionally. But, if you do not want to wash your carpet, simply remove it.

Use Roach Repellents

You can use roach repellents to deal with roaches. These repellants may not be useful for eliminating the smells, but they can help you cover scent trails. Repellents can confuse the bugs and cause them to lose track. Thus, they may seek shelter elsewhere than your home.

Here are a few effective roach repellents you can use:


Bleach is a popular disinfectant. Fortunately, roaches hate the smell of this chemical. You can make a diluted spray of this chemical and spray it over roach tracks.


Roaches are highly afraid of the smell of rubbing alcohol. If you spray it over surfaces, roaches may stay away for a while. However, this is only a temporary remedy as the chemical may soon fade away.


Roaches hate the scent of lavender. That’s because it contains aromatic compounds that can kill these bugs. You can use a lavender essential oil spray and apply it over roach tracks.


Peppermint contains compounds like menthol that repel roaches. You can use peppermint spray over roach trails to get rid of the unpleasant musty smell.

Make Your Home Inhabitable

If new cockroaches keep infesting your house, you can never completely eliminate roach scents. Therefore, you must eliminate factors that attract cockroaches to invade your living space.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Clean food crumbs
  • Fix water leakages
  • Remove Trash
  • Clean cabinets, basement, and drawers
  • Fill in cracks and crevices

Remove Contaminated Food

Roach pheromones can alter the taste of our food. Their smell infects our food and can make us sick. So, you should throw away leftover food. This can keep more roaches from accessing the food source.

Pest Control

You can call pest control to handle your roach problem. The professionals can effectively remove most roach dead bodies by sanitizing your home with disinfectants and avoid new infestations.


What Does Roach Urine Look Like?

Roach urine looks like a semi-solid mass. You can identify them as little specks of pepper on coffee grounds. Unlike most bugs, roaches get rid of their nitrogenous waste by pooping, so they don’t actually urinate.

Do Roaches Smell Dead Roaches?

Cockroaches can smell dead roaches because of the strong chemicals that release when the insect dies. When a bug in the colony sniffs these scents, they stay away from the dead roaches. If the dead roach is not removed for long, the smell also can invite more pests to your home for free food.

What Kind of Smell Do Cockroaches Leave?

Cockroaches leave a strong oily, and musty smell. However, many people distinguish roach smells as pungent, sharp, moldy odors. Roach scents are bad and can make the air inside your home unpleasant. Therefore, you should get rid of the odor as soon as possible.

Can Roach Odor Fade?

Cockroach odor can fade if a few roaches cause them. That’s because the odor is not strong enough to last for long. However, if hundreds of cockroaches infest your home, they can leave scent trails that last for many days. So make sure to clean your home properly after eliminating these bugs to get rid of the musty smell.


Roach smells are unpleasant and can make your time at home unenjoyable. Luckily, you can use many effective methods to get rid of these scents, such as disinfecting the house and removing dead roach bodies.

Here is everything you need to know about the smell of roaches:

  • Cockroaches release pheromones for social contact that can cause musty odors
  • Roach smells can stay even after the bugs leave your house
  • The pests produce special scents to alarm peers about the danger
  • Cockroaches can sniff roach scents with antennae
  • Your pets, including dogs and cats, can identify roach smells
  • Roaches themselves don’t smell bad. They have a foul odor due to many situations they thrive in, such as eating corpses