As eerie as it sounds, bed bugs can and do live in cars.
Bed bugs typically get inside cars by hitchhiking a ride on objects that you bring inside your vehicle.
They can ride on your clothes, bags, used furniture, guests’ clothes, boxes, etc.
Once they’re inside the car, they only need two things to survive: food and shelter—both of which cars can provide.
So how do you get these tiny, annoying pests out of your vehicle?
In this article, we’ll go over step by step on how to get rid of bed bugs in your car for good.
Let’s dive in!
1. Start With Inspection
Before you begin treating your car for bed bugs, you must first inspect for bed bugs.
Bed bugs like to hide in small crevices and seams so they can be hard to spot.
The best way to spot bed bugs inside your car is to lure them out.
These are some great tools you can use, such as the sensi-active volcano.
Place this bait trap on your car’s floor, and it will attract and catch bed bugs.
You can also use passive traps, but they are not as effective at monitoring for bed bugs.
The most common form of passive monitoring is glue traps.
Depending on your budget and needs there are several different types of treatments available.
Below is a list of the different treatments you can use to eliminate bed bugs from your car.
Wash, Steam, Vacuum
The first thing you are going to want to do is clean and de-clutter your car.
This mainly includes picking up any trash or clutter around your car.
Place any loose belongings in a bag so that they can be treated separately.
Make sure you have a clear view of the floors and seats in your car.
If you have any seat covers, remove and wash them.
You want to wash these on hot water, followed by drying on high heat for 30 minutes to one hour.
This will kill any bed bugs or eggs that are on your seat covers.
The next thing you need to do is use a steamer to any bed bugs hiding in seams, folds, and crevices.
Bed bugs and their eggs cannot survive temperatures that exceed 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Since most steamers can reach up to 240 degrees Fahrenheit, they can be highly effective when employed against bed bugs.
To check your steamer’s temperature, use a thermometer, and place one layer of a towel over it.
Apply steam to the thermometer for 1-3 seconds.
If the thermometer reaches 150 degrees or higher, it is hot enough to kill bed bugs.
When steaming, focus on seams, edges, and folds in the fabric.
If you see bed bugs or activity anywhere else, steam there as well.
When steaming, make sure to move from top to bottom.
If you go from bottom to top, the steam will rise and cause any bed bugs to try and get away from the heat.
Steaming from bottom to top can cause bed bugs to retreat to areas you have already steamed.
When going over large areas, I recommend using a large head attachment.
The large head attachment is great for the floors and fronts and backs of seats.
Remember to keep a pace of about 1 inch per second.
At this pace, you will deliver enough heat to kill bed bugs.
Finally, to reach inside crevices, use a smaller fine point tip or brush tip.
Doing so will allow you to inject steam into small crevices that would otherwise be hard to reach.
Some key places to target are in between seats, under seats, on the sides of seats, inside seatback pockets, and any other small confined areas.
The under of your seats are sometimes exposed and have many wires and metal.
Be sure to target on top, on the side, and underneath your seats.
These are ideal hiding spots for bed bugs that often get overlooked.
While you won’t be able to target all bed bugs using vacuum treatments, this method is excellent at removing a large number of bed bugs, eggs, and shells skin quickly after you have steamed your car.
Removing these is vital in the treatment process because it gives you a clear picture of progress.
For this method, I recommend using crevice tools designed to help your reach bed bugs hiding in folds and crevices.
Vacuum all the same locations you steamed as a way to eliminate any bed bugs you might have missed.
I also highly recommend using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to prevent the number of allergens and particles that enter the air after vacuuming.
If you missed any locations, it’s possible that you might vacuum live bed bugs.
If this is the case, and you have a bag-free vacuum, I suggest you add a thin layer of DE at the bottom to kill any live bed bugs.
One of the most effective all-natural, non-chemical methods of eliminating bed bugs is using heat.
Bed bugs of all life cycles can not withstand heat higher than 125 degrees Fahrenheit.
The easiest way to DIY heat treatment is by parking your car in direct sunlight and using a portable heater.
In direct sunlight, your car is typically 40 degrees hotter than it is outside.
So on an 80-degree day, it is likely around 120 degrees in your car.
Combined with a portable heater to maintain a consistent temperature you can easily kill bed bugs.
You might be wondering can direct sunlight kill bed bugs alone and the answer is yet but its unlikely.
It typically takes around 8-10 hours to kill bed bugs at 125 degrees.
Often times, during a day you won’t be able to keep your car hot enough to kill bed bugs.
You can place a portable heater and a fan inside the back seat of your car to help circulate the air and spread the heat evenly throughout your car.
Leave your car like this for 8 hours before you open any doors or turn off the heaters.
Fumigate With Nuvan Pro
Fumigation treatments release fumigant gas into bed bug-infested areas to control bed bugs in all life stages.
The great thing about fumigation is its ability to penetrate areas that are difficult to access, such as tiny folds, seams, and intricate fabric.
The easiest way to fumigate your car is by using Nuvan Pro Strips.
Nuvan pro strips use a chemical called DDVP, which attacks the bed bugs nervous system and kills it.
To fumigate your car you are going to park your car and make sure all windows and doors are closed.
Place two Nuvan Pro strips: one in the middle of the car and the other towards the back or in the trunk.
Once the trips are placed and active leave your car and let it sit for 3-7 days.
This will ensure all bed bugs and bed bugs eggs are completely killed.
Remember that during this time frame you won’t be able to drive or enter your car.
Plan ahead ideally do this on a Friday night and let it sit over the weekend to avoid impacting your work commute.
Apply Diatomaceous Earth
Diatomaceous earth is an abrasive powder that kills insects by destroying their exoskeletons and causing them to dehydrate.
This is an easy way of killing bed bugs inside your car.
You can apply DE to the floor and seats of your car.
Don’t forget to apply DE in crevices, under seats, and under the floor mats.
When using DE only apply a thin layer of DE that is barely visible to the naked eye.
This is the perfect amount to not discourage bed bugs from walking over it.
Let the powder sit for several days without disturbing it.
A great way to draw out bed bugs is by using a lure.
In a car, the easiest way to do this is by using a chemical lure or a small hand warmer.
Bed bugs will be attracted to the bait and approach it.
When they do they will walk over the DE and eventually die.
You can expect a reduction in the population withing 3-5 days but deaths can be as quick as 24 hours.
When applying DE, you should wear the following safety gear.
- Face mask or dust mask
- Gloves (for people with sensitive skin)
Not much safety equipment is necessary when using DE.
DE has a low toxicity for humans .
The main concern when using DE is particles being suspended in the air.
Inhaling DE can cause damage to your lungs. Likewise, DE particles in your eye can also be dangerous.
Insecticides can also be sprayed in the interior of your car to help you get rid of bed bugs.
Insecticides typically provide instant kills as well as residual kills.
The best way to do this is to apply the insecticide on the floor, seams, crevices, and seats.
It is always important to select a pesticide that is registered as safe to use indoors.
As a rule of thumb, if it’s safe for mattress it is also safe to use on inside your car.
When treating your car with insecticide you typically only have to spray the floor and your seats.
Other hard surfaces are typically not necessary.
Always use a contact or residual spray and avoid using foggers.
Foggers typically have toxic chemicals, and infest your entire car without targeting the key areas.
Its best to apply insecticide to small seams, crevices, cracks, and folds in fabric.
This will target all the key areas where bed bugs hide.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Where Do Bed Bugs Hide Inside Car?
Bed bugs hide in seams, cracks, and crevices.
Just like inside homes they will hide in small folds where they find shelter.
In cars check the following places for bed bug activity:
Car seat seams
- Cracks between setas
- Under mats
- Inside small holes or cracks
- Screw holes
- Under seats
- Near metal seams and crevices
These are common places for bed bugs to hide inside your car
How Do You Know If You Have Bed Bugs In your Car?
The best way to know if you have bed bugs inside your car is look for common signs.
Some of the most common signs of bed bug infestation are:
- Live Bed bugs – Bed bugs are about the size of a grain of rice, oval, flat, and light brown to reddish-brown.
- Bed Bug Eggs – Bed bugs are smaller than a grain of rice, white and are oval.
- Dried Blood – Small specs of fresh blood will look like dark red dots around your couch.
- Skin Casings – Bed bugs shed their skin to grow. The presence of these skin cases is a good sign of bed bug infestation.
In a car the easiest signs to spot are live bed bugs and skin casings.
Other signs such as blood stains, fecal droppings, and bed bugs eggs are hard to spot inside cars.
These signs tend to blend in with carpets or seat fabirc making them hard to identify.
The best way to spot these signs is to inspect your car thoroughly.
To do this you will need:
- Magnifying glass.
- Bed bug traps
How Do Bed Bugs Get in Cars?
Yes, bed bugs can get inside your car.
Bed bugs typically get inside cars by hitch hiking a ride on objects that you bring inside your car.
They can take a ride on your cloths, bags, used furniture, guests clothes, boxes or early anything that they can hold onto.
Can Bed Bugs Survive in a Car?
Yes bed bugs can survive in cars.
If you drive for long periods of time or are in your car often bed bugs can feed on you.
Bed bugs will hide near the driver seat or in the back seat if you have children.
While you are driving bed bugs will feed on you.
Bed bugs can survive without a host for up to 14 months.
This means that they don’t need to eat often to be able to survive in your car.
What Is The Likelihood of Bed Bugs In Your Car?
Bed bugs are less common in cars than they are inside homes but this doesnt mean they cant infest your car.
If you have bed bugs inside your home thenn its likely that you can transport them into your car.
Likewise, if you purhcase used furnituer or other goods then they can enter your car as well.
The main source of bringing bed bugs into your car is coming into contact with bed bugs and transporting them into your car.
How To Tell If You Have Bed Bug Infestations In Your Car?
Bed bugs are hard to spot specially inside a car.
The best way to tell if you have bed bugs in your car is to use active monitoring.
Active monitoring involves setting a trap with a lure or something that is going to attract the bed bugs towards the trap.
One of the most effective ways to do this is using sensi-active volcano traps.
Simply place them on the floor of your car and bed bugs will climb up the trap and get trapped.
You can also use traditional bed bug traps with a lure inside such as dry ice (CO2), handwarmers, or both to attract bed bugs.
Leave these traps in your car for several days, ideally around 1 week.
Bed bugs only feed every 7-10 days which means leaving your traps out for 1 week will ensure you cover and entire bed bug feeding cycle.
Can Bed Bugs Live In A Car During the Winter?
Yes, bed bugs can live in your car during winter.
Bed bugs can survive at freezing temperatures (below 0 degrees Fahrenheit) for several days.
Typically what happens during winter or cold weather is that bed bugs becomes less active but they do not die off.
At around 45 degrees bed bugs will become less active and stop moving.
At 45 degrees bed bugs may become less active but they will not die.
They can survive in this state for 12-14 months without eating.
What to Do If Bed Bugs Are Found In Your Car
If you find bed bugs in your car you want to star treating immediately.
If you have bed bugs inside you car there is a chance you will spread it to your home or other areas your frequent.
Spreading bed bugs into your home is a much harder issue to deal with than inside your car.
There are several different methods to treat bed bugs which are outlined at the top of their article.
- Diatomaceous Earth