How to Get (and Keep) Roaches Out of Your Car

Getting roaches out of your vehicle will require a vacuum, some cleaning supplies, and roach bait or sticky traps.
Written by Sarah Gray
Reviewed by Jessica Barrett
Your car is the last place you expect to find cockroaches or other bug infestations—but it can (and does!) happen. Luckily, getting rid of these creepy crawlers usually requires nothing more than a little elbow grease and a sticky trap or two.
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3 easy steps to rid your car of roaches

While it’s pretty easy for roaches to get into your car, it’s also pretty simple to get them out. The most effective removal method boils down to sanitation: clean your car. Get a trash bag and remove any and all garbage you can see by hand, then, follow the steps below. 
The first two steps can be done in any order, but we prefer to vacuum first simply because it lowers the risk of encountering creepy crawlies while you’re trying to wipe up a spill.

1. Vacuum

Vacuum your car’s whole interior. This will not only remove the roaches you do see—and the eggs you don’t—but also pick up the crumbs and smaller pieces of food you can’t get by hand. 
Be as thorough as possible. If you don’t have a powerful vacuum of your own, head to your local car wash to use their industrial-strength sweeper. 
MORE: The best ways to clean your car

2. Clean and kill

Get out the cleaning products and thoroughly wipe down all the solid surfaces in your car. This means not only the dash and center console, but your door panels, cup holders, and all the plastic trim throughout the car. 
If you have a particularly nasty infestation, consider adding biological controls like boric acid or diatomaceous earth into the mix. These can be mixed with food and used as bait to kill the roaches—and they’re both safe for both pets and children.

3. Bait and traps

Once you’ve finished deep cleaning your car, you can place adhesive sticky traps and commercial bait stations under the seats and in the trunk to catch any lingering pests.
Key Takeaway Get roaches out of your car by giving it a thorough cleaning.

How do roaches get in your car?

Unfortunately, if a bug wants to get into your car, it’s going to figure out a way. Their most common entrance points, though, are through open windows or by hitching a ride on items you bring into the vehicle. 
Though it’s fairly easy for roaches and other insects to get into your car, they don’t usually stay for long. Bugs are opportunists, and while your vehicle certainly offers shelter, it doesn’t offer the food and water the roaches need to survive—or does it?
Food and beverages left in your vehicle are the most common cause of roach and other insect infestations. Groceries—especially produce—often harbor insects or their eggs. Those eggs fall off in your car and, voila, you’ve got bugs.

The dangers of having bugs and cockroaches in your car

Cockroaches aren’t just gross, they’re actually pretty dangerous. They can transmit several varieties of bacteria, which can have serious health consequences for you and anyone else riding in your vehicle. 
While other bugs—like ants and spiders—may not transmit disease like cockroaches, they certainly bring the same fear factor. When you’re speeding down the highway, the last thing you want is to get startled by a roach or spider.

Where are bugs and cockroaches hiding in my car?

The most common hiding places, especially for roaches, are dark, warm, and enclosed:
  • Glove compartments
  • Center consoles
  • Door panels. 
  • Vents, when your climate system isn’t on 
That doesn’t mean they won’t go for more simple hiding places, like under the seats or tucked into that sweatshirt you’ve had balled up in the trunk for as long as you can remember.
MORE: Things you should keep in your car

Keeping cockroaches out of your car

The best way to keep cockroaches out of your car is to keep your car clean. Try to avoid eating in your car—and if you do, clean up regularly.
Consider adding bi-weekly car cleaning to your schedule of chores. If you’re too busy for that, check into local car wash and detailing companies that often have deals for repeat customers.

How to find affordable insurance 

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Unfortunately, you’ll usually see them. If you don’t see any roaches but you do see an odd black dust scattered in your car that looks like coffee grounds or pepper, you likely have a roach infestation and you’re seeing their droppings.
You have something in your car the bugs want, like food or water. If your car isn’t clean, you’re likely to encounter bugs at some point.
Keep your car clean. This means not only keeping trash and food out of your car but also vacuuming and wiping down the interior regularly.
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