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We Had Cockroaches in Our RV, This Is How We Got Rid of Them

We Had Cockroaches in Our RV, This Is How We Got Rid of Them

Turning a light on in a dark room and seeing a cockroach running for safety in your RV can leave you feeling violated. You’ll likely grab your phone and begin creating a plan of attack. 

You’ll likely search how to get rid of cockroaches in your RV. You want to spend your time camping and adventuring, not fighting pests. Let’s get started so you can protect your RV from roaches.

Why You Really Don’t Want Cockroaches in Your Camper

Not only are cockroaches disgusting, but they also walk through some gross stuff in their search for food. They can pick up bacteria and transfer it wherever they walk.

Whether it’s your RV countertops, floor, or those clean dishes in your drying rack, they don’t care what they walk on. This is why you need to get rid of cockroaches in your RV.

They can also hide in some pretty small places. You may even find them in your food pantry, closets, and other dark spots. Whether you want them there or not, they’ll go wherever they want in pursuit of food and shelter.

RV Pest Control (Avoid Rodents / Bugs / Spiders)!

What Kinds of Cockroaches Might You See?

Generally, there are indoor cockroaches and outdoor cockroaches. In those groups, you might see three different types of cockroaches in your RV: German, American, and Asian. They’re unique in how they look and move about.

The most common American cockroach is large and brown and can glide through the air. They typically live outside but will enter your RV looking for food or shelter.

You can also find a German cockroach. This smaller brown one loves the warmth of the indoors. You’ll likely encounter them near your kitchen or bathroom sinks and other water sources in your RV. They invade your RV in pursuit of food.

Finally, you might experience the Asian cockroach. They are very similar to a German roach. However, an Asian one prefers the outdoors and isn’t known for carrying any diseases.

Woman screaming afraid of cockroaches.
Cockroaches pick up bacteria and transfer it around your RV wherever they walk!

How Do Cockroaches Get in Your RV?

How does a cockroach get in your RV? It can flatten its body to fit into some of the tightest spots. This could be gaps in your RV’s underbelly or where pipes enter and exit. 

You could also unknowingly bring them into your RV. Cockroaches love the glue that holds boxes together and they find it a great place to lay their eggs.  Finding lots of them can make it difficult to get rid of cockroaches in your RV.

What Are Signs of Cockroaches in Your RV?

You should look for several signs if you think your RV has a cockroach infestation. If you see droppings, smear marks, or an unusual odor, you might have roaches. 

Little kid hand holding a cockroach.
Even if you just see one cockroach, this could mean you have a whole infestation.

You may also discover one running about, especially if you walk into the kitchen or bathroom late at night. The roaches sense the lack of movement in and around your house and use the opportunity to search for food. Seeing one tells you that you may have an infestation.

Pro Tip: Like cockroaches, fruit flies can multiply quickly. Read more to find out How To Get Rid of Fruit Flies in Your Home and Camper.

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in an RV

How do you get rid of cockroaches in your RV? There are three main steps to follow.

How to Prevent Outdoor Roach Invasions

Step 1: Identification

The first step is to identify what type of cockroach you have on board. This will determine which methods or chemicals you use to eliminate them.

Step 2: Inspection

The cockroaches got inside somehow, so now is a good time to do a thorough inspection of your camper for holes, cracks, and crevices. You’ll also want to thoroughly clean inside and out. Make sure to look for any food or crumbs that may be lying around or accessible that may have attracted them inside in the first place.

If you’ve been stationary in your RV for a while, you might want to check the outside area for potential roach dwellings that they could have come from. These areas may also need to be treated, or you should move your camper away from them to dissuade additional hitchhikers.

Nest of cockroaches.
Make sure to check for cockroaches in the gaps in your RV’s underbelly or where pipes enter and exit. 

Step 3: Traps and Treatments

 After a good cleaning, set out sticky traps in places you’re seeing them the most. You can also use bait outside your RV to kill them before they enter. However, if none of these work, you may have to bring out the big guns.

There are several types of chemical treatments you can use to treat both outside and inside of your RV. There are insecticides to poison and kill roaches, as well as insect growth regulators to disrupt the growth cycle of roaches. The latter will help prevent eggs from hatching and premature roaches from developing to the point where they can lay eggs.

This 2-pronged approach effectively stops them from continuing to multiply and kills them off.

Hiring a professional is a great way to ensure you get the job done. Pricing will vary from one technician or RV to the next. Prices will often depend on the size of your RV, the location, and the time of year. This is usually the most expensive option and thus likely your last resort.

Dead cockroach laying on counter.
Professional pest control experts are usually the best option for cockroach control.

How to Keep Cockroaches Out

Since cockroaches are notoriously hardy, prevention might be your best offense. Preventing cockroach infestations largely focuses on keeping them from getting inside in the first place and not attracting them with food or garbage smells.

For starters, avoid parking near or allowing the accumulation of debris, woodpiles, or other stacked items around your RV. These are perfect shelter conditions that will bring cockroaches closer to your RV. Once close, making it inside isn’t such a far leap.

On the inside of your RV, cleanliness and sanitation is key. Vacuuming and cleaning regularly will help keep cockroaches out. You should scrub and clean at least once every couple of weeks. Cleaning walls, sinks, and other important surfaces can help keep your RV in tip-top shape.

On a daily basis, you should avoid leaving food packaging and dirty dishes out in the sink and counters. Take out the trash regularly as to not let smells lure the unwanted visitors inside. Cockroaches constantly seek food and water, so eliminating any food or water on your counter or other places in your RV will help rid yourself of roaches. This includes pet food!

Skip The Up-Close Encounter With This Wildlife

One advantage of RVing is that you frequently get up-close encounters with wildlife. However, you probably don’t want one with a cockroach. We hope that after today you realize the importance of keeping your RV clean and maintained. 

Have you ever had to deal with cockroaches while on the road? Drop a comment below!

Pro Tip: Want to see stunning wildlife that isn’t just creepy crawly insects inside your RV? Here’s How to See Amazing Yellowstone Wildlife Year-Round.

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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Tuesday 7th of December 2021

On our return from a Thanksgiving trip to Laredo, we discovered we had picked up some unwanted hitchikers. Ugh. We are treating even as we speak. Wish us luck.

Mortons on the Move

Sunday 12th of December 2021

Ugh! Those little hitchhikers are so aggravating, aren't they? We hope you're able to get rid of them quickly.


Friday 15th of October 2021

I've successfully gotten rid of roaches by making a paste with borax, sugar and water.

Mortons on the Move

Saturday 23rd of October 2021

Borax does work well for this. :)

Ann Gaydosh

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Great tips - thanks! I will be a van dweller, soon and there are lots of hiding places. Just FYI, two of your photos show Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, which I raised and shared for years. They (and most roaches on Earth) are clean, harmless, and fun to watch and have as pets. Really!

Mortons on the Move

Tuesday 2nd of November 2021

Vans are definitely at risk of roaches. We rented a campervan recently and had this problem with the rental. Hopefully, yours will stay roach-free!

Mike Reichenbach

Thursday 14th of October 2021

Good tips on prevention. I have found a strong solution of borax when washing floors and counters works well for ridding areas of cockroaches. I have also found bay leaves to repel them. The crystal structure of borate scratches the cockroaches exoskeleton and causes them to dry out and die.

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