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Roaches in Your Car? 7 Ways to Get Rid of Them (Prevent, Identify)

Roaches are disgusting little insects that are a big problem when making your vehicle their home. These bugs are synonymous with dirty places, but your car doesn’t need to be a dumpster before the roaches move in. With roaches in your car, how will you get rid of them?

Cockroaches can quickly take over your car. To get rid of roaches in your car, you should vacuum them up, clean crumbs and waste, set simple sticky traps, and pressure wash under your car and the hood. Roaches can cause a lot of damage. Here’s more about how to get rid of roaches in car fast.

roach in car

This article is part of our huge set of information about cockroaches.

Once the bugs get comfy, you’ll find them in every nook and corner of your vehicle, including underneath the seats, vents, and other hidden crevices.

Cockroaches pose a health risk, but equally as important, they can damage your car by chewing on wire insulation and defecating on your seats and carpet.

Here’s how to get rid of roaches in your car.

7 Methods to Rid Your Car of Roaches

The following are effective and proven methods to say goodbye to roaches in your vehicle:

1. Bait & Trap

Roaches are smart, but their love for food often overrides their sense of reasoning. These critters have a soft spot for sugary foods, and you can use sugar as bait. 

You can put some glue traps with attractants under your car seats. These roach traps by Gideal are non-toxic and pet and kid-safe.

Or if you want to do something more DIY, here are two options.

  • Put some quantity of sugar in a half-full container of water and keep it in a section of your vehicle overnight. The sugar scent will attract the roaches, and they’ll drown in the water once they get in.
  • Alternatively, you can connect two-sided sticky tape to make a roach trap. Stick one side on cardboard and sprinkle some dried onion slices on top. The cockroaches will stick to the cardboard to get to the onion sprinkles.

While I’m usually a fan of DIY, I recommend against it here. I think it’s best to keep it simple and buy simple cardboard glue traps. Simple and no mess.

vacuum roaches in car

2. Vacuum the Roaches

This method requires only one piece of equipment: a vacuum machine. Vacuum cleaners are highly effective at ridding roaches from cars.

All you need is gloves, a face mask, and goggles to protect your eyes. Park your vehicle in a well-ventilated area and open all the windows and doors. Doing this will “air’ the car to remove the roach odor.

The next step is to use a vacuum cleaner, preferably handheld or with a long nozzle, to get into the nooks and corners of your vehicle.

Take your time to vacuum every crack and gap, including vents and side holders. Once you start cleaning, the roaches may begin to exit your car.

Don’t forget to look under the hood and in the trunk. You might want to fold the seats down and slide the seat positions to make sure you get them all.

3. Clean Your Car Interior

Take your vehicle to the car wash to clean all leftover food, including soda spills, crumbs, and other roach food sources.

You may do it yourself or hire the services of a professional. Ensure you clean your car trunk, engine block, and other vents and holes that make good roach homes.

Removing the attractant is important for getting them to move out.

how to get roaches out of car

4. Pressure Wash Your Vehicle

Consider pressure washing under the hood, undercarriage, and wheel wheels. This should dislodge any exposed roach colonies.

You can probably get enough pressure from a self-wash car wash. Or maybe you can borrow a pressure washer and blast the roaches at home.

5. Boric Acid (Borax)

Go to your hardware store to buy boric acid (borax). But not just any borax. Look for contained traps that contain boric acid.

Don’t Spread Powered Borax: You shouldn’t sprinkle the powder all over your vehicle. The fine powder can become airborne and it’s dangerous.

While borax isn’t the same as boric acid, they are similar and equally effective at killing roaches.

The boric acid is lethal and dehydrates the roaches, effectively killing them. Here’s more about using borax for roaches.

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth provides a similar effect to boric acid. Remember not to spray this chemical around your air vents or other locations that can affect your driving.

Similarly, ensure you have sufficient PPE before putting it into the car. Diatomaceous earth is safer than borax for children and pets, but you should keep your loved ones away when applying the powder.

It would really be a last resort to use this in a car.

Is diatomaceous earth safe?

The Food & Drug Administration lists diatomaceous earth as “Generally Recognized as Safe”. “Food grade” diatomaceous earth products are purified. They may be used as anticaking materials in feed, or as clarifiers for wine and beer.

National Pesticide Information Center

7. Fumigation

If all else fails, consider fumigating your vehicle.

This method eliminates insects like flies, termites, and roaches. Carbon dioxide is the safest, most effective way to fumigate your car.

I want to mention that I haven’t tried this method and I have no experience with dry ice. Here’s more from CAB Direct.

Cockroaches breathe oxygen and will die in the presence of large carbon dioxide doses.

  • Go to a grocery store and purchase a dry ice block – preferably 2lbs – 5lbs.
  • Put the chunk of dry ice in your car floorboards and trunk. Lock the vehicle and seal it to prevent gas from escaping. Let your car sit for twelve to twenty-four hours.
  •  If you followed this procedure correctly, you’d have fumigated your vehicle safely and effectively.

Because C02 is a naturally occurring gas, you can rest assured you dealt with the roaches without causing harm to the environment.

Here’s more about fumigating for insect pests.

Can Roaches Damage Your Car? 3 Factors

Aside from being gross having your car full of bugs, there are some real risks to leaving an infestation.

  1. Eating Wire Insulation: Wires are attractive snacks for roaches and rodents. Some manufacturers are using soy-based bioplastic insulation and this literally attracts damage. Other wires have paper insulation, which roaches also love.
  2. Eating Fabric and Interior Materials: Roaches are kind of the goats of the insect world. If they’re hungry, they’ll taste test almost anything.
  3. Roach Poop and Shed Shells: While you might not see lots of roaches, you’ll notice evidence of their residency. Their feces can contain diseases and can make your passengers sick.

A couple of years ago, some friends had mice eat the wires in their Audi and it had to be towed two hours to the nearest dealership to be repaired.

How to Identify Roach Presence in Your Car

The most obvious way to know there are roaches in your vehicle is when you see them crawling about your vehicle’s interior.

However, you might not know there’s a roach infestation because these crafty insects stay hidden when they notice your presence. Cockroaches leave telltale signs to make their presence known. It would help if you kept your eyes peeled to notice.

1. Food in the Vehicle

Cockroaches love food. A primary reason they’re in your vehicle is the presence of food, including the little crumbs of donuts and burgers that fall off your mouth while eating in the car.

If you often eat in your vehicle, cockroaches may want to dine alongside you.

2. Roach Eggs

One of the worst things that can happen to you is to find a roach egg in your vehicle. The roaches are comfy enough to turn your car into a baby-making factory!

Cockroaches make many babies, and you’ll be dealing with many cockroaches in no time if you don’t take immediate action!

The egg is shaped like a small darkish bean with a soft shell that’s squishy and filled with liquid. You don’t want to deal with roach eggs because many remedies for the critters don’t work for the unhatched offspring.

3. Roach Droppings

Roaches take a dump just like the rest of us, especially after eating the leftover food in your car! Their droppings look like rat poop, only smaller.

Adult roaches have more extensive, firmer droppings that look like black pepper or roughly ground coffee beans.

You might see their fecal matter together with shed limbs – and if you do, take it to the bank roaches are making your car their shelter.

4. The Smell

Roaches have a distinct stink, whether in your home or your car. The musky, slightly fragrant odor is unmistakable and especially strong during a hot summer.

You know these critters are nearby when the stench hits your nose.

5. Roach Danger in Your Car

Roaches are diehard pests that can live in the most extreme conditions. It’s been said that roaches can survive nuclear fallout, although this has been largely debunked. 

Their hardiness makes them difficult to exterminate, making it a huge problem when they live in your vehicle.

These insects are dangerous not because they bite, but because of the damage they create and the disease they can carry.

Additionally, roaches are may carry bacteria that can enter your food and cause the following:

  • Streptococcus
  • Salmonella
  • Staphylococcus
  • Plague
  • Polio
  • Dysentery

Even though roaches don’t bite, it can be unpleasant to have them in your vehicle, particularly in the presence of guests. It’ll be hard to feel clean and ready for anything with roaches in your car.

cockroach in car

How to Prevent Roaches from Returning

It’s not only essential to get rid of roaches in your car; it’s equally or even more important to keep these bugs out! Follow the steps below to keep your vehicle’s cockroach free.

1. Essential Oils

Many car owners know essential oils make their vehicles smell good. But do you know you can use essential oils to scare roaches away?

Some of the essential oils that repel roaches include:

  • Eucalyptus
  • Rosemary
  • Cypress
  • Lavender
  • Mint
  • Tea tree
  • Clove
  • Peppermint
  • Catnip

Roaches hate catnip, and one way to ensure your car is bug-free is by placing a catnip in your vehicle overnight.

The plant has a scent that is distasteful to roaches. Once it’s daytime, remove the plant from your car and give it some sunlight.

Catnip is easy to maintain and affordable, making it easy to replace. The plant is a roach repeller that you can buy for cheap. The idea is to plant catnip in the immediate environment you park your vehicle.

2. Shut Your Windows

Always keep your windows closed to prevent roaches from gaining access to your vehicle. Roaches are small, flat insects; all they need is a slight gap in your window to take refuge in your car.

This won’t prevent them 100% but it’s good to reduce their entry options.

3. Don’t Eat in the Vehicle

The best way to rid your car of roaches is to cut off their food and drink supply. These creatures may leave your vehicle without a food source.

Roaches in Your Car: Dos & Don’ts

There are many solutions online about how to rid your car of roaches. Some answers are reasonable, others not so much.

Let’s look at these two methods below.

Baking Soda

If you’ve ever wondered whether baking soda can kill your car’s roaches, it can. However, baking soda can’t work by itself. The best way to use baking soda is with sugar.

Mix equal parts sugar and baking soda and sprinkle in your vehicle. Once the roaches eat it, they will explode.

Bug Bomb

Let’s be clear; bug bombs are effective against roaches. But is it good advice to use a bug bomb in your car? No. Bug bombs harm the environment and can hurt you.

The chemicals can damage your vehicle upholstery and leave a toxic stench that will stay for days. There are safer, more proven methods to rid the roaches in your car.

FAQs about Roaches in Cars

If you need further help, here are the answers to some FAQs!

What is the best way to rid my car of roaches?

The best way to eliminate roaches from your vehicle is by cutting off their food supply. Then trap the remaining ones.

Is it common for roaches to be in Cars?

While most pest infestations happen in the home, these critters can find a way from your house into your car.

How long can a roach live in a Car?

Roaches are diehard insects that can survive harsh environments. These insects will continue to live in your car as long as there is food. Because some roaches can live up to 3 years, you could have the same roach live in your car for years. And roaches reproduce quickly.

It’s good to take care of roaches in your car quickly and decisively.

how to get rid of roaches in car

Why do cockroaches exist? Here are 10 purposes that roaches serve today

Your Turn

How did you handle roaches in your car? Have a tip or experience to share? Join me below!