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Roaches In Your Car: How They Get In and How to Kill Them

Woman's hand holding a cockroach found in the car.

Roaches in cars can be a nightmare for anyone who discovers them. Not only are they unsightly and creepy, but they can also pose a health risk if left unchecked.

Roaches can easily infest a car, and once they do, they can be very difficult to get rid of. They are attracted to food particles, moisture, and warmth, which can make a car the perfect breeding ground for these pesky pests.

In this post, we will explore the reasons why roaches are attracted to cars, the common ways they get into your car, and how to prevent and eliminate them from your car.

Whether you have just discovered a few roaches in your car or you want to take preventative measures, this guide will provide you with the information you need to keep your car roach-free.

Roach on car steering wheel.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Why You Have Roaches Inside Your Car

Most people associate pest problems with their homes, but bugs and cockroaches like to hang out where people are. If they manage to get inside and locate everything they require to survive, your car turns into their safe haven.

They’re basically in search of any place for food, water, and shelter. And so, given the right conditions, they can easily infest your car. And it’s not just cockroaches that can get into your car; other bugs such as ants, spiders, carpet beetles, and even bed bugs can make your car their new home.

Unfortunately, roaches can invade your car in the hundreds. The type and level of infestation you have will depend on a few factors, including the time of the year and the climate of the area you live in.

Some insects like to escape the heat and find shelter inside, while others will try to seek warmth when the weather starts cooling down.

The fact of the matter is that as long as they find a suitable shelter as well as a food source, they can make just about any place their new home, which includes your car. Roaches can, unfortunately, survive extreme heat as well as freezing cold.

Once roaches get in cars, they can actually start thriving there. But the main question is, how did they get there in the first place?

4 Common Ways of Roaches Getting in Cars

Cockroaches and other insects are opportunists that will use every opening they find to get into your car. There are, however, some frequent entry points by which these pests will invade your car. Let’s look at them in more detail:

1. Open Windows

Open windows are, by far, the most common way for roaches, especially flying cockroaches to make their way inside. This is especially true if you’ve left your car parked in one spot for a really long time. If that’s the case, always make sure to roll up your windows!

2. Items You Carry

Cockroaches are well-known for being able to stay alive and hitch rides. They are drawn to food and can get into your home by hiding in things like luggage and suitcases, used furniture or appliances, moving boxes, laundry, and even grocery bags.

So once you carry these items into your trunk or the back of your SUV, they crawl out and then make your car their new home.

3. Small Openings

Another common way for roaches to get in cars is by any small openings that can give them access to the cabin. This includes cracks and holes in the sunroof or windshield, gaps in the door, or damage in the undercarriage area.

4. Dirty Garages

If you have a clean garage and decide to leave your car window open just a tiny bit to allow air to circulate, you’ll probably be just fine. But do the same thing in a dirty garage, and you have a recipe for a cockroach infestation in your car.

A messy or dirty garage with lots of leaves, dirt, or other organic matter is the ideal place for roaches to hide, and that can become a breeding ground for them to reproduce. When you leave your windows open, they can easily move into your car.

Where Do Cockroaches Hide in Your Car

The key to eliminating roaches from your car is locating their hiding places. To start off, consider where they can find food in your car and which areas are ‘safe’ for them to seek shelter.

Unfortunately, there are many places in cars where food can start to accumulate. On top of that, those are usually also the places that are great for hiding. This allows them to thrive in your car.

The best place for bugs, especially cockroaches, to hang out is inside and under seats, where food falls and gathers.

All sorts of trash, including crumbs, wrappers, straws, plastic, paper scraps, dirt, and whatever else was tracked in from outside, can end up between the seatback and the seat itself or on the floor.

Those are usually also the spots where food crumbs fall without most people realizing it. Even blankets and pillows left inside can become breeding grounds for roaches

Cockroaches and other insects will make a home in any space that is both dark and warm. They enjoy hiding in the interiors of doors, under floor mats, in carpet, and in your car’s ventilation system in addition to seats.

Other common hiding places for roaches in your car include the stereo system speakers, glove compartment, storage units, and the center console.

For a number of reasons, car door panels provide an ideal home for pests. They shield roaches from the elements and provide ample space to lay eggs. People frequently leave food bags and other trash in the pockets of car panels, which makes them an ideal food source for roaches.

Roach in center console of car.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Why It’s Important to Get Rid of Roaches in Your Car

Bug infestations of any kind can be a massive nuisance, but cockroaches are one of the worst due to the health consequences you can face from their presence in your car.

When they get into your car, they leave behind feces, bodily fluids, and skin casts. These substances contain more than 30 different types of bacteria that can make you and your passengers sick.

Your first priority should to be get rid of roaches in your car. Let’s look at the steps you can take to kill roaches:

Seven Steps to Kill and Get Rid of Roaches in Your Car

If there are cockroaches in your car, you’ll want to get rid of them as soon as possible. To get rid of pests from the inside of your car, you need take your time and be thorough.

To guarantee that your pest control efforts are successful, please carefully follow each of the methods outlined here.

1. Properly Inspect Your Car’s Interior

First and foremost, thoroughly inspect the interior of your vehicle for cockroaches and other pests, as well as their eggs and larvae.

Focus on their favorite hiding spots, and don’t forget to check the small gaps and crevices between the seat cushions and fabric, as well as the glove compartment, doors, and other compartments where they might be hiding.

Also make sure to check for dead cockroaches and tiny bugs, as well as foul odors and fecal matter that resembles coffee grounds or specks.

2. Thoroughly Clean Your Car

When we say ‘clean your car,’ we mean literally clean it, as in, fetch a trash bag and remove all the trash you can by hand.

Take out any and all trash you can find, including paper, food bags, hair, and as well as dried crumbs large enough to conceal any rotting matter. These are all sources of food for cockroaches.

Anything you can pick up should be removed, including blankets and other items where roaches and other insects could potentially hide and breed. The next step will be easier if you clean your car by hand and pick up as much trash as you can.

3. Vacuum Your Car

The next step in cleaning your automobile will help get rid of any remaining food scraps, hair, and other organic debris. This is especially important for microscopic food sources you might not be able to see but that could attract bugs, especially roaches.

To clean the carpets in your car, remove the seats if possible. You need to give every nook and cranny a thorough vacuuming, giving special attention to the seams and spots where food can accumulate.

If there are seats and areas you need to access but can’t quite reach, use a long-nosed tool.

4. Kill the Roaches in Your Car

The use of pest treatments to kill roaches is perhaps the most important measure to take. You can kill roaches, their larvae, and their eggs with commercially available controls or organic alternatives.

Roach Traps

After thoroughly cleaning the interior of your car, it is time to set up roach traps. Cockroach glue traps are available at most hardware stores and supermarkets.

Glue traps make cleanup easy because cockroaches die on them. This eliminates the need to worry about them dying someplace in your car for you to find.

Cockroaches caught in a sticky trap.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Dead roaches in a sticky trap.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime.

Cockroach Baits

To get rid of roaches, you might want to try using gel bait. Put the bait in the areas where the pests are most likely to congregate, such as under seats, in glove compartments, in trunks, etc. It’s a great way to get rid of roaches in cars because it doesn’t pose any danger to kids or pets.

Gel baits are effective because they kill the cockroaches that eat them and subsequently kill more when the dead cockroaches are eaten by other cockroaches after they go back to their colonies.

Boric Acid

Boric acid is another substance that can be used to get rid of bugs or roaches quickly and is safe for children and pets. Boric acid must be combined with food crumbs for the bugs to consume both substances in one go.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth can also be safely used to get rid of roaches and other pests by placing it in cracks and crevices like vents, inside the air conditioner, in the glove box, and elsewhere.

It works by destroying their exoskeletons by drying them out when they consume it. Plus, it also acts as a ‘bait’ when they take it back to their nest and feed it to other roaches that will also die as a result of it.

Insect Growth Regulator (IGR)

Insect growth regulator (IGR) is a biological control that, when used in conjunction with bait, kills cockroach nymphs that may have escaped the first round of baiting while encouraging the pests to consume even more bait.

Cockroaches can be eradicated in a single generation with this procedure which makes it a highly effective method especially if you have a severe infestation.

Chemical Sprays and Bug Bombs

While many opt for chemical sprays, organic options may be better for your family’s health. When used in conjunction with steam cleaning, this procedure is 100% effective at eliminating roaches from your car

When it comes to bug bombs, many people feel it’s the best solution but that’s not always the case. Unfortunately, bug bombs are inflammable, highly toxic, and aren’t as effective since they are essentially aerosols.

This means, once used, they’ll cover everything inside your car which can expose you and your family members to poisonous substances. Even though steaming will help get rid of some of these substances, they can be stubborn to remove and may leave residue behind.

What’s worse is that using them can actually make matters worse! Bug bombs and even sprays can send roaches deeper into your car which can make it even more difficult to get rid of them. Plus, many bug bombs include colored chemicals that can even discolor your upholstery.

if you’re left with no other solution but to use bug bombs, do so only if you won’t be using your car for the next few days and if you’re okay with some cosmetic damage to the interior. After that, make sure to blast your car’s air conditioning which can help remove residue in the vents.

You’ll also need to get your car properly cleaned afterward to prevent inhaling toxic aerosols since they can be harmful not just to you, but also to your pets.

5. Get Your Car Detailed with a Steam Cleaner

In order for the bait or natural control method you choose to be effective, it needs to sit for several days. For that, it’s time to get your car professionally cleaned to get rid of dead roaches and the filth they may have left behind.

Steam cleaning is the most effective method for removing bacteria, dirt, and dead bugs from the interior of your infested car. If you’ve used chemical poisons to kill the bugs, this is an extremely crucial step, as you’ll want to get rid of as much residue as possible.

If you’re doing this yourself instead of getting it done professionally, make sure you do your research to learn exactly how to detail your car so that all your hard work doesn’t go to waste. It’s also important to use a toolto steam clean the air conditioning vents to get rid of any bugs that might be in there.

We also recommend getting your car cleaned from the outside to make sure it’s entirely clean to get rid of roaches and to keep them out.

6. Eliminate Residual Odor

Let’s be honest, bugs, especially roaches, stink. Steam will eliminate the majority of the odor, but because bugs live so far into the crevices of cars, some may linger.

Place an ozone generator inside the cabin to finish the job. The gas will get rid of any lingering odor and also kill any bacteria or viruses.

7. Keep Roaches Out of Your Car

Preventing roach infestations in your car is the best way to keep them out. To do this, you’ll need to inspect your vehicle regularly and check for any signs of infestation.

Some things to look out for include droppings, egg cases, shed skin, and visible live insects. Keep reading to learn how to prevent roaches from getting into your car again.

How to Prevent Cockroaches From Returning to Your Car

1. Keep Your Car Clean

Keeping your car clean is the best thing you can do to keep roaches away from your car.

Avoid eating in the cabin whenever possible, and if you must, frequently wipe down and clean the seats and floor to remove food crumbs. Clean up spills right away, even if you just lightly wash the area. Removing food from your vehicle will starve them.

Every few weeks, pull up the floor mats and give them and the carpet underneath a good vacuuming, making sure you cover all nooks and crannies as well.

When you do this task, get a bag and bring all the things you’ve been meaning to bring inside with you. Cockroaches and other pests enjoy clutter, so this preventive measure will help get rid of it and reduce any places they can hide.

2. Seal Cracks and Seams in the Car

After extermination, you’ll want to make sure that roaches don’t come back! This means sealing any cracks or seams in your car, such as those around windows and doors. Not only will this remove a potential entry point for roaches but also other critters.

A good way to do this is with silicone caulking or weather stripping, both of which can be found at most hardware stores. You can also contact your local mechanic to inspect your car and help seal any cracks and seams properly.

3. Get Your Car Washed Regularly

When you clean the inside of your car, think about whether the outside needs to be cleaned. While insects are not drawn to exterior dirt, keeping the exterior clean will likewise deter roaches from entering your car.

Also, have your car detailed or washed regularly, whether you do it yourself or hire someone to do it. This will keep your car in good shape.

4. Pay Attention to Where You Park

In the summer, parking under trees might help keep your car cool, but doing so also attracts pests. And parking your car in the dirt has its own set of issues.

We understand that there are instances when either of these is unavoidable, so if you do have to park there, please check your vehicle afterward to make sure no roaches or other pests hitched a ride.

The same rule applies to bringing plants, packages, or any foreign object inside your car or trunk: inspect thoroughly every single time. If you do spot any bugs, take action to get rid of them and prevent their return.

5. Close Your Windows

As we mentioned earlier in the article, open windows are one of the most common ways that roaches get in cars. So close your windows when you’re parking your car anyway, especially near trees, dirt, and similar areas.

By following these steps, you should get rid of roaches in the car fast and fight off another infestation before it starts. You should also prevent other roaches from coming into your home or car in the future.

Remember, even if you haven’t seen any roaches for a while, there might be larvae around that will someday become adults and use your car as their new home. The best thing is always to remain vigilant when it comes to protecting your family and property.


Other Cockroach Guides from Planet Natural:

Do Cockroaches Bite + What Do Cockroach Bites Look Like?

Baby Cockroach: What They Look Like + How to Get Rid of Them

Palmetto Bug Or Cockroach: Differences & How to Kill Them


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