How to keep your home PEST-FREE in NYC!
Posted on August 24, 2018

Bohemia Blog by Agent Stephenae Searles

When I first moved to NYC almost three years ago, I was told that having unwanted house guests, ie. roaches and rats, was simply a part of living in the city. Being someone who cringes at the sight of a roach, I absolutely REFUSE to believe that New Yorkers simply have to accept these creatures as housemates! I had an experience while renting a room in Washington Heights where I encountered a mouse in the hallway of my building that was trying to get under my front door (thankfully, we had some sort of door stopper that blocked the space beneath the door) in addition to two run-ins with waterbugs, aka giant flying roaches, in my bedroom. My quality of life in NYC is in large part determined by having peace of mind in knowing that I will not wake up to see a large critter above me.

So, I quickly decided that this room, as cheap and sunny as it was, would only serve as a short-term rental. Luckily, a very good friend of mine found an amazing new construction unicorn, where we currently live happily and pest-free. Although new construction buildings are out there, they are certainly in the minority. Pre-war buildings dominate the marketplace, especially in uptown Manhattan. However, that is not to say that maintaining a pest-free home is impossible; you just need to take preventative measures to ensure your home will remain clear of unwanted visitors (of the crawling variety at least), and I am here to share some tips on how to do this!


How to control pests in your home in NYC:

The two most common types of cockroaches that inhabit NYC are German cockroaches and American cockroaches. German cockroaches are the smaller, rapidly multiplying kind that is often found in kitchens and bathrooms, whereas American cockroaches, also known as water bugs, are the larger variety often found in warm, moist spaces like drains and piles of garbage. Since both of these critters thrive in moist places, it is certainly helpful to keep the wetter rooms of your home (kitchens and bathrooms) as dry as possible when not in use.

This can be done by simply opening the windows to let in a breeze and by wiping down wet surfaces to maintain a clean, dry space. Other basic measures you can regularly take to keep your apartment clean include ensuring that food is not left out for extended periods of time (and certainly not overnight) and taking your trash out regularly (daily, if possible). These are seemingly very obvious, but you would be surprised to see how many New Yorkers maintain potential playgrounds in their homes for roaches and rats, and later wonder why they have such pests in their homes.

Products to purchase to prevent pests in NYC:

One of the first things you can do to prevent creatures from walking right through your front door is to seal the gap that often exists beneath the door. A quick, easy, and inexpensive way to do this is to get a door sweep. Door sweeps are great for closing spaces that are smaller than a quarter inch. You can find these on Amazon for about $10 for a “2x39” strip. Aside from preventing pests from entering your apartment, door sweeps are also great for temperature blocking, such as keeping out drafts in the winter. They can also serve as sound barriers to block out hallway noise. Plus, you cannot control how your neighbors keep up their apartments, so you want to keep a tight barrier between your spotless home and any unknowns possibly lurking on the other side of your front door.

Window insulator
Arbeiterhände - Handwerker entfernt mit einer Spachtel PU Schaum

Another sneakier way critters get into your home is through tiny cracks and crevices throughout your apartment. Generally, the work that is done in pre-war apartments after a tenant moves out includes minor repairs (unless the unit is undergoing extensive renovations). That being said, there are often many imperfections that remain, in part due to regular wear and tear over time, given the age of the apartment (and in part due to cheap contracting). This is most apparent in the gaps that frequently can be seen between the floors and baseboards. An inexpensive and easy solution that you can do yourself is to caulk every crack and crevice in your home. The best, most durable type of caulk you can use is a 100% silicone caulk. You can get caulk and a caulk gun at any hardware store like Home Depot, or even online at Amazon for about $20 or less. An even easier alternative to caulk is a caulk strip that is like self-adhesive tape (also available on Amazon).

Black adhesive tape on wooden background
Hands of worker using a silicone tube  for repairing of window

Other areas you can caulk include around windows, toilets, bathtubs, cabinets, and almost any structure that attaches to the wall or floor. You can even caulk around your outlets (and if you’re super paranoid and think something might crawl through the socket, which is unlikely, you can use outlet covers when the outlet is not in use). Also, be sure to caulk around your bathroom plumbing, specifically where the pipes meet the wall (ie. under the sink). Remember, roaches like moist spaces, and actually need water more than food, so paying attention to moisture-heavy areas is important. For any large holes, you can stuff them with steel wool, which is great for keeping out rodents. Steel wool can also be bought at any hardware store or online for a few bucks.

Steel wool on white background

Exterminating your pests in NYC:

Lastly, request monthly extermination services. Landlords in NYC are required to provide monthly extermination services at their expense if the tenant requests them. Even if your home is pest-free, this is still a great preventative measure that will give you peace of mind. Finally, enjoy your life in the city! Although these critters will still remain as unwanted NYC residents, you can at least now rest assured that they will not invade your home and interfere with your quality of life.

Check out more of Bohemia Realty Group’s Stephenae Searles here!