​​Cockroaches in the Car

  • Written By Dan Edwards on August 10, 2018
    Last Updated: November 25, 2020

Cockroaches can live virtually anywhere. The only things they need are food, water, and shelter. A dirty car can make the perfect hiding place for these insects. We often leave food wrappers, crumbs, sodas or other edible items in our cars. This makes them a haven for roaches.

Can Cockroaches Live in Your Car?

Roaches also love to settle down in small, dark locations, and cars have quite a few of these. We rarely touch the areas under the seats, which means the pests can hide there completely undisturbed.

Finding a roach in your car is unpleasant. After all, they scare most people out in the open. Seeing one crawling around in your vehicle while you’re driving can be a hazard. In Singapore, a woman reportedly lost control and crashed her car, due to spotting a roach while driving.

We often associate cockroaches with filth, still, just because you see one in your car, it doesn’t mean it’s dirty. During the cold months of winter, a warm car makes the perfect place for a roach family to settle down.

Not Only a Driving Hazard

Cockroaches in your car are not only a driving hazard, but also a health hazard. Roaches often come from sewers, where they pick up bacteria and parasites, with the tiny spines on their legs. These bugs can carry over 30 bacteria types and diseases, such as cholera and salmonella.

Cockroaches defecate a lot. Having a nest in your car, unfortunately, means you are likely to find a significant amount of poop. Cockroach droppings mostly look like ground coffee, but larger roaches will produce feces similar to that of rodents.

Roach droppings have a distinct musty odor, which can be very unpleasant. This odor can also trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Having a large amount of fecal matter in an enclosed space, such as a car, will make the scent more potent.

Signs of an Infestation in Your Car

Cockroaches are nocturnal, therefore, they spend most of the day hiding away in their dark nests. As the sun sets and darkness falls, the roaches will come out.

When there is an infestation, however, the roaches tend to be active at all hours. This is due to the fact that there are more bugs, meaning the food sources will be lower. Many cockroaches, especially the smaller ones, will choose to look for food during the day.

cockroach in car

Spotting roaches out in the open might indicate an infestation. This is also down to the fact that they spend more time out of the nest due to overcrowding. There are also a selection of bugs that can closely resemble common cockroaches.

How Do Roaches Get in Cars

Cockroaches get in cars the same way as they get in houses. They are attracted by potential food sources, shelter, and a secure place to lay their eggs. Roaches will feed on anything from crumbs to paper, even fingernails and dead skin tissue. Having any food debris in your car is sure to attract a few roaches.

The thing about these insects is that they are great at hitchhiking. They will hide inside anything from grocery bags to cartons, even used appliances. The roaches might be hiding inside any object that we put into our cars. Once there, the bugs will crawl out and find a good spot to settle down.

Leaving a window open during the night can be a critical mistake. This will create an open invitation for any roach looking for shelter. Remember, most of these creatures are excellent climbers, some are even brilliant flyers.

How to Get Cockroaches out of Your Car

When you spot a roach in your car, it‘s time to take immediate action. Killing it or carefully guiding it out of the window is not going to help if there are more. Here are a few ways to get roaches out of your car, and how to prevent them from coming back.

Clean Your Car

This might be obvious, but you will be surprised at how much it will help. Decluttering your car can make it difficult for the roaches to stay. Any item that doesn’t belong in the vehicle should be removed.

Cleaning out your car regularly and thoroughly using a vacuum will get rid of any food debris. Vacuuming will also get rid of eggs. Remember to clean under the seats as well as on the surface. Wiping surfaces using a good disinfectant spray or soap afterward will make it unpleasant for any roach to stay around.

Some things need to be stored in the car, these items should always be kept in closed containers. Check any items that you bring into the car, since there might be a roach or two hiding inside.

Place Bait

Cockroaches can be tricky to eliminate, killing the adults is not enough. Roaches reproduce at an insane rate. Some females only have to mate once and then they are set for life—which can last up to a year or more.

The German cockroach can produce more than 400 offspring during its short life. Eliminating the youngsters as well as the adults is the only way to stop an infestation.

I recommend getting your hands on a flowable bait. These are easy to use in small areas. Place the bait underneath the seats, corners of the trunk, and any other places where roaches might be hiding. Gel baits are also excellent, but can soon dry out due to the air conditioning.

You can also make your own baits, using boric acid and sugar rolled into tiny balls. Boric acid is a very effective, natural repellent.

Be careful where you place these baits. Children or young pets should never touch or ingest baits containing chemicals. Even repellents marked as natural should be placed carefully. Some traps can be very successful when used properly.

Insecticides are a quick solution to any insect problem, however, these should be used with precautions inside a car. Never use bombs or foggers while you’re inside the car, they are usually both toxic and highly flammable. If you choose to use any type of pesticide, you should always air out the car once a treatment is completed.

Don’t Bring Food Into the Car

Once the cockroaches have been eliminated, you need to stop a repeat infestation. Prevention is key.

Not having food in the car is the best thing to do. However, that’s sometimes easier said than done. Families with young children often need to have snacks for the kids. This can end up in a mess of crumbs and spills, not to mention all those sticky fingerprints.

Cleaning out the car after each ride is essential. Leaving food overnight is sure to create a bigger problem. Having a removable cover on the seat will help to quickly clear dropped food and crumbs.

Cockroaches love moisture, therefore it is important to clean up any spills immediately. Roaches will even nibble on stains, thus don’t leave that spilled soda or chocolate stain on the seat.