Car Care

How To Get Rid Of Ants In Car? [From Carpet, Upholstery, And Door Frame]

Whether you are headed to a concert, the state fair or to float the river with the family on a hot Summer day, parking in a grassy field may seem like a harmless decision until you position your vehicle in the wrong spot.

For the poor, unsuspecting individuals (like myself) who accidentally park on an ant mound, you certainly will not be singing “hurrah, hurrah” when you return to your car. Thankfully, there are some simple solutions on how to get rid of ants in your car!

Removing ants from your vehicle is a simple combination of vacuuming out the debris and ants from the floorboards, seats, and compartments, followed by setting out traps. The final step is applying a combination of essential oils, dish soap, and white vinegar to the various parts of your car to help drive away any remaining unwanted guests.

It is important to address this issue as quickly as possible to avoid them from setting up a nest and causing potential damage to your vehicle.

Seven Simple Steps For Removing Ants From Your Car

Step #1 – Move The Vehicle

Removing your car from the source of the ants is the first step in stopping the spread of these creepy crawly creatures. However, this move is highly dependent on the number of ants that have set up camp within your vehicle. 

As someone who has experienced this unfortunate occurrence firsthand, I can tell you that I skipped this initial step and called for help because there were thousands of these little arthropods swarming all over my seats. There was no way I was hopping in with them nor was I putting my child in the car!

If you only notice a few hitchhikers, relocate the vehicle as quickly as you can to avoid being bitten. Conversely, if you land in my shoes and want to avoid hundreds of bites, skip this step for now. Moreover, if you have little ones in tow with you, it is best to call for alternate transportation since a few bites can have a much bigger impact on a child than an adult. 

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Step #2 – Remove Ants From The Carpet, Upholstery, And Door Frame

It is time to reprioritize your to-do list and move deep cleaning your car up to the top! The main item all ants are in search of is food. Vacuuming is the ideal way of removing ants from carpet and upholstery. Thus, remove all trash and then start vacuuming up the crumbs, debris, and any ants that may crawl your way. 

For those individuals who do not want to ruin their upright vacuum, consider taking rideshare over to Walmart and grabbing an affordable, handheld vacuum. This may require you to empty the debris bin a bit more often. However, if you don’t have the desire to keep the item after this specific use, it is worth thirty bucks!

Additionally, address any stains or spots in the upholstery and carpet. If you have kids, it is likely that their sugary snacks and drinks have landed in places that they do not belong and this can keep the ants from vacating the premises. 

Finally, check all of the available compartments in your car. This includes your glove box, the center console, all cupholders, the rear seat fold-down armrest, your child’s car seat, and of course, the trunk. Assess under the seats and all crevices along with them. Vacuum and wipe down these areas. 

PRO TIP: Rubber kitchen gloves are another item you will want to pick up when you are at the store. These will protect you from being bitten while you get rid of the ants from your car. 

Step #3 – Set Up Traps

Once you have forcefully removed as many ants as you can see, head on over to the local hardware store and pick up a handful of ant bait stations. Place these throughout your car. Then leave them for at least 24 hours to allow the remaining ants to meander into your traps. 

Remember that many of these traps do have poison built into their design so make sure to keep your kids and pets away from these items. If your kids tend to wander, consider locking the doors to the car until the issue is remedied.

Step #4 – Apply Natural Remedies To Car Components

Remedy #1: Dish Soap

There are a handful of options that you can utilize to help repel the surviving invaders! Best of all, these options are kid and pet-friendly once they dry. The first solution is your old reliable dish soap. The power of Dawn is not just for saving ducks — it also kills ants!

Mix a few tablespoons of your preferred dish soap with two cups of water and add in three tablespoons of salt. Pour this concoction into a spray bottle and apply it to the floorboards and seats of the car. 

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IMPORTANT NOTE: While this mixture is harmless to people and pets, it is always best to do a spot test on your car’s upholstery to make sure that it does not stain your seats. 

Remedy #2: Essential Oils

For the parent who wants a minimal mess, essential oils are your best bet. These will also leave a lingering smell, so make sure that you like the scent before applying the solution. 

The top essential oils for keeping ants at bay are peppermint, tea tree, neem, orange, clove, and lemon eucalyptus. Just choose your tool of choice and mix 10 to 15 drops with one-quarter of a cup of water. You can add a dash of dish soap to add an extermination factor to the spray! Apply to the seats and allow them to dry.

If you want to double down on your repelling factor, consider mixing oils together. Tea tree oil, peppermint, and your choice of citrus oil are a recommended combinations. 

Remedy #3: Spices

This is likely the best option for the folks who want to get rid of the ants from their car, without risking the integrity of their upholstery. Cinnamon, black pepper, and cayenne pepper are all scents that are hated by ants. 

Just sprinkle your spice of choice throughout the car and wait a few days for it to work its magic! This is another perfectly safe option for kids and pets, even if it does land in their mouths. Finally, when you are done, just vacuum up the seasonings. 

Step #5 – Get Ants Out Of Your Air Conditioning Vents

Another unfortunate part of an ant infestation is that, unlike many other pests, they can fit virtually anywhere. Therefore, it is important to inspect the air conditioning space for any unwanted tenants.

Once you have vacuumed out any visible ants, replace the air filter within the cabin of the vehicle. Finally, run your air conditioning on the highest setting for an hour or two to force any stubborn ants out of the space. 

Step #6 – Treat Your Wheels

The point of entry for these creatures is the component of your car that is in contact with the ground — your tires. Therefore, if you make the entrance unappealing, you can quickly deter any added guests from letting themselves inside. 

This can be accomplished with either a mixture of white vinegar, water, and dish soap or dish soap and window cleaner. Spray your mixture on the wheels and allow it to dry! For the older kids who want to help, this is an easy project that is safe on the skin. 

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Additionally, both of these mixtures will not only repel the ants, but the dish soap actually breaks apart their exoskeleton. Furthermore, they also work to eliminate the pheromones that the previous ants left behind. This prevents other ants from smelling out where to go from their original nest. 

Step #7 – Get Ants Out Of Your Engine

The final step is to confirm whether or not the ants have set up a nest under the hood. If this is the case, grab some heavy-duty gloves and a sturdy trash bag. Carefully remove the nest, secure it in the bag and immediately seal and discard the unwanted pests in a location far away from your vehicle and home. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Can I use a bug bomb to get rid of ants in my car?

A bug bomb is a very effective method of eradication. However, it is important to remember that most foggers are created to disperse throughout much larger spaces. This option will deposit poison throughout the cabin of the car.

Therefore, dangerous chemicals will land on surfaces that will be touched by kids and pets. As we all know, little hands most often land in little mouths. 

Moreover, the poison can easily enter the ventilation system. Thus, we do not recommend this as a safe option for ant removal. If the problem is too big for you to bear, consider contacting a professional exterminator in your area for some additional assistance. 

What is attracting ants to my car?

The two main things that every creature on earth needs to survive are food and shelter. It is likely that if food is not the culprit, these pests are seeking out a new home.

Cars are an ideal place to set up camp because of their waterproof qualities. If you park in the wrong spot and leave the vehicle long enough, it doesn’t take long for the ants to migrate into your car. 

What this means is that the top three methods of prevention are to watch where you park, spray for pests on your property, and to keep your car clean.

Final Verdict

There is something daunting about an ant infestation, especially when it occurs in your vehicle. While you may be hoping that the movement on your seats and floorboards is a mirage, this reality happens more often than you think. 

If you discover that you are a victim of this unfortunate occurrence, it is imperative that you act immediately. These vermin may seem small, but they can do irreparable damage to the electrical system of your vehicle.

Complete removal will take time and patience. Thankfully, by using these recommended techniques, you can solve most of your problems within a day or two.

Lastly, if this invasion occurred on your property, take extreme measures to eliminate the source of the issue. Depending on the species of ant, the mounds may be obvious or they could be just emerging from a small hole in the ground.

Ortho Home Defense and Wondercide are fantastic, pet and child-safe options for those who decide to DIY their pest problems. 

Welcome to my car seat blog! As a mom of 3, I put together with other hard-working moms a highly informative one-stop car seat resource, full with many reviews and buyer guides. I hope you find it invaluable. Thank you for trusting me & my team! - Keren