This is How You Get Rid of Cockroaches in Shanghai-The Guide

If you ever lived in Shanghai, you probably know them. They run fast, eat literally everything that can resemblence food and can live a week without their head. Cockroaches is a huge problem in China. And due to the fact that most expats in China have chosen to live in Shanghai, I make this guide specially for you.

Believe me, after you have read this article, you will probably never struggle with cockroaches again. Or…at least you will have the choice to not live together with them ever again.

Table of Contents

Background story – why am I an expert on (killing) cockroaches in Shanghai?

Because I have been through the worst of the worst. After living in Shanghai for more than four years, I struggled with roaches in nearly every apartment.

Apartment #1: Located in Zhongshan Park

Had huge (really fat) cockroaches in our kitchen area. One day I had a movie night with a couple of friends. The next day, I was walking towards my kitchen area only to see two huge cockroaches eating what was left of my nachos chips.

I almost had to vomit. That`s when the fight started. From now on, it was me against the cockroaches. And I was determined to win that fight.

Apartment #2: Room in a shared flat in Shanghai.

This place was literally filled with all types of bugs. We threw a party just after moving in, just to find the whole floor filled with cockroaches the day after. Apparently they love beer. We struggled with these guys until we left after about a year. It got gradually better, but I honest dont think this place can ever get rid of their problems.

Apartment #3: Located nearby Jiaotong University

Now I started to get pissed off. At this point, I was moving in with one of my best friends. I told him that I was not going to live below 20th floor (you will know why later in the article). As we moved into a clean apartment on 27th floor, I was thinking to myself: “Finally! No more cockroaches!”.

Then this happened:

A huge cockroach in my apartment in Shanghai. Disgusting.

This almost made me puke.

I asked my roommate, which for some reason did not find them too disgusting, to throw out my whole towel. I was suddenly not going to take a shower that morning.

After that incident, I decided to read every single article online about how I could get rid of them. Spending a lot of time (and money) on this helped me a lot. I am not joking when I say that I did not see one single cockroach in my last year in Shanghai. When I tell that to people they struggle to believe me.

Anyway, enough background story…let me share what I learned.

So what’s the solution – how can I get rid of them?

There is not one single solution to this problem. However, don’t let that put you off. I will go through a step-for-step guide to how you can create a 100 % bug free home in Chinas’ most beautiful city.

#1: Keep your apartment extremely clean

This is the absolute best tips I can give you. When I first heard my colleagues talking about keeping their apartments clean, I really did not understand what they meant. After having a longer discussion, I started to realize that it is 100 % necessary to:

– Never keep any food or drinks out in the open. Not even fruit. Everything needs to be seiled in a container and/or kept in the fridge. Keeping the food inside the cupboard is NOT enough. Cockroaches can get in almost anywhere.

– Take out all your trash every day. Every single day. I made it a habit to take a “nightwalk” while throwing out the trash.

– Either hire an Ayi (cleaning lady) or clean your whole apartment once a week.

This is all done to prevent cockroaches from getting into your apartment. Now, what if they are already there?

#2: Identify the source: where do they come in? + use drain unblocker acid

Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of people ignore. If you block the access to your apartment, you have already done a lot of the important work. In our second apartment in Shanghai, we saw that most of the cockroaches came up the bathroom sink.

What we did was pouring down DRAIN UNBLOCKER (yes, you read that right) in the sink every week. Believe me, it it is like acid…and will instantly kill any living creature that tries to get up that sink. We also bought a simple thing that you put down the drain when it`s not running in order to not let anything go up or down the drain. This was like 10 RMB on Taobao.

Those three efforts literally limited our cockroach problem with 80 % in the bathroom.

#3: Smoke them out! [using 蟑螂清]

If you already did everything I adviced you to do, there is a huge possibility that you don’t have to do more. However, there is one last “roach hack” that I would need to tell you about.

I don’t know if you have heard about it, but there is one product that literally puts your whole room into smoke. This is how it works:

– You buy and “install” the product in the room that you believe cockroaches are coming from.

– You put it on fire. Then leave the door shut! (this is extremely important)

– After about 3 hours, you open the door only to find a lot of dead/paralyzed cockroaches on the floor. This smoke helps them to get out of where they are hiding, and you can carefully pick them up using a broom – and throw them in the toilet.

We did this in our other bathroom in apartment #2. Prior to this, we saw at least 3-4 cockroaches in that bathroom every day. After doing that (and it was literally 70-80 of them on the bathroom floor), we did not see any bugs in that bathroom for 3 months. True story!

“I would love to smoke cockroaches out of my walls and pipes! What is the name of the product and where can I buy it?”

The product is called 蟑螂清 and you can get it by showing these characters to the people working at Walmart or other huge supermarkets. From my own experience, they do not have them in the small local shops in your area.

PS! Most people will tell you that you should use these “baits” that attract cockroaches and poison them. Do not buy them. They don’t work. In addition to not being very effective, they will possibly also leave you with some dead cockroaches around your apartment.

This is how the “baits” look like in the shop:

Cockroach “traps” sold on Alibaba. Not very efficient. Do not buy. Photo:

#4 If you can: move up to the skies!

There are two reasons why living above floor 15 will minimize the risk of living with these disgusting creatures:

1. The closer to ground level, the more humid it will get. Needless to say, cockroaches love to live in warm & wet conditions.

2. It takes them a lot of effort to “develop” their home from 1st until 27nd floor. If your neighbors at the first floor struggle with bugs, it doesn`t necessarily need that you do that as well.

I was once visiting a friend who lived in an old lane house down in Jingan. He had two cats that was constantly running across the floor. When I looked a bit cloesr, I saw that they were chasing and killing cockroaches. Honestly, they did that constantly for like 3 hours straight.

I could never live like that. And I guess, based on the fact that you are reading this article, that you could not either.

Why is this article posted on a website about sustainability/global warming/eco-conciousness?

Yeah. I know. Killing animals is probably not what most of the articles is about on Sustainability Matters. And neither should it be.

But after struggling with cockroaches in Shanghai for a long period of time, I felt that I had to share what I learned. I know the struggle that you are going through right now – and I feel you. That is why I would really like to provide you with this useful information. If I can just help -one- person to kill more cockroaches, I am happy.

Are cockroaches good for the environment?

I had to google this question. And unfortunately, they are. According to this article in the Huffington post, they are excellent at recycling as they literally eat everything (I guess you already noticed that they do).

The infamous British comedian Karl Pilkington once called up a biologist (LEGG TIL LINK TIL KARL OG ALT

Relevant questions

Would these tips work if I live in Beijing/Shenzhen or even in a different country like Spain/USA?

Maybe. I am not a biologist, which means that I am not aware if the roaches in Shanghai are the same as other places. But if they are: sure! These tips will probably most definitely work in other Chinese cities like Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Kunming, Taipei, Hong Kong, etc.

Beijing is located too far north to have this problem. Lucky b*****s. 🙂

I am struggling a lot with cockroaches in my apartment. Can I ask you specifically about my problem?

Yes, you can. And I will promise to answer as soon as I see your question. Simply post a comment below and I will follow up with you.

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  1. I’m living in Hangzhou, which is basically in Shanghai’s neighborhood and I’m struggling with these creatures since 3 years. Every summer, I find a couple of them during the night or evening. Although I freaked out the first time, I got calm over time and now, hunt them down once I see one.

    For example, I found one yesterday evening. When I hunted it, it hid in a small gap below the door frame. That’s not the first time that happened, so I decided to close it somehow. I used transparent sticky tape to close the gap. This night, I heard some plastic noise and went there to check. It apparently tried to break out, but failed.

    However, today, I found one the third night in a row and I got a little concerned. Up to now, I assumed they enter only my room, but don’t actually live here, because I don’t find them in the night and my room isn’t very big. If there are 70-80 cockroaches in my room, why don’t I find one every time I lift something up or clean my room?

    Your article got me thinking. I also want to try this smoke bomb. But I haven’t found it on Taobao, when I enter 蟑螂清, it returns these baits. Can you please edit your article to include a picture or an example product of what you used?

  2. Is there a particular brand of 蟑螂清 that you’d recommend, maybe the one you used in the bathroom? I’m looking for some on Taobao. I just found my second roach in my apartment, and when I checked the pipes there’s a huge gap around where they enter my kitchen cupboards that I’m not sure how to seal. While my first order of business is going to be moving all my food to containers, it would help my peace of mind to smokebomb them in the meantime.

    1. Hi Liv!

      Ooh, sorry to hear you found roaches in your apartment. Frankly, I can’t remember which brand we used. But I am sure it was the one that provided the most smoke.

      Also, you would have to fill that gap with something.

  3. I was also living close to Zhongshan park. Huge, old building. Had no idea what I got myself into when I signed the lease.

    It didn’t even take an hour after moving in before I saw my first cockroach and I was literally screaming so that people in Jingan Temple could hear me (only a joke Shanghai residents will understand). Wasn’t taking long until I called my landlord and asked her to have a look at this. I simply could not live among cockroaches in Shanghai…it was just no chance

  4. These damn cockroaches are bugging me (no pun intended) every day. I live close to Hongqiao airport and according to what I read online, this area shouldn’t be as bad as other areas when it comes to bugs and cockroaches…but no.

    I wish I could upload a picture in this comment section because the roach I killed today was literally the size of my hand.

    1. Hi Joel,

      sad to hear that you’re struggling with these bugs. From what I know, there are no regional differences within Shanghai. In other words: I believe that you have equally “good chances” of living with cockroaches in Hongqiao as you would have in Pudong.

  5. I get the creeps just by looking at the cockroach that is sitting at your towel. That’s how much I hate them. Disgusting, annoying, trash eating bugs. One of the reasons why I moved to Shanghai was because I liked the climate. The nice (and chill) winter combined with an AMAZING spring.

    However, living in a Lane house down by Jingan quickly teached me that with the humid spring and summer, cockroaches come. And when I found a cockroach IN MY BED (I didn’t knew that they did that), I was completely done. No more lane houses for me. Can’t understand why people would like to spend time in a old wooden building filled with bugs

    1. Hi Kunchong (which means “bug” in Chinese, right?).

      I’ve only been to one of these really old lane houses down at Jingan Temple once. And yes, it was literally filled with cockroaches. My friend, who also happened to have two cats in that apartment, wasn’t paying much attention to the roaches. The cats apparently loved to kill and eat them, which I found quite bizarre.

      So let’s conclude: if you hate cockroaches and plan to move to Shanghai, you are not exactly making it easy for you if you move to an old lane house on 1st floor in Jingan.

  6. This is brilliant. I am a French native speaker that struggle with a lot of cockroaches. ironically I am living in FRENCH CONCESSION in Shanghai LOL.

    Thank you for your tips in regards to get rid of the cockroaches. My dog is trained to kill them, but he doesnt do a very well job to be honest. the other day I woke up with a cockroach in my bed, which was the same second I decided to get rid of these bugs forever.

    Either I kill the cockroaches in my apartment, or I move to a different apartment

  7. Ooh, thanks for letting me know and sharing your tips.

    We had a bad experience with cockroaches while living in Shanghai and I would love to have read this article before I moved there. Trust me, the kids were screaming every time they saw one. We tried to train our dogs to catch and kill them, but he was too old for that.

    Best thing I learned was, as you also mention, to live in a tall building. There aer SO much less cockroaches on 28th floor compared to in a lane house in Nanjing West Road

  8. The picture of that cockroach on your towel….EWWWWWWWWWWWWWW

    I hate these creatures. Once I had a potato chip while living in Spain, and just when I try to take the potato cheap towards my mouth in order to eat it, I see this disgusting cockroach SITTING ON THE CHIP!

    You have no idea how I screamed and started to run around. Honestly, the world would be so much better if it wouldn`t be for these roaches.

    Now I will be moving to Shanghai for three months because my husband will work there. If I see any bugs running around the apartment, I promise to follow your advice! 🙂 The smoking thing sounded so smart to be honest!

    1. Hahaha, WOW!

      If any cockroach had come close to any of my food while eating it…I would literally have nightmares for years to come. That might sound like a small thing to some, but to me, it’s like the worst thing that could happen.

      Anyway: good luck with living in Shanghai. It’s a beautiful city! 🙂

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