Bed Bugs Northwest

Having bed bugs in your car feels like your nightmare is getting bigger, not smaller.

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. It’s a horrible situation to be in, and you can’t put off dealing with it. You probably would be surprised by how many people with infestations in their home, also have infested their cars. It’s a lot, but people aren’t exactly bragging about it. It can be frustrating and sometimes feels hopeless, but it’s not!

Below I have listed five ways people try to deal with bed bugs in their car that are either dangerous, ineffective, or both. Bad treatment in your car leaves you exactly where you are today, except possibly worst.

And then I have some solid advice on how to avoid infesting your car (or reinfesting it).

But first, how do you deal with a bed bug infestation in your car?

Nearly all modern pest control companies (and me) believe the best remedy for bed bugs in your car is the NUVAN Pro Strip. You don’t even have to see or find bed bugs to use it. You can just use it knowing it will kill all bugs and eggs when used properly. I was one of the first individuals to use it in a car at the time. I had nothing to lose by trying it and everything to gain. It did what it promised for me!

The NUVAN no-pest strip is for professional use, however the HOT-SHOT No Pest strip which IS NOT labeled for use against bed bugs has the same ingredients as the NUVAN strip. I am not giving you advice. I am just educating and sharing what I’ve learned, and that’s my disclaimer. Whatever you decide, always follow the directions, don’t take short-cuts, read and follow the directions. This is very easy to use.

And if you decide to have a pest-strip placed in your vehicle, why not load it up with possessions that are gonna be hard to treat, like toys, electronics, etc. If you think that might invite a car break in, then don’t load up your car, but get the bed bugs out so you can drive without fretting.

Learn how to leave your house without bed bugs.

bed bugs can hide easily inside your car

Can you see bed bugs in my car

Yes, you “could” see them, but you probably won’t.

Your car offers so many places for bed bugs to hide and lay eggs, it’s possible you may never see one in your car until you use a no-pest strip. If you aren’t sure if you have bed bugs in your car, you could take a low-vapor steamer to the dash seams and see if anything crawls out. Or you can just put a strip in the car, and don’t use it for around 10 days. You need to be sure no new bed bug eggs are gonna hatch, although the pesticide in the strips also kills eggs.

Wagner Spraytech C900054 905e AutoRight Multi-Purpose Steam Cleaner, 12 Accessories Included, Power Steamer for cleaning, Color May Vary
  • CAR STEAM CLEANER: Uses pressurized, 212°F high-temperature steam to loosen and dissolve dirt, cut grease, and grime, expel stains, and disinfect your vehicle. This steamer is versatile and can be used for a wide variety of car cleaning projects.
  • VERSATILE STEAM MACHINE: Clean your vehicle’s leather, upholstery, carpets, dashboards and windows with steam. Use indoors for other household cleaning projects
  • AUTOMOTIVE STEAM CLEANER: The built-in carrying handle allows you to safely and easily transport the steamer with you as you clean

Dealing with a bed bug problem in your car? Don't make these mistakes!

  • Detailing your car will make it look nice but could easily miss bed bugs hiding in hard to reach places? 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.
  • DO NOT apply liquid or powdered pesticides in your car. I see people post online, that they are 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. When air circulates in your car, including opening the windows, the powder will be in the air you are breathing, EVEN IF YOU CAN’T SEE IT. Getting it in your lungs, eyes, nose, etc., can result in illness. Using the wrong products to treat bed bugs in your car can make you and your family sick. Always follow the directions for use on the label!
  • Leaving your car in the sun is not a sure thing. 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. 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. When underfed they can easily fit in the plastic seams on your dashboard. 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 re-infest 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.
  • Steam cleaning probably won’t reach deep enough into the recesses of your car. Using a low vapor steamer to kill bed bugs does work if it can reach where they are hiding. However, there are so many places in a car that bed bugs can hide. It’s possible 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)
  • Don’t use your car for 12-18 months. This would work, but it’s not very convenient or realistic. 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. However, leaving your vehicle unused for eighteen months would ensure no living eggs or bugs were in your car.Adult bed bugs have a life span of nearly one year depending on regular access to blood meals and favorable temperatures. * *Stress Tolerance of Bed Bugs: A Review of Factors That Cause Trauma to Cimex lectularius and C. Hemipterus

I solved my vehicle infestation with a Nuvan strip

I had a pest company put the NUVAN strip in my car, and left the strip in for three weeks to catch any hatching eggs or newly laid eggs, and any living bugs. I rented a car and used public transit during that time. It turned out to be not too expensive and not that inconvenient. Rideshare wasn’t a thing back then, but now that is a good option as well. Just be sure to not brirng bed bugs with you,

I bet you’re wondering if I ever saw bed bugs in my car during my infestation, and the answer is yes, but only once. I did see bed bugs escaping from the seams in the dashboard while steaming the car. Understanding the bed bug egg-laying cycle, helped me plan an effective strategy using the NUVAN ProStrip.

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.

Nuvan ProStrips Large Size (65 Gram x 3 Pack)
  • Long lasting
  • Works on wide range of insect pests
  • Good for use in attics and garages

Bed Bugs Northwest

NUVAN Pest Strips Kill Bed Bugs in Your Car! No Residue!


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Get help identifying bed bugs at your county public health vector control office

Your county pest or vector control may have an entomologist on hand to identity your insect (if you've captured or killed one) and determine if you have bed bugs or not. In Multnomah County call the Bed Bug Hotline at 503-988-BUGS (2847) if you think you may have an infestation. They can identify your insect for you.

You can find your local County Vector Control department at NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials). When you call a Vector Control Department at your Public Health Department (usually County), they may tell you that bed bugs are not vectors. Legally that's true for now, but ask if they have an Entomologist in the office who can help you identify your bug. They almost always do have someone who can identify insects and if you are an expert in ants, cockroaches and spiders you also know about bed bugs.

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