Did you know cockroaches eat cardboard glue and enjoy living in the cardboard boxes you use to pack up your things? They can hitch a free ride to your new house and infest your entire space.
If that first paragraph made you gasp in horror, you’re not alone. In fact, I’ve been there. Here’s how I moved away from a cockroach-infested building and managed to leave the bugs behind.
Bugging Out: The struggle of moving with cockroaches
We struggled with cockroaches because they were in our apartment building, and it’s nearly impossible to keep them out of a single unit if other units are doing things to attract them. We had already gone through multiple rounds of spraying in our apartment, and cleaned until you could eat off the floor under the kitchen sink, but nothing worked.
We only ever saw cockroaches in our kitchen, particularly if we suddenly flicked on the light. I dreaded seeing them so much, I would turn on the light and then wait at least a few seconds before looking into the room.
But with our toddler in the house, putting traps down or spraying chemical poison was not an option.
This also meant that, when I was creating a plan for our move, we needed something non-toxic, but ruthlessly effective to kill the cockroaches before they made it to our new home. In my extensive internet searches, the best option I found was Borax.
Borax is a white, powdery household product used in everything from toothpaste to laundry detergent; you might have come across it as a key ingredient in “slime.” It can be toxic to pets if ingested in large doses, so use around your pets with care! Often, homeowners mix borax with sugar or flour and sprinkle it around their house to kill roaches––the borax is either ingested directly or the roach will lick it off their legs later. Once ingested, it damages their digestive systems and eventually kills them.
The great thing about Borax is its utility. For this process, you’ll need a big bag of it, but you can use the remainder to get musty smells out of your laundry, clean toilets and clogged drains, and even freshen smelly shoes.
Even if you don’t have kids running around, packing this way meant our new house was covered in Borax while we unpacked, so the non-toxic element is super important as well! That said, all we had to do was vacuum a few times while we unpacked and we were all good to go, free of Borax and cockroaches.
How do you get rid of roaches when you move?
Now that you know my story, here’s a step-by-step account of how I successfully eliminated our cockroach problem.
1. Prepare early and make a plan
It took me a month to pack this way around work and parenting, so make sure you have enough time to make your way through each room of your house. Think about what you can pack early: out-of-season clothing, items that are already in storage, kitchen appliances or dishware that you rarely use, seasonal decorations, books, etc. Pack these items first, then make your way through things you use more often.
2. Gather your tools
- Plastic boxes (I used Frog Boxes) are VERY important. You can’t keep cockroaches out of cardboard boxes if they’re in your house. Also, if you don’t have cockroaches, but you pick the cardboard boxes up from somewhere else, they could already have cockroaches or eggs in their lining and you could infest your new house!!
- Zip ties for sealing Frog Boxes (or some method for sealing the bins you have).
- Borax (large bag): you can buy it on Amazon or at Walmart or Canadian Tire, along with many other places.
- Large, clear plastic bags allow you to see if any cockroaches die inside before you open the bag.
3. Pack one box at a time, and seal as you go
This is the most important part: I sprinkled the bottom of each plastic bin with Borax, then put all our belongings in a large clear plastic bag with a sprinkling of Borax inside the bag (just in case there were any roaches or eggs hiding INSIDE my things that I couldn’t see). Ugh. Then I sealed the plastic bag, sprinkled more Borax on the top of the bag, and then closed and sealed the plastic bin.
4. Put your clothes through a HOT water wash and then pack them up
To be honest, the need for this step depends on whether you have ever seen a cockroach in your closet or around your clothing. They are less likely to hang out in clothing and other soft places, especially if your clothes are mostly hanging in your closet. If you have any clothing piled on the floor though, definitely put those through a hot wash before you pack them into the bag and box with Borax sprinkled in and on the clear plastic bag.
5. Unpack carefully in your new house
The point of the clear plastic bags is so that you can see if any cockroaches ate Borax and died en route, so check your bags before you open them––especially from rooms where you know you had cockroaches in your previous home. You can simply vacuum up the Borax powder from your new floors, shake it from your belongings, and rest easy knowing that you no longer need to deal with roaches.
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