Getting Rid of Car Roaches

  • Written By: Phil Hawes
  • Time to read: 15 min.

If you’ve found this article it’s likely because you’ve just found something nasty in your car, a cockroach. Roaches are one of the most commonly found pests in cars, and they can be a real pain to get rid of.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know about getting rid of car roaches, including how they got there in the first place, how to quickly get rid of them, and how to stop them from coming back.

Why Do I Keep Finding Roaches in My Car?

Why Do I Keep Finding Roaches in My Car

Let’s face it, finding roaches in your car is just disgusting no matter who you are. For the most part, these pests are the last thing you are worried about as a car owner. However, once they have settled in, the infestation will quickly become a top priority.

These insects carry the most disgusting germs and bacteria and they go from trash to bathrooms to sewers. That’s why it’s important to get rid of them as soon as possible. But before we get into that, let’s answer the question: how did they get there in the first place?

There are a few ways that roaches can end up in your vehicle, but it’s either through their own efforts or with help from humans. For example, if you’ve been driving around with food in your car, chances are that at some point a roach has hitched a ride on your food and ended up in your car. This is especially true if the foodstuff, say tins or homegrown veggies, have been stored in the garage or somewhere that roaches have easy access to.

Another way they can get into your car is by hiding in objects that are brought into the car. For example, if you’ve been moving house and have had boxes in the car, it’s possible that a roach has climbed into one of these and ended up in your vehicle that way.

Also, roaches can end up in your car by taking shelter from the cold weather. If there are any cracks or crevices in your car that they can squeeze into, chances are they will. This is especially common in older cars.

It’s also important to remember that cockroaches are very common across the globe, so even if you live in a clean and tidy area, there’s still a chance that one of these insects could end up in your car.

Ultimately, the roaches that aren’t brought into your car against their will only turn up there for one reason: food.

For car owners who have kids, a piece of food dropped inside the car may speed up the problem of roach infestation. But it’s not only children who snack in cars; we’ve all been there. Dropping a chip under the passenger seat or spilling some coffee on the floor mats are all examples of food that can attract roaches to your car.

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How Bad is the Roach Problem?

Most people might belittle a roach infestation in a car. It can’t be that bad, can it?

Well, in fact, it can be pretty bad. These pests have always been associated with nasty bacteria and diseases. When you come into close contact with a cockroach you risk contracting the following diseases:

  • Campylobacteriosis
  • Cholera 
  • Dysentery 
  • Gastroenteritis 
  • Giardia 
  • Leprosy
  • Listeriosis  
  • Salmonellosis 
  • Typhoid Fever 

Now, I’m not going to pretend I know what all of them are, but they sound scary enough, right?

In addition to the risk of contracting something quite unpleasant from a cockroach, there is another danger to consider.

There is a real driving safety risk associated with having roaches in your car. In 2018, a 61-year-old Singaporean woman lost control of her car and crashed when she suddenly saw a cockroach. The woman, who was driving near a bridge at the time, spotted the roach on her dashboard and was startled. She ended up colliding with the bridge itself.

Fortunately, she escaped with only minor injuries but was taken to hospital. But it could have been much worse.

How to Get Rid of Roaches in Car

When it comes to ridding your vehicle of these unwanted pests, the approach is much the same as in a house. You will need to remove potential roach hiding spots, food sources, and water sources. In addition, you can use baits and traps specifically designed for cockroaches.

Remove all potential roach hiding spots from your car. This means going through your vehicle and removing any clutter that may be present. This includes old newspapers, magazines, fast food wrappers, empty drink containers, and anything else that might give roaches a place to hide.

Once they have no easy places to hide (because they don’t like humans that much) you next want to target their next generation. By this, I mean cockroach eggs. Cockroaches lay their eggs in egg sacs which are usually brown or black in color. These egg sacs can be found sticking to the underside of furniture or in small crevices. If you find one, carefully remove it and dispose of it.

The easiest way to achieve this is to get your car detailed. This will remove all the eggs from the nooks and crannies where roaches like to hide and lay their eggs.

Now that you’ve removed all of the hiding places and the new generation, it’s time to target the cockroaches’ food source. Roaches are scavengers and will eat just about anything. This means that you need to clean your car thoroughly and remove any food crumbs or spills that may have occurred. Once again, the best way to achieve this is to get your car detailed.

But, here’s the most important thing, once you do have a food-free car you need to keep it that way. That means no more eating in your car and no more leaving food wrappers or empty drink containers in your car.

Now that you’ve removed their hiding places, future cockroach babies, and their food source, now it’s time to remove their water source. Just like with food, roaches will drink just about anything. So, you need to make sure that there is no standing water in your car. This means no leaky hoses, no wet floor mats, and no condensation on your windows.

Once you’ve removed their water source, you can now use baits and traps to catch the remaining roaches. There are a variety of different products on the market that you can use. Just be sure to follow the directions on the package.

Here are some recommended cockroach traps you can buy from your local hardware store, or directly to your door through

How to Get Roaches out of Cars Overnight

There are a few ways I’ve tried that seem to vacate any cockroach population pretty quickly from a vehicle. If you understand roach behavior, it’s easy to make a car a very unpleasant environment for them.

In addition to removing their food, water, and shelter within the car you can also change the atmosphere within this ‘habitat’. By this I mean, turn up the air conditioning. Roaches hate cold air and will leave the car if they can’t find a way to escape the chill.

Now, in winter this is really easy to achieve. If you have a garage for your car, just park your car in the garage and open all the windows overnight. This will hopefully drive any cockroaches in your car out as they seek a warmer habitat. You can also try this method in summer by parking your car in the shade and turning on the air conditioning full blast.

If you aren’t in a position to try this, then you can always turn to classic pesticides to help you.

The most common roach killers include boric acid, diatomaceous earth, and borax.

Diatomaceous earth

Diatomaceous earth is actually a naturally occurring substance that is made up of the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic creatures called diatoms. This substance is very abrasive and will kill any cockroaches that come into contact with it.

To use diatomaceous earth, simply sprinkle it around the perimeter of your car and on any suspected cockroach hiding spots. You can also sprinkle it on the floor mats and seats to help keep roaches away.

If you put enough of it down overnight, you will soon see the adult and juvenile population in your car die out. After a few days, you can vacuum up any remaining diatomaceous earth.

Boric acid

Boric acid is a white powder that is derived from boron. This substance is commonly used as an insecticide and will kill roaches that come into contact with it.

To use boric acid, simply sprinkle it around your car and try to get it under your seats, in the glove box, and in any other potential cockroach hiding spots. You can also put it on the floor mats and seats to help keep roaches away.

The use of insecticides is an effective way to reduce the presence of a massive roach infestation. However, it may not get to the root of the infestation. Roaches may return once the insecticide is gone.

So that’s why it’s always important to remove their food, water, and shelter within the car as well. Once you do that, you should be cockroach free in no time!

How Do You Bomb a Car for Roaches

Can You Bug Bomb A Car For Fleas

So far, the methods I’ve spoken about have been fairly tame and won’t really interfere with your use of the car (it might actually make it a cleaner environment).

However, if you want to be more direct about a roach infestation in your car, a bug bomb might be on top of your list.

So firstly, how would a bug bomb or fogger work in your car? Well, it’s pretty simple. You would need to clear out all of your personal belongings from the car so that they don’t pick up any of the insecticides. You would then need to close all of the windows and doors and set off the bug bomb.

The fogger will fill the car with an insecticide that will kill anything that breathes it in, including you. So make sure you follow the instructions on the label to the letter! After the allotted time has passed, you can open up the car and air it out before re-entering.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you, using a pesticide like this is far riskier than using diatomaceous earth or boric acid. But, it should kill any roaches that are present in your car and should stop them from returning. To help you, here are some things to think about:

Set a date on when you will use the roach bomb

I recommend choosing a time where you will not be using your car for at least 3 days maximum. The pesticide is harmful to pets and humans so the pesticide should have gotten out of your vehicle before you use it.

Take off all the things inside your car and clean

This includes foods, child car seats, cushions, and many others. Make sure to clean the child’s car seats and cushions before bringing them back in the car. Everything on the trunk should also be removed. I also recommend vacuuming the creases since this is the area where food usually accumulates.

Place more than one bug bomb

If you want to get this right the first time, then don’t be afraid to use more than one bug bomb. As your seats will stop the flow of the bug bomb, I’d recommend you use at least two; one in the center of the vehicle and another in the trunk.

Set off the one on the trunk first, next on the interiors. If there is someone to help you, then you can synchronize your efforts. Make sure to have your car parked in a ventilated space and lock the doors so that no one will be able to use it.

Leave the car unused for the required period

As I mentioned earlier, using a roach bomb requires at least 3 days to ensure that roaches are killed before you may use the car. So, don’t set off a bug bomb if this is your only car and you might need it for some sort of emergency. Plan carefully!

Let the bad air out

Once the process has been finished, opening the doors and windows for at least 4 hours will let the remaining pesticides out. So, make sure that you start off in a place where you can either leave the car unattended or has some shelter from the sun and rain.


A cleanser and a disinfectant may be used on cleaning the car interiors to remove pesticides that have stuck to the interior. Seats should also be vacuumed to remove residues. I recommend bringing the car to an upholstery cleaner for thorough cleaning and sanitizing.

Are Bug Bombs really that effective against cockroaches?

For me, using a roach bomb is not as effective as the other methods that I mentioned earlier. Also, its process takes too much time from setting the bomb up to the final cleaning process.

In addition. the pesticide used in the bug bombs is extremely toxic but sometimes it has little effectiveness in killing the roaches. As most foggers won’t penetrate every nook and cranny of your car, these insects will just go into the deeper parts of your car’s interior to avoid the fog.

Another disadvantage of using roach bombs is that interiors may have chemical reactions to these pesticides which may result in discoloration and stains.

So, feel free to attempt this method, but I recommend you to use other methods that I discussed in this guide.

How Do I Get Rid of Roaches in My Car Naturally?

How Do I Get Rid of Roaches in My Car Naturally

If you do not want to use chemicals to kill the roaches inside your car, you can use natural methods as an alternative process. Getting rid of roaches might be quite challenging in general, but getting them out naturally is just as simple and effective as using insecticides.

As we’ve already covered in this article, the first step is to give your car a good cleaning. This will help you get rid of roaches by removing their food and water sources.

Next, you want to use natural remedies to make the car so inhospitable that cockroaches will just pack up and leave.

I’ve found that by far the easiest way to do this is to use scent. Cockroaches may love food in many forms but there are certain scents they detest.

Use the following in your car to deter them:

  1. Minty scents such as Peppermint oil or corn mint
  2. fresh Pine
  3. Thyme
  4. Citronella
  5. Basil
  6. Citrus fruits

Luckily, all of these things smell great to us so your car will not only be roach-free but also have a pleasant aroma.

When using essential oils, just dilute them in water and add them to a spray bottle. You can then mist the car’s interior with the mixture, being careful not to oversaturate any fabrics.

If you don’t have any essential oils to hand, try using citrus fruits. Juice them up in the water and add them to a spritz bottle. You can use this in the same way as you would the essential oils. Once you’ve used one or more of these methods, the roaches will start to leave.

How Long Does It Take to Get Roaches Out of a Car?

Although cockroaches are one of the most resilient pests on earth, they can’t withstand harsh conditions for very long. If you make your car as inhospitable as possible, it will start to leave within a few days.

Some roaches might hang on for a little longer but eventually, they will all be gone. Once they’ve left, it’s important to make sure they don’t come back.

For me when I had this problem, it didn’t take more than a few hours to clean up my car and get rid of the roaches. After going to one of those self-service car cleaning centers I just had to lay down my insecticides, wait a few days, and then vacuum everything up.

The process was very straightforward and I have not seen a roach in my car since.

To make sure they don’t come back, it’s important to regularly clean your car and keep it free of food and water sources. If you do this, you should never have to deal with cockroaches in your car again.

How to Prevent Roaches in Infesting a Car

How to Prevent Roaches in Infesting a Car

As you have finished treatments and eliminated the roaches successfully, it is now time to prevent them from coming back. Below is a list of how you can prevent these roaches from infesting your car again:

Avoid eating in your car.

The most important rule is NO FOOD in the car. It’s really that simple. If you cannot impose this rule for some reason, make sure to clean up as soon as you finish and throw out the trash.

Also, do not keep any food in your car overnight. Make sure you clean up any spills as soon as they happen.

Clean your car weekly

I know it’s a bit of a chore, but if you can vacuum your car at least once a week you will significantly reduce the chances of roaches taking up residence. if it’s not easy for you to do this because your household vacuum cleaner is too big or you don’t have time, you can take it to a professional car cleaning service.

You can instead invest in a dedicated car vacuum which is small and easier to use.

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Close any possible entry points.

Blocking their primary entry points will make sure that no insect will get inside your car again. Closing the windows, vents, and doors properly as you park your car in your garage will prevent them from entering. It is also important not to park near drainages, sewers, and garbage bins since these places are the main breeding grounds of the cockroaches.

Use insecticides when needed.

It can be a risky instant solution, but this is one of the most effective ways of getting rid of roaches very quickly.

Keeping your car clean and free from the stuff that these roaches like will most likely prevent them from coming back. Once you spot a roach, it is important to get rid of them immediately before they multiply and make your car their breeding ground once again.

Can Roaches Live in a Hot Car?

We all know those terrible news stories about dogs being locked in hot cars during summer. But what about cockroaches? Can they survive in a hot car?

Generally speaking, a cockroach is not going to die just by being in a hot car. However, they may be driven out by extreme heat at the height of summer. Frankly, there are far more effective methods of pest control than this.

The majority of roaches breed in dark and warm places. Car interiors have the same characteristics as where the roaches would like to live. They can live and multiply in both hot and cold cars.

Depending on the climate, roaches cannot live in areas with temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit. They will just hide in places where it does not reach the said temperature. In general, roaches become more active during warmer seasons since they look for water resources and cooler temperatures.

If you have an infestation on your car, you can use the warm weather as an advantage in eliminating these insects. They may also live in cars under cold temperatures, but it can also kill them.

Once the temperature hits below freezing point, they are most likely to die. They tend to hibernate during cold months. However, the temperature inside your car will not reach the freezing point so the roaches may live and just hide in a warmer area inside your car.

Can I Spray Insecticide in My Car?

It’s perfectly safe to use an insecticide spray inside a car when using the correct formula and by following the instructions provided. It’s advisable to allow your car to ventilate for a few hours after using such a product though.

Luckily we live in a time where there are plenty of specially formulated insecticides that are safe to use in a confined space such as a car. As I said, just be sure to follow the instructions on the can and you should have no problems.

I would recommend using a gel formula rather than a spray as this will give you more control over where the insecticide is applied.

One final word of caution – make sure you don’t use an insecticide that is designed for outdoor use only. These products usually contain much higher levels of poison and can be dangerous to use indoors.

Final thoughts

As we’ve seen in this article, having cockroaches in your car is a common but disgusting occurrence. By taking some simple steps though you can get rid of them and prevent them from returning.


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