bed bugs in car

Are Bed Bugs in Your Car?

NUVAN kills eggs and bed bugs in your car!

Having bed bugs in your car makes a bad situation worse, but it happens all the time. They must be eliminated so you don’t re-infest your home or workplace.

Treating cars used to be tricky because there are so many hiding places for bed bugs. Even the seams in the dashboard are big enough for bed bugs to climb in and out of. Whatever you treat it with must penetrate the most remote locations in the car.

Sometime around 2010 the NUVAN ProStrips changed all that and made killing bed bugs in your car simple and straightforward.

Do you need to find bed bugs in your car before you treat it? 

In your car, you can go directly to treatment. In your home, you need to find them before treatment due to the cost and preparation for bed bug treatment. But your car is simple to treat now, thanks to NUVAN.

NUVAN is the closest thing to a bed bug fogger you will find and it works! Treating bed bugs in your car is very affordable and easy using NUVAN Pro-strips. 

You could place traps in your car that act as lures but the experts at Bed Bug Supply say, you can’t really use your car with active traps in them, so they suggest jumping ahead and putting a NUVAN NO-PEST STRIP in your car instead.

How to get bed bugs out of car seats, booster chairs and strollers?

baby car seat infested with bed bugs

Car seats and booster seats can remain in the car during treatment. While you do need to leave your car closed and unused for 2-3 weeks while the strip kills hatching bed bug eggs, you can put other hard to treat items inside the car including baby strollers and high-chairs.

Having bed bugs in your stroller, car seat and high chair is a pain, but the NUVAN ProStrip solves that problem easily. Just put other hard to treat items in the vehicle during treatment and problem solved! No more bed bugs in those items.

If you have other hard to treat items like notebooks, Albums, CD’s, shoes, some electronics (check the NUVAN LABEL) and backpacks, they can go in the car with before you activate the strip. * Photo by Erik Mclean on Unsplash

During this same period you should plan on getting your rooms treated for bed bugs so that when you empty your car, your home is close to bed bug free. More on how to treat baby toys and furniture here!

Nuvan ProStrips for your infested car, trailer or motor home

bed bug pest strip for cars

You can order the NUVAN strips or ask your pest control professional about using them. Most pest control companies now choose the strips as the best method to treat vehicles, motor homes, and campers. Or call around and ask several companies how they treat bed bug infestations in cars, compare answers, ask if they’ve treated cars and how. YOU SHOULD NEVER BE IN YOUR CAR OR ANY SPACE WHILE A NUVAN STRIP IS ACTIVE IN THAT SPACE. Consult a professional licensed pest operator and have them handle the NUVAN strip for you. FOLLOW ALL PRECAUTIONS ON THE PACKAGE/LABEL. 

Not intended for use in your home!

I called and spoke with the manufacturer of NUVAN pest strips during my infestation (2009) and at the time they had only tested it on bed bugs in their own lab with bed bugs they put between mattresses. I did have a strip placed in my car for three weeks (or three egg-laying cycles). The use of NUVAN for the treatment of bed bugs has since become a standard treatment for vehicles, so be sure and ask your pest control operator about it if your car has bed bugs in it.

The manufacturer, AMVAC suggested that to use it in a vehicle, it should be left in for 21 days to ensure that any baby bed bugs (nymphs) that had hatched in the car during the treatment period, will die. You will not have use of your car during the treatment period. Any vents to the outside of the car would need to be sealed (duct tape?). Once the treatment is over, the vehicle must be aired out for several hours. There is no residual chemical once the vehicle is aired out.

Always read and follow the label!

YOU SHOULD NEVER BE IN YOUR CAR WHILE A NUVAN STRIP IS ACTIVE. Consult a professional licensed pest operator and have them handle the NUVAN strip for you. FOLLOW ALL PRECAUTIONS ON THE PACKAGE/LABEL.  Intentionally repeated for your health and safety.

ALWAYS follow all instructions to the letter when using chemical pesticides or you may cause permanent health damage to yourself and others. Always consult with a professional pest company, or call AMVAC and talk to them or read their FAQ on NUVAN.

Plan on not using your vehicle during treatment

Plan on not using your vehicle for at least two to three weeks (preferable, more effective) to kill any potential hatching eggs. Since the strips leave no residue after they are removed, there is no other clean-up than disposing of the strip according to the instructions on the label.

You can take UBER or LYFT, take public transportation or rent a car while the strips kill any potential bed bugs, eggs and nymphs in your car.

Depending on the size of the infestation in the car, you might not see any dead insects. Regardless, you can be sure that any bugs in your car are dead after using NUVAN for the recommended amount of time. The most important thing is not re-infesting your car by putting infested bags or furniture in the vehicle.

Are you experiencing residual itching or phantom sensations from bed bug bites?

Because you may be experiencing phantom sensations, you may feel like you are being bitten in your car. Unless you are sitting very still or sleeping in your car it is unlikely bed bugs would attempt to feed on you while you are driving. However a hungry bed bug has only one goal, feeding so I don’t think we can say with 100 percent certainty they wouldn’t,  but it would be unlikely.

The thing is you don’t have to wonder. You can just treat your car “as if” it is infested with the NUVAN Pro No-Pest strip and know your car is bed bug free, and it’s very affordable.

Do not put powdered pesticides in your car

Your car is a small container it is important to avoid residual or powdered chemicals in it. Your home has air circulation, while your car has recirculation. Do NOT put liquid or powdered pesticides in your car, especially Diatomaceous Earth (DE) which will float in the air and into the lungs of all passengers.

Unless the label specifically mentions occupied vehicles, DO NOT apply liquid or powdered pesticides in your car. I see a lot of misinformation on the internet, and I see people post that they are taking chances or guessing at what will work, putting powdered pesticides on their mattresses, furniture, and in their cars. The bad news is once applied it will never be completely gone even if you vacuum the heck out of it. Some pesticide will always remain in upholstery and carpets, if in powdered form. Using the wrong products to treat bed bugs in your car can make you and your family sick. Learn more about dangerous bed bug treatments and what to avoid.


How to keep bed bugs out of your car

Take precautions not to bring bed bugs into a car by always changing into clean laundry from sealed bags immediately before leaving your infested house. Purses, folders, shoes, notebooks, and backpacks can easily spread bed bugs from your house to your car. Keep these items in sealed zip lock bags when you are at home and don’t keep them in your bedroom or near your bed. Then just take them out when you leave and put them back in when you return. You can keep your purse or wallet and checkbook in the fridge. It’s an option, it’s pretty safe in there. Do not bring boxes, or sealed bags you have in your home into your car during your infestation. Do not start sleeping in your car.

Put your purses and shoes in sealed zip lock bags upon entering your home and only take them out when you are on your way out the door. If you have a Bed Bug heater you can heat your shoes, belts, coats purses, and backpacks and it will kill any bugs or bed bug eggs.

You can keep your checkbook, wallet, and keys in the freezer or fridge in a ziplock. Then just throw the ziplock into your purse or backpack.  When you get home put it back in the freezer. Remember IT’S TEMPORARY.

Be sure to read the most important things NOT to do if you have bed bugs in your car!

Making mistakes when you have bed bugs in your house is expected, because why would you know about bed bugs before you have them.

Making mistakes with bed bugs in your car can have permanent repercussions and serious consequences. Learn what is important not to do to your vehicle when you have bed bugs.

Other less effective or economical ways to treat bed bugs in your car

I will be completely honest here and say that knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t waste my time on the methods below because they are not 100% guaranteed to kill bed bugs, or they are so much more expensive and complicated than a NUVAN strip that it just doesn’t make sense.

Detailing/Steam Cleaning

I’m not confident that steaming or detailing your car would kill bed bugs in your car, but I see it recommended a lot so I’m including it because it won’t make things worse. Low vapor steamers are effective tools for fighting bed bugs in your home and can be used in your car. Steam or “heat” only kills what it can touch so if bed bugs retreat to a hidden place, steam isn’t going to be very effective. These steamers get hot and can cause severe burns and damage to some materials vulnerable to high heat. My steamer goes to 365 degrees F and can melt the exoskeleton right off a bed bug, it can also damage some plastics and of course your skin.

Paint Oven (car repair) for several hours.

Newly painted vehicles are put into an oven to set the paint faster. The entire vehicle is heated. This is not inexpensive, but temperatures in vehicle paint ovens do get well over 115 bed bug killing degrees. Bed bugs will try to retreat to cooler areas of the vehicle as the temperature rises, so it is important that the temperature is evenly distributed throughout the vehicle to be certain any living bugs and eggs are killed. While adult bed bugs will die after 20 minutes at 115 degrees or so, bed bug eggs take an hour to kill. Again the cost to attempt this vs the cost of a NUVAN strip is significant. On the other hand you could have the use of your vehicle much faster than with an active strip. Expect this to cost hundreds of dollars unless you have a friend in the body shop business.

Vikane Gas

Talk to pest companies in your area to see if any of them have treated vehicles with Vikane (a deadly gas that kills, termites, roaches, bed bugs and probably everything else). Vikane is the pesticide commonly used for buildings tented for termites and is used to treat bed bugs in furniture and other objects. After the treatment, the gas dissipates completely after the prescribed amount of time (several hours). Vikane is manufactured by DOW Chemicals. Only trained, licensed professionals can use Vikane (sulfuryl fluoride). IMPORTANT: Read everything you can before having Vikane treatment to ensure the pest company you choose uses the proper strength for bed bugs and their eggs. The MSDS Fact Sheet is available at the DOW link above. Only licensed professionals can buy and use Vikane.

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