Waiter, there's a roach in my coffee!
October 11, 2010 6:40 PM   Subscribe

My beloved Keurig has become infested by roaches. HELP ME!

I have a Keurig B60 single-cup coffee maker. It has saved me a bundle on Starbucks, I love it to pieces, it is my one true soul mate. It also appears to be ground zero for the newly discovered roach infestation in my (single-family, detached) house. OMG.

We never, ever saw a roach in the house until the awful morning I opened up my coffee machine to put a K-cup in and saw a roach hanging out in there. Since then, we've seen more, and every one of them was within a couple of feet of the Keurig. OMG SO GROSS.

I've even opened up the machine and found tiny little bugs inside, I think baby roaches, so there's no question they've been at home in there. And probably elsewhere, too.

We are admittedly on the slovenly side, but we've also been in this house for ten years and never before had any kind of insect problem.

My questions are:

1. How the heck do we get rid of the roaches?! Can we do it, or is it reasonable/affordable to call in a professional? We live in a suburban area outside of NYC. Difficulty: small children, lots of allergies including peanut butter.

2. Can the coffee machine ever again be rendered both functional and no longer infested? Can we put it in a plastic bag in a chest freezer for a week or something?

3. Assuming we get the problem under control, what can we do to make this or a different future Keurig machine inhospitable to bugs in the future??
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
1. Throw out the coffeemaker and get a professional exterminator.

2. See #1 above and get a new one. I mean, I guess there probably is a way to get the bugs out, but personally I would never want to use that thing again if it was me. (Others will likely disagree.)

3. Have a professional exterminator come on a quarterly basis.
posted by amro at 6:49 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]



Okay. That being said: roaches don't necessarily need human food - they can survive on the glue from book bindings in a pinch. They DO need water. The Keurig comes with its own little built-in reservoir of water. While you're working on stamping out your roach infestation (AAAAAAAAAGHHHH!), you're going to have to take one for the team and leave that reservoir UNFILLED in between uses. You'll also have to wipe off any spare moisture in the drip tray, etc. after each use. Also, make sure there is no other source of water in the kitchen - keep that sink bone-dry, son.

Apart from making sure not to give your visitors little roachy-troughs, you may wish to leave a line of borax powder around the entire perimeter of the room, and possibly around the Keurig itself, once it's been thoroughly disinfected (which CAN happen - I'd disassemble it into the smallest possible pieces and bleach-water it to death, but then again, I am a roach-o-phobe).
posted by julthumbscrew at 6:54 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

seconding everything amro said - with emphasis.

If you have allergies then the roaches are just going to contribute. Toss the thing and get a new one *after* you have an exterminator come in and debug your place. Your machine is probably crawling with diseases left behind by the things. I wouldn't drink from it.
posted by patheral at 6:56 PM on October 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

My office just had a roach infestation and got rid of it. After weeks of spraying, etc., they finally found the problem: The espresso machine. It looks like this, and if you can see it has a container below the buttons that holds the wet grounds. The exterminators said the roaches were eating the wet grounds because the grounds have a lot of moisture, and then later they migrated to the bag of beans (caffeine addiction, I guess). So, the exterminators sprayed everywhere, we are now very careful to always keep the area dry, and the coffee beans go in the refrigerator. The machine parts that could be removed were cleaned with soap and bleach, then put in the dishwasher. Everyone is being super-clean (the cleaning staff cleans our kitchen 3 times/day, plus at night, but sometimes people would leave spills, etc., and they don't anymore).

Just do that, and try not to think about it too much.
posted by Houstonian at 7:12 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

oh, ffs.
There's If you're at all paranoid you could bleach the thing, sure.
But it's already a machine that boils water. I wouldn't worry.

I agree that they are after your water.
Give them a new water supply. A yogurt container is too slipper for them to climb out of [and though they can technically fly, they are really quite terrible at taking off]. If you were collecting a sample outdoors you would dig a hole and set the container in it. In this case, you should maybe make a little ramp or something on the kitchen counter [and on the floor, and..] and put about two fingers of beer in there so they'll really go for it.
The ootheca aren't microscopic. You won't have anything growing on your coffee machine that you won't know about with a thorough cleaning.

They can survive freezing, and some species have eggs that can overwinter, so putting the thing in the freezer isn't a surefire solution. Clean it more thoroughly and more regularly than normal for a few weeks until you're sure things have calmed down.

As for making it less hospitable: make sure it's dry, set the whole thing in a sliipery-walled container if you like [though this will also keep the ones that are in the machine from leaving], elevate it with a wire rack, or... shine a spotlight on it all night.

Your proper ground zero is not the coffee machine, I'm fairly certain. It is a crevice behind an appliance or a cabinet or a baseboard or something similar. You're looking for a place that is dark and [preferably] moist and your threshold for crack size is about 2 cds thick.

Calling a professional will be simpler, but the effectiveness of vigorously applied hot soapy water is too often underestimated in dealing with all manner of insect infestations. The baits that you can buy are better than the sticky traps for one reason:
Cockroaches eat dead cockroaches [and cockroach feces], and the poison is slow-acting enough that the cockroach will go back to its hiding spot to die. This starts an excellent chain reaction.

One more thing:
is there more leaves/grass/debris piled next to your house this year than in previous years?
Move those piles!
posted by Acari at 7:21 PM on October 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

if you decide to diy the extermination, here is a helpful link.

the thing i came in to say was: sticky traps! because a stressed roach will drop it's eggs first thing; sticky traps keep the new hatchlings from scooting away perpetuating the infestation. good luck!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:23 PM on October 11, 2010

that was all over the place, and I can't spell slippery.
tl;dr: Hot soapy water. Keep things clean and dry, use baits if you are having trouble, eliminate harborage around your house.

posted by Acari at 7:25 PM on October 11, 2010

and on non-preview post acari's advice seems well informed & excellent ... the sticky trap thing is what i've always heard from friends living in hawaii, could be urban myth!
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:32 PM on October 11, 2010

I had roaches when I lived in Florida, same thing, all of a sudden, I think maybe they arrived with new neighbors. One night I left a glass with a little bit of red wine in it on the counter. In the morning it was full of dead drunk roaches. I tried it again with different wine, didn't work. Wish I could remember what kind it was.
posted by mareli at 7:44 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

It might not just be the water - I don't know what model you have but if there's a clock or display that lights up, they could be in there. I've recently learned (and witnessed) that roaches are drawn to the little bit of heat that comes from these displays - it's apparently perfect conditions for them. It that's the case then they might be a bit harder to get rid of.

Incidentally, that's also why picking up discarded microwaves curbside is a bad idea.
posted by scrute at 7:44 PM on October 11, 2010

Get a new coffee maker.

Really. I love my Keurig, too, but the real answer is "Fill that Keurig with bug poison", at which point you may as well just get a new Keurig.
posted by GilloD at 8:11 PM on October 11, 2010

Not sure if this helps, but I had a similar problem with a microwave. They wanted to hang out behind the digital display since it was warm. I had to disassemble the microwave and I put boric acid all up in the damn thing and they finally went away. If you can disassemble your coffee maker and find out where they are hiding you can probably get rid of them. But you have to find them, and put the acid right where they hide, or they will just find a way around it. It's not enough to do it half ass. Took me two tries to realize that.
posted by buckaroo_benzai at 9:25 PM on October 11, 2010

I've had good luck mixing equal parts baking soda and powdered sugar. Leave it in little piles under your refrigerator, in crevices, etc. Also, it's non-toxic to humans and pets.
posted by Surinam Toad at 9:59 PM on October 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

Jesus, just nuke it from space. Gah, get rid of your keurig. You will never be sure that you ain't sucking down boiled roach babies or their poop.

You need to get rid rid of the roaches pronto because of the allergies. Roaches and incidents of asthma have been noted. Do what Acara says and get an exterminator in addition to the boric acid bait whose recipe is posted here.

The cost of the keurig is not enough to justify the time and the value in emotional stress to take apart completely and debug. I would only do it for an extremely expensive piece of equipment and believe me I would be running the numbers on my time, getting a third party to debug or just getting another machine.
posted by jadepearl at 6:14 AM on October 12, 2010

My old apartment in Boston used to have a bit of a roach problem. I was meticulous with cleaning food and debris, but I couldn't keep up with drying up the sink and other water sources. Tried boric acid. Didn't work. Searched here for other recommendations, and found PussumcupCake's recommendation to buy http://www.bengal.com/roach.htm">Bengal Roach Spray. Whereas I'd come across 2-3/day, I would go 4-5 months without single a single roach after using the stuff. Then I'd find one, spray again, and be totally roach free for another several months. It was AMAZING. It comes with a little straw tube, which you attach to the nozzle and spray under cabinets, crevices, etc. I'd think it might be ok to use with kids, if you use it to basically aim into tiny spaces where the suckers like to hide, and not out in the open. But not sure of the toxicity though - I was just so incredibly happy to find something that really worked. I wouldn't use it in your Keurig though.
posted by raztaj at 6:38 AM on October 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

In addition to all the advice above, if there is a piece of baseboard along your kitchen countertop, you might try prying that off and putting the boric acid or Bengal spray behind it then put it back on. That really helped in my case. It's like getting closer to the actual source of the problem, instead of just the visible areas.
posted by CathyG at 6:55 AM on October 12, 2010

Are you leaving the empty, wet grounds-full K cup inside the machine after you make the coffee and only taking it out the next time you make coffee? I, as a fellow slovenly person, used to do this before switching to the reuseable K cup. I can only imagine it's heaven for the roaches.
posted by kpht at 8:45 AM on October 12, 2010

The "nuke the Keurig and get a new one and while you're at it get an exterminator" is the advice I was going to give, but with the additive suggestion of perhaps contacting your homeowners/renters insurance to see if it might be covered as a loss, mitigating the financial bite.
posted by juniperesque at 9:49 AM on October 12, 2010

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