Fleas are a common problem for pet owners, but what should you do if they start invading your car? Fleas can cause a lot of problems, from itching and skin irritation to even spreading some diseases.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to get rid of fleas in your car and prevent them from coming back. Keep reading for tips on how to get rid of fleas in your car today!
How Do I Know If I Have Fleas In My Car?
There are a few signs to look out for if you suspect you may have fleas in your car. The most obvious sign is the fleas themselves, which are easily recognizable when you know what to look for.
How to spot a flea
Fleas are small, reddish-brown insects that are wingless with powerful legs, allowing them to jump very high and far. They travel by jumping from one animal or person to another. While a single flea may be hard to spot, once you have an infestation they will be relatively easy to identify.
Other signs of a flea presence
Fleas, like all living animals, leave a trail behind them which we as car owners can follow. If you notice little brown and black spots on the bottom of your car or on its seats, these could be flea feces they’ve left behind for you. Honestly, though, you would need to spot a lot of these to confirm the infestation.
If you have your suspicions but have yet to see a flea in the flesh, you can actually try to hunt them out. Fleas are nocturnal creatures so try to spot them at night. If you have an infestation you will see the small insects hopping on the carpet of your car.
If you can’t wait until the sun goes down to see evidence of fleas, another thing to look out for is their eggs. You can run your hands over the carpeted areas of your car in search of them. Fleas like to lay eggs in soft places, so you may be able to feel flea eggs with your hands (as gross as that might sound). I’d recommend you get yourself some protective gloves (sold on Amazon) before you do this, just to keep you from gagging.
Other ways to confirm a flea infestation
If you don’t want to feel for the fleas or their eggs with your hands, and who could blame you, you can look at the individual fibers of your carpet with the help of a magnifying glass (grab a one on Amazon). You should be able to spot them this way too.
You can also do what is called the ‘white sock test’. Put on long socks that reach up to at least your calves and spend some time in your car. Sit in the back seat and rub your sock feet along the floor and seats of your car. If you have an infestation you will be able to see some fleas or flea fecal matter on your socks.
If you have a pet that has ridden in your car recently, check your pet’s fur for flea fecal matter and small insects themselves. You may also notice scabs or an absence of fur on your pet where it licked and scratched itself due to the infestation. Fleas commonly reside on the head, neck, and shoulders of pets so be sure to diligently check these areas.
Best Ways To Treat A Flea Infestation In A Car
The best approach, honestly, is to skip the part where you try to confirm an infestation and just treat the car for fleas. There are a few really effective ways to get rid of fleas in your car.
Have a read through my suggestions below, then you can choose the option that is best for you based on what you have available, your budget, and if you would choose a chemical-free option.
A tried and tested approach is the humble vacuum cleans, something most of us have around the house. However, you will need a powerful vacuum cleaner to be able to get rid of fleas, larvae, and any cocoons. If the suction on yours isn’t particularly powerful, then it might be time to get a new one (some good options sold on Amazon) or use a different option.
Also, remember to use a vacuum cleaner that you can immediately dispose of the vacuum bag after. Throw the bag away being careful not to come into contact with its contents. The issue with this method is that the fleas don’t immediately die and could escape if you need to open the vacuum bag or leave the full vacuum clean in your home.
Steam your car
Whereas a normal vacuum cleaner won’t kill fleas, a household steam cleaner will. So, option number two is to use a high-quality seamer on all surfaces in your car.
You can hand wash surfaces first with a healthy dose of dish soap and then steam the areas after. The combination of high heat and soap will kill most fleas.
Just remember you will need to steam more than once to get rid of the infestation and I’d also recommend you run a vacuum cleaner over the car too to suck up the dead fleas afterward.
For a good selection of steam cleaners, you can see this list on Amazon.
Wash any removable covers in your car
If you aren’t able to do any of the above, then this is the best alternative option – clean up your car!
Take out any extra clutter in your car and remove seat covers if applicable. Wash everything with hot water and then dry at the hottest setting. Just make sure that you seal all of these soft furnishings in plastic bags before moving them inside your home. Honestly, I’d recommend doing this at a laundromat. Fleas can spread very easily!
If the infestation is severe, I’d also recommend throwing away your seat covers and just buying new ones. I’d also recommend that you do this step even if you decide to reach for a vacuum cleaner or steamer.
There are a variety of aerosol sprays, foggers, and other insecticides (full list for Amazon products) that you can use to get rid of fleas in your car. Using chemicals can be an effective method of getting rid of fleas with minimal effort.
When opting for chemical treatments be careful. Your car will not be safe to ride in for at least 5 hours after the chemicals have been deployed. Check with each individual product about safety.
If you have a pet that rides in your car, make sure to check the guidelines for when it is safe for your pet to be in the car. Pets have different immune systems than humans do and may be more sensitive to chemicals after we can no longer sense them.
How To Naturally Prevent Fleas In Your Car
Fleas are frustrating without a doubt and can be a huge challenge to get rid of. Prevention is a great way to make sure you won’t have to deal with the headache of a full-blown infestation.
The first is to vacuum regularly. Buy a hand-held vacuum for your car and vacuum at least once a month. If your pet regularly rides in the car with you then more frequent cleaning may be necessary. Alternatively, you can take your car to a professional to get it vacuumed on a regular basis.
If you have a pet and a yard, keeping your yard groomed is a great way to keep fleas at bay. Fleas love weeds and overgrown grass where they can easily jump onto your pet. If your lawn is kept short and neat, fleas will be less likely to reside in your backyard.
It is also important to make sure your dog is using a high-quality and reputable flea preventative year-round. Seresto is a popular option that is highly recommended, as is Frontline Plus and Advantage Multi (see their Amazon store pages).
While tick preventative medicine can be a little on the pricier side, it is definitely a must-have for the well-being of your pet and to keep your house flea-free.
Will Fleas Die In A Hot Car?
Extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, will kill fleas. But extreme is the key. Fleas actually do very well in hot environments, like a car in the summertime.
Fleas thrive at an ideal temperature of 70-85 degrees Fahrenheit. Because fleas have a hard outer shell, they can survive quite a large breadth of temperatures outside of this range as well.
However, exterminating fleas with extremely high or low temperatures can be effective if done correctly. Adult fleas can survive up to about 95 degrees while larvae can survive in 103 degrees of heat.
Heat can kill a flea at any stage in its lifecycle, making it a great option for killing off eggs too. You will need to maintain a high heat for a consistent time period in order for it to work. It is also imperative that the humidity is low while the heat is high.
If there is high humidity, the fleas will eventually die, but it will take longer than in dry environments. The best climatic conditions, whether artificial or natural, for eliminating fleas are above 103 degrees with humidity below 75 percent.
As discussed before, steaming is one of the easiest and cheapest chemical-free ways to rid of fleas in your car. However, you may need to rent a commercial steamer as some home steamers may not be enough to kill fleas. Make sure you check the capabilities of your own steamer before you waste hours with an ineffective treatment. You will also need to steam multiple times to kill all fleas, eggs, and larvae.
Drawbacks of using a steamer in a car
Steaming at high temperatures could damage or stain the surface of your car so it is important to start steaming in more inconspicuous areas to check how your car is holding up to the steam.
Take your time and go slowly and diligently throughout your car. Pay extra attention to surfaces that are not smooth such as carpet. Move slowly with the steamer so it is able to penetrate the fibers in the carpet.
Can You Bug Bomb A Car For Fleas?
Sometimes you just want to get the job done, and this is where a chemical treatment may be an easier option for you.
Foggers, or bug bombs, are an effective method for getting rid of fleas (full list on Amazon). However, you do have to be more careful when using chemicals in your car as cars are tight spaces with limited airflow.
It is important that you read the directions carefully and steer clear of your car for the recommended time limit before returning to the vehicle. Most foggers will kill fleas in 4-8 hours after application. I’d recommend waiting 8 hours, then opening the windows of your car and airing it out for another 8 before getting in to drive, especially if you have pets.
If you don’t have a safe place to leave the windows open, then try turning on the air conditioner with the windows open, or fixing up some portable fans inside the car to get the airflow moving more.
The best-rated fogger is the Hot Shot Fogger6 with Oder Neutralizer which you can buy in many stores or on Amazon. It will treat your infestation quickly and the pesticide will reach every nook and cranny of your car. If you buy the value pack you can receive 6 foggers that each contain 2 ounces of pesticide. One fogger will treat an area up to 2,000 cubic feet.
The odor neutralizer will ensure that a chemical smell does not reside after the treatment is complete, but this also requires an extra layer of caution. Be sure to wait the recommended time before getting in the car as you won’t be able to smell the lingering chemicals.
Another highly recommended fogger is the HARRIS 12 Week Indoor Insect Fogger, It has a water-based formula that won’t leave a residue over surfaces in your car. The pesticide will attack the nervous system of the fleas and kill them within 8 hours.
How Long Can Fleas Live In A Car Without A Host?
The one good thing about these pesky pests is that without a dog, cat, or human host, fleas will eventually die. The common fleas will die from anywhere between two days and up to two weeks without a host. This seems dependent on the environmental conditions and individual fleas.
While you can wait for the fleas to die on their own, it is not recommended to do this if you need to use your car on a regular basis. You will have to quarantine your car for at least two weeks to be able to drive it with the assurance that you no longer have fleas. If you do choose this method be sure to vacuum well after the waiting period is done to get rid of any flea remains.
Fleas In My Car, But I Don’t Own Any Pets
Sometimes people will discover an infestation in their car when they don’t even own a pet. While unlikely, it is possible to get fleas in your car if you don’t own any pets. The first step would be to confirm that you actually do have fleas in the vehicle by going through the suggestions I made at the start of this article.
Fleas aren’t exclusively an animal problem, they can infest homes and cars without hitching a ride on an unwitting pooch or feline. However, fleas will jump from host to host, so if you had just visited a friend with a pet, the fleas could have hopped from the pet to you, and then planted in your car on the drive home. If that sounds plausible, give your friend a heads up that they might have an issue.
If you have just bought a second-hand car, a small infestation could have been occurring without the previous owner noticing. The fleas could have remained dormant for a while and then the infestation got out of hand a few months after the ownership changed.
If this is happening to you, just follow the treatment and prevention methods I’ve outlined above and remain vigilant to the issue in the future.
An You Put Diatomaceous Earth In Your Car?
If you haven’t heard of Diatomaceous earth (DE) before, it’s a 100% natural solution for many pest problems. The product is simply a type of rock that is microscopically very sharp. This material targets the body of fleas and other pests, making them vulnerable to a hostile environment around them.
Diatomaceous earth will work in your car to kill fleas to a certain extent. The drawback of this method is that it only kills adult fleas and does not prevent reproduction. Once an adult flea comes into contact with DE it will die in about 4 hours, but experts recommend waiting 48 hours just in case.
When fleas come into contact with DE it tears their exoskeletons and then dries out the oil in their bodies. Use food-grade DE and sprinkle a layer in all areas of your car that may be affected. Let it sit for about 2 days and then vacuum up all areas in which it was applied. If your infestation is very bad you may need to reapply it after a couple of days to ensure the adult fleas die and it kills the newly hatched fleas that were in eggs or larvae stages when you first disinfected.
Can I Put Boric Acid In My Car?
Boric acid acts as a poison when fleas ingest it and can also damage the flea’s exoskeletons. Equally, boric acid can kill off flea larvae that ingest it. However, using boric acid by itself could cause problems.
Boric acid should not be ingested by pets or humans, so be very careful and use just a small amount in your car. I’d advise that you only sprinkle boric acid lightly over the affected surfaces in your car, and try to avoid it getting on anything but the soft furnishings. It is important to leave the boric acid there for at least 2 days, and then scrub and vacuum the areas with which the boric acid was in contact.
Boric acid is best used as a flea preventative along with other methods. Used alone it is sometimes not completely effective and you could miss spots in your car where fleas reside.
My method would be to first use boric acid, then steam, then clean and wash your car. It is extremely important to make sure no boric acid residue remains as it could harm pets or other humans that ride in your car.
Keep vigilant, if any pets have ridden in your car and then show symptoms such as vomiting or diarrhea, contact your vet immediately.
Thanks for sticking with us through this post on how to spot and prevent a flea infestation. I know it can be daunting but hopefully armed with this information you feel better equipped to deal with these pesky critters.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. And before I go, here are some of my favorite products for dealing with fleas.
Safe travels and happy hunting!