We’ve all been there: You’re watching TV or reading a book when you see a flash of movement out of the corner of your eye. Is it an overactive air conditioner? A ghost? An alien? An intruder? Well, sort of — it’s a common household bug. 

It’s easy to go into full panic mode when you see bugs in your apartment. Knowing how to get rid of bugs in an apartment will help you evict these unwanted roommates as quickly as possible. Read on to learn more, and for ways to prevent them from being drawn to your apartment in the first place. 

The Most Common Apartment Bugs

Gnats, stink bugs, beetles, fruit flies and spiders are just a few of the common household bugs you may encounter. In fact, according to a study published in the PeerJ journal, there are around 100 different species of arthropods (a.k.a. bugs) in the average American home. 

Here are the five most common bugs in apartments:

  1. Cockroaches: Usually found in the kitchen or bathroom, cockroaches are very common, especially in big cities. They’re also plentiful; if you see one, there’s bound to be more.
  2. Ants: Tiny and relentless, ants are attracted inside by food, water and shelter. They leave a scent trail to invite all their cohorts to come and enjoy the bounty.
  3. Centipedes: These multi-legged intruders can be startling to encounter, yet they’re actually one of the good guys. They eat other insects, including roaches, moths and termites.
  4. Spiders: This is another pest that falls into the “alarming-to-see” category. Some spiders are harmless, but others may not be. You probably want neither in your apartment.
  5. Silverfish: These pests, which actually predate dinosaurs, live off starch, glue and adhesives such as those found in newspapers, cardboard boxes, book bindings and carpets.

How Often Should Apartments Spray for Bugs?

The first step, of course, is regular pest prevention, a responsibility shared by the resident and community management team. When you’re doing your apartment walkthrough, ask about the community’s pest control policy. They should have a preventive pest control schedule to help keep common apartment bugs away from the building. The lack of a pest control plan is a major apartment-hunting red flag.

5 Tips to Get Rid of Apartment Bugs

1. Wipe Down All Surfaces (Especially in the Kitchen)

When bugs come inside, it’s usually because they’re looking for something to eat. Even tiny crumbs, a drop of jam or a bowl of pet food can attract ants, flies and roaches. To prevent this, wash dirty dishes right away and always wipe down surfaces immediately after using them. 

Developing your own ultimate apartment cleaning checklist can help you establish an effective cleaning routine. Disinfect food prep areas including the stove, microwave and countertops. Keeping disinfectant wipes and other cleaning supplies on hand will make this easy to do. Vacuum, sweep and mop regularly to keep crumbs off the floor. 

2. Put Food Away

If you leave your food out in the open, bugs are much more likely to find it. Store dry goods, including grains, cereals, bread, seeds, flour and nuts, in airtight containers, preferably glass or heavy plastic. 

Keep all fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator, not in a bowl on the countertop, where they are an easy-to-access buffet for ants or fruit flies. If you’re unsure where to store fresh food, it’s always safer to keep things in the refrigerator or freezer.

3. Remove Damp Items From the Floor 

Another reason bugs come inside is to find water. Don’t give them a drinking source. Check under your kitchen and bathroom sinks to make sure you don’t have any leaky pipes or drips. If you notice leaks in your apartment, contact your apartment’s maintenance team right away to get them fixed. 

Use a plant saucer under any potted plants and empty it frequently to avoid standing water. Pick up and launder damp towels, rugs and washcloths right away. Don’t leave glasses of water or other liquids standing out – always empty them when you’re finished drinking. 

4. Seal All Cracks

Bugs will look for any entry point into your apartment and you might be surprised by the small nooks and crannies they can fit through. Arm yourself with some caulk and tackle any cracks or crevices that might provide an entry point for creepy crawlies. Pay special attention to where baseboards and walls meet, as well as the space behind cabinets. Check with your property manager if you’re unsure of whether you should proceed.

5. Take Action

Once you’ve cleaned your apartment and gotten rid of the bugs, you’ll want to learn how to keep bugs out of your apartment. The four most important things to do are:

  1. Use screens on doors and windows
  2. Establish a cleaning routine
  3. Take out the trash promptly
  4. Proactively treat your apartment

If you don’t already have screens on your doors and windows, now is the time to install them. These act as a barrier between your home and the bugs outside, which is especially important if you live on the ground floor. Also, make sure to repair any rips or tears in your screens right away. 

Next, set a regular cleaning schedule. This helps ensure your entire apartment stays fresh and clean, especially after meals. If you have roommates, consider including them in the development of your new routine. You can even write it down and stick it on the fridge to serve as a reminder.

You’ll also need to get into the habit of taking out the trash in a timely manner. Kitchen garbage attracts bugs very quickly, so don’t let it sit around in your apartment, outside your front door, or on your balcony or patio — make sure full trash bags are placed in a secure trash can away from your apartment.

Finally, talk to your property manager about preventive measures you can take on your own during seasonal transitions. As the weather climbs up to 70 degrees, bugs become fully functional. While bugs can be active throughout the year, they generally come out from hiding around mid-March (depending on your location) and remain active through the spring and summer. As the temperatures drop in the fall and outdoor food sources become scarce, some bugs may be more inclined to enter your home for shelter and a snack. Small preventive measures during these transitional periods can go a long way to keeping bugs at bay.

Keep in mind that insecticides can be harmful to humans and pets if not used properly. Always do your research and talk to your property manager to choose the correct product for your circumstances. Accurately follow the instructions provided and take any precautions necessary. In general, it is best to rely on the advice of a licensed professional to determine the frequency and type of pest control treatments needed in your apartment.

How to Get Rid of Bugs in a House Naturally

Many people prefer to stay away from harsh chemicals when cleaning their homes, especially if they’re living with children or pets. Here’s how to get rid of bugs in your house naturally. 

Essential Oils

Many essential oils work as natural insecticides and they have the added bonus of smelling much better than chemical-based products. In particular, peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree oils are the most effective at repelling bugs. Dilute the oils with water and use a spray bottle on areas that are prone to infestations. 


 This is another great natural insecticide that you likely have in your kitchen already. Like essential oils, you can dilute the vinegar with water and use a spray bottle to kill bugs. This is most effective for ants, mosquitos and spiders, but may not work against fruit flies. 

Diatomaceous Earth 

This powder is a popular natural insecticide because it is totally odorless. It is made from the fossilized remains of marine organisms and kills bugs by dehydrating them. To use this method, sprinkle diatomaceous earth on any areas where you’ve seen bugs in your home. 

Prevent Pests and Enjoy Your Apartment 

If you do need more help with common apartment bugs, the Service Teams at each of Southern Management’s 75 apartment communities are a truly invaluable resource. Make a maintenance request via the RentCafe resident portal, by email or by phone and our team will take action. 

If you’re looking to move to the Baltimore or Washington, D.C. areas, Southern Management has a wide variety of properties to choose from. Contact us today to learn more about our apartment options — we can’t wait to welcome you home!