Cockroach Frass: A Guide to Identifying Roaches by Their Droppings

Cockroaches are notorious pests, known for their hardiness and ability to thrive in even the most unsanitary conditions. Unfortunately, they also leave behind a disgusting trail of droppings in their wake. In this blog, we’ll delve deeper into the world of cockroach frass and what you can do to identify and eliminate a cockroach infestation in your home. So, if you’re ready to face the not-so-pleasant reality of cockroach droppings, let’s get started!


Person handles cockroach droppings in their bare hand next to a ruler. Do not handle roach frass with bare hands for safety reasons.

WARNING: Do NOT handle roach frass with your bare hands!

But first, what exactly are cockroach droppings made of, anyway?

In a nutshell, cockroach droppings are a mixture of everything that roaches have digested, including food from your cupboards and counters, garbage, rotting flesh, and even the bodies of other dead insects. Gross, right? But it’s the sad reality of having a cockroach infestation in your home.

What makes the situation even more concerning is that cockroaches don’t pee. Instead, they secrete solid and semi-solid waste, which can vary in appearance depending on the size, age, and species of roach you’re dealing with.

What do cockroach feces look like?

Cockroach droppings, also known as frass, are a telltale sign of an infestation in your home. They are typically dark brown or black and come in two distinct shapes: roundish chunks or oval-shaped pellets. Most commonly, you’ll find smears and stains on surfaces where cockroaches have been crawling. There are distinct differences, however, between roach frass of small, medium, and large roaches believe it or not. It can be easy to mistake large roach droppings for small mice droppings because of their grain-like shape. Let’s break it down… 

Mouse droppings vs. cockroach droppings: Mouse droppings are not as perfectly cylindrical.

Droppings from Large Cockroaches

Larger cockroaches, such as American, Smoky Brown, and Oriental cockroaches, produce solid, cylindrical droppings that can be as large as a grain of rice. These droppings are usually dark brown or black in color and can be found on surfaces where the cockroaches have been crawling or living. This could mean your kitchen near food sources, in bathrooms near moist areas, in basements in dark and damp spaces, and in furniture where cockroaches may be hiding. They can be a health hazard and should be cleaned up promptly. It’s important to note that larger cockroaches tend to produce larger droppings, so if you’re seeing droppings that match this description, it’s likely that you have an infestation of one of these species.

Droppings from Small Cockroaches

Small cockroaches, like the Brown-Banded and German cockroaches, have droppings that are distinct from larger cockroach species. Instead of solid cylindrical pellets, small cockroaches leave behind tiny specks or stains that are brown or black in color. These droppings might look like coffee grounds or black pepper, and can also appear smeared or inky on surfaces where the cockroaches have been crawling.

It’s important to note that German cockroaches tend to leave moister droppings compared to Brown-Banded cockroaches. This is because German cockroaches prefer wetter environments and their droppings may have a smeared appearance.

By observing the droppings, you can gain a better understanding of the type of cockroach infestation you’re dealing with and take the appropriate steps to remove the pests from your home. So, if you notice small specks or stains around your home, be sure to examine them closely to determine the type of cockroach you’re dealing with.


Do cockroach droppings smell like roses?

Let’s just say that if you ever come across cockroach droppings, you’ll quickly find out that they definitely do not smell like roses. In fact, the odor of roach droppings can be described as acrid, oily, and just plain stinky. But, believe it or not, this unpleasant odor actually serves a purpose beyond just offending our noses.

Cockroach droppings emit a scent that acts as a way for cockroaches to communicate and find each other. This means that the smell of roach droppings isn’t just bad, it’s actually attracting more roaches! Can you imagine having a house full of these pests, all attracted to each other by the smell of their droppings? Gross!

So, if you want to keep your home cockroach-free, it’s important to clean up their droppings promptly and take steps to prevent infestations. By reducing the odor of roach droppings, you can help keep these pests at bay and ensure that your home remains a place where the only thing that stinks is the trash, not the pests.

Will cockroach droppings give you a sick day?

If you’re reading this and thinking, “I’m going to be sick”, well, it might just be the droppings… Unfortunately, cockroach droppings can actually make you and your loved ones feel under the weather. Here’s the deal: Cockroach droppings and shed skin contain proteins that can trigger allergies and asthma attacks in some individuals. This means that, for some people, simply being in a room where roaches have left their mark can cause sneezing, coughing, and other unpleasant symptoms.

But here’s the really bad news: These proteins can stick around long after the roaches have disappeared, meaning that they can remain a danger to your health for years to come. That’s why it’s so important to clean up any cockroach droppings as soon as you discover them and to take steps to prevent infestations.

So, to sum up, if you want to avoid taking a sick day because of roach droppings, it’s best to nip any infestations in the bud. Trust us, you’ll feel much better for it!

(Illustration) Cockroach = Girl using inhaler. Cockroaches can cause allergies in some.

How to (Safely!) Clean Cockroach Droppings

Get Protected

For obvious reasons above, it’s important to keep yourself protected when cleaning up roach frass. This means suiting up in PPE: putting on gloves, a mask, and goggles to prevent contact with any harmful proteins that might be present. You should also make sure that you’re working in a well-ventilated area to avoid breathing in any dust or particles that may have become airborne during the cleaning process. By taking these simple precautions, you can ensure that you stay safe and healthy while getting rid of those pesky droppings.

Disinfect and Wipe

Once you have your protective gear on, the next step in cleaning up cockroach droppings is to disinfect the area. This involves using a disinfectant spray or wiping down the affected surfaces with a mixture of water and household cleaning solution. Be sure to thoroughly cover the droppings, as well as any surrounding areas, to kill any germs or bacteria that might be present. After you have disinfected the area, use a clean, damp cloth to wipe away the droppings and any remaining residue. Be sure to dispose of the gloves, mask, and cloth in a sealed plastic bag to prevent any further contamination.


  • For hard surfaces such as walls, cabinets, tile, hardwood, or vinyl flooring, use a disinfectant spray that is safe for the material. Spray the affected area and let it sit for the recommended time, then scrub to remove the stains.
  • For carpets, start by scraping off any dried droppings, then vacuum the area. Mix white vinegar, dish soap, and water (1 teaspoon each of vinegar and soap per spray bottle of water), spray the solution onto the carpet, and scrub to work the soap into the fibers. Allow the carpet to fully dry before vacuuming again.
  • If you find roach droppings on your clothing, scrape off any dried material, treat the stains, and wash in the warmest water safe for the fabric.
  • For infested mattresses, start by scraping off any dried droppings. Mix disinfectant soap and warm water in a spray bottle, spray the area, and scrub with a coarse sponge. Rinse the soap out with just water, then let the mattress air dry.

So, you’re pretty sure it’s cockroach poop. What caused the roaches to come inside anyway?

Cockroach droppings are held up a ruler. They are typically 2-3 tenths of a centimeter in length.

The fact is, there could be circumstances beyond your control, despite your thorough cleaning efforts. This could be due to living in a multi-unit housing complex, near a sewage system, or in a location with unclean surroundings. Additionally, cockroaches are attracted to moist environments, so leaks or other sources of water can draw them inside. They also love to feed on food crumbs, so even the smallest amount of crumbs in your kitchen and pantry can draw them. In some cases, cockroaches can even come in from outside through cracks or crevices. Remember, cockroaches are hardy survivors and can live for several months without food or water, so it’s important to address the underlying cause of the problem in addition to cleaning up the droppings.

How to Prevent Cockroaches from Coming Back

  1. Pick up all garbage, waste, and leftover food
  2. Clean up and sweep up any piles of dust
  3. Take care of any clutter
  4. Store items in plastic totes (not cardboard boxes)
  5. Lay baited traps to catch stray roaches
  6. Ensure that all food is stored in airtight containers
  7. Fix any plumbing leaks to remove sources of moisture
  8. Seal cracks and gaps in the building’s foundation or exterior walls
  9. Keep gutters and downspouts clean to prevent standing water
  10. Install weather stripping around windows and doors to prevent entry.

Is that enough to keep roaches out for good, though?

The truth is, all that joking about cockroaches being strong enough to survive a nuclear blast might as well be true. They are fully armored little buggers that will stop at nothing to get inside your house and defecate wherever they feel like it. If your dwelling is attached to other living spaces, there’s no way to control them flowing over into your space. That goes for your neighborhood, too, as some places are simply just hotspots for them. The only way to keep roaches out for good is with professional pest control. Cockroach Control with A1 Exterminators involves full-stack extermination and prevention, to help you get rid of cockroaches for good. Call or Contact A1 Exterminators using the links below to get pest free. 

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