How to keep cockroaches from coming home with me in my bag?
August 22, 2011 6:52 PM   Subscribe

How do I keep cockroaches from coming home in my overnight bag?

My SO has a small cockroach problem (like just about everyone who lives in that part of London) that has recently become a big cockroach problem, and is now my problem. The last 2 times I stayed over, I realized 1-4 came home with me. After the first time I had assumed simply keeping my bag high off the floor while there would solve the problem but it did not. At least one came back with me this afternoon.

Throwing my bag and everything in it into the washing machine is less-than-ideal (for example, times when I return too late to run it w/o disturbing neighbors).

What are my options here? Is there anything I can put in my bag to keep them out? Is there a product in the UK to fog-out my bag in between houses that ideally won't damage things like my phone charger & toiletries or stink up my house with regular use? Should I even worry about 1-4 cockroaches coming back at a time?

Anonymous to save the SO any embarrassment.
posted by anonymous to Home & Garden (17 answers total)
Why not just bring a trash bag with you, and keep your bag inside the trash bag till you leave?
posted by Ashley801 at 6:54 PM on August 22, 2011

Do they sell boric acid over there? When you're at your girlfriend's house, draw a circle on the ground in boric acid (maybe two circles, sort of like a moat) and put your bag inside of the circle. The roaches shouldn't cross it.

Also, boric acid is mostly long as you don't eat it or aggressively rub it in your eyes, it shouldn't do any damage at all. Much better than insecticides.

On preview: trash bag idea is great and probably easier. I do like the idea of an impenetrable roach fortress, though.
posted by phunniemee at 6:56 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have read that cockroaches don't like mint or cloves, so maybe put some mint leaves and whole cloves in some sort of spice bag in or near it? You could even couple that with a reeeeeally tightly shut trash bag. The little roaches can fit into much smaller spaces than you'd think, but if you both twist and knot the top of the bag that should keep them out.
posted by wondermouse at 7:06 PM on August 22, 2011

And yeah, unfortunately you do need to worry about 1-4 roaches coming back at a time. Roach problems easily spread by just one hitching a ride in a bag. One could lay an egg in there too, meaning you'd be bringing 30-40 baby roaches back with you.
posted by wondermouse at 7:21 PM on August 22, 2011

Cockroaches will definitely crawl through boric acid (they'll even eat it); direct contact is how it gets 'em.
posted by Specklet at 7:23 PM on August 22, 2011

If you have an Indian grocery anywhere near you, ask about Laxman-Rekha (luck-shmun ray-kuh) chalk. I assume this shit is majorly toxic but hey, it might get through customs. You draw it on the floor and cockroaches WILL. NOT. CROSS. IT.

Small problem with it: apparently there's an equivalent in Colombia and a friend mentioned a horrifying anecdote about a night when everybody set up sleeping bags in some old rundown shack and one of them decided to draw lines in the Colombian-equivalent chalk all over the walls. The roaches, rather than crawling down the walls, hit the lines and began dropping off the walls and ceiling onto people's faces while they were sleeping.

Do not draw Laxman-Rekha on your walls.
posted by artemisia at 7:33 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

Here in the US, we have Ziploc Big Bags, meant to store winter blankets and such. I'm assuming they're available there, but if not, perhaps something similar?.Something like this would ensure that your stuff is sealed (zip it up, and keep it zipped up as much as you can), and you can see if there's a hitchhiker on the plastic since it's clear.

Until it's taken care of at your SO's place, can they just stay at your place?
posted by AlisonM at 7:40 PM on August 22, 2011

We recently had a bedbug scare (but thank goodness no bedbugs), and discovered the Packtite. It's basically a large duffel bag with a heating unit. You throw whatever you've traveled with (clothes, shoes, purses, even whole suitcases) into the bag and cook it for an hour or two, and whatever hitchhikers you might have brought along are toast.

People in the bedbug-fearing community absolutely swear by this thing -- many people have cycled the entire contents of their apartments through it. My google-fu isn't turning up the lethal temp for roaches, but if a couple of hours at 120-140F does them in, this product will solve your problem.
posted by apparently at 8:02 PM on August 22, 2011 [4 favorites]

I read last week about Japan's gokkiburi (cockroach) problem, and since they have asked people to turn AC higher to 28C, the roaches are loving it. Apparently their perfect temperature is 25C-30C and get uncomfortable after that. At 40C they start dying, unless they have lots of moisture around (like potted plants).

But that may be specific to Asian roaches.
posted by lundman at 8:12 PM on August 22, 2011

Ah yes, here.
posted by lundman at 8:15 PM on August 22, 2011

I have some advice, but, with a preamble:

I've lived in Japan. I've dealt with cockroach problems.

The giant ziplock bag sounds like a good idea, but...

How do you know the roaches are coming back in your bag? Is it possible that your apartment itself may have a roach problem?

In my experience (and I've had a lot of experience with cockroaches), besides the ziplock bag, the only thing that can get rid of cockroaches are glue traps, or "roach motels".

You (and I'm thinking of your boyfriend) have to couple the roach motels with an aggressive cleaning campaign. Wash the dishes. Rinse and dry out the sink afterward. Take out the trash. Vacuum behind the couch. Get rid of any clutter. Make sure the window screens have no holes in them. Keep your door closed.

Basically, you've got to deprive the roaches of food, and deprive them of a suitable living environment. It can help check the roach population, even if the rest of the building is infested.

But glue traps are key. Place one in your entry hall, another one under the fridge, another one behind the coach, another near a window, another one in your bathroom.

If there is no food or water in your boyfriend's apartment, pretty soon they will head for the glue traps.

But I really wonder if they are coming home in your bag.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:43 PM on August 22, 2011

If someone in the UK has a problem with cockroaches generally, they should really call environmental health at their local council PDQ. They will be able to offer help and support in sorting the basic problem out - ultimately a much better solution than just avoiding getting them in your bag...
posted by prentiz at 11:03 PM on August 22, 2011

Would your bag fit into his fridge? That'd be a roach-free place to store it. (ie, maybe he could remove a shelf in the fridge, if he's not much for cooking)
posted by pseudostrabismus at 11:19 PM on August 22, 2011

Would your bag fit into his fridge? That'd be a roach-free place to store it.

In my very unfortunate experience, this is not necessarily true.
posted by Ashley801 at 11:27 PM on August 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Which part of London is it? I've never really heard of Londoners having significant cockroach problems. As another poster suggested I would suggest trying to fix the cockroach problem at your SOs flat.

I really don't think that cockroaches are an inevitable part of life in any area of London.
posted by mairuzu at 3:59 AM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are they little teeny ones or the bit multi-inch fuckers?
posted by radioamy at 4:02 PM on August 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Can you maybe work with him to eradicate them from his place?
posted by radioamy at 4:03 PM on August 23, 2011

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