How To Get Rid of Bed Bugs in Car: Effective Methods

Do bed bugs live in cars? These creatures are, by nature, travelers and can move from hotels, cinemas, and other homes, attaching themselves to a person’s clothing and then settling in their vehicle or bedroom. Although the likelihood of bed bugs in cars is low, it does exist.

These insects do not transmit diseases, but their bites can lead to itching and allergic reactions, and the very fact of infestation is unpleasant. This article contains information on how to identify the infestation, what preventive measures are needed to avoid it, and how to get rid of bed bugs in a car.

Treating Car for Bed Bugs
  1. Get rid of the garbage and unnecessary things in the cabin.
  2. Vacuum all seats, crevices, and floors.
  3. Wash the seat covers and floor mats. Then dry them in the sun.
  4. Use a steam cleaner to kill all adult insects and their eggs. Steam the interior 2–3 times.

Signs of Bed Bugs in Car

Can you get bed bugs in your car? Yes, you can. In order to confirm an infestation, a thorough inspection for the presence of these pests is necessary. Bed bugs in vehicles hide just like they do in your bedroom and finding the pest themselves can be tricky. But you can see clear signs of their activity.

Unusual smell

If an infestation is severe enough, you can smell a musty odor in your car. Pay attention to whether other items in the cabin can emit such a smell so as not to draw the wrong conclusions. However, this sign is always accompanied by others.

Red and brown spots

Red, brown, and even black spots and small dots in the car’s interior are signs that bed bugs live in it. Such traces can be insect feces, as well as the result of accidentally crushing a pest.

Shells

These wingless insects molt, and you can spot their shells. They look the same as adult bed bugs: about 5 mm long, almond-shaped, and reddish brown. The only difference is that the shells are translucent.

Eggs

During a thorough inspection of your vehicle, you may find clusters of eggs from these pests. They are pearl white and about 1 mm long.

Inspection tips

Carefully inspect the seats, as well as any cracks where insects can hide and lay their eggs. Raise the floor mats. You can use double-sided sticky tape: stick a few pieces all over the car, and if your vehicle is infected, live individuals will fall into this trap.

How Long Can Bed Bugs Live in Vehicles?

These pests can live quite a long time in your car (10–11 months) at a comfortable temperature: between 46 and 113 degrees Fahrenheit. Although bed bugs can live for a long time without food, they will seek out a new home if you rarely use your car.

Can bed bugs live in a car in winter? If your area has severe enough winters and temperatures drop below 46° F, these insects will not be able to live in the cabin for long. In general, they don’t like frequent and extreme temperature fluctuations and will seek a comfortable climate like your home or die from the heat or cold.

How To Kill Bed Bugs in a Car: Step-by-Step Guide

Getting rid of bed bugs in car seats and other parts of the cabin can be tricky. For best results, follow these step-by-step instructions.

1. Decluttering

Remove all unnecessary items from inside the car, including clothing, food wrappers, and bags. Clutter not only makes it harder to spot an infestation but also minimizes the effectiveness of the next steps to get rid of pests, as they have more places to hide. Before taking things into the house, carefully inspect and wash them at the maximum allowable temperature.

2. Vacuum

Use a sufficiently powerful vacuum cleaner to clean all surfaces and crevices in your car. Don’t forget to take out the floor mats and vacuum the hard-to-reach places. It is significant to note that this is a good method for a small infestation that kills a lot of pests.

Dry Cleaning of Car Interior with Vacuum Cleaner

3. Washing floor mats and seat covers

Remove all mats and seat covers and wash them thoroughly. It is recommended that the water temperature be hot enough (as high as possible so as not to damage the material). After washing, leave the floor mats and covers in the sun. The covers can be dried using a tumble dryer on high heat.

Cleaning leather car seats

4. Killing bed bugs with heat in a car

Leaving your car in the sun on a hot day for a long time may be a good idea to kill a lot of pests. But some of them can hide under the seats, where the temperature is not so high. Therefore, the best option would be to use a powerful steam cleaner.

Treat the entire interior 2–3 times, not forgetting about cracks and crevices. 100% egg and adult mortality is achieved when exposed to 118° F (for 90 minutes), while steam is obtained at 212° F.

5. Other methods

Combine these methods with the ones above to get rid of pesky insects faster.

  • Buy glue traps and place them in your car. They will not get rid of all insects and their eggs, but they will help catch a lot of individuals.
  • Sprinkle diatomaceous earth or silica gel in the salon and leave for a few days. Then vacuum the cabin.
  • Call the professionals to treat the salon with pesticides. This is the best option for a serious infestation, but do not use pesticides on your own as they harm humans and animals.

Preventing Bed Bugs in Your Car

Here is a list of preventive measures against infestation with bed bugs:

  • Do not clutter up the interior of the car so as not to create comfortable conditions for pests;
  • Vacuum regularly and wash the mats and covers;
  • Always inspect used furniture that you want to put in the car;
  • Carry clothes in plastic bags;
  • Treat the cabin with diatomaceous earth from time to time.

FAQ on Bed Bugs Control

You need to develop a smart strategy to get rid of these pests, as they quickly infest new areas.

Can bed bugs survive in a car?

If the temperature is comfortable for them (between 46 and 113° F), and you use your car at least a few times a week, these insects will be able to live in the cabin for a long time. This period can be up to 11 months.

How do you get rid of bed bugs in your car?

It all depends on the level of bed bug infestation. You can thoroughly clean your interior by throwing out all the debris, vacuuming, and then steaming it several times. If the infestation is too extensive, you will need the help of professionals.

Little Pests Can Be a Big Problem

Despite popular belief, bed bugs are not just a problem in dirty and poor places. These small pests travel a lot and live wherever there are people, and even in their cars. They are small, multiply quickly and hide well.

But knowing their weaknesses, you can now develop an effective plan for getting rid of insects. This can be challenging if the infestation is too severe. The methods described above are most effective if you use several of them at the same time.

Do you deal with getting rid of pests yourself or immediately call the professionals?

Also read:

References

  • Bed bugs and possible transmission of human pathogens: a systematic review: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/ PMC5007277/#!po=10.5769
  • Bed bugs can survive freezing temperatures, but cold can still kill them: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12 /131208133632.htm
  • Bed Bug Myths: https://www.epa.gov/bedbugs/bed-bug-myths
  • Diatomaceous Earth: http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/degen.html

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Nicholas Martin

Nicholas Martin

I am Nicholas Martin, and I am an entomologist. I combine the insect survey work with the consultation for private pest control agencies. My narrow specializations are both urban pests and agricultural pests. I studied their control over the previous 25 years. More about Nick

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