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Personally, I have not encountered cockroaches, but I wish to know how to deal them if I do. Are there any health concerns related to them? Are they in the habit of sneaking into your bed or luggage? Is shaking your boots in the morning the only thing you have to do about them?

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It's more a problem if you move somewhere that has them, like Brisbane in Australia. Though you can get a fright when you see the big flying ones for the first time... or if one lands in your hair! –  hippietrail Jun 19 '12 at 18:23
    
Should toothbrushes be kept in enclosed containers? –  Andrew Grimm Jun 19 '12 at 22:51
    
@AndrewGrimm: For your peace of mind, yes. Roaches like warmth, and bathrooms are generally a favourite habitat of theirs. –  mindcorrosive Jun 20 '12 at 8:15
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3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

There are health concerns, mostly related to the fact that they can carry infection on their feet and mouth parts as they will walk through all sorts of substances you would not want in your mouth, so cleaning food preparation or serving surfaces is recommended.

They like dark crevices - especially in kitchens, where food could fall in cracks or under cupboards - and where there is ample food they will multiply incredibly fast. Turning on lights causes them to scatter for shelter.

If your luggage is closed they aren't likely to actively try to get into it, and while it is always a good idea to shake out boots in hotter climates, they aren't like scorpions or other active predators.

They are endemic in many parts of the world, but for most people the worst that happens is that you step on one in the morning, which does leave a very nasty mess on your bare feet, a bad smell, and an urge to wash :-)

tl;dr - use a disinfectant for surfaces, turn on lights a few seconds before getting out of bed or going into a room to give them a chance to run back under appliances, and generally learn to ignore them. (I find them disgusting, and am glad they don't really exist in Scotland - they make my skin crawl)

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Is it necessary to keep ones mouth closed while sleeping? :) –  mithy Jun 19 '12 at 17:45
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Rory already gave a very good answer, but here are some more points to consider:

  • Be careful not to carry them back home. They are very difficult to eradicate once settled, and a few sneaking in between your stuff can be enough to infest your home for weeks or as long as there is something for them to eat. You might want to put all your stuff in a "quarantined zone" for a few days -- preferably air your clothes outside away from your house.
  • Virtually nothing helps once they are present, the best you can do is to largely ignore them -- as Rory suggests, keep lights turned on at night (or off, for they won't bother you as much when you can't see them).
  • Don't leave food outside. No need to give them additional opportunity to come out, and even the toughest of pests need to eat something. Anything that has stayed outside overnight is considered dirty and should be washed before use, including utensils and plates. Watch for tiny dark balls of unknown matter (similar to finely ground coffee in appearance) that gather around the corners and near food, this is a tell-tale sign that the little buggers are afoot.
  • They don't like the cold much, and generally have hard time finding their way inside the fridge. However, they do tend to gather on the back of the fridge due to the warmth (which is one more proof that thermodynamics is indeed a b*tch). You'll find them in warm places, such as bathrooms, closets and service rooms with hot water pipes.

  • From experience, there isn't an efficient way to eradicate them once they have infested the premises short of drastic measures. Pest sprays only get you so far, and against a horde of invaders won't be of much use.

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And what are the guidelines for cleaning your luggage after coming back home? A warm wash for your clothes? –  mithy Jun 19 '12 at 11:49
    
@mithy: I'd usually air everything outside for a day or two, preferably in the sun, and then just wash everything (which you would do regardless after a trip anyway, I guess). –  mindcorrosive Jun 19 '12 at 11:53
    
Me too, I guess:) –  mithy Jun 19 '12 at 12:22
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They are not as dangerous as you (probably) think they are. Sure, people do get diseases from them from time to time but nothing drastic like mosquitoes and other more potent disease carriers.

I'm from a country where an encounter with a cockroach is unavoidable even in pretty upscale places. The other answers are correct, they are very hard to eradicate. Short of carpet bombing your home with chemical weapons, the best you can do is keep everything clean and don't leave any food uncovered. That said, some things do help to keep them away: insect sprays (usually applied under the sink and other nooks and crannies. Moth balls/camphor balls also seem to work.

Also to avoid carrying them back home, make sure to also watch out for their eggs. They look like coffee beans that aren't ground yet. These also have a tell tale (albeit subtle) smell.

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