There are a number of cockroaches in my wardrobe where I keep my clothes. I have noticed that the cockroaches haven't done any damage to my clothes. I haven't seen the need to get rid of the cockroaches. There is a common perception that living with cockroaches is unhealthy/harmful (see here, here, and here).

Is there any truth to that?

  • 5
    Welcome to skeptics. It's an interesting question, and I answered it, but when making a question, try to have a claim that needs to be proven right/wrong. In your case it would be a claim of living with cockroaches being completely okay.
    – Wertilq
    May 6, 2013 at 11:46
  • Allegedly, properly farmed cockroaches can be eaten
    – Paul
    Aug 5, 2015 at 10:30

2 Answers 2


YES it's unhealthy to live with cockroaches.

About cockroaches

Cockroach disease is something that many people are worried about when they see a cockroach in their home. Cockroaches are known to carry disease because they can live on just about anything, meaning they often live on unsanitary substances.

Cockroaches are potential carriers of disease.

Cockroach disease can affect humans. Cockroaches are known to carry diseases like dysentery, typhoid and poliomyelitis, as well as gastroenteritis. Cockroaches can live just about anywhere, and can live on fermenting products, septic dressings, hair, leather, wallpaper, feces, rotting food, and more.

Because many of the products that cockroaches feed on are spoiled or simply unsanitary, it's easy to see where cockroach disease comes from. Many of the substances that they feed on are already contaminated, and as the cockroach moves from one location to another it spreads the disease along the way.

Not only can people get sick from the diseases that cockroaches contaminate human living space with, many humans are allergic to cockroach feces. Of course, no one exposes themselves to cockroach disease and feces on purpose, but it can happen by inhaling particles of dust in the air that has been left behind by the cockroach.

Reason why they carry disease is that they eat all sorts of unsanitary things. This can then spread to humans, if they are living together with them. some people are also allergic to cockroach feces.

  • 12
    What is "cockroach disease"? The sole source you cite does not have any sources of its own to back up its claims, and appears it may be an advertisement for pest control in Vancouver. As such, I don't think it's a reliable source. May 14, 2015 at 17:22
  • 1
    In fact, that site is absolutely just an ad site (had to disable Adblock to see the ads plastered all over). May 14, 2015 at 17:25
  • That link now returns a "403 - Forbidden" message. Sep 19, 2016 at 2:48
  • Here's another copy: bugbustersegypt.com/cockroaches
    – Oddthinking
    Sep 20, 2016 at 2:27
  • 2
    I note that the link is to a pest-control company, who obviously have a vested interest.
    – hdhondt
    Sep 20, 2016 at 10:02

Cockroaches are a potential risk because they act as a vector for a number of diseases, bacteria, and other pathogens:

Cockroaches are arthropod transmitters of disease, acting both as mechanical vectors and as reservoirs of pathogenic agents. It has been shown that cockroaches harbor and transmit, both in nature and under experimental conditions, about 40 species of bacteria, including at least 25 from the Enterobacteriaceae group that cause gastroenteritis in man. In addition, it has been established that these insects are intermediate hosts of pathogenic helminths, viruses, fungi, and protozoa. It is possible that cockroaches contribute to the transmission of Chagas' disease by feeding on triatomine vectors of that disease. There also are signs that substances produced by cockroaches are involved in certain allergic processes. The foregoing facts are sufficient to justify the immediate control and eradication of these insects whenever and wherever they constitute a threat to public health. - Source: US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health

They eat just about anything, including carrion, feces, or box of cereal you didn't quite seal up, and in a household setting will likely find and feed upon any food items available. They frequently defecate near their food sources, so if you leave food out overnight (cockroaches are most active in the dark), and then handle or eat it, chances are good that you will come into contact with any pathogens that cockroach may have been exposed to.

If you have any sores, it is even possible that cockroaches could nibble on you while you're asleep!

  • 1
    Would a cockroach nibbling on a sore clean it?
    – yters
    Aug 6, 2015 at 0:34
  • 2
    This should be the accepted answer, since it has a reliable source.
    – MEMark
    Apr 3, 2017 at 9:08

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