Many people are really scared of bugs of all kinds but cockroaches are universally scary to nearly all people. Cockroaches are associated with dirty homes and cars, but that is not always why they might be present in your vehicle.

In most cases, the best way to get rid of roaches in your car is by using a gel pod delivery system to poison and exterminate the roaches. However, you will want to avoid the use of aerosol spray bombs as they can damage your car’s interior permanently. 

In addition, you must clean thoroughly, pay attention to future behavior, and apply heat to your car. Without those actions, the roaches are very likely to return. 

If you are ready to learn how to get rid of roaches in your car, read on!

Can Roaches Damage My Car?

If you have found cockroaches in your vehicle, you are probably worried about how to get rid of them. No one wants cockroaches to be in their car for any longer than necessary which means that you will want a solution that can be used right away to remove these pests from your car.

People often wonder if cockroaches can cause damage to their cars. Beyond being unappetizing and startling you when they scurry around, they can actually cause some damage to your vehicle. Cockroaches can also cause health risks for you and your passengers in your car.

Cockroaches often move into your car to make a home and lay eggs. They are typically drawn in by food spills that are under the seats or in other locations that are hard to clean. This is why you should not eat in your car unless there is no way to avoid it.

Roaches also bring with them more than 30 different types of bacteria, all of which can harm your health. They are messy bugs that slough their skins on a regular schedule, shed bodily fluids, and leave behind a lot of feces. You do not want your car to become the breeding ground for these pests.

How Did I Get Roaches in my Car?

Roaches often end up in your home or your car because they were brought on a suitcase or another surface from a location that has them. You may have roaches in your local area, but in most cases, they are from more tropical locations and come to other states and locations and have been brought home from vacation with you.

Many people bring them home in shopping bags or they might catch a ride on a suitcase. If you have roaches locally in your area, they can be attracted to your car due to food spills and other debris in your car that make for good nesting locations. If you continue to provide crumbs and food spills to the bugs for food, they will be motivated to stay for the long term.

How to Get Rid of Roaches in your Car

You might think that just cleaning your car will be enough. It can be easy to think that you have only seen one roach, so your car might just need a good detailing to make sure that there is no reason for any other roaches to make your car their home. The trouble with this thinking, however, is that where you see one roach, there are probably many, many more.

To get rid of roaches, you will need to do more than just clean your car. Even with a deep cleaning, you might miss some roaches that are hiding in the nooks and crannies that you cannot reach with normal cleaning processes. A deep cleaning is only the first step to making sure that your car does not stay the home for cockroaches making a family.

Step 1: Remove the Seats

Remove the seats from your car and clean thoroughly under them. You will want to be sure that you also vacuum the seats thoroughly. If you think that there might be food spills in the cracks of the seat, you should see if you can pressure wash or steam clean the seats as well.

This can additionally be a really good chance to remove stains that have taken up residence under your seats with a carpet cleaner. The other benefit to cleaning the carpets beneath the seats is that you will remove sticky debris that can lead to future crumbs and messes that will draw roaches back in.

Getting rid of sticky messes can be the single biggest factor in eradicating roaches who have moved in due to food debris in your car. This might mean that you will need to deep clean in the cracks of seats and other locations that you think that soda or something else sticky could have been spilled. Places, where your child might have spilled liquid messes, should be areas of intense focus to be sure that you do not have any possible collections of food messes hiding that will keep the roaches around.

Step 2: Clean the Floors

Remove floor mats and clean them with hot water and a brush. You can even use a cleaner that is meant to disinfect and deep clean them. Dry them in the sun so that the heat discourages water from staying on the mats and leading to mold or mildew in your car.

Clean the carpets with a carpet cleaner or steam cleaner. These can be rented if you do not own one.  Make sure that you allow the carpets to dry all the way before putting back the floor mats. You do not want to trap moisture in your car so that you do not have issues later due to mold or mildew.

Step 3: Clean the Trunk

Trunks can be a great place to stash messes by accident. You carry a lot of things in your trunk that can spill and lead to the perfect haven for roaches. This is particularly true if you have spilled food in your trunk or if you have carried a suitcase in your trunk that might have had roaches on it.

Make sure that you steam clean carpets in the trunk and clean a trunk mat in the same way that you cleaned the floor mats from the rest of the car. Make sure that you use a light so that you can see well into the corners and nooks and crannies of the trunk. By the way, if you’re ever in a situation where you need to open the car hood without a lever, check out our article on ‘How to Open Car Hood Without Lever’.

Step 4: Vacuum Everything

Take the brush attachment on a shop vac and vacuum all the dash surfaces as well as the door pockets and other locations that might be holding food debris as well as dirt and substances that could make a home for roaches.

This is a good time to clean the windows and the inside of the windshield as well. You should also remove all of the items in storage compartments and vacuum out these spaces. It is a good idea to leave anything that you do not need out of the car for a while until you are sure the roaches are gone for good.

Step 5: Apply Heat

If it starting to get cold out, you will want to apply some heat to the areas that roaches might be hanging out. You can put a space heater in your car and run it for a few hours if there is a safe way to do this without the cord getting wet. The other option is to take a hairdryer out to your car and blow it into the nooks and crannies of the gaps between door panels and near the underside of the dash for example.

Heat is not the friend of roaches, and you will scare them out or kill them by applying heat for an extended period of time to the interior of your car. This is why the space heater is a very effective way to make sure that your roach problem is gone for good.

Step 6: Install Gel Bait Pods

Roaches can be killed in a few different ways. You can drop these little bait traps into compartments, corners, and small and dark spaces that will be likely to be the homes for roaches. This is a better choice than the spray-type bomb canisters that will be likely to stain the interior of your car and leave a film of chemicals all over every surface.

Gel pods are often the best choice to make for your pest-killing plan. Make sure that you keep your car very clean and vacuum up dead bugs and other debris that is generated over the course of the gel bait treatment process.

Step 7: Borax or Diatomaceous Earth

These are alternate natural ways to kill roaches if you do not want to have the gel pods in your car. These are both powdered agents and can be sprinkled onto the carpets and seats. The trouble with these bug-killing agents is that you will need to vacuum them up frequently and re-apply them.

These substances are safe for pets and will not harm kids or other people who are riding in your car with you. Be sure that you do not sprinkle them so liberally on surfaces that they make a big mess. You just need a light dusting.

How to Prevent Roaches

If you have treated for roaches and do not want to have to deal with them ever again, you need to know how to keep them away for good. It is quite a process to clean your car to remove roaches and you do not want to ruin all of your hard work by going right back to problematic behaviors that led to the original infestations.

Even if your roach problem was caused by a bug that rode home with you from a tropical vacation, you still do not want to make mistakes that make your car a good home for any roaches.

Close the Windows

Never leave your car windows open, particularly if you live in an area that has cockroaches as a native bug. The heat trapped inside the car will be unfriendly to them during the summer and they will be less likely to fly in if the windows are never left open. This is particularly true if you live near a dump or in a wooded area.

Check Yard Sale Items

If you buy items at a yard sale or put something that has been outdoors in your car, you should always look at the item first carefully to make sure that you do not see any roaches on the item. This is a prime way that people get bed bugs and roaches in their cars and houses. Make sure that you are thorough in your check of this item well before you put it into your car.

Don’t Eat in Your Car

The best defense against roaches is not to eat in your car ever. Crumbs and other kinds of food debris is the primary attraction to roaches who decide to live in your car. Make sure that once you have gotten rid of the roaches in your car, that you do not invite them in again with more food debris.

Clean on a Schedule

Having a set cleaning schedule for your car can be a big help to make sure that you are aware of spills and messes that you did not know have taken place in your car. You want to be aware of any mess in your car that might lead to a roach infestation. Having a set day for cleaning your car each week or every other week can help keep it clean and bug free. By the way, if you’re wondering how to tell if your car has ABS, check out our article on ‘How To Tell If My Car Has ABS [4 Easy Ways]’ for some helpful tips.

Getting Rid of Roaches Doesn’t Have to be a Struggle

The biggest key to removing roaches from your car is to make sure that you keep a clean car and that you are vigilant if you see a single roach.

You should never assume that there is just one roach in your car and you will need to follow all of the steps on this list to be sure that you have gotten rid of the roaches for good. The best defense against roaches is to make a concerted attack on them as soon as possible.

Getting rid of the roaches in your car is just as important as getting rid of them if you see them in your home. Roaches can be tough to eradicate without the use of this list of effective cleaning and termination tips and tricks. Additionally, by maintaining a clean car, even a minivan can exude a sense of coolness.


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

Keren Simanova

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