How to get rid of water bugs – easily remove these pests from your home

Learn how to get rid of water bugs from your home with this guide

A small water bug on the edge of a white sink
(Image credit: Alamy)

Spotting a bug in your bathroom is many people's worst nightmare, however, learning how to get rid of water bugs from your home is easy if an infestation ever rears its head. 

'When getting rid of water bugs from your home, it is important to correctly identify the insect,' says Rachel Crow, garden editor for Homes & Gardens. 'The term ‘water bug’ is used to describe a whole range of insects that typically dwell in warmer, wetter areas of your home such as the bathroom rather than the actual water bug itself that lives outside in open water. When trying to get rid of ‘water bugs’ from your home, you are more likely trying to get rid of roaches, as indoor water bugs are much more likely to be Oriental Cockroaches.'

Learn how to get rid of these indoor water bugs, as well as how to prevent them, with this guide

How to get rid of water bugs 

Rustic, distressed utility room, wooden floorboards, metal bucket containing cleaning products and brushes, feather duster, blocks of soap and polish.

(Image credit: Polly Eltes)

'Unlike getting rid of gnats or getting rid of fruit flies, these pests cannot be removed with a homemade bug spray. Instead, you will need to consider thorough house cleaning tips and possibly chemical treatments,' Rachel warns.  

Oriental cockroaches typically get the name ‘water bug’ from their tendency to live in wet environments such as bathrooms, as well as their ability to travel through pipes. Because of where they live, these bugs can pose a health risk by accentuating asthma, spreading disease, or causing allergic reactions. For this reason, it is important to use the correct protective equipment when getting rid of these bugs from your home. 

1. Clean your home  

Water bugs (or roaches) thrive in unclean environments as they feast on garbage, grime, and drain scum. Make sure to properly clean your bathroom and clean your kitchen with a particular focus on cleaning your bathroom sinks and cleaning kitchen sink drains

To discourage these pests, clean away any possible food sources and standing water as soon as possible. Things such as trash bins and chutes, drains, and decaying leaves around the exterior of your building can all attract these water bugs and encourage them to make a home. 

2. Fix leaks and broken pipes  

Water bugs gain access to your home through water pipes and drains, often when these pips have holes or cracks that make easy access. Reduce the chance of an infestation by ensuring there are no available entrance points and that you are not providing these insects with water from leaky pipes or faucets.  

3. Keep your garden tidy and clear of debris 

If your infestation is inside of your home, it may be difficult to see how cleaning up your garden ideas could help. Because water bugs and roaches eat decaying organic matter and thrive in damp environments, shrubbery, plants and fallen leaves around your property can encourage them closer to your home. 

What’s more, 'large shrubs and trees can block vents resulting in a build-up of moisture and a lack of airflow. Trimming these plants and maintaining your garden can help air circulate throughout your home and prevent mold and dampness,' Rachel explains. 

4. Use chemical treatments  

Chemical treatments are the most effective way of removing water roaches quickly, however, it is not a long-term fix unless coupled with other household maintenance tasks such as cleaning. There is a range of chemical treatments available to use at home that requires baiting the water bugs.  

5. Call a Professional  

If the water bug infestation has gotten out of hand, or you are unsure about using chemical treatments yourself or are vulnerable to allergies, consider calling professional pest control to help eradicate the problem at the source. 

This is especially important if you live in a shared building such as an apartment building so the entire property can be involved in the control and elimination of the water bugs. 

How to identify water bugs  

A small water roach on the inside of a white sink next to the plug hole

(Image credit: Alamy)

There are a few ways you can identify a water bug infestation in your home. The most obvious is seeing these bugs around your home. They will typically be very dark brown in color, with long antennae and a rounded shape similar to other roaches. They will have a harder shell-like back than some common household bugs. 

Secondly, you may smell a wet, musty odor in your home, especially around areas with drains and pipes such as the kitchen and bathroom. And finally, you may see egg casings in your home when conducting your regular cleaning. Water roaches repopulate rapidly, with one egg casing containing an average of 14 new roaches inside, so signs of eggs could mean a serious infestation has taken hold. 

What causes a water bug infestation?  

'Water bugs or roaches are drawn to moisture – hence the name,' says Rachel. 'If they have not come up through your pipes and drains or garbage shoots, they may have entered your home through laundry, air ducts that contain moisture, crawling under doors, or being carried in on packaging.'

Water bugs may be more prevalent in apartment buildings as pipes connect units, or if your basement ideas are prone to dampness and leaks 

What are true water bugs?  

As discussed, indoor water bugs are more likely to be roaches than actual water bugs. True water bugs are found largely outside, residing in open water such as ponds or slow rivers. These bugs are very unlikely to enter your home but may find a home by your pool ideas if it is left uncovered, your pool landscaping ideas place a lot of organic matter close to the water's edge, or your pool lighting ideas are particularly bright.

When dealing with true water bugs, be careful to not step on them. Despite their similar appearance, true water bugs can be more dangerous as they produce paralyzing venom through their bites if stepped on. These bites can be incredibly painful and even cause long-term damage to some. It is best to consult a professional when trying to get rid of true water bugs from your property. 

Can water bugs bite you?  

Home water bugs, or Oriental Cockroaches, can bite humans and pose a health risk. Although their bites themselves are not dangerous, they can be painful and close contact with the insect or their waste can set off allergic reactions and asthma – especially in small children and the elderly. For this reason, it is important to eradicate them from your home quickly.  

Do water bugs come up drains? 

Indoor water bugs, or Oriental Cockroaches, can travel through sewers and may come into your house via your pipes and drains. You can prevent this by sealing up your drain pipes from external pests and fixing leaky pipes to help prevent bugs from entering your pipe system in the first place.   

Chiana Dickson
Junior Writer

Chiana is a junior writer for Homes & Gardens having joined Future plc as a new graduate in 2022 after achieving a 1st class degree in Literature at university. She first became interested in design as a child after spending her summers helping her parents redecorate her childhood home. As a long-time reader of Future’s homes titles, Chiana is constantly finding new inspiration at work as she focuses on emerging trends, how-to’s, and news pieces.