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Six Effective Treatments to Get Bed Bugs out of Your Car

Daniel is a Toronto pest control expert known as an industry go-to guy and innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions.

This is what a bed bug looks like.

This is what a bed bug looks like.

Bed Bugs in Your Car?

If you think bed bugs are only a problem at home, think again. These resilient pests have been known to infest movie theaters, hotel rooms, schools, and even office buildings. They can survive literally everywhere, but one place few people think to look for these pests is one of their most personal spaces: the car.

Bed bugs travel from one location to the next by attaching themselves to their host’s clothing. If your home or office is infested and you often travel by car, these pests may find their way into your vehicle and quickly infest it.

The good news is that there are a number of safe and effective treatments to get bed bugs out of your car. The following tips can help keep your car bedbug-free, as well as help prevent infestations from developing.

Start With Inspection

The first step to ensuring a bedbug-free car is to confirm you have an infestation in the first place. Treatments can be expensive and time-consuming, so it is important to be absolutely certain you have bed bugs before moving forward.

Begin by thoroughly cleaning the interior of your car and removing excess clutter where bed bugs may be hiding. Once you get that out of the way, perform a thorough visual inspection of your car.

Beyond looking for the bugs themselves, keep an eye out for the telltale signs they leave behind, including bloodstains and small, dark spots of fecal matter. You can also use tape to increase the accuracy of detection.

How to Use Tape to Detect Bed Bugs

Clean Your Car Regularly

Bed bugs love clutter, as it gives them the ability to go undetected. By cleaning your car regularly, you will be able to detect these sneaky pests and prevent an infestation. Aside from removing trash that builds up, avoid storing your clothes in your car for a twofold aim: to prevent bed bugs from attaching themselves to these items and to stop them from hitching a free ride into your home. While cleaning, be sure to thoroughly vacuum every crack and crevice in your car to help remove any lingering bed bugs that remain.

One bed bug can lay from 200 to 250 eggs in her lifetime. They prefer to lay their eggs in protected cracks and crevices, and those eggs will hatch in about 6 to 10 days. If left unchecked, under normal circumstances, bed bugs will live for about 10 to 11 months. There may be three or more generations of bed bugs born each year. Because bed bugs of all ages may be found in an infestation, you must keep cleaning your car regularly to inhibit their reproduction.

Vacuum your car to remove bed bugs: pay special attention to the cracks and crevices.

Vacuum your car to remove bed bugs: pay special attention to the cracks and crevices.

Wash Seat Covers and Floor Mats

In addition to maintaining a clean car, don’t forget to wash your seat covers and floor mats on a regular basis. Laundering these items can help kill any lingering pests that may be hiding in your car and will give you another opportunity to inspect for their presence. Once washed, dry the items at high heat to kill any bed bugs that may have survived, and examine the items again before placing them back in your car.

Steam the Interior to Exterminate Bed Bugs

Heat treatment is one of the safest and most effective ways to treat bed bugs. Although you may not have access to the same equipment the professionals use, you can use a steam cleaner to garner the same pest-killing benefits. Be sure to use a machine that can emit more than 200 degrees of high-pressure steam in order to effectively kill the bed bugs in your car. You may also consider using a fabric attachment with a cloth cover to better control the application of this steam.

Use diatomaceous earth as bed bug abatement.

Use diatomaceous earth as bed bug abatement.

Use Diatomaceous Earth to Kill Bed Bugs

Diatomaceous earth is an off-white, powdery mineral made from the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms. This substance has been shown to be very effective at killing a variety of insects, including bed bugs, and is safe enough to use around humans and pets without causing any harm.

You can usually find diatomaceous earth at your local hardware store or online. Sprinkle it throughout your car and let it sit for a few days for the best results. After three days, simply vacuum up the dust to remove it from your car. Keep in mind that multiple treatments may be necessary for diatomaceous earth to be effective.

Take Your Car to a Fumigator

Fumigation has long been an effective treatment for pests in homes, but did you know it can also be performed on cars with bed bug infestations? Much like a home, vehicles are sealed and covered with a tarp for the fumigation treatment, and it usually only takes one treatment to remove all the pests from your car. Better yet, you can place infested belongings such as clothes or bedding in the car to be treated, as well.

Although each of these methods is effective at treating and preventing bed bugs, the highest success rate will be achieved by combining two or more methods. If bed bugs continue to be a problem in your car after the aforementioned remedies have been used, contacting a pest control professional could be the solution you need.

Professionals will be able to safely apply heat or chemical treatments without placing you, your family, or your car in danger. Remember that bed bugs are resilient, and keeping a pest-free car takes more than one single treatment, so continued preventive measures must be taken to get rid of them once and for all.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.


Alison Price on May 28, 2020:

I have a major question. my van is infected...someone broke in and got one -2 in there a yr ago and now it's BAD. the van is full...9 storage buckets with lids and I cannot find any local company willing to do it because they have to guarantee their 100% effectiveness and I said I"d sign a waiver to accept less effectiveness, won't sue, etc and no one's accepting. I sleep in the van and for 5 wks have barely slept. I am truly desparate to find some company that will do it. do you know anyone to rec'd in sarasota, bradenton, Fl who would if I sign the waiver? no where else to go and can cannot be left unattended (vandalizer) if I did it myself.

Sean on February 09, 2020:

There horrific... and even more horrific they have been in my home for a long time.years.. before I noticed.. I sprayed a few areas and they came out the woodwork.. door window... tools in tool boxes... cracks in paneling.. fing ceiling tiles... Christ! All 3 vehicles.. they came out every nook and cranny possible... the cars immaculate and you would never know.. I work construction and maintenance and now I’m like wtf? I have had itchy red bumps but nothing to severe thank God I thought I had herpes lol.. sorry but for real... these littles bastards are terrible.. I have vacuuming and spraying and washing everything possible.. they were in my cellphone case etc. small as a spec of dirt.. you wouldn’t know. Ughhh... and 4 out 5 people have dealt with them or have them and are unaware... no ddt anymore and this is an epidemic everywhere. I removed crown molding last week in a customers home and bed bugs fell out between the wallpaper and were in her airconditioner etc.. now I pay close attention and these little fuckers are everywhere from rest stops on highways to your friends guitar case.

John on July 06, 2019:

Where in Ontario can you get a Fumigation on a car?

Danny Cooper on November 27, 2017:

I been trying to get rid of the bed bugs for a year, when I think I got rid of them,I see them still in my house,how can I get rid of them once and for all, please help me

Anita Enriquez on December 02, 2016:

Yes I had different kinds of bugs in a house I was renting i move out and got rid of all my furniture and close my item's and now i know i got them in my car i wash my close and car over and over but I still feel ishy I can feel them when i put something on or when i get in my car I've tryed vinegar I tryed alot of things and can't get rid of them. What is the best things to use on everything even on my body and hair I can't stand it driving me crazy please let me know what can i do about this I losts alot of my things and i am looking for other place to live and I don't want take them anywhere I go that is why i am getting rid of my things I go and buy me new close and item's and still. Please let me know. Thank you very much. Have a good i would like to have one but I can't until i get rid of all of the crap.

anonymouse on September 29, 2016:

Don't use any sprays, pesticides, bug bombs in your car, they can persist and hurt your health in the long run. I haven't read of any 100% effective do it yourself remedies because these critters can hide real deep.

Heat and cold are also not effective according to many - even in hot weather, parts of the car don't get hot enough and bugs will go there, and for this reason heat may cause bugs to hide even deeper. Same with cold - takes a long time and bugs will find some insulated areas that won't get cold enough.

I'm going to get my car fumigated probably by a termite control company - professional sealed/tented Vikane fumigation seems to be the only, or most, reliable method.

malik on May 11, 2016:

If i use spray in my car to get rid of bedbugs. Is good are not

anony on November 29, 2014:

most climates will kill bed bugs if parked outside, extreme heat and cold

tim on October 13, 2014:

What about putting dry ice in your car to rid it of bedbugs

ana on September 04, 2014:

i would not want my car infested with bed bugs

msdielise on July 28, 2014:

Wow, thanks for sharing. Although I don't have a car, I'll try to remember all your tips and apply them once I get the car! :D