How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Car & How to Keep Them Away

Learn how to get rid of cockroaches and other bugs in your car and keep them away for good with these simple helpful tips.

Cockroach In Car

While it’s not uncommon to deal with cockroaches in a home, few people expect to see them in the car. Yet, this situation happens more frequently than you might think. Once you see the pests infiltrating your space, do you know how to get rid of cockroaches in the car?

In this guide, we take a closer look at how to kill cockroaches. We also examine how they got into the car in the first place and show you how to ensure they stay away. 

How to Get Rid of Cockroaches in the Car

The best way to get rid of cockroaches in your car is to vacuum clean the car’s interior thoroughly and remove any food sources. Then you can use a cockroach-killing product to get rid of the bugs and larvae. Once you are done, you can perform a complete interior detailing with the help of a steam cleaner. 

Total Time: 30 minutes

Find the Cockroaches

You can’t get rid of the cockroaches if you aren’t sure where they are. You must first find them. Carefully inspect the vehicle’s interior to find evidence of cockroaches. 

Look in the places we outlined above. You might find live or dead bugs, plus it’s possible to see their fecal matter, which appears small like coffee grounds. 

Clean the Vehicle

With a garbage bag in hand, it’s time to remove everything from the car that doesn’t belong. Throw away all of the scrap paper, food crumbs and trash that you can find. 

If you have items that need to go into the house, such as a blanket, be wary of transporting bugs or larvae into your home. Throw everything into the laundry and wash it immediately before you assume it’s clean. There could be eggs on it that you don’t see. 

Vacuum the Vehicle

Once you have removed all of the trash and items that don’t belong, it’s time to vacuum the interior well. You want to get up all of the hair, crumbs and microscopic debris sitting in your car.

If it’s possible to remove the seats easily, you can provide a deeper clean. Use vacuum attachments to get into every crevice possible, paying close attention to anywhere you found cockroaches. 

Use Pest Killer

You can use a variety of insect killers in the car, so choose carefully what works best for you. Bug bombs and commercial sprays might seem like a logical choice for some, but there are also plenty of natural and organic solutions to choose from. 

Bug bombs and other chemical products are quick-acting, but they can also be toxic and flammable. The contents will spread throughout the entire car, leaving behind some residue that you breathe in and come in contact with. If you must use one of these options, we recommend leaving the car to sit for a few days afterward. 

You can also purchase gel bait and put it in the trouble areas. It’s safe for pets and children, making it a better option. You can also choose boric acid, but this takes a little more effort to use. You will need to mix the boric acid with some crumbs so the cockroaches eat it. 

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Steam Clean

Once the bait has been used and you feel that the cockroach situation is resolved, it’s time to finish the cleaning. You probably won’t want to steam clean for at least a few days, ensuring that all of the cockroaches are finally dead.

Steam cleaning is critical if you’ve chosen to use chemical products, but it’s helpful in either situation. With steam cleaning, you can get rid of the chemical debris and the dead pests in one shot. Don’t overlook the importance of steam cleaning in car vents as well.

If there are carpet beetles infiltrating the interior, mix a little vinegar with the steam cleaner to get them out of the interior. You can also spray a cedar extract on the interior.

Remove Odors

Bugs can leave behind an unusual smell in the car interior, especially cockroaches. The steam cleaning should have removed some of the odor, but don’t stop there. 

With the help of an ozone generator, you can further neutralize any smell left behind in the cabin. There are other car freshening solutions, so be sure to do some research and use whatever works best in your situation. You might find an at-home remedy, such as coffee grounds or citrus peels, works better for you.

Why are Cockroaches in the Car?

Cockroaches want to be wherever there is food, even if that means inside your car. They are looking for food, water and shelter. If they can find a way in, your car will become a home to them. Open windows make it easy for them to get inside, but they will also crawl through gaps in the door, vents, or sunroof and any damage to the undercarriage.

If you leave the car windows open to get some air in the cabin, you might think you are safe because you are parked in your garage, but that’s not true. Bugs will set up breeding grounds in garages, especially if yours is dirty and cluttered. By leaving your car windows open, you are inviting the insects to move into the car. 

Where Do Cockroaches Hide in the Car?

Where could the cockroaches be hiding? They will stay anywhere there is food and shelter to keep them safe. There are places inside your car that naturally collect food crumbs, making for good hiding spots. 

You might find them hiding out in or under the seats because plenty of food gathers here. Crumbs move into the tiny space between the seat and its back before dropping to the floor. You can also find plenty of trash, such as plastic, straws and paper, in these areas. If you leave pillows or blankets in the car, cockroaches will gladly take advantage of this shelter.

The hiding place needs to be warm and dark. That’s why they also love being under the floor mats, in the glove box, in the heating vents and inside the stereo speakers. You might also find them hiding in the car door panels, where they can lay eggs undisturbed. 

RELATED: How to Remove Skunk Smell From Your Car (Exterior & Interior)

Ways to Prevent Cockroaches in Car

1. Close Windows

Cockroaches are always looking for an invitation to get into your vehicle. If you leave the car windows open while the car is parked, you only make the process easier for the tiny pests.

Cockroaches can climb up steep surfaces and there are some that will fly. To keep them out, you want to keep the windows and doors closed at all times. Be especially careful if you park in an area with a lot of trees or somewhere there might be an infestation. 

2. Inspect Car

After you have visited a strange location, take a look around the car. Pay close attention to the hiding places we talked about earlier.

You could easily bring cockroaches into the car on your luggage, groceries or other gear. Take a hard look before you end up with a full-blown infestation. 

3. Keep it Clean

If you keep the vehicle clean, cockroaches will find the interior less appealing. Every couple of weeks, you should do a deep clean of the interior.

Take out the mats, vacuum the interior and get rid of any trash you’ve allowed inside. In the process, you should also take everything inside that doesn’t belong in the car. 

4. Avoid Eating & Drinking

If you don’t eat or drink in your car, there can’t be anything for cockroaches to eat. While it might seem difficult to take this step, it’s much easier than trying to get rid of cockroaches.

Don’t forget to tell others that enter your car. They are welcome to join you on the ride, but they should also refrain from eating and drinking.

Cockroaches FAQs

Is it common for roaches to be in cars?

Yes, roaches are not particularly picky when it comes to where they live and will gladly live in both cars and homes. This is because they are attracted to warm, dark, and moist places where they can find food and shelter. If you don’t clean your car’s interior often, it can be a perfect place for the roaches to live.

How did a cockroach get in my car?

The cockroach that entered your car has probably climbed in through the air vents or a small opening. Cockroaches are good climbers and can squeeze into tiny spaces. Once inside, the cockroach would have likely taken up residence under the seats or in another dark, hidden spot.

Where do roaches hide in cars?

There are many potential hiding places for a cockroach in a car. Under the dashboard, under the seats or under the floor mats are some perfect places for cockroaches. Especially under the seats where they also find food. They can even crawl and hide in the engine compartment or trunk.

How long can roaches live without food?

Cockroaches will survive for a month or even more without food. Roaches are scavengers and can survive on very little food. They can also go for long periods of time without water. That said, they will die if there is no food or water available for an extended period of time.

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