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How to Get Rid of Roaches in a Car

How to Get Rid of Roaches in a Car

So, you’re driving down the highway on your way to work when suddenly, you catch a glimpse of a cockroach skittering across your dashboard out of the corner of your eye. While you know roaches can infest homes or commercial buildings, you didn’t know they could take up residence inside of your vehicle. How do you get them out? There’s really no where to escape to.


Roaches in cars are more typical than you think. Even like your home can become infested with bugs, so can your car. Yet, most folks are shocked when roaches set up shop inside of their vehicle, especially if the car is not a clunker and your daily driver. 

So how do you get rid of roaches in a car? In this extensive guide, we’ll explore why you even have the problem in the first place, some tips on how to safely rid your vehicle of roaches, and how to keep them at bay in the future.

How to Identify Roaches in Your Car

Sadly, the truth is, if there are roaches in your vehicle, it’s your own doing. Sometimes it could be as innocent as forgetting to roll your windows all of the way up at night. But more often than not, it’s because people love to eat in their cars. This is especially true if you have kids or are on the go all of the time.

While you’re in a rush to drive, get to work on time, and have breakfast, you may have dropped a few crumbs here or there onto your floor mats. Over time, these tiny crumbs add up and become a feast for hungry bugs.

While there are many different species of roaches, all of them share a few common characteristics. Firstly, they all have that telltale oval-shaped body that appears flat and ranges in length between ¾ of an inch and three inches. Most are red or brown in color, or appear to be whitish just after they shed their old skin. 

All of these pests are super fast, so manually swiping or stomping them isn’t going to rid your precious car of these icky insects. In addition, cockroaches can carry viruses and bacteria, which could be harmful to your health. In fact, they’re known to spread more than 30 types of bacteria, as well as parasitic worms. 

When dealing with roaches inside of your car, van, SUV, or truck, you have to understand that they’re in your vehicle in the first place because they will find food here. Keep in mind that these critters only need three things to survive and will relentlessly hunt for these vital necessities, including food, water, and shelter. If you eliminate those items, they’ll die or give up tenancy in your car.

Where to Inspect and What to Look For

You will need to inspect the interior of your car. Most notably, where food could have accumulated. They may have crawled into your vehicle or hitched a ride on your clothing or possessions. 

Inspect on, under, and around your seats. Don’t forget to look in the small crevices of the seat cushioning and fabric, glove compartment, where you stash your garbage, and on the doors.

When looking for roaches in your car, check for live bugs as well as droppings. You’re more than likely to detect a foul and unique odor if the infestation is a significant one. 

The Dangers of Having Roaches in Your Vehicle

Bugs inside of your car aren’t just gross. They’re a danger as well. 

As we mentioned earlier, roaches can carry and spread more than 30 types of bacteria. Also, as they crawl through your car, they will leave behind skin shedding, bodily fluids, and feces. Since your car is a tiny space, this can easily turn into a haven for cockroaches to breed.

Cockroaches can even carry some diseases, including salmonella. This can cause typhoid. Polio has also been found on these bugs, which can cause severe diarrhea and bleeding in humans.

Getting Rid of the Roaches

Once that you have identified that you have a roach problem inside of your car, it’s time to get to work. Here are a few tips to rid your car of roaches:

Step One: Vacuum Your Car’s Interior

This step is a no brainer. Take a hand vacuum or drive to a DIY car wash and use their vacuum to clean out the interior. While you’re at it, throw out any garbage that has accumulated inside of your vehicle. Once complete, you can then apply insecticide to guarantee that no bugs are still alive inside of your vehicle.

Step Two: Apply Novacide

Novacide is an insecticide that kills adult roaches. Additionally, it also contains insect growth regulator (IGR) that prevents roaches from being able to lay eggs by sterilizing them. If you have a substantial roach infestation, spray the Novacide throughout your car’s floors and seats.

Be sure to leave all of your car doors and windows open while you spray. Spray in a downward sweeping motion and let your car ventilate until the fumes have disappeared and the Novacide is completely dry.

Step Three: Spray Pyrid Aerosol

This is another great option to kill roaches inside of your car. Pyrid Aerosol is a flushing agent and it can do a fantastic of ridding your vehicle of unwanted pests.

To use, simply spray the solution into all cracks, corners, and crevices of your vehicle with the doors and windows open. Be sure to spray down the seats too. After you’re finished spraying, leave your windows open and allow the car to completely dry and the harsh vapors to dissipate before attempting to drive your vehicle. This should take about 30 minutes to an hour.

Organic Methods to Get Rid of Cockroaches in Your Car

If using chemicals inside of your car makes your skin crawl as much as a roast infestation, there are several organic methods to give them the boot. These natural methods can include:

  • Sprinkling diatomaceous earth in your car: This powder will kill any insect with an exoskeleton by cutting it and dehydrating it to death. 
  • Roach-repellent foods: While it may seem counterproductive to leave even more food inside of your vehicle, there are quite a few foods that will actually keep roaches at bay, including garlic, bay leaves, and cucumbers. Simply leave the foods where you see the roaches inside of your car. Cucumber slices can be left out for a couple of days while the garlic and bay leaves can be kept in your car for up to several weeks.
  • Boric acid: This is a natural roach killer that is nearly harmless to humans. Roaches cannot digest this acid while humans routinely use it to reduce acne, sooth tired eyes, and fight off fungal infections. Just sprinkle some of the white powder throughout your car. After they walk through it, they will then clean themselves, ingest in, and die. Be sure to use boric acid sparingly though. This is because when you turn on your car’s heat or air conditioning, the powder can blow and circulate throughout the air, causing a mess. You may also inhale it.
  • Catnip: Here, kitty, kitty. Catnip is part of the mint family and gives your furry feline friend a pleasurable rush. For roaches, on the other hand, it has an opposite effect and is completely off-putting to them. Sprinkle the catnip throughout your car to drive the bugs out.
  • Soap: Use a spray bottle of soapy water to organically kill roaches. The detergents in the soap will form a pore-clogging barrier and suffocate the bugs to death. To use, keep a bottle of soapy water handy inside of your vehicle. Whenever a roach appears, shower it before it can retreat to a hiding place.

These organic methods are safe to use around yourself, children, and pets and are super effective at treating roach infestations.

Should You Hire an Exterminator?

A professional exterminator is specifically trained to deal with cockroaches, mice, and other pests, even in cars. Before you hire one, ensure that you have exhausted all other methods.

Exterminators are pretty expensive and unless your budget is big, this may not be the ideal option for you.

What Not to Use When Ridding Your Car of Roaches

What may have worked in your house to kill roaches may not work in your car because it is a much smaller space. One roach killer to steer clear from is bug bombs. Even if you let your vehicle fully air out, you may still inhale the deadly fumes.

You may have also heard that the hot summer sun can kill roaches, so you should leave your car parked in a brightly lit and sunny spot. This isn’t necessarily true, because roaches only emerge at night and hide away from the sun during the day.

How to Keep Roaches Out of Your Vehicle

Once you rid yourself and your car of its roach problem, it’s time to keep the bugs at bay for good. Here are a few tips to prevent cockroaches from coming back:

  • Clean thoroughly: Roaches infested your car in the first place because they sniffed out those crumbs you dropped. Make it a habit to take away their food source by continuously cleaning your vehicle. Throw out your trash daily, and vacuum every inch of your ride weekly.

If your budget can accommodate it, get your car professionally detailed. This deep cleaning method will thoroughly rid all fabric upholstery of dirt, grime, and bug debris.

  • Don’t eat in your car: This is an easy one. You took the time to make your ride spotless. So don’t eat in your car! If you must eat, remove all of the drinks, leftovers, and garbage from your vehicle immediately and vacuum up the crumbs.
  • Check everything: Check everything for roaches before you bring it into your vehicle. As we mentioned before, roaches can cling to your clothing and possessions. Plants can be the biggest culprit for bringing roaches inside of your car. They are a natural hiding place for these pests, where they stay until it’s dark. Thoroughly check all plants before you put them in your car.

Wrapping It Up

There is nothing more frustrating, or gross, than having a cockroach infestation inside of your vehicle. But if you handle it the right way, you can get rid of these pests easily and forget about the whole ordeal.

Be sure to thoroughly vacuum your car when you first notice a roach problem. You can use Novacide or Pyrid Aerosol to kill the bugs. If you want to opt for a more natural way, you can use roach-repellent foods such as cucumbers, diatomaceous earth, catnip, or soapy water inside of your car. If you use boric acid, remember to use it sparingly. If the problem is really bad and if your bank account allows it, you can also hire an exterminator.

To keep the roaches at bay, don’t eat in your car, thoroughly clean it, and check everything you bring into it, especially plants. 

Roaches are disgusting and can even cause severe health problems. Be vigilant about taking care of your car and ensuring that bugs aren’t attached to anything you bring into its cabin. And remember, if you do choose to have a snack, throw away the trash!