5 Ways Not to Deal With Bed Bugs in Your Car

Don't put pesticides in your car

When you are dealing with an infestation, the thought of having to deal with bed bugs in your car feels like your nightmare is getting bigger, not smaller.

How to deal with bed bugs in your car

An infestation in your car has even bigger implications like re-infesting your home during treatment, infesting your workplace, friends and family. I know, that was me.  

Below I have listed five ways people try to deal with bed bugs in their car that are not certain to kill all bed bugs and eggs, leaving you exactly where you are today, except possibly with more new baby bed bugs in your car.

You deserve the truth. I am not going to sugar coat bed bugs for you, they’re awful, it’s a horrible situation to be in, and you can’t put off dealing with it. And now, how to fail at being sure you’ve killed all bed bugs in your car.

1. Don’t use Pesticides, powders or sprays in your car.

I’ve talked about the dangers of using pesticides in your car, and that includes food grade Diatomaceous Earth (DE). For the sake of your safety, I’ll repeat here, do not use liquid or powdered pesticides in your car. Powder and sprays only work when bed bugs come in direct contact with them. Foggers or steam may not come in contact with where bed bugs or eggs are hiding and hatching deep in your cars interior? If you do use pesticides never deviate from the label. Always follow the label.

2. Detailing your car will make it look nice but how will it kill bed bugs?

The problem with car detailing is only what is touched is cleaned. It doesn’t penetrate your cars seams and inner spaces. Again, bed bugs will not be roaming around under your floor mats. They will hide and nest in your cars deeper interior under the plastic and upholstery. Detailing will make your car look nice but you may still have bed bugs in it.

3Leaving your car in the sun might not work.

The interior of your car can easily get hot enough in the summer to kill bed bugs. The problem is that heat may not penetrate your cars plastic seams and inner spaces where bed bugs would hide. Again, bed bugs will not be roaming around under your floor mats. They will hide and nest in your cars deeper interior under the plastic and upholstery.

This might work if your car is in some part of the world right now where they are experiencing temperatures of over 120° and you can be sure that every interior area of the car will be heated to at least 120° for a period of 4-6 hours. It is “possible” this would work, but “possible” isn’t acceptable is it? You want to be absolutely certain you are not going to reinfest your home from your car, so we are not accepting this as a sure thing method for treating your car. I had also considered using a professional auto paint oven to achieve these results and am still curious if this is a viable technique to kill bed bugs in your car.

4Steam cleaning probably won’t reach deep enough into the recesses of your car.

Using a low vapor steamer to kill bed bugs does work, just not in a car. Again, there are so many places in a car bed bugs can hide that no amount of steam can, with certainty, kill an infestation. Look at all the plastic seams in your dashboard, under your cup holder, steering column.  (sorry, not trying to freak you out, just being realistic)

5. Don’t use your car for 12-18 months. This would work!

If you’ve been doing your bed bug research you already know bed bugs can live as long as 12 months or more, depending on their last meal and external temperatures. University research has determined that bed bugs live longer without a meal in cooler temperatures than in warm to hot temperatures. Virginia Tech has produced an excellent guide to the bed bug lifecycle here.

Adult bed bugs have a life span of nearly one year depending on regular access to blood meals and favorable temperatures. College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, 2013

How do you solve a bed bug problem in your car

I solved my vehicle infestation with a combination of renting an auto paint oven for 4 hours and a Nuvan strip for three weeks in my sealed SUV. I left the strip in for three weeks to catch any hatching eggs or newly laid eggs in not yet dead bugs. I rented a car and used the public transit during that time. It turned out to be not too expensive and not that inconvenient.
I bet you’re wondering if I ever saw bed bugs in my car during my infestation, and the answer is yes. Unfortunately, I infested my car bringing things I was getting rid of into it without realizing how dangerous that was. I saw bed bugs escaping from the seams in the dashboard, while steaming the car.  I quickly realized I would have to find another way to get them out of my car.
Understanding the bed bug egg laying cycle helped me plan an effective strategy.
You can read more about how to get rid of bed bugs in your car here. Did this article help you find a way to deal with bed bugs in your car? Do you have more questions? Use my contact form to ask a question, if I don’t know the answer I’ll try to point you in the right direction.
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