How A Simple Balloon May Be The Secret To Fixing Your Cockroach Problem

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If you've ever lived through a cockroach infestation, you know the terror these bugs can strike in the hearts of humans. Cockroaches are aren't just an unsightly nuisance; according to Western Exterminator Company, they're associated with the spread of harmful bacteria, including E. coli and salmonella. Knowing the risks that come with sharing a living space with roaches can leave you feeling helpless, especially if you live in an apartment building or other shared housing situation where the habits of your neighbors can result in an infestation for you. Luckily, a simple balloon can help drastically reduce the number of cockroaches that make it into your home.

While it's not the only roach-repelling method you should employ if you're worried about an infestation, the stretchy rubber and small opening of a basic party balloon can be modified into a drain cover that will let water through and keep roaches out. All you need to start taking back your home is a balloon for each of your drains and a pair of scissors. For a typical sink drain, a standard 12-inch latex party balloon will work; for a large center shower drain, you may need a larger balloon. You can currently purchase a 32-pack of 18-inch party balloons on Amazon for $8.29, making it a relatively inexpensive pest control measure.

Making roach-proof drain covers

The first step to installing your balloon is to cut off both ends with scissors, leaving most of the body and neck intact. Both ends of the balloon should be open and the neck should remain, but the lip and the drip point should be removed and discarded. Once you've cut all your balloons, it's time to head to your first drain. Remove the drain's cover and stretch the wider opening of the balloon around the sides of it, leaving the neck hanging from the back. Make sure that the balloon is secure and return the drain cover to its place. Now, water will run through the drain and the attached balloon with ease, but the balloon's neck will hang closed when water isn't actively flowing through it, preventing cockroaches from crawling up through the drain and into your home. 

Note that this may not be ideal for sinks where you are rinsing off food or other solids, which could get stuck in the balloon's neck or tear the rubber. Similarly, if you find that the balloon slows the draining of water too much for your liking — or even just disrupts the aesthetics of your sink — you could alternately opt for a fine mesh to go over or under your current drain cover instead. (Amazon even sells disposable adhesive ones at about $11 for a pack of 25.)

Why drain covers are key to cockroach prevention

Cockroaches prefer to live in environments that are dark and moist. This makes a drain pipe an extremely attractive destination for these creatures. Add a drain pipe that contains food particles — such as a kitchen drain — and you've created the ideal habitat for a colony of cockroaches. Once the roaches are living in your pipes, all it takes is a short trip through the drain cover for them to enter your home at night, eat your food, and crawl across your surfaces.

Placing an altered balloon over the backs of your drain covers is an effective way to prevent roaches from entering your home through your drains. However, it will not necessarily stop them from living inside your drain pipes. Once you've installed your balloons, you may wish to inspect your pipes for cracks, leaks, or condensation that contribute to standing water, which can attract cockroaches. If you have concerns about the state of your pipes, consult a plumber or your rental's maintenance department to assess whether repairs are necessary to keep bugs out of your drains altogether.