You’re driving along the freeway when out of the corner of your eye, you catch a glimpse of a roach skittering across the dashboard. You’ve heard of roaches infesting homes and apartments, but your car? There’s nowhere to escape.
Roaches in cars are more common than you think. While a little cleaning can go a long way in helping get rid of the roach problem, there are other things you can do to get rid of these pests once and for all.
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Why Do You Have Roaches in Your Car?
How did roaches get in your car in the first place? Unless you have a broken window, it’s hard to imagine that these little critters could find a way in. But roaches, like mice, are clever creatures, and if they find food, they’ll find a way to get in.
Something in your car – most likely food – is attracting the roaches. If you have issues with flooding in your car, they may also be there looking for water.
Just like people, roaches need two things to survive: food and water.
If you eat in your car (you know you do), you may be unintentionally inviting these insects into your vehicle. Leftover crumbs, empty wrappers and fast food bags are like roach magnets.
You may not even realize that you have any leftover food in your car. Contrary to what you may have heard, you don’t have to be a messy or dirty person to have roaches in your car (or home for that matter).
Maybe you made a quick run through the drive-thru months ago, dropped a piece of food under the seat and completely forgot about it. And if you live in an area where roaches are common (i.e. humid areas), a few crumbs may be all it takes to attract these critters into your vehicle.
Further reading: Best cockroach killers that you can buy in the market
The Dangers of Having Roaches in Your Car
Whether they’re in your house or your car, cockroaches are a nuisance. No one wants to see them crawling around, especially when you’re driving. But are these bugs dangerous? They can be.
If you have roaches in your car, you have a potential health and safety issue on your hands.
Roaches can spread more than 30 types of bacteria, which can have serious health effects. As the roaches crawl through your space, they’re leaving behind feces, skin sheddings and bodily fluids. And because your car is a small space, it can easily turn into a breeding ground for these pests.
In addition to carrying bacteria, these bugs can also cause allergic reactions and serious asthma attacks. Some people are allergic to roach feces and urine, which sets off these attacks.
How to Get Rid of Roaches in Your Car
Whether you’ve found American or German roaches in your car, there are several ways to get rid of these pests for good. But you’ll need all the patience you can muster because these critters can be relentless.
1. Clean, Clean, Clean
Roaches made their way into your car because they sniffed out food. Take away their food source, and they’ll be less likely to stick around.
Start by throwing out every food bag and container you can find. Don’t forget to toss out old empty cups, too. In fact, throw out any garbage you can find. Search every inch of your car to make sure you’ve removed all garbage.
Many people also recommend throwing out any empty boxes you might have in your car because roaches will apparently eat the glue on the tape.
You’ll want to clean your car from top to bottom. This means running your car through the car wash, vacuuming, cleaning the upholstery, and cleaning the windows. A deep cleaning is in order if you want to remove every trace of food in your vehicle.
If it fits your budget, we recommend getting your car professionally detailed. You’ll want to deep clean the fabric upholstery as best you can to remove as much dirt, grime and grease as possible from food and everyday living.
Take your time when cleaning your car. It’s easy to miss crumbs and dried-up spills if you’re not paying attention or being mindful when cleaning. Depending on how dirty your car is, it may take you a few hours to get the job done. But it’s worth the time and effort to get rid of the roaches in your vehicle.
Once you’ve cleaned house, give the inside of your car a thorough vacuuming. Shampoo the carpets if you can.
Removing all garbage and cleaning your carpets will go a long way in deterring the roaches from coming back.
2. Stop Eating in Your Car
You took the time to clean out your car and now it’s spotless. But if you start eating in your car again, you’re just going to send out another invitation to the roaches that just left. “Hey everyone! I left a few crumbs for you. Eat and enjoy!”
As difficult as it might be, try to avoid eating in your car whenever you can. If you must eat, clean up after yourself immediately. Even go as far as vacuuming if you can. Remove all drinks and leftover food garbage to minimize the chances of the roaches returning,
3. Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth or Boric Acid
Most of the tricks used to keep roaches out of your house can also be used to keep them out of your car. Diatomaceous earth and boric acid are two of the most effective ways to get rid of roaches.
Just a word of caution here – if you have kids or pets that travel with you, you may want to avoid using boric acid. It can be toxic to animals and humans if enough of it is ingested, so it’s better to be safe than sorry here.
No matter whether you use boric acid or diatomaceous earth, the process is the same: sprinkle the powder on the floor in the car.
The roaches will walk through the powder and be destroyed from the inside out.
Depending on how many roaches you have, it may take a few days or weeks for them all to clear out. Just make sure that you quickly remove any dead roaches you find. Roaches have no problem eating dead roaches, so they can act as a food source if you leave them.
4. Roach Fumigation – With Caution
If the infestation is really bad and the boric acid/diatomaceous earth trick didn’t work, you can also try a fogger for roaches. However, you’ll want to use caution when taking this approach. Remember, you’ll be spraying poison in small quarters. And once the fumigation is done, you’ll need to do a very thorough airing out of your car.
When the bug bomb is done working its deadly magic, you’ll need to open all the doors and let the car air out for a few hours. You may also want to run the heat or air conditioning for 10 minutes to clean out the vents, too.
Even though foggers are usually quite effective at killing roaches, you may want to consider this a last-resort move.
If you don’t want to go as far as bug bombing your car, you can always use a roach spray to get rid of a few stray critters. But again, remember that you’re spraying in a confined area, so make sure the doors and/or windows are open.
Nothing is more concerning than seeing a roach in your car while you’re driving. But if you act quickly and keep your car clean, you should be able to get rid of them and keep them out of your car for good.
5. Traps and Bait
Bug bombs may be effective, but you may not want to breathe in the residue when you turn on the heat or A/C in your vehicle?
Boric acid and diatomaceous earth are also effective, but they can take longer to work.
Traps and bait are your best bet if you want to tackle your roach problem quickly and effectively.
Sticky or glue traps are a popular option for cars because they don’t make a mess and are effective at trapping roaches. These can be placed anywhere where you see roach activity. The great thing about adhesive traps is that they’re safe to use around kids and pets. However, you probably still want to make sure that your dog isn’t eating the traps before they have a chance to work.
You can find pre-filled traps at most home improvement stores and online. Just place them in your vehicle where you see roach activity. Make sure that you keep the traps out of reach of children and pets.
Baits may not come in traps, and they can be placed on disposable plates. Again, it’s important to place the plates where you see roach activity and to keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Roaches feed at night – they’re nocturnal creatures – so it shouldn’t be too hard to keep baits and traps hidden from pets and kids.
It may take a few days or weeks to completely eradicate your roach problem. The amount of time it takes will depend on the size of the infestation. The more roaches you have, the longer it will take.
If you have a serious infestation, you may need to call a professional exterminator. Just keep in mind that they’ll likely be using strong insecticides to get rid of roaches in your car. If your kids or pets travel in your vehicle regularly, you may not want them inhaling the residue from these sprays.
6. Keep Roaches From Coming Back
Once you’ve gotten rid of roaches in your car, it’s important to take steps to keep them from coming back.
How do you do this? The first step is to maintain a clean car. Roaches made their way into your vehicle because they found food and/or water. Keeping your car clean will eliminate both of these things, so they won’t have a reason to stick around.
Second, you may want to start parking your car in different places. The roaches found their way inside somehow.
It could have been through food or bags from an infested place. But there’s also a chance that roaches are living near the areas where you park your vehicle. You’ll want to avoid parking underneath trees (roaches often live in trees) and try to park on concrete instead of dirt if you can.
We’ve already talked about implementing a “no eating” rule in your car, but it’s a tip that’s worth repeating. If you never eat in your car, roaches will never have a reason to invade it.
Another thing: check everything before putting it into your car. Plants can actually be the biggest culprits. They’re a natural habitat for roaches, and these bugs like to hide away until after dark. You can easily take home a plant that’s been infested with roaches without even realizing it. Check all plants before putting them into your vehicle to make sure you don’t bring any extra passengers home.
Roaches can also hitch a ride in grocery bags, boxes and backpacks.