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German cockroach control tips: Multi-unit hosing, commercial kitchens

|  October 22, 2020


German cockroaches (Blattella germanica) are a steady revenue generator for many pest management professionals (PMPs). They are prevalent in residential settings and commercial facilities. What follow are control tips from PMPs who work in both.


Gaining control of German cockroaches in multi-unit housing facilities may pose a challenge. Residents who do not allow access to their units or have poor sanitation practices may hamper inspection and treatment options.

Randy Hamilton, ACE

Randy Hamilton, ACE

  • Educate your customer.
  • Get buy-in from your customers. If they aren’t willing to get rid of the cockroaches, you will have issues.
  • Vacuum, and then vacuum some more. This shows the customer instant progress and immediately reduces the population.
  • Redistribute clutter. Moving items around helps you discover areas on which to concentrate.
  • Monitor for problem areas.
  • Take advantage of times when residents are not present. Use the time to educate the facility’s maintenance staff. This will help you develop a working relationship with staff, which you must have.
  • Don’t give up! Time is a concern, but it also can be an ally. At times I wish I could have turned cases over to another company. However, part of what makes our in-house pest control division unique is that we have to deal with the issue, even when the customer doesn’t understand the value we provide.

— Randy Hamilton, ACE, Assistant Director of Operations, Sanitation Safety & Rapid Response Teams, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Knoxville, Tenn.

Vince Sanfilippo

Vince Sanfilippo

  • Always rotate your products.
  • Treat behind baseboards and cove moldings. If possible, pull them off the wall; you may be surprised what you find.
  • If you plan to conduct follow-ups, don’t space them too far apart.

— Vince Sanfilippo, Owner, Bugs Be Gone, Washington, Mo.


German cockroaches can be found in even the cleanest commercial kitchens. Kitchens offer cockroaches everything they need to survive and thrive: water from sinks and dishwashers, and condensation on constantly running equipment; harborage inside cabinets and pantries, behind backsplashes and under countertops; and food that is readily available or improperly discarded and stored.

Michael Broder

Michael Broder

  • Inspect! I don’t just mean a quick peek at a shelf, but moving and disturbing items to really see what’s going on. As you disrupt the cockroaches in their environment, you may see them scatter or find their droppings in cracks before evidence is found by customers, or even caught on monitors.
  • Disrupt their environment. Move and disturb items on shelves and cabinets, from floor to ceiling. You will not get rid of cockroaches if you don’t find them.
  • Monitor for activity. German cockroaches can be introduced in any shipment to a commercial kitchen. We have seen hundreds of cockroaches regularly brought in on deliveries just days earlier.

— Michael Broder, BHB Pest Elimination, New York, N.Y.

Use safe, effective products. Do not get comfortable with the same products; rotate chemical families.

Thomas Chiarello

Thomas Chiarello

  • Offer ongoing training to technicians.
  • Don’t sell cockroach jobs on price.
  • Do not wait for your customer to contact you if the cockroach issue is still ongoing. Follow up and address it quickly.

—Thomas Chiarello, Field Representative, Turner Pest Control, Jacksonville, Fla.

Diane Sofranec

About the Author:

Diane Sofranec is the senior editor for PMP magazine. She can be reached at or 216-706-3793.

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