Pest Control for Cars: How To Prevent Bugs in Car (Fumigation, Extermination)

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Pest Control | January 12, 2024

Person wonders how to start pest control for cars, like how to stop roach getting in car, bug bomb for car options for removing bugs in car, keep mice out of car, car fumigation, exterminator options.

If there’s a car maintenance practice you can easily overlook until it becomes a full-blown disaster, it’s pest control for cars.

Pests like insects, rodents, and arachnids find their way to your car and settle in comfortably without your knowledge.7

When they make a home in your car, pests like ants, bedbugs, and roaches continue to multiply and become difficult to eliminate.8 Worse still, they attach to your clothes and go with you to your house, creating a bigger menace.

Before you go all out in your pest extermination efforts, ensure you know the types of pests you are dealing with and the steps to eliminate them from your car.

This guide explores pest control for cars, the options you have on how to prevent bugs in cars, fumigation, extermination, and other pest control best practices that can be used.

How To Get Rid of Bedbugs in a Car

Although fumigation has stood out as the most effective way to deal with bedbugs in your car, there are other traditional methods to do it effectively or at least reduce them significantly.4 First, you have to be sure that you are dealing with bedbugs.

Graphics with text that shows how to get rid of bed bugs in a car along with other known pests.

Therefore, check for signs such as stains on car seats, brown fecal droppings along the seams, or even spot a live bedbug. Once you are certain of a bedbug infestation, you can use methods like vacuuming, steam cleaning, and diatomaceous earth.


A vacuum cleaner sucks out the bedbugs from their hiding places, making it an effective method to deal with a small infestation. Ensure you use a HEPA filter vacuum that can trap the small bugs hiding between the seats.

Steam Cleaning

Heat is a good way to eliminate bedbugs. So, use a steam cleaner that allows up to 200 degrees Fahrenheit so the water is hot enough to kill the bedbugs.

Diatomaceous Earth

Unlike vacuuming and steam cleaning, which kill the bedbugs instantly, diatomaceous earth is a slow killer.9 It’s made of diatoms whose effectiveness lies in their ability to dehydrate the bedbugs until they die.

Fortunately, this method is natural; you can sprinkle product in your car without risking your life. Once you’ve sprinkled the product, leave it for a few days and vacuum your car to remove the dead bedbugs.

Pest Control for Cars: How To Fumigate a Car

Whether you suspect a serious pest infestation in your car or simply doing a routine maintenance practice, a professional is the only one supposed to carry out fumigation. The process involves dealing with dangerous chemicals that require expertise when handling them.3,8

Here’s how a car fumigation happens:

Step 1: Check your car carefully to determine the type of pests in your car and the extent of infestation. This will help you use the right chemicals for the best results.

Step 2: Prepare your car for fumigation by removing any items, like food, that may be contaminated after the fumigation process. You may leave other items like clothes, which will likely act as pest carriers.
Of course, you don’t want to bring the pests in your car to your house.

Step 3: Allow a pest control specialist to fumigate your car using the appropriate fumigant to kill the pests effectively. Ensure that the vehicle’s windows and doors are properly sealed to keep the fumigant inside.

Step 4: You need to allow the fumigant enough time to penetrate through the hidden areas like between car seats and inside compartments. Most fumigants reach all areas in your car’s interior within 1-2 hours.

Step 5: Once the fumigant exposure period is over, open the car’s windows and doors to allow proper ventilation until it’s safe for you to access the car. Some fumigants are safe for humans, but you don’t want to risk exposing yourself to any harm.

Step 6: Vacuum and clean the car’s interior thoroughly to remove any remaining pests and clear out the dead ones.

While this fumigation process helps you get rid of the pests in the car, it’s up to you to ensure your car remains pest-free by preventing future infestations. For example, ensure that your car is cleaned often by a professional car wash so as to get rid of any food debris that attracts insects.

You can also learn how to deal with minor infestations in your car without calling a professional.

What Is Car Fumigation?

Car fumigation is an effective method of pest control for cars.1 It involves filling up your car’s interior space with a gaseous chemical that’s lethal to the pests and allowing it time to eliminate them.

The chemical seeps into the tightest corners of your car’s interior, reaching the tiny pests hiding in them and killing them and their eggs. While car fumigation is recommended when you have a serious pest infestation in your car, you may be unable to tell whether the bug you saw represents a few more or thousands of them.

Therefore, it’s okay to consider car fumigation services as soon as possible whenever you see any of these uninvited guests.

Roach Getting in a Car: How To Get Roaches Out of a Car

Of all other bugs in the car, roaches are the most unpleasant. Once they infest a car, they can pose a health risk to you and everyone accessing your car.

Hence, it’s important to know how to get rid of roaches as soon as possible before they become a menace.5

Here’s how to get roaches out of a car without fumigating:

Deep Clean your Car

The main reason why you have roaches in your car in the first place is that they have found comfort in all the dirt you have in your car. So, an effective method to get rid of them is to clean the car.

Start by removing all the trash you can find, as it plays a huge role in hiding the roaches. If there are other items like blankets and clothes, you can remove them too and ensure your car is clean.

A man vacuuming the seat of a car.

(Image: Khunkorn Laowisit12)

After picking up all the visible trash, vacuum your car to remove any remaining dirt, like food scraps. Vacuuming may also remove any eggs or larvae that the cockroaches may have deposited along the seams or any other suitable hiding place.

You can also remove the car carpets and clean them thoroughly to ensure there’s no food remaining, as they are the best at attracting roaches.

Kill the Roaches in the Car

While cleaning the car may get many roaches out of your car, some may run into hiding and survive. If you let them continue living in your car, they may quickly reproduce and fill your car again.

Therefore, set traps for the roaches using different pesticides designed for them. Some of these traps include glue traps and gel baits.

You can also opt for a roach bomb for car or chemical sprays that effectively eliminate the roaches and their eggs. If you are looking for a more natural method, diatomaceous earth is a good option.

You only need to sprinkle it along the crevices where roaches are likely to hide. After killing the roaches in car, you can clean out the dead ones and ensure the infestation is over.

Keep in mind that some of these methods require some time to get rid of all the roaches, so it’s okay to let them sit for a few days before you clean the car.

Common Bugs in Car

Common bugs usually find their way into your car in search of food, shelter, and warmth. Some just crawl in and out of your car whenever possible.

However, the condition inside your car may determine whether they stay longer.6 For example, if you clean your car regularly, some bugs like roaches that feed on food debris fallen in your car may not thrive for long inside your car.

Graphics with text that shows the common bugs in car such as cockroaches, spider, carpet beetle, car mite, flea, ant, bedbug, and rat.

So, they die or leave your car eventually. On the other hand, if you leave spilled food and drinks in your car without cleaning it, such bugs multiply rapidly and could easily become a snare to deal with.

Some of the common bugs you are likely to find in your car include the following:

  • Cockroaches
  • Ants
  • Spiders
  • Bedbugs
  • Carpet Beetles
  • Car mites
  • Fleas
  • Rats

All these bugs are opportunists and can enter your car through any opening. Some, like wasps and spiders, come in through open doors and windows, especially if you park your car under a tree.2

Other bugs, like rodents, squeeze beneath the car and access the car through the vents. In most cases, they settle under the hood and access the rest of the car whenever they can.

The tiny bugs like fleas, bedbugs, and mites follow you while hitched to your clothes or body. So, if you are in an infested area, they come with you and build a new home in your car.

It’s difficult to notice them because they can fit in the smallest crevices, hide there, and multiply from there. Such bugs feed on your blood and can survive for days or months without food.

Once they multiply in your car, you may need help getting rid of them.

Is it Recommended To Use a Bug Bomb for Car Pest Control?

Car bug bombs are canned aerosols containing poisonous substances to eliminate bugs in the car. People use them because they are highly effective in exterminating pests but have a negative health impact on humans and pests.

A hand in glove holding a spray with insecticide.

(Image: Towfiqu barbhuiya13)

Even when you clean the car, there is a possibility that some chemical residues may be left in the car, hence posing a danger for the people using the car.

Carpet Beetle in Car: How To Get Rid of Carpet Beetles

Carpet beetles are most destructive in their larvae stage and can be a huge threat to your fiber upholstery in the car. So, getting rid of them as soon as you find them in your car is your best bet.

The first step when dealing with carpet beetles is to identify where they are and know how to get rid of them. As their name suggests, you are likely to find them on your vehicle’s carpet and floor mats, but they can also settle on the seats.

Vacuuming the car’s interior is a good way to get rid of them and their larvae. However, it’s important to do a thorough steam cleaning exercise after vacuuming to ensure you kill all the remaining carpet beetles and eggs.

If the infestation is not serious and you’re looking for a more long-term solution, diatomaceous earth can help. If you sprinkle it on the carpets, floor mats, and seats, it kills the carpet beetles slowly and stops their eggs from developing further.

The powder may remain on your carpets for a long time, thus preventing any future attacks from the carpet beetles.

Keeping Mice Out of Car: How To Get Rid of Rats and Mice

Rodents like mice and rats are quite destructive, and you need to keep them as far away from your car as possible. They can easily hide in the car engines or hood and destroy the car’s electrical parts, or build a home in the seats ripping apart your upholstery.

While you can get the best rodent repellent for car engines or a suitable rat repellent for cars, the goal is to chase them away and ensure they don’t return.

You can remove rats and mice from your car using the following methods:

Use a Mint Smelling Oil

The strong smell of mint-smelling oils like peppermint is a sure option to chase away rats from your vehicle. They are known to detest strong odors and are likely to flee as soon as they smell them.

To use the peppermint oil, add a few drops of the oil in warm water and spray it all around your car.10 Focus on areas where you may have noticed their presence, like the upholstery or under the hood.

While doing this, ensure that the doors and windows are open for them to leave. If they are under the hood, leave it open for a while, too, so they can leave.

If you have no access to peppermint oil, you can always go for scent-based rodent repellers and use them to control the rodents.

Set Traps

If the infestation is not too serious, you can set traps to capture individual rats and mice. Some traps are designed to kill the rodents upon catching them, but you can choose a gentler option that doesn’t kill them.

While such no-kill methods are effective, you may need to consider a possible re-infestation when you let the rodent go. Therefore, employ resistant measures like scent-based repellers to keep the mice away from your car.

Scare Them Away With a High Honking Sound

Rats and mice work silently and enjoy a silent environment to do their destructive work. That’s why a high sound is a good repellent.

To make this work without disturbing your neighbors, find a secluded area and go for it. Ensure that the doors and windows are open for them to escape.

Alternatively, you can use ultrasonic repellents that make sounds only rodents can hear. The sound is designed specifically to cause discomfort to rodents inside your car.

The best thing about ultrasonic repellents is that you can use them in your garage without disturbing your neighbors. You only need to plug the devices near your car and tune it to the recommended sound range.

The rodents are likely to hear the sound and flee to avoid the discomfort.

How Often Should You Call a Car Exterminator?

If you encounter a pest in your house or even in the vehicle, do not hesitate to call the exterminator immediately. For small bugs like bedbugs and fleas, you may not tell the extent of infestation after seeing only one of them.

The exterminator may conduct an assessment of the situation and advise you on control measures that follow.

Pest Control for Cars: When To Call a Car Exterminator for Pest Control

In case of an unexpected small or big infestation of insects in your vehicle, a car exterminator will give you a hand at any time. Nevertheless, consider the following factors before you call an exterminator:

  • Are you dealing with any specific pests in your car?
  • Do you need an exterminator because of the infestation or doable handling?
  • What is the cost of an exterminator for the job?

Some pests, such as mice and rats, do not require heavy investment in an exterminator to get rid of them. However, when it comes to bedbugs, you might require the services of an exterminator for effective eradication.

If the level of infestation exceeds your capacity to control pests using the common traditional pest control methods, you may require an expert to eliminate the pests. However, you should consider the cost of hiring an exterminator depending on the level of infestation or the nature of the bug.

It is vital to know the cost of controlling the particular pest in your car so as to avoid such surprises as a result of changes in costs at the end of the exercise. The United States Environmental Protection Agency shows that every state has its way of managing pest infestations as well as exterminator prices.11

How Much Does an Exterminator Cost for Mice?

The average cost for mice extermination ranges from $250 to $350 for a single visit from an exterminator or $45 to $55 monthly for regular visits. The amount you pay depends on the size of the infestation and how big your property is.

Most mice exterminators will not go for the car only because the mice may be in your household, too. So, they offer the complete package of clearing mice out of your home and car.

How Much Does a Bed Bug Exterminator Cost?

Their hardy and resistant bodies make bed bugs the most problematic to eradicate. The bed bug exterminator exercise can result in an average cost of extermination ranging from about $300 up to even $5,000 because exterminators take into consideration the entire house during their pricing practices.

An inspector checking underneath a truck for possible infestation of pests.

(Image: USDA Photo by Lance Cheung14)

Some other issues they take into account include how big the property is and the extent of infestation. The car could be exterminated, but if you fail to address other infested areas in the house, you can again bring more bed bugs into the car from the house.

Pest Control for Cars: How Much Does an Exterminator Cost for Roaches?

Cockroaches are super survivors, which means that even after extermination, they can remain alive. The extermination costs may vary from moderate amounts like $100 to severe ones that could go up to $1,000 according to the severity of the infestation and the size of your homestead.

Certain exterminators provide a package where they can give you one or two months or quarterly, depending on your location and likelihood of being re-infested. It is paramount to take a look at the costing terms and how you will make your payments before settling on an exterminator for your pest problem.

It’s quite easy to get rid of pests after they have found their way into your car. However, for guaranteed protection of the car from these pests, it would be wise to always prevent them from getting in it.

For example, roaches find their way into your vehicle when you leave leftovers behind in your trunk or fail to tidy it up after some time. Keep the remaining food from them by cleaning, then regularly visit an auto wash to clean upholstery thoroughly.

In some ways, even simple maintenance practices, such as vacuuming every day before you use the car, will protect you and your car from pests. In addition, do not pack your vehicle under shade trees or near shrubs, in which spiders and wasps may enter your car.

Another method that will help you avoid drastic measures of pest control for cars is to try to close all windows and doors of your car as it prevents crawling pests from getting in.

Frequently Asked Questions About Pest Control for Cars

Which Is the Most Effective Method of Car Pest Control?

Car fumigation is considered the most effective method of pest control for cars, especially when there is a heavy pest infestation.

Read More About Pest Control for Cars


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